November 28, 2009

The Boris Karloff Blogathon : Day Six

Boris and Colin Clive share a quiet moment, away from the hubbub on the castle laboratory set of Bride of Frankenstein.

Day Six! Let’s go!

In Bedlam, we see Boris Karloff playing the most despicable and evil character he ever portrayed during his career.

Steve Miller contemplates the glorious villainy and the dastardly goodness of Bedlam, on The Boris Karloff Collection.

Something that has surprised me about the Blogathon this week is the lack of Frankenstein film reviews. The character, of course, is often mentioned, it’s an inescapable reference, but we’ve explored many Karloff films here, and no Frankensteins!

Bill Adcock remedies the situation on the spot, with his consideration of Boris’ final Monster turn in Son of Frankenstein. On Radiation-Scarred Reviews.

Orrin Grey, who still insists he’s a skeleton, makes his wrap-up post, with a list of his favorite Blogathon entries from the past week. On Who Killed Orrin Grey?

Fun post on Six-Shooter: A look at the Boris Karloff Collector Figure from Amok Time. Comes with three interchangeable heads!

Two posts from Filo Loco: First, a look inside the Film Classic Library book of Frankenstein, edited by Richard J. Anobile. An indispensable series, in the pre-computer and DVD freeze-frame and screen capture days of the mid-70’s.

Also on Deadlicious, a selection of oddball Frankentoyz. Love ‘em!

No sooner had The Raven gone out in 1963 that AIP quickly followed with The Comedy of Terrors, reuniting, the ads said, our “favorite creeps”. Vincent Price and Peter Lorre play an Abbot and Costello duo of murderous undertakers, with Boris enjoying himself as a cackling, out-to-lunch grandpa, and Basil Rathbone thrown in to chew whatever scenery was left over. Old school comic Joe E. Brown and the “abundantly blessed” Joyce Jameson round out the main cast.

Paul Castiglia sorts it all out for us, on Scared Silly.

Gold Key comics used to really stand out on the racks because of their fully painted covers, as opposed to the flat, four-color jobs with black ink outlines you saw on all the other comic books. Gary Lee posts a gallery of great covers from Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. On Gary’s Goods.

John Rozum has some short and snappy Karloff-related posts up on his blog, just click around. And check out his superb Karloff collage.

A full filmed bio: Draven posts the documentary Boris Karloff, The Gentle Monster in five parts, on Dravens Tales.

Boris Karloff always said he wanted to keep going ‘till the end. He didn’t need the money, it’s just that acting was what he did. Fighting emphysema and arthritis, he troopered on, popping out of his wheelchair to the set whenever the director yelled, “Action!”. His next to last job, in April 1968, was shooting four films worth of material in three busy weeks in Los Angeles, with the rest of it to be filmed later, on Mexican soundstages.

Gareth Walters reports on the trials of filming Fear Chamber, on The Amazing Movie Show.

I love the tea reference in Dave Lowe’s Karloff cartoon, on Para Abnormal.

A beautiful shot of the stunning waterfall set from Bride of Frankenstein (1935), one of the Karloff/Frankenstein images I posted today on my picture blog, Monster Crazy.

By 1945, Boris was a favorite guest on radio variety shows, and always good-humoredly willing to poke fun at himself. Listen to him spar with “America’s No. 1 Quip Master”, comic Fred Allen, on Hilarity Ensues, posted on Orange and Black.

He was not just a horror star, he was, first and foremost, a damn fine actor. Writer David Rattigan appreciates Karloff’s subtle handling of over-the-top characters. With a fine clip from Targets. On Rattigan Writes.

My friend Max’ Drunken Severed Head blog is devoted to everything horrible, including Max’s jokes. It’s a giddy celebration of monsters and Halloween, oddball news and everything cockeyed in pop culture. But for all the kamikaze brilliance and the inspired silliness on display, sometimes Max has a brief episode of lucidity, as if his meds just kicked in.

We’re treated to one of Max’ magical moments today as he shares a true and truly touching story. Read The Day Boris Karloff Came Back From the Dead, Just for Me.

Thank you, Max.

A Dave Kirwan caricature of the older, Thriller and Invisible Bikini era Boris, cross-posted on Kirdoodle, blog and tumbler versions.

Boris as Santa? More Karloff quotes, illustrated with stills, on Weird Hollow.

Frankenstein’s Monster awoke to a life of misery. The actor who played him awoke to celebrity status. Thoughts, posted on This Woman’s Work.

Today’s art interpretation, by J. Mendez, is a Friendly Boris, a Monster in daytime. On The Ladies and Gents Auxiliary.

I was always found this ad for GE clocks a bit disturbing, with Karloff posing sans his trademark bushy brows, and his hair badly drawn in. A little detecting and I found that this originally ran in Life magazine, in August of 1937. Bingo! Boris was then filming West of Shanghai in which, as Warlord Fang, he sports thin, painted-on eyebrows and a tall forehead.

This is just one of the wonderful ads featured in Mike Segretto’s hilarious article about Boris The Pitchman. Read Boris Sells Out!, on Psychobabble.

Ed Howard tackles the “fascinating and problematic” 1932 thriller, The Mask of Fu Manchu, addressing the film’s racism and lurid sexual undercurrents. It’s a top-notch analysis of “an utterly bizarre movie”, on Only the Cinema.

What are the facts behind “The Strange Case of the Monster’s Home Run”? Deadly Movies investigates! A fun and fond look back Boris’ participation in the legendary All-Star Charity Baseball Game of 1940.

Grab a hold of something. Here’s Nate Yapp’s monumental contribution, a video tribute to Boris Karloff's Mad Scientist roles, set toFrontier Psychiatrist” by The Avalanches.

I want to thank Nate for allowing me to post the video here. Visit Nate’s for more details about it.

Thanks, Nate. This one is a mind-blower!

Boris and Bela go head to head! Jeannette Laredo evaluates the two horror stars and their collaboration in The Raven and The Black Cat. Read Clash of the Titans on the scholarly and beautifully designed Monster Land.

Of all the films he made in a movie career spanning six decades, Boris Karloff was also in a little number called Frankenstein. Look closely at this film”, writes Bill Adcock. “This, along with DRACULA (also 1931) marks the birth of American horror cinema.” On Radiation-Scarred Reviews.

Bill Ryan examines Karloff’s career as a movie mad scientist, a resuscitator and a relentless enemy of death, and how prolonging life in these films ends up, well, costing lives. The Man They Could Not Hang and Before I Hang, deconstructed on The Kind of Face You Hate.

Karloff and director Mario Bava shared a mutual admiration. Peeping Tom reports (in Italian) on the making of Black Sabbath on Lost Eyeways and posts wonderful behind the scenes photos on his tumblelog, Peeping Tom.

On Fear Fragments, an overview of Boris’ amazing career, from the 1995 A&E biography. Read The Gentle Monster.

Possibly the best of the Charlie Chan movies, it’s especially memorable for having Boris Karloff belting out opera tunes in a cat-eared skullcap and a sequined mask. Ivan G. Shreve Jr. turns a spotlight on Charlie Chan at the Opera, on Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

There’s an unusual Karloff triple-bill playing on Need Coffee dot com. There’s John Ford’s The Lost Patrol, with Boris giving one of his best performances as a religious fanatic. You can see the notorious Mask of Fu Manchu, and then there’s The House of Rothschild, an historical drama, with Karloff essaying one of the most monstrous characters he ever played, Baron Ledranz, a vicious, despicable anti-Semite.

Stay up tonight and watch some Karloff movies!


John Rozum said...

Thanks again for managing this blogathon, Pierre. I'm enjoying your tea cup photos, and the many links I've been able to check out so far. I'm impressed by the diversity.

Bill said...

I have two more posts forthcoming for the Blogathon, reviewing Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. I'm doing them out of order since I really want to save Bride of Frankenstein for last.

Steve Miller said...

I wonder if the lack of Frankenstein-goodness is because many thought like I did: "EVERYONE will be writing about Frankenstein, so I'll try to do something different."

So, we all ended up exploring more obscure Karloff films and moments.

Holger Haase said...

I can't say I am too surprised about the lack of Frankenstein posts. Karloff had such a huge and wide career, so it is fun to explore some of the less travelled roads. Frankenstein, important as it is, has been analysed and written about so many times it is hard to find any aspect of it that hasn't been covered dozens of times. So I find natural that people concentrate on some of the other aspects of his oeuvre.

Pierre Fournier said...

I think you're right, Steve.

Now, what I'd REALLY like to see an article about Colonel March!

Pierre Fournier said...

And I agree with you, too, Holger!

Holger Haase said...

Ah, COLONEL MARCH, yes, that would be fun. I think I saw one ep ages ago in the New York Museum of Television and Radio. Is the series actually available in some shape or form?

Once the blogathon is finished it would be nice to eventually see an organised list of entries that roughly covers his career chronologically. Once the entries are organised that way, the blogathon would nearly make for an awesome online book of his life and career.

You really created something very special with this event, Pierre.

Pierre Fournier said...

Thank you very much, Holger. I must say I am overwhelmed — in the best sense of the word — with the response, and the quality of so many contributions.

Col March, dubbed in French, was a hugely popular series here (in Québec). To this day, I know people who, when they hear Boris’s name, will think of Col. March first and foremost!

Dr. Charles Forbin said...

Out of curiosity, has anyone mentioned Targets?

I always thought this was a very apropos codicil to Karloff's career, where the classic horror film actor comes face to face with modern horror, and walks away in disgust.

It's only made better by stories that Karloff agreed to work extra days for free on the film because he could appreciate what Bogdonavich was doing....

Peeping Tom said...

Sure, Dr. Forbin
A couple short essays about Targets here:

Sorry, only italian language.

Dr. Charles Forbin said...

Thanks, I found a very nice essay about Targets in the blogathon from Monday, in Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies.

Let's hear it for Roger Corman, who enabled this film because he had 2 days of Karloff left over from another film, and Bogdanovich who seized the opportunity.

Peeping Tom said...

I think Targets is a great movie and the Karloff's performance is one of the more mature and touching in his career.

Greg said...

Pierre, family is here still and will be through next week but I'm going to get something in for the last day of the blogathon, promise. Put up a pic just now but wanted you to know that's not the entirety of my participation as it would be pretty pathetic if it was.

senski said...

The Bride of Frankenstein still looks like a work of religious art...

Jack Ruttan said...

These posts are fun. My grandmother's sister married Boris Karloff, but I've got no connection or momentos, outside of maybe a "thank you" in a Karloff biography which I don't know has found a publisher or not.

Peter Bernard said...

"Targets" is one of my favorite films of all time. I recommend it constantly but people only rarely come back to me in amazement thanking me. Nobody yet who has watched it has not been stunned.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Thank you VERY MUCH Pierre, for the kind introductory comments about my Karloff entry!

This blogathon is one of the best events of the year real or virtual!