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!
The Wolfman (1941)
Director: George Waggner
Main Stars: Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers
Storyline: Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) goes back to Wales and stays with a group of gypsies. During this stay a werewolf (Bela Lugosi) attacks the group and Larry gets bite during the battle. Larry Talbot becomes the Wolfman and haunts the nearby forest as he battles his inner curse.
Review: Another great Universal Film of horror. We have Lon Chaney’s son playing the cursed Wolfman to become one of the most classic horror characters of its time. This film has a very solid storyline and the haunting wood is done very well. This is one of my favorites of this time period and the make-up is very well done for its time. Yes the film editing can be lame when the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr) does the transformation but hey its 1941!
Rating: We have Lon Chaney Jr and Bela Lugosi together what can go wrong? Great storyline and I love the added touch of the pentagram. Crack out the pints as this werewolf howls a good time!
Director: Tod Browning
Main Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, John Harker
Storyline: The Count Dracula goes to London England to haunt the area and capture the young Mina to become one of his female spawn. The battle between Van Helsing and Dracula begins.
Review: I have seen this film so many times but lately I watched this on the big screen as it was playing due to the Halloween season. I love this movie even more now! Universal films bring us the story of Dracula (Bela Lugosi) who ventures from Transylvania to England to torment a young woman.This is the first film of Bela Lugosi playing the Count and he does and amazing job with the classic accent (which has been stolen many times over).
Tod Browning focuses on the eyes of Bela Lugosi to show the power that Dracula has with his intense gaze.The castle is huge and beautiful and the scene where Dracula walks through the cobwebs on the long high staircase leads you to the mystery of the dark vampire. The lighting for this black and white film brings the undead to life on the screen.
Mina (Helen Chandler ) the leading female of the film is innocent and beautiful and fits the role perfect to become Dracula’s leading victim. She plays the character up to become something more full of life after dark after her nasty encounter with Dracula. She did a very good job.
But the leading star of this film is the Renfield (Dwight Frye) character. The crazy and madman spawn that helped Dracula get to London. Dwight Frye steals the show with his acting and plays the looney who loves to eat spiders, flies and maybe even hurt little children (if you read into the hints in the lines he presents). Renfield is even scarier than Dracula himself.
Rating: This was at one time one of the Universal films that I want sigh sure whatever but after seeing it more and more I notice that I love it. Open a pint (of blood if you may) for the first main Dracula appearance on film and enjoy this classic horror film.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Director: Rupert Julian
Main Stars: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry
Storyline: The Opera House of Paris is haunted by a mysterious phantom that falls in love with a singer named Christine (Mary Philbin). He grants her the greatest role and success if she will give it all up for him.
Review: This is my first silent film review. There was so many to choose from my collection to be my first but Lon Chaney is a legend in horror (plus Rebecca had never seen it before). The story is very easy to follow as it is a haunting love story of a phantom named Erik (Lon Chaney) who will do anything for the girl.
First off the sets in this movie are amazing and massive. The Opera Hall itself is a whole screen from roof to floor and the casting for fill in actors/actresses is huge. This film is amazing for its time when it comes to detail. Even the many levels of the catacombs beneath the stag are very detailed with water ways, dripping walls and even a large bedroom. Unfortunately the copy I own has changes in color for certain areas in the dungeons ranging from blue/red/ green to black and white. Not sure Universal decided to do this on later copies but still it did not stop the beauty of the sets.
Now to the monster himself! Lon Chaney steals the show when it comes to acting in this one and the mystery behind his man like half mask leads to the revealing of one of the best make-up monster to date. The pale skin, fearful mouth of jagged teeth and those menacing bulging eyes. This is the best of the entire versions of this tale and thanks to Lon Chaney creating one of the most memorable monsters of horror.
Rating: Crack open the case for this one as it’s a classic and if you dislike silent films this still a must see. The gothic beauty of the sets alone is worth the watch. Thank God Lon Chaney passed some of his greatness to his son to continue the horror venture.
Director: James Whale
Main Stars: Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Mae Clark, Dwight Frye,Edward Van Sloan
Storyline: A mad scientist tries to play god by stealing body parts to create his own version of man. The monster comes to life and becomes misunderstood with what is brought before him.
Review: Ok before we start I just want to say this is a classic and there is no such thing as a bad review of this movie. If you have not seen this film stop reading and go rent it now! Come on its Frankenstein! One of the most recognizable monsters of horror!
Every October this hits my DVD player and I just relax with a beer to the most classic and my own personal favorite of the Universal Horror period. Such memorable characters in this film lead it be a classic. The madness in the eyes of Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) as he becomes more and more desperate to make his creation come to life leaving his love interest Elizabeth (Mae Clark) to be neglected and forgotten. Featuring the weirdness and pitiful his assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) who tortures the monster into madness to make up for his own faults. Feeling the emotion of the Monster (Boris Karloff) himself of loneliness and lost in a whole new world that he did not ask to be part of. Such touching scenes like when the Monster plays daises in the water with the little girl you learn that he is an innocent soul that is just looking to find his place in a troubled world. You soon learn that the true monster was the madness of Dr. Frankenstein himself. This movie is a pure horror masterpiece you cannot go wrong watching this gothic like film for the hundredth time.
Rating: This is a must see for all movie fans alike. The acting, the scenery and the makeup make this black white horror film the best of the Universal horror era.