Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 15: Aliens, Monsters, Vampires & Wax! (1951-1954)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Fifteen' 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 some more 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 - a British film, from Ealing Studios! Yesterday, on day fourteen, I shared four more films spanning the years from 1947 to 1950 (inclusive) with one movie per year (as previously) Those included faceless killers, hidden secrets and a tale of human avarice, plus further light-hearted comedy (of the 'tongue-in-cheek' horror variety) courtesy of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello!

Today, as we enter week three of this month-long blogathon, I will be sharing four more films (again, one for each year) from 1951 - 1954 (inclusive) and those are set to feature a dinosaur-like beast out to destroy the world, a vengeful artist creating wax sculptures from human cadavers, a woman who visits her local shaman and is turned into a white reindeer vampire, plus... the thing that will turn your blood ice-cold, as it creeps and crawls, then strikes without warning! 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 Christian Nyby & Howard Hawks, which was released in 1951 under the original title of "The Thing from Another World" and tells the story of some scientists at a remote research station in the Arctic who discover an alien spacecraft buried in the ice. They uncover the frozen body of the pilot and take him back to the research station where all hell breaks loose after the alien organism is accidentally thawed out. The question is... do they destroy their only contact with alien life in order to survive, or risk being killed themselves?!

James Arness in The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing from Another World (1951) [Movie Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: The Stalking Moon

The Thing from Another World (1951) [Alternative Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: The Observation Deck

The Thing from Another World (1951) [French / Dutch Poster]

The Thing from Another World (1951) [Alternative Poster #2]

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 through various online streaming sources. 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: The Thing from Another World (1951) [IMDB Rating: 7.3]


Our next film today is a feature-length film from Finland, directed by Erik Blomberg, and first released in 1952 under the original title of "Valkoinen Peura"... although, it is (perhaps) better known to British audiences as "The White Reindeer", which was the world-wide English title used for this fantasy horror drama. Although it starts out innocent enough, with a newly-wed woman going to the local shaman for help with her love-life... she ends up getting turned into a white reindeer vampire!

Mirjami Kuosmanen in Valkoinen Peura [aka The White Reindeer] (1952)

Valkoinen Peura [aka The White Reindeer] (1952)

As with a couple of the films in yesterday's post, I struggled to find any online resources from which to stream this movie through Roku devices. Unfortunately, this means the only thing I can offer you, once again, are a couple of short film clips which I found on 'YouTube' whilst looking for this movie. Again, please feel free to watch them online, or else use the link(s) to cast the video from 'YouTube' (via Roku player) and watch on the big screen! Either way, here they are...

01. MOVIE CLIP:- The White Reindeer (1952) - Reindeer Sacrifice - [RUN TIME: 03m 28s]

02. CUSTOM TRAILER:- Valkoinen Peura [The White Reindeer] (1952) [RUN TIME: 01m 57s]

It may further interest you to know that the "custom" trailer above was actually produced to promote a French re-issue of this film on DVD, some five or six years ago now. Either way, with no full movie available, I felt the combination of these two 'YouTube' videos was a reasonable way to convey the storyline and visuals used in the making of this film - as well as featuring some notable highlights! ;-)


Our third film today is a crime fantasy horror from the USA, directed by André De Toth, and released in 1953 as "House of Wax" - despite having the working title of "The Wax Works" - and it tells the story of Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price)... an artist who produces wax sculptures and happens to specialize in historical tableau's. His business partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts), needs to see more of a return on his investment and asks Henry to create some more lurid exposés - for instance, a House of Horrors - to draw bigger crowds. When Jarrod refuses, Burke sets the place on fire... hoping to claim on the insurance. Many believe the professor has died in the fire until, some 18 months later, he opens a new exhibit. This time, however, his displays focus on the macabre and, unbeknown to those around him, he has developed a very particular way of making his latest wax creations!

Vincent Price and Phyllis Kirk in House of Wax (1953)

House of Wax (1953) [Movie Poster]

Now you may recall my mentioning in my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - published at the end of September... that, whenever possible, I would endeavour to provide links that were free-to-stream on Roku devices BUT that some of the films may require Pay-Per-View (PPV) rental fees and/or a subscription to an online streaming service. Well, it just so happens that this is one of those movies which you will only get to watch on Roku devices by making a payment for it. There are two services, of which I am aware, that are (currently) offering an SD rental for £2.49 and both provided additional purchasing options, such as buying the movie (to own it) for a higher price. The first of these is 'Amazon Video' from Amazon UK and, you'll be pleased to hear that you don't have to be a Prime Member in order to rent this film through their Roku channel! :-)

AMAZON VIDEO LINK:- House of Wax (1953) Movie Rental VIA AMAZON UK

The complete range of purchasing options for this film, from Amazon Video UK, are as follows:-

The other option for watching "House of Wax" (1953) is via Wuaki.TV (UK) which can also be found in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and is identified by the following channel icon:-

WUAKI.TV (UK) LINK:- House of Wax (1953) Movie Rental VIA WUAKI.TV

The rental price starts at £2.49 for SD streaming, which is the same for both services. Ultimately, it's down to the individual Roku user to decide which service works best for them... because both of them have this movie available at the same price. Some of you may prefer the user interface (UI) of one over the other... or, you may already have an account set-up with one of them - making it just that little bit easier to complete your PPV rental purchase. Essentially, though, these are your only two options for watching this movie on UK Roku devices (at the time of writing). If I hear of any free, or cheaper, alternatives... then I'll update this post with the necessary information.


Our last film for today, is a feature-length film from Japan, directed by Ishirô Honda, which was first released in 1954, under the original title of "Gojira", although British audiences may (perhaps) be more familiar with this horror, sci-fi, drama under the world-wide English title, "Godzilla", which was also the one used for the U.S. release. This film tells the story of how nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast which threatens to destroy not only Japan but the rest of the world, with it! Can this monster be destroyed before it's too late?!

Takashi Shimura and Momoko Kôchi in Gojira [aka Godzilla] (1954)

Gojira [aka Godzilla] (1954) [Movie Poster]

Just like most of the films featured so far, this horror sci-fi drama by Ishirô Honda is also available online, as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. Unfortunately, I was not able to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on other links, found on 'Dailymotion', to share this with you. For some reason, the original uploader has chosen to split the movie into two (roughly equal) parts, so you'll need both links in order to watch the whole movie. Just think of the break in the middle as a regular intermission and go get some popcorn! ;-) Also: feel free to watch this online, or else use the details obtained from the links (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 links to stream it...

DAILYMOTION LINK (PART ONE):- Gojira [aka Godzilla] (1954) [RUN TIME: 47m 52s]

DAILYMOTION LINK (PART TWO):- Gojira [aka Godzilla] (1954) [RUN TIME: 48m 23s]

PLEASE NOTE:- That this version has an ENGLISH LANGUAGE AUDIO DUB that comes across as rather robotic at times - imagine listening to Stephen Hawking's "voice", especially when the male characters deliver their lines, and you'll see what I mean! Aside from that, the picture quality is pretty good for a film from this period - so, it's a bit of a mixed bag. :-/ Unfortunately, this was the only version I was able to find online that was free-to-stream - so, take it or leave it, but... it is what it is! ;-)


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 Sixteen' 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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