Friday, November 16, 2018


Last Sunday I saw the Maverick Theater's mind-blowing stage adaptation of Ed Wood's iconic "masterpiece" PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1958). The Orange County Register called this production "a very sharp and hilarious homage" to Wood's original.  Indeed, perhaps what's most impressive about this play is that it pulls off the delicate tightrope act of satirically critiquing the repressive and backwards culture of 1950s America that gave rise to "the worst movie of all time" while resisting the natural temptation to stray too far from Wood's uniquely fractured (and/or unintentionally surreal) dialogue.  Fans of mid-century American madness, psychotronic cinema, Ed Wood, Bela Lugosi, zombies, and UFOs need to go out of their way to see this production.  There are only two performances left this season, both on Saturday the 17th, one at 6:00 PM and the other at 8:00 PM.  I suggest bending the rules of time and space to make sure your body is planted in a front row seat at the Maverick Theater this Saturday night in order to experience Brian Newell's clever reinterpretation of what might very well be--in hindsight--one of the most memorable films of 1950s America.    

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Stan Lee, R.I.P. (1922-2018)

In honor of Stan Lee's passing, I suggest reading this February 1990 COMICS JOURNAL interview with writer/artist Jack Kirby about what it was like working with Lee at Marvel Comics.  Here's an illuminating excerpt:

GARY GROTH; When did you meet Stan Lee for the first time?

JACK KIRBY: I met Stan Lee when I first went to work for Marvel. He was a little boy. When Joe and I were doing Captain America. He was about 13 years old. He’s about five years younger than me.

GROTH: Did you keep in touch with him at all?

KIRBY: No, I thought Stan Lee was a bother.

GROTH: [Laughter.]

KIRBY: I did!

GROTH: What do you mean by “bother”?

KIRBY: You know he was the kind of kid that liked to fool around — open and close doors on you. Yeah. In fact, once I told Joe to throw him out of the room.

GROTH; Because he was a pest?

KIRBY: Yes, he was a pest. Stan Lee was a pest. He liked to irk people and it was one thing I couldn’t take.

GROTH: Hasn’t changed a bit, huh?

KIRBY: He hasn’t changed a bit. I couldn’t do anything about Stan Lee because he was the publisher’s cousin. He ran back and forth around New York doing things that he was told to do. He would slam doors and come up to you and look over your shoulder and annoy you in a lot of ways. Joe would probably elaborate on it.

GROTH: When you went to Marvel in ’58 and ’59, Stan was obviously there.

KIRBY: Yes, and he was the same way.

GROTH: And you two collaborated on all the monster stories?

KIRBY: Stan Lee and I never collaborated on anything! I’ve never seen Stan Lee write anything. I used to write the stories just like I always did.

GROTH: On all the monster stories it says “Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.” What did he do to warrant his name being on them?

KIRBY: Nothing! OK?

GROTH: Did he dialogue them?

KIRBY: No, I dialogued them. If Stan Lee ever got a thing dialogued, he would get it from someone working in the office. I would write out the whole story on the back of every page. I would write the dialogue on the back or a description of what was going on. Then Stan Lee would hand them to some guy and he would write in the dialogue. In this way Stan Lee made more pay than he did as an editor. This is the way Stan Lee became the writer. Besides collecting the editor’s pay, he collected writer’s pay. I’m not saying Stan Lee had a bad business head on. I think he took advantage of whoever was working for him.

GROTH: But he was essentially serving in a capacity as an editorial liaison between you and the publisher?

KIRBY: Yes, he wasn’t exactly an editor, or anything like that. Even as a young boy, he’d be hopping around — I think he had a flute, and he was playing on his flute.

GROTH: The Pied Piper.

KIRBY: Yeah. He’d come up and annoy me, and I told Joe to throw him out.

GROTH: Stan wrote, “Jack and I were having a ball turning out monster stories.’’ Were you having a ball. Jack?

KIRBY: Stan Lee was having the ball.

GROTH: You turned out monster stories for two or three years I think. Then the first comic that rejuvenated superheroes that you did was The Fantastic four. Can you explain how that came about?

KIRBY: I had to do something different. The monster stories have their limitations — you can just do so many of them. And then it becomes a monster book month after month, so there had to be a switch because the times weren’t exactly conducive to good sales. So I felt the idea was to come up with new stuff all the time — in other words there had to be a blitz. And I came up with this blitz. I came up with The Fantastic Four, I came up with Thor (I knew the Thor legends very well), and the Hulk, the X-Men, and The Avengers. I revived what I could and came up with what I could. I tried to blitz the stands with new stuff. The new stuff seemed to gain momentum.

GROTH: Let me ask you something that I think is an important point: Stan wrote the way you guys worked — and I think he’s referring to the monster stories specifically here — he wrote, “I had only to give Jack an outline of the story and he would draw the entire strip breaking down the outline into exactly the right number of panels. Then it remained for me to take Jack’s artwork and add the captions and dialogue which would hopefully add a dimension of reality to sharply delineated characterization.” So he’s saying that he gave you a plot, and you would draw it, and he would add the captions and dialogue.

ROZ KIRBY: I remember Jack would call him up and say it’s going to be this kind of story or that kind of story and just send him the story. And he’d write in everything on the side.

KIRBY: Remember this: Stan Lee was an editor. He worked from nine to five doing business for Martin Goodman. In other words he didn’t do any writing in the office. He did Martin Goodman’s business. That was his function. There were people coming up to the office to talk all the time. They weren’t always artists, they were business people. Stan Lee was the first man they would see and Stan Lee would see if he could get them in to see Martin Goodman. That was Stan Lee’s function.

GROTH: Where were you living at the time, in ’61-’62?

KIRBY: We had a house on Long Island.

GROTH: Did you deliver your work to Marvel?

KIRBY: Yes, I did. Once or twice a month. I worked at home.

GROTH: What were your working hours like?

KIRBY: I worked whenever I liked to.

ROZ KIRBY: Mostly in the evening. He helped me during the day with the children.

KIRBY: It was a wonderful routine because I could do whatever I liked to do during the day. I didn’t have to work in an office. I could work at home. I could work at my leisure. I worked 'til four in the morning. I worked with the TV and radio on — it was a great setup. I was a night person and still am.

GROTH: Can you tell me give me your version of how The Fantastic Four came about? Did Stan go to you...?

KIRBY: No, Stan didn’t know what a mutation was. I was studying that kind of stuff all the time. I would spot it in the newspapers and science magazines. I still buy magazines that are fanciful. I don’t read as much science fiction as I did at that time. 1 was a student of science fiction and I began to make up my own story patterns, my own type of people. Stan Lee doesn’t think the way I do. Stan Lee doesn’t think of people when he thinks of [characters]. I think of [characters] as real people. If I drew a war story it would be two guys caught in the war. The Fantastic Four to me are people who were in a jam — suddenly you find yourself invisible, suddenly you find yourself flexible.

ROZ KIRBY: Gary wants to know how you created The Fantastic Four.

GROTH: Did you approach Marvel or —

KIRBY: It came about very simply. I came in [to the Marvel offices] and they were moving out the furniture, they were taking desks out — and I needed the work! I had a family and a house and all of a sudden Marvel is coming apart. Stan Lee is sitting on a chair crying. He didn’t know what to do, he’s sitting in a chair crying —he was just still out of his adolescence. I told him to stop crying. I says. “Go in to Martin and tell him to stop moving the furniture out, and I’ll see that the books make money.” And I came up with a raft of new books and all these books began to make money. Somehow they had faith in me. I knew 1 could do it, but I had to come up with fresh characters that nobody had seen before. I came up with The Fantastic Four. I came up with Thor. Whatever it took to sell a book I came up with. Stan Lee has never been editorial minded. It wasn’t possible for a man like Stan Lee to come up with new things — or old things for that matter. Stan Lee wasn’t a guy that read or that told stories. Stan Lee was a guy that knew where the papers were or who was coming to visit that day. Stan Lee is essentially an office worker, OK? I’m essentially something else: I’m a storyteller. My job is to sell my stories. When I saw this happening at Marvel I stopped the whole damned bunch. I stopped them from moving the furniture! Stan Lee was sitting on some kind of a stool, and he was crying.

Click HERE to read the entire interview.

And below Alan Moore (writer of such important graphic novels as V FOR VENDETTA, WATCHMEN, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, and PROVIDENCE) discusses Stan Lee's working relationship with Jack Kirby during a rare public appearance at the Northants International Comic Expo in September of 2012:

If you're curious to understand the true dynamic between Lee and his most visionary "collaborator," Jack Kirby, I suggest watching Tim Burton's BIG EYES (far and away one of Burton's finest films), keeping in mind that in this scenario impresario/conman Walter Keane equals Lee and prolific artist Margaret Keane equals Kirby.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I first heard of Orson Welles' unfinished epic THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND in 1990 when I happened to stumble across Leslie Megahey's documentary WITH ORSON WELLES:  STORIES FROM A LIFE IN FILM late one night on television.  I was eighteen at the time.  The legend of a cursed film project with the enigmatic title THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, ostensibly frozen in limbo forever, fascinated me.  Later, I made passing reference to the film in my 2010 short story entitled "Ticks," which was published in issue #9 of Rudy Rucker's webzine FLURB.  (You can read that story HERE.) 

Last week, I finally saw THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND at Laemmle NOHO 7 in North Hollywood.  I plan to write about this movie at great length at some point in the near future, but for now all I'll say is that it's a wonderfully challenging film, complex and multilayered, the type of harrowing in-depth character study Hollywood seems incapable of making these days.  Who in America is creating these types of films in the 21st century?  I immediately think of Darren Aronofsky's BLACK SWAN and THE WRESTLER and David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE and MULHOLLAND DRIVE... but beyond that my mind goes blank.  

Some critics are saying that we can't really consider THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND to be a "Welles film" because he only edited "a few" scenes himself.  I strongly disagree with this.  Ten years ago at the Orson Welles Film Festival, held at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles, I saw Oja Kodar (star and co-writer of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND) and cinematographer Gary Graver present to the audience the scenes Welles had edited himself before his death in 1985--and this amounted to at least a half hour worth of footage.  That's a quarter of the finished film, at least.  I'd say that's more than just "a few" scenes.  Besides, cineastes consider EYES WIDE SHUT to be Stanley Kubrick's last film despite the fact that Kubrick didn't have a hand in the final edit of that movie at all.  (Some conspiracy theorists claim that the Church of Scientology had control of the final edit of EYES WIDE SHUT... but that's a whole separate story, best left for another time.)  

As my friend and colleague Rafael Zepeda told me the other day, "THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is an American 8 1/2."  I agree with that.  But THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is also far more than just a take-off on Federico Fellini's peculiar obsessions.  Ultimately, this can be considered Welles' most personal film.  I've seen this movie 2 1/2 times now (once in the theater and one and half times on Netflix) and will no doubt watch it again.  If you can see THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND in a theater, please do so.  I think experiencing this particular film in a theater is almost a must--it heightens the meta-aspect of the film immeasurably.

The two documentaries that bookend the film--A FINAL CUT FOR ORSON:  40 YEARS IN THE MAKING and THEY'LL LOVE ME WHEN I'M DEAD--are fascinating as well.  The first can be seen by clicking HERE.  The second is available exclusively on Netflix.
The official trailer can be seen below.... 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


As you've probably already seen on the news, the biggest wild fire in California history is now raging its way across the smoke-plagued landscape a few miles north of Long Beach (where I currently dwell).  Frequent Cryptoscatology correspondent Chris Doyle sent me a photograph he took of the burgeoning fire along with the observation that when the smoke starts to look like Cthulhu, Bad Times are imminent.  H.P. Lovecraft would no doubt agree.

I've included Mr. Doyle's photo below.  And yes, as you can clearly see, the smoke cloud does indeed look like the squamous, eldritch face of Cthulhu himself (or herself)! 

My colleague Rafael Zepeda (author of such excellent books as HORSE MEDICINE, TAO DRIVER, and DESPERADOS) tells me the image bears a far closer resemblance to the Aztec god Mixcoatl, or perhaps even Itztalcoliuhquil-Ixquimilli.  "Hard to beat those bloody Aztecs," as Zepeda says.  Who am I to disagree?

By the way, Mr. Doyle also reports that some of the more conspiracy-minded residents of Topanga Canyon insist that the fires were caused by energy weapons as part of a land grab for the high speed rail system... and/or that the fires began at the little-known but nefarious Rocketdyne/Area 4/Santa Susana nuclear test facility and that "the AEC and/or NASA made sure all communications were cut off in the Canyon for some malign purpose."  For more information regarding the Santa Susana nuclear test facility, click HERE (VIDEO STARTS PLAYING AT 0:50 SECONDS).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Kurt Vonnegut!

In honor of what would have been Kurt Vonnegut's 96th birthday, I suggest listening to this reading of what might be Vonnegut's most accomplished short story, "Harrison Bergeron" (originally published in the October 1961 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION).  "Harrison Bergeron" can be found in Vonnegut's 1968 collection WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE.  Needless to say, this story is more relevant than ever before....

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Strange Case of the Flatwoods Monster

One of the most infamous close-encounter cases in the field of UFOlogy is that of the "Flatwoods Monster," also known as the "Braxton County Monster" or the "Phantom of Flatwoods."  The Flatwoods Monster was popularized by Gray Barker in his 1956 nonfiction book THEY KNEW TOO MUCH ABOUT FLYING SAUCERS, which also introduced to the world the concept of the "Men in Black."  Late one evening on September 12, 1952, in the town of Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia, seven people saw a bright object land on the property of a local farmer, soon after which the group witnessed a ten-foot-tall humanoid with a blood-red face and clawed hands gliding towards them across the farmer's field.  Some claimed that the creature was "a robot, controlled mechanically," as suggested by Barker in Chapter Two of his book.  An artist's interpretation of the "Flatwoods Monster" can be seen below.... 

The strange case of the "Flatwoods Monster" was only the beginning of West Virginia's intersection with the paranormal, as evidenced by John A. Keel's thorough investigation into the rash of UFO/Men in Black/Phantom Clown/Mothman sightings that plagued the state in the late 1960s.  Keel wrote extensively about this investigation in his 1975 nonfiction book THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, the High Weirdness quotient of which surpasses even Gray Barker's descent into the rabbit hole of UFOlogy over twenty years earlier.  To learn more about West Virginia's reluctant love affair with the "Flatwoods Monster" (and the peculiar field of UFOlogy in general), I recommend acquiring a copy of Seth Breedlove's polished and thorough documentary entitled THE FLATWOODS MONSTER:  A LEGACY OF FEAR (Small Town Monster, 2018).  As noted by Brian Tull in his review of this documentary, the film's special effects possess "a hand-painted quality that gives [THE FLATWOODS MONSTER] a unique feel and texture" while its clever use of 1950s-style miniatures "imbue the film with an eerie surrealism as the set pieces of this story are presented as a series of lovingly crafted dioramas."  One can only wonder what Mark Pellington's ill-fated 2003 adaptation of THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES could have looked like if that film had taken a similar approach to its phantasmagorical subject matter.

You can hear paranormal researcher Dr. Ivan Sanderson--author of such books as ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN:  LEGEND COME TO LIFE (1961), UNINVITED VISITORS (1967), "THINGS" (1967), MORE "THINGS" (1969), and INVISIBLE RESIDENTS (1971)--discussing the "Flatwoods Monster" in this 1953 radio interview: 

A previous documentary about the "Flatwoods Monster" sightings, Frank Feschino's THE BRAXTON COUNTY MONSTER (2006), can be seen on YouTube:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bimbo's Initiation

In case you ever wondered what it's like to be initiated into Freemasonry, the legendary filmmakers Max and Dave Fleischer happened to capture on film a typical Masonic initiation ceremony back in the halcyon days of 1931.  Entitled "Bimbo's Initiation," the short film (and the bizarre ritual it documents) can be seen below in its entirety, courtesy of our brothers at YouTube....

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Black Vault: CIA MKULTRA/Mind Control Collection

A recommended resource:  John Greenewald's is a valuable and comprehensive repository of declassified government documents regarding the CIA's MKULTRA mind control program and related top-secret projects.  Click HERE to view these documents, which were attained by Greenewald via the Freedom of Information Act over the course of about twenty years.

Wired Magazine on Targeted Individuals

What follow are a few excerpts from Jean Guerrero's 10-25-18 Wired Magazine article entitled "My Father Says He's a 'Targeted Individual.'  Maybe We All Are."  Not surprisingly, the article is a missed opportunity for the most part; however, Ms. Guerrero does manage to eke out a few relevant passages here and there.  Note that the place and time of the government harassment alleged by Ms. Guerrero's father occurred in San Diego in the early 2000s, the same place and time as the harassment experienced by my friend Dion Fuller whose trials are described in great detail in my 2015 nonfiction book CHAMELEO:  A STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF INVISIBLE SPIES, HEROIN ADDICTION, AND HOMELAND SECURITY (available for purchase from OR Books right HERE).  If Ms. Guerrero wants to know what most likely occurred to her father (and what is probably still occurring to him), she should get her hands on a copy of CHAMELEO as soon as possible.  

In Chapter 19 of CHAMELEO you will find an interview I conducted with a scientist named Richard Schowengerdt, whose optical-camouflage technology was stolen by the U.S. military many years ago and is now being used to torture thousands of innocent civilians all across the country.  Back in 2006, the year in which my conversation with Schowengerdt took place, I submitted a shortened version of this revelatory interview to none other than Wired Magazine.  The editors of that august publication never responded to my query.  Now, twelve years later, Wired chooses to publish this neutered "think-piece" on the same topic which skirts around the most pressing issues related to the unconstitutional harassment of United States citizens (an ongoing--and growing--problem).

You can hear me discuss the illegal harassment of U.S. citizens at great length in any number of recent interviews archived on my YouTube Channel, which can be accessed HERE.

As promised, here are a few of the least tone-deaf excerpts from Ms. Guerrero's tepid effort....

"[O]n my 20th birthday, I made a trip to my paternal grandmother’s house, and my father, sober now for several years, dragged a chair next to me and started talking. It was the first lengthy conversation we’d had since I was a child.
"The story he told sounded unlikely: that he was one of thousands of 'targeted individuals,' who had been covertly spied on and manipulated by the CIA in the early 2000s. (So-called TIs have begun banding together around the country and across the internet.) But he didn’t sound agitated or disturbed the way I had imagined a paranoid schizophrenic might. He was articulate. He cited patents, research, and the central role of something he called MKUltra, a real CIA mind-control program that ran from 1953 to 1973 that targeted drug addicts, prisoners, and other vulnerable people.
"I didn’t know anything about the pile of facts he’d just left at my feet—his far-fetched answer to the mystery of his breakdown and disappearance—but I felt it was my duty, as a journalist and as his daughter, to investigate the possibility that what he said was true. I hoped I could do it without falling down a rabbit hole [...].
"MY FATHER BELIEVES the CIA subjected him to remotely induced electric shocks, filling him with lightning-bolt pain when he tried to smoke crack. He explained that a copper penny he placed on his forehead during one of the attacks flew off him as if zapped by a corporeal current. Whenever he touched a metal railing, the pain dissipated.
"Technology capable of inducing something like the TIs’ 'electric shocks' does exist: The Active Denial System is a military weapon using millimeter wave radio frequency to zap people. California resident Donald Friedman repeatedly sued the government for allegedly harassing him with such weapons. One of his Freedom of Information Act requests resulted in the declassification of a 1998 US Army document that discusses a microwave technology capable of beaming sounds into heads from hundreds of meters away. With some refinement, the document states, the technology could induce 'voices within one’s head.'
"My father recently described the frustration of trying to convince a psychologist he wasn’t crazy: 'There was a TV playing over there in the room, and I said 'Do you hear that TV? Well, I hear it too. But that doesn’t mean I’m ‘hearing voices.’ There’s a technology in which they can make you remotely hear voices, and it has been documented. You can read about it.'
"The fact that you can read about these technologies does not prove his theories. But when I sit with my uncertainty, rather than dismiss my father’s beliefs outright, my eyes open to the covert manipulation that is commonplace in our lives. We carry it around in our pockets. We wear it on our wrists. We devote more than 10.5 hours a day to screen time.
"Facebook has conducted experiments on us that show how susceptible we are to mind control. In 2012, the company secretly tampered with the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people, manipulating the ratio of emotionally positive to emotionally negative posts, then monitoring the subsequent activity of those users.
"What they found is that emotions can be remotely controlled and are highly contagious on the platform. People who saw more unhappy posts showed more unhappy activity and vice versa. Many questioned the experiment’s legality and ethics, wondering if Facebook had triggered any suicides. Facebook apologized for the way the experiments were conducted and promised to conduct them 'differently' in the future, with enhanced review.
"We ignore the parallels between those experiments and the ones the TIs describe at our own peril. We are amphibians in a pot of water over a flame. 
"MKULTRA IS NOW seeing a resurgence in the popular culture through Netflix shows like Wormwood, a docudrama based on Eric Olson’s real-life quest to uncover the facts about his father’s death during MKUltra. The name of the series is an allusion to a line in the Bible in which the star Wormwood falls from the sky and turns waters of the Earth bitter. Olson describes finding no relief because nobody has been held accountable.
"Given this lack of closure for families like his, is it really that crazy for thousands of people to believe the US is still illegally experimenting on people—especially after Edward Snowden’s leaks showing NSA surveillance of the general population? Don’t their beliefs reveal something meaningful about our failure to acknowledge the extent of our wrongs and the reach of our technologies?
"We have become commodities manipulated by shadowy forces beyond our control: corporations, computer algorithms, campaigns. We are caught in a web where we can be easily drained of blood."
To read Ms. Guerrero's article in its entirety, click HERE.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


In honor of the late Preston B. Nichols (1946-2018), without whom the hit television show STRANGER THINGS would not exist, I recommend buying a copy of Nichols' 1992 classic cryptoscatological nonfiction book THE MONTAUK PROJECT:  EXPERIMENTS IN TIME (written in collaboration with Peter Moon).  To purchase the book directly from the publisher, click HERE


The Imp of the Perverse and Other Tales

Listen to Vincent Price reading Edgar Allan Poe's short stories "BERENICE" (1835), "MORELLA" (1835), and "THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE" (1845).  These recordings were originally released as an LP in 1975 entitled THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE AND OTHER TALES.

"BERENICE" (1835)

"MORELLA" (1835)


The Lectures of Ray Bradbury

Since Halloween was always Ray Bradbury's favorite holiday, perhaps it's only appropriate that we take this opportunity to listen to several of Bradbury's lectures throughout the decades, from as early as 1964 to as late as 2001.  Any neophyte writers out there will find more than just a few useful lessons and choice offerings of wisdom woven throughout these presentations....

Ray Bradbury Speaking at UCLA 10/23/1964


Ray Bradbury Speaking at UCLA 1/17/1968

Ray Bradbury Speaking at UCLA 6/1/1972



Ray Bradbury Speaking at UCLA 4/8/1998


An Evening with Ray Bradbury 2001



And let's not overlook Rachel Bloom's 2010 song--nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation (Short)," though it sadly lost to Doctor Who--entitled "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury":


The Skeleton Dance

Silver Shamrock (Redux)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shunned House"

H.P. Lovecraft's short story "THE SHUNNED HOUSE" (originally published in the October 1937 issue of WEIRD TALES) read by Wayne June....

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear"

Listen to David Healy's 1989 reading of H.P. Lovecraft's short story "THE LURKING FEAR" (1923), originally serialized in the January through April issues of HOME BREW....



Monday, October 29, 2018

Basil Rathbone Reads Edgar Allan Poe

Basil Rathbone reads Edgar Allan Poe's short stories "THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER" (1839), "THE BLACK CAT" (1845), "THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO" (1846), "THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH" (1850), "THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM" (1850), and "THE TELL-TALE HEART" (1850):








Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff's Unholy 13


I originally posted this last year, but I thought it would be worth a second visit, particularly if you want to find a film worthy of your time on Halloween.  What follows is a list of the essential entries in Bela Lugosi's five-decade-long filmography.

A few years ago a friend of mine saw Rowland V. Lee's SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) for the first time at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles.  At the end of the film his first comment was, “Why does everybody say Bela Lugosi was such a bad actor?  He’s great in this!  He steals the whole movie—and that’s not easy when you’re sparring with Lionel Atwill, Boris Rathbone, and Boris Karloff!”  He then asked me to recommend other Lugosi films, so I took the opportunity to compile my personal “Top 13 Lugosi” list.  Your forthcoming Halloween viewing experience can be vastly improved by the addition of any one of the following films from the Golden Age of Hollywood....




If any of these films whet your appetite for more information regarding the careeer of Bela Lugosi, I suggest listening to the following podcast:  YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS:  BELA AND BORIS EPISODE ONE:  WHERE THE MONSTERS CAME FROM (OCTOBER 16, 2017).

Also, the following books by Gary D. Rhodes (and friends) represent the most comprehensive biographies of Lugosi's life:

And the best documentary film about Lugosi remains Gary D. Rhodes' LUGOSI:  HOLLYWOOD'S DRACULA (Spinning Our Wheels Productions, 2000).

And if you want even more Lugosi, here's a 1951 interview with the actor upon his return from London where he had just completed filming John Gilling's very peculiar transvestite comedy MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE (AKA VAMPIRE OVER LONDON) (1952):


Of course, it's only appropriate that we give equal time to Lugosi's most frequent collaborator and rival, Boris Karloff.  What follows is my personal "Top 13 Karloff" list.  Each of these films (some acknowledged classics, others relatively obscure) represents a high watermark in the history of cinematic horror....

THE BLACK CAT (Edgar Ulmer, 1934)

FRANKENSTEIN (James Whale, 1931)


THE MUMMY (Karl Freund, 1932)

THE BODY SNATCHER (Robert Wise, 1945)

BEDLAM (Mark Robson, 1946)

CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (Robert Day, 1958)

THE WALKING DEAD (Michael Curtiz, 1936)

THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (Charles Brabin, 1932)

THE BLACK ROOM (Roy William Neill, 1935)

ISLE OF THE DEAD (Mark Robson, 1945)

BLACK SABBATH (Mario Bava, 1963)

TARGETS (Peter Bogdanovich, 1968)

If you're interested in reading about Karloff's life and career, you would be hard pressed to do any better than the books of Gregory William Mank such as BELA LUGOSI AND BORIS KARLOFF:  THE EXPANDED STORY OF A HAUNTING COLLABORATION and IT'S ALIVE:  THE CLASSIC CINEMA SAGA OF FRANKENSTEIN.

And as an added Halloween treat, here's Karloff performing in an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Telltale Heart" on a 1941 episode of the radio show INNER SANCTUM....