Thursday, November 1, 2018

30 THEATRICAL TERRORS: Frankenstein (Day 30)

This is the 200th anniversary of young Mary Shelley’s novel of hubris and creation, FRANKENSTEIN, and being that Frankenstein’s Monster is one of my favorite literary characters and that Boris Karloff is one of my favorite actors, well, this is what you get on Halloween night from this monster.

In 1931 FRANKENSTEIN was put onto the big screen by Universal Pictures—an instant hit with critics and the audience, director James Whale’s film made Boris Karloff a star virtually overnight.

Adapted from the play by Peggy Webling (and based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, FRANKENSTEIN; or, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS) the film tells the story of a scientist who attempts to create his own man from an amalgamation of corpses dug up from the graveyard and what happens when the experiment goes horribly wrong.

What spawned from Universal’s FRANKENSTEIN films and, thus, Shelley’s story is a pop culture phenomenon. The monster can be found everywhere, in many forms and fashions. Sometimes as less than, but most times as more than human in thought and action. He is a sad and lonely and, therefore, a totally relatable character.

Sadly for the character and his creator, he becomes the monster he was perceived as, because the world turns on him, rejecting him. His father hates him and so he hates his father and the world of the living. And, though he cannot speak, that is the magic of Karloff’s performance—what a critic called a bit of “acting mesmerism”.

As for Universal’s design of the monster, that was make-up artist Jack Pierce’s doing, in collaboration with Karloff. Every day, Pierce spent 4 hours applying the cotton, gum, greasepaint and collodion to the actor in order to give him that gaunt undead look that we’ve all come to know and love.

And here is a look at the trailer for FRANKENSTEIN…

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

30 THEATRICAL TERRORS: The Shining (Day 29)

Tonight let’s focus on horror created through order in a look at Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

With Kubrick one gets the feeling sometimes that he sits down and designs each scene down to the letter, sure nearly all filmmakers do this, it’s just that the imposed order is a little more overt. In the case of The Shining, the horror a bit more focused to a sharp stabby point.

What makes these sharp moments of horror so much more effective than most other horror directors’ abilities is that Kubrick has the patience to wait for the right moment to spring his horror upon the viewer.

He’ll pass by it two or three times before springing the scare onto your brain. Danny will pedal his big wheel down one, two, three, four, five corridors before running into the creepy sisters.

He isn’t afraid of the slow burn as Nicholson’s Torrance slowly turns from troubled alcoholic who is seduced by the hotel’s demons into the axe-wielding maniac we find at the final credits.

The isolation gets to the viewer, whereas most directors don’t have the confidence or patience to wait those extra beats as the tension builds, the suspense thickens and the needles get sharpened.

It’s a fine thing, a Swiss watch.
A clockwork that is nearly flawless.

Here’s a look at the trailer…

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

30 THEATRICAL TERRORS: The Exorcist (Day 28)

Let’s talk a little about the movie that scared America shitless.

Based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel
of the same name, The Exorcist hit theatres
in late 1973 and portrayed the battle
between good and evil
for one girl’s soul.

Friedkin’s film is so faithful to the book due to the fact that Blatty wrote the adaptation himself and produced the film. He chose the director having seen The French Connection and wanting that sense of energy for his picture.

The Exorcist garnered ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and became one of the highest grossing films of all time and has since been preserved by the Library of Congress as part of the National Film Registry.

It’s on every Top Ten or Greatest list when it comes to horror films, not simply because it was well made and well regarded, but because it took an audience that didn’t go to horror films and it turned the knob up to eleven and ripped it off.

It was a film so powerful it was putting people
in the hospital and converting others.
When it comes to the possession film,
there is no greater example,
not even close.

Here’s the trailer…