Film: 1900-1959

Brief excerpts with links to full-length articles and short blurbs I’ve written about horror-related films made between 1900-1959.

Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)

Arthur Crabtree is chiefly remembered for helming two imaginative science fiction and horror thrillers in the late 1950s, Fiend Without a Face (1958) and Horrors of the Black Museum (1959). But before he became associated with these cult favorites, Crabtree worked extensively with Gainsborough Pictures where he photographed some of the studio’s biggest hits including… Continue reading Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)

Cat People (1942)

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Cat People (1942) and subscribers can currently catch this spine-chilling classic on the Criterion Channel of FilmStruck through June 30, 2017. Cat People is one of the most influential horror movies made during the 1940s and due to its reputation among film historians, it has been studied and… Continue reading Cat People (1942)

The Haunted Strangler (1958)

Shot in just three weeks with a minuscule budget and limited resources, The Haunted Strangler is a marvel of economical filmmaking and a showcase for Karloff’s acting talents. The plot is simple but effective and centers around a sensitive 19th-century writer (Boris Karloff) who becomes obsessed with a notorious murderer known as the Haymarket Strangler… Continue reading The Haunted Strangler (1958)

Corridors of Blood (1958)

Karloff’s role is much more subdued in Corridors of Blood and the film often resembles a historic drama more than the Grand Guignol-style spectacle the material might suggest. Despite its slow tempo and lack of scares, it’s an admirable follow-up to The Haunted Strangler and Karloff is in top form as the sympathetic Doctor Bolton.… Continue reading Corridors of Blood (1958)

Lady Killer: Lon Chaney Jr.

I recently set aside some time to watch all six of Universal’s Inner Sanctum Mystery films starring Lon Chaney Jr. Seeing these relatively short (60-67 minute) B-movies back to back over a couple of days was a joy and I found new things to admire and appreciate about the film’s leading man. But afterward I… Continue reading Lady Killer: Lon Chaney Jr.

Frankenstein’s First Bride

The name Mae Clarke might not immediately ring any bells but the fair-haired, spirited and sad-eyed beauty was a promising leading lady in pre-code Hollywood before personal disappointments, mental health issues and a disfiguring car accident took their toll. When Clarke died in 1992 at age 81 most classic film fans remembered her as the… Continue reading Frankenstein’s First Bride

James Whale’s Frankenstein

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) is commonly considered the best of James Whale’s two Frankenstein films and while I absolutely love Elsa Lanchester’s iconic performance as the hissing she-monster, I prefer the original. There are a number of reasons why I tend to gravitate towards FRANKENSTEIN (1931) over its sequel. First and foremost, the film… Continue reading James Whale’s Frankenstein

Boris Karloff is THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)

Director Robert Wise is widely regarded as a journeyman filmmaker with no defining traits or distinct talents. In The American Cinema: Directors And Directions 1929-1968 critic Andrew Sarris famously labeled Wise’s output as “strained seriousness” asserting that the director’s “stylistic signature . . . is indistinct to the point of invisibility.” David Thompson parroted these claims in… Continue reading Boris Karloff is THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)

The Lost Moment (1947)

“I felt the past closing all around me like a fog, filling me with a nameless fear.” – Lewis Venable (Robert Cummings) After enjoying many of the Susan Hayward films that aired on TCM last month, I decided to seek out some of her other work and in the process I stumbled across The Lost… Continue reading The Lost Moment (1947)

The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

As a lifelong classic film fan who has seen more movies than she cares to remember, it’s easy to become a little jaded. However, every year I manage to come across an old film that becomes a new favorite. This year that film is the amazing, Amazing Mr. X (1948), a low-budget supernatural thriller also… Continue reading The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

Cast a Dark Shadow (1955)

On Monday, October 12th TCM is airing a batch of suspenseful films focusing on “Treacherous Spouses.” Most critics wouldn’t classify any of these films as horror but some of them contain genuinely horrific moments. The impressive line-up includes Experiment Perilous (1944), Suspicion (1941), Strangers on a Train (1951), Dial M for Murder (1954), The Postman… Continue reading Cast a Dark Shadow (1955)

Freak Shows

Last night FX premiered the new season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. The award-winning horror anthology’s latest incarnation is called FREAK SHOW and it’s set in Florida during the 1950s at a circus sideshow where strange goings-on take place in and outside of the Big Top. The show’s creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck, have admitted… Continue reading Freak Shows

Crow Hollow (1952)

Crow Hollow (1952) is a little-seen low-budget British B-movie typically categorized as Film Noir in the few books where I’ve seen it mentioned. After catching up with it recently I discovered that it had much more in common with Gothic mysteries, Gaslight (1940) inspired thrillers and classic “Old Dark House” movies. Directed economically by Michael… Continue reading Crow Hollow (1952)

The Spiral Staircase (1946)

The Spiral Staircase is a longtime favorite of mine and the film has been hailed as a prototype for many of the best giallo; the Italian genre films that I touched on just last week in a piece titled Death Walk Twice: A Giallo Double Feature. With thoughts of murder and black-gloved killers still running… Continue reading The Spiral Staircase (1946)

She-Wolf of London (1946)

The setting is London in the early 1900s, where a young Scottish woman named Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) is preparing to wed her beau (Don Porter). The happy couple’s plans are interrupted when someone or something begins killing locals at a nearby park. Terrified Phyllis is certain an old Scottish curse that has plagued her… Continue reading She-Wolf of London (1946)

Un Chien Andalou (1928)

UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928) is making its noteworthy debut on TCM September 17th in association with the 15-episode STORY OF FILM documentary currently airing every Monday and Tuesday night for the next three months. I was surprised to learn that UN CHIEN ANDALOU had never been shown on TCM before but I shouldn’t have been.… Continue reading Un Chien Andalou (1928)

The Clairvoyant (1934)

Following the huge success of King Kong, Fay Wray was inundated by proposals to appear in more horror films and thrillers but she was tired of being pigeonholed. In an effort to dodge expectations, she accepted an offer from Gainsborough Pictures in England to costar with Claude Rains (fresh off the set of The Invisible… Continue reading The Clairvoyant (1934)

Mad Love (1935)

When I first saw Karl Freund’s MAD LOVE (1935) 20 odd years ago I was somewhat disappointed by it. I had spent decades looking at still photos from the movie in various books I came across and I had anticipated seeing a very different film than the one that eventually greeted me. Chilling photos of… Continue reading Mad Love (1935)

So Long at the Fair (1950)

British director Terence Fisher is best known for his work with Hammer Films but before he started making movies for the studio that dripped blood, Fisher edited and co-directed a number of films for Gainsborough Pictures. One of his most accomplished early directorial efforts is SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950) starring a very young… Continue reading So Long at the Fair (1950)

Maya Deren’s Nightmares

Those of us who appreciate the eclectic programming on TCM Underground are in for a real cinematic treat on Saturday, March 29th. At 12am (PST)/2am (EST) TCM will be airing Pip Chodorov’s 90 min. documentary FREE RADICALS: A HISTORY OF EXPERIMENTAL FILM (2010) followed by two hours of groundbreaking, experimental and avant-garde short films made… Continue reading Maya Deren’s Nightmares

Jennifer (1953)

Jennifer’s gone missing. She was supposed to be looking after her uncle’s sprawling estate, which appears to have been abandoned since the Great Depression, but no one has seen her in weeks. Did she run off with an unknown lover? Did she swindle an undisclosed sum of money from her previous boss and head to… Continue reading Jennifer (1953)

Three Cases of Murder

I love a good horror anthology so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I recently sat down to watch THREE CASES OF MURDER (1955) for the first time. This unusual British film seems to have gone relatively unnoticed by numerous horror film historians and if it does warrant a mention it’s usually dismissed… Continue reading Three Cases of Murder

A Place of One’s Own (1945)

Autumn officially arrives tomorrow. It’s my favorite time of year and I eagerly look forward to cooler temperatures and longer nights. As summer gives way to fall my appetite for things that go bump in the night becomes almost insatiable and nothing’s quite as satisfying as a good ghost story. I’ve been reading a lot… Continue reading A Place of One’s Own (1945)

The Sniper (1952)

A few weeks ago I finally caught up with THE SNIPER (1952) on TCM, which tracks the brutal crimes of a gun-wielding maniac stalking women on the streets of San Francisco. The film boasts an impressive pedigree that includes director Edward Dmytryk, producer Stanley Kramer, screenwriters Harry Brown along with Edna and Edward Anhalt, cinematographer… Continue reading The Sniper (1952)

Stolen Face (1952)

Classic movie enthusiasts usually associate Britain’s Hammer Films with horror, fantasy and science fiction but the ‘studio that dripped blood’ also released a significant number of crime thrillers. TCM will be airing four of the studio’s earliest films on June 16th in a tribute to Hammer Noir. The four films scheduled to be shown were… Continue reading Stolen Face (1952)

Chandu the Magician (1932)

Chandu the Magician was based on a popular radio serial that debuted in 1931 and was principally aimed at younger listeners. Both the radio program and film center around an unusual hero named Frank Chandler aka Chandu. Chandu is an American citizen who mastered the occult arts while he was in India with help from… Continue reading Chandu the Magician (1932)

Fear of the Primordial Ooze

Today is the last day of TCM’s month-long celebration of Drive-In Double Features and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to miss spending your Thursday evenings with radioactive monsters, space aliens, sea creatures, giant women and mutant men. When viewers tune in tonight they’ll be able to enjoy some of my favorite ’50s science… Continue reading Fear of the Primordial Ooze

Bugging Out!

Stock up on insecticide! Lock your doors!! Bolt those windows!!! Tonight TCM is unleashing a horrific horde of creepy, crawling monstrous critters into your home with a hair-raising line-up of bug movies. The fright-filled programming begins at 8PM EST (5PM PST) with the premiere of THE FLY (1958) featuring master of menace, Vincent Price along… Continue reading Bugging Out!

Season of the Yeti

Most of us are familiar with the Yeti or Abominable Snowman. This large ape or man-like creature has populated animated films, television shows and movies for decades. Unlike it’s North American relative Sasquatch or Bigfoot, the Yeti is rumored to inhabit the snow covered Himalayan mountains and it’s often depicted with a white furry coat,… Continue reading Season of the Yeti

The Ghost of Christmas

I have a soft spot for just about every film version of A Christmas Carol. This is partially due to the fact that one of my first and last acting roles was in a stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale mounted by my elementary school where I got the opportunity to play the spooky… Continue reading The Ghost of Christmas

I Married A Witch

Just a quick note to let readers know that TCM will be airing the great classic comedy I Married A Witch (René Clair; 1942) tonight starring the lovely & funny Veronica Lake in one of her best roles. I Married A Witch isn’t available on DVD in the US yet so if you haven’t had… Continue reading I Married A Witch