On Sunday 24th November 2019 the Horror Channel ran a Classic Monster Movie Marathon featuring some of the most iconic characters in cinema history. The line-up thrilled horror buffs and those new to the genre alike and the response of viewers on social media was that of pure delight.
Here is the list of the five movies featured; each has its own special allure and as a fan of the genre, I have my own reason for loving them. So give them a watch… if you dare! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha!
Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of the count is one that stretches it icy cool fingers through the strands of cinema history and the influence of the film can still be seen in popular culture being made today. It is the most celebrated film version of Bram Stoker’s popular literary classic. The mix of Lugosi’s seductive yet terrifying Dracula and the directing style of Tod Browning give the movie a haunting feel that has ensured it stands the test of time.
The thing that keeps drawing me back to this film is Lugosi. He delivers a perfect performance that as a viewer I just relish in. As much as I may love Tom Cruise’s Lestat or James Marsden as Spike from Buffy, it is this Dracula that is the basis for the modern love we have for the vampire that as fans we love to both lust after and fear.
It is director James Whale that we have to thank for the establishment of this cinematic monster movie icon. This classic has spawned many horror sequels and has given birth to a whole host of other interpretations including some of my comedy favourites. Adapted from the Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus first published in 1818, the film tells the story of a scientist who becomes obsessed with creating life from the body parts of the recently departed. This was the film that made Boris Karloff a star and it is his performance that has left heavy foot prints all over both horror and sci-fi cinema history.
Frankenstein is my favourite of all these stories. I love the original novel and have reread it so many times my copy is falling apart. Young Frankenstein is one of my favourite movies of all time and it is clear how this classic led to the creation of another classic. I also fondly remember watching Carry On Screaming as a kid and now I can see how Kenneth Williams was influenced by Colin Clive’s portrayal of Henry Frankenstein. I didn’t see this version until quite recently but it didn’t stop me from being completely in awe. When it comes to the legacy of this movie it is obvious to see that with modern audience, it is well… “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
The Mummy (1932)
Boris Karloff is also the star of this classic. He plays the high priest Imhotep, a 3,700 year old mummy that wreaks havoc on the members of a British field museum who disturbed his tomb. The film is famous for its use of ground breaking innovations in special effects make-up and chilling theatrical effects. The film’s success led to a ton of sequels including one featuring the comedy duo Abbott and Costello. You can feel the mark of The Mummy in several Hammer Horror movies and the there was a very success remake of the film in 1999 starring the wonderful academy award winning actor Rachel Weisz.
The Mummy is a film that has influenced me since childhood. I grew up close to the British Museum and as child I would walk through it willing the corpses inside the glass cases to come to life. My favourite Goosebumps book as a child was The Curse of the Mummy. I wanted to study Classics and Archaeology at university (I studied English Literature. Turns out archaeologists need a scientific mind as well as a love of the arts… sigh…) and I became obsessed with studying death rituals. Even now I pop up to the European wing of the British museum when I’m visiting for any reason just to say ‘Hello’ to Lindow Man. I still wish I was as clever as Evelyn O’Connell. The Mummy is a movie I would recommend every film fan watch.
The Wolfman (1941)
Starring the horror cinema legend that is Lon Chany. Jr, The Wolfman was praised by critics for its use of make-up effects and atmospheric music. When it comes to sequels, the ones made in the 1940’s all featured Chany in the role as the furry monster. He would talk fondly of the wolfman as a character and would say, “He was my baby”.
Again, it wasn’t until very recently I got to see this classic but its legacy is one that cannot be denied as being phenomenal. I first encountered werewolves in Haunted Honeymoon starring Gene Wilder. The idea of Larry’s werewolf curse scared me… to death. You can see how Wilder and fellow writer Terence Marsh were influenced by the atmosphere of terror that grips the 1941 film. The character of Remus Lupin from Harry Potter shares some off the same qualities that Lon Chany. Jr ‘s Wolfman had. It is a constant battle to control the werewolf inside. Professor Snape even makes a wolfbane potion to help Lupin ease his symptoms which calls back to the poem that villagers recite throughout the film:
“Even a man who is pure of heart
And says his prayers at night;
May be come a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn night is bright.”
The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
This film is all about a pre-historic monster that terrorises a group of marine biologist. It was filmed in 3D and was followed by two sequels. The creature was played by two actors in the film. Ben Chapman played Gill-man on land whilst Ricou Browning played him for the underwater scenes. The half man and half sea creature creation is one of the most iconic monsters in movie history.
I saw this during the marathon for the first time and it was something that instantly captivated me. It so easily satisfied my love for both classic horror and sci-fi. The legacy is something I could call to in my past loves from TV and film. Most obviously, in the old episodes of Scooby doo and Doctor Who I watched in my childhood. The most modern legacy I could think of was the 2017 film The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro but with more romance than terror.
If you missed the films you can catch them this week on Horror Channel @ 1pm:
Wednesday: The Mummy
Thursday: The Wolfman
Friday: The Creature from the Black Lagoon
You can find the Horror Channel on Sky ch: 317, Virgin ch: 149, Freeview ch: 70 and Freesat ch: 138. Click here to see the Horror Channel trailer on Youtube.
Visit the Horror Channel website by clicking here to find out what other chilling programming they have coming up.
Happy Horror watching!