The Phantom of the Opera (1943) Review

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Review

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

The Invisible Man (1933) Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Dracula (1931) Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

The Mummy (1932) Review

We have finally reached Halloween 2017 and this month we will be taking a look at eight classic monster movies from Universal Studios, the reason I have chosen to talk about some of the older horror flicks compared to the newer releases is because of the importance these films have to the film industry a lot of these old horror movies have been the inspiration for a lot of new horror films and they helped shape the genre and style that the modern horror brings to the big screen.

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The first movie we will be taking a look at is the Mummy, a lot of people associate the Mummy with the 1999 film starring Brendan Fraser and many believe it to be the original film when in actual fact it is a remake of the 1932 classic which stars Boris Karloff as the titular character.

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The film starts in 1921 where we are introduced to Sir Joseph Whemple and his assistant Ralph who discover the mummified corpse of a man named Imhotep, clutched in his hand is a sealed box which clearly states that it should never be opened, of course it wouldn’t be a horror movie if someone didn’t open the box, upon opening the box the scroll of thoth is discovered which if read has the power to resurrect the dead, needless to say Imhotep is resurrected and escapes from the archaeology site

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We skip to ten years later and Imhotep has a new look and a new identity, the Mummy is now referred to as Ardeth Bay who reveals the location of an ancient princess’s tomb which the new archaeologist team quickly discovers and the body is sold to the Cairo museum, its here that we discover that the Mummy is just as much of a love story as it a Horror, Imhotep begins to stalk a young woman called Helen Grosvener who he believes to be the reincarnation of his long lost love but unfortunately for him Helen has fallen for someone else and this only makes Imhotep want to Mummify Helen so he can keep her all to himself and its up to Helen’s true love to save her from the clutches of the Mummy.

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The production of the Mummy was quite intense, Boris Karloffs make-up was done by the late Jack Pierce who was famous for doing most of the makeup for the old monster movies back in the day, Karloffs make-up took a very long time to put on and real bandages were used as part of the make up but unfortunately the bandages got stuck to Karloffs body and removing them each day after shooting was apparently agonizing for the actor and to make things worst it was a full body job and Jack Pierce forgot to give Karloff a way to pee so poor Boris had to hold it in for very long shoots, the actress Zita Johann who played Helen Grosvener in the film didn’t get along with the director Karl Freund, Karl had never directed a movie before as his expertise was being a cameraman and Zita who at the time was a very famous actress would speak her opinions very clearly to Karl who didn’t  enjoy the criticism, this led to the two of them always snapping at each other and Karl treating Zita with less respect than the other actors, he wouldn’t even give her a chair with her name on it when every other actor got one.

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The Mummy is a great film, the cast is fantastic and the movie always keeps an entertaining and consistent pace which helps to set the atmosphere for the movie, unlike most of the other Universal Monster films the Mummy never got any sequels but it did get a few remakes most noticeably being the 1999 film and the 2017 film starring Tom Cruise, the Blu-ray of the Mummy has some brilliant special features including three documentaries and even a commentary track which makes me very happy, the Mummy 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