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Showing posts from October, 2016

A rediscovered chill from the bookshelf

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THE DEVIL COMMANDS, the fourth of the "Mad Doctor" series of second features made by Columbia Pictures in 1939-1941 and headlined by Boris Karloff, is not only unique in its standing apart from the previous films in the string, but also for being the only one based on a literary source whose unusual storyline was a decided break from its predecesors' formulaic approach. While the series as a whole was well done and delivered for its intended market, THE DEVIL COMMANDS merits more attention for what it accomplished on limited means.

The novel on which it was derived is THE EDGE OF RUNNING WATER by William M. Sloane III, published in 1939 and lately the subject of a long-delayed reevaluation for its suspenseful and involving sense of foreboding disaster. It is, as William K. Everson opined, "a minor masterpiece of subtle terror"* that became available again, along with Sloane's previous tale of fantastic events, TO WALK THE NIGHT (1937), in a New York Review o…

Three for Halloween

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As the season that inspires mystery and imagination in the minds of cinema fans nears its close, a trio of chillers that have fallen into the forgotten realm of horror movie history have come back into availability thanks to the Internet. Speaking objectively, these films have their faults but generate memories of when they were originally seen, some looking not as great as we once thought and others taking on a newer sheen of appreciation from initial viewings on television or at the drive-in.


WOLFMAN (1979) -- A familiar story, but Three for Halloween: A look at some forgotten chillers
dled with a certain reverance for the conventions of werewolf tales against a Southern Gothic background thanks to writer-director Worth Keeter and producer-star Earl Owensby. Owensby portrays an heir to an estate in the first few years of the 20th Century who discovers that along with the family riches, he's inherited a curse of lycanthropy levied on his grandfather and father by a disciple of Sata…