#TerrorTuesday: The Terror (1963)

Salutations from the Other Side, Ho-rror Ho-unds! It’s a Terror-ific Tuesday here in Karloffornia, so why not take a look at The Terror with Boris Karloff?
What a tit-le! How intriguing! How vague! “The Terror” is like calling a film “Horror Movie.” And it sums up the appeal of this film pretty neatly! The plot concerns Andre Duvalier, a lost Napoleonic soldier (a very young Jack Nicholson) who is rescued by Helene (Sandra Knight), an enigmatic woman who is revealed to be a ghost possessed by a witch. Eventually, after being attacked by a large bird and being separated from Helene, he finds himself at the castle of Baron Victor Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), The Baron’s wife passed away some time ago, but Helene bears a strong resemblance to her. What dark secrets does the Baron keep, and what ghastly horrors await poor Andre?

If that synopsis reads like a game of Gothic Mad Libs, that’s because the film largely was. Director Roger Corman was working on The Raven and finished the picture a few days early.  Realizing he had a pretty groovy set going unused until its demolition, the pragmatic Corman decided to crank out another film in those last few days. Along with the sets, Corman recycled Karloff and Nicholson from The Raven. Karloff later said:

“Corman had the sketchiest outline of a story. I read it and begged him not to do it. He said ‘That’s alright Boris, I know what I’m going to do. I want you for two days on this.’ I was in every shot, of course. Sometimes I was just walking through and then I would change my jacket and walk back. He nearly killed me on the last day. He had me in a tank of cold water for about two hours. After he got me in the can he suspended operations and went off and directed two or three operations to get the money, I suppose… [The sets] were so magnificent… As they were being pulled down around our ears, Roger was dashing around with me and a camera, two steps ahead of the wreckers. It was very funny.”

All the scenes that required the castle and Karloff were filmed in three days. After that, the film was passed on to Francis Ford Coppola (yes… THAT Francis Ford Coppola ) for a couple of days, then it was handed over to Jack Hill, Monte Hellman, and perhaps others who will forever go nameless. Rumor has it that Jack Nicholson even took over for a day. Each new director was tasked with making some sense of the original footage and adding new plot points and twists to this Frankenstein.
Despite its slapped-together nature, The Terror is actually worth the watch. While its backstory is more fascinating than the film itself, The Terror is decent fright flick with a few fairly creepy moments. It’s not be a genre masterpiece, but it’s got atmosphere and thrills aplenty. For a dose of Gothic nonsense, this one will hit the spot. It ain’t The Masque of the Red Death (1964), but it’s got skeletons, ghosts, witches, and King Karloff. That’s good enough for me.

For some thrills ‘n’ chills with Jack and Boris, check out the film below:

Black Friday (1940)

(In what is quite clearly an act of blasphemy, Mr. Dr. Anton Phibes dared submit a Friday the 13th post that is not remotely related to Mah Boo!! After fighting the urge to machete some sense into him, I decided to take the high route and reward the lad’s courage…But don’t let it happen again, Phibes!!! 😉 xoxo)

Happy Friday the 13th to all you wonderful fright fiends out there!

Friday13oneweek

Considered by many to be the unluckiest day on the calendar, Friday the 13th’s dreadful reputation has excited the imagination and aroused the superstition of many for eons. For horror lovers, this is the time to honor masked maniac Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th film series. As fond as I am of the inimitable Mr. Voorhees, I feel I have very little to say that hasn’t been said countless times before. Jason is a very popular ghoul and is so frequently discussed on this site and others that any thoughts I have would be simply redundant. Just know that I love that camp creep dearly and will always watch one of his fright features on this most unlucky of days. However, for this particular Friday the 13th, I thought I’d spotlight something a little different…

BlackFriday4

Black Friday (1940) is the last Universal picture to feature both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The main action of the film takes place on Friday the Thirteenth and concerns Dr. Ernest Sovac (played by Karloff), a brilliant neurosurgeon who transplants the brain of dead gangster Red Cannon (Stanley Ridges) into the body of Prof, George Kingsley (also Ridges) in an attempt to save his life. When Sovac learns that the deceased criminal  had $500,000 in ill-gotten gains stashed away, he plans to probe that inform from Kingsley when he recovers, surmising that his new brain must retain the knowledge of its previous owner. Unfortunately, the operation had the unexpected side effect of completely transforming the kindly professor into the murderous gangster. With a new body and a mind on fire, Red Cannon is now free to exact his revenge on those who have wronged him.

BlackFriday9

This cast of this particular picture played a bit musical chairs. Bela Lugosi was originally cast as Dr. Sovac and Boris Karloff as Kingsley/Cannon, Instead, Karloff played Sovac, Stanley Ridges played Kingsley/Cannon, and Lugosi ended up in the somewhat minor role of gangster Eric Marnay, once again getting the short end of stick as often did with Universal. While the exact reason for this is unknown, the most common (and most likely) explanation is that Karloff was great the kindly Kingsley, but horrendous as the hardboiled, Cagney-like Cannon, so he was recast as the mad doctor. Lugosi is given very little do, to the point where he doesn’t even get to share a scene with Karloff! Karloff is fine, but the grand surprise of this picture is Stanley Ridges. Ridges was generally a secondary player, but in this rare leading performance, he was pretty darn terrific! Pulling a Jekyll-and-Hyde, Ridges is not only convincing as both personalities, but nearly unrecognizable without even relying on heavy make-up! The transformation is wonderfully subtle and relies almost entirely on Ridges.BlackFriday8

Happy Friday the 13th and may you have the best of luck.

BlackFriday2

Boris Karloff: History’s Greatest (Movie) Monster

So, I posted this pic on Instagram the other day:

borisstar

Much to my surprise (and dismay), I discovered that there are actually people of Earth who don’t know who BORIS KARLOFF is!!!

huh-say-what-unsure-what-what-did-you-say-dafuq-did-you-say-gif

That is unacceptable, so I figured I’d break it on down and lay out some basic (though he was anything but ;)) Boris knowledge for ya’ll. (Especially dedicated to Mr. @itsfunnguy…You are so getting quizzed on this later!! 😉 xoxo)

He was billed only as “?” in the opening credits to Frankenstein, the film that made him a legend amongst both men and monsters. To a figure most unconventional, he gave both monstrosity and humanity. With an uncommon grace and dignity, he expressed simple, childish emotions in a manner that made us care for and understand the lonliness of an actual monster.  When the picture concludes and the ending credits roll, the man behind the creature is given a name: Boris Karloff.

karloff2

Boris Karloff is the gold standard by which all subsequent horror actors are judged.  Following his success in the 1931 with Frankenstein, the British Karloff become Hollywood’s resident ghoul, starring in what would become a roster of classic horror films. His Rogues Gallery of performances would include the terrifying mute butler in James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932), the diabolical titular menace in The Mask of Fu Manchu, the Satanic fiend in The Black Cat (1934), the original Imhotep in Karl Freund’s The Mummy (1932), and enough monsters and madmen to haunt the nightmares of generations to come. Outside of Frankenstein, he is perhaps best-known as the narrator in 1966’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, infusing it with the same devilish charm we’ve come to expect from the King of Monsters. While he clearly had a plethora of timeless creeps to his name, he will forever be associated with the three Frankenstein films he did. Of the part, he once said. “The Monster was the best friend I ever had.”

karloff-6 karloff-14 karloff11

karloffb

Beloved both on and off screen, Karloff was as perfect a gentleman as he was a monster. Karloff was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933 and often donated to charities. Every Christmas since 1940, he dressed up as Santa Claus and gave gifts to handicapped children at a hospital in Baltimore, a stark departure from The Grinch. He adored gardening, cricket, and all things English. For the last decade of his life, Karloff moved back to England, where he had a flat in London and a cottage he called “Roundabout” in the countryside.

karloff10

karloff-comic-rack

karloff13

Karloff will forever be a giant in the genre and in our pop culture. Whenever Frankenstein is mentioned, you can be sure that images of Karloff will be stirred up. He is perhaps the only figure (save for Jack Skellington) who rightfully dominates both Christmas and Halloween. As long as there are folks that love monsters, Karloff will remain an icon. Impressive for a man who started his career as a question mark.

karloff3 karloff4 karloff7 karloff8

Karloff as the voice of Baron Boris von Frankenstein in Mad Monster Party?.

Karloff as the voice of Baron Boris von Frankenstein in Mad Monster Party?.

karloff-0karloff-16 karloff-17

Long Live King Karloff!

A Couple of Iconic Birthdays… :)

Happy (only slightly belated ;)) Birthday to Jamie Lee Curtis (November 22), one of the most beloved Scream Queens in film history! I’m sure that your dirty lil’ minds instantly go to the OG Halloween when I mention Jamie Lee Curtis Scream Queen status (ok, maybe not instantly… ;)), which is why that’s so not the film I’m going to discuss to Ho-nor her. (Though I will take a moment to reflect upon her mammmorable parts in Trading Places… ;))

trading

While everyone is totally aware of her awesome turn as Laurie Strode (especially in H20 ;)), her creepy credits go beyond that classic series. In the early ’80s, she was the go-to Final Girl. The late Roger Ebert once said that Curtis “is to the current horror film glut what Christopher Lee was to the last one-or Boris Karloff was in the 1930s”. Halloween is indeed an important film, but I want to talk about a lesser-known Curtis slasher. In Ho-nor of her Born Day, let’s take a ride on the Terror Train!

terror

Terror Train was one of the gazillion and a half slasher films to be spawned in the wake of Halloween‘s success. (It was indeed a glorious time for cinema… :)) The plot revolves around a group of college co-eds holding a costume party, stalked by a vengeful classmate who bears the costume of his current victim.

terror-train-2

(Me, the day before waXXXing… ;))

Jamie Lee does what a great Scream Queen does, and shines with the so-so material she’s given. Aside from Ms. Curtis’s obvious attributes, this film is worth watching for it’s spooky, claustrophobic atmosphere, vintage vibe, and a spectacular supporting role for David Copperfield as…A Magician, with Magnificent Eyebrows!! 🙂 #typecasting

terror-train-jamie-lee-curtis-david-copperfield

 

(I had the biggest crush on him when I was in 3rd grade… *le sigh*)

Terror Train is a definitely a worthy way to honor Ms. Curtis for those who have seen Halloween many times over (before fwd/pausing some of her other film “highlights, of corpse ;)).

jamie-lee-curtis-true-lies

It’s also time to celebrate the Birthaversary of that gentleman creep, Mr. Boris Karloff. (November 23,1887 – February 2, 1969)

boris-karloff-1

It’s quite impossible for me to overstate my love of Mr. Karloff. The role of the monster in Frankenstein would be enough to declare him a film legend, but Mr. Karloff has a gaggle of ghouls to his kreepified kredit. Karloff has portrayed Dr. Fu Manchu, Dr. Jekyll, and Imhotep the Mummy, to name but a very few. In addition to all these rotten roles, he also lent his titanic talent to the role of the Grinch in the beloved Ho-rrorday special.

karloffgrinch (1)

Ho-nor the Great One’s memory by watching as many of his fright films as possible and help keep his lurid legacy alive… Hail to King Karloff, baby!

borisbday

karloffb

karloff12karloff 12karloff-comic-rack (1)

Boris Bombardment!!!! :)

I am running severely late for the airport (going home to South/North Carolina for Thankskilling Week :)), but I could not not post about the Prime Minister of Sinister himself, Mr. Boris Karloff on his birthaversary. <3 Luckily this is one devilish dude who needs no introduction, so just enjoy this eXXXtremely random Karloff Kollection whilst I go finishing packing. This is what I sincerely look like right now btw: bk

(A ghoulish gal’s gotta celebrate these montrously momentous moments, even when there’s serious bizniz to be done… ;))

Now, ready yourself for the…KARLOFF KAPOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 xoxo

karloff 3

karloff 4

karloff 15

karloff 6

karloff 2

karloff 0

karloff 13

Karloff 16

karloff 17

karloff 7

karloff 5