CineSavant Column

Tuesday September 14, 2021


First up today is one big, happy surprise — MGM’s underdog 1935 horror classic Mad Love will be arriving very soon, on October 19. Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, Frances Drake … directed by Karl Freund. Who forgets Ed Brophy’s date with the guillotine?  It’s a real favorite.

And there’s still more time before Halloween for more possible horror to be announced.



Next, we have a double link to a horror tale by the Uruguayan author Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937): if you harbor a penchant for mainline Edgar Allan Poe- type fiction and haven’t heard of Quiroga, this may well appeal. There’s a great deal of macabre fiction in classic Latin American literature, beyond Luis Borges.

The story in question is 1907’s The Feather Pillow, original Spanish title El Almohadón de Plumas. It’s extremely brief yet packs a real sting of dread into its five-minute read.

This first link is to a beautiful stop-motion version of the short story, filmed by Hugo Covarrubias in Chile in 2007: El Almohadón de Plumas. It’s handsomely done. It uses the original text, and has English subtitles.

You can read the surprisingly brief original short story as well, on this The Short Story Project page, in English or Spanish (or Hebrew!). And if you want to read about the disturbing, Poe- like life of author Horacio Quiroga, here’s his Wikipedia Entry. This guy seemingly had various forms of death following him around his whole life.



Now it’s fun clippings time. This is self-explanatory — it’s a full-page trade paper ad from Warners touting the big success of Them! in 1954. Its box office heft is being compared to that of the previous year’s The Beast from 20,000 fathoms, a major hit that surely prompted the studio to green-light a noirish sci-fi thriller about giant ants.

It reminds me of similar trade paper ads from 1977, when George Lucas was kidding Steven Spielberg, boasting in expensive full page announcements that Star Wars had overtaken the previous $$ money bonanza Jaws at the ticket turnstyles. This battle of the monsters 23 years before is nowhere near as historical, but I thought CineSavant readers would appreciate it.



Bird, Bird, Bird … the Bird is the Word.

This has been a frantic research week!  Looking for trade paper references to back up the idea that, yes, maybe a Mexico City company did produce special effects for Sam Katzman’s glorious turkey turkey The Giant Claw, Gary Teetzel couldn’t access The Hollywood Reporter, that definitely reported Mexican location filming. The coverage found in three other trade papers ranged from mundane, to unbelievable. The images are zoom-able, if the print is too small…

How about Variety?  No, keep moving, nothing exciting to see there:

The Motion Picture Exhibitor review got an early crack at the show, with a derisive dismissal:

And what’s with Motion Picture Daily’s review?  “The technical effects are some of the best ever devised?”

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson