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Showing posts from June, 2016

Casting 'Dark Shadows' on horror film history

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Perhaps the most unusual daytime drama in the history of U.S. network television is celebrating the golden anniversary of airing its first episodes this month. While fans of soap operas have their favorites and remain loyal to the memories of those shows, few have as fierce a following as DARK SHADOWS, an unexpected hit in its original run through the late 1960s into the early '70s that brashly took the time-honored form of the broadcast serial and inhabited it with monsters, demons, ghosts and supernatural doings. Adding such concepts as time travel and alternative worlds, DARK SHADOWS became one of the most distinctive examples of the tune-in-tomorrow format yet seen.

In its day, DARK SHADOWS was the source of a number of firsts, including the casting of a major star of old Hollywood (Joan Bennett), instituting a stock company concept by utilizing the same actors in different roles, and the first soap to air on ABC-TV in color. But chief among those firsts was the introduction of…

A review of the ' Bride of the Monster '

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By Gary D. Rhodes with Tom Weaver. Albany, Ga.: Bear Manor Media, 2015, 288 pages. $24.95.

Everything and anything you'd like to know about Edward D. Wood Jr.'s sci-fi/horror epic BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1956) is now available thanks to this typically exhaustive, large-format paperback from renowned Bela Lugosi expert Gary Don Rhodes and Tom Weaver, who's made a career of shedding light -- warts and all -- on the movies and personalities that have formed the obsession of us "Monster Kids" for generations.

The book is the fourth in the "Scripts from the Crypt" Collection Weaver is editing for Bear Manor Media, which has emerged in recent years as a primary source of information on little-known and arcane film and television studies. Previous entries in this series include Curt Siodmak's BRIDE OF THE GORILLA (1951), Jack Pollexfen's THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (1956) and THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON (1959), directed by and starring Robert Clarke. The fifth "…

A Columbia double feature: 'Cry of the Werewolf' and 'Soul of a Monster'

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Like many of the major studios, Columbia Pictures did not specialize in horror movies during the form's heyday in the 1930s and '40s. But when it was moved to produce some horrors, the results were for the most part pretty admirable, as seen with the original gothic drama THE BLACK ROOM (1935) and the "Mad Doctor" series, both of which starred Boris Karloff. By the time of the Mad Doctors, the studio's terrors were in the B category, not a bad thing since its second features tended toward handsome production and occasionally offbeat writing, as in the case of THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (1941) that starred Peter Lorre, and the numerous series entries (Blondie, Boston Blackie, The Whistler, etc.) of the '40s.

Columbia's skill was in its taking an established genre, be it comedy, musical or western, and refining it to a more-than-acceptable addition, not merely a copy, to the format. THE BLACK ROOM takes kudos for the freshness of its story, design, direction…