Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Category: 30Hz Cinema (Page 6 of 23)

The Devil Doll: 31 Days of Horror

devil doll 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2017 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of The Devil Doll Shame:
Unwatched Tod Browning

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1930’s
Before 1970’s
Directors 6: Tod Browning



 

#2. The Devil Doll

 

devil doll 31 days of horror

 

Finding an unseen Browning wasn’t much of a chore. Finding an unseen Browning in the watchpile proved to be a little more difficult. I stumbled across The Devil Doll in this Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection. I’d watched the other films in the set, but apparently skipped The Devil Doll. It’s on the same disc as Mad Love starring Peter Lorre, a film to which I’d also give a high recommendation. TCM often plays it during October, so keep your eyes spicy peeled on the calendar. (It’s playing on October 31st, by the way, and The Devil Doll makes an appearance on October 28th.)

Based on the book Burn Witch Burn! by Abraham Merritt, Browning’s The Devil Doll concerns a convict by the name of Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) wrongly accused of robbing a bank and murdering a night watchman. 17 years after his conviction, he escapes with a mad scientist whose work entails creating a formula to reduce people to 1/6th their original size. No one ever calls him “mad” — but trust me, he’s a traditional lunatic. Likewise, most everyone else in this picture. The scientist dies shortly after their escape and his assistant (the scene-stealing Rafaela Ottiano) urges Lavond to continue his work. After some consideration, Lavond agrees, but with the intention of using the formula to exact revenge on the men and former business partners who’d framed him for the original crime.

Lavond’s plan is thus: Dress as an old woman who makes dolls. The She-Barrymore sends these little 1/6th doll people out to kill his enemies and ultimately clear his name. Of course once he clears his name, he’s got that whole weird crossdressing dollmaker thing to explain, but maybe we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Or maybe not.

Tod Browning’s commercial career peaked with Dracula (1931) and he went on to direct the notorious Freaks (1932) a year later. Freaks nearly ruined his career. His post-Freaks career consists of contrition and studio projects of varying value and ambition. I would suggest, having now seen The Devil Doll, that this film represents perhaps his most ambitious and most interesting studio film.

Adapted to the screen by Erich von Stroheim (!) and Guy Endore, The Devil Doll displays a remarkable amount of personal melancholy on behalf of the beleaguered director. MGM only made The Devil Doll because they needed to honor the contract signed by Browning in the wake of Dracula‘s success. As Freaks was the first film made under this contract, it goes without saying that MGM immediately regretted the investment.

devil doll 31 days of horror

She-Barrymore and Maureen O’Sullivan in The Devil Doll (1936).

Visually, the film’s a bit of a marvel for 1936. The matte effects used to place the “dolls” within the scene and action appear rather seamless. Critics at the time likened the achievement of these effects to that of King Kong and The Invisible Man.

The element that elevates the film beyond standard 30’s horror fare is the relationship between Barrymore’s Lavond and his estranged daughter, played by the always radiant Maureen O’Sullivan. Lionel often had a tendency to overplay these emotional scenes in lesser films, but in The Devil Doll he’s restrained, acting as an extension of the director’s vision for the film as a familial melodrama wrapped in commercial horror. And he’s doing this under a bad wig and old lady rags.

 

Audio/Visual notes:

The DVD image could definitely use some clean-up, and its a shame that his film hasn’t been treated with more kindness throughout the years. Warner Archive has re-released this set in recent years, but I haven’t seen the new discs to know if anything’s been done to improve this original.

Final Thoughts:

I’ve read that filmmaker Guy Maddin considers this a highly influential film, and I can see the relevance to Maddin’s experimental oeuvre that presents an off-kiler narrative with earnest emotion beneath the apparent madness. After my first watch of The Devil Doll, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d just watched. The film mingles so many disparate genre elements that it all seemed, well confused. I let the film roll, starting over again at the beginning. The Devil Doll points us in certain genre-defined directions. I settled in for a routine experience throughout the second half of the film, but witnessed anything but routine. After re-watching the opening twenty minutes or so, I came to appreciate how Browning manipulated his audience and then unleashed something curiously sentimental. In a movie about little people running amuck.

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

 


Availability:  

Warner Archive re-released the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection late last year.


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warner archive logo

 

 

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2017 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile Shame-a-thon

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936)

 

2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile Shame-a-thon

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot / #27. Veerana / #28. House of Wax / #29. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage / #30. Dead and Buried / #31 Ghost and Mr. Chicken

caltiki the immortal monster 31 days of horror

Caltiki the Immortal Monster: 31 Days of Horror

caltiki 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2017 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Caltiki the Immortal Monster Shame:
Unwatched Arrow Blu-ray

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1950’s
Before 1970’s



 

#1. Caltiki the Immortal Monster

 

caltiki 31 days of horror

 

So I’m creeping off the starting gates in the 2017. One might suggest I’m creeping into this Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober challenge like a slightly animated infinity scarf permeating a 1/10th scale model Italian chateau.

caltiki 31 days of horror

I blind bought the Arrow Blu-ray package for Caltiki the Immortal Monster because I couldn’t resist the allure of a 1959 sci-fi monster movie with special effects by a young Mario Bava in a spiffy Arrow package. (Bava shares directorial credit with Riccardo Freda.) Mostly I wondered “Why exactly?” But those “why exactly” wonders often provide more than enough impetus for a viewing.

I snuck this one in on the first day of viewing (September 16th) while the wife indulged in a documentary on ballet dancers — which was oddly, based on the few minutes I watched, more horrific that Caltiki the Immortal Monster. (And she’s the one that says she doesn’t watch horror!) The expedient runtime, therefore, made Caltiki the ideal opening volley in the Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile Shame-a-thon 2017. Consider the cannons fired.

caltiki 31 days of horror

As special effects coordinator, Mario Bava does remarkable work in transforming a limp rag into an all consuming monster millions of in the offing. Caltiki reportedly offed the Mayans so it’s good at the offing business. This reworking of 1958’s The Blob via Universal’s The Mummy, transports the viewer to Mexico/Central America where scientists have travelled to study reasons for the demise of the Mayan civilization. (So the Blob with a sombrero, mostly. I kid.)

While exploring a cave featuring an entrance to a unique lake/reservoir, one of the scientists disappears and another returns, raving and ranting himself to death. In the 1950’s, we were certainly desensitized to scientists literally dying  from the things they’d witnessed. There just seemed to be a lot of that going around.

A return trip to the cave claims one more explorer and a piece of another but our fearless band of trespassers manages to isolate a piece of the monster to take back for study. The pulsing rag of a monster devours flesh, consumes psyches and feeds on radiation — all the qualities you need for a ripping monster movie.

Audio/Visual notes:

As I’ve never seen Caltiki the Immortal Monster before this Blu-ray release, I can’t speak to the original state of the film, but the version presented here by Arrow films shows remarkable detail and clarity for a 1950’s Italian production. If anything, the disc’s clarity calls attention to the scale models used for scenes after Caltiki grows to tidal wave size. Depending upon your viewing mentality this might prove to be a Bava-licious treat or it might take you right out of the film. However, if you’ve singled out something as relatively obscure as Caltiki for viewing, it’s my guess that you belong to the former group. You’ll also be well served to view the film with commentary because it offers some nice details about the production.

caltiki 31 days of horror

When scarves attack.

Final Thoughts:

Comparing Caltiki directly to The Blob, which predated this film by a year, you’ll notice a couple scenes of relative and surprising shock value. When Caltiki devours its first victim and then reveals a bloody, pulpy skeleton, like discarded chicken bones, it took me by surprise to see such grue in what up until that point had been a pretty run-of-the-mill 1950’s monster flick.

Definitely worth a viewing for fans of Bava and 1950’s horror. It’s interesting to view the film as a bridge directly to the 1960’s when horror films began to take more bloody liberties. Caltiki offers some wonderful old-fashioned chiaroscuro and considered composition. It’s a well-shot movie considering its genre origins. Caltiki serves up exotic variations on established horror films and tropes. Bava works SFX magic during the film’s final ten minutes.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

30hzrating31-2

 

 


Availability:  

The recent Arrow Films Blu-ray release is widely available, an essential acquisition for classic monster fans and/or Bava completists.

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2017 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile Shame-a-thon

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster

 

2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile Shame-a-thon

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot / #27. Veerana / #28. House of Wax / #29. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage / #30. Dead and Buried / #31 Ghost and Mr. Chicken

31 Days of Horror 2017

31 Days of Horror: 2017

Halloween brings out the best and the worst of us as obsessive moviewatchers. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine my experience mirrors many of yours. When October rolls around (now mid-September because the 31 horror movies in 31 days doesn’t jive with adult schedules), horror movies dominate all channels. The wife shrugs her shoulders. Hide the more explicit DVD cases from the kids. You start arguing about sequels and franchises and Argento vs. Bava vs. Fulci.

My wife joins in when I can find a nice, palatable mid-grade horror film. In recent years, she’s joined me for films like Tremors and The Fog and comedies like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. (Though, she still tells me she’s nervously scanning the mist for ghost pirates whenever a nice fog rolls through the Pittsburgh hills.)

Each year for the past four years, I’ve embarked upon the journey to watch at least 31 horror movies by the end of October. Last year I joined @ElCinemonster’s Hoop-Tober challenge on Letterboxd.com. Each year he lays down a few challenges to help guide the viewing of his monstrous minions. This year I’m again combining my Cinema Shame Horror Shame-a-thon with the Hoop-Tober Challenge 4.0 to perpetuate the most unwieldy title in the history of movie blogging and watching.

Welcome to the @CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile/Shame-a-thon 31 Days of Horror 2017

31 Days of Horror 2017

Let’s lay down some rules for any lunatics that might want to play the home version of the 31 Days of Horror 2017.

Pick 31 never-before-seen (or unwatched DVD purchases) horror movies — “horror” is broadly defined as anything containing elements of the horror genre. So, for example, I’ve count the Abbott & Costello monster films in the past because of the classic movie monsters. Watch as many as you can stomach during your “month” of October.

I’m air-quoting “month” because, as I mentioned earlier, I’m borrowing @ElCinemonster’s notion that we’re busy goddamn people and 31 days is just not a reasonable duration for busy people to watch 31 horror movies. He’s beginning his “month” on September 15th. I plan to do the same. I hit 33 last year(!) and while I don’t expect to top that total I aim to match.

I’m going to pluck as many movies as possible from my Watch Pile (any film I already own that hasn’t been watched). I’ve been making a more concerted effort to watch more movies than I buy. The worthy remain. The ones I don’t see myself watching again hit eBay. I’ll note the outcome of each disc in my blurb.

And speaking of blurbs… after each movie, I’ll toss up a mini-review and a 30Hz rating that will correspond to my review on Letterboxd.com. The review may or may not contain any actual insight. The reviews are the part of this project that will leave you a quivering pile of bloody goo. And now for the more specific Hoop-Tober demonic hurdles, courtesy of @ElCinemonster.

6 sequels (mix-and-match. 6 total)
6 countries
6 decades
6 films from before 1970
6 films from the following: Carpenter, Raimi, Whale, Browning, Craven, Tom Holland (mix-and-match, or all one)
3 people eating people (non-zombie)
1 Hammer Film
1 Romero film
1 terrible oversight aka OVERT SHAME! (use this link, filter out the films you’ve seen and picked the highest rated film from the list that you can get ahold of)

And 2 Tobe Hooper Films (There must ALWAYS be a Hooper film)

-review them all.(eek)

Clearly one film can satisfy multiple criteria. Viewing and reviewing will begin at 12:01am CST on Sept 15th.

I plan to call some audibles when spur-of-the-moment cravings strike, but here’s my blueprint for the 2017 31 Days Of Horror CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-Thon.

31 days of horror 2017

Past #31DaysOfHorror Shame-a-thons: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 Part 1 | 2015 Part 22016 

*rewatch

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
  3. Brain Damage
  4. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  5. Cannibal! The Musical
  6. Christine
  7. Death Walks in High Heels
  8. Eating Raoul
  9. Friday the 13th
  10. Friday the 13th Part II
  11. House*
  12. House 2*
  13. House 3
  14. House 4
  15. Fox with the Velvet Tail
  16. Invaders from Mars
  17. Mill of the Stone Women
  18. Posession
  19. Prince of Darkness
  20. Shocker
  21. Spontaneous Combustion
  22. Suddenly in the Dark
  23. The Devil Doll
  24. The Dismembered
  25. The Green Butchers
  26. The Hound of the Baskervilles*
  27. The Wife Killer
  28. Spider (Zirneklis)
  29. The Velvet Vampire
  30. What Have You Done to Solange?
  31. Two Evil Eyes
  32. The Initiation
  33. The Fan (Der Fan)
  34. The Invisible Man (familiar comfort horror)*

the invisible man 31 days of horror 2017

What’s your list? What’s your plan for horror movie watching this year? If you’re keeping a list or participating in the Hoop-Tober challenge, I’ll link you in the header for my posts. Just leave a note with a link in the comments. Together we shall overcome… or we’ll be the loser pumped off in the first act to establish indomitable menace. It’s more comforting to know you’re not doing this alone.

don't disturb the dead

Summer Reading Challenge: Don’t Disturb the Dead – The Story of the Ramsay Brothers

Don’t Disturb the Dead: The Story of the Ramsay Brothers
by Shamya Dasgupta
Harper Collins India (June 5, 2007)
238 pages
ISBN: 9352644301

Unwittingly my Classic Film Summer Reading Challenge jumped from the pioneers of American horror films at Universal Studios to the pioneers of horror on the subcontinent — the Ramsay brothers.

For those that haven’t been exposed to the Ramsay oeuvre, I’ll give you quick rundown of the fundamentals. Low-budget amalgamations of violence, gore, ancient curses, atmosphere, monsters, voodoo, skin and (always obscured) sexuality, and traditional Bollywood musical numbers. Until one has seen a Ramsay film, a Western viewer likely will not understand how all these pieces fit together. Even though I’d been aware of the Ramsays as filmmakers, I couldn’t wrap my head around the notion of a Bollywood horror film. And then I watched Veerana for my Halloween Horror Challenge last October.

The Ramsays were a family of filmmakers that discovered an untapped niche in the Indian film industry. Until the early 1970’s when the Ramsay’s conquered the market, no one in India made horror films. Despite their financial success, they met both cultural and market-driven barriers to widespread acceptance. Conservative viewers condemned their risqué output, and operating as independents outside the Bollywood system caused friction within the traditional chain of release. As a result, the Ramsays peddled their spook films to areas outside major metropolitan areas. Over the years their films became events, celebrated entertainment for the masses, but they also never gained the respect bestowed upon successful filmmakers.

Purana Mandir (1984)

Scene from Purana Mandir (1984) directed by Shyam Ramsay, Tulsi Ramsay

Before viewing Veerana, I knew the Ramsays only by reputation. India’s version of Hammer Horror. In as much as that rings true (they Ramsays modeled themselves after Hammer studios) it also sells their enterprise short. Using Hammer as inspiration they created culturally specific horror films that defined a generation.

Don’t Disturb the Dead breathes life into the Ramsay’s global reputation by focusing on the way the filmmaking collective assembled an internal team of directors, editors, cinematographers, costume designers, set designers and shot full-length feature films on shoestring budgets and cultural limitations.

As my exposure to Bollywood is limited, the names and places that Dasgupta spouts as reference points for the Indian film industry models of success and failure wash over me. At first I spent time looking up each name, but this grew tiresome and I soon left explanation to authorial context. As a comprehensive history, Dasgupta relies on familial anecdotes and therefore fails to convey a concrete sense of history. Many stories are undermined by the hazy or conflicting recollections among the surviving Ramsays. In many ways this seems fitting coming from an industry that even into the 1980’s believed that cinema was merely a transient form of entertainment. The lack of preservation has left us only with storytellers.

The English-as-Second-Language translation of Don’t Disturb the Dead could be viewed as a detriment as well. The narrative descriptions sometimes feel clipped from amateurish imdb.com synopses. Take for example the following description of the film Darwaza (1978):

“Let’s go over the story, though it’s more more fun – obviously – watching it; if nothing else, for the atmospherics of fear, the sheer spookiness of it, the effect of the hand-held camera sneaking up on you, which is something Gangu uses is many of the films very smartly. Ye, the screaming Ramsay leading ladies are all there somewhere, and so are some random bits, but it’s a taut screenplay, all of it leading somewhere, and, before the end, there are a number of questions that remain, which keep you hooked. And spooked.”

Long segments of interview with some of the Ramsay brothers appear unedited and these, translated into English, also offer some simple charms where translation has made an earnest attempt to turn Indian idioms into proper English. I made a point to mark a quote from Arjun Ramsay (editor): “You can’t only add chili in your food – thoda khatta, thoda meetha (a little salt, a little sugar) … and we did what we did and the aim was that the audience liked it.”

The structure of the book allows for an occasionally maddening centripetal nature. Don’t Disturb the Dead highlights the different parts of the production team, but as Dasgupta begins each segment he takes us back through the Ramsay filmography as it serves the topic. Rather than going film to film and organizing his thoughts chronologically, he continually circles back. While this allows each of the brothers to get a moment in his spotlight throughout the production chain, it also creates a Back to the Future-esque branching timeline for someone unfamiliar with the films and Bollywood players that float through the Ramsay’s story. From his perspective, this serves a specific end: the movies themselves stand as a testament to the family that made them and the stories they told and shared. Readers will note a specific, culturally-ascribed attitude difference toward the actresses in their films and the women in their family, but we must view these through an appropriate lens.

The Ramsays

The Ramsay family of filmmakers. Standing: Arjun, Kiran, Kumar, Gangu, Keshu; Sitting: Tulsi, F.U., Shyam

While not an especially exhaustive discussion of the films themselves (I did just read an encyclopedic textbook about every Univeral horror film), Don’t Disturb the Dead paints a specific picture of familial devotion and the closed-circuit nature of the Indian film industry. Little scholarship has been devoted to the Ramsays, and their films remain underseen curiosities in the West. I would be shocked if someone read the introduction to this book and wasn’t at least curious enough to check out a Ramsay movie… or at least a clip.

If Dasgupta manages to expand the Ramsay’s audience and finds a few more fans in the West, he’s done his job. Even though the movies will look rather cheap and more than a little silly to our eyes, there’s talent and devotion to the craft behind these escapades that welcomes sincere and ironic enjoyment in equal measure.

Luckily, the films are now available on YouTube for our enjoyment. Here’s the film that jumpstarted my curiosity in the Ramsays.

This review is part of my participation in the Summer Reading Challenged hosted by Raquel Stecher’s Out of the Past Blog

claude rains and gloria stuart in the invisible man

Summer Reading Challenge: Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946

Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946
by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas
McFarland & Company; 2nd edition (February 15, 2007)
608 pages
ISBN: 0786429747

When I dared to undertake the reviewing of six books about classic cinema in addition to my regularly scheduled summer fiction regimen, I should have had the foresight to choose something other than a textbook-sized compendium on every horror and horror-related film released by Universal during their first and second horror cycles.

I once claimed proficiency in these types of films. Now, I find that notion “quaint” and perhaps “simple-minded.” I’ve only scratched the surface. Sure, there’s the roll call of A-list monster titles that we all know and love. Dracula. The Wolf Man. Frankenstein. And my own personal favorite, The Mummy. But then there’s all the rest. I suppose I originally engaged with this book because I wanted to know about those gems that slipped through the cultural cracks.

Be careful for what you wish. (Using that, the grammatically preferable form of that statement, makes it sound positively Lugosian. Say it out loud. Claw-like hand gestures optional.)

Universal Horrors excels because the authors not only document these forgotten films (also orienting them in time and space with relation to the more popular films that overshadowed their existence), but they dare to offer a definitive opinion about every single film. Since many of these gems require a bit of hunting to track down, the opinions contained within certainly help focus my attentions on worthy searches. Only once do I recall the authors throwing up their hands in futility because they couldn’t track down a copy of a film. 

Deep Cut Universal Horrors

Some deep cut Universal Horrors dominate my Letterboxd.com Watchlist

Universal Horrors covers 86 films in great detail, diving into great detail about the behind-the-scenes production, the temperaments of the actors involved, and the contemporary reception upon release. Stories told to the authors by surviving cast and crew pull back the curtain on the Universal production demands of the era. Though I knew quite a bit about the rigorous studio demands on their creatives, I repeatedly found myself surprised by the regard (or lack thereof) with which Universal treated these cogs in the machine.

It’s particularly interesting to chart the course of the studio’s major players — Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. — as their careers carried on beyond the iconic roles of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man. The authors also, in no less detail, devote substantial sections of the book to the lesser stars of the era such as Gloria Stuart, Evelyn Ankers, Dwight Frye and Maria Ouspenskaya, just to name a handful of the players brought to life again on these pages. The tragic figures on the screen often mirrored the real-life tragedies of the people responsible for these beloved Universal horror films.

claude rains and gloria stuart in the invisible man

Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in James Whale’s The Invisible Man.

Universal Horrors becomes a grind — as would any book of this nature — because it labors over plot synopsis for each of the entries. For certain films I welcomed the refresher course, but by and large, these retellings interrupt the torrent of more interesting bits of cultural context and production details. Thankfully, the authors quarantine the synopses, never burying interesting nuggets among the rote regurgitation, making them easy skips. You’ll welcome the opportunity to move along on page 400 or so during another middling entry in the Inner Sanctum series.

It’s possible that Universal Horrors would appeal mostly to die hard fans of the genre, but due to the depth that the authors go to document the era, the book should appeal to all fans of classic cinema. Hearing the words of Universal’s contract players and indentured filmmakers of the era sheds light on a time and place and a production style (movies written and filmed in under twelve days!) that seems alien by today’s standards. It’ll make you nostalgic for a moviemaking business that wasn’t so damn serious, when horror movie monsters were an ironic escape from the horrors of a decaying world.

This review is part of my participation in the Summer Reading Challenged hosted by Raquel Stecher’s Out of the Past Blog

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