HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
1958, Warner Bros., 75 min. Dir. William Castle.
Morbidly whimsical millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) offers five guests $10,000 each to spend the night in his mansion, a haunted house with a homicidal history. The vastly underrated Carol Ohmart is delightful as Annabelle, Price’s amoral, murderous wife. One of director William Castle’s most entertaining frightfests. With Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr.
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
1951, Warner Bros., 87 min. Dir. Christian Nyby.
Produced by the great Howard Hawks, this is the first alien-invasion film and arguably the first modern horror film – a prototype for everything that would follow, from ALIEN to FRIDAY THE 13th to HALLOWEEN. A fast-moving freight train of a movie, filled with Hawks’ trademark snappy, overlapping dialogue and some of the scariest moments ever on film, it’s the STAGECOACH of horror films. It also demonstrates the dangers of electric blankets. With Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan and “Gunsmoke’s” James Arness as the Thing.
1932, Warner Bros., 64 min. Dir. Tod Browning.
“Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us!” Based on the simple moral that beauty is on the inside comes this inspired, documentary-like tale of circus life. Trapeze artist Cleopatra and strongman Hercules plot to kill the sideshow midget and gain his inheritance. With never-duplicated eerie performances by real-life siblings Daisy and Harry Earles as Hans and Frieda. Featuring the beautiful conjoined Hilton Twins, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow as Zip and Pip the pinheads, Johnny Eck as Johnny the half-boy and the unforgettable Prince Randian as the human Torso, with the most amazing cigarette-smoking scene in film history. Drawing from past experience working for the circus, DRACULA director Tod Browning cast actual people with disabilities and deformities instead of using special effects and makeup, something unthinkable for the time. Although banned in the U.K. for 30 years, FREAKS was selected for preservation in 1994 by the United States National Film Registry as one of the greatest films of all time.
1954, Warner Bros., 94 min. Dir. Gordon Douglas.
Giant killer ants emerge from the Southwestern desert in one of the first and best sci-fi films to deal with fears about atomic testing and warfare. Desert cop James Whitmore joins G-man James Arness (“Gunsmoke”) and scientist Edmund Gwenn (MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET) in trying to mount a defense. Avoiding the campy quality of later movies in the genre by treating its subject matter with utter seriousness, THEM! remains one of the most unsettling monster movies of its era – and keep your eyes peeled for those Fess Parker and Leonard Nimoy cameos.
1963, Warner Bros., 112 min. Dir. Robert Wise.
“Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone…” Paranormal researcher Richard Johnson leads a team of clairvoyants (Julie Harris, Claire Bloom) to determine if the notorious, bad karma-filled Hill House is truly haunted. What he doesn’t bargain for is intensely neurotic Harris developing an unhealthy sensitivity to the mansion’s evil-charged atmosphere. Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House, this is one of the all-time classics of the genre. In supernatural CinemaScope! With Russ Tamblyn.
1942, Warner Bros., 73 min. Dir. Jacques Tourneur.
Serbian immigrant Irena (Simone Simon) can’t bring herself to bed new husband Oliver (Kent Smith) for fear she will transform into a cat, as her homeland’s fables warn. When hubby sends her to a psychiatrist, Irena’s problems only worsen, until her demons come clawing and growling to the surface. Jacques Tourneur’s darkly stylish, genuinely frightening horror-noir is laced with subversive sexual undertones, and was the high point of his estimable collaborations with producer Val Lewton at RKO.
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