Archive for February 17, 2009

A Thousand Faces, Thirteen Chairs, Two Gorillas and a Blind Bargain

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by dcairns

Where were we? Ah yes, I was enumerating the films I’ve yet to see illustrated in Denis Gifford’s seminal A Pictorial History Of Horror Movies. As a kid I’d pour over these images and despair of ever seeing most of them. Now so many are within my grasp! It would have been nice to have seen more of them when I was tiny enough to be scared by them, though.

Page 56 — THE HANDS OF ORLAC. I’ve seen the classic Hollywood version, MAD LOVE, and I’ve even seen the dishwater-dull re-remake, but I’ve yet to see the Conrad Veidt original. It’s available, so I have been remiss. Must rectify.


63. A BLIND BARGAIN, with Lon Chaney (Snr) as both mad scientist and ape-man. That pretty well has to be worth seeing. NB: it no doubt is, but it’s a lost film, so I’m going to have to [a] find it, [b] make it, or [c] dream it.

64. Somehow I’ve always managed to miss the Chaney biopic MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES with James Cagney (terrible casting). I guess I’ll see it someday. The fact that I love both Chaney and Cagney explains my reluctance.

66. I’ve never seen THE MONKEY TALKS, which, perversely enough, appears to be a silent film. Never even read about it anywhere else. Gifford does dig up some obscurities.

70. THE MYSTERY OF THE MARIE CELESTE with Bela Lugosi, a very early Hammer film, is available somewhere, I think. Keen to see it, partly as reference for a horror project of my own. (Amazing what you can justify as “research”. It’s kind of like “tax deduction” in that sense.)

75. LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT has saved me the trouble of watching it by becoming a lost film, alas. But I have watched the reconstruction put together from production stills (they really documented the hell out of movies in those days. Too bad they didn’t look after the movies as well as they did the stills).

77. Was never very tempted by the Ritz Brothers, so I’ve passed THE GORILLA by, but with Lionel “Pinky” Atwill, Bela Lugosi and Joseph Calleia (Malta’s only move star?) it should be worth a look.

80. THE TERROR, 1928, is directed by Roy Del Ruth, so I’d expect snappiness, but it’s a very early talkie so it might not be quite as zippy as, say, BLESSED EVENT. Does Edward Everett Horton play the Terror? It would almost be a shame to see the film and find this isn’t so.

Opposite page, RETURN OF THE TERROR (ah-hah, it’s an Edgar Wallace adaptation!) has Mary Astor and Frank McHugh and therefore can’t, surely, be bad. Apparently it’s a 1934 remake, not a sequel at all. Same page, THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE represents Del Ruth at the fag-end of his career. I seem to recall hearing that this movie comes with an advisory notice reassuring nervous patrons that alligator blood transfusions can’t really have the horrific effects depicted in the photoplay(basically, turning into a character out of The Banana Splits).

83. THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR. I’m on top of this one. Tod Browning, Bela Lugosi, I’m on it. THE GORILLA — a different gorilla from the Ritz Bros movie. This one is Walter Pigeon. THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL. Titles don’t come much more generic, but the cast features Calleia again, plus Paul Lukas, Onslow Stevens, Ellen Drew, all people I’d be happy to spend an evening with.

84. THE BLOOD DRINKERS. One of the more graphically gory images in the book. I remember showing the book to a younger friend, but having been instructed to “protect” her from the scarier images, I kept these pages sealed. Of course she demanded to see, and pronounced the image, “not that scary”. This Philippino vampire flick seemed impossibly exotic at the time, but it’s now easily available on DVD.

On the opposing page, THE VAMPIRE (1957) is one I still know nothing about.

92. MURDER BY THE CLOCK gets raves on the IMDb, and it’s from the terribly important year of 1931 so I’d love to see it. “You are either a genius or a killer – I find that you are both!!!”

103. Frustratingly, I can’t even remember if I’ve seen THE INVISIBLE AGENT (no puns please). I’ve seen some INVISIBLE MAN pseudo-sequels, but not all. This one’s written by Curt “idiot brother” Siodmak, so I expect hilarity.

More soon!


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