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Old 12-31-2017, 07:04 PM   #1092
Trey Strain
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Originally Posted by Agent Purple View Post
Steadily (read: slowly) getting through the many classic Universal horror flicks, this past week saw me viewing two of them.

She-Wolf of London (1946)

"Oh, I never touch a drop, sir -- before six PM!"

I was quite surprised and pleased with how this one turned out. You go in expected a straight-up werewolf flick themed so that a woman is the focus, but it turns into this clever and satisfying mystery with a more realistic grounding.

I found the two inspectors to be highly entertaining (the older one reminded me of JK Simmons from the Raimi Spider-Man films, the younger being a bit more comic relief but endearing).

I like the ambiguity involved in whether or not the protagonist really is turning into a beast and slaughtering anybody in the park unfortunate enough to cross paths. There's plenty of evidence that she has a dark, alternate being within her, but also clues that suggest she's innocent.

Overall it was a solid and entertaining film, very balanced in its content and presentation, and a hidden gem from the bygone days of the Silver Screen.

And last night I achieved a much larger accomplishment: I finally watched Frankenstein (1931).

"Dangerous? Poor old Waldman. Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if no one tried to find out what lies beyond? Have your never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud? And what changes the darkness into light? But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn't care if they did think I was crazy. "

It was either this or The Mummy (1932), but I decided that it would be Whale's masterpiece.

This was incredibly satisfying, albeit with some dissonance in the back of my head (the names Henry and Victor being switched for the reason that Victor sounded too severe and unfriendly to American audiences, and Igor being Fritz).

I really have to say that Colin Clive was phenomenal as Dr. Frankenstein, just an animated and frightfully brilliant performance. Made me think of the mad doctor from Transylvania 6-5000, with him being a mad scientist in the lab but a normal guy outside of it. I also was really pleased that he had a redemption turn rather than being consumed by his twisted science and the Monster, which is what we get a fair bit as it is. Really stunned and thrilled at the ending he got!

His father, Frederick Kerr, was a hoot. I loved his performance, this lovable old dad with some serious verbal barbs. His interaction with the Burgomaster was a scream. And speaking of Lionel Belmore, when my dad first saw his name on the opening credits, he momentarily thought it said "Lionel Barrymore." I myself noticed that Karloff only got a question mark until the repeating of the credits at the film's end.

As for the Monster, Karloff did a stellar job. His entrance was awkward (walking in backwards, of all things), and how he leaned forward so much was perhaps a little unusual, but damn if he doesn't commit to the role. This disfigured, mentally-unstable beast that just stumbles through a world he doesn't understand, his only experiences full of pain, fear, and anger (seeing Fritz use the torch and whip on him was jarring; guy's a total sadist, and he also has a post-mortem invisibility shield). I also noticed, thanks to James Rolfe, that his Monster haircut is similar to the one in The Criminal Code (need to see that).

I did quite like how animated the Monster is, moving about quickly as opposed to shuffling and staggering. Seeing such dynamism really changes your perspective on how the Monster is often portrayed. I suspect that, during the fiery death at the end, the studio sped up the film or removed some frames (doubtful of the latter, since I couldn't see any jumps), because of how quickly things happen (you can literally see that the physical movements of both Karloff and his surroundings are faster than they should be).

The scene with the father carrying his dead daughter through town was nerve-wracking, that haunted look on his face and everyone celebrating less and less as the scene goes on. Really makes you shudder.

Overall I am very happy with this work of art. Now to get through the rest of them.
I don't think you'll be disappointed in The Mummy. I think it's the best of Universal's early horror films, and that Karloff's performance in it even tops the one he gave in Frankenstein.

If you haven't seen it, I suggest that you also watch Freaks.

Last edited by Trey Strain; 12-31-2017 at 07:14 PM.
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