October 12th, 2007

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Tod Browning and the "Dark Carnval"

If Florida State University believed in cinematic monster scholarship, I would have written the books that David J. Skal wrote. The great thing is that he wrote these books with the same passion that academic eggheads write about William Shakespeare or Emily Bronte. At least Skal's writing is not as pretentious.

"Dark Carnival" was published in the 1990s and presents an eerie relationship with the turn of the century 1800s with turn of the century 1900s. The one constant in both of these historical periods is which the obsession of the Goth culture.

Huckster Tod Browning accepted these dark undercurrents of culture and became a major influence in horror cinema. Browining worked with Lon Chaney Senior and Bela Lugosi. Browning's career flumoxed with his production of "Freaks," which was essentially band until the advent of video.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The REAL "Phanton of the Opera!"

This film should be seen and studied. The Phantom is the stereotypical villain that keeps an entire society at bay. His last stand against the rampaging mob is the way all supervillains should go out.....or does he?

Universal did a fine job re releasing this classic on DVD, two disks with many extras.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Devil's Messenger" - Lon Chaney Junior scratches out DeNiro and Pacino

As a freelance actor during the 1950s, Lon Chaney Junior took on many bizarre projects. "The Devil's Messenger" was a 3 episode television series that was converted into a short "B" Movie. As the Devil who uses a rollerdex, Chaney seduces a suicide victim into becoming his Messenger. The woman, Santanya, delivers objects that send people to hell. The ending is explosive.

When creating the "Friday the 13th: Television Series," Paramount executives followed a similar idea.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Chaney Junior and Curt Siomak reunite for a wedding date; "Bride of the Gorilla"

Barbara Payton is top billed over Lon Chaney Junior and Raymond Burr, respectfully. Payton's career was similar to that of Anna Nicole Smith and she died at age 39 also.

"Bride of the Gorilla" was written by Curt Siomak, the screenwriter of Lon Chaney's baby, "The Wolf Man." One can not deny the similarity with Lon Chaney playing a combination of the Ralph Bellamy and Warren William role. As a second banana, Chaney's performance is quite good.

Raymond Burr is no Lawrence Stewart Talbot and he seems to be in a bad mood throughout most of the motion picture. Val Lewton regular, Tom Conway, also appears.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Spider Baby" is the sums up the career of Chaney Senior and Junior

"Spider Baby" has been re released with costar Sid Haig providing the commentary. Both times I met Sid Haig he seemed to enjoy talking about this project and his costar, Lon Chaney Junior.

"Spider Baby" has a touch of the dark themes that Chaney Senior and Tod Browning created in their movies. Monsters and Freaks who earn the audience sympathy. There are combination of errors or a violation of the seven deadly sins, chaos erupts.

Shot in glorious black and white, "Spider Baby" presents Chaney Junior as Bruno the Caretaker of mutant family. After the murder of Mantan Moreland, the caretaker is visited by cousins and lawyers who want the mutants committed.

There is much macabre humor in "Spider Baby" and a great dining scenes featuring monster movie in jokes. Yet there is a heartbreaking scene in which Chaney Junior realizes that he must euthanize the mutants, it is heart breaking to watch.

A fitting curtain call to a century of Chaneys.