Tag Archives: Horror

The Cat And The Canary

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Directed by Elliott Nugent
Produced by Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Written by Walter de Leon & Lynn Starling
Play Author: John Willard
Starring Bob Hope
Paulette Goddard
John Beal
Douglass Montgomery
Gale Sondergaard
Music by Ernst Toch
Cinematography Charles B. Lang
Editing by Archie Marshek
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date 1939
Running time 72 min.

The Cat and The Canary is the first of two comedy/horror films that Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard made in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The other one was The Ghostbreakers. This movie is perhaps not as polished as The Ghostbreakers but it still has a few funny and chilling moments.

The two stars are the central focus of the film. Hope is the cowardly wisecracking hero while Goddard plays the pretty damsel in distress. They make a great team although Paulette doesn’t really do all that much except look pretty and brave (unlike Bob), which is in contrast to the strong roles that Charlie Chaplin had been giving her in Modern Times and The Great Dictator.  It is still an enjoyable film if only because of the chemistry that the two had.

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Freaks

Directed by Tod Browning
Produced by Tod Browning
Written by Tod Robbins
Starring Wallace Ford
Leila Hyams
Olga Baclanova
Henry Victor
Harry Earles
Cinematography Merritt B. Gerstad
Editing by Basil Wrangell
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date February 20, 1932
Running time Original cut 90 min.
Released cut 64 min.
Country United States
Language English

“We accept her! We accept her! One of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”

Freaks is an interesting film that perhaps doesn’t deserve its notoriety. It’s not particularly scary or very well acted. The movie was banned in Britain (and Australia too I guess) for thirty years but it’s not that bad. There is a twist in the film in that the true monsters of the picture are not the Freaks themselves, but the supposedly normally looking aerialist and strongman who try to exploit one of the Freaks for their own profit. Perhaps the film works better as a satirical piece than as a horror film. It’s worth a look but I don’t think it deserves to be held as the 15th sacriest film of all-time. It is a film of its time though.


A Chump at Oxford

Directed by Alfred J. Goulding
Produced by Hal Roach Jr. & Hal Roach
Written by Charley Rogers, Felix Adler & Harry Langdon
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Wilfred Lucas
Jimmy Finlayson
Anita Garvin
Forrester Harvey
Peter Cushing
Charlie Hall
Music by Marvin Hatley
Cinematography Art Lloyd
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by United Artists
Release date February 16, 1940
Running time 63 minutes
Language English

Like most Laurel & Hardy movies this is just a series of sketches stuck together to form a feature film. It’s perhaps not the strongest of their films but it is amusing. It does take a long time before they make it to Oxford, and sometimes it is hard to believe that Stand & Ollie are so stupid, even though they haven’t got an education, but it is OK.

The film also features an early appearance by Peter Cushing who would go onto more fame a decade later in the Hammer horror films of the 1950s.

An amusing and watchable film with a few chuckles but no really laugh out loud moments.


Mystery Of The Wax Museum

Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Henry Blanke
Written by Story: Charles S. Belden
Screenplay: Carl Erickson & Don Mullaly
Starring Lionel Atwill
Fay Wray
Glenda Farrell
Frank McHugh
Music by Cliff Hess
Cinematography Ray Rennahan
Editing by George J. Amy
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures & Vitaphone Pictures
Release date February 17, 1933 (USA)
Running time 77 minutes
Country United States
Language English

In the last few months I have gone on quite a classic horror/sci-fi movie phase thanks to JB Hifi. I have already started with reviewing The Wolfman a couple of weeks ago, but I will not solely concentrate on the Universal monsters. It may be surprising to know but Universal did not have a monopoly on horror in the 1930s and 40s.

Mystery Of The Wax Museum is a 1933 Warner Bros. horror movie starring Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh and scream queen Fay (King Kong) Wray. The film was made in two-strip Technicolor, which makes it unique from other horror movies of the period. I do love the way the colours look with the two-strip system, perhaps even more so with the superior three-strip process. The film was also made before the Hays code was imposed onto movie makers, so it a little bit sexy, especially with the dialogue, which I suppose was a hallmark of Warner’s gangster films of the time.

Anyone who has seen House Of Wax will know the plot of this film. A museum owner uses real life bodies to make his wax sculptures more lifelike. The best friend of the heroine is wanted by the mad owner for his next masterpiece. House Of Wax was a remake of this film by Michael Curtiz, the famed director of some of Hollywood’s greatest films such as The Adventures Of Robin Hood and Casablanca. This film was made before the Hays code was introduced so some of the dialogue in particular is quite risqué and sexy.

I do like Farrell’s performance as the reporter who uncovers the mystery. Her character could be considered as being a pre-Women’s Liberation feminist, as she portrays a strong willed, brave and intelligent (if quirky) woman, while most of the men come of not so good. She was a veteran of Warner’s gangster films and her character here is very streetwise. Wray on the other hand is just required to look very pretty and give her trademark scream when it’s required. She really offers not much to the film at all.

Atwill is rightly menacing as the supposedly disabled sculptor Igor, who in the end turns out to be a murderous monster that has been using dipping the bodies of his victims into the hot wax to make his creations.

Mystery Of The Wax Museum was considered lost in a fire for a long time until a complete print turned up from Jack Warner’s private vault. It was the last of three two strip Technicolor films that Warner’s made in the early 30s. It is included as a special feature on the DVD of the 1953 version of House Of Wax. I really recommend that you buy House Of Wax on DVD because at the moment it is for sale really cheap. House Of Wax is a great movie and as it includes Mystery Of The Wax Museum as a bonus it is a must but for any fan of classic horror.


International House


Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
Produced by Emanuel Cohen Written by Neil Brant
Starring W.C. Fields
Bela Lugosi
George Burns
Gracie Allen
Cab Calloway
Rose Marie
Peggy Hopkins Joyce
Music by Ralph Rainger
Howard Jackson
John Leipold
Al Morgan
Cab Calloway
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) May 27, 1933
Running time 70 minutes
Country  United States

This is a relic of a movie featuring W.C. Fields. Basically the film is just an excuse to see the various performers from radio and vaudeville perform skits, most of which would have been quite dated even in 1933. The only real interests in the film lies in Fields’ performance, that of Burns and Allen and of Bela Lugosi turning in a comic part. Fields gets in a few quite dirty lines (this was made pre-code) and Allen plays the dumb nurse part well, while Lugosi’s portrayal of a jealous Russian general who generally causes chaos shows that he could play a comic role as well as horror. The only other point of interest is Cab Calloway singing the song Reefer Man and him saying that his  bass player is ”high on weed’. The movie is a bit of a nostalgic curiosity but it’s not that funny.

International House is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection with The Bank Dick, My Little Chickadee, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man and It’s A Gift. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $46.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…