A Total of 10 Mini-Movie Reviews From Mars … and some bonus footage to.
Considering I left for Mars, Pennsylvania on Thursday Morning and returned to Canada Sunday afternoon I’d say that sitting in on 10 movies is a pretty good scorecard overall. Not sure how it tallies against the other patrons but then it isn’t meant to be a competition but rather an opportunity for fans of classic Universal Monsters and those of Hammer Films to gather together and celebrate the terrors of their childhood. To relive everything from collecting Famous Monster magazines to locating a classic movie poster from long ago.
As to the films and the basic rundown of my movements…..
Thankfully if you arrive a day early the screening room at the Bash offers up some vintage films on 16mm. It gave me the opportunity to see a new to me film and a couple of old favorites.
Mystery of The White Room (1939)
Just who killed the chief surgeon at the hospital where a young doctor played by Bruce Cabot is employed? He’s on the suspect list after having a heated debate with the murdered man over whether or not he’s deserving of the chief assistant position. Helen Mack is his girlfriend and nurse at the hospital and she’s backing her man when police inspector Thomas Jackson arrives to solve this whodunit. This proved a great way to start my movie binge watching. New to me and one of those murder mysteries that plays fast at an hour in length and gathers all the suspects for the unveiling of the killer at the fadeout. Just like Holmes and Chan would have done it. A real treat.
It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)
I have no idea how many times I’ve seen this sci-fi thriller but it never fails to entertain me. The plot is a simple one and has been done to death in the years that have followed and yeah one does have to scratch his/her head when considering the Alien similarities. Marshall Thompson is the sole survivor of a Mars mission and when the rescue ship turns up he’s taken into custody to face charges of murdering his fellow astronauts. The journey home isn’t so simple when an alien creature of epic proportions stows away and the bodies begin to pile up. Say isn’t that Dabbs Greer on board? Love that character actor.
The House of Frankenstein (1944)
A definite favorite of mine. And why not when it’s a monsterfest of epic proportions with Karloff, Chaney, Carradine, Atwill, Naish, Zucco and a few other faces sprinkled into the proceedings you may recall when Karloff’s Dr. Neiman escapes from prison with his murderous hunchback J. Carrol in tow. A traveling house of horrors will prove to be the perfect cover in order for Dear Boris to find the records of Dr. Frankenstein and take revenge on those who put him away for his demented experiments in the field of brain transplants. Along the journey he’ll encounter Carradine’s Dracula, Strange as The Monster and Chaney’s classic Wolfman. I’ll assume you’ve all seen it but if you haven’t then you’d best get at it.
on to Friday……
Monster Bash begins every festival with a Joseph Cotton narrated episode from 1964’s Hollywood and the Stars titled Monster’s We’ve Known and Loved. It covers the basics of the big names and even mentions that Vincent Price and Peter Lorre have a new film coming out titled The Comedy of Terrors.
Courtland Hull next hosted some interview footage of both Julie Adams and Leonard Maltin to be seen at a later date in a documentary he’s currently working on. Mr. Hull is a relative of the one time Werewolf of London and all around fine character actor Henry Hull.
How about a Thriller episode to accompany Bash guest Beverly Washburn’s appearance. If you’re not all that familiar with the Boris Karloff hosted series of the 1960’s it’s well worth seeking out. Boris even acted in a few episodes along the way that saw many up and coming actors learning their craft who would make good in the years to come. This episode with Miss Washburn has to do with a possible Stigmata, a creepy old house, an even creepier old lady and some dark family secrets. As Boris would say, “It’s a thriller.”
The Gorgon (1964)
Here’s a Hammer film that everyone seems to like yet it never gets the love bestowed upon it that so many others of their early period do. Maybe it’s because the gentleman of horror, Peter Cushing, isn’t likable in the film and Lee is …. well Lee’s Lee. Stern, deep voiced and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. It’s really Barbara Shelley’s film and she’s wonderful in it as a woman confused about her past and present. Could she be the lady with the snakes in her hair who’s gaze turns men to stone? Another fine example of the Hammer look and sound from director Terence Fisher and composer James Bernard.
Time for a break. Needed to stretch my legs so it was off to the dealer room that opened at 3. This visit led to a few purchases and a comical exchange with one of the vendors I see there every year. He was discounting plenty of items and naturally I took advantage buying a couple of one sheets. The funny thing is he was telling me how he’s getting tired of hauling all this merchandise to shows around the circuit at 60 years of age. It’s taken a toll on him. For my part I was thinking of collecting till I was 60 and then sell some stuff off at shows in my retirement. Now I don’t know what to think.
After getting my Dracula Has Risen From the Grave poster signed by the beautiful Veronica Carlson it was back to see more movies.
The Monkey’s Paw (1933)
Long before Pet Sematary there was The Monkey’s Paw. In essence those who hold this alternative Rabbit’s Foot in their hands can make three wishes but they do come with a price. C. Aubrey Smith takes back to England the cursed paw and when he tells of it’s power, it’s stolen from him by a family he’s friends with. With good intentions they make a simple wish for $200 pounds but things go awry when the wish is granted at the cost of a life. From here the terror is only beginning. I can see how this film would have given a 1930’s audience some genuine chills and considering it’s basically a “Lost” film I should consider myself lucky to have seen it. The copy that was screened was from France and in French. The English track is lost but subtitles have been added to the copy that was supplied to the event by film historian Tom Weaver.
Next up was another television episode from the 1960’s and from a show I’d never heard of till now titled Way Out and hosted by Roald Dahl in the tradition of Thriller and Twilight Zone. It only aired for 14 episodes and the one presented to the crowd was titled Side Show and starred none other than the Mayor of Shark City, Murray Hamilton. A fine character actor of his era. Kind of reminded me of the Peter Cushing episode from The House That Dripped Blood. In this case Hamilton can’t quite pass up the chance to visit the headless woman on display at a traveling carnival who keeps talking to him when no one else is about.
Usually I stay up for the Mexican Monster Movie Night that runs into the wee hours but the eye lids failed me…..
And along came Saturday ….
Cartoons start at 8 and then it’s the Three Stooges from 9 till ten. Yeah that’s an hour I never miss at the Monster Bash. Three shorts and one of my favorites titled Micro Phonies brought the house to tears of laughter.
The Falcon In San Francisco (1945)
Tom Conway entry in the long running series is a winner. With sidekick Edward Brophy along for the trip to San Fran, Conway gets involved in murder and the welfare of a little girl played by Bash guest Sharyn Moffett. King Kong’s Robert Armstrong is on hand as a possible red herring or is he? Conway’s smooth in the title role and if you close your eyes it isn’t a stretch to believe it’s George Sanders speaking and why not, he’s Conway’s real life brother. Open them and Conway looks more like Errol Flynn if you ask me. This one has a definite Noir feel with director Joseph H. Lewis behind the camera. A man who gave us some fine entries in the genre including Gun Crazy and The Big Combo. And for the record Brophy is hilarious as the comic relief.
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
With Boris Karloff fresh off his iconic portrayal as The Monster his career was in overdrive and he’s sensational as the evil Dr. Fu Manchu who along with his “insignificant and ugly daughter,” Myrna Loy, by his side intends to wipe out the white race. All he needs to do is claim the sword of Genghis Kahn to make it happen. Not on Lewis Stone’s watch. Another iconic look for Boris and Loy is far from ugly. She’s just sadistically sexy amidst the sets and torture devices that Stone and company must face if they are to stop the evil Fu. The only thing missing is Chris Lee’s stern, “The World shall hear from me again.” Sadly Boris wouldn’t give us a second go around as the evil Doctor.
The Lodger (1944)
A sensational take on Jack the Ripper that casts Laird Cregar in the title role. He’s taken up lodging at the home of Sir Cedric Hardwicke during the days of the Ripper murders. It also happens to be the home of Merle Oberon playing a celebrated stage songstress and can-can dancer. Cedric and his wife slowly come around to wondering if their large sized lodger might be Jack. George Sanders as the local policeman in charge of the case is called in. He may be lucky on two counts. Not only might he get his man but he may have found his dream gal in Miss Oberon. How impressive is this film? Just the fact that noted film historian Greg Mank calls this the second best horror film of the decade behind The Body Snatcher should lend it plenty of weight. A must see.
House of the Gorgon (2019)
A new film debuts at the Bash? Well that’s forgivable considering it stars Hammer graduates and Bash guests, Veronica Carlson, Martine Beswick, Christopher Neame and though she didn’t make the fest, Hammer favorite Caroline Munro. Low budget I grant you but it’s been made by a fan for the fans. Plenty of nods to the classic era of Hammer with references to those we’d expect and love the line Miss Carlson delvers near the end when she directs her niece to the firm of Cushing, Lee and Price.
Revenge of the Creature (1955)
The first sequel to the Creature From the Black lagoon represents the first time I’d seen the Gill Man on late night TV as a kid so this one has always held a memorable place in my childhood memories of discovering the classic monsters. I dare say it might be more memorable to me than it is to that lab assistant who is missing one of his rats. Yeah I’m referring to Clint Eastwood who made his screen debut here way down the cast list that’s led by John Agar and Lori Nelson. Oh who am I kidding, The Gill Man is the star of this variation on the King Kong theme.
Sunday morning and it’s time to pack and grab breaky at the nearest Cracker Barrell before heading home to Canada forgoing the Sunday line up that included Hold That Ghost and Dracula Has Risen From The Grave. Plenty of other chats and discussions to sit in on at the Bash so with a little luck I’ll see you all there next time around which might be as early as October when they host the fall show. If not then there’s always June of 2020.