Avant Garde French Horror, Two Films in One and Universal Monsters Run Amok

I have another four-pack of horror films for you tonight as we crack the Top 30 and zombie shuffle our way to Halloween.

MV5BNTU4MDRmOGQtZjM3MS00NTNhLTk3NzYtYjEyZmM4ODNhM2Q1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzg2MzE2OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_29. Eyes Without a Face
1960

I saw this gem for the first time last Halloween on Turner Classic Movies as part of their October of horror films and I was quite taken by it. It’s atmospheric, it’s haunting, Billy Idol named a song after it … what’s not to like?

Georges Franju directed this avant garde French horror film that envisions face transplant surgery that wouldn’t happen for some 45 years, in France (of course). A surgeon experiments on unfortunate women (against their will) trying to give his daughter a new face after a disfiguring accident. Of course, the daughter goes insane in the process as surgery after surgery fails to restore her countenance.

The mask the daughter wears to hide her disfigurement is hauntingly beautiful and you can certainly understand why she finally snaps.

MV5BZjk3YmZhMDAtOWUzMS00YjE5LTkxNzAtY2I1NGZjMDA2ZTk0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,665,1000_AL_28. From Dusk Till Dawn
1996

I consider this to be George Clooney best movie. It is really two movies in one – taut hostage drama/batshit crazy vampire film. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Clooney and Quentin Tarantino play the Gecko brothers, a pair of fugitives on the run from the law. They kidnap Harvey Keitel and his family – Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu – and hatch a plan to cross the border into Mexico, where they are to meet up with Cheech Marin (who plays three characters in the movie) who is to take them to the sanctuary city of El Ray.

Everything goes smoothly until they head to the rendezvous, a bar called the Titty Twister. The band of border crossers meet up with Fred “The Hammer” Williamson (Frost) and Tom Savini (Sex Machine) at the bar, which happens to be run by vampires – Cheech, Danny Trejo (Razor Charlie), all the dancers, the wait staff, the band, and the leader – Santanico Pandemonium (played by Salma Hayek).

The vampires show their true colors and all hell breaks loose. This is a fun, ridiculous movies. Michael Parks plays recurring Tarantino/Rodriguez character Texas Ranger Earl McGraw.

MV5BY2UwMDljODktMTRhMS00MjEwLWJmMmQtODQzMWNmMzllZWNlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,637,1000_AL_27. House of Dracula
1945

Not much horror was done in the 1940s because of World War II, however, there were horror comedies with Abbott and Costello, and a few mash-ups. I love the mash-ups. These, again, were shown on Saturday afternoons or late Friday night and they featured all of your favorite Universal monsters. This one includes Dracula, the Wolf-Man and Frankenstein’s monster. Noted cowboy and western star Glenn Strange takes a turn as the monster. John Carradine plays Dracula and of course Lon Chaney, Jr., is Larry Talbot/The Wolf-Man.

Both Dracula and The Wolf-Man seek cures for their afflictions and will do just about anything to be normal. Onslow Stevens plays the mad scientist who would rob Dracula of his immortality for himself.

MV5BMjM5NjkwOTk3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDM4MTczMjE@._V1_26. House of Frankenstein
1944

Released a year before House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein features Boris Karloff as a mad scientist who gets the band back together to do his bidding. John Carradine plays Dracula, and Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf-Man. Lionel Atwill also stars.

Karloff’s character and his hunchback assistant plan to use the stable of monsters to exact revenge on their enemies. Karloff is his usual menacing self and is the real treat in this film. Atwill plays Inspector Arnz, who is famously parodied in Young Frankenstein.

This isn’t the first of the mash-up movies, that was Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man, which I’ll have for you tomorrow night. Universal was really trying to milk their stable of creatures for all they were worth, with inconsistent results. They are fun Saturday afternoon matinee fun all the same.

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