Tag Archive for horror

Serial Thriller: House of Frankenstein

"Then Madge told I was soaking in Palmolive dishwashing liquid..."

A bizarre revenge tale mixed with elements of horror tragedy. Universal went all out to bill this as an extreme monster mash-up, deliberately creating the archetypes that have become so familiar, reaching as far back as The Hunchback of Notre Dame to label the simpering Daniel (J. Carrol Naish) as the Quasimodo-ish assistant.

Serial Thriller: The Wolf Man

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This is a more direct monster movie than Frankenstein. What it lacks in complexity, however, it makes up for in performances, especially Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Maria Ouspenskaya, and no less than Dracula himself, chameleon Bela Lugosi as Bela, the cursed gypsy fortune teller who passes his burden onto Lon Chaney, Jr.’s Lawrence Talbot.

Serial Thriller: Son of Frankenstein

'Son of Frankenstein'

After Bride of Frankenstein, the series delved into equally campy territory, with a slightly straighter face, for this second sequel. Basil Rathbone is perfect as the disdainful Wolf von Frankenstein, unwelcome heir of the now completely redesigned Castle Frankenstein.

Serial Thriller: Bride of Frankenstein

'Bride of Frankenstein'

Nowhere near as good as its reputation and certainly nothing to compete with its predecessor. James Whale, returning to the director’s chair four years after the brilliant original, made the sophomore mistake of trying to turn his film into a comedy… and not a very good one at that.

Serial Thriller: Frankenstein

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By no means the first horror movie ever made (nor, in fact, the first Frankenstein movie ever made) but James Whale’s eternal classic is the fountainhead from which has sprung the modern horror movie. Though he would later go on to make the deliberately silly Bride of Frankenstein, here Whale constructs an elegantly tragic frightener that taps into the timeless theme of man playing god.

The Ring

'The Ring'

Based on the Japanese film of similar name, The Ring addresses the urban legends and fascination with the non-existent snuff film genre that came of the VHS era, particularly the Faces of Death series. It’s the realization of that dreadful little feeling up your spine that witnessing a real death, or witnessing a bewitched video that sneaks in subliminal images, can somehow damage or even kill you.

Coraline

'Coraline'

Free of Tim Burton’s shackles, director Henry Selick spins a marvelous adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book that is a visual banquet, with superb supporting characters that do double duty in two separate dimensions, or more if you count 3D. This is one of the few movies I wish I had seen in the otherwise worthless format.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Considering the wisecracking clown Freddy eventually became, it’s easy to forget how truly terrifying he was the first time around. Audiences didn’t know what to expect, having been inundated and dulled by countless slashers that followed in the wake of John Carpenter’s trend-setting Halloween.

Score Card: Dracula (1979)

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The orchestrations of prior horror films, most notably the Hammer Studios films, were frenetic and uptempo, something more suited to an action movie today. Williams mostly avoided this zealous use of horns and frantic strings, preferring instead the sweeping romanticism that has since become a hallmark of the Dracula story.