Thursday, November 6, 2008

Poe Triple Feature..

This was a "three in one" DVD I got from Netflix, all starring Bela Lugosi. Two of them also starred Boris Karloff, who was referred to as "Karloff" and got top billing which must of royally pissed off Lugosi. Although everyone says the two men were friends and got along very well, Lugosi knew he made a HUGE mistake when he turned down the role of Frankenstein and let that upstart Karloff nab it. Anyway, the first film, the Raven, resembles Poe's poem in that there is a raven in it, although it is just a statue. Released in 1936, many call it Lugosi's best performance outside of Dracula. And he is very creepy as a Poe obsessed surgeon who builds torture devices for fun. Karloff plays a criminal on the run who Lugosi "blackmails" into helping him off the family of the woman he loves. By blackmail I mean he disfigures his face a refuses to fix it until his diabolical plan is complete. Some dark shit for 1936. No wonder it was films like this, with the themes of torture, revenge, and disfigurement that led to a ban on horror films in England. Those Brits are so uptight.

The next film, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" resembles Poe's story the most, but that is not saying much. The focus moves away from the detectives (Poe's story is said to be the first "detective" story) and to a new character, played by Lugosi. Lugosi's character is, of course, a mad doctor who dreams of creating some kind of human/ape hybrid. Of course he needs whores to inject with ape blood, and they all die, hence the murders. That is not, of course, in Poe's short story.

Finally, the most disturbing is "The Black Cat," which is an art deco nightmare. This movie is so twisted it features kitty-cats getting shot (they had to tie it into the title somehow: Lugosi's character is deathly afraid of cats and kills them. He is the good guy.) Satan worship, war criminals, dead women being preserved in tanks and being put on display, and a "skinning" scene are other highlights of this film. The "skinning" is left to the imagination of course, but it still freaked me out. I am amazed that they got away with all of this in 1934! This was the best film of the bunch, and it too, in no way, resembles Poe's short story. Poe's "Black Cat" is actually one of his creepiest, in my humble opinion. They could have filmed the complete story and it would still be as freaky as hell.
Anyway, I am taking a break from Lugosi and Karloff for a while. I am all about Vincent Price now. I taped about 20 films over Halloween week and the majority of them star Price. Do you know that he never got a dime for his "rap" on Thriller? MJ is a bastard. Also, when you spellcheck, it is going to insist that "Satan" be capitalized.

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