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On 8/20/2020 at 5:50 AM, Sherwood said:

Agreed, I'm a big fan.  Honestly, I didn't even need the creatures and mansion, though I am sure they'll add intrigue.  The sense of total foreboding, of setting out into a hostile and uncharted world was palpable, all the more so because it's actually a world I am comfortable in but the characters were not.  It's done more to take me out of myself than most horror/fantasy I've seen recently, and I'm a genre devotee.  Full marks.

That they should so handily embrace the mythos and confront the bigot who wrote it is an added narrative benefit.  There could not have been a better moment for this show, and it wears its timeliness with confidence.

Also, and please don't let this distract from the above, Jurnee Smollett is hot.

Agreed. I've been watching this, and find it of interest. I'm normally not much of a horror fan, but I'm liking this.

21 hours ago, skullguise said:

Karen and I finished the Netflix series (through Season 2) of In The Dark.  There's not a lot we like to watch together, and this was out there in several ways, but captivated us.....

My wife and I have the same problem of not liking the same shows. She's more into comedy (Big Bang Theory, etc.) and finds most of what I like way too dark. We watched the first 3 episodes last night. I probably like it more than she does, but she seemed to enjoy it. We'll see if she'll continue watching it or not.

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My sainted mother is visiting from Marthas Vineyard, so I've been showing her a few old films.  Last night we watched The Black Cat (1934), which stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.  Both men were at the peak of their careers, coming off the huge success of Dracula and Frankenstein (both 1931) respectively.  



I saw The Black Cat many years ago because of ...well, me obsessing over electronic music.  The Norwegian collective known as Neural Network in this case.  Their second album Modernité is an unknown ambient classic.  However, their first album Brain-State-In-A-Box is the one that sent me on the journey that lead me to The Black Cat.  On the song "Under The Sun" there is a repeated sample "There are many things ...under the sun."  The spoken sample is both used brilliantly in the song, but also said with such authority that I was intrigued enough to track down the original source.  Flash forward a dozen or more years, and I developed a renewed interest in The Black Cat after learning that the director was Edgar G. Ulmer.  Ulmer is a fascinating character who had a gift for turning out a masterpiece (or at least a mini-masterpiece) on a shoestring budget.  He learned this skill after he fell in love with a producer's wife, ran off with her, and got blackballed in Hollywood for 10-15 years.  (To be fair, he stayed married to her for decades.)

The Black Cat is one of the films Ulmer produced before his exile, and was actually a huge hit at the time.  Lugosi and Karloff were rivals, and Ulmer deftly used their adverse professional relationship to extract stellar performances from them.  It's a horror film, but there isn't much in the way of death, monsters or gore.  It's an early psychological thriller more than anything else.  It's also quite a short film, clocking in at just over an hour (another trademark of Ulmer, getting things done quickly.)

After watching The Black Cat, I explained the significance of Edgar G. UImer, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff to my mother.  I also covered the career arcs of the two main stars.  Lugosi's fizzled and he developed bad habits like morphine and working with Ed Wood.  Karloff, meanwhile, sustained an admirable career for many years.  She was quite taken with the film.  It has stood the test of time and is well worth a watch even now. 

Side note: I also attempted to explain to her the renaissance in popularity Bela Lugosi and Ed Wood experienced in the 1980s and onward.  I even went into the Bauhaus and their famous track named after Bela.  I showed her a live video of the band performing at Coachella in 2005:


She was so taken aback by Peter Murphy hanging upside down for the entire performance that the song was king of lost on her.  She's a bit out of the post punk demographic anyway.

So tonight, naturally, we watched Plan 9 From Outer Space.



Unsurprisingly, she thought it was amazingly awful.  I attempted to explain that the terribleness the film was the point of it, and how Ed Wood became so famous for his ineptitude.  She did find some parts amusing, but in general thought it stunk.  I think tomorrow night we'll watch Edgar Ulmer's famous 1945 noir film Detour to make up for it.

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Aside from the soundtrack significance (first film with continuous music) there was an urban legend about one of the lines Lugosi had with Karloff in The Black Cat.

It was said that it was filmed before Lugosi could speak English and that he performed his lines phonetically. 

Who knows for sure?

Always a great talking point for Creature Features hosts.


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