Captain America – Top 5 Creative Teams

The character Captain America is not only the greatest superhero to ever don the red, white, and blue, but also the only hero from the Golden Age strictly born out of patriotism that survives today. That alone says something about the strength of the character, and in a small way about patriotism in general. That being said, Captain America has had some very thought-provoking story lines over the years, and a select few men have been responsible! Here are my choices for the five best of all time!

 

 

5. Joe Simon (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

There are two reasons I have these gentleman on this list (and where). First, I don’t believe you can have a list like this without the creators of the character. Not having read very much material from the Golden Age is why this team isn’t higher on the list. The fact that these men created one of the most iconic characters ever, but that they had him punching the ultimate personification of evil (Adolph Hitler) in the face is absolutely fantastic.

 

4. Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

In his second run with Cap, Kirby really cranked up the visual feasts. He took Cap to new heights that haven’t been reached again and probably never will be. The stories in this era (Silver Age in Tales of Suspense, and then his own title) had more intrigue and spy material than straight up war angles, and that fit perfectly with the Cold War going on at the time.

 

 

3. Roger Stern (writer) and John Byrne (artist)

If you sit back and think how great this run was and that it only encompassed nine issues, that alone tells you how great it truly was to read. Any creative team that can produce a serious story about Cap considering running for the presidency and you believe it, has to be near the top of any list. And just the creepy Baron Blood issues alone are incredibly good!

 

2. Ed Brubaker (writer) and Steve Epting (artist)

To say that Captain America (and a lot of the Marvel Universe) needed updating after the turn of the century is an understatement. The shot in the arm was delivered by this awesome team. And yes, this is a list of Cap creative teams, but this team bringing back Bucky, and turning him into Steve’s worst nightmare was pure genius. No one has come close to this level of writing since.

 

1. Steve Englehart (writer) and Sal Buscema (artist)

From issue #153-181 (with almost no interruptions), Steve and Sal gave the readers everything they could possibly want. The political intrigue, racial bigotry, disturbing truths about a government he trusted, etc. The best part though, was Cap’s friendship with the Falcon. He and Sam Wilson grew to be best of friends, and an awesome crime fighting team! The villains were a big part of this run as well- Dr. Faustus, the 1950s Cap and Bucky (click here for details), Red Skull, Yellow Claw, Serpent Squad, Baron Zemo, Moonstone, and more! All the while having guest stars like the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Panther, Iron Man, you name it. This creative team pulled out all the stops (even Cap quitting!), and that is why they are number one!

 

 

Honorable mentions; first, to the team of Jack Kirby (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)! His return to Marvel in the mid-1970s ushered in some incredible trippy stories starring Cap, and even if the stories don’t grab you, the mind-numbing artwork will! Also, Stan Lee (writer) and Gene Colan (artist). Awesome run with more action than you can ever want, and a signature art style that is absolutely unique!

 

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Cinema Sunday: The Ape (1940)

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Title: The Ape

Distributor: Monogram Pictures

Writers: Richard Carroll, Kurt Siodmak

Director: William Nigh

Producer: William Nigh, William Lackey

Starring: Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gertrude W. Hoffmann

Released: Septmeber 1940

MPAA: Approved

 

The list of films I’d like to watch and review is about ten miles long. That’s OK though, as I’m only half way shot. Speaking of getting shot, Boris Karloff has been shot, stabbed, electrocuted, etc., more times than I can count. He’s really been in every situation you can imagine in his films, and he always looks brilliant doing it. Who else could star in a film called “The Ape” and sell tickets? No, this isn’t the most cerebral film you’re ever going to see, but Karloff can take any film and make it rise above an inferior script, cast, whatever. He was that great. OK, on with the film…

 

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The circus is in town! Of course everyone is excited, and the kids are jacked up to see the ferocious beasts. They sneak over to the “crazy doctor’s” house for some mischief. Over inside the town drug store, the townspeople are discussing this same doctor. They feel as if this doctor is using people and not healing them. Nobody seems to have the courage to do anything about it though. Just then, the doctor comes in, and everyone clams up. He then sees the druggist for some meds he needs. The two men retreat to another room for privacy, and the druggist tells him the townspeople are getting inquisitive about his motives.

 

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Later, Dr. Bernard Adrian (Boris Karloff) visits a patient of his named Miss Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon). She’s wheelchair bound, and reminds him very much of his daughter, who passed away years ago. He buys her gifts to show his affection for her, but he also experiments on animals to try to find a cure for her affliction. He promises her she’ll walk again, and she tells him she’s scared when he talks so crazy. Her boyfriend Danny (Gene O’Donnell) shows up, and the doctor tells him that they’ll take Frances to the circus tonight.

 

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Later that night, the town is bustling as opening night is here. Dr. Adrian bows out from the trip though, and Danny and Frances go alone. Meanwhile, that same group of kids are sneaking to the front of the crowd. They remark at how big the gorilla is and that he’s the size “of six men.” Danny and Frances are having a good time, but back at the Doctor’s lab, we see him experimenting on a dog. The circus ends, and Danny and Frances head out. After everyone leaves, one of the employees is checking to make sure everything is as it should be. Over at the gorilla cage, an employee taunts the beast, and it begins to get wild. The owner comes by and reprimands him, but after he leaves the gorilla grabs the man and almost kills him. A cigar dropped by the man starts a fire, and they release the animals so they don’t get killed. The gorilla escapes in the confusion.

 

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Over at the doctor’s office, the circus men bring the man in that was almost killed by the ape. The doctor agrees to help the man, who’s clearly delusional. At this moment, the doc gets a sinister look in his eyes. We then get the impression that he’s going to use him as a guinea pig for his experiments on how to cure Frances. Meanwhile, the circus and townspeople are searching for the beast. Dr. Adrian visits Frances to encourage her that he’s found a way to cure her paralysis. He tells her it will be painful, but it will be a miracle. The following day, Frances actually has feeling in her legs after never having that sensation before.

 

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That evening, the doctor gets a surprise visit…from the ape! He bursts through the Doc’s window, and attacks him. The doctor quickly grabs a flask and tosses the liquid into the ape’s eyes. It blinds him and then the doctor kills the beast with a knife!

 

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I’m going to stop here because the thing that puts the film in a completely different direction begins here (plus the movie is public domain, so you can watch it for free anytime!).

 

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Here are my thoughts:

As I stated in the beginning, this film won’t win any awards for its script but the acting of Karloff brings the film to a good level. His interactions with Maris Wrixon (image above) are very good, and you really believe he’s a doctor trying to do everything he can to help her walk again. Of course his methods are unethical, but his heart is in the right place. Miss Wrixon is absolutely stunning and plays the part of the invalid very well.

The supporting cast isn’t too exciting, but they manage to keep the film rolling along. The sets are standard fare and don’t add or subtract from the film. The film is all about the oral dilemma Karloff’s character is in, and the sad turn it takes eventually. As i said, the film is public domain so get out there to Youtube or wherever and give it a screening. Any fan of Karloff or quirky B movies will enjoy it.

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

 

A Tribute to the late Joe Kubert!

On his birthday, I’d like to pay homage to Mr. Kubert! His pencils and inks were some of the finest to ever grace the pages of comics, and I for one am saddened by his passing (in 2012), but rejoice in the awesome legacy he left behind not only from his work, but also his school in Dover, New Jersey! Now, I give you some of the awesome covers (that I own) that the legendary Joe Kubert drew over the years! Enjoy!

 

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Cinema Sunday: The Devil Commands (1941)

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Title: The Devil Commands

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Writers: Robert Hardy Andrews, Milton Gunzburg, William Sloane (novel)

Director: Edward Dmytryk

Producer: Wallace MacDonald

Starring: Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff, Ralph Penney, Anne Revere

Released: February 1941

MPAA: Approved

 

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I’d like to say that there’s a rhyme and reason to my movie selections, but alas, there is not. I will say that for now, I’m severely addicted to movies starring Boris Karloff. His filmography is fascinating to look at. Diversity, longevity, and power, make it nothing short of spectacular. The man is one of the true legends of the genre. And quite honestly, I’d say all that even if you removed “Frankenstein” from his list of credits!

After leaving Universal Studios when his contract expired, Karloff worked for Columbia Pictures, RKO Pictures, and AIP (with Roger Corman directing most of those). He hosted some television shows (Thriller, Out of this World, and The Veil), used his awesome voice on radio shows (Lights Out), and made cameo or guest appearances on a few different television series. The man, by all accounts, was a great guy that kept most of his personal life to himself, and even helped build the Screen Actors Guild from its infancy!

OK, now, I give you…The Devil Commands!

 

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The film opens with a the voice of a woman telling the audience her name is Anne Blair, and her father’s name was Dr. Julian Blair (we see a creepy old house, during a thunderstorm). She tells of how the townspeople were afraid of her father, and the strange goings-on at his abode. She tells of better times when her father was a professor at a local university, but that one night, an experiment changed all that…

We then see a scientist, Dr. Julian Blair (Boris Karloff), as he’s attempting to show five other scientists that his invention (a wild looking helmet, some wires, and a machine that looks like a polygraph), and research, have yielding fantastic results. He shows them how his machine, while hooked up to a human being’s head (one of the scientists at this time), can show brain activity, and possibly even thoughts! The scientists are skeptical, and Blair seems a bit put off. As the experiment winds down, his assistant, Karl (Ralph Penney) bursts into the room, along with Blair’s wife, Helen (Shirley Warde). He then straps her into the machine to show them that the brainwaves of a woman, are far superior to that of a man (the two of them make a a lot of jokes, but loving remarks as well). Again the crowd is skeptical that this means anything significant, but Blair and his wife must rush out the door to pick up their daughter.

 

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The two drive off, and speed toward their destination. Helen then remarks that they must stop to pick up a birthday cake for their daughter. There’s nowhere to park, so Helen (who’s driving) tells Julian to get out of the car and get the cake, and she’ll drive around the block and pick him up upon returning. He barely gets back outside after getting the cake, when a car slams into their car, killing his wife. After the funeral, you can see a marked decline in Dr. Blair’s demeanor. Not in the way any grieving husband would be, but completely lost in his soul.

 

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Later, he heads over to his laboratory, and for some unknown reason, he turns on his machines. The last person he used it on was his wife, so her brain patterns are still on the graph. Suddenly, the graph beings to move again, and the waves are in the same pattern as his wife’s were! He deduces that this means his wife’s spirit is trying to contact him. Just then, his daughter walks in, and his mistakes her for his wife for a moment. As Anne (Amanda Duff) walks in, he tells her that her mother’s spirit is alive and well, and made the waves on the graphs.

 

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He then brings his colleagues back to tell them, and they think he’s had a mental breakdown. He becomes angry, and even resentful of the fact that they don’t believe he’s discovered something astonishing. He flips out, and orders everyone t leave, including Anne, and her boyfriend (and former assistant to Dr. Blair, Dr. Sayles – Richard Fiske) to get out. Karl stays behind though, and tells Dr. Blair that he talks to his dead mother all the time, with the assistance of a medium named Mrs. Walters (Anne Revere – image above). At first, Dr. Blair doesn’t think she’s for real, but then he agrees to go see her. As the séance begins, we do see an apparition, that supposedly talks to Karl. After it’s over, Dr. Blair confronts the medium about some of her shenanigans, but does come to realize she has some latent psychic powers that he can use to talk to his dead wife.

From this point on, Dr. Blair does anything and everything it takes to achieve his goal. But is that goal so terrible?

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

This film definitely has one not so good thing going for it…the title. I don’t know who decided on the title, but it’s absurd. Not once is “the devil” mentioned that i can recall, or do they ever imply that Satan is in any way shape or form involved. It’s quite ludicrous. Other than that, this film is a real gem for Karloff. He plays a great mad scientist, but also it’s how he plays someone grief-stricken from losing a loved one. Bravo, Mr. Karloff.

The performance lifts this film to unbelievable heights, as the sets, music, and costumes are nothing above average. The atmosphere is quite good, especially after Karloff’s character begins his association with the medium. Speaking of that character, Anne Revere does a splendid job with her performance as well, and should be lauded for it. She’s a real creepy lady in this one! Oh, and Amanda Duff is absolutely gorgeous in this film (image below)!

I know this one is available online and in a DVD set you can grab cheap too if you’d rather go that route. No excuses, get this one ion your collection!

 

Click here for a clip!

 

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Cinema Sunday: The Door with Seven Locks (A.K.A. Chamber of Horrors- 1940)

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Title: The Door with Seven Locks

Distributor: Pathe Pictures (Warner Bros.)

Writers: John Argyle, Gilbert Gunn, Norman Lee (Edgar Wallace – novel)

Director: Norman Lee

Producer: John Argyle

Starring: Leslie Banks, Lilli Palmer, Romilly Lunge, Gina Malo

Released: October, 1940 (U.K.)

MPAA: PG-13 (est.)

 

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Hey folks! It’s nearly the last of the month, and I’m back with another movie review! When I set out to do movie reviews, I wanted to cover every good classic horror and sci-fi film I’d ever seen. I discovered that’s going to take a long time, but also I’ve discovered a few new ones along the way, like this one! Not many people outside of the United Kingdom will probably think of films of this genre produced there in the 1940s, as the Universal Studio films were dominating throughout the previous decade (and into the next).. But those who do that, will miss some absolute classic films that deserve your attention.

This little film doesn’t have any familiar faces/big names (to me), but that doesn’t hold it back one bit. A thriller with all sorts of intrigue, murder, torture, etc., will have you on the edge of your seat! Alright, let’s get down to the story…

 

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The film opens at a mansion, with an old man in bed, apparently near death. Dr. Manetta (Leslie Banks“The Most Dangerous Game”), tries to tell Lord Charles Francis Selford (Aubrey Mallalieu) that he’ll make it, but Selford knows his time has come. He announces to those present, that the majority of his fortune will go to his young son, John (Ross Landon). The other people in the room seem put off by that statement, but Selford doesn’t seem to care. He then reveals a box, which contains seven keys, and tells those in attendance that he’s appointed Edward Havelock (David Horne), as trustee of his estate. He says that in the event of John’s death, everything goes to June Lansdowne (Lilli Palmer – above right), his cousin. The keys are to be separated and are needed to open the seven locks on his tomb, which coincidentally is full of jewels!

Soon after, Lord Selford dies, and is buried. The keys are removed from the door with seven locks. Ten years pass, and we see Luis Silva (one of the men present during Lord Selford’s death scene- J.H. Roberts) writing a letter, but he’s interrupted by someone unseen. We next see him in an institution, and after others leave the room, he leaps up, and writes a letter to June, and throws it out of the window. A couple of delivery boys pick it up and take it to her home. One of the keys for the door with seven locks is inside the letter,  and he tells her to come to the hospital. Her roommate, Glenda Baker (Gina Malo) listens as June tells her about the key and letter. Glenda thinks Silva is just some old pervert that’s trying to hook up with June, so she tells her she wants to go with her to keep an eye on things.

 

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June arrives and is taken to Silva’s room by an orderly. Once inside the room, the orderly and a cop plot to try to get some info from the conversation the two in the room are about to have. As the two talk, we see that someone is peeking through the eyes of a painting on the wall. Just as Silva is about to tell her where the other keys are, a secret panel in the wall moves slightly aside, and a pistol fires a shot (silenced) at the old man. June calls for help, and when she reaches the hallway, a woman asks her what she’s doing. She explains, but the woman tells her no one has been in that room lately. As the two go back in, the body is gone. The two women argue over the validity of the situation, and then June runs to the police.

 

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At the police station, we see Inspector Sneed (Richard Bird), and Dick Martin (Romilly Lunge), talking as Martin has resigned and is leaving the police force. Just then June and Glenda run in to tell the story of their wild afternoon. Sneed and martin are skeptical, but seem to think there might be something to this story, so they agree to check out her story. Martin agrees to stay on a bit as an advisor (at this point it seems only because of an attraction to June). Glenda, June, and Martin return to the girl’s apartment, and find a burglar inside. Martin attacks him and the two fight. The “cop” from the nursing home scene then sneaks up behind Martin and knocks him unconscious. The girls hear the fighting stop, and see Martin on the floor. Eventually he comes to and they make an appointment to see the executor of the estate. The man thinks he has six of the keys but when he looks into the box where they are kept, he finds them missing!

 

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Now we understand why person or persons unknown are trying to kill June and get the last key! Will they succeed and get the jewels or will Inspector Sneed and Martin be able to stop them?!?!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This neat little film might not have any of the industry giants from the horror/thriller genre, but it does have a certain charm about it that makes it a winner. The sets are incredible, the mood and atmosphere are great, and the acting very good. The only scene that seemed a bit lame was the fight scene between Martin and the burglar.

There are a few humorous moments that break up the darker ones, and they are well placed and hilarious, even by today’s standards. Slightly sexist, and stereotypical, but funny nonetheless especially when you consider it was 1940. The musical score was just slightly above average I’d say, but doesn’t bring the film down in the slightest. And not to be forgotten, Lilli Palmer is stunning in this film (image below)!

Get out there and grab this flick because it is more than deserving of a viewing!

 

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Click here for trailer!

 

 

Cinema Sunday: Shock (1946)

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Title: Shock

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Writers: Eugene Ling, Martin Berkeley (screenplay), Albert Demond (story)

Director: Alfred L. Werker

Producer: Aubrey Schenck

Starring: Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Frank Latimore, Anabel Shaw, Stephen Dunne

Released: January 10th, 1946

MPAA: NR

 

 

Getting back into the swing of things this new year, I thought it appropriate to lift high the name of Vincent Price, as he is one of the masters of horror! Looking through his catalog, you see quite an array of films, but of course, the horror films are the ones we most remember. Why is that? Because he was born for it. He could act well enough for any genre, but is performances in horror films are more than just memorable, they’re magnificent. This film is more of a thriller than horror, but Price is a fantastic villain!

I could go on all day about him and his films, but instead, let us get to this wonderful film. It’s not easy to find a decent copy, but the usual video sites have copies for a viewing (I own a set with it on, and the quality is slightly better than online). Here we go!

 

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The film begins with a woman, Janet Stewart (Anabel Shaw), who is entering a hotel (in San Francisco). She asks the desk clerk if her husband has arrived yet, but he tells her no. Her husband is returning from the military (serving overseas), and supposedly has booked a room at his hotel. The man at the desk tells her that no one has check in under that name. He tells her that they’re completely booked. But after she starts sobbing, the manager finds her accommodations for the night.

 

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Later, Janet is thinking about how great it will be to finally see her husband after him being away for so long. She falls asleep and dreams of him returning. It soon turns into a bit of a nightmare though, but she eventually wakes up. She calls the front desk and asks if her husband arrived, but he hasn’t. She then heads out on to the balcony for some fresh air. She then hears the voices of a man and woman (presumably husband and wife) arguing. The husband, Dr. Richard Cross (Vincent Price), tells his wife that he wants a divorce because he’s in love with his nurse. She laughs at him and threatens to call and rat him out for his infidelity. He gets enraged, and then picks up a candlestick, and bludgeons her with it. Anabel is horrified, and falls to the couch.

 

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The next morning, Lt. Paul Stewart (Frank Latimore) shows up at the hotel, and rushes upstairs to meet his wife. As he walks through the door, you can see Anabel hasn’t moved an inch from the spot where we last saw her. Paul rushes over to her, but within a minute, it’s obvious that she’s in a trance-like state, and nothing seems to be getting her out of it. He immediately calls for a doctor, and luckily there’s one close. He examines her and tells Paul that she’s in a deep state of shock. He recommends a very good neurological doctor that goes by the name of Dr. Richard Cross!

 

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The doctor shows up and examines Janet. He tells Paul that she’s had a nervous breakdown from something traumatizing. Dr. Cross then heads out to the balcony for a cigarette, and notices that her balcony can see directly into the room where he murdered his wife. He realizes that there’s more than a good chance she witnessed the murder, so he suggests that Janet be transferred to his sanitarium in the country (so he can keep a close eye on her). Dr. Cross’s naughty nurse/lover takes Janet to the hospital, and tells her to give her an injection to keep her calm.

 

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After a while, Janet begins to respond slightly to Dr. Cross’s voice. It’s almost like she’s under hypnosis. He questions her about what she saw the night before, and she admits that she saw him kill his wife. Janet’s eyes open , and as she recounts the event, Cross realizes she must be kept from telling this secret. Later that night, Nurse Elaine (Lynne Bari) comes over to the Doc’s house for some hanky-panky, and the two plot to keep Janet under their sway so she doesn’t spill the beans.

 

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The following day, Dr. Cross brings Paul to see his wife. She’s very groggy and almost seems worse. Cross informs him that his time missing in action in the war has disturbed his wife’s mind, and that she may never recover. He informs the good doctor that he went to the local military base and got a second opinion. Later, Dr. Cross and Nurse Elaine are mentally torturing Janet to drive her further into insanity.

 

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Will the new doctor be able to help Janet awaken from her nervous breakdown? Can Janet ever live a normal life again? Will Dr. Cross and his sinister nurse get caught and pay for their crimes? All will be answered…maybe.

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

If you think about it, this is one whacked out film. Imagine a doctor this sinister. Killing his wife, then using drugs, and any other means possible to drive someone insane. I’m sure a plot like this was quite shocking (no pun intended) back in 1946 for the audience. Obviously in today’s reality, this kind of thing is old news, sadly. The supporting cast isn’t all that stellar, but Price is on point once again. At certain moments, he’s truly evil, but once in a while, he’s conflicted. This sets in motion the thought: Is Price’s character insane or just tormented? Sure, he bludgeoned his wife, but that was in a fit of rage, the textbook definition of insanity. And when it comes down to actually killing another, he’s torn about it because he loves the nurse, but realizes killing is wrong.

We do see a solid performance by Anabel Shaw (Janet). She does a pretty good job at portraying someone fight for their sanity. The sets were pretty much standard fare, as was the soundtrack (it did have its moments, but overall it was average). Another classic that any fan of Vincent Price must see. It almost has a vibe to it like “The Fly,” as far as the conflicting emotions go. Hit up any video site, as I believe this one has fallen into public domain.

 

Click here for a clip!

Cinema Sunday: The Devil Bat (1940)

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Title: The Devil Bat

Distributor: Producers Releasing Corporation

Writers: John T. Neville, George Bricker

Director: Jean Yarbrough

Producer: Jack Gallagher

Starring: Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O’Brien, Guy Usher, Yolande Donlan

Released: December 1940

MPAA: Approved

 

 

Sunday is here, and so is another movie review! After thinking about it, I came to the realization that I hadn’t reviewed a movie with Bela Lugosi yet! Rather than just hit Dracula, I thought it would be way better to showcase one of his other films. This is one that isn’t nearly as famous, but definitely should be on your radar if you’re a classic horror fan.

The little upstart company known as PRC, had Lugosi under contract, and used him to make some noise in the industry. Think of them as the Hammer Studios of their time. They had very limited budgets, but delivered above expectations the majority of the time. Whether it was Westerns, Horror, or Crime, the studio did the best it could with its budgets, and the finished product usually surprised most viewers. Alright, let’s get to the story!

 

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The film begins with a foreword telling the viewer that a “kindly village doctor,” named Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi), was loved by all, but harbored a secret taste for wild, and crazy experiments at his home on the property of his employer, Martin Heath (Edward Mortimer). You see, Heath’s family owns a huge company known for its fragrances, and the chief scientist behind these, was Carruthers. We then get to peek in on Carruthers engaging in one such experiment. He has a vile and beakers full of unknown substances, that he mixes, then he proceeds to a secret chamber. Once there, he enters a room that houses a bat. He talks to the creature as if it understands him, and assures the animal that things are progressing nicely.

 

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We next get a wide shot of the room, and see that there are many bats there, but this one specifically, is enormous in stature. Carruthers takes it from the room, and heads to the lab. He then puts the bat into a chamber that houses a device that appears to use radioactivity to give the beast even more physical prowess. A ringing telephone interrupts Carruthers, and he finds out his boss invites him to a party tonight at his home. Carruthers initially tells him he can’t make it, but Heath persuades him. Heath and his partner, Henry Morton (Guy Usher) then talk about how surprised Carruthers will be when they give him a $5,00 bonus check at the party.

 

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Carruthers then lets the viewers know that his intentions are to kill his employers and their family members as retribution for not compensating him appropriately for his making them rich by his work. We see that his plan is to let his pet giant bat get a sniff of his new fragrance, and then hand it out to unsuspecting victims of his choice (kind of like a bloodhound with the scent from a piece of clothing).

Meanwhile, over at the Heath mansion, Morton tells Roy Heath (John Ellis) not to tell Carruthers about the money until he says it’s time. Morton also tells Mary Heath (Suzanne Kaaren) and the others the same. Martin then informs the group that Carruthers wont be able to make it, as he’s been caught up longer than expected with his “experiments.” Roy gets volunteered to take it to him, and becomes the first to get a sample of the new fragrance. Carruthers gets aroused when Roy puts it on his neck, and we realize Roy is not long for this world. On his way home, Roy gets attacked by Carruthers pet bat, and dies on the street.

 

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Once the story hits the news wire, a reporter from the city, Johnny Layden (Dave O’Brien) and his photographer sidekick, “One-shot” McGuire (Donald Kerr) come to town and help investigate the strange killing. Mary and her fiance hear the attack, but by the time they get there, he’s dead.

One by one, the family and it’ heirs get bumped off by Carruthers and his pets. Will the bumbling police and amateur sleuths be able to figure out the mystery or will they die in the process as well!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

With very little special effects, this little film does a great job creating some good atmosphere. Lugosi, of course, is a big reason for the film’s success, and rightly so. He was a giant in the genre, and literally helped build the foundation for everything to come in said genre. He sets the tone from the first minute of the film, especially the scene where we hear his thoughts urging him to kill the ungrateful employers, and his subsequent actions. The rest of the cast is moderate in their performances. No one stands out much, but then again, none of them bring the film down either.

The bats in the film aren’t very menacing, and the low-budget has a lot to do with that. There a re a few shots where the camera does a close-up, to make them look bigger and scary, and I’m sure in 1940, it probably worked just fine. The sets were your standard fare for the times, but the night-time shots looked above average. The music score was pretty good for the low-budget, and helped set an ominous tone throughout the movie.

The film fell into public domain a very long time ago, so it’s easy to find and watch. The usual spots online have it, and of course a myriad of companies have released it on DVD, so if you feel the compulsion to own it, there’s that route as well.

 

Click here for a clip!