RECENT POST FROM THE BLACK BOX CLUB

Thursday, 28 February 2013

HAMMER FILMS FIRST OUTING INTO FRANKENSTEIN SERIES: PETER CUSHING AND ROBERT URQHART IN COLOR TRANSPARENCY


In The Lab on Hammer Films The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957) Peter Cushing and Robert Urquhart as Baron Frankenstein and assistant Paul Krempe. Here we present a full colour image taken from a vintage transparency. The film also starred Christopher Lee as the creature and and Hazel Court. The film was the first Frankenstein outing for Hammer Film director Terence Fisher.

USE YOUR BRAINS! SHANE BRIANT AND PETER CUSHING: HAMMER FILMS LAST FRANKENSTEIN: FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL (1973)


Peter Cushing and Shane Briant in Hammer Films 'Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell' (1973) Director Terence Fisher. Fisher directed five of the six Hammer Frankenstein Films, director Freddie Francis directed the third installment, The Evil of Frankenstein in 1964. Kiwi Kigston appeared as the creation with make by Roy Ashton. Dave Prowse is the only actor to have appeared twice as 'the creation' in an ill judged reboot of the Hammer Frankenstein series starring Ralph Bates as the baron and Veronica Carlson. Prowse's second appearance was in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell in 1973. This film is shortly to be released as part of the new series of blu rays from Hammer Films with a featured commentary from Shane Briant.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

RASPUTIN, DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN AND BRIDES: PUBLICITY STILLS.


PETER CUSHING 16MM FILM FRAMES: HAMMER FILMS DRACULA (1958)

As the release of Hammer Films all singing all dancing restored blu ray is but a short time away, cast your minds back to when as a fan you would watch the film in any condition in any format!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

SUZAN FARMER: HAMMER FILMS THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES (1964) PUBLICITY PHOTOGRAPH


SUZAN FARMER POSES WITH NATASHA PYNE AND ANNETTE WHITELEY DURING THE PRODUCTION OF HAMMER FILM THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES IN 1964

JANE SEYMOUR PATRICK TROUGHTON PATRICK WAYNE AND TARYN POWER: SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER: PUBLICITY STILL


DAN CURTIS: JACK PALANCE SIMON WARD FIONA LEWIS : DRACULA: GALLERY AND REVIEW


CAST:
Jack Palance (Count Dracula), Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Simon Ward (Arthur Holmwood), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Penelope Horner (Mina Murray), Fiona Lewis (Lucy Westenra) 

PRODUCTION:
Director/Producer – Dan Curtis, Screenplay – Richard Matheson, Based on the Novel by Bram Stoker, Photography – Oswald Morris, Music – Robert Cobert, Special Effects – Kit West, Production Design – Trevor Williams. Production Company – Dan Curtis Productions/Universal. USA. 1974. 


SYNOPSYS:
May, 1897. British real estate clerk Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to conduct the purchase of a property in Whitby for Count Dracula. However, Dracula is a vampire and allows Jonathan to be claimed by his three brides. Five weeks later Dr Van Helsing is called to Whitby to tend Jonathan’s fiancĂ©e Mina Murray and then Lucy Westenra as they fall inexplicably ill. Tracing the source of the illness brings Van Helsing up against Dracula. Dracula believes Lucy to be the reincarnation of his love and is determined to make her immortally his.


COMMENTARY: 
This was the fifth major attempt to film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Up to that point there had been the uncredited silent classic Nosferatu (1922); followed by Dracula (1931), the Universal version with Bela Lugosi; Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958), the Hammer version with Christopher Lee; and the Jess Franco version Count Dracula (1970) also with Christopher Lee. This version was made by Dan Curtis who had emerged as producer of the popular tv series Dark Shadows (1966-71) and the cult Night Stalker tv movies. Curtis debuted as director with the Dark Shadows cinematic spinoffs, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). Curtis then embarked upon a series of classic horror stories remade for tv – including Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1968), Frankenstein (1973), The Picture of Dorian Grey (1973), The Turn of the Screw (1974) and this. Dracula was released cinematically outside of America, the only of Dan Curtis’s tv movies to do so.


The script comes from respected genre novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson, who has been responsible for works like The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Duel (1971), What Dreams May Come (1998), most of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and the oft-filmed novel I Am Legend (1954). Richard Matheson treats the Bram Stoker story with the greatest degree of faithfulness that any adaptation had up to that point. The Transylvanian scenes are played almost entirely as Bram Stoker wrote them – all that is missing is the scene of Dracula climbing down the castle wall. The climactic pursuit back to Transylvania tracking Dracula via the hypnotized Lucy is also effectively introduced – the first film to do so. Richard Matheson does trim some aspects of the book – Renfield and the lunatic asylum have been dropped outright. So are the other vampire hunters, excepting for Arthur Holmwood. 


The additions that Matheson makes are intriguing – this was the first version to directly equate Dracula with also being Vlad the Impaler. (Although the end note that pops up to inform the audience that Vlad was an alchemist and sorcerer and “... so powerful a man was he that it was claimed he succeeded in overcoming even physical death. To this day it has yet to be disproven” is absolute tosh). The attempts to create sympathy for Dracula during the flashbacks is also interesting, but these fail to work due to the briefness of the scenes and also because of the casting of Jack Palance. The climactic killing of Dracula, which owes much to the Hammer The Horror of Dracula, with Van Helsing ripping open the blinds of the library to pin Dracula in beams of light before he is impaled against an overturned table by a giant spear, is a highly effective improvement over the book’s climax. 


At the same time, the film is also no good. It is certainly a well produced film – the production values seem like those of a feature film rather than a tv movie. What is noticeable is the naturalism of the production. Both the Universal and Hammer adaptations took place in artificial worlds that were almost entirely shot on soundstages. This version has a look of authenticity – its photography is naturalistic, the costumes in period without being ostentatious or florid, and the film appears to have been shot on the grounds of authentic castles and estates. It looks for all the world looks like a BBC costume drama. On the other hand, while such an approach adds an enormous amount in the way of a plain straightforward adaptation of the story, it is resolutely un-fantastic in nature. All the supernatural elements have been pared away and those that remain are played as low key and unremarkable as possible. Here Dan Curtis makes the mistake of directing the film in terms of physical action – Dracula is not a supernatural presence, he merely sweeps into rooms and throws people about. Scenes that should have great impact – the attack of the brides, the blood-drinking – and so on are directed without flair or style and are almost nil in impact. 

Even worse is the casting. It is certainly difficult to think of an actor less suited to the role of Dracula than Jack Palance – maybe Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Jack Palance is unable to shake the image of the old warhorse of countless westerns and makes his way through the role with characteristic asthmatic wheeze. The performance is appalling – the scenes where Palance tries to demonstrate anger by throwing things around in a room are so lacking in threat, so lacking in anything except hammy melodrama, that the entire plausibility of the film collapses. The rest of the casting is not much better. Nigel Davenport’s Van Helsing lacks any sense of intellectual prowess or commanding power. He is no more than a plodding gentleman. There is a laughable scene that demonstrates just how wimpy this Van Helsing characterization is – Davenport waves a cross at Dracula, who snarls “Throw it away”... whereupon Davenport does with only a slightly peeved “All right.” 


Dan Curtis’s other genre productions are:- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1968), House of Dark Shadows (1970), Night of Dark Shadows (1971), The Night Stalker (1972), Frankenstein (1973), The Invasion of Carol Enders (1973), The Night Strangler (1973), The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), The Turn of the Screw (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976), Curse of the Black Widow (1977) and Dead of Night (1977). 


Other adaptations of Dracula are:– the uncredited classic German silent Nosferatu (1922); Dracula (1931), the classic Universal adaptation starring Bela Lugosi; Hammer’s classic Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) with Christopher Lee; Count Dracula (1970), a cheap continental production that also featured Lee; Count Dracula (1977), the BBC tv adaptation with Louis Jourdan; Dracula (1979), the lush romantic remake with Frank Langella; Werner Herzog’s remake Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) with Klaus Kinski; Francis Ford Coppola’s visually ravishing Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), featuring Gary Oldman; the modernized Italian-German Dracula (2002) starring Patrick Bergin; Guy Maddin’s silent ballet adaptation Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002); Dracula (2006), the BBC tv adaptation starring Marc Warren; the low-budget modernised Dracula (2009); and Dario Argento’s upcoming Dracula 3D (2012) with Thomas Kretschmann as Dracula. 

Review:Here
Images: Marcus Brooks       

Friday, 22 February 2013

BLU RAY: PETER CUSHING CHRISTOPHER LEE: HAMMER FILMS 'DRACULA' (1958) SCREEN GRAB GALLERY


BEHIND THE SCENES ON AMICUS FILMS: THE SKULL (1965)


Ever wondered how director Freddie Francis achieved that POV of looking at Peter Cushing through the eye sockets of the skull in Amicus films THE SKULL? Well here's a great behind the scenes shot of the camera man in action. You'll notice he is wearing a rig where the skull is fitted into a harness so he can shoot through the sockets. And that gliding movement of the camera? Easy, the camera operator is wearing roller skates!!

HAMMER FILMS: THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF: YVONNE ROMAIN AND RICHARD WORDSWORTH


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

VINCENT PRICE 'HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL' LOBBY CARDS GALLERY AND REVIEW


CAST:
Vincent Price (Frederick Loren), Carol Ohmart (Annabelle Loren), Carolyn Craig (Nora Manning), Elisha Cook Jr (Watson Pritchard), Richard Long (Lance Schroeder), Alan Marshal (Dr David Trent), Julie Mitchum (Ruth Bridges)


PRODUCTION:
Director/Producer – William Castle, Screenplay – Robb White, Photography (b&w) – Carl E. Guthrie, Music – Von Dexter, Special Effects – Herman Townsley, Makeup – Jack Dusick, Art Direction – David Milton. Production Company – Allied Artists. USA. 1959.


SYNOPSIS:
Millionaire Frederick Loren throws a haunted house party for his wife Annabelle. He invites five people from all walks of life – a test pilot, a secretary, an alcoholic, a sceptical psychologist and a newspaper columnist – to the notorious House on Haunted Hill, offering each $10,000 if they can survive the night. As they settle in for the night, all of them see ghostly apparitions. Loren’s much-despised wife is then found having hung herself in a suspicious manner. The guests begin to suspect that one of their number might be a murderer.


COMMENTARY:
House on Haunted Hill is one of the films of the great William Castle. William Castle was a filmmaker who conceived his films in a spirit of entrepreneurial hucksterism not unakin to that of a P.T. Barnum. Castle conducted stunts like taking out insurance policies in case audiences died of fright – Macabre (1958), or wiring theatre seats up with electric shock buzzers to jolt audiences at appropriate moments – The Tingler (1959). The great gimmick in House on Haunted Hill was having a skeleton winched across the theatre on a wire at the point in the film when a skeleton appears to rise from an acid pool and pursue the heroine.


In House on Haunted Hill, Castle does not just stop at theatrical gimmickry – the entire film has been constructed as the cinematic equivalent of a fairground haunted house show with heads popping up out of boxes, ghosts out of closets, hanging bodies and acid pools. The plot involves a group being offered $10,000 each if they can survive a night in the titular house and Castle even uses star Vincent Price as the equivalent of a carnival barker at the start of the film, having him turn to the screen to offer the same challenge directly to the audience.


Dramatically, House on Haunted Hill is talk heavy. William Castle lacked any style as a director and his pace is slow and pedestrian – his films invariably belied the threat of scaring people to death that he constantly promised to do. Nevertheless, the luridness of Castle’s pop-up effects and some effective plot twists on behalf of frequent Castle collaborator Robb White make the film an undeniably entertaining carnival show. Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart play off one another with a marvellously glacial dislike.

The film was given a worthwhile big-budget remake as House on Haunted Hill (1999). This in turn produced a direct-to-dvd sequel with Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007). 


William Castle’s other films of genre note as producer-director are:– as director of Crime Doctor’s Manhunt (1945), the sixth in a series of Columbia crime thrillers, of which Castle directed several, featuring a forensicologist against a split-personalitied killer; the psycho-thriller Macabre (1958); the classic The Tingler (1959), probably Castle’s best film; the haunted house film 13 Ghosts (1960); the psycho-thriller Homicidal (1961); Mr. Sardonicus (1961) about a man with his face caught in a grotesque frozen smile; the juvenile comedy Zotz! (1962) about a magical coin; the remake of The Old Dark House (1963) for Hammer; the Grand Guignol psycho-thriller Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford; The Night Walker (1965), a psycho-thriller about a dream lover; the psycho-thriller I Saw What You Did (1965); the psycho-thriller Let’s Kill Uncle (1965); the ghost comedy The Spirit is Willing (1967); the reality-bending sf film Project X (1968); as producer of the classic occult film Rosemary’s Baby (1968); as producer of the anthology series Ghost Story (1972-3); Shanks (1974) with Marcel Marceau as a puppeteer who can resurrect the dead; and as producer of the firestarting insect film Bug! (1975). 
     

Review: HERE 
Images: Marcus Brooks 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

MARIO BAVA: KILL BABY KILL : LOBBY CARD GALLERY AND REVIEW


CAST:
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (Dr Paul Eswai), Erika Blanc (Monica Shuftan), Max Lawrence (Burgomaster Karl), Fabienne Dali (Ruth), Piero Lulli (Inspector Kruger), Gianna Vivaldi (Baroness Graps)


PRODUCTION:
Director – Mario Bava, Screenplay – Mario Bava, Romano Migliorini & Roberto Natale, Story – Romano Migliorini & Roberto Natale, Dialogue – John Hart, Producers – Luciano Catenacci, Fabienne Dali’ & Nando Pisani, Photography – Antonio Rinaldi, Music – Carlo Rustichelli, Optical Effects – S.P.E.S (Supervisor – E. Catalucci). Production Company – FUL Films. Italy. 1966.


SYNOPSIS:
Dr Paul Eswai travels to a small village to conduct an autopsy at the request of the local police. There he finds that the villagers live in fear of a murderous ghost child.


COMMENTARY:
Italian director Mario Bava made considerable distinction with his Black Sunday/The Revenge of the Vampire Woman/The Mask of the Demon (1960), a film that essentially created the continental Gothic horror film. Black Sunday inspired other directors like Riccardo Freda and Antonio Margheriti, while Bava himself revisited Gothic horror several times with Black Sabbath (1963), Night is the Phantom/The Body and the Whip/What! (La Frustra e il Corpo) (1965), this and Baron Blood (1972).
 

Kill Baby ... Kill is an interesting effort. It has only the barest whisper of a plot. Nevertheless, Mario Bava accumulates a wonderfully haunted atmosphere. The film is filled with striking images such as the child’s face looking in through the window, her ball eerily bouncing along corridors and swings emptily swinging. There is one nifty scene where the hero is caught in a loop running into a room and out a door on the other side that keeps bringing him back to the first door he entered where he then starts to run so fast that there are two of them running in and out at once until he catches up to his other self. The film is ravishingly shot in golden hues 


Mario Bava’s other genre films are:- the Gothic classic Black Sunday/The Mask of the Demon/The Revenge of the Vampire Woman (1960); the Greek muscleman fantasy Hercules in the Center of the Earth/Hercules vs the Vampires (1961); the giallo The Evil Eye (1962); the Gothic horror anthology Black Sabbath (1963); the Gothic horror Night is the Phantom/The Whip and the Body/What? (1963); the psycho-sexual thriller Blood and Black Lace (1964); the sf/horror film Planet of the Vampires (1965); the spy comedy Dr Goldfoot and the Girls Bombs (1966), Bava’s worst film; the masked super-thief film Danger Diabolik (1967); the giallo Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970); the giallo Hatchet for a Honeymoon/Blood Brides (1971); the giallo Twitch of the Death Nerve/Bloodbath/A Bay of Blood/Carnage/Ecology for a Crime (1971); the Gothic Baron Blood (1972); the giallo/haunted house film Lisa and the Devil/House of Exorcism (1972); and the possession film Shock/Beyond the Door II (1977).

     
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