Tuesday, November 30

The Naschy Blogathon - Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf continued further...

Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo
a.k.a. Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman - 1972

Paul Naschy enjoyed the good fortune to be the man calling the shots in his films, as he wrote, starred in and even directed many of them. Therefore he, like most good filmmakers, surrounded himself with actors he knew and trusted. Many of the cast members from the film I've been discussing for the Naschy Blogathon, DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN, had either already worked with Naschy or would go on to work with him again in the future. Let’s take a look at the principals in this picture, and their pictorial relation with the Spanish Lon Chaney…

Shirley Corrigan

Shirley plays Justine in this picture, and of course is unable to resist the charms of Waldemar Daninsky. Shirley is stunningly beautiful - I have to seek out more of her work.

She has 24 film credits on IMDB, including, interestingly, an uncredited bit as a partygoer in the Dario Argento film FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. Her last film was THE LITTLE ARCHIMEDES in 1979. She is one of the few cast members who did not go on to work with Naschy again. This is what she had to say about Naschy in an interview from her website:

"When I first arrived in Madrid and was getting to know Paul Naschy, we would go to his house where he invited me to meet his family - they were all very lovely, and very hospitable. Then we decided we would go out together and talk about the script, but it became impossible because there were about 300 people waiting outside the restaurant for autographs! It was like a stampede, He kept saying to the public: "This is Senorita Shirley Corrigan, a beautiful girl from England. She's bringing me good luck. He was such a generous man. I liked working with him, he was very respectful to me and always said, 'You're much too good!'"
Her official website is: http://www.shirleycorrigan.com/


Jack Taylor – Dr. Henry Jekyll

Jack plays the cool Dr. Henry Jekyll, a man harboring a long secret love for Justine. He is the grandson of the infamous Dr. Jekyll, and tries to help cure Waldemar of his curse, thanks to the pleading of Justine.

He was born in Oregon City, Oregon in 1926. He made over a hundred movies ncluding CONAN THE BARBARIAN, THE VAMPIRE’S NIGHT ORGY, Jess Franco’s COUNT DRACULA (with Christopher Lee), and THE NINTH GATE. He worked with Paul Naschy in several films – EXORCISMO (1975), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972), and THE MUMMY’S REVENGE (1973). Worked with Naschy again in 1973 in the giallo EL ASESINO ESTÁ ENTRE LOS TRECE. He is still acting to this day, averaging one or two films a year, and even had a film come out in 2010 called AGNOSIA.


Mirta Miller – Sandra
She plays Dr. Jekyll’s assistant and lover, Sandra. She is a bad, bad woman, and is insanely jealous of Justine. She is the catalyst of the chain of events that bring disaster to Waldemar in London.


Born in 1948, she appeared in 77 movies, including BOLERO with Bo Derek. Her most recent film came out in 2004 titled SUCEDIÓ EN ESPAÑA. She appeared in a number of movies with Paul Naschy including COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE (1972), VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972), TODOS LOS GRITOS DEL SILENCIO (1975), and EL ÚLTIMO KAMIKAZE (1984, written directed and starring Paul Naschy).


Jose Marco – Imre
Jose plays Justine’s husband in the beginning of this film. Naschy pulls a bit of a Hitchcockian fake out here, introducing us to Imre and leading us to believe he is the lead character. But, like the husbands of beautiful women in many Naschy films, he is quickly disposed of – the easier for Naschy to steal her heart!


Born in 1925 - Although he only appeared in DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN for a brief period he is actually a very well known Spanish actor. He has appeared in close to 80 films including FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (bit part), and HORROR EXPRESS – in fact he had already appeared in more than 60 films by the time DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN was made. He appeared in several other Naschy films including WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1971), FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1972), LOS CANTROBROS (1980 – written and directed by Paul Naschy who also has a role in this one) and EL VÉRTIGO DEL CRIMEN (1970).


Luis Induni – Otvos
Luis plays Otvos, leader of a local group of thugs. He and his men follow Imre and Justine to the graveyard, murder him, and try to rape Justine, before being foiled by an enraged Waldemar.

Born in 1920, Luis died in Dec 1979. He appeared in over 200 titles, including a number of spaghetti westerns. He appeared with Naschy in NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975), EXORCISMO (1975), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972), DEVIL’S POSSESSED (1974), FURY OF JOHNNY KID (1967), LA DIOSA SALVAJE (1975), SECUESTRO (1976).


Barta Barri – Gyogyo, the inn-keeper
Barta plays Gyogo the Inn Keeper. I really like this character, as it feels like a nod to the Dracula pictures of old, where the local in keeper warns the travelers not to go near the Dracula’s castle. Plus he has a glorious moustache! In just one of many twists in this picture, the inn keeper isn’t exactly what he appears – in fact, he is working in cahoots with Otvos and his men.

Barta was born in 1911 – he made over 130 pictures. He worked with Naschy in the pictures WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1971), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972), THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976), 1001 NIGHTS (1968).


Luis Gaspar – Thurko, Otvos's thug
I am not 100% sure the thug above is Luis - I could only find two other pictures of him, both recent ones, but I see some similarity between the two and think I have the correct thug...
Luis made close to 50 films, including several Naschy pictures: WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1971), THE MUMMY’S REVENGE (1973), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972)


Elsa Zabala – Uswika Bathory
Elsa plays the spooky old witch who lives with Waldemar in his black castle. The townsfolk are all scared of her - until one of them cuts her head off and presents it like a trophy to the angry mob!

Elsa appeared with Naschy in the CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973), HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973), VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973), DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN (1972).


Even this street walker, the second woman murdered by Daninsky once he wolfs-out in London (and who appears onscreen only for a minute or so), was in WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN the year before. She was played by actress Marissa Tovar.

So this was one cast that was pretty familiar with one another. Probably made for a smooth shoot, and certainly one Naschy felt comfortable with.

Monday, November 29

Paul Naschy Blogathon - Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman continued

For part two of the Paul Naschy Blogathon here I thought I'd share a few screen captures from DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN. There is a whole lot going on in this movie, and some really cool visuals. I just grabbed a few stills from some of the highlights...

Justine and Imre, newlyweds - this guy HAS to be loaded
cause she's WAAAY outta his league...

The cozy family burial grounds...

trouble with the locals...

Oh crap!

Thins are definitely looking grim...

Waldemar to the rescue!

Imre who?

Your new boyfriend has a secret... a big hairy one.

All this and a mad scientist too? This movie has it all!

Hyde-o-vision

Daninsky-Hyde - what a handsome fella!

The man enjoys his work - a real hands on kinda guy!

Naw, he doesn't stand out at all...

Not one of Justine's better days...

Oooh that's gotta hurt!

Uh oh...

Naschy Blogathon - Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf

Today is the beginning of the Paul Naschy Blogathon! Blogs all across the cybersphere will be writing about the Spanish actor, director, and screenwriter Paul Naschy this week. I was asked to contribute by the organizer of the event, The Vicar of VHS over at Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies, and was more than happy to join in the festivities! I am going to kick off my own Naschy tribute with a review of a Paul Naschy movie from 1972, "Dr Jekyll and the Wolfman."
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I got a chance to sit down and watch “Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman”. This DVD has been on my “to watch” stack for years, and I felt it high time I finally took a look at it.

This is the 6th movie featuring Naschy as the character Waldemar (pronounced Valdemar) Daninsky, a man cursed with lycanthropy, or werewolfism. The werewolf pictures are the ones Naschy is best known for, although he did a ton of pictures outside the werewolf genre. They are an interesting lot – Naschy wrote and starred in them, and his character comes across as a mixture of monster and superhero, with a touch of James Bond thrown in for good measure. The women of his films are always strikingly beautiful and unable to resist his charms – hey, it pays to be the scriptwriter - and there is usually lots of nudity involved. He is the same character in each film yet they don’t necessarily follow one another continuity-wise – they are best taken as individual stories totally separate from one another. He also usually dies at the end of the movie.
The other thing about Paul Naschy films is he loves mashing monsters together like the old monster rallies of the Universal heyday (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, etc). In this film he combines the Wolfman and the Robert Louis Stevenson character, Dr. Jekyll. But he gives it a unique twist – Jekyll doesn’t turn into Hyde in this movie – NASCHY does!!
This film kind of works in three parts – the first part of the movie is almost a prologue, introducing us to a newlywed couple planning a vacation to Transylvania to visit the husband’s family burial grounds. We are also briefly introduced to Dr. Henry Jekyll here – but we won’t see him again until the third act.


The second part of the movie sets up Daninsky as the werewolf. It takes place primarily in Transylvania, where our vacationing couple meet with tragedy. The husband is murdered by local thugs while they are visiting his family’s graveyard, and his wife, Justine, is about to be raped when Daninsky shows up. He appears out of nowhere, like some black clothed superhero. He battles them off, killing two of them in the process – one by violently smashing his head with a giant rock! He takes Justine back to his home, a huge castle, and nurses her back to health. The two fall in love, and Justine discovers the truth about Daninsky – he is a werewolf.


She convinces him to return with her to London where she knows a doctor who may be able to help him with his affliction. This is where the third act begins. This doctor is the aforementioned Henry Jekyll, grandson of the infamous doctor who created a formula to release the dark side of one’s nature. Jekyll tells Daninsky he thinks he can help him. His plan is to inject Daninsky with a modified version of his Grandfather’s formula on the evening of a full moon. This will release the dark side of Daninsky’s personality, which will be stronger than the werewolf part of him, thus preventing him from changing into the werewolf. At that point Jekyll plans to inject Daninsky with the antidote, returning him to normal, and thus curing him of his lycanthropy. Uh-huh. Makes perfect sense.

As you can imagine, things take a turn for the worse and we soon have a Daninsky/Hyde character stalking the streets of disco London. He cruises bars and strip clubs, picks up prostitutes, and leaves a trail of naked, ravaged bodies.

Naschy does a great job playing the Hyde character here - with just minimal makeup he is able to pull off a totally different persona quite convincingly. He wears a top hat and coat while playing Hyde, giving a nice nod to the traditional Jekyll and Hyde movies. I really like that Dr. Jekyll wasn’t the one who is injected with the formula in this movie. It made for a neat twist to the story, which actually takes several unexpected turns throughout its 96 min run. It does have some pretty far-fetched plot points, but there are more than enough good things going for this film to make it worthwhile. Definitely worth watching – track down a copy if you get a chance, and make sure it’s the unedited 96 minute print with all the violence and nudity intact.

Friday, November 26

Karloff Week Continued...

This will be the last post for this year's Boris Karloff Week - this time I'd like to present a couple of really great Karloff illustrations. The first is from a paperback novel called "Tales of the Frightened" from 1963.



Click to ENLARGE


and lastly, a Gold Key comic from 1962 titled BORIS KARLOFF THRILLER. Love this cover!

Thursday, November 25

Karloff Week continued - the later years

I would love to see a movie made about the life of Boris Karloff. He is one of my favorite actors of all time and perhaps THE nicest guy to ever don monster makeup. A true gentleman and fine actor.

There are many approaches the producers of this movie could take, but if they wanted to portray Karloff in his later years, like they did with Bela Lugosi in the film Ed Wood (with Martin Landau playing Lugosi brilliantly), below you will see my suggestion for an actor to play the Uncanny Karloff in his twilight years...





That's right, Abe Vigoda, Fish himself - i think the resemblance is, well - uncanny - so tell me, fright fans - what do you think?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving my friends! A couple of Thanksgiving gems here for you - enjoy!




Wednesday, November 24

Continuing Karloff

Continuing our celebration of Boris Karloff, here is a pressbook from the 1960s promoting 5 of his films: Die Monster Die, The Terror, The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, and Black Sabbath. Wonder who this was aimed at... theaters, television stations, distributors of some sort? Pretty interesting book...

Tuesday, November 23

Happy Birthday Boris!


Today marks the birthday of the Master of Menace himself, Boris Karloff, who was born 123 years ago in England as William Henry Pratt. Here's to you, Boris - still the king after all these years. Think I'll watch a Karloff flick tonight in celebration - only question is which one? hmmm. Think I'll see what's available on Netflix...

Monday, November 22

Countdown to Karloff Continued

Tomorrow is the birthday of the master of menace - so in my ongoing celebration of Boris Karloff, here is a great publicity photo from Son of Frankenstein. As always click to enlarge pics...





Saturday, November 20

Countdown to Karloff continued...

More Boris today - this is a clip from "This is Your Life" with Boris Karloff. In this clip his old pal Jack Pierce shows up, makeup genius for Universal Studios. It is great seeing the mutual admiration the two obviously shared for one another. GREAT clip uploaded to youtube by my buddy Scott Essman...


Friday, November 19

Countdown to Karloff continued

Next week is the birthday of the king - continuing our celebration of Boris...
Here with director Jack Hill on the set of HOUSE OF EVIL, one of the Karloff pictures I've not seen yet. I'm a fan of director Jack Hill, so I would like to see this one one day. You can buy a copy of this photo here:
http://www.spiderbabyonline.com/shop/index.html

Bela and Boris from their movie The Black Cat, 1934. Love these promotional photos.

Found this one on an auction site - The description read:
Karloff, star of Invisible Ray, The Bride of Frankenstein and other Universal pictures, with Mrs. Karloff entertains a group of friends on the tennis court of the actor's Beverly Hills home. Left to right: Rolf Armstrong, noted American artist; Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Karloff, Mrs Stine (her mother), Gene Walsh and Karloff.

Times were definitely different back then, but looks like these couples were enjoying their afternoon together at the tennis courts.

Wednesday, November 17

Countdown to Karloff

The man himself with a few of his friends - be sure to click to enlarge!

My take on The Walking Dead

It was with a bit of trepidation that I finally sat down and watched the first three episodes of THE WALKING DEAD, the new AMC TV series that takes place during a zombie apocalypse. You see, I think I’ve reached zombie overload – the genre has become over-saturated to the point it’s become one big shambling cliché. Zombies are everywhere nowadays - Zombie Walks, Zombie Costumes, Zombie Proms, fer cryin’ out loud – and of course, let’s not forget the ever present low budget straight-to-video zombie movie releases – all of these and more have contributed to my state of over-zombification.

Add to that my newfound disdain for digital blood, thanks largely in part to George Romero and the latest in HIS ongoing zombie series, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, and you have a clear recipe for disaster.

You see, I knew going in that this was a zombie television series. I’m somewhat familiar with the comics that THE WALKING DEAD are based on, although I haven’t read them personally, so I sort of knew what to expect, story-wise. And I had heard that the series was ripe with digital blood effects, so I was dreading the plastic looking digital spray used so often in SURVIVAL.

But I decided there was no way I was going to miss out on a new horror TV series, so I got a copy of the first few episodes and settled in for a night of flesh eating fiends.



**SPOILER ALERT**

THE WALKING DEAD managed to make this feel fresh. I can’t exactly put my finger on just WHY this is the case, though. It certainly wasn’t the storyline. Nothing new there. The lead character, Sherriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes, is injured in a shoot-out and awakens in a hospital to find himself in a world turned upside down. A zombie plague has ravaged the country, and the hospital is abandoned and filled with both half-eaten corpses and some hungry undead as well.

This immediately brings to mind the 2002 film 28 DAYS LATER, in which a character awakens in a hospital to find himself in a world ravaged by a viral plague. The people who contract this virus, although not zombies by the Romero definition, are still, for all intents and purposes - zombies.

Actually, 28 DAYS LATER isn’t the first film to utilize that plot line. In 1951 John Wyndham wrote the novel THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS… in that book, (as well as the 1962 film version and the 1981 UK TV series and the 2009 UK TV series based on that book), the lead character awakens in a hospital with his eyes bandaged. He removes his bandages to find the world in a state of chaos, and he is one of the few humans who have eyesight. Everyone else is blind - and there are huge, walking, flesh eating plants roaming the countryside, to boot.

Come to think of it, THE WALKING DEAD reminds me more of the British made for TV version of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS than 28 DAYS LATER. It is closer in tone to that production, and shares some other similarities story-wise as well.

The Walking Dead Hospital Scene
28 Days Later Hospital Scene

The Day of the Triffids Hospital Scene

THE WALKING DEAD actually didn’t add anything new to the zombie genre, either. They are, basically, Romero version zombies. They shamble slowly, seek living flesh for sustenance, and are destroyed by destroying the brain. Kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul – lesson one from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Also, much like Romero, no reason is given for the zombie apocalypse. The audience is all too familiar with the rules of zombiedom nowadays, so no such explanation is needed. There are zombies roaming the earth. Now deal with it.

No, nothing new story wise, so how is it that it still seems fresh, not stale and boring like so many recent zombie productions?

I think several factors play into this. Number one – it’s a TV series, thus it’s paced differently than a movie. This is probably the biggest reason it works. There is more time for character development and mood building than if this were a movie. There are 6 one-hour episodes to this series – that is 6 hours to tell a story that would have to be rushed into 90 minutes if this were in the theaters. The pacing is slower, the mood more intense, and there aren’t explosions and giant special effects happening every few minutes. No, this is a much slower, quieter story, and it benefits from it.

Not that there aren’t action packed sequences. There are, and they’re done very well. The zombies all seem to move and act consistently. The makeup is fantastic, especially on the zombies we see close-up. The first zombie we get to see in detail, the crawling, rotting, half-corpse woman, is stunning. Simply one of the best looking zombies ever filmed in any zombie production.
The digital blood is an unfortunate choice, as I always prefer squib and traditional blood effects over computer generated effects. They always look better. But I have to give the devil his due here – they are handled way better than in SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, and are far less distracting.

I think the number one thing about the series that makes it work is the characters. This is a character based series. You care about Rick Grimes and what happens to him. You watch with nervous apprehension as he makes his way through zombie filled terrain. It isn’t the zombies that make this good – the threat could just as easily be Triffids, or rabid dogs, or any other monster you care to name – it just so happens to be zombies here. No, the thing that makes this work is that the characters work. The acting is good, the effects are good, the pacing is good.

The zombies in THE WALKING DEAD are not a mere afterthought, though. They are approached thoughtfully - they're more than mere special effects. When they work best, they are pitiful creatures. Shrunken, shriveled, emaciated versions of themselves – cursed creatures with just a touch of humanity about them. My favorite scene from episode one is when Rick returns to find the half-corpse woman I mentioned before, kneels beside her, and tells her, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” before putting her out of her misery. It’s a neat moment, and one that sets it aside from its undead brethren. The focus on so many recent movies is the zombies and their ghoulish nature, and you don’t care who these creatures were before they turned into ghouls. Sure, there are plenty of moments of mindless zombie mayhem here – but like I said, the times THE WALKING DEAD works best is when there is a touch of humanity injected into the ghouls. They are us, after all, only different.

So I’m looking forward to seeing the second half of this TV series. I understand it’s already been picked up for a second season. If as much care is put into season two as was put into the first one, AMC will have a sure-fire hit on their hands.


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