As a youngster, I used to watch those cheesy 1950s horror films on Saturday afternoons. I don’t like scary movies, and these are so ridiculous that you can’t be frightened. Since it is October, let me share my strange obsession with them.
The Wolfman, released in 1941 has a great cast and an improbable story line. Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is somehow the next in line to inherit Claude Rains’ title and castle in Wales although he is distinctly American in accent and attitude. While Lon Chaney Sr. was the “Man of a Thousand Faces,” his son was a fairly one-note actor. The under-rated Ralph Bellamy plays the slightly befuddled inspector and Bela Lugosi is the wolfman who bites Lawrence Talbot and starts the murder spree.
Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein (1948) takes a popular comedy duo and thrusts them into an implausible but hysterically funny situation. Somehow, Dracula (Bela Lugosi) works with a mad scientist to find a simple-minded brain (Lou Costello’s, of course) to reanimate Frankenstein (played by Glenn Strange, not Boris Karloff). Chaos ensues at a laboratory on an isolated island and somehow the Wolfman gets involved. A great silly movie that spawned several sequels.
What has to be the most absurd horror movie is The Tingler with Vincent Price (1959) noted for the post-production audience manipulation. The plot is simple: a pathologist discovers that the spine-tingling sensation that humans experience is due to a parasite. Too much fear and the spine is damaged. But, if you don’t scream, you may die. The movie involves solving a murder of a mute woman, but the real fun is what the director, William Castle did with the release. In many theaters, he used ‘Percepto,’ a buzzer installed in some seats. Naturally, the audience was encouraged to scream (or else they would die) and Vincent Price (on screen) would interrupt the movie to warn people what was coming. Castle even hired screamers and fainters to heighten the pandemonium. Goofy movie but great marketing!Take a look at my newest release, books by my colleagues and promotions that offer many choices.
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OCTOBER COZY MYSTERIES
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