Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Todd Liebenow ""

Monday, September 9, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Todd Liebenow

Todd writes about neglected cinema at his blog Forgotten Films, which I am a big fan of:
http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/
He also runs a great podcast about those kind of movies there too and I've been a guest on that show twice(episodes 1 & 12):
http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/tag/forgotten-filmcast/
Todd has also recently started writing articles for Man I Love Films:
http://manilovefilms.com/author/squonk/
Lastly, find him on twitter here:
https://twitter.com/ForgottenFilmz
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Son of Frankenstein(1939)
When talking about the classic Universal monster movies, a lot of love is always given to Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, and rightfully so. But those who claim that the series began its decline with the third chapter, Son of Frankenstein, are off their rocker! Karloff is fantastic in his final appearance as the monster, add to it Basil Rathbone in the title role and you’ve already got something special. However, the scene stealer here is Bela Lugosi as Ygor. Usually we think of Ygor as a sniveling, pathetic little man…but Lugosi portrays him as a conniving and sinister villain. He may be most famous for playing Dracula, but Ygor is my favorite Lugosi performance.

Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Of all the attempts to copy Universal’s monster movie formula, this may be the best. This take on The Island of Doctor Moreau has a wonderfully creepy, and downright scary, atmosphere. Once again, though, we have three great performances that grab the viewer and refuse to let go: Charles Laughton as Moreau, the hypnotic Kathleen Burke as the Panther Woman, and, once again, Bela Lugosi in a brief but powerful performance as the Giver of the Law. The makeup effects are also years ahead of their time. Even 81 years after it’s release, this remains a disturbing piece of cinema.

Werewolf of London (1935)
Every bit as a good as its more iconic cousin, The Wolf Man, and coming six years earlier. Henry Hull is the classic arrogant, self-absorbed scientist...not to mention a great monster when he wolfs out. His makeup was originally supposed to be more like what Lon Chaney Jr would later wear, but this is a more minimalist approach to werewolf makeup...allowing more of Hull’s features to come through. It’s also interesting how the design of the monster evolves somewhat throughout the film. It’s not the most famous Universal werewolf...but just as good.

Horror Hotel (1960)
This film was released only 3 months after Psycho, and happened to feature several similar elements, including a creepy hotel and an early demise for the leading lady. Sadly, this has pushed the film deep into the shadow of Hitchcock’s masterpiece. What a shame! This film is eerie, shocking and very capable of standing on its own merits. Of course, it’s got Christopher Lee at his most intimidating...so it’s hard to go wrong.

The Sentinel (1977)
This is one of the many supernatural horror films to come in the wake of The Exorcist. It deals with a New York apartment building that just so happens to be the gateway to hell. Great googly moogly...this thing creeped me out! I’m so glad I watched it on a Saturday afternoon and not in the dead of night. The ending, which features people with actual physical deformities cast as demons, is not for the easily disturbed. Though, on the fun side, the film does feature a who’s who of not-yet-famous celebrities. If nothing else, you’ll have fun pointing them out as their small parts come and go.

Burn Witch Burn (1962)
This story had been done many years earlier as Weird Woman featuring Lon Chaney Jr, but this version is much more effective. It deals with a college professor who teaches on superstition who finds out that his wife has been utilizing witchcraft because she believes he needs protection. Turns out she’s right as other dark forces are fighting against him. This film has a great way of building in eeriness and tension, leading up to a very unique climax.

Deadly Blessing (1981)
This is Wes Craven’s scary Amish people movie. Well, they’re not really Amish, but close. The story is about a woman who lives on a farm located right next to a religious sect led by crazy eyes Ernest Borgnine. These folks just happen to believe that she is some sort of demon. Two friends, including Sharon Stone, come to help her out but end up regretting it. For many people, when they think Craven they think slasher films...but this is really more psychological. It does have some moments that will make your skin crawl, however...including a snake in the bathtub and a live spider dropping into Sharon Stone’s mouth. Oh, and the ending must be seen to be believed. It is absolutely crazy!

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