Classic Horror Films

Up until the age of 10, I believed in Vampires.

My first memory of watching a cartoon is that of  Bunnicula, who is a vampire bunny. When I was six and went night hiking with my family, I asked what I thought was an obvious question “Are the vampire bats going to come out now?” and I had the old school Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi practically memorized by the time I was eight.

In fact, I’m pretty sure my top favorite movies (besides The Princess Bride) were:

Dracula
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
The Wolfman

Pretty impressive for a girl under the age of ten.

Think that’s strange? It’s not really  if you knew my father.  My dad is a hard-core lover of all things old and scary movie related.  He’s written reviews on old “pictures” and recently published a book too (check it out here if you’re interested in movies made in the early 1900’s). I grew up watching every Dracula movie ever made, The Man Who Laughs, The Wolfman with Lon Chaney Jr, Creature from the Black Lagoon…you get the picture. And to be perfectly honest, I like those movies better.  Don’t get me wrong, I love anything Channing Tatum and I’m a sucker for a good Paul Rudd comedy, but when it comes to horror films, I believe they had it  right when movies were still black and white.  There’s something much more suspenseful about watching a movie not in color, or even a movie with limited sound.  You don’t hear the horrible actress with her phony scream or the obvious fake blood being used way too often.  A lot of the horror movies made in the 1920’s and 1930s still have me on the edge of my seat waiting in trepidation, even if I know what’s going to happen next. Every Wolfman movie I have ever seen does not compare to the one made with Lon Chaney Jr.  in 1940’s.  The way he transformed from man to wolf was more realistic than anything I’ve seen recently (Click on Link under picture to see a clip from the original Wolf Man)

Talbot in wolf form, as portrayed by Lon Chane...
Talbot in wolf form, as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Wolf Man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q4Wn63uof8

Sigh, those were the good old days.

But, I digress! I went to go see a movie in the theater a month ago (and shocker, it was horrible) when I saw a preview for Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, showing on the big screen in October. I nearly squealed out of excitement and couldn’t wait to go home and tell my dad.  Needless to say, he was just as excited as I was. Last night, along with my mom, we went to go see the double feature on the big screen.  They also had interviews with Bela Lugosi Jr. and Boris Karloff’s daughter, plus a make up artist.  It was amazing!  I couldn’t believe how different everything looked when magnified.  I’ve known the story line of both these films for years, but seeing it that up close gave me a completely different perspective. When I was younger and watched these films on my parents 18in TV screen, I had always assumed that Karloff (the “Monster”) was wearing a mask.  I never knew he had all this crazy make up on! I don’t think I ever even really appreciated Karloff’s acting in these particular films up until last night (I mean really, how many acting skills do you need to just walk grunting and making noises?) Watching his face on the huge theater screen, I could tell just how many emotions he put in throughout the movie.  The two parts that particularly stuck out to me were when The Monster met a young girl by the pond.  She didn’t scream or threaten him with a whip and fire (nice going Fritz) but asked him to play.  The Monster smiled and was genuinely happy, but unfortunately, did not understand why he could throw flowers in the lake, but not the girl.

Second, when watching these movies as a kid, I never really felt bad for The Monster.  Watching it this time, I felt such empathy for him.  From the second he was “born” this guy was tortured and treated like an invalid.  No wonder the dude was upset and went around hurting people.  No one  taught him his own strength or how to be more or less human.  No one taught him right from wrong.  You had to feel bad for the guy.  My sadness for “The Monster”  doubled  in “The Bride of Frankenstein” when he goes around just looking for a “friend” and even his bride was horrified by him.

Although I have to admit, there were some pretty funny scenes in Bride of Frankenstein. Especially when The Monster learns how to talk and finds out he lovesss smoking and drinking.  Watch this scene for a laugh.

Moral of this blog is, if you want to watch a really scary movie for Halloween next week, try one of the original classics.  It’ll make you feel alive!

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