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Posts tagged “monster

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

kong1About a third of the way through Kong: Skull Island, Warner Brothers latest bid to recapture the franchise crown from the house of mouse, marooned Second World War airman Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) yells how happy he is that a military expedition has finally arrived to save him – ‘I heard you were coming, they told me you were here’ he feverishly exclaims. The problem with this exchange is that he is alone on the remote pacific atoll of Skull Island, exiled since he crash landed almost thirty years ago,  apart from the standard issue deployment of a primitive tribe whom have also just discovered the expedition, mere moments before. His potential saviours are a reassigned Vietnam Marine unit – this film is set in the early 1970’s for no qualitatively discernible reason – captained by a standard issue Samuel L. Jackson blustering lazily through his usual blockbuster bricolage. That such a elemental disregard for narrative script logic has surpassed the studio QC test speaks volumes of this  productions disregard for the audiences intelligence (who are they, exactly?), the incremental tip of an insulting iceberg, in what I am afraid to report is this year’s worst movie so far – and I’ve seen Hacksaw Ridge.

kong5So let’s rewind a little and outline the plot, as much as there is a semblance of such things. Bill Randa (John Goodman) is the senior executive of the secretive government organisation codenamed Monarch, a unit charged with investigating the mysterious and clandestine caverns of the globe. Despite being enveloped in a mysterious, permanent storm which obscures any satellite penetration (not to mention defying the laws of physics) he has spent years lobbying for an expedition to  Skull Island, a remote archipelago situated in the deeps of the Pacific Ocean, which due to its unique qualities has never been crawled over by scientists like a phalanx of curious climate attuned toddlers. So finally, despite being ignored  by centuries of inquisitive homo-sapien exploration Randa finally convinces the powers that be to assemble a B-Movie battalion of character tropes to see what’s going on,  and whom, or indeed what might be roaming around this Eukaryoteic eden.

kong2Quite how you waste an ensemble cast of Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchel, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann and Terry Notary  is a gargantuan achievement, as no attention has been aimed at assembling any sliver of adventurous creation, Hiddleston in particular being spectacularly miscast as some roguish adventurer in a desperate grasp for Han Solo symbiosis. Second lead Larson as Mason Weaver, a self-proclaimed ‘anti-war’ photographer recruited to the mission also yields no internal instruction or arc, no political purchase or indeed personality, but she does get the ‘best’ line in the film when she reports for duty and a surprised military attaché exclaims ‘Mason Weaver? But (dramatic pause, scrolling through the ship deployment manifest)…but…you’re a woman?’…’Last time I checked!’ she retorts. Alas, I am not joking.

kong3After half an hour of this tedious stumble  through the labyrinth of lazy Hollywood engineering I recalibrated my expectations accordingly, as even if we can’t have anything resembling fun characters or dialogue, any graze of excitement or energy we can at least reel in some scintillating CGI and mirthful monster mayhem, right? Wrong. Blockbuster brawlers such as Guillermo and Jackson have consistently and correctly reasserted that an essential element of any monster movie is to invest your creations with some semblance of personality, a trait that is fully absent here, there’s just no there there beneath the CGI carapace.  The main draw of the movie, the almighty Kong who squats atop the pinnacle of American monster movies since 1934  in this incarnation is simply boring to behold in all his supposed simian stupendousness – it’s all inertia, with no metaphoric gravity nor heft.   That critical, fatal flaw is reinforced in the design of the perfunctory flora and fauna of Skull Island that assail our heroes, the supporting characters are picked off red-shirt style with no human dimension nor consequence, as we progress through a plot untroubled  by interest or consequence. Sure, I am fully aware that you should perhaps check in any concerns of reason or logic at the ticket collection booth – this is a big, loud, brash blockbuster intended to deactivate the cerebellum – yet the flippant lack of quality or design in any other dimension of filmmaking, the set pieces, the SFX, any sense of exotic adventure or mysterious investigation, they all render this movie as mediocre par maximus.

kong4Predictably the wider movie references are speared throughout the film like a postmodern skewer (including a nod to this), but the obvious antecedent is Apocalypse Now which I detected from the initial trailer and the colour palette, period soundtrack and those images of  mosquito  framed choppers shrouded against a blazing oriental sun. A cold opening of Marlow’s initial arrival on the atoll in 1944 is pinched from Boorman’s Hell In The Pacific when a Japanese airman is also marooned along with Marlow, a plot point which is suitably set up and then thoroughly abandoned.  Gentle reader, given the deliberate historical locality I’m not necessarily expecting some squirming subtext of an arrogant battalion of Westerners invading an exotic oriental locale, raining napalm and ordinance on  the denizens and arousing the wrath of some ancient, gargantuan,  elemental wrath, but a movie on this scale has to be fun on its own genre terms, and on that front Skull Island fails abysmally.  Once again the studios have drafted in a talented Indie director, Jordan Charles Vogt-Roberts (helmsman of 2013’s charming Kings Of Summer), and ruthlessly crushed any potential flourish or notable technique, as all must be in thrall to lowest common denominator blockbuster banality personified in the near ubiquitous and groan inducing post credits sting – see also Jurassic World. Doug McClure must be spinning in his volcanic grave, as taken as a franchise inceptor or mere creature feature Skull Island is a colossal  disappointment;


Skull Island (2017) Trailer

I generally shy away from posting every god-damn trailer in our current age of x 4 previews for the same bloody film, but I don’t know about you but I could still do with a distraction from the real world with some monsters. Some huge fucking monsters;

Hmm, not fond of that speed-ramping but I assume that’s a trailer effect they’ve thrown on the piece, and at least it looks like it has a sense of humor. – here is the greatest John C. Reily impression in recorded history. In other news, yes, we can do better – Indeed, we nust…..

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Trailer

Some more gigantic monster fun that recently hatched in San Diego, this has a gargantuan strength cast, and enough visual references to have Francis Ford Coppola reaching for the litigation lawyer section of his rolodex;

Godzilla (2014) Trailer #2

Having seen the original trailer playing in heavy rotation in front of just about every movie I’ve seen over the past two months, I think the fact that anticipation is rising rather than diminishing for this is a very positive sign. Then this dropped this morning;

After this and Noah is this the year that Hollywood goes all overtly environmental? – Oh well, too late. At least they didn’t kill the dog by the look of things, the first rule of Tinseltown screenwriting. OK, enough with the procrastination with these trailers, it’s time to get cracking on those outstanding reviews I guess….

Universal Monster Movies Season – The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

creature1 It’s been a long and winding road hasn’t it gentle reader, moving from the dank sewers of the Parisian underworld in the 1920’s, through the suffocating mists of Transylvania and accursed Egyptian catacombs of the 1930’s, through the intangible British countryside and canine ravaged moors through to our final hellish destination, the steaming subtropical Palaeolithic jungles of the 1950’s. Over a quarter century we’ve seen Universal studio’s acclaimed monster movie cycle morph and mutate through its gruesome cycle, from the chiaroscuro stricken, studio-bound expressionist nightmares of the early 20th century predating the coalescing horror in Europe, feasting on other studio genres to create crimson spattered hybrids, only to finally retreat away from the interfering prying eyes of humankind, withdrawing to the primordial pits of the drive-in and B movie exhibitors chain for this final picture in the chillingly celebrated studio cycle. Now I know I had some rather grandiose plans to compose capsule reviews of all 27 associated Universal movies but frankly that was ambitious in the extreme, both from a constitutional and intellectual perspective, as although I’ve immensely enjoyed composing these reviews I feel its time to punt out into waters anew, especially given the horrific bend of three months of BFI Gothic coverage. So this will be the final picture in this series but I’m always keeping one distorted and misshapen eye out at the BFI and other repertory houses for any big-screen outings of these murderous beasts, so who knows maybe we’ll be back here before the next full moon swings into a low shrieking orbit. Until then let me acquaint you with this slimy second-run classic;

The plot is direct – an Amazonian expedition traverses the mysterious and smouldering waterway, furtively seeking further evidence of a the missing link between man and fish, an obsessive quest driven by expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno).  Maia persuades his collegial ichthyologist Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) to expand his work and raise the necessary funding to fund the sojourn, hiring the tramp steamer Rita  captained by a Mediterranean seadog Lucas (Nestor Paiva) to transport him, colleague Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) his girlfriend Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) and another scientist Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell). Discovering the devastated campsite of Dr. Maia that has been ravaged by an unidentified, slimy interloper the expedition soon nets a loathsome creature from the deeps, who might have more than just food on its primitive mind….

creature3The Creature From The Black Lagoon was one of the vanguard pictures of the studios 3D assault  against the entrenching evolution of Television into American households, it’s since managed to achieve a cult classic celebrity, as one of key monster & SF  pictures of the Eisenhower era.  Dwelling beneath the surface of skimpy clad ladies and the cosmopolitan jungle carapace is perhaps a sense of mans unconscious links to our liquid dwelling kin, and the film has even been read as an early environmental tract against man’s erosion of the natural world. In terms of structure it’s not particularly advanced, it takes a leisurely stroll downstream to an encounter / analysis / encounter template, with a little light crew insurrection drama thrown in to froth the dramatic whirlpool. For a scientific expedition they seem unusually well armed with rifles and handguns, with a curious lack of cameras or other recording devices, with a rather amusing disregard for indigenous stability which wouldn’t be accepted today. It’s the usual archetype of the scientist seen in the 1950’s genre period, spouting the importance of the grand new universal narratives of physics and chemistry to the lesser intelligent (Children, non-Americans, Women) in this brave new nuclear framed world. The guerrilla captured location landscapes frame the scale before the shoot moves to the Universal back-lot, with rickety and loosely decorated interiors, ghastly quality back-screen projection, yet in this case some rather graceful underwater footage.

creature4The resources simply isn’t the equal of the earlier monster films of the Universal cycle, but it does have the confidence to provide long, uninterrupted visions of the creature which is quite a rarity for this breed of movie, and quite the convincing oozing merlock it is considering the period. Designed by Millicent Patrick alas as is so often the case her contribution was overshadowed by her male boss, the famed make-up guru Bud Westmore, I don’t she even wagers a IMDB portfolio which is criminal. But for all that it lacks in loot Lagoon still nets a sense of charm, of the always lyrical movie motif of the beast besotted with the more shapely denizens of our species, a perennial subtext which we can trace back to King Kong alongside a general fear of the alien, the ‘other’ before Bikini Atoll belched a radioactive cloud over the genre and distorted insects, lizards and indeed broads scuttled to the screen. It does have a fairly iconic sonic shrieking score – Duh, dah DURRR – .and one of two sequels, Revenge Of The Creature followed in 1955 , with a curious early sighting…..

creature2You have to imagine that a seven year-old Spielberg some of that underwater footage of dangling appendages and circulating talons which scythed its way into his terrified brain, only to subliminally ooze out for Jaws 21 years later,  this was the first of the influential Jack Arnold’s cycle of fantastical movies such as Tarantula and The Incredible Shrinking Man which inspired the likes of Landis, Lucas, Dante and others. Of course remakes and sequels are under almost constant rumour, mostly notably John Landis, Peter Jackson and menagerie favourite  John Carpenter (a huge fan of the film) developing separate projects over the years, the latter actually putting a script together at the home studio as late as the 1990’s. None of these have hatched and for my money the closest we’ve had to the picture is probably the ironically slimy little merman in The Cabin In The Woods, so I’m not holding my breath for any new birthing pod soon. So that’s that, another twelve fifteen month season finally comes to a watery close, which paves the way for not one but two festivals we have (fingers crossed) on the horizon, I’ll be devoting more attention to my Fritz Lang series and I also have some loose plans for another writing strand which is also cultishly coalescing. Until then let’s bid a fond adieu to these ravenous daemons from the pits of cinema history, sleep well now;

Universal Monster Movies Season – The Wolf Man (1941)

wolf1Spare a lonely, moonlit moor set howl for the poor old movie mongrel The Wolfman. He’s kind of a second tier monster isn’t he? When you think of the old classic creatures of yesteryear the first images that spring to mind are the bolt-necked lumbering mannequin of Frankenstein, the cape draped festering & leeching royalty of the Count, or the tattered oriental shrouds of The Mummy isn’t it? Nevertheless the old dog caused quite a stir when he first snarled through screens back in 1941, with The Wolfman proving the first of a five film litter, with horror hero Lon Chaney Jr. continuing his father’s proud history of make-up and special effects sorcery to conjure another iconic figure in the annals of atrocities. One of the major attractions of these seasons I conduct is the modicum of research they require, as I was rather shocked to learn that this wasn’t the first iteration of the lycanthropic beast to appear on-screen, and in fact Universal had produced a picture known as Werewolf of London back in 1935 which I’ve never seen, and that alone means that I’ve learnt something new – this old dogs been thrown a new bone. Six years later this film set up the treatment of the monster for decades to come, a legandarium complete with silver bullets, moon initiated transformations, pentacle pointed protections and charms which were not lifted from popular myth and memory, but largely the invention of screenwriter Curt Siodmak’s fevered imagination. Such was the cultural import of these fabrications  these designs which went on to infect novels, comic books, TV and just about every other form of media, all the way up to the present day with the likes of Tru Blood and Hemlock Grove. If the zombie is horror’s comment on blind, ravenous consumerism of the bourgeois class and the vampire is the elite upper scions literally feeding on the blood of the masses for their exalted position, then The Wolfman  has to be your working class joe, the blue-collar guy who is transformed once a month (presumably when his pay-check comes in) into an intoxicated and ravenous violent beast, taking that oppressed rage out on his family and friends at his inferior status, a bruised animal raging impotently at his reduced lot in life. Well, he’s either that, or just a guy who turns into a wolf under the gaze of a full moon ’cause of some occult curse…..

wolf2The hirsutely accursed Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is beckoned back to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales (told you it was a horror story) after hearing of the tragic death of his younger brother in a hunting accident. Previously estranged from his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains) Larry slowly makes amends for his absence, and decides to hang around the old place and retain some bearing in his life. Like a dog in heat, and despite the gloomy circumstances Larry soon becomes interested  in a local broad named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers) who runs the village’s modest antique shop. Adopting a silver-fox persona Larry purchases a silver-tipped walking stick decorated with a wolf motif, a subtle sign of his virile ferocity which doesn’t quite throughly seduce Gwen, although it does seem to pique her interest in this mysterious stranger. Some gypsy types stroll into town and whisper urgently of the legend of the werewolf, the legendary lychanthrope which changes man into canine beast at certain preordained peaks of the lunar cycle, as Gwen’s friend Jenny (Fay Helm) has her fortune read by the inscrutable Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya). Fate intervenes that evening when Larry is bitten by a big bad wolf that he repels from devouring  poor Jenny out in the moors, and although he slays the creature with his new cocky walking cane the bad news is the wolf was actually Bela, son of the gypsy fortune-teller.  She warns Talbot that he is now cursed to undergo the same lupine initiated terror, placing the whole village at risk including his beloved Gwen who is looking increasingly tasty….

wolf3The film is a weird mongrel of old and young, with scenes of 1940’s upper class gentry mating roughly with 19th century Romany posturing and spooky medieval proclamations, contemporary motor cars prowling through the Welsh village as horse-drawn carriages lurch murkily through mist drenched steppes. It’s really only in these scenes that the film comes alive, that glorious expressionist lighting and claw twisted vegetation design creating a genuine moody menace, as quite frankly the rest of the picture away from the broad horror trappings  is rather laborious and sleepy. I always make this point but I’ll make it again with the rugged obedience of a panting labrador, yes the SFX have inevitably dated and the Lap dissolve technique – freezing the camera and taking another exposure repeatedly over ten hours as the make-up is applied to Chaney, so when the film is cranked back at 24 frames per second the transformation occurs over a period of twenty or so seconds – doesn’t quite equal the expertise of 2010’s Wolfman reading, but this earlier breed pants with an exhausted eerie atmosphere of misty moors and infected blood lines, of man submitting to his savage submerged spirit. Claude Rains is always watchable as the Van Helsing type of mature expert in all matters of the occult and uncanny, and given his connection as the Wolfman’s father in the picture it’s just occurred to me that this film might be harbouring a rather interesting subtext now that I think of it…..

wolf4With all the best will in the world Chaney Jr. is not the worlds greatest actor, it must have been very difficult to step into his fathers enormous ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ shoes but he did manage to carve himself a little morsel of Hollywood history, not quite in the same monster movie league as Lugosi or Karloff but genre fans appreciate any actor who managed to play Dracula, The Wolfman and The Mummy at one point in his booze sodden career. Like so many stars of the era the man was afflicted with a terrible drink problem, culled in part possibly from his fathers treatment of him which included informing him throughout his youth that his mother was dead (she wasn’t, he wrestled custody from her and locked her out of their lives) and his fierce resistance to his son following him into the acting game (through either love at the harsh business or a misplaced sense of competition) must have boiled a seething cauldron of psychological distress in Junior’s mind. It’s some small consolation of his memory that he was one of those self loathing drunks who internalized his rage and shame, rather than strike out and cause pain to his friends and family, as all agreed that he was a gentle hulk of a man, even if he could be incapacitated from working by late afternoon during his darkest days. So this gives us a film with Chaney Jr. in his iconic make-up role, in which he is transformed by independent forces into a slavering force of violent nature, and is finally beaten to death by his estranged father in order to eliminate the hereditary curse – paging Dr. Freud. As with the rest of the Blu-Ray set the doggy treats are generous, including documentaries on Chaney Jr., make-up genius Jack Pierce and the movie cycle in general hosted by John American Werewolf Landis, plus an illuminating commentary from film historian Tom Weaver to round-out the pack. So now we’ve put this mangy old cur out of its misery its time to stop slumming it with these disgusting stinking working class plebs, if you’d care to join me I suggest we waltz off to the opera….

Jupiter vs. Godzilla?

…’whoever wins, we lose?’ Wasn’t that one of the tag-lines for one of those horrendous AvP movies? Anyway, as promised trailers are getting epic this week, first up the Wackowski’s take another stab at ambitious SF with Jupiter Ascending;

Well, Warner Brothers still have faith in them after the twin flops of Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, but I guess the chance for the marketing boffins to intone ‘From the visionaries who brought you the Matrix trilogy’ was too good to miss.  I don’t wish to prejudge the picture before the probes are back, but this looks like typical Wackowski – visually stylish but maybe a little too juvenile for my tastes. Now finally, we can release the shock troops;

Stealing the soundtrack from possibly my favourite cinema sequence ever evolved is not the best start in the world, and I think this veers into the slightly too serious for its own good territory, but as previously mentioned I have a fetish for jaw-dropping scenes of wanton destruction and unimaginable suffering, so I smirked when I first saw the leaked copy of this a couple of months ago. Now that it’s got its first proper roar this is certainly something to look forward too, and we’ll see if the dude who made the terrifically impressive Monsters can wield a mammoth budget…..

Treehouse Of Toro….

Everyone’s losing their mind over this, chocfull of references, and directed by Del Toro himself ‘pparently;

But where was Kang & Kodos? They were always my favourite….

RIP Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

Not wanting to start on a narcissistic point but there I was thinking that this was a pretty good day for a Tuesday and then the sad news started circulating. The term legend is bandied around in this industry with careless abandon but Harryhausen was a talent equal of the hagiography, a gentle and nice fellow by all accounts who assisted many young protegés to break into this industry. Many of his images are indelibly seared on the imaginations of a generation of filmmakers, and just consider the roll call of cinema behemoths he has clearly inspired – James Cameron, Tim Burton, Frank Darabont, Guilermo Del Toro, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, George A Romero, Peter Jackson and a couple of small-scale Americans by the names of George and Steve;

As Kim Newman recently remarked and please forgive the paraphrasing but ‘contemporary monster or fantastical element movies take hundreds of digital artisans and millions of dollars to craft, Ray did it all on his own and transformed the industry’ – who else has equally that lofty achievement? Here’s his lifelong friends Ray Bradbury’s recent video message, now if you’ll excuse me it’s got a little dusty in here;

I couldn’t possibly best my BFI Tribute report from 2010, easily one of the best events I’ve ever attended at the Southbank, with a genuine and heartfelt sense of occasion and tribute which really hasn’t been equalled since – you can see some of that here, and go watch a monster movie as a mark of respect;

Universal Studios Monster Season – The Phantom Of The Opera (1925)

UniversalSo then my accursed minions, let’s dust off the cobwebs, stagger nervously through mist drenched marshes, summon up a posse of pitchfork and brasier wielding peasants and give 2013’s first programme a resurrecting blast of cobalt electricity, *distant booming spectral laugh* yes you hunchbacked fools it is time to exhume the Universal Monster movies of yore. Having received the glorious Blu-Ray package for Christmas, officially the best horror themed release of 2012 according to numerous genre specialists and aficionados I knew that this could form the spine of another ambitious season of reviews and articles, and this time my insane plans may have just gone too far, or at least that’s what the superstitious fools down in the village would have you believe. Although there are eight core movies in the box-set the entire Universal cycle encompasses no less than 27 pictures, or 30 if you include Abbott & Costello meeting Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, or the Mummy. So my inhuman experiment is this – to compose capsule reviews for the 27 ancillary movies, and fully fleshed articles for the central octave of monstrous darkness, a programme that should eclipse my expansive Hitchcock season and should give me enough to chew/gnaw/feast upon for the next twelve months. I already have some other strands planned so fret not if you sacrilegious cretins have no interest in this moody material, I’m making my inaugural 2013 visit to the BFI this afternoon and a very interesting screening has cropped up at the Stratford Picturehouse next week. But let’s stay on subject so here’s a reminder, ‘the abyss gazes also’ and all that eh; 

First things first, I realise that the Wikipedia article cites something in the region of 40 films belonging to the cycle, these things are always open to debate (is The Hunchback of Notre Dame  really a horror film?) so my 27 is culled from the list inscribed in the box-sets supporting booklet, even I won’t have the time for 40+ plus reviews if a few plans come together in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, you have to admire Universal’s commitment to their heritage in this their centenary year, these creatures and their movies are no doubt the studios biggest licensed money spinners over the decades when you consider their iconic status and the copyright fees they must accrue when reproduced in media around the world, but nevertheless it is good to see a studio devoted to maintaining their legacy which stands in contrast to the approach of some of the other major studios who landfilled or simply sold off their memorabilia due to a succession of corporate mergers and philistine executives – and who’s heard the recent scurrilous rumor that Warner Brothers have accidentally destroyed the original camera negative of Days Of Heaven? That’s scary stuff. Anyway let’s get started with the first strand of the cycle, the 1925 first silver screen iteration of The Phantom Of The Opera, this terrified audiences way before some rich Tory munchkin got his grubby paws on it and made some bloody awful West End musical out of the original Gaston Leroux novel;

Starring the near forgotten Lon Chaney this horrific tale in the mould of contemporaries Edgar Allen Poe concerns a deformed ghoul who haunts the gothic chambers, concealed infrastructure and Seine soaked catacombs of the Opéra de Paris. After falling in love with Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) whom he has secretly coached from the cloaked shadows from understudy to prima donna he kidnaps his muse, setting his will against Christine’s tenacious lover Vicomte Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry). During a masked ball which echoes The Masque of The Red Death the Phantom ignites his wicked plan to despatch his adversary and win Christine’s love.

phatomYou really do get a sense of the changes in the art form when revisiting the Silents, the pacing and static camera, the way that scenes are covered in mid-shot with few edits, the exaggerated figure movement and Intertitles supplanting dialogue, and if you peer closely the lavish production design, set dressing and costumes can be discerned through the boxed ratio focused, murky and malodorous, shuddering images. The Grand Guignol stylings are appropriately macabre, I’m going out on a limb in terms of my knowledge but I’m also sure that a 1 hour, 47 minute run-time would have been quite lavish for the period, thus this was probably quite a prestige production  for the infant studio under the dominion of the now legendary Carl Laemmle. This is certainly less moribund and languidly paced that many Silents of the era I have seen, it dances along with a grotesque grace, and some of the Phantom’s moral traps could even be discerned in more modern fare almost a century later – I think you know what texts I’m talking about. I distinctly remember that chilling skull visage of Chaney as the Phantom from the photo captures in many of the Horror handbooks I accrued as a child, it’s still a little unsettling today so I can only imagine the swooning and fainting it provoked amongst the more refined punters  back in 1925;

Lon Chaney is a criminally overlooked figure in early horror cinema, whilst fans dote on the films of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, James Whale and Tod Browning we tend to overlook one of the pioneer physical performers and make-up geniuses who established some early parameters of the genre, and I shamefully include myself in that estimation. Fascinating article here on his techniques, a pioneer of make-up artistry that paved the way for Jack Pierce through to the modern grotesques of Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini, maybe one day his sorely missed London After Midnight will finally surface, just like the full version of Metropolis  and recent rumors of Hitchcock’s The Mountain Eagle  there is hope. Next up we tackle the ‘Listen to them, children of the night. What music they make…’, but before that on the horror front look what else is slowly materialising out in the twisted woods…..