Movie Reviews – Frankenstein and Dracula

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Well, thank Christ someone working in a theatre somewhere cares about something that isn’t the Rocky Horror Picture Show around Halloween – I was starting to get nervous. Turner Classic Movies (TCM), in their quest to help people brush up on some truly great cinema, brought a monstrous double bill to Cineplex Odeons around Canada this Halloween week. If you were fortunate enough to attend the double bill of the 1931 features Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff and Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, then congratulations, we’re now best friends. If you didn’t, well, in the words of Bela Lugosi himself; “I tear the torture out of myself by torturing you.”

As mentioned before, the double feature is sponsored by TCM. The films were even hosted by TCM mainstay Robert Osborne. Before each show, Mr. Osborne would offer a bit of preamble, and then show snippets of interviews taken with the likes of Sara Karloff, the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster, Bela Lugosi Jr., and multiple award-winning make-up artist, Rick Baker. These folks, who certainly have the horror pedigree, imparted some serious wisdom on how these two particular movies defined horror, and about how horror movies today stack up with the classics. The Cole’s Notes version of their answers to each of the questions was “by being scarier than everything else,” and “not very well.”

If you haven’t had the fortune of viewing these quintessential horror classics, then shame on you. No doubt, you’ve sat through countless viewings of Paranormal Activity and Michael Bay’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, yet never wondered how it was possible for these modern filmmakers to cock up the genre so badly. These were the films that helped initiate the genre as a legitimate form of filmmaking. Not being aware of these films, like I fear many people aren’t, would be like not knowing that rap music ultimately finds its roots in the slave music of the early 19th century. It becomes very hard to appreciate works of the present if you don’t at least have an elementary understanding of the roots of the work itself.

You’ll find that up to this point, this article has very little to say about the movies in question. That is not an accident. What more can be said about the two seminal monster movies of 1930s cinema? Set down this paper – after reading it cover to cover, of course – and find your way to watching those films. If you missed out on the double bill, then all you’ve done is deprived yourself of an entirely unique theatre experience. Keep your eyes peeled next year, and watch for a similar event to take place. Missing this two years in a row might be the scariest thing that happens to you next Halloween.

Kyle Leitch
A&C Writer

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