The Phantom of the Opera (1943) Review

movieposter

The Phantom of the Opera is the final review of the month and unfortunately its the worst film in the Universal Classic Monsters Collection.

Phantom-Rains2

Claude Rains who was well known for playing the Invisible Man takes on the role of Erique Claudin a violinist who is fired by the Paris Opera house after 20 years of service due to sudden arthritis in his left hand.

Phantom-of-the-Opera_main

Of  course anyone who knows the story of the book or stage play will know that Erique eventually becomes the Phantom and Claude Rains does an excellent job at playing both roles, in this production Christine is played by Susanna Foster, Susanna has quite an interesting past she went to a singing and acting school with the likes of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney she was only 17 when she took on the lead female role in Phantom of the Opera, two other big names in the film were Nelson Eddy who played Antone Garron and Edgar Barrier who played police officer Raoul Daubert.

phantomoftheopera4

In my personal opinion the best part of the movie was the sets, the Paris Opera House used in this adaption of the book was the same set that was built for the 1925 film of the same name starring Lon Chaney, if the Paris Opera House set wasn’t impressive enough another great set is the Phantoms home hidden underneath the Opera, the set is very gothic which helps to set the mood before the love interest rips off the Phantoms mask revealing his disfigurement.

6745_5

 

The 1943 adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera is ok and that’s unfortunately the best I can say for the movie, I really enjoyed the cast they were campy and fun, the movie used comedy in a way that it didn’t ruin the dark romantic atmosphere of the movie, Claude Rains did a fantastic job at playing the Phantom and the sets were all extremely memorable, the film was even filmed in Technicolour but even with all this going for it something was missing and that was the the monster movie I was promised, this is not a monster movie and I’m not even sure if I could class it as a horror, the Phantom of the Opera is more of a romantic drama with a dark coat of paint, even twilight has a vampires and werewolves but would you cast that a horror? At least Twilight had monsters which is something I cant say about this so why on earth was it included in a classic monster collection? To most it’s the Phantom of the Opera but to me its more like the Phantom of the Mediocre.

The Bluray for Phantom of the Opera wasn’t very generous with its bonus features it does have a documentary and a commentary track   but that’s about all that’s worth looking at.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

Thank you for joining me for all of these reviews, all of these movies had a great effect on horror movies today and even though they are old, most of them are not in colour and the effects aren’t great compared to CGI but they are still great films that need to be seen if only to help you appreciate how far film has come over the years.

Happy Halloween

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

 

 

Advertisements

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Review

Creature from the Black Lagoon - 94M.77.02

We’ve taken quite a time jump with Creature of the Black Lagoon, this is the first time I have ever seen the film and I was surprised that it was able to use my wide screen television to its advantage as the other films we have looked at only took up a percentage of the screen.

Julie Adams and the Gill Man in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, 1954.

The creature is one of the most popular monsters of all time, it became a beloved icon after the success of the movie and many toys, food promotions, board games and plush toys made Universal more than 10 times the amount they got from the film alone, today the simple story of a group of scientist’s hunting a man/fish monster so they can study it probably wouldn’t be so popular compared too some of the more complex horror movies of today, so what made this so famous and why did so many people love the monster?

8313fd24d8e16a22a47fe7132e42e010--suspense-movies-strange-creatures

Some may believe that the creatures success is purely due to how brilliant the movie is and the creative design of the monster but I beg to differ, I believe the success was for two reasons, the first is that the movie was shot in 3D which was a new concept back then which would surely draw in an audience and the other reason is just because of when it was released, in the 1950’s monster movies were huge and more popular than they have every been and throughout the decade many popular monster movies were released including Invasion of the body snatchers, Tarantula, It came from out of space and Godzilla just to name a few.

6746_4

The creature was played by two people Ben Chapman played the creature on land while a gentleman named Rico Browning played the creature whenever he was in the water, the supporting cast is a lot of fun they each bring a lot of energy and charisma to the production, apart from the creature itself  Richard Carlson, Richard Dennings and Julie Adams are the best part of the film these three actors have an amazing chemistry and their personalities are always bouncing off of each other also Julie Adams did a bikini scene which helped to sky rocket her acting career.

Encountering_Creature_Black_Lagoon

The sets for creature are not too great but this is due to a big chunk of the movie taking place underwater and when the movie takes us somewhere else its only for a short while, the underwater scenes are fantastic and beautifully shot, they were recorded in the North Florida Wakulla Springs while the rest of the film was shot at the Universal back lot in California, the problem I have with the sets is that apart from the Wakulla Springs the rest just aren’t that memorable you haven’t got a Dracula’s Castle or a Doctor Frankenstein’s Laboratory which is a real shame.

017-creature-from-the-black-lagoon-theredlist

The Creature from the Black Lagoon is a really great film, the movie is a lot of fun to watch, out of all of the films this month I would say that this one felt like a proper monster movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon was like watching a Godzilla movie that’s loosely based on King Kong its absolutely brilliant.

The Blu-Ray is once again lacking in Bonus Features although there is a decent documentary and a directors commentary to watch also a 3D version of the movie is available on the disk which is pretty cool.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

 

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Review

Bride-of-Frankenstein-Poster

The monster returns in this exemplary sequel to Universals original Frankenstein film, James Whale came back to direct the Bride of Frankenstein much to his displeasure , Whale never wanted Frankenstein to continue in his vision the monster had died at the end of the first film and he had too make a sequel due to his contracted agreement with Universal and the massive success of the original picture.

Bride_of_Frankenstein_2

As much as James Whale didn’t want to make the picture it actually ended up being one of the greatest horror films of all time and a favorite for many critics including myself.

brideofranknstn_083pyxurz

Boris Karloff is back playing the role of the monster and as can be expected he is absolutely fantastic playing the part, the monster is a killer but Karloff plays the part with so much emotion and innocence it is so difficult to not feel sorry for him, my favorite scene in the movie is a perfect example to sum up not only why this film is so brilliant but also just how amazing Karloff was as an actor, in the scene the monster while running away from trigger happy villagers stumbles across a blind hermit in the woods and the hermit is the only human from the village that doesn’t want to kill the monster, this is great because the guy is blind and wont judge the monster because he cant see him, the hermit takes care of the monster and teaches him how to speak, during the scene the monster becomes more calm and even somewhat gentle and friendly, and once he loses the hermit and the villages start acting aggressively towards him the monster becomes dangerous and deadly once again.

Bride-of-Frankenstein-1935-3

As well as packing in plenty of action and emotion, Bride of Frankenstein is also extremely creative and the special effects are very impressive, the most impressive has got to be when Doctor Pretorius shows Frankenstein his previous experiments to create life which involved him growing humans, this led the people that Pretorius grew to be very small and they all kept in separate glass bottles.

jack&elsabw

Makeup artist Jack Pierce who has done a lot of the famous monster makeups in the past came back for Bride of Frankenstein to do Karloff’s monster makeup and Elsa Lanchester who played the monsters bride, Pierce’s makeup work is iconic he created the way we view the original horror icons and his work is always highly respected and inspirational, as well designing the makeup for the monster pierce was also the mastermind behind the brides hair and makeup, Pierce’s work was masterful and many makeup artists have taken inspiration from him.

884862_61cb718b203946aab2a76f29d6e83bc0-mv2The Bride of Frankenstein is my favorite horror movie of all time, its a perfect mix of horror, comedy and emotion, it truly is a wonderful film, the cast are all very good at playing their roles and with such a legendary director leading the project you honestly cant go wrong, if you enjoyed Frankenstein I guarantee you will love his Bride.

The Blu-Ray for Bride of Frankenstein is unfortunately once again lacking in special features apart from one documentary and a commentary track all you get are some production shots, advertisement pictures and a collection of trailers, with this being my favorite horror movie it was incredibly disappointing when I wasn’t given more bonus material.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

The Wolf Man (1941) Review

The-wolfman

The Wolf Man is quite a peculiar production as for an older film it doesn’t throw the possibility of a monster into your face, it is entirely possible that Larry Talbot didn’t actually get turned into a werewolf and it may just be the trauma of him killing a wolf and the old folk tales that have driven him into madness and turned him into a serial killer who doesn’t know that he is a murderer.

download

The Title role is played by Lon Chaney Jr who is the second son of Lon Chaney aka the man of a thousand faces, the Wolf Man is a very sympathetic monster and I would argue that he is the most sympathetic of the Universal Monsters even more so than the Frankenstein Monster because even though the Monster didn’t understand his actions and didn’t realise he was causing harm Larry Talbot had no control over his actions at all when he transformed into the Wolf Man and once he transformed back into a man he couldn’t even remember what he had done just a few hours before.

Bison Archives

The make up for the Wolf Man was once again created by Jack Pierce who did work in some of the previous movies we have taken a look at this month, during the production process it is a well known fact that Lon Chaney Jr and Jack Pierce didn’t get along at all, the photograph above is very famous as it looks like Chaney is about to punch Jack Pierce in the face and while many believe it to be genuine I personally believe that Chaney is just messing around and having a laugh.

52ee9-wolfman1941dvda

A few famous face made their way into the Wolf Man including big stars Claude Rains and Bela Legosi, other well known actors include the likes of Maria Ouspenskaya and Evelyn Ankers.

1941_wolfman_img3

The sets and prop design for the Wolf Man are absolutely beautiful, from Talbot castle to the design of the silver cane and the most amazing set design has got to go to the forest where the Wolf Man makes most of his kills, the designers added a mystifying fog for a more spooky effect but I like to think that the fog is to symbolize getting lost in the forest while trying to hide from the wolf in a similar manner to Red Riding Hood or broadway productions such as Into the Woods.

the_wolf_man_1941_poster_2_by_smalltownhero The Wolf Man is a really fun movie to watch, unlike the Invisible Man which used a lot of comedy to entertain its audience the Wolf Man is fun due to its fast pace, it has a good build up to the monster but unlike some films it doesn’t wait too long for its reveal, the movie is quite action packed for a horror and I am sure it would have scared the pants off people back in the day, a cool fact is that the Wolf Man created the legacy that were wolves can only be killed by silver and also that if they bite another person they too will transform into a were wolf.

With his hairy make up and terrifying growl the Wolf Man is a horror movie to watch every year.

The Wolf Man is generous with its Bonus Features it includes four documentaries, original trailers and a commentary track

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

The Invisible Man (1933) Review

the-invisible-man-movie-poster-1933-CHP-AC9825-11x17

The Invisible Man is a bit of a cheat this month, it is part of the Universal Classic Horror collections but most people would say its belongs more in the Science Fiction Genre as it doesn’t do to much for it to be considered a Horror movie.

invisible-man2

Claude Rains plays the scientist Jack Griffin who is the Invisible Man, for most of the picture Jack Griffin’s face is covered completely in bandages but I find he is more fun when you cant see him, this is due to Claude Rains past work as a theater actor, he had only worked in silent movies before he was hired by James Whale for the titular role of the Invisible Man, a fun fact of the casting process for the movie is that everyone thought that Claude Rains audition for the film was over the top and generally quite terrible however James Whale couldn’t stop laughing at how funny Claude Rain was and it convinced him to hire Rains for the leading role of the film.

026-the-invisible-man-theredlist

Two of my favorite performances are by E.E Clive who plays the innocent and witty constable Jaffers and Una O Connor who plays the emotional bar owner Jenny Hall, she gives a very over the top performance filled with screaming and crying, a lot of people would likely find this annoying but in a weird way I find it charming.

theinvisibleman3

The effects in the Invisible Man were ground breaking back in 1933, this was before green screens and CGI so getting an invisibility effect to work was extremely difficult, when the Invisible Man had no clothes on the effect of him being in the room was done using cleverly placed wires which can be pulled to drag furniture and other objects, but when a shirt of trousers were to float in mid air and move as if they were being worn by an invisible person the effect was done by placing Claude Rains in a black velvet suit against a black background and it was very tediously pulled off using multiple shots in a matte process.

The Invisible Man is not a very scary film but it is a very impressive piece of cinema history, the effects are amazing, the acting is very over the top but also very funny and the wonderful cast really helps to make the film a beloved classic.

The Blu-Ray is unfortunately lacking in special features it does have one documentary and one commentary track however compared to the last three movies we have taken a look at this is rather disappointing.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Frankenstein (1931) Review

Original-Frankenstein movie poster

Frankenstein is not the first ever movie about Frankensteins Monster that achievement goes to director  Eugenio Testa with his 1921 short film Il monstro di Frankenstein, however the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff is the adaptation which helped to shape and develop the monster into the horror icon he has become.

hqdefault

The movie is filled to the brim with Iconic peformances such as Colin Clive who plays the mad doctor, it was he that first screamed the lines “HES ALIVE, HES ALIVE”, both Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan make a return from Dracula this time with Frye playing Fritz the doctors hideous assistant and Van Sloan playing Doctor Waldman, Dr Frankensteins previous teacher at the university but even with all of these wonderful performances the best performance is given by none other than Boris Karloff who plays the title role of the monster.

frankenstein1931_1-1600x900-c-default

Karloff played the monster as a lost puppy type of character, the monster was dangerous but his bursts of anger and destruction came from his confusion and the way people reacted to seeing him more than it was his own decision, the monster wasn’t cruel it had just never had the chance to experience kindness, there is a very powerful scene in the movie where a young girl gives the monster a flower and unfortunately she is killed by the monster when he accidentally drowns her in a river while they were playing.

maxresdefaultAn interesting piece of trivia about Frankenstein for those who haven’t seen it is that the film first begins with a warning from Edward Van Sloan its a chilling warning that im sure would have set many people into a fit of fear back in the day, the opening dialogue is as such” How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you”.

It's_Alive

Frankenstein is an amazing piece of history that still stands the test of time, it is one of the most enjoyable of the older Universal classic horrors and its performances went on to inspire multiple books, stage adaptrations and newer Frankenstein films, its a monster of a movie which has enough heart and fright for any movie fan, the Blu-Ray has many features including three documentaries and two commentary tracks.

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Dracula (1931) Review

Dracula_1

Dracula is one of the most influential horror movies ever made and it was Bela Lugosi’s performance as the sexy and manipulative Count Dracula that really made the film as successful as it was and it was, the way that Lugosi acted out his role with his Hungarian accent and struggles with the English language that allowed him to give such a unique performance and it is Lugosi’s accent that most people copy when trying to imitate the famous vampire.

Annex-Lugosi-Bela-Dracula_04

Dracula is a classic tale of a malicious vampire from Transylvania who moves to England to seek some unsuspecting women so he can drink their blood and take control over their minds and bodies.

28-renfield-laughing

Many people love the peformance of Dracula given by Bela Lugosi however my favorite performance in the picture is that of Dwight Frye who plays Renfield, Renfield is the real estate agent who meets with the Count to sell his castle before moving to England Renfield is bitten by the count and becomes and insane maniac, its Renfields laugh in the movie that sends chills down my spine.

dracula31d

The rest of the cast each give fantastic peformances but no one stands out more than Edward Van Sloan who plays the Monster Hunter Van Helsing, Van Helsing is also a professor of science in this interpretation of Bram Stokers classic tale.

dracula-http-www-creaturebuzz-com

As I have previously stated Dracula is an excellent movie which really helped inspire many of the popular horror directors of today, the performances are chilling and the atmosphere is dark and eerie, you can really appreciate how far movie effects have evolved by watching this film, there is a scene where Dracula transforms into a bat and how they pulled this off was a rubber bat attached to a fishing rod and it still looks good, I love Dracula its one of my favorite older horror films and its the perfect flick for this Halloween, the Blu-Ray of Dracula is filled with special features including an alternative score, two documentaries a commentary track and the original Spanish version of the movie.

Dracula is a classic horror which needs to be seen its part of a Blu-ray box set which can be bought on Amazon and its this box set which I am using for my reviews this month

you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Classic-Monsters-Essential-Collection/dp/B008H45YSO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-1&keywords=universal+monster+collection

A DVD version can be bought here

https://www.amazon.co.uk/THE-CLASSIC-MONSTER-COLLECTION/dp/B001GQWT24/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506697249&sr=8-2&keywords=universal+monster+collection

You can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com