Boris Karloff

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Bedlam Review


Very Good
One of Val Lewton's final films, this collaboration with Boris Karloff is also one of his most tragically underrated. The story is reminiscent of Shock Corridor, with a wealthy do-gooder (Anna Lee) investigating conditions in the notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum -- aka Bedlam. No sooner has she arrived than the head of Bedlam (Karloff) has her committed on the spot, whereupon she discovers the horrors of Bedlam firsthand. Lee is appropriately scatterred as the heroine who wants to do good, but Karloff owns the show as the creepy Master Sims. The set is also fantastic.

Continue reading: Bedlam Review

Bride Of Frankenstein Review


Extraordinary
A horror mega-classic. The sequel to the original Frankenstein is both the basis for Young Frankenstein and the film around which Gods and Monsters revolves. James Whale's film comes off as original and fresh -- and despite a few draggy scenes it's genuinely thrilling and often scary, 70 years after it was made. Filled with classic moments ("She's alive! Alive!", the hair streaks in the Bride (an uncredited Elsa Lanchester), the famous meeting between the haggard monster and the blind man, and the "gods and monsters" speech), this film is fresh and still looks great, thanks to some fabulous technical work behind the scenes. Altogether it's a true achievement. Highly recommended.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) Review


Essential
The appeal of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, of course, seasonal, but it's hard to think of a more inspired cartoon than this classic TV special. Together with Charles Schultz's A Charlie Brown Christmas (now 42 years old, one year older than Grinch), Grinch is the best holiday-inspired entertainment of modern times. It's the kind of weirdly clever, yet innocent and kid-friendly, product that forces me to use this tired cliché -- they just don't make 'em like this any more. Instead, they just remake 'em in the new cynical, frenetic, consumerist mode starring the likes of Jim Carrey, the aural/visual equivalent of a three-quarts-of-eggnog headache.

Continue reading: How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) Review

Frankenstein (1931) Review


Very Good
A little talky and with limited action, James Whale would outdo himself with Bride of Frankenstein, four years later. But from 1931 to 1935 we can assume that audiences cowered in fear before the best and most terrifying horror films ever made, this and Dracula, which arrived the same year. Now a classic part of scream culture, Boris Karloff (credited here as "?") literally stumbles his way through a role that would define his career, a perfect portrayal of literature and cinema's most misunderstood monster. (Hey, if you were made out of corpse parts, you'd be mad, too!)

The Man With Nine Lives Review


OK
Apparently cinema has been fascinated with cryonics since at least World War II. They even got Boris Karloff to appear in this semi-howler, a pseudoscience story that features some of the worst medical scenes in film history.

Here's the setup: Two researchers (Roger Pryor and Jo Ann Sayers) who have successfully brought a frozen body back to life stumble into an ice-entombed laboratory and find a dude frozen inside. They thaw him out, too, and when he pops back to life he turns out to be Dr. Leon Kravaal (Karloff), who's been missing for a decade after getting frozen by his own experiment. Now that he's back to the warm-blooded, Kravaal begins his experiments again, starting with those who oppose him and ending with those who saved his life!

Continue reading: The Man With Nine Lives Review

Bride Of Frankenstein Review


Extraordinary
A horror mega-classic. The sequel to the original Frankenstein is both the basis for Young Frankenstein and the film around which Gods and Monsters revolves. James Whale's film comes off as original and fresh -- and despite a few draggy scenes it's genuinely thrilling and often scary, 70 years after it was made. Filled with classic moments ("She's alive! Alive!", the hair streaks in the Bride (an uncredited Elsa Lanchester), the famous meeting between the haggard monster and the blind man, and the "gods and monsters" speech), this film is fresh and still looks great, thanks to some fabulous technical work behind the scenes. Altogether it's a true achievement. Highly recommended.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty Review


OK
James Thurber hated this adaptation of his short story, and I'm no huge fan of it, either. Danny Kaye is frenetically interested as Walter Mitty, a man so bored with his job and his life that he daydreams himself into fantastic situations (thug, gambler, wild west outlaw, and so on), with hilarious results. Well, not that hilarious... the film is repetitious to a fault, with Kaye alternately convincing himself he's dreaming his situations and sure they're all legit. It all gets old after half an hour, and you've got 80 minutes to go.

Bedlam Review


Very Good
One of Val Lewton's final films, this collaboration with Boris Karloff is also one of his most tragically underrated. The story is reminiscent of Shock Corridor, with a wealthy do-gooder (Anna Lee) investigating conditions in the notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum -- aka Bedlam. No sooner has she arrived than the head of Bedlam (Karloff) has her committed on the spot, whereupon she discovers the horrors of Bedlam firsthand. Lee is appropriately scatterred as the heroine who wants to do good, but Karloff owns the show as the creepy Master Sims. The set is also fantastic.

Continue reading: Bedlam Review

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