November 29, 2009

The Boris Karloff Blogathon : Day Seven

There’s a fresh pot of tea on, just for Boris, here on the set of Son of Frankenstein, as we begin the last day, the final chapter of the Boris Karloff Blogathon.

It’s safe to say that all of us who have congregated here this week are fond of Boris Karloff. We’ve celebrated his life and his career because we admire him and, yes, many of us could even say that we love Boris Karloff. Greg Ferrara does, too, and he says so, but his intelligent, mature essay is not about love or sentimentality. It’s not about our hearts. It’s about Boris Karloff’s heart.
You must read The Heart of an Actor: Why I Love Boris Karloff, on Cinema Styles.

There’s something on the cover of Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery No. 32 that no other comic book could show. There’s also something missing. Something that every other comic book carried on its cover.
Steve Senski discusses Gold Key’s Boris Karloff comics, and the Comics Code in The Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead, on Heart in a Jar.

Filo Loco posts a picture of Boris wearing an early, unused version of the makeup for the original Frankenstein, and he has a little Karloff-related contest going, with chocolate for a prize! On the always savory Deadlicious.

Even Paul Castiglia, our esteemed expert on Hollywood’s horror-comedies, over at Scared Silly, can’t quite make sense out of the nonsensical The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Then again, it’s an AIP Beach movie starring Boris Karloff. Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense! Worth noting that this one has the obligatory Harvey Lembeck as Eric von Zipper, it’s got Nancy Sinatra, and Basil Rathbone. It also has Susan Hart in an invisible bikini, and it’s got a gorilla named Monstro. Told you. It doesn’t make any sense.

Stacia, at She Blogged by Night, loves the concept, digs the corpse-powered lab (who wouldn’t?), but wasn’t all that impressed by Boris’ 1941 Mad Scientist programmer The Devil Commands, and she spells out why.

Daedalus Howell namechecks Boris, and comes up with some fun results, including a Salvador Dali connection, and stars in a sidewalk. A Karloff by Any Other Name.

A Karloff quote, courtesy of Todd Franklin, at Weird Hollow.

Newspaper ads for Karloff movies. Excuse the cliché, but they sure don’t make newspaper ads like those anymore! Visit Scenes from the Morgue.

A selection of Karloff stills and colorful lobby cards on John’s Forbidden Planet.

When my makeup is off, I’m really quite cute… Boris and Bela sing! Listen to “We’re Horrible, Horrible Men”, on Ormsby’s Cinema Insane Blog.

In The Man Who Changed His Mind (UK, 1936), Karloff has found a way to download — so to speak — the brain’s “thought content”, sort of like brain swapping without the messy surgery. Robert Ring explores the precepts of the mad scientist genre, and how this particular film deals with issues of morality and the nature of evil. A fascinating review, on Sci-Fi Block.

Writer Ryan Harvey makes a case for Imhotep, the sorcerer “whose love has lasted through eternity, but whose humanity has left him” as Karloff’s finest performance. Read Uncanny, on Realm of Ryan.

If, for some inexplicable reason, you’ve never actually seen Frankenstein, you can now do so online, courtesy of Dravens Tales.

William Henry Pratt came from England to Hollywood by way of Canada, landing in Montreal, heading out to Toronto and, from there, stepping across the country, heading west. Somewhere along the way — on a train, as he recalled — Billy Pratt became Boris Karloff. Read The Cold Canadian Air, on Orange and Black.

We know Boris Karloff through his work, and we understand his work — much as we have here this past week — through the words of writers, essayists, critics, film historians and experts who have shared their expertise in print.
John Cozzoli, the generous host of the elegant Zombos’ Closet of Horror, goes looking for Boris in the pages of a shelf-full of books for us. Read Chapters on Boris the Uncanny.

Hal Astell is that most readable of critics: He really loves the films he covers, and he communicates his enjoyment. Hal offers up his smart and entertaining reviews of three Karloff classics…
First up is The Black Room (1935), with Karloff in a rare dual part, shining, obviously, as the more evil of the twins. Best line, splashed across the original poster: Kiss Him and Die!
Next is The Boogeyman Will Get You (1936), a comedy “as joyous as it is improbable”, with Karloff’s shenanigans gleefully supported by Peter Lorre. Best line, spoken by Boris: “You almost ruined my electric helmet!
Then there’s Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936), with Boris as a baritone gone bonkers, and Warner Oland using his wits and then advanced technology to snare him. Best line in this one: “This opera is going on tonight even if Frankenstein walks in!
If you came for the Karloff reviews, you’ll want to stay for all of Hal’s reviews, on his blog, Apocalypse Later.

Mike Jones introduces us to Kaibutsu-Kun, The Little Monsters, stars of manga, recordings and anime. There’s a tiger-like werewolf, a flying monkey in a top hat Dracula, and Frankenstein’s box-headed Monster, who growls and grunts like Boris did. You have GOT to watch the trailer. Godzilla puts in a cameo!
Also from Mike, aka Michael Sensei, is a look at bobble-head toys, including a Boris Mummy and a Boris Furankenshutain! On the always fun My Two Yen Worth.

A striking monochrome painting of The Monster, captured in acrylics as he makes his first baleful appearance. On Rouble Rust.

Reanimated Rags honors “Boris Karloff's gender-bending, undead glam-mummy fashion metamorphosis”. A celebration of that dreamboat Imhotep, turkish slippers, harem pants, and black kohl eyeliner. What a fun post!

Though it wasn’t the very last film he made, Targets (1968) remains, unarguably, “the one movie that serves as a fitting epitaph” for Boris Karloff. So writes Steven Senski, about Karloff’s self-referential Byron Orlock, “a part that cleaves so close to the truth as to be bittersweet, if not downright sorrowful.”
Read Epitaph, a wonderful contribution, on this last evening of the Blogathon. On Heart in a Jar.

There’s a wealth of great posts up on Adam Gott’s superlative Cool-Mo-Dee. You can click through and explore, or follow me as I spotlight the highlights!
First up, print material, and a fantastic find! Here’s a 1941 article from Liberty magazine called Houses I Have Haunted, attributed to Boris himself. I suspect it was ghosted by a PR man but, anyway, it’s LOADED with material that has been quoted ever since, including his first viewing of Frankenstein, a story about the 1940 All-Star Baseball game, and a line about playing Santa Claus at a Baltimore hospital during tryouts for Arsenic and Old Lace that has since become something like an urban legend claiming that Boris played Santa in Baltimore for sick children every year thereafter.
Here’s another rarely seen print article: A 1946 “Movie of the Week” feature from Life magazine about Bedlam, with great photos. And also from Life, here’s the complete March 15, 1968 issue that celebrated the 150th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with Boris and a birthday cake on the cover.
Boris Karloff and Saturday Morning offers up some Karloff animated fun, including a couple of must-sees, The Daydreamer and Juggler of Our Lady. Old Time Radio fans will enjoy episodes of Duffy’s Tavern and Creeps By Night, and you can hear Boris narrate Rip Van Winkle.
Boris on TV is on view. See episodes of Tales of Tomorrow: Past Tense, Colonel March of Scotland Yard, and Thriller!
Plenty of movie treats on Cool-Mo-Dee: There are trailers for Black Sabbath and Frankenstein 1970 (made in ’58), and complete, full-length movies: There’s British Intelligence from 1940, two Mr. Wong programmers, The Fatal Hour and Doomed to Die, and one of Boris’ final features, The Incredible Invasion. Rarely seen, here’s Boris’ Indian adventure, Sabaka, and, my personal recommendation: The Ghoul, Boris’ first British feature, from 1933. It's genuinely hair-raising in spots, and it’s got Ernest Thesiger.
And finally, a couple of fun posts: Boris doing a cocktail mix ad, and for vintage horror fans, an unofficial Mummy Soundtrack album you can download.
All of it, up on Cool-Mo-Dee! Thanks, Adam, for a fabulous week’s worth of contributions!

Karloff’s Frankenstein films have been reviewed, analyzed and poked at over and over again, so it’s very refreshing to read a new review of Son of Frankenstein by someone who didn’t, until recently, that the film even existed! No baggage here, no preconceptions. Just a fresh, new appraisal. On Things That Don’t Suck.

Mike Segretto did his homework and came up with 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Boris Karloff, another wonderful post from Psychobabble.

I hope this great still of the pre-Frankenstein, turbaned Boris sends you racing over to Shadowplay — one of my favorite haunts — where critic and filmmaker David Cairns turns his amused attention to the 1929 talkie, Behind The Curtain, a rare Charlie Chan film with an actual Asian actor in the lead role. The biggest mystery in this film is how Boris becomes “an Anglo-Indian actor with a Russian name pretending to be a white man pretending to be an Indian”.

On companion blogs: There are wonderful movie and backstage shots of Boris up on Peeping Tom, and a quote from Boris on taste and censorship, on Lost Eyeways.

Penny-pinching Karloff fans will envy Rhonny Reaper. Here’s a great thrift store find, on the appropriately named Dollar Bin Horror.

Fernando Rojas has been making short Karloff comments on Twitter!

I love the incongruous title card from Targets, showing Boris in a scene from The Terror. Ivan G. Shreve tells the story, in great detail, of the making of Targets. It’s an important review of an important film. On Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

My first blogathon experience, a couple of years ago, was participating in the Slapstick event held by Thom Ryan at Film of the Year. I loved working with a theme and a deadline, and thanks to the enthusiastic encouragement of our genial host, I found myself writing my first long form piece, an overview of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
I am enormously happy to have Thom participate in my own blogathon adventure, and I’m delighted to bring you his contribution, a beautiful essay about Boris Karloff’s out of character narration of The Emperor’s Nightingale. “Given the eerie power of Karloff's tombstone voice,” writes Thom, “it is remarkable that his narration fits this children's picture like a velvet glove.”
Read His Monster’s Voice, on Film of the Year.

For many of us, in many ways, Boris Karloff has been a part of our life. Mother Firefly shares her own private and precious memories of Boris, on Faster Pussycats!

Of his cartoon, Dave Lowe wrote me, saying,It's a nostalgic scene of my world growing up in the 70's in memory of Karloff, Ackerman and all the great things I loved in those days (and still do)”. I'm sure many of us see ourselves in this one, too. Go look, on Para Abnormal.

Four Boris records for download: There are two volumes of Tales of the Frightened, recordings of Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, and the legendary An Evening with Boris Karloff and His Friends:, scripted by Forry Ackerman. On The Captain’s Ramblings.

One last doodle from David Kirwan, cross-posted on his blog and tumbler.

Bill Adcock saved his favorite film for last, the sublime Bride of Frankenstein. A big-hearted essay, on Radiation-Scarred Reviews.

As a highly original tribute to Boris, Max, of The Drunken Severed Head, posts an original play, Too Many Creeps, written by writer, actor, filmmaker and all around horror horror film expert Ted Newsom. It’s a clever and affectionate valentine to the great horror stars. It has Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, and others. Ed Wood is in it. And it features the last “what if” collaboration between Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
Part One of Six is posted now, in honor of the Boris Karloff Blogathon.

The image here announces one of the most troubling homecoming ever.
Curt Purcell explores the genre-breaking vampire short, The Wurdalak, one of three stories in Black Sabbath. “Karloff,” he writes, “just had a way of being iconic, and Bava had a way of crafting searingly iconic images, and together they conjure some truly unforgettable moments.” If you’ve never seen The Wurdalak, this review will make you want to, and you’ll be richer for it. On The Groovy Age of Horror.


Greg said...

My post is finally up at Cinema Styles. Hope you like it.

W.B. Kelso said...

I hope it's not to late to chime in.

Fantastic collection of retrospectives!

Anonymous said...

It's been a thrill so far, I don't want it to ever end...
The Blogathon was a brilliant idea!

suzanne said...

It's been an enjoyable week. Thank you for organizing this wonderful tribute.

bill r. said...

In case you didn't get my e-mail, here's my post.

D Cairns said...

Here you go. Took me a while, but I finally got something watched and written.

Peeping Tom said...

Last contributions to Boris Karloff Blogathon from Peeping Tom:

A little stock of beautiful photos and movie stills on

An excerpt from Karloff's article "My life as a monster" in which he talks about horror films and censorship.

Greetings from Italy and thank you all for this wonderful blogathon.
Peeping Tom

Fashion Serial Killer said...

wow, that LIFE cover is amazing.Boris is/was also kinda of hot.

Anonymous said...

I've been a huge Karloff fan since I was a kid and share his birthday, too. Re: the Gold Key comic..."every other" comic book did NOT necessarily have the censorious Code symbol. If you are old enough to have bought comics then, you'd know that assertion is incorrect. Look at any Dell or Gold Key or Classics Illustrated comic from the Code era, and those are just easy examples to cite. No Code insignias there, right? Of course, the Dell/Gold Key cadre had the insider line.

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