Happy Birthday to Three Horror Legends
Visitors to this humble blog may have noted a dearth of content of late. The fact of the matter is, things have been pretty crazy here around the Stalking Moon premises. Not only has the day job been at its busiest peak, we've also been dealing with the nervous tension and stress created by our 8-month-old son going through heart surgery, leaving me with very little enthusiasm or energy to write. Now that our boy is through the worst of it and is recovering nicely (thank God), I've regained some of my usual vim and vigor, and realized that I couldn't let the end of May pass without saying a few words about those three icons of horror cinema, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price.
Even those who don't much care for the horror genre will likely recognize the above three names. But what many might not be aware of is that all three men were not only great friends in real life, but also were born within the same two days of each other (in fact, Cushing and Lee were both born on the same day). Being as 2013 marks Peter Cushing's 100th birthday, I thought I'd celebrate this momentous occasion by spending a little time talking about some of these three fellows' most memorable performances, both the ones everyone remembers them for, as well as a few gems perhaps less well-known than they deserve to be.
House of Wax (1953)
The movie that set star Vincent Price's career on a course with horror movie destiny, House of Wax was Warner Brothers' first 3D film and proved a massive success for the studio. Director Andre de Toth gives this modestly-budgeted period piece a lavish, colorful look, and it moves along at a nice clip, yet I couldn't help feeling just a little disappointed with the film.
Price plays Prof. Henry Jarrod, a gentle if eccentric sculptor of taste and genius who runs a small and unsuccessful wax museum. His partner and investor, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) wants to get his hands on the $25,000 insurance money on the building and so callously sets fire to Jarrod's painstakingly-crafted exhibits. The two men struggle, and Burke leaves Jarrod to a fiery fate. Of course, Jarrod survives to plot his revenge, albeit now a disfigured wretch of a man, driven to madness by the loss of his precious life works.
Phyllis Kirk, soon to play Nora Charles in THE THIN MAN TV series.
The murderous Burke has little time to enjoy his spoils, as Jarrod, clad in black cloak and slouch hat, sneaks into his office, strangles him, and arranges his body to drop down the elevator shaft in a semblance of suicide.
Next, he targets Burke's mistress, social climber Sally Gray (Carolyn Jones). Sally's friend, down-on-her-luck Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk), comes upon Sally's dead body just in time to witness Jarrod's monstrous appearance, and is pursued by him through the fog-lined New York streets, until she reaches the safety of the family home of her beau, young sculptor Scott Andrews (Paul Picerni).
With the financial backing of kindly art critic Sidney Wallace (Paul Cavanaugh), a seemingly normal - if wheelchair-bound - Jarrod opens a new, grislier and sensationalistic gallery. His badly burned hands no longer capable of doing fine sculpting work, Jarrod is assisted by mute, hulking henchman Igor (Charles Bronson, in unconvincing pancake make-up) and an alcoholic ex-con in creating new figures for a series of tableau reenacting famous crimes and scenes of torture and death, which make the new House of Wax a notorious and immediate success. Only sensitive Sue, gazing upon a figure of Joan of Arc which bears a striking resemblance to her dead friend Sally, suspects the truth - that Jarrod is using actual corpses to imbue his new wax figures with their uncanny life. Unfortunately for Sue, Jarrod sets his sights on turning her into his newest wax masterpiece, Marie Antoinette.
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
Tipping My Fedora
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Classic TV and Film Cafe
Just a Cineast
She Blogged By Night
Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema
Out of the Past -
A Classic Film Blog
Pretty Sinister Books
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
In So Many Words...
Greenbriar Picture Shows
My Love of Old Hollywood
Tales of the Easily Distracted
Another Old Movie Blog
Lasso the Movies
Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed below, to be informed of new postings!