Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Horror! The Horror!

The Bela Lugosi Collection (ca. 1932) should really be called The Bela Lugosi/Boris Karloff Cornucopia. This one little disc contains 5 (FIVE!) movies (for a total of about 5-1/2 hours):
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • The Black Cat
  • The Raven
  • The Invisible Ray
  • Black Friday
Side 1, the three movies "suggested by" Edgar Allen Poe. Only Murders is missing Karloff, it also is the only one that vaguely resembles the Poe story. M. Dupin is not exactly how I picture him, but Prof. Mirakle (Lugosi) is admirably creepy, and his plan to breed a Frenchwoman with an ape is pretty shocking.

Side 2 has a lot less Lugosi and more Karloff, but all these movies are a little (or completely) bonkers. Each one had at least one moment where the mind boggled - like in The Invisible Ray, when Lugosi sees a church with statues of six saints, and they turn into the images of his enemies. And then he melts them with his ray!

Our favorite was probably The Black Cat,  which has Lugosi and Karloff as the awesomely named Vitus Verdegast and Hjalmar Poetzig. It is directed by Edgar Ulmer (Detour), only his third or fourth feature. There are some amazing visuals, like Karloff, shirtless, arising from bed next to his sleeping blonde wife, in silhouette. It has war, revenge, modern architecture, black magic, incest, and a bit of skinning alive.

We really wallowed in these, the way the good old black-and-white stuff should be enjoyed, late at night in a kind of trance. As a result, they are kind of jumbled in my mind - which one had Janos the Dark, and which one had Janos Rukh? It doesn't matter, these are great, and a bargain as a single rental!

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