OTR – Spellbound (1948)

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In 1945, Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck united to star in another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s true classics, Spellbound. Bergman played psychiatrist Dr. Constance Petersen, a young woman who soon falls in love with Dr. Anthony Edwardes, the new head of the mental hospital she works at. Everything seems normal at first but this is Hitchcock and you know there’s going to a twist at some point.

On the March 8, 1948 episode of Lux Radio Theater, Joseph Cotton filled in for Gregory Peck (The Omen) while Alida Valli (Suspiria), billed here only as Valli, assumed Ingrid Bergman’s role. So, sit back with a beverage of your choice and fire up the popcorn for another Hitchcock classic!Hitchcock

Mihmiverse – Wild Wongo Women Meet the She Gods of Shark Reef

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This month on episode 70 of the Mihmiverse Monthly Audiocast, the Kansas City Crypt heads back to the drive-in for a pretty rough double feature of 1958 “classics”…Wild Women of Wongo and She Gods of Shark Reef! When a talking parrot is the best thing going for your movie, you know you’re in trouble. At least Shark Reef had Roger Corman going for it!

While we may not get a traditional theatrical showing of a Mihmiverse film this year, you can still become a contributor of the upcoming films and specials from Christopher R. Mihm. Check out sainteuphoria.com for all of the latest news from the Mihmiverse, including information on The Phantom Lake Kids in The Unseen Invasion!

Meanwhile, make sure you take a look at a special sneak peek! Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a chance to see this film by the end of the year, even if it won’t be in a theater.

As always, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent you!Shark

OTR – Notorious (1948)

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In 1946, Alfred Hitchcock brought the timely story of a woman spying on a  group of Nazis in South America to the big screen with Notorious.  Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant headlined a cast that also included Claude Rains. It was a turning point in Hitchcock’s directorial career and marked the second of three times he worked with Bergman, the other films being Spellbound (1945) and Under Capricorn (1949). He would also work with Grant a total of four times, the other three films being Suspicion (1941), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959).

On January 26, 1948, Lux Radio Theater brought the story to life on radio with Bergman reprising her role as Alicia Huberman. Unfortunately, Cary Grant was unavailable but Joseph Cotton adequately assumes the role of government agent Devlin. So, turn out the lights and enjoy another suspenseful tale as only the golden age of radio could produce.Hitchcock

OTR – Foreign Correspondent (1946)

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In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock directed Foreign Correspondent, a spy thriller that would serve as a prelude to the second world war that was looming on the horizon. Based on Vincent Sheean’s memoir Personal History, no less than 10 different writers worked on the script. The film went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, losing out to Hitchcock’s other film that year, Rebecca.

Joel McCrea starred in the original film as John Jones, the foreign correspondent of the film’s title. It took six years for a radio adaptation to be heard on the airwaves when Joseph Cotton assumed the role of John Jones on Academy Award Theater on July 24, 1946.

Turn out the lights and ease into a comfortable chair as you drift back to simpler days and the golden age of radio. Hitchcock

OTR – Suspicion (1942)

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This week on OTR Wednesday, our new series on Alfred Hitchcock continues with the 1942 radio adaptation of Suspicion. The classic film was originally released in November 1941 with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine in the lead roles of Johnnie and Lina Aysgarth. Fontaine went on to win the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. Suspicion was up for Best Picture but lost to How Green Was My Valley.Joan Fontaine

Less than seven months later, on May 4, 1942, Joan Fontaine would reprise her role in the Lux Radio Theatre version. Sadly, Cary Grant was unavailable, so actor Brian Aherne would assume the role of Johnnie. And yes, that’s Nigel Bruce, better known as Doctor Watson, reprising his role as Beaky.

Turn out the lights, pour yourself a beverage, fire up the popcorn and enjoy this classic from the golden age of radio.Hitchcock

Classic Horrors Club – Corridors of the Haunted Fiend

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This month on episode 45 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff and I have a wonderful evening’s entertainment lined up for you, one that will provide several hours of pleasurable relaxation and diversion for you and your family. Did you fail to dress up for tonight’s show? No tie, an old shirt and slacks, a house dress? Well, don’t give it a thought; we’re glad you came as you are. We just want you to enjoy yourselves…. a gay, pleasant evening for all!classic-horrors-club

Yes, we’re back on the road for the summer. Our next stop: the Badger Drive-In Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, circa 1963. Let’s roll down our windows, turn on the speakers, and call the meeting to order as we watch The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood, with Boris Karloff, and Fiend without a Face, all from 1958.Corridors of Blood

Do you want to share your feedback? Maybe you want to let us know what you’ve been doing during the pandemic. It’s easy and all of the cool kids are doing it!

Call us at (616) 649-2582 (CLUB) or email at classichorrorsclub@gmail.com.

Join us in our clubhouse at https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/!

We’d also appreciate if you’d give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. Thank you!

You can find Jeff at:

Pre-order Spotlight on Horror: Classics of the Cinefantastique! It’s scheduled for publication very soon!Fiend Without a Face Lobby Card

Robert Wise – The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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The following was originally published on February 3, 2013. I’ve included updated links on the current home media availability.

“Klaatu Barada Nikto”. It is one of the most iconic film quotes of all time, appearing in countless forms of pop culture since it first appeared onscreen in 1951. And while the 1950s gave us many great sci-fi films, The Day the Earth Stood Still is perhaps the most popular, not just for genre fans but for cinema fans of all ages.Day 2

There are several key reasons why The Day the Earth Stood Still is remembered so fondly and has never wandered far from the forefront of the science fiction film genre. From the opening seconds, our ears are blessed with the music of Bernard Hermann and the iconic sounds of the Theremin. While the Theremin is heard in many other sci-fi and horror films, I believe it was never used better than it was here. You are immediately transported into the world of the movie. And as the credits finish and our story unfolds, the music shifts into a unique melody as we witness radar stations tracking an unidentified flying object. It’s a spring day in Washington D.C. as the object lands, causing a panic among the people. The panic turns to curiosity as the military and police arrive. The doors open and a man emerges, holding an object in an outstretched hand. The object expands and someone shoots the object, injuring the man. Then, a large robot emerges to express the power it possesses. A slit rises on its helmet, allowing a laser beam to destroy rifles and obliterate tanks. The man orders the robot to stop before he is captured and taken away by the military.

What an amazing start to the movie. We soon learn the man is indeed a representative from another world. His name is Klaatu and his mission is to get us to stop our violent ways. Stop the endless battles and wars or they will force us to stop. Klaatu is played by Michael Rennie (Lost in SpaceBatmanAssignment Terror), a perfect choice due to his exotic facial features and tall build. He was also a relative unknown at the time, which allowed you to stay in the cinematic world rather than be pulled out of it. Had Spencer Tracy or Claude Rains been given the part, as was discussed at various times of pre-production, the effect would not have been the same. Rennie is able to make us believe he is an alien to our world. Knowledgeable of some things yet very inquisitive of others. He marvels at the Lincoln memorial and the concept of “going to the movies”. He has a childlike innocence when holding a music box. And through all of this, he remains calm and collected, even as the military is looking to find and, eventually, kill him.

As Klaatu escapes and opts to live among the humans, he takes up residence at a boarding house. He immediately befriends young Bobby Benson (Billy Gray, Father Knows Best) and his mother Helen (Patricia Neal). It comes as no surprise that Helen’s boyfriend Tom Stevens (Hugh Marlowe, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers) is quickly jealous and eventually finds a way to turn Klaatu over to the military. The relationship between Bobby and Klaatu becomes like that of a teacher and student. However, when Bobby discovers his secret, he becomes scared and, unfortunately, his character disappears from the movie, allowing his mother to take center stage. I’ve always felt cheated about this. I so wanted to see at least one final scene with Bobby and Klaatu, where Bobby understands and no longer fears him. And yes, that was Frances Bavier in the boarding house, better known as Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show, if only for a line or two of dialogue. Finally, we have Sam Jaffe as Professor Barnhardt, the one scientist who knows who Klaatu really is. Barnhardt tries to gather other scientists so Klaatu can share his warning message. Jaffe’s unique face and mannerisms were perfect for the role of the eccentric scientist. Sadly, this would be Jaffe’s last work for many years as his name was brought into the infamous communism scare of the 1950s.Day 1

We come to learn the robot’s name is Gort and he is even more deadly than we can imagine. Klaatu reveals Gort and others like him are essentially galactic police officers. Gort can destroy Earth and Klaatu wants to ensure that doesn’t happen. Thus, the immortal words “Klaatu Barada Nikto”. These are the words that will stop Gort and Klaatu gives them to Helen in case he can’t. Gort was one of the more believable robots of this era. There were two versions of the suit in order to cover up the zippers, which more or less work except for a couple of scenes. Gort was played by a 7’7’’ Grauman’s Chinese Theatre doorman named Lock Martin. However, despite his size, he was very weak. In scenes where he is holding Klaatu or Helen, it’s either a dummy or wires being used to help. These wires are indeed very visible now in our high definition world. But I am also glad they haven’t been removed digitally. Watching these classics with all their warts and imperfections showing is just another reason why we love them.

Director Robert Wise delivers an amazing film that stands stall among his other genre films, such as The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He marvelously creates the world we see develop. It’s our world and the events, while fantastical in some ways, are also very realistic. The anti-war message was very prevalent thanks to the personal feelings of screenwriter Edmund North (PattonSink The Bismark). However, they really haven’t aged. True, we aren’t worried about blowing ourselves up with bombs, but we still all feel we could be living better lives. We want all wars to end and North gives us a message here that still hits home today. His script is based on a short story written by Harry Bates. Farewell to the Master was first published in 1940 in Astounding Science Fiction. Sadly, Bates was paid a mere $500 for his iconic ideas and died in relative obscurity, never even seeing his rewritten stories published. These stories are now presumed lost forever.Day 3

I highly recommend this classic and the 2008 Blu-ray is a necessity on the shelf of any film or science fiction fan. The movie never looked better and the extras will keep you busy as you learn about the men behind the movie, the production and even about the flying saucer phenomena. You can hear an audio presentation of the original short story as well. The only thing missing is the 1954 Lux Radio Theatre presentation, which starred Michael Rennie and Billy Gray, reprising their roles. If you haven’t seen this classic, step away from the computer screen right now, find it and enjoy it. Just be sure to remember the words “Klaatu Barada Nikto” if you run into Gort along the way.

Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures

Robert Wise BookA revised edition of author J.R. Jordan’s book, Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures, is now available and is a perfect way to spend some summertime afternoons. Every chapter is a thoughtful analysis of one of his films, starting off with The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and ending with his final film, A Storm in Summer (2000). The amazing read includes a foreword by actor Gavin MacLeod and an introduction by Douglas E. Wise, Robert’s nephew. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy any of his classic films. You might even discover some hidden gems that will leave you seeking out more of his films, which is the perfect way to keep his memory very much alive. It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and paperback editions, and gets the Monster Movie Kid seal of approval.Day 4

OTR – The Thirty-Nine Steps (1938)

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This week on OTR Wednesday, we’re starting a new series on classic radio adaptations of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The legendary director made some of the most memorable movies of all time. So, it should be no surprise that many of them were adapted for radio as well.

First up, we’re going way back to August 1, 1938, as Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre On The Air present The Thirty-Nine Steps. To be fair, this was originally a novel by Scottish author John Buchan, which may have been more well-known than the 1935 film from Hitchcock. This version is also more faithful to the novel than the film, which differs quite a bit from the novel. That said, it is still considered to be the best film adaptation.

Per usual for Mercury Theatre, Orson Welles heads up the cast as Richard Hannay, an adventurer who tends to get himself involved in a series of events of intrigue and political drama. I think you’ll find this an interesting start on our Hitchcock OTR journey, as well as a nice taste of the masterful Orson Welles and what he brought to the then relatively new medium of radio dramatic presentations. Hitchcock

Robert Wise – A Game of Death (1945)

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The following was originally published on November 24, 2012. I’ve included updated links on the current home media availability.

Hollywood has been making remakes as long as they’ve been making movies. It’s nothing new. Sometimes the remake surpasses the original but most of the time it always has a little less than what the first movie had. In 1924, author Richard Connell published his short story, “The Most Dangerous Game” in Collier’s Weekly. It featured Sanger Rainsford, a big-game hunter who falls off a boat only to wash ashore an island inhabited by a mad Cossack named General Zaroff who has grown tired of hunting animals and moved on to shipwrecked sailors. The overall premise of big-game hunting was very popular in the 1920s, so the story was topical and very successful. In 1932, RKO Pictures filmed the first adaptation, The Most Dangerous Game. It’s considered a classic, due in large part to the cast that includes Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong. Why RKO would decide to do a remake just 13 years later remains an odd decision. Nevertheless, A Game of Death was released in 1945.GOD lobby

At first glance, the movie has a now very recognizable director in Robert Wise. It was only his fifth film, following other horror classics The Body Snatcher and The Curse of the Cat People. However, much bigger and better things were in his future, including The Day The Earth Stood Still in 1951 and big-time musicals like West Side Story and The Sound of Music. The movie has atmosphere and moves along at a nice pace for its 72 minute run time. However, the cast just can’t live up to the original. John Loder (How Green Was My Valley) stars as Don Rainsford, who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. With all crew lost, it becomes immediately apparent that the buoys were moved to lure the ship too close to the shore. He survives only to find a castle on the nearby island inhabited by Erich Krieger, played by Edgar Barrier (1943’s Phantom of the Opera). Audrey Long stars as Ellen Trowbridge and Russell Wade is her brother Robert. As it becomes apparent Krieger is mad, the hunt is on. A good story well handled by Wise but the cast just can’t pull off performances to even match the original cast. Other than Loder, most of the cast didn’t have careers worth mentioning.

The plot remains true to the original story, as Erich Krieger is hunting man to fill his lust for the perfect kill. We do get some stock footage from the original, which just adds the question of why do the remake in the first place. We must remember that this was before the days of television. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to the movie theater. So even though it was only 13 years since the original had been made, moviegoers didn’t have the resources to watch their favorites at any hour of the day. It was a good story and a new audience was still hungry for the adventure it had to offer. The bottom line is that there was money to be made. In that context, it makes sense to do the remake. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a less than adequate cast, the movie is going to suffer and immediately be compared to the original. You have to offer something the first film didn’t. Despite the direction of Robert Wise, it offers nothing new and doesn’t come close to surpassing the original. Therefore, it’s no surprise this movie is another “lost” horror classic.GOD

A Game of Death is finally available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Classics.  If you’ve never seen the original, skip this version and seek out the 1932 classic. However, if you’re looking for something new, take the 75 minutes to sit back and watch a decent movie. It’s fun to compare the two different versions.

Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures

Robert Wise BookA revised edition of author J.R. Jordan’s book, Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures, is now available and is a perfect way to spend some summertime afternoons. Every chapter is a thoughtful analysis of one of his films, starting off with The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and ending with his final film, A Storm in Summer (2000). The amazing read includes a foreword by actor Gavin MacLeod and an introduction by Douglas E. Wise, Robert’s nephew. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy any of his classic films. You might even discover some hidden gems that will leave you seeking out more of his films, which is the perfect way to keep his memory very much alive. It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and paperback editions, and gets the Monster Movie Kid seal of approval.

Night at the Drive-In with Ed Wood

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Are you anxiously awaiting the next episode of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast? Fear not, Jeff and I will be recording the July episode soon. So you still have a little time left to do your homework. Remember, we’ll be watching Corridors of Blood and The Haunted Strangler with Boris Karloff and Fiend Without a Face!

However, do you need a drive-in double feature right now? Then check out Bride of the Monster (1955) with Bela Lugosi and Night of the Ghouls (1959) from the legendary director, Ed Wood, Jr.! This presentation comes complete with drive-in ads and trailers.

So, grab your popcorn, sit back and enjoy! And don’t forget, the next episode of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast is coming soon!BOTM