Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941) & The Invisible Man (1933) Reviews

I did a bunch of “my favorite horror movies” lists in October & one was My Top Ten Pre-1970 Horror Movies. I’d commented that it was shameful I’d seen so few to be able to make that list and had seen none of the classic “monster” movies such as Dracula, etc. So I was very happy when the Horror Channel in the U.K. showed a bunch of them over Halloween weekend. Thanks to the family for letting me watch half of them, too! I haven’t updated that list with these yet as I’m not sure where to place them at this point but figured that I should at least try to write a little something about these classics even though it’s after Halloween…

Dracula (1931)

Directed by Tod Browning

Based on Dracula (novel) by Bram Stoker & Dracula (play) by Hamilton Deane & John L. Balderston

Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, a vampire who emigrates from Transylvania to England and preys upon the blood of living victims, including a young man’s fiancée.

My Opinion:

I don’t know where to start with these “reviews” as I’ve not watched enough classic horror to be able to easily discuss them. I’ll say that Dracula was easily my favorite of those I watched Halloween weekend. Bela Lugosi was great as Count Dracula. Loved his look and the mood of the start of the film in his creepy old castle in the fog & full of cobwebs. The whole thing just said traditional “Halloween” to me, so that was great. A proper vampire movie! Also, I noticed it was directed by Tod Browning who did the movie Freaks, which I absolutely adore & think is a fantastic film that was ahead of its time. So I was eager to see another Browning film.

Vampires aren’t usually my favorite when it comes to the typical “Halloween” monsters. As far as these type of movies go, it seems to be the zombie ones I like the most (thanks, George Romero!). So I wasn’t necessarily expecting this to be my favorite (I thought it would be Frankenstein). But Lugosi was so good & I loved seeing all the “vampire rules” played out, which I admittedly know best thanks to The Lost Boys. No “death by stereo” in Dracula, though! Ha!

Am so glad I finally watched this. I want to see all the Hammer Horror now too to compare, especially Dracula! Am guessing that just has more heaving bosoms. They loved heaving bosoms in old English movies. So between this Dracula, Nosferatu & my beloved The Lost Boys, maybe I do love vampires after all. It’s made me want to revisit Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula now as well. Or… maybe even read the book! Maybe. I did read Frankenstein recently. We’ll see!

My Rating: 8/10

Frankenstein (1931)

Directed by James Whale

Based on Frankenstein (novel) by Mary Shelley & Frankenstein (play) by Peggy Webling & John L. Balderston

Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward van Sloan, Frederick Kerr

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster out of lifeless body parts.

My Opinion:

Unlike the rest, I do think I at least saw bits of this as a kid. I definitely remember the part with the girl. I forced myself to read this book during lockdown as I must admit I don’t read enough classics. Yes, I stick with Stephen King. I’m old, busy & tired. I’ll watch a serious film as it takes up less of my time but don’t have the energy to read War And Peace or some shit. Give me light entertainment for reading! I admit reading Frankenstein, with its 1818 language, was hard going. But I love the overall story. It’s damn good.

So I was expecting to like this movie the most but I think I ended up a bit disappointed as I didn’t realize how different it was from the book! I have no clue how close Dracula was to Stoker’s novel so that’s probably why I was able to just enjoy that movie as it is. Looks like Frankenstein was also partly based on a play adaptation? I was just kind of sad as I didn’t feel this movie captured the creature’s complex feelings & turned him into more of a monster while the flawed Victor Frankenstein character is hardly explored at all. But, hey – it’s a 1931 film. It’s still a horror classic & gave us the iconic “Frankenstein’s monster” look we now all associate with the character (which is also unlike described in the book). And I’ve now seen Boris Karloff in action as well as Bela Lugosi! It’s about time, I suppose.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Directed by James Whale

Based on Premise suggested by Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

My Opinion:

This was a bit of an odd one to me but I really liked that, combined with the first movie, we get a little more of the story from the book. Well, a little. We get a bit with the blind guy and I really liked that part of this movie. My favorite part of the book was when “the creature” hid in a family’s cottage for a very long time & sort of became fond of them & learned from them and the blind man in the movie was I guess a nod to that.

I liked that Elsa Lanchester plays Mary Shelley, starting to tell more of her Frankenstein story, as well as The Bride in the title of the film. Didn’t know that, as I knew nothing whatsoever about this film beforehand. Again, it was great seeing The Bride & her also now truly iconic horror look. Love that crazy hairdo!

I also liked a super weird part of this movie in which a mad scientist guy has some tiny people in jars. In looking it up, I found they’re called “homunculi“. Fascinating! Here’s what it says at that Wikipedia link: “A homunculus is a representation of a small human being. Popularized in sixteenth-century alchemy and nineteenth-century fiction, it has historically referred to the creation of a miniature, fully formed human.” So that seemed silly at first but now I kind of love that bit. Fun film and, overall, I like the two of these movies together as one.

My Rating: 7/10

The Wolf Man (1941)

Directed by George Waggner

Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr.

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Larry Talbot returns to his father’s castle in Wales and meets a beautiful woman. One fateful night, Talbot escorts her to a local carnival where they meet a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.

My Opinion:

Enjoyed this one as well, although I don’t really know what to say about this or The Invisible Man as I knew the least about these stories (but of course know the werewolf legend). Well, I know about werewolves thanks to An American Werewolf In London & the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, of course! Oh, and Teen Wolf. I’m so ’80s! Hey – did you know a guy in Teen Wolf flashes his penis at the end of that movie?

So, anyway – Yeah, I like werewolves almost as much as vampires when it comes to classic Halloween monsters so of course enjoyed this very straightforward werewolf story. Hairy guys are just a little less sexy than those bloodsuckers, I guess. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as the Wolf Man in this (I knew that thanks to Warren Zevon). So I’ve seen another classic monster movie & actor. Feel like I have a tiny bit more movie blog cred now! Wow – this was a pathetic review. Oh! I like the Silver Bullet movie too. God I’m so ’80s…

My Rating: 7/10

The Invisible Man (1933)

Directed by James Whale

Based on The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Starring: Gloria Stuart, Claude Rains, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O’Connor, Henry Travers, Forrester Harvey

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

My Opinion:

I know the least about this story and, no, I’ve not read the H. G. Wells book. In all honesty, I think the 2020 movie was my first real introduction to this character (which I assume is very different from the book!). So I’d feel like an ass saying too much about this movie.

I enjoyed it but liked it a bit less than the more “classic monster” movies I watched Halloween weekend. I loved the special effects, though. I thought they were damn good for 1933! I know jack shit about filmmaking but, with all the stupid CGI these days that rarely moves me, I was more impressed by whatever probably super simple tricks they used in this movie to make this guy’s head, etc, invisible in some scenes. Brilliant! Way cooler than computer magic.

FYI – the star of this one is Claude Rains and, once again, I’m happy to finally see these actors in these iconic roles. And, hey – the old lady from Titanic, Gloria Stuart, is in this. Her heart will go on! God I suck at reviewing old movies. This was good, though. All of these were. I’m glad I finally saw them. Thanks, Horror Channel!

My Rating: 7/10

Seconds (1966) & Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) Reviews

I have my May Roundup post ready but ended up with two more reviews that were a bit too long for a “summary” post. So here are two final quick reviews of movies I watched in May before I post the full list of 26 movies tomorrow.

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

Directed by Robert Hamer

Based on Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman

Starring: Valerie Hobson, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A distant poor relative of the Duke D’Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

My Opinion:

This was a fun film. I don’t really have any experience at all with the classic Ealing Studios films (I think this is my first?). I have an excuse, I suppose, as I didn’t grow up in England and there are still loads of British movies I’ve not seen. I’d have to say the older British films are probably more my style and I really enjoyed this one, although I’m worried I may have started with their best? It seems the most well known, anyway. And Alec Guinness was a delight in this. Anyone who knows anything about this movie at all will know all about him in this but, as I’m sure there are still some who know nothing about the film, I won’t say much.

This is a black comedy and it was amusing to see the different ways in which the main character kills off his estranged family so that he can become the Duke. The family all had fun & very different personalities. Suffragette Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne was the best and I wished we could have seen much more of that character. Also really liked photographer Henry D’Ascoyne, one of the nicer family members who just likes to have a drink now & then. There are also a couple of love triangles going on and some good back-stabbing & murder mystery twists.

This was a very enjoyable film so I’m going to check out The Ladykillers next from the Ealing Studios filmography. I’ll happily take any recommendations of other classic British films I may have missed! I think The Archers Powell & Pressburger films may be even more my style based on the gorgeous Black Narcissus that I watched this year & the masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death which deserves WAY more attention than I think it received outside of the U.K. Oh, and I’d love classic British horror recommendations! Dead Of Night was fantastic. And, shamefully, I’ve never seen a Hammer Horror. Shocking as a horror fan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely

Starring: Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph, Will Geer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity – one that comes with its own price.

My Opinion:

Been meaning to watch this for years as it sounded like it could be a creepy movie with a Twilight Zone type of story, which is exactly the sort of thing I love. And it was that kind of thing! Sort of. Although I think The Twilight Zone actually had better stories & told them brilliantly in much less time.

You know I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a Rock Hudson movie before this one?? That’s pathetic. I do need to watch more old films but can see why this is what I’d go for of his stuff. I do love the weird movies! (But this is nothing compared to Butt Boy which I watched the other week). I liked the story in Seconds although, having grown up on these exact kind of stories & loving twists, it was pretty easy to predict. Still absolutely worth watching, though, if you like this kind of thing. It’s still so much better than Black Mirror, which I did enjoy some of but mostly just found it to be inferior to the shows that came before it & felt much more original than Black Mirror did.

This movie does a good job of capturing the whole “middle-aged man with perfectly fine life has a mid-life crisis & wants to start over” thing. It also explores if that would really make people happy if it was indeed possible to start over. Was this only offered to men in this movie?! Seemed to be. Typical! I think just as many women want to start over (if not more). The movie maybe could have done with a little more focus on his previous life for us to really understand what he gave up but it still got its point across. And it made up for a slight lack of character development by having a full-on naked grape-stomping orgy thrown into the middle of the film. Hell yeah! Where did that come from?! God I love when an old film throws something wild in there. Forget Blue Öyster CultSeconds has Purple Grape Örgy Cult!

Where was I?! The orgy totally threw me. I enjoyed this. I’m glad I finally watched this movie (thanks Film Miasma & Blogferatu!).

My Rating: 7/10