The countdown of horror comedies continues with…

(1963, Jacques Tourneur)

Sometimes this tongue-in-cheek follow-up to AIP’s Poe series clicks, sometimes it fizzles, but there’s enough of the good stuff to keep anybody entertained. Waspish sociopath Vincent Price and grumbling assistant Peter Lorre are undertakers forced to drum up business the hard way – but their proactive business plan goes sideways when Shakespeare-spouting Basil Rathbone refuses to stay toes-up. Each star has his share of genuinely funny moments, none more so than Boris Karloff, who walks away with large swaths of the movie with his performance as Price’s senile father-in-law.

Deathless Prose:

“I don’t think he’s quite dead enough to bury.”

October 29, 2011 · Posted in Legends  

The countdown of horror comedies continues with…

(1932,James Whale)

Whale’s bizarre marriage of the creepy mansion thriller with a jaundiced take on the comedy of manners, this parade of grotesques and eccentrics is perhaps the ultimate distillation of the director’s fey sense of humor – droller and campier than even The Bride of Frankenstein. Ernest Thesiger wafts through the film, stealing every scene from a top-notch collection of scenery chewers so flamboyant that Boris Karloff’s performance as a brutal mute with rape on his mind seems downright conventional in comparison.

Deathless Prose:

“Have a potato.”

October 21, 2011 · Posted in Legends  

Halloween’s on its way, and so are the usual marathons of vampires, stitched-together corpses and overachieving serial killers. For those who can’t take their gore seriously, check back daily for a countdown (in no particular order) of some of the deliberately funniest, drollest or just plain goofiest horror flicks of our acquaintance – comedies that combine laughs with a genuinely scary moment or two.

(1963, Roger Corman)

Yes, a lot of the comedy’s strained, and young romantic lead Jack Nicholson is years away from his glory days, but the film’s powerhouse trio of horror vets (Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre) carry the day with tongues firmly in cheek. There are even a couple of chilling moments amidst all the silliness, and – best of all – Lorre gets to strut his stuff as a seedy magician who appears for a good chunk of the film in a preposterous bird suit.

Deathless Prose:

“Milk. How vomitable.”

October 17, 2011 · Posted in Legends  

August bloggers closed out the summer with writing on film that covered the waterfront, from indie action flicks to classic stars to coverage of yet another rediscovered piece of lost cinema.

As part of a weeklong celebration of the inimitable Joan Blondell, blogger “morlockjeff” sang the praises of the teamwork of Blondell and James Cagney, centering on their co-starring turns in the 1931 Blonde Crazy. Click here, here, here, here, here and here for other engaging Morlock tributes to Blondell.

NPR blogger Andrew Lapin opined on the short snarky life of the independent cinema’s take on those new staples of the blockbuster, costumed superheroes.

Amazing news for Alfred Hitchcock fans: The discovery of a 30-minute fragment of the first film the British director worked on, the 1923 The White Shadow, included in the same New Zealand archive that yielded last year’s rediscovered John Ford film UPSTREAM.

Not August, but worth a look: Last year, bloggers John Scoleri and Peter Enfantino devoted months of their lives reviewing and commenting on one episode a day of the classic Boris Karloff suspense-and-horror series Thriller.

Video Watchblog’s Tim Lucas remembers the late Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, whose work brought fresh blood to horror films of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.

Slip into those streetsmart wedgies and glom onto these savvy links.

August 29, 2011 · Posted in Legends