Tag Archives: horror

Bela Lugosi And The Insidious Charm of Ygor! ‘Son of Frankenstein’

Bela Lugosi needs no introduction among horror enthusiasts. Forever more will he be associated with the nocturnal Prince of Darkness, Count Dracula, for his phenomenal portrayal of Bram Stoker’s titular character. Laying the foundations for the future of talking horror flicks to follow in his haunted footsteps Lugosi also ensured the future of Universal as the House of Horrors. 

Doubtlessly whenever his name is mentioned people primarily associate the late actor with his immortal vampire role. Moldy castles, gargantuan spider webs, capes, shadows, and those piercing eyes are forever etched in the edifice of horror history. Had the man played only one role – that of Dracula – it is for certain he would have secured a timeless legacy. 

What many people sadly miss out on though are the other horror roles Lugosi likewise immortalized by that devilish charm and uncanny of his. Briefly, I am obligated to mention his monstrous role played in Island of Lost Souls, a retelling of the Island of Dr. Moreau, where Lugosi chews up his scenes with feral passionate intensity. 

And then there’s today’s topic at hand – the one and only Ygor, the lumbering grave robber who sensationally steals the show in the third installment of Universal’s Frankenstein legacy, Son of Frankenstein. Critics and horror enthusiasts alike praise James Whales’ horror legends Frankenstein and its celebrated sequel Bride of Frankenstein. Sadly though that’s usually where people stop watching the legacy. Probably assuming nothing that followed could match up to the two remarkable films Whales accomplished to make. Daring, frightening, and downright shocking were the first two movies. So much so that when Boris Karloff’s face was first revealed as the monster people hid under their seats in the theater. 

The third installment not only holds up but is just as magnificent as its prior movies. Mainly due to the combined charisma of Karloff and Lugosi working together. Both playing monsters, both shining with macabre excellence, but, if we’re being fully honest here, it is dear ol’ Bela Lugosi who steals the movie and brilliantly outshines Karloff’s uncanny monster. 

Karloff fought to get Lugosi in the role and insisted the man share in the top billing. Thankfully he won because otherwise the world would have been robbed of one helluva monstrous character! So iconic is Lugosi’s Ygor that to this very day people assume all hunchback lab assistants in gothic horror tales are Ygor.

The truth is the hunchback assistant in the first movie is called Fritz and there was no hunchback in the original novel at all. However, Lugosi immortalized the monster and cemented his hideous grin all across horror history.  Making him a gothic staple just as much as windmills, cemeteries, and crumbling castles.

Whereas Dracula was played seriously, grim, and downright dapper Ygor is polar opposite the image. Ygor is grungy, smells like deep earth from the graves he robs, dirty, and hairy. He was hanged from the gallows but didn’t stay dead, a fact to which Ygor gleefully gloats about in the film. “They die, dead! I die, live!” he says with a devilish smile. 

Synopsis

In the film, Basil Rathbone plays the son of Frankenstein returning back to his family castle where the village people are not too happy to have another Frankenstein in their midst. There Wolf Frankenstein (can we please take a moment to marvel at how METAL that name is) is met by a snooping Ygor who enlists the young doctor into reviving the old monster of his father’s making. Reluctant at first, Wolf finally agrees unable to pass up the chance to improve upon his father’s work. Meanwhile, Ygor has befriended the monster and uses him to kill the men who found him guilty and sentenced him to death. So on the one hand Ygor is using Frankenstein to revive his buddy the monster. And on the other, he’s using the monster to avenge his enemies. Ygor is the devil sitting on everyone’s shoulder instigating and manipulating as he wishes. And he’s laughing his ass off as he does it.

Someone said that Ygor is the instigator among all the Universal Monsters and I like that image. I like to think he lumbers around and stirs up mischief among the Mummy and the Gillman. He would steal the Wolfman’s bone and hide it in Dracula’s coffin as a way to make the two fight. Crazy shit like that and if confronted about it he’d just put his hands in the air, shrug his shoulders, smile, and say “Ygor not do wrong. Ygor was gone fishing.” Or something like that. 

Neca’s been releasing the Universal line right now and I’m hoping someone there has the foresight to make us a proper Ygor figure. I’d throw money at that quick as a lightning bolt.

So here’s to Bela Lugosi and the marvelous monsters and giddy ghouls he gave us. If you’ve not seen Son of Frankenstein this Halloween would be a good time to correct that. It’s also the final time Boris Karloff would play the iconic role of the monster and does so beautifully.

Manic out! 

40 Years Later, “Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” Is The Imperfectly Perfect Halloween Film

If you would have told me ten years ago I’d be writing these following words, I would absolutely say you were out of your fucking mind. HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH is finally recognized by most fans as a worthy entry in the beloved horror franchise; and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased that SOB Colonel Cochran is part of the inclusive horror legends club.

Now, John Carpenter’s Halloween and it’s sequels, particularly 2 and 4, are of course amazing and essential Halloween viewing. However, Season of the Witch is an entirely different bag of dicks in the franchise as we all know and although the fans have been much kinder to the red-headed stepchild of the series in recent years, the hatred still exists for those unwilling to accept a non-Michael Myers Halloween movie.

To that, I just have this to say…

Which brings me to a very good point that we can only watch Myers gut up teenagers so many times before our brain sensors tell us enough; we want something else. Which is precisely what John Carpenter had in mind when studios were pushing for another Halloween film from the director after burning Michael alive in Halloween II. The Shape was dead and Carpenter grew tired of the story- hence Season of the Witch came to be with the idea of a Halloween horror anthology series focusing on different and terrifying urban legends and folklore surrounding the holiday. The main idea of the film would be “witchcraft meets the computer age.” They brought in Joe Dante ( Gremlins) to direct, and hired the remarkable Nigel Kneale (the Quatermass films) to pen the script, which focused on modern-day Druids practicing Halloween in the old-fashioned way. Oh and well, with a couple of androids thrown in. After all, the early to mid-eighties movies focused a LOT on technologic advances; peering into the future with slave robots and such.

Now get Pauley that beer SICO.

Dante dropped out of the project when Steven Spielberg and John Landis offered him a chance to participate in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Even though Halloween III was a box-office bomb, I’d much rather be associated with Season of the Witch than a movie that contributed to the death of three people. Anyways, in stepped in Tommy Lee Wallace to direct who also helped Carpenter coin that Silver Shamrock jingle that is forever imbedded into our brains as some sort of fucked up version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”; which is exactly what the tune was modeled after.

Halloween III may be the most “halloweeniest” of all the movies in the franchise- yeah, I just made that word up for all intents and purposes. It takes every aspect of the beloved holiday and throws it all together in this film like a delightful bowl of Halloween candy varieties. When you think of Halloween, you think costumes, children, trick or treating- and this installment has it all and then some. Along with aheavy dose of old-world style witchcraft. For the longest time, society has paired witches and Halloween together in an unholy matrimony. It’s sort of problematic to practicing witches, as they are who they are all year round, and they are certainly not evil, but that’s an argument for another day. It’s never been a deal breaker for me so let’s move on.

While, other films in the franchise may have scenes involving Trick or Treating that set the nostalgic Halloween mood, Halloween III focuses on the premise of DEATH by trick or treating and their beloved masks. That’s pretty fucked up and to boot, the film had the balls to kill a kid very brutally in front of us. It was trailblazing at its finest.

As for atmospheric settings, one could never forget the montage near the end with that Silver Shamrock jingle going off in the background like some sort of death march for the children decked out in their Silver Shamrock masks rushing through a night of candy- collecting all in an effort to get home in time for “the big giveaway”. Beyond the opening credits and nighttime neighborhood scenes in Halloween 4, this movie gives off the some of the most Spidey-senses worthy moments of the holiday ever captured in these films. My favorite moment, and maybe the most iconic, is the group of children trekking across a dark landscape, silhouetted against a pumpkin-orange sky. Few images in the Halloween series better sum up the spirit of Halloween night as much as this one moment right here.

It’s a true aesthetic pleasure to say the very least.

Then, there’s Conal Cochran: the most underrated horror villain of Halloween… EVER.

I don’t use the word “underrated” lightly, however, I feel it’s quite appropriate here. Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), the proprietor of Silver Shamrock Novelties and sworn allegiance to the dark arts of Witchcraft make him for a dangerous enemy to have indeed; especially if you’re a kid. Cochran, presumably has way more kills under his belt than not only his film predecessor Myers, but the holy trinity of slashers themselves – Freddy, Jason, and Michael. And think about this: The ending is open-ended and leaves us to speculate whether the final commercial ran its full course. If it did, then Cochran would have succeeded in committing mass genocide of children across the United States.

What a dick, eh? Cochran, who uses his success of his company to coordinate the largest Samhain sacrifice to appease the Celtic Gods on the glorious night of Halloween, is as evil and terrifying as they come. As if his ominous stare downs weren’t creepy enough, his monologue alone is chilling to the bone (the thrill and absolute madness in his voice sells it completely). Cochran is hardcore. But as tough as he was, he was no match for Tom Atkins: The Man, The Myth, The Mustache. If anyone can save the world from a Pagan madman, beer guzzling- womanizing Dr. Challis was gonna be that guy.

While the movie has gained moderate success over the past few years, maybe the key factor in acceptance of the bastard installment is our own maturity and longing for the nostalgia aspect of what Halloween once represented. As children, we hated it. As adults, we embraced it as the perfectly imperfect Halloween film it is. What a grand joke on the children, eh?

[Watch] Happy Father’s Day with Tales From the Crypt Most F*cked Up Episode Ever!

Father’s Day is upon us once again where we celebrate the initial life-sparker of our little existences. And throughout the genre when it comes to horror films, evil paternal units are an abundant source for the center of storytelling. From Jack Torrance to Jerry Blake, the visual of a father gone insane is something we’ve seen time and again in the past few decades of the horror movie. And somehow, it just never gets old.

We all remember films like The Stepfather and Creepshow honoring thy father in the most twisted ways imaginable. However, as cringing as the psychological terror that fuels such movies, HBO’s Tales From the Crypt gave us the most fucked up primetime spectacle touching on the subject of fatherhood I had ever seen on the small screen. Albeit the whole father bit was the surprise twist, in the end, that’s what makes it SOO messed up.

The second season of the largely popular late-night program hosted by the faithfully ghoulish Crypt Keeper gave us consistently amazing episodes one after another, and the tale of terror in question here “Three’s A Crowd”, was no exception to both awesomeness and cringe-worthy midnight viewings.

“Three’s a Crowd” revolves around husband and wife Richard and Della’s strained marriage and an effort to repair what was once a fairy tale romance. Richard is slowly spiraling into a life of alcoholism and depression due to money issues and the couple’s ongoing troubles with conceiving a child. In his convoluted mind, Richard has the nagging thought that his loving wife will leave him due to his low sperm count. So he pours the booze as a band-aid to his troubles and gives him an even shittier attitude on top of it.  Richard’s negative outlook on life is beyond soul-sucking and quite frankly, it frustrates the hell out of me how Della didn’t just cave and tell her of her plans from the beginning. But of course, where’s the fun in that right?

Moving on, Richard and Della’s old successful friend Alan treats the pair to a lovely getaway to celebrate the pair’s anniversary. While Della is trying to make the most of it, Richard is flinging accusations that his old, and now rich friend Alan and his wife are having an affair. The suspicion is only ignited even further when Alan and Della sneak off together multiple times… alone. On top of a few lavish gifts from Alan to his wife, Richard’s jealousy goes from annoyed to enraged. And that’s when it starts to get ugly.

Richard corners Alan and ultimately kills in a drunken jealous fit and then sets his sight on his wife. Della discovers Alan’s body and attempts to flee in sheer terror. But Richard wants to play cat and mouse with his presumably unfaithful wife. He traps her in a room and strangles her with a piece of lingerie Richard assumes was bought for Alan. As a parting shot to his recently deceased beloved, he drags her over to the departed Alan’s cabin next door to “work on that baby again”.

Uhh. GROSS.

And there it is. He opens the door to the supposed empty cabin with a dead wife in tow to a goddamn surprise party in his honor announcing that Richard was going to be a father. The whole trip was designed by Della and Alan to put a smile on the face of a man who was living life day to day slowly sinking further into a deep depression regarding his troubles and inability to care for his lady the way he thinks should be. I guess now that way is dead, however.

Seriously, that twist ending revealing that this already broken man who wanted nothing more than to have a happy family with this woman, actually killed his wife who was in fact with child, is fucking gut-wrenching. And teaches an obvious moral lesson of that age-old saying, think before you act. Or in much more modern terms, don’t be a dick. Be a dude.

And on that note, I want to wish every hard-working dad out there a very Happy Father’s Day. And a special shout out to my own Hub-beast for putting up with me and our monster children on a daily. Thanks for not ever pulling a Richard on me!