RECENT POST FROM THE BLACK BOX CLUB

Saturday, 31 December 2011

VINCENT PRICE TOASTS A 'HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ONE CLUB TO ANOTHER'!


A BIG THANK YOU AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!

Friday, 30 December 2011

VERONICA CARLSON AND SIMON WARD: HAMMER FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAYS 'FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED'



HAMMER FILMS: VERONICA CARLSON HAMMER FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAYS




A great shot of VERONICA CARLSON on the set of FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. Please feel free to comment and show your appreciation by subscribing!

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN: HAMMER FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAYS




Having scored a major success with Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer Studios began to realise the financial potential of horror movies. They chose to specialise in gothic horror and brought back most of Curse of Frankenstein's team, including Peter Cushing, screenwriter Sangster and director Fisher, to produce a sequel. It was filmed in 1958 back-to-back with Hammer's equally successful Dracula (starring Christopher Lee as the evil Count, also directed by Terence Fisher) and the movies shared many sets, e.g the castle exteriors and the crypt.


Revenge of Frankenstein begins where Curse of Frankenstein ends: the Baron (Peter Cushing) is dragged to the guillotine and - so it seems - beheaded. But we soon learn that Frankenstein is not dead. When two drunkards open the Baron's grave the headless body of a preacher is revealed. Then Frankenstein himself appears scaring one of the drunkards to death.


Three years later, Frankenstein, who now calls himself "Dr. Stein", is the head of a hospital for poor people in Carlsbruck. A young doctor, Hans Kleve, approaches Frankenstein telling him that he knows his true identity because he saw him at Professor Bernstein's funeral. Frankenstein introduces Kleve to his experiments and accepts him as his new assistant. Frankenstein's second assistant is the crippled dwarf Carl, who helped to save the Baron from the guillotine. Carl agrees to donate his brain to be transplanted into a new body because he hopes that this operation will rid him of his deformed body. The experiment is successful and the "new" Carl is locked up in a room in the hospital attic. A merciful nurse, Margret Conrad, learns of the new patient and frees him. Carl sneaks into the lab and burns his old body. There he is discovered by the janitor who tries to stop him. During the struggle Carl gets hit and his freshly translanted brain suffers serious damages. Going insane, the enraged Monster kills the janitor and later murders a little girl. On a party, the Monster, who is now rapidly degenerating and whose leg and arm have become crippled again, breaks through a window, approaches the Baron shouting, "Frankenstein, help me!" and dies. Frankenstein, whose identity is now revealed, returns to the hospital, where he is nearly beaten to death by the outraged patients. Kleve arrives just in time to save the dying Baron. He takes Frankenstein to the lab and transplants the deceased Baron's brain into an artificial body, an exact copy of Frankenstein's old body. The film ends in London, where Frankenstein now works under the pseudonym of Dr. Franck.


The plot of Revenge of Frankenstein does not have much in common with Mary Shelley's novel. Jimmy Sangster's script is a continuation of Hammer's first Frankenstein film, and again concentrates on the person of Baron Victor Frankenstein. His negative features were toned down in comparison to the film's predecessor. Sometimes he even seems to be benevolent, when he works in a hospital for poor people and creates a new body for his miserable assistant Karl. But after a while it becomes clear that he has not changed much since Curse of Frankenstein. When Frankenstein discovers a beautiful tattoo on a patient's arm he simply amputates the limb in order to attach it to a duplicate of his own body. And the reason why he transplants the brain of his crippled assistant Karl into a new, flawless body is not to free him from his handicap but rather to show him on congresses and at universities as the perfect result of his scientific work. Frankenstein is still an egotistic person, a perfect example of the "mad scientist" whose sole obsession is his work.


A very interesting aspect of the script is the film's ending, where creator and Monster practically blend into one person. When Frankenstein's assistant Kleve surgically transplants the brain of the deceased Baron into a duplicate of his body, Frankenstein himself becomes the artificial creature. Before this operation Frankenstein could be regarded the film's real monster only because of his evil character features. But now he also possesses the physical features of a Frankenstein monster since his own body is made from dead body parts. Just as the name "Frankenstein" had become synonymous for both the creator and the creature in the public mind, Revenge of Frankenstein blends those two characters into one person.


In comparison to the first film in Hammer's series the Monster's character was changed considerably. It is now more human than in Curse of Frankenstein and obviously suffers when the Baron locks it up in the attic. In fact, the Monster is a human being - Frankenstein's assistant Carl - fully equipped with emotions and feelings. He is even capable of falling in love with the beautiful nurse Margret and originally has no bad intentions whatsoever. Carl only becomes evil when his brain is damaged during a fight with the janitor. This tragic aspect brings this film's Monster much closer to Shelley's Monster, which only became evil because it was attacked and rejected by society for its hideous physical appearance. Rather than being a victim of society the Monster in Revenge of Frankenstein is primarily a victim of the evil Baron Frankenstein, who exploits Carl for his experiments and never treats him as a human being. Frankenstein considers him his property and sees him more as a thing than a human being.


Frankenstein's young assistant Kleve is the character that comes closest to Mary Shelley's concept of Victor Frankenstein. Although he participates in the Baron's experiments he never acts selfishly. His interest is knowledge and he studies for the good of mankind. But he also seems to be a bit naive, when he recognises Frankenstein's egotistic motives and his evil character. To him Frankenstein is a kind of father whose experiments he refuses to question. Even when he learns that a monkey with a brain transplant has became carnivorous after the operation and ate its female mate, Kleve does not confront his mentor. In the end Kleve himself becomes the true Frankenstein figure of this film when he finishes his mentor's work by transplanting the Baron's brain into an artificial body and thereby turning Baron Frankenstein into an artificial Monster. But Kleve is also what Kempe was in the first film. His character gives the young audience a chance to identify with someone else rather than the 40-something old Victor Frankenstein.


Revenge of Frankenstein and all the following sequels are continuations of the new Frankenstein myth Hammer had established in their first film. Victor Frankenstein is reduced to the evil mad scientist, who resembles Dr. Pretorius in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein. He is ruthless and the film's true monster/villain. His creations all turn out to be evil killers because somehow their brains are damaged, a motif also found in  James Whale's films. The true Frankenstein, the guilt-ridden, knowledge-hungry scientist, is a young assistant, who (often) involuntarily becomes part of Frankenstein's crimes. In the sequels these basic set-ups were always slightly modified and embedded in more or less grotesque plotlines, which however make fine examples of British gothic horror films and helped to establish Hammer Studios as the major European horror film producers.

Reviewed by ANDREA ROHRMOSER.
Images: MARCUS BROOKS
See more of ANDREA's reviews and his awsome wesbite here: ANDREA ROHRMOSER

HAMMER FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAYS: TODAY...

Thursday, 29 December 2011

PETER CUSHING: FURNEAUX AND CUSHING :GERMAN LOBBY CARD 'THE MUMMY'

DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS: BLAGGERS GUIDE NUMBER ONE!


We open with the final sequence from Hammer Films 1958 'DRACULA', showing the spectacular demise of Count Dracula at the hands of Van Helsing. This sequence is enclosed in a smoky frame because the earlier movie was shot in a different aspectic ratio  - DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS was one of the few Hammer movie to be shot in 'scope.


We then go to a funeral, where a young woman is being prepared to be staked through the heart before burial, over the impassioned protests of her mother. The proceedings are thrown into disarray when an imposing figure appears, bellowing for them to stop and firing a rifle into the air. This is Father Sandor, and he's furious that the body is being subjected to this indignity when everybody knows that Dracula has been destroyed for a good ten years and there is no evidence that the girl has been bitten by a vampire.

We then go to a tavern where two English couples are taking a holiday. It is quickly established that one of the couples (Alan and Helen - yeah I know) is very prim & proper while the other (Charles and Diana - yeah I know) is quite modern & forward. Father Sandor arrives and proceeds to warm his posterior (as he calls it) by the fire, hiking up his vestments at the back to allow full access to the heat while holding forth on this as one of the great pleasures of life. One couple of shocked, the other is charmed. Could their respective personalities be relevant to the movie that follows, do you think?

Against the advice of Sandor the couples decide to head to their next destination. He is particularly adamant that they should stay away from the castle, which does not even appear on the map. The coachman decides to throw them out of the coach before they reach their destination (along with their luggage), abandoning them within site of the castle. As we've already seen in BRIDES OF DRACULA , coachmen love nothing more than to abandon travellers in the worst possible spot.

While they are trying to figure out what to do next, a coach without a driver just happens to ride up to them. They mount the coach to drive it to the next town but - surprise - it takes them to the castle. The more staid of the couples (particualrly Helen, played by Hammer regular Barbara Shelley) think that the best response to this is to turn tail and run, but they end up going inside to find a table laid out for four guests. They then discover that their luggage has already been laid out in the bedrooms.While they are pondering this, a pleasantly smiling, genially welcoming man arrives to greet them.

We learn his name is Klove. He informs them that although the master of the house is dead he had left instructions for hospitality to be granted to any weary traveller. Klove was surely Angus Scrimm's inspiration for his performance as The Tall Man in the PHANTASM series.

This build-up has taken up almost the entire first half of the movie. This is in stark contrast to the 1958 DRACULA, where writer Jimmy Sangster and director Terence Fisher (who are also behind this movie) brought us into the action at a tremendous pace. Having pussyfooted around for long enough, the movie now makes its move. Klove lures Alan down into the cellar, knocks him out cold with the hilt of a knife, then strings him up by his ankles so that he hangs over what appears to be a sarcophagus.


Klove then brings out a small casket that you will probably guess contains Dracula's ashes, and sprinkles them into the sarcophagus. He then slits Alan's throat, and his blood gushes into the coffin where it revives the Count. You might notice that this ceremony bears some similarity to a number of old legends; Odin and Osiris come to mind. It's also a sort of inversion of the crucifixion of Jesus. I'll let you sort out the meaning of this symbolism for yourself.


So you can imagine the shock Helen receives when Klove takes her down to the cellar. Her husband hangs upside down and Dracula waits for her, and he says....well, he doesn't say anything. Dracula does not speak at all in this movie, supposedly because Christopher Lee thought that the dialogue he was given was so poor that he refused to say it.


He's still a sex god, though. Helen is soon in complete thrall to him, and later when he slices open his chest and pulls Diana down to drink his blood, the implications of oral sex are blatant. It's hard to get a coherent reading on the sexual politics of DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Dracula still represents pure unbridled sexuality, and is still evil. However the characters who suffer the most (Alan and particularly Helen) are the most sexually repressed. Perhaps Charles and Diana fare better because they are more balanced. Helen's fate is particularly hideous, as she is held down, writhing and hissing, and staked by a roomful of men in a scene that suggests (perhaps unconsciously) a gang rape. This scene plays as quite uncomfortably misogynistic.


The movie ends in slightly baffling fashion, as Dracula fights Alan on the thin ice of the castle moat. Diana and Sandor figure out that a vampire cannot cross running water and start shooting the ice, creating cracks that trap him. He then slides into the water - and drowns. What the...?


Despite its slow start, DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESSemerges as a fine sequel to Hammer's first DRACULA. Andrew Kier as Father Sandor makes a fine substitute for Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. It's kind of a shame that Hammer didn't run two series in parallel, one with Dracula against various savants and one with Van Helsing against various villains, but I guess Cushing was already quite busy with their FRANKENSTEIN series.

The scene of Dracula's resurrection almost makes up for the relative lameness of his demise. The supporting cast is a little bland, except for the versatile Barbara Shelley as Helen, who is compelling whether playing prudish, terrified or wanton. Christopher Lee is still in fine form as Dracula, despite his late appearance and non-speaking role; he's always been a fine physical actor, and his hands are particularly expressive.


This was the final outing for Terence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster as director and writer, respectively, in this series, though both would continue to work for Hammer on other movies. The next movie in the series, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (I guess that Dracula Has Risen from the Moat doesn't have the same ring), was written by Hammer bigwig Anthony Hinds under his John Elder pseudonym and directed by two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, who's probably best remembered now for shooting David Lynch's three least typical movies (The Elephant Man, Dune and The Straight Story)

Guest Review by: Pearce
Images: Marcus Brooks

Friday, 23 December 2011

PETER CUSHING: RARE 'VIGIL IN THE NIGHT' PCASUK PROMO


THE 1940 RKO FILM 'VIGIL IN THE NIGHT' IS A VERY EARLY ENTRY IN PETER'S LONG AND DISTINGUISHED CAREER. STARRING CAROLE LOMBARD, ANNE SHIRLEYAND BRIAN AHERNE, PETER, IN WHAT WAS ONLY HIS FOURTH FILM APPEARANCE PLAYS JOE SHAND. A ROLE THAT HAD HE NOT RETURNED TO THE UK, MAY HAVE PAVED THE WAY TO THE POTENTIAL OF A VERY DIFFERENT CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD. 

'ONE SCENE DOES NOT MAKE A SCREEN STAR, BUT MORE THAN ONE HOLLYWOOD LUMINARY RECEIVED HIS FIRST IMPETUS TOWARD STARDOM BY A SINGLE STARKLY DRAMATIC SEQUENCE.

SUCH A SCENE AS THAT.... MAY WELL LAUNCH ENGLISH NEWCOMER PETER CUSHING ON A TOP FLIGHT CAREER. CUSHING, WHO LANDED IN HOLLYWOOD WITH LESS THAN ONE DOLLAR IN HIS JEANS, PLAYS ANNE SHIRLEY'S HUSBAND IN THE STORY. SO HIGHLY DID THE PRODUCER/ DIRECTOR GEORGE STEVENS REGARD PETER' WORK IN THE EARLY SCENES THAT HE HAD A SEQUENCE WRITTEN INTO THE SCRIPT WHICH GIVES CUSHING THE CHANCE EVERY ASPIRING YOUNG ACTOR DREAMS ABOUT. IT IS THE SCENE WITH THE YOUNG ACTOR RANTING AND RAVING AT CAROLE LOMBARD AS A NURSE AND BRIAN AHERNE AS THE DOCTOR.

MORE THAN ONE MALE STAR HAS HIT HIS STRIDE WITH JUST SUCH HIGH KEYED HISTRIONICS!'

PRESS RELEASE RKO PRESS BOOK. 1940

HAMER FILMS: HAMMER FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAY; GREAT PHOTO BUSTERS FROM 'THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN' 1958





Wednesday, 21 December 2011

BOX OF DELIGHTS: BOOKY BOOKY LOOKY NUMBER TWO




Acclaimed critic and broadcaster Jonathan Rigby brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror.

His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. In between, he scrutinises the achievements of Universal in the 1930s and Hammer in the 1960s. Lavishly illustrated, the result is a beautifully presented history of international horror cinema that's as entertaining as it is informative.

Reviews

"Erudite, refreshingly intelligent, idiosyncratic... The horror cognoscenti will grin with delight." --SFX Magazine

"Engrossing and entertaining... The enjoyment of this book is to relive some of your own favourite [horror] moments from Rigby's unique, informative and witty perspective." --Subtitled Online

"[Rigby] has an uncanny knack for rendering evocative word paintings in which description combines with essential background information and often insightful analysis... Studies in Terror is a delicious treat." --Horror View

"The success of STUDIES IN TERROR rests in the skill and enthusiasm of Rigby's writing, coupled with a handsome book design, an eerily efficient organisation of materials, and his tremendous taste." --Rue Morgue

"[Rigby] has an uncanny knack for rendering evocative word paintings in which description combines with essential background information and often insightful analysis... Studies in Terror is a delicious treat." --Horror View

What We Thought:

I am a big fan of Rigby and two of his previous books: ENGLISH GOTHIC and CHRISTOPHER LEE: THE AUTHORISED SCREEN HISTORY. This latest book is very similar in layout to ENGLISH GOTHIC, a style that works and easy to read. Pick up, read a few entries, come back later. Though I must admit, I started and didn't close the book until finished. Rigby knows his stuff, educational without being stuffy. He makes you want to search out the not so familiar entries and revisit the old chestnuts. For fans of images and stills, he doesn't skimp and offers quite a few new ones and some variations on the more well known images. There are some very nice colour cinema posters and vintage stills to boot.

If you're going to put a booky on your Christmas list this year, make it this one. He'll not disappoint.
Marcus Brooks.   






  • Hardcover: 320 pages




  • Publisher: Signum Books (Imprint of Flashpoint Media Ltd) (10 Oct 2011)




  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0956653448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956653444
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 18.6 x 3 cm
  • THE BOX OF DELIGHTS: BOOKY BOOKY LOOKY NUMBER ONE.



    From B-movie bogeymen and outer space-oddities to big-budget terrors, Monsters in the Movies by horror film maestro John Landis celebrates the greatest monsters ever to creep, fly, slither, stalk or rampage across the Silver Screen. Feast your eyes on a petrifying parade of voracious vampires, flesh-eating zombies and slavering werewolves as Landis explores the historical origins of archetypal monsters.



    Filled with the author's own fascinating and entertaining insights into the world of movie-making along with contributions from some of the world's leading directors, actors and special-effects wizards, the book is stunningly illustrated with over 1,000 movie stills and posters from the unrivalled archives of the Kobal Collection to keep you entertained right until the curtain comes down.


    CLICK HERE TO SEE JOHN LANDIS TALKS ABOUT HIS BOOK HERE!


    ...OK, that's the publishers take on it...and I have to agree. A real handsome book, great photographs and very nicely laid out. It's not ALL the monsters from ALL the movies...it's his choice. It's a good choice too. Interesting interviews with Christopher Lee. John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Rick Baker and even Ray Harryhausen, make the book more than just a compilation of good images courtesy of the Kobal Collection. This was an early Christmas gift for me and just right for the quiet times between chaos. Some quality time with the guy who made Thriller and the Blue Brothers. For all those in the UK who enjoyed Alan Frank's books in the 1970's, think Frank, with a budget! Available now through Amazon and all good book stores!

    Marcus Brooks

    Product details

    Format: Hardback
    ISBN: 9781405366977
    Size: 252 x 301mm
    Pages : 320
    Publication date: 03 Oct 2011...OUT NOW!
    Publisher: Dorling Kindersley

    VINTAGE MAGAZINE: VINCENT PRICE AND PETER CUSHING: TOOMBES AND FLAY 'MADHOUSE'




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