With Hallowe'en not that far away, I'm in the mood to watch some horror flicks.  Since I have the six Universal Legacy collections for Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, I decided to have a look at them all again. However, instead of just plowing through each one individually, I'm going to watch them all in the order in which they were released, at least as best as I can determine they were.

 

I'll begin with:  Dracula!

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Thanks, Robin.

I'm trying to remember if I actually saw this movie, or just read about it.  I have a strong feeling I did see it, ONCE, but even there, I'm not sure if it was in the late 60's-early 70's during my initial horror-movie period, watching it on TV on a Saturday afternoon amidst all the distractions that sort of thing can have, or in the mid-90's, rented from my video store.

It's been suggested this was Columbia's "answer" to FRANENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, except with "Dracula" instead of "Frankenstein".  Just as MARK OF THE VAMPIRE was MGM's "answer" to DRACULA. That both "VAMPIRE" films have Bela Lugosi (while DRACULA'S DAUGHTER, SON OF DRACULA, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HOUSE OF DRACULA did not) may be the height of irony and absurdity, and of course, the title might cause some to think it's a sequel to "MARK..."

I guess Columbia had no problem dealing with stories set during WW2, as several of their LONE WOLF (starring Warren William) series did so. Universal's classic horrors seem to exist in some almost timeless version of Europe, which is perhaps a good thing.

Now you need to dig up (heh) a copy of OLD MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE (which-- guess what-- also has Bela Lugosi in it!).

Any chance of covering ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, THE BOOGIE MAN WILL GET YOU and YOU'LL FIND OUT ?

Mother Riley Meets the Vampire can be found at Internet Archive under the name Vampire Over London. I flicked through it to write this post but haven't watched it.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955):

Directed by Charles Lamont

Starring Bud Abbott as Pete Patterson, Lou Costello as Freddie Franklin, Marie Windsor as Madame Rontru, Michael Ansara as charlie, Dan Seymour as Josef, Richard Deacon as Semu, Kurt Katch as Dr. Zoomer and Edwin Parker as Klaris.

 

1)The Mummy (here called "Klaris") vocalizes in this picture. Interestingly, the Mummy seems to work better when he's mute.

 

2)I wonder if ancient peoples really did celebrate by using interpretive dance...

 

3)It's odd seeing a cult led by Mel Cooley - one expects it all to end in the ritual disembowelment of Buddy Sorrell.

 

4)The guy who plays Dr. Zoomer is a dead ringer for Joe Besser.

 

5)Despite being credited as "Pete Patterson" and "Freddie Franklin", Bud and Lou call each other by their real names throughout the picture.

 

6)For no apparent reason, there's a giant lizard  in this movie.

 

7)Mummies can be successfully knocked out by bopping them on the head. It's a wonder no one's ever tried that before.

 

Overall:

A so-so runaround. The Mummy's Hand actually was a better "comedy Mummy movie".

 

Next: Young Frankenstein!

Young Frankenstein (1974):

Directed by Ben Birney Mel Brooks

Starring Gene WIlder as Dr. Frankenstein, Peter Boyle as The Monster, Marty Feldman as Igor, madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, Teri Garr as Inga, and Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp, with Gene Hackman as the Blind Hermit.

 

It seems pointless to try and point out favorite moments here, one might as well just print out the whole script, just go and watch the whole movie.  This film is what I would use as an example if I were trying to demonstrate my theory that the best parody movies are made by people whom you could imagine making a great "serious" version of the story. Brooks and company laid down a foundation of authenticity before slathering the comedy on top. It's interesitng, but a picture that's notihng but gags loses interest very quickly.

 

My other thought is that the big difference between this picture and the original Frankenstein is that Frederick takes responsibility for his creation and tries to help it, whereas Henry abandoned his and was happy enough to let the mob dela with it.

 

Next: Hmm. I said something about trying to devise a timeline, didn't I?  That's going to take some thought...

I've long felt YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN was Mel Brooks' BEST movie, because it took itself so seriously, so the jokes hit that much harder. I feel the same way about certain episodes of GET SMART. The closer it feels to a "real" spy show, the funnier it actually winds up being. And Max should never be shown as an idiot, imbecile, or with the mind of a child (as a FEW episodes foolishly did). Max should be MOSTLY competent... and the gaps where he isn't is where "real life" slips in, making the whole thing funny. Many of the funniest ideas on the show involve "the real world" clashing with "the spy world", as when The Chief has called a meeting to discuss a serious threat to the entire world, but it's suddenly derailed because the delicatesen across the street has run out of pastrami.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN seems to have been the brainchild of Gene Wilder, which is interesting when I consider some of the outright looney characters he's played over the years. I don't know if he's ever played anyone who seems "normal", though a big part of his schtick is that he's TRYING to act normal, but can't quite seem to manage it.

There's no doubt the film works so well because it's such a loving tribute to the originals, particularly FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, but with bits of DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN and FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN thrown in.  (The castle exterior seems straight out of every DRACULA movie ever made.)

There's also a lot of attention to detail, even if continuity (visual or otherwise) is a bit wonky, but that's part of its authenticity, as the sets NEVER matched between any 2 given films (not even the 1st & 2nd, though the lab at least gave the impression it was supposed to be the same place-- sort of like the sets on WKRP IN CINCINNATI between its 4th & 5th seasons-- with a 9-year-gap in between).  Whenever I watch SON... I just figure Basil Rathbone's son grew up to be Gene Wilder (same hair!). When Ygor says, "My grandfather used to work for your grandfather", it seems a clear reference not to the 1st or 2nd movies, but the way in the 3rd, Ygor seems to have known Henry during some unspecificed time between the 2nd & 3rd films.

Way back, the one sequence in the film I just didn't "get" was the bit on stage with the tuxedos. I only really understood this when someone mentioned that Mel really loved musican production numbers, and tried to have one in EVERY film he made.

"My other thought is that the big difference between this picture and the original Frankenstein is that Frederick takes responsibility for his creation and tries to help it, whereas Henry abandoned his and was happy enough to let the mob dela with it."

A couple years ago, I watched every FRANKENSTEIN movie I had in my collection.  Something I noticed was, of all the various Doctors, the one played by Robert Foxworth (in the Dan Curtis TV version) was probably the most sympathetic. That's because in that version of the story, what happens with the monster getting loose and "abandoned" was an accident, and Foxworth's Victor spent much of the rest of the story trying to find the creature again and put things right. Although that version did follow the book more than most, the changes it made were interesting in their own way, and wound up making the Curtis film probably the most SAD and TRAGIC version ever made.  If you don't start crying by the end of that film, you have no heart!

It was wonderful to finally have a FRANKENSTEIN movie with a happy ending.  The only other one that comes to mind is THE BRIDE.  I thought Sting may have been one of the best Dr. Frankensteins ever, along with Colin Clive and Peter Cushing. I'm not talking sympathetic here, just "intense" and memorable. But he was a real bastard, though nowhere near as bad as Cushing was in some of his 6 films.

I might as well mention... DRACULA, DEAD AND LOVING IT is among my all-time fave Mel Brooks films.  So much of it, like its predecessor, is a loving tribute to the film(s) it parodies, especially Bela Lugosi's DRACULA.  The guy who played Renfield is so much like Dwight Frye it's downright spooky!  There's also clear references in there to the Christopher Lee version (1958), Gary Oldman (1992) and Louis Jourdan (1977), the latter being that Mel Brooks' Van Helsing reminds me almost exactly of Frank Finlay's... only funnier. (There's also a scene that seems to have been swiped from the pilot episode of QUINCY M.E. which is one of the funniest in the whole film.) I'd forgotten that Harvey Korman was in there, playing a character similar to the he did in HIGH ANXIETY.

That whole movie always seemed to me to be much better than it deserved to be.  George Hamilton played the thing so "straight", like Adam West on BATMAN, he took it seriously, no matter the situation. At times it's almost like he's in a different movie from everyone else.

One of my favorite scenes is when Richard Benjamin confronts him with a Star Of David.  "What do you think of... THIS!!!" "......I think you should find yourself a nice Jewish girl." "Oh, damn it's the OTHER one, isn't it?"

When I watched it recently, I'd completely forgotten that Dick Shawn played the detective.

One very bizarre bit of casting is that both Sherman Hemsley & Isabel Sanford are in the film, but not as man and wife.

6)For no apparent reason, there's a giant lizard  in this movie.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

For anyone interested, "Mark of the Vampire" is on TCM this Wednesday (Oct. 3).

I found my copies of a really great monster magazine called Monsters From the Vault. They do a very intelligent and scholarly review of classic horror films.

#22 (Sum'06) features Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and validates Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the Monster. It states what the filming script contained and how it was re-edited to the detriment of the move. Also that Bela was 60 years old when he appeared.

Another tantalizing tidbit was that there was a search for the original cut of the movie but none could be found. But just imagine if they succeeded...

MFTV Special Edition: Kharis Unearthed  (2009) focused on the 40s Mummy movies. Dug upped facts include:

  • Tom Tyler was chosen because he resembled Boris Karloff
  • He wore the elaborate face make-up for one day where they shot all his close-ups. The rest of the time he wore a mask.
  • Lon Chaney, Jr. HATED being the Mummy!
  • The costume was too hot and uncomfortable
  • The make-up gave him a rash
  • He loathed Jack Pierce but was forced to spend a lot of time with him.
  • He was apparently drunk for most of the pictures.
  • But Wallace Ford (Babe) played George to Chaney's Lennie in the West Coast stage production of Of Mice And Men.

"there was a search for the original cut of the movie but none could be found. But just imagine if they succeeded..."

That would be cool. I'd also love to see the earlier cut of TARZAN ESCAPES. I was astonished when I read the story of how the original release (which was quickly withdrawn following complaints) somehow got reissued to theatres in the early 1950's. Which strongly suggests it might STILL exist somewhere! But, then the restorations were done for the MGM DVD set, the people doing them were apparently unaware of this, and never even looked for it. Somewhere, a much-better version of that film might be out there, waiting to be found and rediscovered.

Hmm. I said something about trying to devise a timeline, didn't I?  That's going to take some thought...

Quite alot in the end. Anyhow, here it is! Enjoy!

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1779 BC: In Egypt, the High Priest Im-Ho-Tep is mummified alive as punishment when he tries to steal the Scroll of Thoth in hopes of reviving his lost love, Princess Anck-es-en-Amon.
(The Mummy. Based on info given in the movie.)


1056 B.C.: Prince Kharis is mummified alive when he is caught stealing sacred tana leaves in an attempt to revive his lost love, Princess Ananka.
(The Mummy's Ghost. Based on info given in the picture.)


1886: Two American policemen known only as "Slim" and "Tubby" go to London to study British police methods. While there, they help uncover the mysterious case of Doctor Henry Jekyll and Mister Edward Hyde.
(Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Based on the release date of the original novel.)


1897: Scientist Jack Griffin discovers a drug which renders him invisible, but which has the side effect of driving him insane. He embarks on a campaign of violence before being tracked down and shot by the police.

(The Invisible Man. This date is one I found on-line, though I'm not sure what it's based on. It suits me, so I'm using it.)

Griffin's notebooks pass to his brother Frank.

(The Invisible Man Returns. Based on info given in the movie.)
The vampire Count Dracula  travels to Britain, where he is apparently destroyed.
(Dracula. Based on the novel's release date.)
A vampire calling herself Countess Marya Zaleska, claiming to be Dracula's daughter, claims his remains. She lures Doctor Jeffrey Garth to Transylvania, but is destroyed there.
(Dracula's Daughter. Presuming these events immediately followed those of the previous film.)


1899: Viktor Heinrich "Henry" von Frankenstein constructs a humanoid creature from parts of corpses and successfully reanimates it. The creature proves to be mentally unstable, becoming a Monster, and is subsequently destroyed.
(Frankenstein. Date based on information given in Bride of Frankenstein.)
Henry subsequently marries his fiancee Elizabeth. Shortly thereafter Henry's father dies and he becomes Baron Frankenstein.
Henry is pressured by his former colleague Doctor Pretorius to create a mate for the original Monster. Frankenstein and Pretorius successfully reanimate a female creature, but she rejects her intended mate. Incensed, the Monster destroys Pretorius, the female creature and apparently, himself.
(Bride of Frankenstein. In this film, Frankenstein is seen looking at a grave dated "1899". Since one would assume that only fresh corpses would interest him, I am positing that the events of the two films occur in 1899.)


1901: In London, housekeeper Martha Winthrop attempts to convince heiress Phyllis Allenby that she is insane as part of a plot to gain control of Allenby's property. However, WInthrop's plot is foiled with help from Allenby's fiance and friends.
(She-Wolf of London.  Based on info given in the film.)


1906: When he is framed for murder, Geoffrey Radcliffe has Frank Griffin inject him with the invisibility drug. Radcliffe uses the advantage of invisibility to track down the real murderers. (The Invisible Man Returns.)


1912: In Egypt, adventurers Steve Banning and Babe Jensen battle a mysterious cult guarding the tomb of the Princess Ananka, and encounter the living mummy, Kharis.  They bring Ananka's mummy to Massachusetts.
(The Mummy's Hand. Based on these events occurring thirty years before those of The Mummy's Tomb, which is definitely set during World War Two.)


1921: In Egypt, an expedition led by Sir Joseph Whemple inadvertently revives Im-Ho-Tep.
(The Mummy. Based on info given in the movie.)


1924: Seeking revenge on those he believes wronged him, Robert Griffin - younger brother of Jack and Frank - seeks out Doctor Drury, a scientist that he knows has been following up on his brother's invisibility research.  Robert uses invisibility as part of his attempted revenge, but it ends badly and he is killed.
(The Invisible Man's Revenge. Robert being related to the other Griffins is my speculation, as is the idea that he knew
that Drury was working on invisibility.)


1930: Henry's son Wolf von Frankenstein returns to his ancestral home with his wife and his young son Peter Friedrich Frankenstein. There he encounters the monster created by his father. The creature has fallen under the influence of the criminal Ygor, who pressures Wolf to help the Monster. When the Monster and Ygor are both believed killed, Wolf and his family leave, eventually settling in America.
(Son of Frankenstein.  Arbitrary date, chosen to give enough time for a child of Henry and Elizabeth to be old enough to have a child of his own.)


1931: A Spanish-language film is made about Dracula's arrival in Britain. The film stars Carlos Villar as Dracula.
(Dracula - Spanish version. I couldn't think of a way to reconcile both versions in one timeline, so I posit that someone got the details of this story and made a film about it.)


1932: In Egypt, Frank Whemple meets Ardath Bey (who is, in fact, Im-Ho-Tep in disguise), who helps him find the tomb of Anck-es-en-Amon. Im-Ho-Tep kidnaps kidnaps Helen Grosvenor, a woman he believes to be the reincarnation of Anck-es-en-Amon. Frank and his friend Professor rescue her, and Im-Ho-Tep is destroyed.
(The Mummy. Based on the release date.)


1933: Ygor seeks out Ludwig Frankenstein (younger brother of Wolf) in order to force the latter to transplant his brain into Frankenstein's Monster. The operation is only partially successful, and the Monster is believed killed when Ludwig's laboratory is destroyed. Ludiwg is killed at the same time.
(The Ghost of Frankenstein. The date is arbitrary, chosen to be a few years after the previous picture.)


1935: Doctor Wilfrid Glendon becomes a werewolf, but is shot down by the London police.
(Werewolf of London. Based on the release date.)
Lawrence Talbot becomes a werewolf, but is presumed killed shortly thereafter.
(The Wolf Man. The date is arbitary - chosen to be relatively contemporary, but moved back a few years, so as to explain why there's no mention of the Second World War in a film set in Britain.)


1939: Lawrence Talbot is revived by graverobbers, and subsequently travels to Vasaria, in Transylvania. there he encounters Elsa Frankenstein (kid sister of Wolf and Ludwig) and a Doctor Mannering, who attempts to cure him by draining his energy into Frankenstein's Monster. The experiment fails and both Talbot and the Monster are believed destroyed.  Elsa subsequently leaves Transylvania.
(Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. In real-life, Transylvania is a region between Hungary and Romania which they swapped back and forth during the Twentieth Century.  Hungary would have owned it at the time, Romania owns it currently. In this timeline, I am positing that Transylvania became independent after World War One, and remained neutral during the Second, to explain why the war-year pictures have no mention of the war.  As regards Elsa Frankenstein, a number of on-line sources posit her as Ludwig's daughter. I recall no such indication in the film itself, even if there is, it suits my purposes for her to be a daughter of Henry, rather than a grand-daughter.)


1940: Professor Gibbs invents a device to make people invisible, testing it on model Kitty Carroll. Mobster Blackie Cole learns of the device and has it stolen. Carroll, Gibbs and Gibbs' sponsor Richard Russell manage to retrieve the device. Russell and Carroll subsequently marry.

(The Invisible Woman. Based on the release date.)
The U.S. government purchases Gibbs's device but finds it unreliable for practical use.

(This is speculation on my part, to explain why the Feds and the Axis don't seem to have taken any interest in Gibbs' work.)


1941: Richard and Kitty Russell have a child who has inherited Kitty's power of invisibility.
(The Invisible Woman.)
Frank Griffin, Jr. (living under the name "Frank Raymond") is approached by Axis agents seeking to obtain his uncle's invisibilty formula. Escaping from them, he offers his services to the U.S. Government.
(Invisible Agent. Based on info given in the film. I know the film describes him as Jack Griffin's grandson, to me it makes more sense logistically for him to be Frank Griffin's son.)


1942: Frank Griffin, Jr. is dropped into Berlin to obtain information regarding a planned Axis sabotage campaign. He succeeds in this mission.
(Invisible Agent. Based on info given in the film.)
The cult of Ananka sends Turhan Bey and the mummy Kharis to Massachusetts to seek vengeance on Steve Banning and Babe Jensen. Banning's son John leads a counterattack and Bey is killed and Kharis apparently destroyed in a fire.
(The Mummy's Tomb. Based on the release date.)


1943: A vampire calling himself "Count Alucard" comes to America and marries Katherine Caldwell, turning her into a vampire. Katherine's family and friends battle Alucard, and Alucard and Katherine are destroyed.
(Son of Dracula. Based on the release date. To my mind, Dracula, Alucard and Latos are three different individuals, although there may be some relationship between the three. Not just becuase they're played by different actors - they seem like different individuals to me.)


1944: The cult of Ananka sends Yousef Bey to Massachusetts to recover Kharis and the mummy of Ananka.  Bey discovers that Ananka has been reincarnated as Amina Mansori, an exchange student. When Yousef tries to keep Amina for himself, Kharis kills him. Kharis then takes the rapidly-aging Amina and lowers them both into a nearby swamp.
(The Mummy's Ghost. Based on the release date.)
Doctor Gustav Niemann, a former associate of Henry Frankenstein, revives a vampire he believes to be Count Dracula (but who is really Baron Latos, but doesn't mind trading on the Dracula name), and involves him in his schemes for revenge against Bürgermeister Hussman. The scheme fails and Latos is apparently destroyed. Niemann escapes and goes to Vasaria, where he discovers Lawrence Talbot and Frankenstein's Monster. He involves them in his revenge schemes under the pretext of curing Talbot. In the end, Niemann is killed and Talbot and the Monster are again believed destroyed.
(House of Frankenstein. Based on the release date.)


1945: Baron Latos and Lawrence Talbot each independently approach Doctor Franz Edelmann, requesting that he cure them. During the course of his attempt to find a cure, Edelmann finds Frankenstein's Monster. In the end, Edelmann, Latos and the Monster are apparently destroyed. Talbot escapes, but subsequently finds that Edelmann's cure has failed.
(House of Dracula. Based on the release date.)


1948: Doctor Sandra Mornay revives the original Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster. Lawrence Talbot becomes aware of this and pursues them to America, where he enlists the aid of delivery men Chick Young and Wilbur Grey in defeating them. In the end, Dracula, the Monster and Talbot are believed destroyed.
(Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Based on the release date.)


1951: Private investigators Bud Alexander and Louis Francis are hired by boxer Tommy Nelson, who's been framed for his manager's murder. Nelson uses the Griffin invisibility formula being researched by his fiancee's uncle, Doctor Philip Gray, to help clear himself of the charges.
(Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. Based on the film's release date.)


1954: In a remote section of Brazil, an expedition led by Doctors Mark Williams and David Reed discovers an amphibian humanoid they nickname "The  Gill Man".
(Creature from the Black Lagoon. Going by the release date.)


1955: A team led by Professor Clete Ferguson captures the Gill Man and brings it to Florida.  The creature escapes, but is believed killed by police gunfire.
(Revenge of the Creature. Going by release date.)
In Egypt, American would-be adventurers Pete Patterson and Freddie Franklin are caught up in cult leader Semu's efforts to protect the secrets of the mummy Klaris and the treasure of Princess Ara.
(Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. Based on the release date.)
Peter Friedrich "Frederick" Frankenstein, son of Wolf - returns to Transylvania to claim his birthright. He discovers Henry's notes and creates a monster of his own. Despite some initial difficulties, the experiment is ultimately successful, and  Frederick's Creation takes a respected place in society.
(Young Frankenstein. I'm going with the assumption that Frederick Frankenstein is Peter Frankenstein grown up. The date is my arbitrary choice, long enough for Peter to have grown up.)


1956: A group led by Doctor William Morgan finds the Gill Man alive in the Florida Everglades and captures it, burning it badly in the process. To save its life, the humans operate on it, converting it into a solely air-breathing creature. The Gill Man is taken to a facility in California for study. When the humans fall out among themselves, the creature escapes and returns to the water, presumably drowning in the process.
(The Creature Walks Among Us. Going by release date.)


1969: Ilzor Zandaab is sent to Massachusetts to retrieve Kharis and Ananka, who have both been revived. When Ilzor's aide Raghab turns on him, Ilzor, Raghab and Kharis are destroyed, and Kharis and Ananka are at last re-united in death.
(The Mummy's Curse.  Per info given in the film, this is 25 years after the previous picture.)

 

 

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