This week on the Dread Media podcast, it’s time for some literary horror and I’ve chosen to revisit some early Stephen King. In episode 477, I take a look at Cujo (1983). Watch the trailer on YouTube and, while the Blu-ray appears to be harder to find, you can still find the DVD on Amazon. Of course, the original novel is out there as well. This was my first time watching this movie since the 80s and it still holds up, so its definitely worth checking out for yourself.
In 2008, I discovered podcast legend Derek M. Koch. He had just launched a new podcast called Mail Order Zombie. For 205 episodes, the podcast covered everything you wanted to know about zombie films…and a lot you probably didn’t. And then Derek rediscovered his inner monster kid.
In May 2013, the Monster Kid Radio podcast was created and, as of today, it is still going strong with 289 episodes. Yours truly has even been a guest on several occasions with another visit coming in the near future. If you love old monster and horror flicks, do yourself a favor and tune in to this show each and every week. Derek produces a professional show that deserves a spot on mainstream radio or satellite. The time and effort he puts in each week is mind-boggling and amazing. It should then come as no surprise that this podcast is also award winning. Derek was the proud recipient of the 2014 Rondo Award for Best Multimedia Site.
So go…right now…and listen to Monster Kid Radio! And tell Derek that Monster Movie Kid sent ya!
Monster Portrait art by Shelby Denham
I love old time radio programs and my favorite time of year to listen is from October through December. I always start off with creepy horror programs for Halloween and end up with lots of comedy for Christmas in December.
So, let’s take a break from the movies today. Turn out the lights and listen to some of the best and scariest from the golden age of radio (and one from not quite as long ago).
- “It Happened” (5-11-38)
- “Valse Trieste” (12-29-42)
- “Little Old Lady” (5-25-43)
- “The Dark” (1962 recreation of original and now lost episode)
Hall of Fantasy
Mercury Theater on the Air
CBS Radio Mystery Theater
Written by Philip Wylie (Island of Lost Souls) & Seton I. Miller (Scarface)
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland (The Invisible Woman)
Plot: Eric Gorman is a man obsessed with his wife, who has eyes for another man. He’ll stop at nothing to keep her, including sadistically murdering any man who has eyes for her. Upon returning to the zoo where he works with a new selection of animals, he unfolds a plot to kill a rival for her love. With the backdrop of animals at every turn, Gorman may be the most bloodthirsty of them all.
Personal Thoughts: One of the most graphic sequences in this Pre-Code flick comes in the opening moments as Eric Gorman sews the mouth shut of a man who kissed his wife. It sets the tone of Gorman as a killer who’ll do anything to keep his wife. Lionel Atwill plays the crazed Gorman quite well, leaving his mad scientist frock at home for this one. However, he doesn’t kill conventionally and the idea of using snake venom as a weapon is quite different. It works well here and sets the stage for a quick and fun effort. The sequence where Atwill forces himself upon his wife is a little hard to watch as you can see just how obsessed he is.
Charlie Ruggles (Six of a Kind, Bringing Up Baby) receives top billing here based on his comedic status at the time. He’s fun to watch but seems to disappear towards the last act when the movie takes a darker tone. Leonard Maltin was quoted as saying the film was “astonishingly grisly,” and I would agree. Gorman’s death at the end of the film is particularly gruesome. While I doubt any animals were harmed (too much at least), know that what you see are real animals. In today’s world, they would all be CGI. Just one reason to love these old classics. Definitely entertaining and well worth your time, as well as adding to your collection.
- Made by Paramount Pictures but sold to Universal in 1958 for television distribution. It was not part of the Shock Theater package but it was released as part of the Universal Monster VHS series.
- Available on DVD from Turner Classic Movies.
Horror Fest 2016: The Vampire Bat (1933)
Cast: Lionel Atwill as Dr. Otto Von Neimann
Fay Wray as Ruth Bertin
Melvyn Douglas as Karl Brettschneider
Dwight Frye as Herman Gleib
Lionel Belmore as Burgermeister Gustave Schoen
Written by Edward T. Lowe (Charlie Chan in Shanghai)
Directed by Frank R. Strayer (The Monster Walks)
Plot: There is a growing list of victims in a small village that is stirring up the citizens into a panic. The Burgermeister and town council all believe that a vampire is loose as the victims have all died due to blood loss. However, local authority Karl Brettschneider is looking for a more logical answer. When the townspeople target the creepy Herman, who has a love for bats, the pitchforks are sharpened to hunt him down. But what about Dr. Otto Von Neimann and what part does he play in these murders?
Personal Thoughts: A low-budget effort from Majestic Pictures that decided to capitalize on the successful pairing of Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray. Despite a much smaller budget than the larger studios, it actually looks like a Universal film due to the set pieces. Majestic leased use of the village sets from Universal and interior sets from The Old Dark House (1932). With Atwill and Wray being well-known to audiences, there is also the presence of Dwight Frye, very well-known due to his roles in Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). The film moves along briskly at 63 minutes and, despite the typical plot swerve, it is a surprisingly enjoyable effort. On a more personal note, I have fond memories of watching this on the PBS series Matinee at the Bijou, a wonderful television series that recreated the movie going experience with short subjects, cartoons and chapter serials.
- Completed after Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum but was rushed into release a month before the latter.
- The film has fallen into public domain. Despite countless and lesser quality prints flooding the market, The Vampire Bat was restored in the early 2000s and again just recently by The Film Detective and the UCLA Film Archive.
- First broadcast on television in 1948 in New York.
From the story by Charles Belden (The Ghost Walks)
Screenplay by Don Mullaly & Carl Erickson
Directed by Michael Curtiz (Doctor X)
Plot: The movie opens in London 1921 as sculptor Ivan Igor has an argument with the financial partner of his wax museum, resulting in a fire that destroys his work. Flash forward to New York 1933 as Ivan, now wheel-chair bound with his hands horribly mangled, is hoping to revive his wax museum. When Ivan sees the lovely Charlotte, fiancée of Ivan’s assistant Ralph, the sculptor begins to hatch an evil plan. All is not right at the wax museum and Charlotte’s roommate, reporter Florence, is on the case to investigate.
Personal Thoughts: Another Pre-Code effort that doesn’t shy away from such topics as girlie magazines, drugs and junkies. All of these elements would be removed when it was remade in 1953 as House of Wax with Vincent Price in the lead role. In this original, Lionel Atwill is wonderful, once again playing a mad man. We eventually see him with some very horrific makeup, which rivals that of the Price version. Fay Wray is in her usual role as the femme fatale but the stronger female lead is that of actress Glenda Farrell. Her portrayal of the intrepid reporter is a role usually filled by a comedic male lead. However, she pulls it off here quite well, including the inevitable marriage proposal mere seconds before the movie ends. Highly recommended and quite entertaining.
- Like Doctor X the previous year, Warner Brothers made this film in the early two-color Technicolor process. And like Doctor X, it was considered lost until resurfacing in the personal collection of Jack Warner after his death.
- The extremely bright lights of the Technicolor process melted some of the wax figures, forcing noticeably real actors to play the parts. It was the last studio feature with this Technicolor format.
- Opening theme music by Bernhard Kaun was the same used in Doctor X, as were much of the cast and crew.
Ever since 2006, Christopher R. Mihm has been unleashing his wonderful sci-fi and horror films to an ever-growing and hungry audience. For his 11th feature, Christopher has decided to take a gamble and go a little bit darker with Weresquito: Nazi Hunter. This week on episode 476 of the Dread Media podcast, I take a spoiler-free look at Weresquito and offer up some thoughts on my recent attendance at the world premiere in Minnesota. Check out the trailer and everything else you need to know about the Mihmiverse at Saint Euphoria website.