Son of Dracula (1943)
Director: Robert Siodmak
Main Stars: Lon Chaney Jr , Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton
Storyline: Count Alucard (flip this backwards) heads to the deep south in the swamps where he falls in love with beautiful plantation owner. He wants to grant her the undead life of immortality.
Review (Spoils): A decade after the first Dracula film Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr) appears in America and is invited to join rich Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) who has an interest in the supernatural. She tricks Count Alucard to fall in love with her so that she is granted the immortality of undead. Her past boyfriend Frank (Robert Paige ) does not understand her intentions and attacks the Count in which Kay gets shot. The son of Dracula Count Alucard brings her back to life or better yet unlife and she gets want she wants. She tells Frank her true plan that she wants him to destroy the Count and join her in the rich life of immortality. Frank is not much for it and destroys them both by sunlight and fire. We have cheesy bat scenes, cool vapour gas travel and the king of the cheese Count Alucard. I’m sorry but I just could not take Lon Chaney Jr as an evil vampire character or even threatening. I love Lon Chaney Jr but the part did not suit him or maybe it was just the lame mustache? For that the movie just did not scream classic Universal monster film for me. Louise Allbritton did an amazing job playing the character and really turned on the acting screws once she became undead (the lying in dead scene was great for that).
Rating: Unfortunately this film just did not have the uniqueness that the past Dracula films had. I could not take the Count Alucard character seriously and poor Louise Allbritton could not hold the film up all by herself. This is one of the weaker links of the series and the point that there was not connection of reference to the Dracula’s Daughter (the second of the series) it lost its connection for me.
Dracula’s Daughter (1938)
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Main Stars: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan
Storyline: the night of Dracula’s death his daughter comes to steal is body away to lift the vampire curse from herself.
Review (Spoils): The film starts the night of Dracula’s death, Dr. Von Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) is wanted for murder because nobody believes in vampires. Contessa Marya Zeleska (Gloria Holden) comes to the site and steals the body of Dracula and burns the body. She is trying to lift the family curse from herself so that she is no longer being haunted as a vampire. She goes to Jeffery Garth (Otto Kruger) a doctor who thinks the whole vampire belief is in the head and it can be lifted by hypnotizes. It becomes a chase in which the Countess wants more from Jeffery she wants him to love her so there becomes a jealous struggle between herself and the Jeffery’s lovely admin Janet (Marguerite Churchill). This leads to Janet becoming attacked and used as bait till in a struggle the Countess is shot in the heart by a wooden crossbow and the curse is lifted.
Rating: Seeing this film a few times now it really is a gem on its own. Not as classic as the original Dracula but a nice little continuation from it that does not repeat itself. This is a different tale than your typical vampire movie. We do not have much in your typical bats, coffins and biting but Gloria Holden does a beautiful job as the daughter of Dracula.
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone
Storyline: The son of Dr. Frankenstein fines his father’s creation and revives him. What he did not know is that Ygor is the one controlling him.
Review (Spoils): Following up from The Bride of Frankenstein Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) returns to the manor with his wife and son and they are not overly welcomed by the residents due to his father’s past. Igor (Bela Lugosi) is living in the basement as he was his father’s last assistant but he has a surprise for him as the monster (Boris Karloff) is here but in a coma. The monster gets revived and loses all speech and starts from scratch. The film is all star when it comes to cast we have Boris Karloff playing the monster for the last time in his sheep wool vest and leather and Bela Lugosi plays the classic Igor the strange broken neck assistant of the late Dr. Frankenstein. Yes Basil Rathbone is not as strong as the past doctor character of the past two films but still memorable as it ends this great trilogy from Universal. The settings of the scenery are breath taking and being a third film of the series the movie has not lost its charm. The castle alone is worth the viewing in this film. Rowland V. Lee continues what James Whale started.
Rating: This movie is a great third part of the Universal series. We have some of the most classic horror characters with Frankenstein monster and Igor steals the show as it is Bela Lugosi at one of his best (next to Dracula of course). Yes the son Billy can be annoying and just does not fit in the film but this is one of favorites of the Universal films.
The Invisible Man (1933)
Director: James Whale
Main Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stewart, William Harrigan
Storyline: A scientist creates a formula to turn invisible which drives him mad and makes him an invisible killer.
Review (Spoils): We have scientist Griffon (Claude Rains) who is a brilliant man but is driven totally mad with power as he is goes in insane after discovering and using a special formula that turn him invisible. Claude Rains blows me away with his acting in this film he is truly believable and his wicked laugh is memorable long after this film is done. James Whale once again creates a legendary universal monster that hits the mark in the world of horror.
The scenes in this film are forever unforgettable such as the unwrapping of his head and body, riding the bike and smoking the cigarette. My favourite scene of the film is when he goes completely mad and skips down the street and lets out that wicked laugh. This movie has great graphics for its time and holds its own.
Rating: This film totally surprised me and it turned out to be a classic not just by name in my books. Claude Rains stole the show with his over the top acting and the character just worked. I would name The Invisible Man as one of the best of the Universal horror films.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Director: Jack Arnold
Main Stars: Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Whit Bissell
Storyline: Scientists search the Amazon River for fossils and awaken the creature from the Black Lagoon. The creature kidnaps one of the scientist’s fiancée Kay and they must track him down to save her.
Review (Spoils): Another Universal film and movie monster. This time it is the Gill Man also known as The Creature. I found this film not as great as the others but the film itself is unique and the underwater shots are amazing for its time. The most classic shot of this is the swimming scene with the beautiful Kay (Julie Adams) where the creature is just beneath her feet. The storyline itself can be a little boring but it opened the door for monster movies in the horror genre. The Gill Man is one of the most recognized monsters from the Universal era.
Rating: This was an ok film not the greatest from the Universal collection but none the less a classic. The monster itself was done by two different people so no credit was made to them but hats off to both Ricou Browning and Ben Chapman for their work. This is the best of the Gill Man series.
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Director: James Whale
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Dwight Frye
Storyline: The Monster of Frankenstein story continues right after the burning of the mill. The Monster lived and he is on the hunt for friendship so that he can understand this world. A mad scientist named Doctor Pretorius talks Dr. Frankenstein into creating a new monster to continue the dream of the man made race.
Review (Spoils): The movie starts out with Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) describing her book that she is writing and how the story does not end with the burning of the mill the night the Monster (Boris Karloff )supposedly died. This is a nice added touch to the film and it is a nice change to what was done in the first film. Actually this film does a lot different than the original film bringing some more humanity to the Monster such as the longing for friendship and love. The film touches this with the Monster coming upon the blind man and filling in companionship with drink, smoke, eating and even the lessons of speech. This added a nice touch to the film even though I’m a not a huge fan of the talking Monster. The film is also graced with two madmen this round who are the true monsters of the film. We have the classic Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) again andnow an even more macabre madman named Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) it was excellent acting on both parts. This film was a perfect sequel to the classic film.
The only parts that I felt did not mend well with the film were the experiments of Dr. Pretorius with the little people which just make it more silly than interesting. Another part that was too bad was the lack of the presence of the bride herself (Elsa Lanchester) who did an outstanding job with the twitchy movements and her gorgeous eyes that help her become more sinister and shocking. More screen time of the bride would have been great as she was great in this film.
Rating: This is a must see for horror fans and it is an awesome piece to add to the Frankenstein series. Elsa Lanchester does a breath taking job playing the bride it is just unfortunate on the lack of the character in the movie.
The Mummy (1932)
Director: Karl Freund
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann
Storyline: In a field expedition some people discover and uncover the tomb of an ancient Egyptian prince named Im-Ho-Tep. They find out he was buried alive due to sacrilege and an evil scroll was buried with him called the Scroll of Thoth. The scroll is read out loud and the prince comes back to live as a walking mummy. He searches the world looking for his long lost ancient princess love that has been reincarnated as a young woman.
Review(Spoils): Boris Karloff takes to the stag again but this time as the mummy Im-Ho-Tep. He does an amazing job playing the mummy character with dry whisper voice and the dried up make-up is awesome. This is what movie monsters are all about. Even outside of the mummy make-up when he is playing the part of the disguised prince you can still feel the power and the energy of his dark side. Boris Karloff has done it again for Universal films.
The scenery is well done as they needed to capture the hot desert home of the great pyramid tombs and sphinx that lead to the burial of the ancient prince and princess.
The beautiful and classy Zita Johann who plays Helen Grosvenordoes a great job as she is being tormented by the mummy and his belief that she is the reincarnation of his lost love. She is fighting with the will to live another life and let the past be the past. I do not understand why she did not do much acting after this film.
Rating: I’m going to be honest it is not the best of the Universal horror films but it does deserve credit when credit is due and its way better than the CGI piece of shit that released with the Rock. This is the way movies are suppose to be made with make-up and sweat!