Monday, October 10, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 10: Vampires, Freaks & Black Cats (1931-1934)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Ten' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" in which I shall bring you my next batch of fright flicks from the enormous back-catalogue of macabre movies that have been thrilling cinema-goers for more than a century and can now be streamed to your television sets via the magic of Roku player - so, let's dim down the lights... and enjoy a few frights! :-O

If you read my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - which I published just over a week ago, you'll know that I plan to post one Hallowe'en / Horror related article each day, throughout the month of October, which will feature one horror movie per year from cinematic history, starting in 1895 and ending in 2016. This should average out at about four films per day, so you'll have plenty of choice for your macabre movie viewing as we count down the days to Hallowe'en on October 31st! ;-)

To get things started, in the first week of this blogathon, we went all the way back to the end of the 19th century for some of the earliest horror cinema ever recorded. The movies on day one were from 1895 - 1898 (inclusive) and featured beheadings, vampires, skeletons and nightmarish dreams. For my second article on day two of this series, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1899 - 1902 (inclusive) and those featured ghostly apparitions, aliens and selenites, plus a visit from the devil to a convent. In my next post on day three, I shared four films (again, one for each year) from 1903 - 1906 (inclusive) and those featured impish devils, demons and ghost brides, plus a man who practices entomology being pinned to a cork like an insect. For my fourth article on day four in this series of posts, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1907 - 1910 (inclusive) which featured evil spectres, haunted houses, plus the first filmed version of the story of Frankenstein's monster. Following that post, on day five, I shared four films (again, one per year) from 1911 - 1914 (inclusive) and those were all based on works of literature by either Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson or Edgar Allan Poe. Next up, on day six, four more films were shared (one for each year) from 1915 - 1918 (inclusive) and those included one about a spooky portrait, another about the victim of a kidnapping, plus a Faustian tale told from a female perspective and another about an artificial creature produced by a mad scientist. For my next post, on day seven, I (again) shared four more films (one for each year) from 1919 - 1922 (inclusive) and those featured an epic account of the horrors of war, plus tales of vampires and phantom carriages, as well as a hypnotist who used a somnambulist to commit acts of murder!

To kick-off the second week of my month-long blogathon, on day eight of this series, I shared another four films (again, one per year) from 1923 - 1926 (inclusive) and those included tales of hunchbacks, phantoms, and a pact with the devil plus a pianist whose hands were replaced by those of a murderer (following a train accident) after which he discovered they had a will of their own! For yesterday's post, on day nine, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1927 - 1930 (inclusive) and those included a truly stunning "mood piece" based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, along with the story of a master criminal who terrorized the occupants of an isolated country mansion, plus the creepiest, spookiest, mystery melodrama ever produced, with an early animated horror short thrown in for good measure. Today's post is set to feature... two American honeymooners trapped in the home of a Satan-worshipping priest, a colossal gorilla hitting the heights in New York with a movie starlet, a tale of love between a siren, a giant and a dwarf from a circus sideshow, plus the story of the strangest passion the world has ever known! As with the films shared previously in this series (bearing in mind the time period during which they were made) some may have visible signs of wear and tear but, despite this, they are all none the less watchable as further examples of early films whose influence can still be seen in far more modern movies from the horror genre...


First up today... is a feature-length film from the USA, directed by Tod Browning, the script for which was based on the infamous novel written by Bram Stoker but adapted from a play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. If you hadn't already guessed... I am (of course) referring to the vampire film "Dracula", which was released in 1931, and tells the story of the dashing, mysterious Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) who, after hypnotizing a British soldier - Renfield (Dwight Frye) - into becoming his mindless slave, then travels to London to take up residence in Carfax Abbey. Soon after his arrival, he begins to wreak havoc... sucking the blood of young women and turning them into vampires!

Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931) [Movie Still] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Dracula (1931) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Dracula (1931) [Alternative Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with a lot of these early films, we are fortunate to have free copies to watch on Roku devices... and, thanks to the internet, they are available on YouTube as well as other video streaming resources. Surprisingly, I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube' but it was available elsewhere online... so I'm sharing a link found on 'Vimeo' which you can stream online, or else via the Vimeo channel (on your Roku player) - enabling you to enjoy this horror classic on the big screen! Either way, here it is...

VIMEO LINK:- Dracula (1931) [IMDB Rating: 7.6]


Our next film today is another feature-length film from the USA, also directed by Tod Browning, and first released in 1932 under the title of "Freaks"... although variously known (informally) by the alternative titles of "Forbidden Love" and "Nature's Mistakes", as well as the original working title of "The Monster Show" - it tells the story of a circus trapeze artist, called Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), who takes an interest in Hans (Harry Earles), a midget that works in the circus sideshow. Her real interest however is in the money that Hans is about to inherit but, all the while, she is actually involved in a love affair with another performer - Hercules (Henry Victor). In the meantime... Hans' true fiancée, Frieda (Daisy Earles), does her best to convince him that he is being used - but to no avail. At their wedding party, a drunken Cleopatra tells the sideshow freaks just what she thinks of them. Then, together, the freaks decide to make her one of their own... for real!

Tod Browning (top centre) and the Cast of Freaks (1932) - PHOTO CREDIT:

Freaks (1932) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Freaks (1932) [Alternative Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Freaks (1932) [Alternative Poster #2] - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with "Dracula" (1931), this feature-length horror drama by Tod Browning is also available online, as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. This time, I'm reverting to 'YouTube' as my means of sharing this film with you. As before, you can watch it online, or else use the link to cast from your 'YouTube' app (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen. Either way, here's the link...

 YOUTUBE LINK:- Freaks (1932) [IMDB Rating: 8.0]


Our third film today is yet another feature-length movie from the USA... but, this time, directed by Merian C. Cooper with Ernest B. Schoedsack. "King Kong" was released in 1933, and tells the story of a film crew that, while on an exotic location shoot, discovers a colossal gorilla which takes a shine to their female star. The giant ape is captured and brought back to New York for public exhibition but it escapes... and all hell breaks loose, as the people of the city flee from the enormous wild beast!

King Kong (1933) [Movie Still] - PHOTO CREDIT:

King Kong (1933) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

King Kong (1933) [French Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Fortunately for us, like "Dracula" and "Freaks", this horror fantasy adventure from Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack is also widely available online and free-to-stream on Roku devices. Again, I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on another link, found on 'Dailymotion' for sharing it. As before, please feel free to watch this movie online, or use the details below to search for the film within the 'Dailymotion' channel (on your Roku player) and watch it on the big screen.

DAILYMOTION LINK:- King Kong (1933) [IMDB Rating: 8.0]


Our last film for today, is also a feature-length film from the USA... only, this time, it is directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Released in 1934, "The Black Cat" is an horror crime adventure suggested by the Edgar Allan Poe novella of the same name. In reality, while the film may have taken it's title from the short story by Poe, it shares little else in common with it. In fact, the screenplay was written by Peter Ruric [aka George Carol Sims] - an American screenwriter - and owes more to an original idea by the film's director than anything or anyone else. It tells the story of two American newlyweds who, while on honeymoon in Hungary, become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest, after the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident. However, it's the creepy atmosphere (rather than the plot) on which this movie thrives... with themes of jealousy, lust, revenge, murder & sadism all interwoven to great effect - not forgetting, it stars both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi! :-)

Bela Lugosi, Lucille Lund and Boris Karloff in The Black Cat (1934)

The Black Cat (1934) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

The Black Cat (1934) [Alternative Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

The Black Cat (1934) [Alternative Poster #2] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Anyway... you probably guessed already but, if not, this film (like the others from this article) is also available online and free-to-stream on Roku. Again, I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on another link, found on 'Dailymotion' for sharing it. As before, please feel free to watch this movie online, or use the details obtained from following the link (below) to search for the film within the 'Dailymotion' channel (on your Roku player) and watch it on the big screen.

DAILYMOTION LINK:- The Black Cat (1934) [IMDB Rating: 7.2]


Anyhow, that's all I've got time for today... but do remember to come back again tomorrow, for more macabre movies from the history of horror cinema, when I serve-up another batch of four films on 'Day Eleven' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" right here on this blog. Meanwhile... please be sure to visit the Countdown To Hallowe'en website and show your support for this annual online Hallowe'en extravaganza... PLUS don't forget to use the links you find there and check out all the other 'Cryptkeepers' taking part this year. I know they'll appreciate it if you visit their blogs & share your thoughts on the contribution(s) they've made.


BEFORE I GO: Don't forget that, aside from all the Hallowe'en / Horror-themed ghastliness going on around these parts for the next month, you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where you will find that up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku-related is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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