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Monday, October 31, 2011

Dracula: 1931

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina. 

   Happy Halloween everyone!  For today's review I needed to have something special, and I think that Iv'e found it.  "Dracula", from 1931.  For anyone that knows film, this was a very important time because it was the birth of a new era, "The Golden Age".  This was the time that all the iconic monsters came out; The Wolf Man, The creature from the black lagoon, The Mummy, Frankenstein, and Dracula.  This is a very important movie because it marked many timeless classics to remembered forever.  One of the many aspects about the film generates from the Hungarian actor, Bela Lugosi.  Of course this was a sudonym for his real name, Bela Blasko.  But to be respectful I don't refer to him by this name.  His character of Dracula would forever set the way future Dracula's acted, sounded, and looked.  But, it's a bit confusing being the fact that, "Nosferatu", the original Dracula, takes place in Germany, but the icon of Dracula is Hungarian.  But aside from that, these two films should be looked at separately, mainly because, "Dracula" had the film rights to be based off of the Bram Stoker novel, and, "Nosferatu" didn't.  

   Lets talk about the atmosphere.  For any good film, an effective ambiance is required, and Todd Browning pulled this off very accurately.  Every type of horror setting is put into play. There are dark, dilapidated castle walls, bats, carriages, dungeons, cobwebs, and midnight fog.  Everything about it just screams horror authenticity.  The music, if any, consists of, "Swan Lake", which only appears in the credits.

   I really like this.  It kind of shows the unlimited occasions you could use this in.  I find that if you are watching this film and not the play, "Swan Lake", you'll find that its quite intriguing to have music that feels so different from other horror films.  But it feels like it's meant to be there, somehow.  Bela Lugosi's Dracula is much the same as it is different from other Dracula's.  He is very humble, and polite with his victims, unlike Christopher Lee, in the Hammer films, but I'll get into that later.    

  Now, to be fair, I don't really know which of the movies follows the book the closest, and I still can't decide which of the films I like the best.  However these aren't all of the Dracula films.  Many productions of this horror icon have been re-imagined, remade, and resurrected, more notably from Hammer Films.  This was a production agency used solely to bring the golden age back to life.  Every, and I mean every monster was brought back in their own feature length film. As for the quality of it all, I cannot say because I have never seen a Hammer Horror Film, I just know of it.  

  A very special thing about this film in particular, is the fact that, with the golden age, comes the age of sound.  So, if you have ever seen, "Dracula" before, you have watched the first horror talkie.  However, my only complaint is that although there is talking, there isn't any music to back it up.  It's in this way that, "Dracula" can get a little slow.  But I think that the character's make up a bit for that.  I'm talking about the actor that plays Renfield, Dwight Fry.  His character in, "Nosferatu", was the one that sells Count Orlok his house.  However, in this film he slowly goes crazy and kind of reminds me of the character from, "The Vampire Bat", who also goes insane.  You know, there seems to be a pattern with characters in Vampire film history.  There always seems to be a crazy person in each of the films.  I don't know why.

  Anyway this concludes my review of, "Dracula".  Now for my verdict.  This was a very good movie.  It was mostly from Bela Lugosi, but it's different than, "White Zombie", because in that movie he was holding everything up.  In this, he deserves to act with these people, because they aren't actually that bad.  The only problem that I might have for this film is that there isn't any music forgetting the opening credits.  I think I'll give this film a similar rating to that of, "Nosferatu", because I like them both, but in different ways.  Dracula had a sense of great feeling with each role and was pure horror at its finest, and, "Nosferatu" gave off a captivating conceptual feel to the architecture and characters around them.  I don't think that you have to even like horror to enjoy this.  Unfortunately I can't show, "Dracula" to you on this site.  If your lucky enough to be able to rent this masterpiece, I encourage you to check it out, and Happy Halloween!

I give this film 8 "Children of the night" out of 10 

   I really liked how this review turned out, and I'm going to try and to review a, "Golden Age" film every Halloween.  Thanks for reading.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The House On Haunted Hill: 1959

   The review you are about to read is of the first horror movie that I've actually already seen.  This was awhile ago, and might have been before I even started reviewing horror films.  If you are new to my blog, then it might be helpful to tell you that I never usually re-watch a movie, I only see it once.  So, the fact that this review is for a movie I've already seen before hand, make this quite a rarity.  And for today's review we have something very special, "The House on Haunted Hill".  Thank you, and enjoy.

   Although horror is a genre of film, literature, and generally any other form of entertainment, among film, horror can be a very versatile subject.  There are libraries of horror footage that go from Expressionist to Psychological, Slasher, Supernatural, and the list goes on and on and on!  What I would classify this film to be is one of the more fun one's.  This was because of one man, William Castle.  He had many roles in the film business, but the job he was most known for was turning the movie theater into a haunted house.  In the movie, "The Tingler", the theater seats were rigged with back vibrators.  The plot followed a scientist that figures out about a creature living inside our spines called, "The Tingler".  Apparently the creature grows when someone is scared.  Fortunately, there is a represent to keep the tingler from growing, which is screaming.  

William Castle's introduction for, "The Tingler"

  But you’re not reading this because of, "The Tingler" (But to those of you who are, don't worry, that review isn't far away), your here to read my review of, "The House on haunted Hill".  I just wanted to give you an idea of the impact William Castle made on people everywhere which revolutionized the theater business as we know it.  Anyway I'm so glad that I'm still reviewing and haven't given up, and the reason for that is because of you.  I'm so happy for those of you who enjoy reading my blog, thank you.

   Eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren and his fourth wife, Annabelle, have invited five people to the house on haunted hill for a "Haunted House" party.  Whoever will stay in the house for on night will earn ten thousand dollars each.  As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors.

  Alright, the premise seems fitting for a horror film, but is that all a horror film needs?  Of course not!  In a sense it has everything one could want, a haunted house accompanied by Vincent Price, where all things scary known to man reside.  But the problem within this equation is the fact that the characters that are guests in the house seem level headed and it wouldn't seem that the supernatural goings on in the house would frighten them so easily(with the exception of one scene:  25:25).  Onto the effects, which are okay considering the time period.  However where the effects usually enhance the atmosphere, this film's effects make it seem less credible that such a haunted house exists.  Speaking of the actual property, look at the house!


   This looks more like a warehouse than an actual haunted house!  I know that you could call this, "mixing things up" because of the new design, but everything else in the movie people have already seen in any other haunted house flick.  At least they managed to stay far away from the outside of the house and focus on the inside.  As for The acting, it was good, but stereotypical.  Even Vincent Price is played off as a side character at most times.  Most of the time the story focuses on the survival of the two most attractive people in the story, Lance and Nora.  It’s really sad when the object of love is only shown when two attractive characters stand close to each other and talk.  It’s very clear that the director wanted us to feel this way about them, even though there is no intimacy whatsoever.  

   The rest of the cast is somewhat forgettable and even one character, Ruth Bridges only has around five lines in the entire movie, and she doesn't even die!  I don't know what the audience is supposed to think of this.  As for me, I know that the film is probably one to be taken seriously, but some parts are very confusing towards what your reaction is supposed to be.  Two of the guests, Lance and Nora, travel down to the cellar to go exploring.  They come across a hollow opening and one of them leaves the other alone.  The guest left behind turns around to find an old lady making a face behind her.  The sequence of actions went as follows:  you jump out of your seat; you laugh hysterically, and then remain perplexed as to the event that had just occurred.  It’s probably the only jump scene you'll have to worry about, the only problem with that is that there are a whole bunch of other jump scenes that you don't jump to, so this scene is the only one that I'm counting.  

   Even the events that occur are confusing because you suddenly realize through the movie, that everything that happens that's scary is just filler until another clue shows itself to unravel the mystery a little further.  It doesn't even seem like a party!  From the look of things there's nothing to do given the amount of guests, and it’s pulled off as amusing to the guest of honor, Vincent Price's wife.  Speaking of Vincent and his wife, their relationship is very confusing.  They seem to be happy with each other judging by the tones of their voices but it becomes clear that they have tried to kill each other before, and that's just...creepy. There's a little bit of foreshadowing when Vincent Price is doing the role call for each guest, as if you can already tell the unsatisfying feeling he gets when mentioning his wife's name.  What I would have liked to see is the tension that would keep rising until you couldn't trust any of the residents.  Scratch that...What I would have liked to see is the tension that would keep rising until you couldn't trust any of the residents done correctly. 

To conclude this review, upon the second viewing of this film my thoughts from the beginning have changed entirely.  If your into horror for the enjoyment and don't take things too seriously, you'll like this allot.  The twist at the end was okay but it very well could have been better.  In my opinion it would have worked allot better without the twist, and just stuck with mind numbing spooks.  Instead it tried to input an intelligent plot twist to, "mix things up", but I really thought that the film could have done better without it.  I hope that you enjoyed my review of, "The House on Haunted Hill".

   I give this film 3 gliding witches out of 5 


   Just a little notification.  My first review was of Nosferatu on June 22 2011.  Because of the quantity of time that has passed since this review, and because of my heightening ability to analyze films, I must admit something.  My first review was a great injustice to Nosferatu.  I now know that I could have said so much more because of what I know now.  But I have to keep this review, and never change it because it will always remain a starting place to a wonderful hobby.  I want to do something about this for my 100th review, but I have a long way to go before I get there.  However the main reason I am writing again today is because this is a very special day.  Today marks the one hundred and first day that I started reviewing horror films.  Truth be told I never actually though that I would get this far.  Don't hesitate to expect more reviews after this to come.  Thank you.

  Next Review:  Little Shop of Horrors  1960