Friday, October 14, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 14: Faceless Killers, Secrets & Avarice (1947-1950)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Fourteen' 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 the lights... and enjoy a few frights! :-O

If you read my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - which I published at the end of September, then you'll know that I plan to post one Hallowe'en / Horror related article each day, throughout the month of October, and to 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! ;-)

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! Then for my next 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. After that, on day ten, I shared four more films (again, one for each year) from 1931 - 1934 (inclusive) and those told various tales of terror, including: 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! Following on from there, on day eleven, I shared four more films (one per year, as before) from 1935 - 1938 (inclusive) and those featured the story of an escaped convict who used miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him, more tales of the horrors of war, and a Chinese ghost story (of sorts) plus the film which, when first released, was billed as the super shocker of the twentieth century! In the subsequent post, which I made on day twelve, four more films were shared (one per year) from 1939 - 1942 (inclusive) featuring strange creatures such as Werewolves, Cat People and The Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as some light-hearted comic relief (of the horror variety) courtesy of Bob Hope! Yesterday... the four films that I shared, on day thirteen, were from 1943 - 1946 (inclusive) and there was (again) one film per year - as there has been for each of my previous posts from this series. That batch of macabre movies included films about ghosts, zombies, and severed hands, plus what is widely believed to be the forerunner of all the horror anthology films that would follow it - and I'm proud to say that it was a British film, from Ealing Studios! Anyway, for today's post, we are set to feature four more films that span the years from 1947 - 1950 (inclusive) with one movie per year (as with previous posts). These include tales of faceless killers, hidden secrets and human avarice, plus further light-hearted comic relief (of the horror variety) courtesy of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello! Just like the other movies shared (thus far) in this series (bearing in mind the time period during which they were made) some do have visible signs of wear and tear, but they are none the less watchable as further examples of early films whose influence can still be seen in far more modern horror movies...


First up today... is a feature-length film from the USA, directed by Fritz Lang, that comes across like a Freudian version of the Bluebeard tale and, if anything, can be considered a little more 'Film-Noir' than true "horror" per se... with a dash of drama and mystery thrown in for good measure! Released in 1947, "Secret Beyond the Door..." was based on the book of the same name by Rufus King, and tells the tale of a young New Yorker who goes to Mexico on vacation, where she finds her dream man to whom she is married within a matter of days. When the honeymoon is over, she moves into the mansion owned by her handsome, mysterious new spouse and soon uncovers many secrets about the house - as well as making some startling discoveries about her new husband - but, what she really wants to know is... what lies behind the door of the one room that he always keeps locked?!

Michael Redgrave and Joan Bennett in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)

PLEASE NOTE:- That, although credited to the L.A. Times, the above image actually comes from the book "Into the Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir" which may interest some of you out there.

Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT: L.A.M.P.

Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) [Alternative Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT: Film Noir of the Week

Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) [Alternative Poster #2] - PHOTO CREDIT: TERROR

Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) [Alternative Poster #3] - 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. So, please feel free to watch this movie online, or else use the link to cast it from your 'YouTube' app (via Roku player) and watch on the big screen for maximum shock value! Either way, here it is...

YOUTUBE LINK:- Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) [IMDB Rating: 6.8]


Our next film today is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, it was directed by 
Charles T. Barton, and first released in 1948 as "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" - although other "Universal Monsters" have strong supporting roles in this movie, too! Based upon an original screenplay written by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo and John Grant, this comedy fantasy horror somehow finds two hapless freight handlers, Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) in a real house of horrors with Dracula (Bela Lugosi), the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) and Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) [aka The Wolf Man] all running rampant, during the full moon!

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
PHOTO CREDIT: Outspoken and Freckled

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [Movie Poster]

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [Alternative Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: 3 Guys 1 Movie

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [Alternative Poster #2]

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [Alternative Poster #3]

Just like "Secret Beyond the Door..." (1947), this horror fantasy comedy by Charles T. Barton is also available online, as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. Unfortunately, I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on another link, found on 'Dailymotion', to share this with you. Again, please feel free to watch this movie online, or else use the details obtained from the link (shown below) to search for the film within the 'Dailymotion' channel (on your Roku player) and watch it on the big screen. Whichever method you choose, here's the link to stream it...

DAILYMOTION LINK: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) [IMDB Rating: 7.6]


Our third film today is a horror drama from the UK, directed by Thorold Dickinson, and released in 1949 under the original title of "The Queen of Spades"... it was adapted for the screen by Rodney Ackland and Arthur Boys from the short story of the same name, written by Alexander Pushkin, that was first published in 1834. It tells a tale of human avarice involving The Old Countess Ranevskaya (Edith Evans), who strikes a bargain with the devil and exchanges her soul for the ability to always win at cards. Army officer, Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook), who is also fanatical about card games, then murders her for the secret... only to find himself haunted by the woman's spirit!

Anton Walbrook in The Queen of Spades (1949) [Movie Still]

The Queen of Spades (1949) [Movie Poster]

Try, as I did, to find a copy of this (free, or paid) that could be streamed on Roku devices... I'm sorry to say that, in the case of "The Queen of Spades" (1949) [dir. Thorold Dickinson], I was unsuccessful in my endeavours. Being a British film, I hoped someone from the BFI might have made it available for online viewing, or that Criterion would weigh in & preserve this wonderful piece of movie history for us... but, I'm said to say, it was all to no avail! The only thing I can offer you, in this instance, is a short (02m 43s) film trailer which I found on 'YouTube' while looking for a source for this movie:-

YOUTUBE LINK:- The Queen of Spades (1949) [N.B. FILM TRAILER ONLY]


Our last film for today, is a feature-length film from Mexico, directed by Juan Bustillo Oro, which was first released in 1950, under the original title of "El Hombre Sin Rostro", although British audiences may (perhaps) be more familiar with this horror, mystery, thriller under the world-wide English title, "The Man Without a Face", which was also the one used for the U.S. release in 1951. This is a very dream-like and atmospheric movie, with an extremely "moody" prologue, that tells the tale of a faceless killer who preys on women and the detective who wants to catch him, but is plagued by nightmare visions about elusive stalker while also haunted by a disturbing past of his own!

El Hombre Sin Rostro [aka The Man Without a Face] (1950) [Movie Poster]

Anyway... given the origins of this movie, it will (most likely) come as no surprise for you to learn that "El Hombre Sin Rostro" [aka The Man Without a Face] proved to be even tougher to find than "The Queen of Spades" which preceded it and, consequently I have (again) drawn a blank. The only thing I can offer you, once more, is a short (01m 31s) film clip which I found on 'YouTube' while looking for a source for this movie. Again, please feel free to watch this online, or else use the link to cast it from 'YouTube' (via Roku player) and watch on the big screen! Either way, here it is...

YOUTUBE LINK:- El Hombre Sin Rostro (1950) [N.B. FILM CLIP ONLY]


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 Fifteen' 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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