Days O’Horror #31: The Wolf Man (1941)

“All astronomers are amateurs. When it comes to the heavens, there’s only one professional”

What can I say about 1941’s The Wolf Man that I haven’t said before. I love this film. It’s my favorite horror movie, favorite werewolf movie, and one of my top five favorite films of all time. Lon Chaney, Jr. nailed the character of Lawrence Talbot and owned the werewolf for every other classic Universal Horror film that he appeared in as a part of the cast. The film also features Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, and Bela Lugosi, three legendary actors in their own right.

The film’s plot is very simple on the surface. Lawrence Talbot, often called Larry, returns home to mourn the loss of his brother with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), falls for a lovely local named Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), gets bitten by a werewolf (Bela Lugosi) while attempting to save Gwen’s friend, Jenny (Fay Helm), becomes a werewolf, and is then hunted down by the locals. That sounds pretty basic, right? Well, the story is much deeper than that.

Larry’s relationship with his father is tense, making for some friction between them. Larry spies on Gwen before talking to her and does his best to wedge himself between her and her fiancee, Frank Andrews (Patric Knowles). After being bitten, Larry is offered help from an old gypsy woman named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), but he initially blows her off. This action allows him to become the Wolf Man and ends in murder. Larry then realizes that he truly is a werewolf and he spirals into misery, begging for help.

Larry Talbot is, in my opinion, one of the most complex characters in all of Universal’s classic horror films. Larry isn’t necessarily a likeable character, but Chaney does such a great job of showing us just how miserable the character is that the audience wants him to be saved and feels sorry for him.

I also believe that Claude Rains’ performance never gets the attention that it deserves. He almost steals the movie from Chaney with his performance in my opinion. Evelyn Ankers, who appeared in multiple films with Chaney, also shines in this movie, making Gwen an enjoyable character that deserves almost as much pity as Larry. Her chemistry with Chaney is amazing. Maria Ouspenskaya also deserves some praise for her role as Maleva. The rest of the cast, especially Bela Lugosi and Fay Helm in their limited roles, do a great job of winning over the audience.

The film’s cinematography is excellent. It works as an additional character in the film in my opinion. It’s atmospheric, spooky, and uses shadows to play with the audience’s mind. Director George Waggner uses interesting angles to show us action without actually showing it to us and this only adds to the atmospheric elements at work in the film.

I love this film. I could talk about it and why I love it until I die. Of all of the Universal Monsters, the Wolf Man is my favorite. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend viewing it. I’ll come over and watch it with you if you’d like. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Well, that’s it. Thirty-one days of classic Universal horror. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my posts about these films as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I still plan on reviewing games and collector items featuring these classic monsters, so be on the lookout for those posts in the near future.

Thanks for taking this month-long ride with me. Happy Halloween!

Days O’Horror #30: Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

Murder! Boxing! Comedy!

Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man finds the popular comedic duo facing off with a man on the run for a murder that he didn’t commit. Released in 1951, the film is my personal favorite of all of the Abbott and Costello Meet…. films released by Universal.

The film stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as two recent graduates of detective school that take on a case to find Tommy Nelson, a boxer wanted for the murder of his manager. Luckily for them, Nelson walks into their office and demands their assistance. Costello reluctantly agrees to help him and Abbott tries unsuccessfully to turn Nelson in to the police. Abbott would repeatedly do this throughout the film.

With the help of his fiancee Helen Gray (Nancy Guild) and her uncle, Dr. Philip Gray (Gavin Muir), Nelson is made invisible in order to avoid the police until he can prove his innocence. In a direct reference to the first The Invisible Man film, a photo of Claude Rains as Dr. John Griffin is shown in Gray’s office. The film also brings back the potential for going mad if one stays invisible for too long.

Abbott and Costello help Nelson find the true murderers and set up a scheme to catch them in the act. Costello poses as a boxer while Tommy Nelson actually does the fighting in the ring. To stop them, promoter Morgan (Sheldon Leonard), sends in Boots Marsden (Adele Jergens) to convince Costello to lose the fight.

The film comes to a head whenever Costello battles Rocky Hanlon (John Daheim). Does Lou win the fight? Does Abbott survive posing as the manager in the scheme? You’ll have to watch Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man to find out!

The film features a number of classic Abbott and Costello gags. At one point in the film, the duo are paid $500 to throw the fight. Abbott goes to put the cash in his pocket, but Lou tricks him into putting it into his pocket. The pair go back and forth swapping the money as Costello breaks the fourth wall with a dozen smirks and eye rolls. Costello breaks the fourth wall multiple times in the film. The film also uses invisibility in a number of the gags as well.

Of all of the Abbott and Costello Meets… films, this one seems to have the best balance of plot, comedy, and action. It’s a very fun film that had me laughing out loud at times. There’s no real horror element to the movie despite Nelson exhibiting a few manic attributes as he stays invisible. The plot is also very similar to The Invisible Man Returns (1940) featuring Vincent Price, who portrays a character that is framed for murder as well.

Thanks for reading my post. I have ONE MORE POST left for my Thirty-One Days O’Horror marathon. See you tomorrow!

Days O’Horror #29: The House Of Frankenstein (1944)

“Could Frankenstein Have Made Me Like Other Men?”

1943’s Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man gave us the first team up of Universal Monsters. 1944’s The House of Frankenstein added Dracula to the fray (at least temporarily) and would continue these team ups in later films starting with House of Dracula (1945).

Boris Karloff stars not as Frankenstein’s monster (that would be Glenn Strange, making his debut in the role), but as Dr. Niemann, a mad scientist imprisoned for his cruel and unethical work similar to that of Dr. Frankenstein, who escapes from prison with his new friend, a timid hunchback named Daniel (J. Carrol Naish). Promising to give Daniel a better body, the duo ambush a traveling horror show run by Professor Lampini (George Zucco). They murder Lampini and his assistant, and take over identities. Lampini had the bones of Dracula (John Carradine) in his show, and Neimann frees the vampire from his coffin and uses him to murder one of the men, Burgermeister Hussman (Sig Ruman), that had him imprisoned fifteen years before. Dracula also attempts to take the Burgermeister’s granddaughter (Anne Gwynne) as his eternal love interest but fails. In the crazy chase that happens as a result of Dracula’s attempt, the vampire is trapped in the sunlight just outside of his coffin and dies.

Neimann and Daniel make a run for it as well and head to Frankenstein’s destroyed laboratory. They unearth Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.), while looking for Dr. Frankenstein’s notes and Neimann decides to use the monster to kill even more people. He tells Larry Talbot that he can save him as well, but wants to use his brain for revenge in reality.

Along the way, Daniel saves a beautiful gypsy woman, Ilonka (Elena Verdugo), who ends up falling in love with Larry Talbot. This makes Daniel jealous of Larry and he demands that Neimiann give him a better body. Neimann lies to Daniel to buy himself sometime to revive the monster.

Neimann’s plans start to unravel as Larry transforms into the Wolf Man, and murders Ilonka, who manages to kill the Wolf Man with a silver bullet just before she dies. Enraged, Daniel attacks Neimann, blaming him for wasting too much time on the monster instead of helping him and the Wolf Man. The monster awakens and fights off Daniel, killing him in the process.

A good ol’ fashioned Universal mob forms and raids Neimann’s laboratory. Fearing for their lives, the monster grabs Neimann and runs out into the night. Unsure of where he is going, the monster blindly runs into quicksand, ignoring Neimann’s pleas to stop. He and Neimann are taken under by the quicksand and the film ends.

This was definitely an interesting movie, but it felt rushed and a tad disjointed as most team up flicks do. It’s as if Universal wanted to cram as much monster madness into a film as they could, but ultimately they just wasted Dracula and Frankenstein and continued poor Larry Talbot’s quest for death. It’s a shame, too, as Carradine did a much better job as the count in this film than he would end up doing in House of Dracula.

The film was successful enough that Universal would milk the trio of monsters again in House of Dracula and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. None of these ensemble films are exceptionally great. I prefer to watch the monsters in their individual films instead.

Give The House of Frankenstein a shot if for no other reason than to see the first film to feature Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s monster all in one film.

Thanks for reading. I’ve only got two films left to watch and review for the month!

Days O’Horror #28: Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

“Some mummies are men. Some mummies are women”

In the second to last film that they would make together, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello dig up some laughs in 1955’s Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy. The movie isn’t as funny as some of their other films, but it’s still a pretty serviceable comedy.

Trying to get out of Egypt, Abbott and Costello attempt to hitch a ride with a mummy back to the United States. Instead, they walk into a murder, recover a medallion that leads to hidden treasure in the tomb of Princess Ara, and become caught in the crossfire between two groups after the medallion.

The duo bumble their way through Cairo and the tomb of the princess, dodging a greedy woman named Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor) and her thugs, the leader of the cult of Klaris (the mummified protector of Ara) named Semu (Richard Deacon), and the revived mummy of Klaris (Eddie Parker).

Abbott and Costello cycle through a number of routines in the film including one in which they attempt to slip each other the medallion once they learn that it is cursed. They also revisit one of their most famous routines (Who’s On First?) while fighting over a shovel and a pick. At numerous times in the movie, Costello breaks the fourth wall by staring directly at the audience in disbelief.

One running gag throughout the film is Costello playing a flute and charming a snake. Eventually Abbott gets a chance to charm a snake and, instead, charms a lady. Costello, jealous, attempts to charm a lady for himself. The result is quite funny.

Klaris really doesn’t have much of a role in this film. He shuffles about and almost catches a few people, but he’s mainly window dressing for the comedy bits of Abbott and Costello. Windsor vamps things up and Deacon plays a pretty good foil to her plans, but ultimately this is sort of a bland film. The gags are funny but forgettable and while I didn’t feel as if I wasted my time watching this movie, I have no desire to watch it again any time soon.

Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy was okay. The comedic pair definitely have better films under their belts, but this one is at least worth checking out once. It neither adds nor takes away from the Mummy franchise nor does it really add anything to Universal’s Monster Legacy. It’s simply a decent movie with decent laughs.

I’ve got three more days left in my Thirty-One Days O’Horror event. I’ve really enjoyed watching these movies over the month of October. I viewed some of them for the very first time. I viewed others so many times before that I’ve lost count. Watching these films has given me ideas about more posts in the future. I won’t reveal those ideas now, but be on the lookout in the coming months for posts focusing on other aspects of these films.

As always, thanks for reading my post. Three…..more….days!

Days O’Horror #27: The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)

Return To Insanity

After three relatively unrelated sequels that bore little resemblance to the first The Invisible Man film, 1944’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge brings murder and power-hungry insanity back into the story. Jon Hall, who starred in The Invisible Agent two years prior, returns as a new character, Robert Griffin, who isn’t related to any of the Griffins that appeared in the first two films. Instead, he’s a murderous man intent on forcing a family to give him all of their wealth and their daughter’s hand in marriage.

Griffin becomes invisible by tricking a scientist, Dr. Drury (John Carradine), into believing that he will help the doctor in his invisibility research. In reality, Griffin plans on using the invisibility to force the Herricks, Sir Jasper and Lady Irene (Lester Matthews and Gale Sondergaard), to give over a part of their estate and their daughter, Julie (Evelyn Ankers), in marriage. Now, the Herricks are far from innocent in this affair (you’ll have to watch the film to find out more about them), and their own deception drives Griffin even more insane.

Helping Griffin and adding some much needed humor to the story is Leon Errol as Herbert Higgins, an opportunistic cobbler who is low on money and sees his partnership with Griffin as a way to increase his cash flow. There is a hilarious sequence in the film where Griffin helps Higgins win a dart game in order to make rent for the month.

Griffin learns from Dr. Drury that he can become visible with a blood transfusion. The only problem with that is that the donor has to die because they must be drained of their blood. Drury proves this with a transfusion that he gives to his loyal dog, Brutus, who plays a key role later in the film.

In Griffin’s way stands a reporter named Mark Foster (Alan Curtis), who happens to be engaged to Julie. He quickly figures out who Griffin is and what he’s really up to, and the duo battle one another as Griffin attempts to take Foster’s blood in order to become visible once again.

It was refreshing to see a return to horror with The Invisible Man’s Revenge. Jon Hall, John Carradine, and the rest of the cast did excellent jobs. Despite Griffin being a clear cut villain in the film, the Herrick family wasn’t necessarily as pure as the driven snow, either. Dr. Drury appeared to mean well, but he gets caught up into Griffin’s terrible plan and may or may not pay a severe price.

I really liked this film. It is often seen as Universal’s last major attempt to bleed out a little more money from the The Invisible Man franchise, but it’s still a very good film in my opinion. Give the film a chance. You just might like it.

Thanks for reading. I’ll have something a little lighter for you all to check out in tomorrow’s Thirty-One Days O’Horror entry!

Days O’Horror #26: The Mummy (1932) and Dracula (1931, Spanish Version)

A Double Dose of Horror!

I have something special for my readers today. As I’ve been charging through the month of October by watching Universal Monster classic films and reviewing them, I noticed that a thirty-second film deserved a little bit of the spotlight as well. That film is 1931’s Spanish version of Dracula. Not wanting to ignore this film, I’ve decided to place it into a double feature with 1932’s The Mummy. Let’s go!

The Mummy (1932)

Having already established himself as an icon of horror with Frankenstein (1931), Boris Karloff was an easy choice to portray Imhotep in The Mummy. His slow pace, both physically on the screen and in line delivery, gave his performance an added touch of wickedness.

The film also starred the strikingly beautiful Zita Johann as Helen, a lady that Imhotep believes is the reincarnated form of his beloved Ankh-es-en-amon. Other members of the cast included Arthur Byron as Sir Joseph Whemple, David Manners as Frank Whemple, Helen’s suitor, and Bramwell Fletcher in the brief role of Ralph Norton, a man driven insane when he witnesses the rise of Imhotep from his sarcophagus.

In the film, Imhotep’s mummified body is discovered by Sir Joseph Whimple’s expedition. They also discover the Scroll of Thoth, a scroll that is believed to contain the secret to eternal life. After Norton reads the scroll, he unwittingly releases Imhotep from his mummified prison. Imhotep’s eyes opening has become one of the most iconic moments in film history.

Later, Imhotep has taken on the alias of Ardath Bey and shows Frank Whemple where he can find the tomb of Ankh-es-en-amon. He then sets out to murder Helen, mummify her, and then resurrect her with the Scroll of Thoth so that they can be together for eternity.

Helen proves to be stronger than Imhotep believed and she ends up saving herself by praying to Isis for help. This was a great rarity in all early Hollywood films. In most cases, the “damsel-in-distress” is saved by the male hero, but in The Mummy, Helen does most of the work herself.

The film featured elaborate sets and wonderful visuals. Of all of the Universal Monster films, The Mummy was definitely one of the most beautiful to watch on the screen. As excellent as the film was, however, there was apparently a lot of turmoil behind the scenes between Zita Johann and the director, Karl Freund. The pair locked horns often, with Freund regularly attempting to have Johann removed from the film. One of his most famous attempts to have her leave the film was that he told her that she would have to perform the sacrifice scene nude from the waist up. He believed that she would balk at this and quit the film. Instead, she agreed to it, but only if Freund could get the scene okayed by the censors.

Jack Pierce handled the makeup on the film and, in true Pierce fashion, he did a great job. Karloff spent many hours in the makeup chair for the film. His most famous moment in the makeup, however, only lasted for a few minutes. He spends most of the film in a “living” form as Ardath Bey.

The Mummy is an excellent film. It’s beautiful, features solid acting, and is a real treat to watch. Karloff and Johann own the screen and it’s fun to see them perform.

Dracula (1931, Spanish Version)

Filmed on the same sets as the better known Dracula featuring Bela Lugosi, 1931’s Spanish version of Dracula is just as worthy of viewing. The film features Carlos Villarias as Conde Dracula, Lupita Tovar as Eva Seward (Mina Seward in the English version), Barry Norton as Juan Harker, Eduardo Arozamena as Professor Van Helsing, and Pablo Alvarez Rubio as Renfield. It was directed by George Melford.

The film’s plot is exactly the same as the Lugosi version directed by Tod Browning with help from Freund, who was the English version’s cinematographer. The differences are found in the acting, cinematography, and overall atmosphere of the film.

Villarias’ Count was more animalistic than Lugosi’s smooth predator. Like Lugosi, Villarias’ eyes were heavily focused on throughout the film. While Lugosi seemed to be a constant gentleman, Villarias’ eyes led one to believe that he was a dignified man that could quickly turn into a beast. Villarias was quicker with his line delivery as well, which gave his Conde a different look and feel.

Tovar’s Eva Seward was much warmer than Helen Chandler’s Mina Seward in the English version of the film. She showed more emotion and, much like Villarias, was more animalistic and even seductive as Eva after she was attacked by Dracula. Tovar was dressed more scantily as well, pushing censorship limits for the time.

Norton’s Juan Harker was a tad bit cardboard at times. Though, to be honest, he and David Manners (Jonathan Harker in the English version), weren’t given a whole lot to do with their roles.

Rubio tore through his role as the psychotic Renfield. He proved to be just as effective as Dwight Frye in the English version. Frye is one of my favorite actors in all of Universal’s Monster films, but Rubio gave a more savage performance as Renfield. He appeared wilder, more aggressive, and, ultimately, more sympathetic. The rest of the cast was strong, but Arozamena wasn’t as solid as Edward Van Sloan was as Van Helsing.

Melford’s touch could be seen all over the film. It was a brighter film overall compared to the English version and Melford’s use of different angles, pans, and zooms gave the movie an entirely different feel compared to the English version. It’s as if Melford was allowed to take more risks and push more limits. This makes the film one of Universal’s best movies visually.

While it may never be remembered as fondly or as with as much admiration as the English Dracula, Melford’s Dracula is definitely just as amazing. The wilder nature of Dracula and Eva, the wonderful cinematography, and the added touches of atmosphere such as a few longer screams (specifically in the death of Dracula) and the smoke rising from the coffin with Dracula at the beginning of the film, give audiences plenty of reasons to watch the Spanish version of Dracula and its better known English counterpart.

Thanks for checking out my double feature! Another review is coming your way tomorrow. Also be on the lookout for a couple of reviews of items related to the Universal Monsters in the next couple of days!

Days O’Horror #25: The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

In The Swamps Of Louisiana, I Guess….

Released just a few month’s after The Mummy’s Ghost (July, 1944), The Mummy’s Curse (December, 1944) features Lon Chaney, Jr. once again as Kharis and he’s still after his beloved Ananka (Virginia Christine). The film has numerous continuity errors in it and uses footage from The Mummy (1932) and The Mummy’s Hand (1940). It goes so far as to include footage of Tom Tyler as Kharis before he is mummified. For these reasons, the film is considered the worst of all of the films in the Mummy franchise.

The plot of the film is basically the same as all of the other sequels to The Mummy’s Hand. A high priest of Arkam calls upon Kharis to find Ananka so that they can be returned to their proper burial site back in Egypt. While looking for Ananka, Kharis kills a few innocent people. Once he finds her and brings her back to the high priest, lust proves more powerful than duty and Kharis ends up deceived.

There are a couple of twists, however, that differ from the other films. In prior films, the high priest deceives Kharis and breaks his oath to protect both Kharis and Ananka. This time around, the high priest, named Zandaab (Peter Coe), is murdered in the final moments of the film by his disciple, Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), who falls for the local engineer’s niece, Betty Walsh (Kay Harding), and plans to do some very bad things to her.

Also, Ananka doesn’t want to be found in this film. Instead, she comes to enjoy being alive (but who wouldn’t?) and runs away from Kharis every time he catches up to her. As a result, a lot of innocent folks die trying to protect her. This made me dislike her a little bit. I also started to feel sorry for poor Kharis, who has spent a lot of time doing what others have told him to do.

The film’s continuity is out of whack as well. If you’ve seen the other Mummy sequels, you know that all of them take place in Massachusetts except for a few sequences that take place in Egypt. Somehow, The Mummy’s Curse magically whisks our mummies to the swamps of Louisiana AND takes place about twenty-five years after The Mummy’s Ghost despite everything looking pretty 1940’s contemporary.

The accents of the cast are all over the place as well. Cajun Joe (Kurt Katch) sounds more like he is of Mexican descent and Tante Berthe (Ann Codee) sounds like she was ripped right off of the streets of Paris. The other cast members sound like they are from pretty much any place but southern Louisiana. I’m from Louisiana, so I know what our accents sound like. These people aren’t from Louisiana!

Despite all of the goofs and questionable accents, I still enjoyed watching this film. I actually felt for many of the characters in this story, particularly Kharis, Cajun Joe, and Tante Berthe. Cajun Joe initially came off as a hustler, but proved to be a nice guy that tried his best to help Ananka. Tante Berthe took Ananka into her home. What did she and Joe get in return? They got choked to death by Kharis.

I also loved the sequence where Ananka rises out of her grave in the swamp. Her hand slowly rises from the dirt and then she slowly pulls herself out of the muck. During this particular scene, the film speed was quickened slightly, resulting in jerky, inhuman movements by Virginia Christine as she rose from the dead. This is one of the coolest sequences that I’ve ever scene. It’s a bright moment in an otherwise formulaic flick.

Yes, The Mummy’s Curse could have been a much better film. It comes across a tad lazy with brief moments of brilliance. The cast did fine jobs except for the bad accents, but this was still a decent movie. Give it a chance. Many people like it despite its multiple errors.

There are a few interesting tidbits about this film that I discovered in my research for this review. The last existing makeup piece by Jack Pierce, known for his legendary creation of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein makeup and Conrad Veidt’s The Man Who Laughs, is from this film. The mask that Pierce made for Chaney in this film is on display at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, WA. Also, Virginia Christine, who portrayed Ananka, would go on to become Mrs. Olson in multiple Folgers Coffee commercials. The film is often erroneously listed as being released in 1945, but it was actually released on December 22nd, 1944 per IMDb.

Thanks for reading. We’ve got less than a week left until Thirty-One Days O’Horror comes to completion! Look for my double feature review tomorrow!

Days O’Horror #24: Invisible Agent (1942)

“People Who Live In Transparent Bodies Shouldn’t Be So Suspicious”

With the attack on Pearl Harbor less than a year earlier, 1942’s Invisible Agent provided some much needed patriotic propaganda for the United States. Like the film The Invisible Woman (1940) before it, Invisible Agent abandons the horror elements of most of Universal’s Monster films and takes the Invisible series in a different direction. While The Invisible Woman was basically a science fiction comedy, Agent was an espionage film with a little comedy tossed in for good measure.

In the film, German and Japanese agents attempt to acquire the invisibility formula created by Dr. Jack Griffin, the first Invisible Man, from his grandson, Frank Raymond (John Hall), who works in a print shop. When their attempt to buy the formula fails, they try to force Raymond to give it to them. Raymond escapes and makes a deal with the United States and the Allied Powers to help them battle the Axis Powers, but only if he is the only person allowed to use the formula.

Raymond soon finds himself in Germany working with trusted spies against the Nazis. His mission is to find a list of Axis spies working in the United States. Assisting him are Arnold Schmidt (Albert Basserman), an Allied sympathizer who makes coffins in a small German town, and Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey), an agent that is deep within the S.S. fold.

While at Sorenson’s home, Raymond eavesdrops on a conversation between her and Gestapo Standartenfuhrer Karl Heiser (J. Edward Bromberg), the jealous second-in-command of Gestapo Gruppenfuhrer Conrad Stauffer. Heiser wants to take over Stauffer’s command and he is also interested in Sorenson. There’s a hilarious sequence involving Raymond and Heiser at a dinner table that ends in Raymond damaging Sorenson’s plans to gain information from Heiser.

Eventually a trap is set for Raymond by Stauffer, who fails to capture him and also manages to lose the list of Axis spies. The uneasy peace between the Gestapo and Japanese agents in the area falls apart, and things go sideways quickly.

As more events unfold, Raymond begins to doubt where Sorenson’s loyalties lie. He reluctantly brings her with him in order to escape to England. The Japanese forces, led by the sinister Baron Ikito (Peter Lorre), and Stauffer’s forces (now led by Heiser, watch the film to see how he takes control) attempt to stop Raymond and Sorenson from escaping. Not only does the pair of spies have the Axis agent list, they also have information about a Nazi strike against New York City. Do they escape Germany? Are Raymond’s doubts about Sorenson true? Watch Invisible Agent to find out!

This is actually a very good film. Raymond’s invisibility is played up for humor a little bit too much at times, but audiences are quickly jarred out of the funny moments by some rather serious and deadly sequences. The movie portrays Nazis as idiots and they draw a lot of laughs from viewers, especially Heiser, but viewers are quickly reminded of just how sinister the Nazis really were during WWII. It’s the grounded moments in this film that make it not only a unique Universal Monsters film, but a solid espionage movie as well.

Many members of the cast have appeared in other Universal Monster films. Massey, Bromberg, Hall, Hardwicke, and Holmes Herbert, who portrayed Sir Alfred Spencer in the film, all had roles in at least one other Universal Monster film. Peter Lorre probably had the most prolific career of the entire cast, having appeared in multiple popular films including M (1931), Casablanca (1942), and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954). He was also the star of seven Mr. Moto films released between 1937 and 1939. I highly recommend checking out Lorre’s work, even films in which he had smaller roles. The man was brilliant.

Also of note is a brief appearance by Key Luke as a Japanese surgeon. You might remember him from the Green Hornet serial from the 1940’s or the 1970’s series Kung Fu. Younger folks like myself probably known him best as Mr. Wing from the Gremlins films.

Check out Invisible Agent. It’s a really good film with a decent mixture of humor, action, suspense, and drama.

Thanks for reading. More horror will be headed your way tomorrow!

Days O’Horror #23: The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

“He cannot be destroyed”

1942 saw Lon Chaney, Jr. hook up to the bolts as Frankenstein’s Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein. The film also starred Bela Lugosi as Ygor, Cedric Hardwicke as Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, Lionel Atwill as Dr. Bohmer, and Evelyn Ankers as Elsa Frankenstein.

The film begins with a good ol’ Universal angry mob burning down Castle Frankenstein and Ygor and the monster escaping to Visaria in the hopes of finding Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the second son of Dr. Henry Frankenstein. Ygor has plans to rebuild the monster’s strength and make it whole again.

As soon as the pair arrive in Visaria, however, a series of misunderstandings leads to the creature murdering two villagers while trying to help a young girl, Cloestine (Janet Ann Gallow). The monster is arrested and put on trial, but Ygor tracks down Ludwig and tells him to help the monster. Ludwig refuses at first, but Ygor threatens to reveal Ludwig’s family secret if he doesn’t help the creature.

Ludwig appears before the court and denies that he recognizes the creature. This sends the creature into a fit of rage and it escapes with Ygor. The duo end up at Ludwig’s home and attack his daughter, Elsa, who has just found her father’s secret family records and Ludwig’s assistant, Dr. Kettering (Barton Yarborough). Kettering is murdered, but Elsa is saved by her father. Ludwig is then visited by his father’s ghost and he is convinced that he will replace the monster’s existing brain with Dr. Kettering’s brain. Ygor demands that his brain be used instead, but Ludwig refuses.

When the police arrive to investigate the missing Dr. Kettering’s whereabouts, Ygor and the creature escape from the lower levels of Ludwig’s laboratory. The monster kidnaps Cloestine, brings her back to Ludwig, and demands that he use the little girls brain instead of Kettering’s. Ygor has plans of his own, using Dr. Bohmer’s jealousy of Ludwig to convince him to swap Kettering’s brain with Ygor’s.

Elsa convinces the monster to let Cloestine go and Ludwig and Bohmer replace the monster’s brain with Kettering’s. Bohmer, however, swapped the brain for Ygor’s and whenever the monster awakens, Ludwig is horrified.

A battle ensues and the monster murders Bohmer and sets the laboratory on fire. The monster goes blind due to the fact, according to Ludwig, that its blood type does not match Ygor’s. A mob shows up in order to save Cloestine and the monster gets even angrier. He knocks over equipment and other items, spreading the fire.. Elsa manages to escape with her suitor, Erik (Ralph Bellamy), while the others apparently die in the fire.

I really liked this film. It doesn’t have a very good reputation as a whole and is often considered the first of a series of cheaper, less inspired films. Evelyn Ankers teams up with Lon Chaney, Jr. once again, as did Ralph Bellamy. Both appeared with Chaney in The Wolf Man (1941). Other actors in this film had appeared in other Universal Monster films as well, most notably Lionel Atwill, who portrayed Inspector Krogh in the previous sequel, Son of Frankenstein (1939). Barton Yarborough would go on to appear in the highly popular Dragnet television series until his untimely death at the age of fifty-one.

This definitely is not the best Frankenstein film, but it’s still pretty good. I enjoyed the overall story, the music, and even the less-than-stellar special effects. The cast did a good job and at just over an hour long, it’s a nice little flick to check out when it’s raining outside.

Thanks for reading and I apologize for the late hour. Work completely derailed my plans today. Tomorrow will bring another chapter in my Thirty-One Days O’Horror saga!