Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 16: Devils, Dracula & Demonic Curses! (1955-1958)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Sixteen' 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 those lights... and get on with the 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!

Then, as we entered week three of this month-long blogathon... on day fifteen, I shared another four films (again, one for each year) from 1951 - 1954 (inclusive) and those featured a dinosaur-like beast out to destroy the world, an artist (out for revenge) who created wax sculptures from human cadavers, a woman who visited her local shaman and was turned into a white reindeer vampire, plus... the tale of the thing that turns your blood ice-cold, as it creeps and crawls, then strikes without warning! For today's post, I will be sharing four more films (one per year) from 1955 - 1958 (inclusive) and these are set to include tales of of a sadistic boarding school headmaster whose wife and mistress conspire to kill him, as well as a doctor with a demonic curse put upon him by a devil cult leader, and another story involving Count Dracula, plus the most awesome fate that ever happened to earth people, with the invasion of the body snatchers from another world! As with 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 France, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, which was released in 1955 under the original title of "Les Diaboliques" and variously known as "The Devils" or "The Fiends" in assorted locales but, for British and American audiences, they simply shortened it to "Diabolique" - rather than using a direct translation. Anyway, this horror crime drama tells the story of a sadistic boarding school headmaster, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), whose wife and mistress both plot to kill him... which they manage to achieve but, after dumping his body, they later discover that the corpse has disappeared while subsequent reported sightings of the headmaster slowly drive his wife, Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot), and his mistress, Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) to the brink of insanity as this gripping psychological thriller builds-up to an almost unbearable climax!

Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret in Les Diaboliques [aka Diabolique] (1955)

Les Diaboliques [aka Diabolique] (1955) [Movie Poster]

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:- Les Diaboliques [aka Diabolique] (1955) [IMDB Rating: 8.1]


Our next film today is a feature-length film from the USA, directed by Don Siegel, and first released in 1956 as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"... in which Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) finds, on returning to his small town practice one day, that several of his patients are suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. Despite initial skepticism, after some persuasion, he then accepts something odd has happened and determines to find out more about this phenomenon, which is causing the population of his community to be replaced by emotionless alien duplicates!

Dana Wynter and Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

As with "House of Wax", yesterday, this is one of those movies which you will only get to watch on Roku devices by making some form of payment for it. There are two services, of which I am aware, that are (currently) offering this film for streaming via their Roku channel. The first is 'NowTV', who have made it available through Sky Cinema, which is part of their "Movies Month Pass" - so, if you already have that, then you're good to go! :-) If not, you can easily add the 'NowTV' channel to your Roku device(s) via the "Featured" or "Most Popular" categories of the Roku UK channel store. Here is what the channel icon looks like, so you can spot it more easily as you scroll through either genre:-

The other service offering this film is 'Amazon Video', who are (currently) offering an SD rental for £2.49 and an HD rental for £3.49, as well as providing additional purchasing options, i.e. buying the movie (to own it) for a higher price. You may also be pleased to hear that you don't have to be Prime Members in order to rent this film via 'Amazon Video' from Amazon UK and watch it on Roku! :-)

AMAZON VIDEO LINK:- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Movie Rental VIA AMAZON UK

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

Ultimately, it's down to the individual Roku user to decide which service works best for them... because both have this movie available. 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 third film today is a fantasy horror mystery from the UK, directed by Jacques Tourneur, and released in 1957 under the original title, "Night of the Demon"... although U.S. audiences are probably more familiar with it under the alternative title, "Curse of the Demon", which is the name used when this movie was released in the USA. Either way, it tells the story of Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews) who ventures to London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium, with the intention of exposing devil cult leader Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). Holden is a skeptic and does not believe in Karswell's power. Nevertheless, he accepts an invitation to stay at Karswell's estate, along with Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), niece of Holden's confidant who was electrocuted in a bizarre automobile accident. Karswell secretly slips a parchment into Holden's papers that might possibly be a death curse. Recurring strange events strike fear into Holden, who believes his only hope is to return the parchment to Karswell, thereby breaking the demonic curse!

WITH THANKS TO: Rick Gregory for his contribution to the storyline.

Night of the Demon [aka Curse of the Demon] (1957)

Night of the Demon [aka Curse of the Demon] (1957) [Movie Poster]

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. Unlike our first movie today, "Les Diaboliques" [aka Diabolique] I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on another link, which I 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: Night of the Demon [aka Curse of the Demon] (1957) [IMDB Rating: 7.6]


Our last film for today, is another feature-length film from the UK... but, this time, it was directed by Terence Fisher, and first released in 1958, under the original title of "Dracula", although audiences in the USA are more likely to know this fantasy horror by the alternative title, "Horror of Dracula", as that was the one used for the U.S. release of the film. Anyway, this movie tells the story of Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) who begets the ire of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) when he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretences. After Harker's incident with Dracula, the vampire travels to a nearby town, where he preys on the family of Harker's fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), who is Harker's friend and fellow-student of vampires, and is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost!

Christopher Lee in Dracula [aka Horror of Dracula] (1958)

Dracula [aka Horror of Dracula] (1958) [Movie Poster]

Anyway... you probably guessed already but, if not, this film (like the others from this article) is also available online and can be easily streamed on Roku devices. Again, I was unable to find this film on 'YouTube' but, as with "Night of the Demon" above, I was able to find an alternative 'Dailymotion' link that I can share with you. 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. Either way, here is where to find it...

DAILYMOTION LINK: Dracula [aka Horror of Dracula] (1958) [IMDB Rating: 7.4]


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 Seventeen' 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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