CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 4, 2019


Yes, just one review today — time is limited this week because, because, uh, because I’ll have to explain it later. I even had to disappoint some friends going to see the new Godzillah Thrillah. But I should have two reviews up for Saturday, one of them from Charlie Largent.

But there is time to mention a new book, the Scripts from the Crypt #9 tome commemorating Son of Dracula, the Universal horror from 1943 starring Lon Chaney Jr. and directed by Robert Siodmak. As with the other SFTC books, this 300 page item annotates the entire screenplay, various articles and essays, including one by the director and another classifying Son of Dracula as ‘film noird’ (sic). The varied chapters contain a gallery of SOD- and Chaney- related film clippings, and even a breakdown of a proposed alternate sequel to Dracula, written in 1939, which may have been submitted by Bela Lugosi.

This time around Gary D. Rhodes takes top authorial billing, with the book’s major article on the film’s production. The picture may not yield as many sensational sidebar stories of other films in the SFTC series – no murders, no cast members with tragic or sordid futures — but the compensation is Son’s high quality reputation in the Universal tradition of horror. Robert Siodmak didn’t slack off because of the subject matter, but contributed stylistic graces that the industry noted, and that gave him a neat springboard to bigger films, starting with his very next thriller Phantom Lady, a full-on classic. That’s the way careers are supposed to work. Interviewer par excellence Tom Weaver scours his research files to come up with a veritable pleth… fplethor… a whole bunch of interesting and odd scrapbook trade paper announcements, newspaper and pub clippings, plus more arcane errata relating to the film and its personnel. Tom also does a bit of analysis of annotations found in the script.

Dr. Robert J. Kiss follows with his illuminating breakdown of the film’s release pattern, noting that the show played both as a stand-alone item and often in tandem with the downbeat The Mad Ghoul. Gregory William Mank checks in with an article on actress Louise Albritton, whose character can arguably be described as more central than Chaney’s Dracula — her scheme to double-cross the undead king after achieving immortality makes her horror dame cross the line into noir femme fatale territory.

And hold on to your big top!  CineSavant newshound Gary Teetzel slips in a last-minute report that Scream Factory has announced yet another wholly desirable horror item for Blu-ray, 1960’s marvelous Circus of Horrors. For me this is ‘exploitative’ horror perfection, a picture that’s forthright about its sadistic thrills, which are neatly mixed up with eye-candy voyeurism and luridly colored mutilation. With so many perverse and purely evil motivations afoot, the entire enterprise is somehow ‘pruriently wholesome,’ if such a thing can be.

It stars Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Yvonne Romain, Donald Pleasance — a veritable smorgasbord of horror fiends and dames. And if that’s not enough, it’s one of the better circus movies, too. No release date has been set but we’ll be looking out for desirable extras.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson