On Day #7 – At approximately two in the morning, when I couldn’t sleep, decided to re-visit the greatest sequel of all time: Bride of Frankenstein (released in 1935).
Bride of Frankenstein is brilliant. The returning cast of Colin Clive (Dr. Frankenstein), Boris Karloff (The Monster), and Dwight Frye (he plays a Karl in this film, though played Fritz in the original Frankenstein) serve to form the initial basis the ‘Frankenstein Universe’, as it were. However, the addition of Elsa Lanchester (playing the double-role of Mary Shelley and ‘the Bride’) and the creepy and fun Ernest Thesiger (playing Dr. Pretorius), is what makes Bride of Frankenstein the classic that it is.
Ernest Thesiger’s performance as Dr. Pretorius is incredibly great. In fact, his performance ranks him among the greatest cinematic ‘mad scientists’ of all time, if the not the greatest.
Boris Karloff brings a new dimension to his role by engaging in dialogue, as opposed to the guttural noises and grunts he makes in the first film. William Hurlbut wrote the script to Bride, with much input from director James Whale. The dialogue is one of my favorite aspects about Bridge of Frankenstein. The monster learns the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, has a clear understanding of ‘life’ and ‘death’, ‘friend’ and ‘foe’, and other conceptual dualities, which I find not only entertaining — but to some extent, fascinating.
One of my favorite scenes is Bride is the scene where the Monster enters a poor, blind villager’s hut. Because the villager cannot see him, he doesn’t scream, run away or attack him, as the other villagers inevitably do. The two begin to form a real friendship, and it’s a moving, sensitive moment in the film which I admire. One can feel the love and companionship between these two men — that is, until, the other villagers break in and ruin everything!
The musical score by Franz Waxman is perfect. The scene where we first see ‘the Bride’ –with her long, flowing wedding gown and her crazy beehive hair with the silver zig-zags, her plush lips, her pretty features, and the scars around her neck — the Waxman score kicks in full force with a powerful orchestral swell and the chiming of bells. If not for the Waxman score, this scene would have lost the power and edge that it commands.
Note: Una O’Connor returns is a returning cast member as well, playing the character of Minnie. Una serves as comedic relief in her roles throughout the Universal films, and it’s quite fun to watch her facial expressions and body language.
Note 2: There are some interesting allusions between The Monster and the crucifixion of Christ. The Monster is fundamentally misunderstood and betrayed when the villagers hunt him down and tie him to a pole which easily could have been a crucifix. In fact, a more obvious connection to the crucifixion was written in the original script, but was deemed blasphemous by Universal and had to be removed.
On day #8 – House of 1000 Corpses (released in 2003)
This is Rob Zombie’s directorial debut. It starts out as a run-of-the-mill horror film, yet increasingly becomes more disturbing and zany as it goes on. In fact, the last fifteen minutes brings House into a whole other realm of hidden, monstrous evil.
The cast in House is really entertaining, and Zombie’s cinematographic sense is on full display here. I especially enjoy Bill Moseley performance as Otis Firefly. His pale face, stringy hair, and crazy rantings are simultaneously scary and fun.
On day #9 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (released in 1982)
I love Season of the Witch. It may be my favorite of the Halloween sequels. And I love it for precisely the reason why it was so poorly received by critics and viewers alike — it doesn’t have anything to do with Michael Myers or the previous two films in the franchise.
Season of the Witch, taken as its own film, features a fresh and inventive story line and a solid cast of actors, including: the rugged Tom Atkins, the cute Stacey Nelkin, and the threatening Dan O’Herlihy.
The reason for Halloween III not having anything to do with the previous films is due to the idea that each Halloween film would be its own unique story, forming an anthology series. This idea, obviously, didn’t go over well. People preferred a repetition of ‘slasher formula’ — which I find unfortunate.
Still, Season of the Witch is great fun and has many tense, creepy moments throughout.
On Day #10 – In the Tall Grass (released in 2019)
This film is based off the novella by Joe Hill and Stephen King. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the novella yet, but I look forward to it, as Hill and King are among some of my favorite writers.
Perhaps I was in a particularly susceptible mood, but there were several moments when In the Tall Grass creeped me out! I have a high tolerance for horror films, and only a few of them frighten me. So I think this speaks to the effectiveness of the film.
The cast was engaging and the concept is original and interesting. I found a couple conceptual inconsistencies near the end of the film, however, and this did interrupt the flow for a me a bit. All in all though, In the Tall Grass is a good horror film and I recommend it.
On Day #11 – Child’s Play (released in 1988)
I grew up with this film, and to the great surprise of society-at-large, I have not grown up to become a serial killer in Charles Lee Ray’s footsteps.
The darkness of Child’s Play is, looking back, a valuable asset which the other films in the franchise miss out on. A lot of Chucky fans prefer the humor, and I enjoy it too, but the darkness of this first film is a quality which I find to be almost intoxicating.
The movie has its faults. I really enjoyed Chris Sarandon’s character, Detective Norris, until the end of the film, where he ‘wusses out’ over a knife wound to his leg and ceases attempting to save six-year-old Andy Barclay and his mother, Karen. So, it’s up mother and son to defeat the possessed, killer ‘Good Guy’ doll at the film’s end — kudos to them.
The special effects in Child’s Play holds up especially well after these twenty-some years, which I find impressive. Chucky becomes burnt to a crisp in a fire, then has his limbs severed one by one. Yet he keeps coming! When I was a child, this was a terrifying scene to watch. These days, however, I’m apt to quote Monty Python, “It’s only a flesh wound!”