ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Renowned Author and critic Kim Newman takes us on a nostalgic trip through Horror Channel's Classic Monster Marathon Day on Sunday 24 November.
By James Whittington, Tuesday 19th November 2019

When Universal Pictures secured the rights to Bram Stoker's Dracula, the property had just been made popular by a Broadway theatre adaptation. Stage star Bela Lugosi got his career-making (and-defining) gig as the Count ('I... am... Dracula') because Lon Chaney, star of Universal's silent Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame, had died and left a gap few thought anyone would ever fill. At the time, the industry classed Dracula as 'a mystery play', lumping it in with the old dark house spookiness of The Cat and the Canary. After the first talkie vampire became a big hit, folks started talking about 'horror films' and 'monster movies' - and the genre as we know it nearly ninety years later was founded. With Dracula as a template, studio head Carl Laemmle Jr looked around for other horror/monster properties, and a more versatile Chaney successor than Lugosi, then rushed Frankenstein into production, introducing Boris Karloff as the man-made monster.

Tod Browning's Dracula and James Whale's Frankenstein are director-led standalone pictures, so the first production line monster movie is The Mummy, a swift rewrite of Dracula crafted for the breakout star of Frankenstein and directed by cinematographer Karl Freund. Then came the brides, the sons, the houses, the team-ups, Abbott and Costello ...and new additions to the gang, like The Wolf Man - played by a literal next generation horror star, Lon Chaney Jr - in the 1940s and the Creature From the Black Lagoon in the 1950s. Reboots, homages, remakes and revisions come along regularly, and a wealth of merchandising (yes, I own a Phantom of the Opera mouth organ and a Creature From the Black Lagoon water pistol).

This very welcome day-long session on Horror Channel affords a chance to go back to where it started, to see classics as they were when new, when the fiends weren't yet domesticated by masks and costumes and toys ...to be reminded that, after all, these monsters really are universal.

Dracula (1931)
My lifelong involvement with horror began with a 1970 screening of this film - and no matter how many times I see it, I get the same chills. I even love its stagey drawing room scenes, early talkie crudities and squeaky bats on strings. The opening reel is perfect, from the snatch of Swan Lake over the credits and the unlikely armadillo and giant bug scuttling around the tombs of the brides of Dracula. With Bela Lugosi modelling the black cloak/white tie look with spotlights for his hypnotic eyes and Dwight Frye matching him as the visitor driven mad by his experiences in Castle Dracula and turned into the Count's cringing, whining minion.

Frankenstein (1931)
If Dracula is an almost accidental success, Frankenstein is an inspired, crafted work - it wrestles Mary Shelley's philosophical novel into fable-like simplicity and jazzes up the creation scenes with fizzing electrical gear and a gothic laboratory. James Whale, Boris Karloff and make-up maestro Jack P. Pierce are the real Frankensteins here - bringing to life a new, instantly classic character, who is heart-breaking and yet terrifying, a true innocent abused and thwarted and turned cruel. The story has been retold over and over, but this is the version that sticks in the mind - how many kids play Frankenstein at Halloween by putting on a Robert De Niro mask? The flat head, the forehead scar, the big boots, the donkey jacket, and the neck electrodes are add-ons, but it's Karloff's drawn, haunted face - especially his eyes - that sell the character.

The Mummy (1932)
Though they looked to Edgar Allan Poe's "Black Cat" and H.G. Wells' Invisible Man, Universal began creating their own characters early in the horror cycle. The Mummy is inspired by tabloid stories about the curse of Tutankhamun and borrows its monster-seeks-reincarnation-of-lost-love theme from "She" (later, that would be added on to many Dracula adaptations). Its plot owes a lot to Dracula as the prologue wakes up another immortal predator who fixates on the heroine, with Edward Van Sloan reprising his role as a Van Helsing type who faces off against Karloff's reanimated mummy Imhotep. Jack P. Pierce again created a lasting, classic look for a monster - the wrinkled parchment face (again enlivened when Karloff's liquid eyes open), the bandage bodystocking - and amid all the pulp adventure there's a whiff of proper ancient magic.

The Wolf Man (1941)
Jack P. Pierce devised a werewolf makeup for The Werewolf of London (1935) that star Henry Hull refused to wear, but when Universal decided to have another go at this particular monster eager-to-please, Lon Chaney Jr was willing to be buried in yak hair and fitted with fangs and claws. Set in a strangely Hollywood idea of Wales, the film has Lugosi literally pass on the curse of horror stardom to Chaney Jr, playing the gypsy who bites Larry Talbot (Chaney) and turns him into the Wolf Man. Mists pool in dark woods, psychological sub-texts are talked up, a classy supporting cast (including Claude Rains and the unforgettable Dame Maria Ouspenskaya) chips in, and the snarling man-beast prowls under the full moon. Like most great monster movies, The Wolf Man is in the end a tragedy - a man unleashes his true nature and dies for it.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
After Abbott and Costello had met (and made fun of) Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Mummy - and, more to the point, World War II and the dawn of the atom age made the old creatures seem quaint, Universal stayed in the monster game with a run of terrific science fiction films (mostly directed by Jack Arnold). The Gill Man, a prehistoric fish-human evolutionary byway, was designed by Millicent Patrick, and played underwater by sinuous swimmer Ricou Browning. The film has moments of dread and poetry and strange sexiness - an underwater ballet as the creature lurks beneath white-swim suited pin-up Julia Adams - but also exhibits a new, appropriate savagery (especially apparent in 3D) that shows even as decades change, the monsters refuse to be tamed.


Related show tags: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN
MORE FEATURES
Horror Channel has such sights to show you with broadcast of Hellraiser Trilogy
Posted on Wednesday 1st April 2020

Fridays on Horror brings you a box of not so nice delights as we open a puzzle known as the Lament Configuration and deliver Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.

We begin April 3rd at 10.50pm with Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) has solved the mystery of the Lament Configuration puzzle box, a sort of evil Rubik's cube. Unfortunately he inadvertently opens a doorway to Hell and, in death, enters the world of the Cenobites, a race of sadistic supernatural beings led by a bald Cenobite (Doug Bradley). Brought back from the edge of damnation by the blood of his brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson), Frank rises to feed on the souls of others. But he needs ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel celebrates Sci-Fi B-Movies with Classic Sci-Fi Weekend in April
Posted on Tuesday 24th March 2020

Horror Channel also celebrates the Sci-fi B-Movie with a Classic Sci-Fi Weekend, featuring the channel premieres of mutant octopus-rampaging It Came From Beneath The Sea, Fred F. Sears' saucer-invading caper Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, Sears' rampaging alien bird yarn The Giant Claw, Jack Arnold's thought-provoking classic The Incredible Shrinking Man and Nathan Juran's Ray Harryhausen inspired 20 Million Miles To Earth.

Broadcast on Saturday 11 April and Sunday 12 April from 2pm, the season also includes more strange creatures and alien invaders with The Thing From Another World, This Island Earth and Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun.

Full film details in transmission order...

SHARE: READ MORE
UK TV premiere of The Soska Sister's Vendetta leads Horror Channel Vengeance Season in April
Posted on Monday 16th March 2020

April is a wicked month on Horror Channel as cops and villains fight it out in the Vengeance Season, a hard-hitting violent action collection which includes the UK TV premieres of the Soska Sister's all-male maelstrom of mayhem, Vendetta, starring Dean Cain and Paul 'Big Show' Wight, and the fight-to-the death revenge thriller Blood Out, starring Luke Goss, 50 Cent and Vinnie Jones.

Broadcast on Saturday nights at 9pm throughout the month, the season also includes the channel premieres of gritty, bullet-fuelled The Prince, starring Bruce Willis, John Cusack and Jason Patric, and Martin Warren's The Heavy, starring Gary Stretch, Vinnie Jones and Christopher Lee.

Full film details in transmi...

SHARE: READ MORE
Project Tic Toc is running once more on Horror
Posted on Sunday 15th March 2020

For his third TV production, legendary producer Irwin Allen turned to the theme of history, past and present, The Time Tunnel.

The concept is nice and straight forward: Project Tic-Toc is an experimental Time Machine project which has been created at huge cost by the United States Government. So far, their efforts have designed and built "The Time Tunnel", a sort of multi-dimensional corridor you can walk down to enter "the living past or future" in any point of time. But after a decade the Government want real results after such an investment and ask for volunteers to prove that the project works. Up steps Dr. Anthony Newman (James Darren, yes, THE James Darren) who defies all attempts to stop him f...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel gets beastly in March with Creature Feature season
Posted on Thursday 20th February 2020

Carnivorous sandworms, murderous ant hybrids, a giant snake and deadly creepy spiders... Horror Channel gets beastly this March with a Creature Feature Season - a monstrous collection of creature carnage, which includes the UK TV premieres of It Came From The Desert, Marko Makilaakso's smart, funny and very creepy homage to Ray Harryhausen, and Micah Gallo's skin-tingling directorial debut Itsy Bitsy, every arachnophobe's worst nightmare.

Broadcast on Friday nights throughout the month, the season also includes the channel premiere of Tremors, Ron Underwood's affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, starring Kevin Bacon, and the star-studded jungle snake nightmare Anaconda, s...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.

His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.

HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?

SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel marks February weekends with eight action-packed premieres
Posted on Wednesday 15th January 2020

Killer parties, virtual dinosaurs, zombie flesh-eaters and Milla Jovovich in top form...Horror Channel makes February an action-packed month with eight premieres, including the UK TV premiere of Matty Beckerman's savage sorority slasher The Row and the channel premieres of Simeon Halligan's neon-drenched Mancunian horror thriller Habit, starring Elliot James Langridge, Roxanne Pallett and Jessica Barden. Plus there's the eerie psychological thriller Can't Come Out To Play, directed by John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), starring Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon and Peter Fonda.

There are also Channel premieres for the 2019 version of Cabin Fever, a remake of Eil Roth's 2002...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel beams in Captain Sulu for "George Takei selects Star Trek" on Saturday January 25
Posted on Monday 6th January 2020

George Takei, the legendary Star Trek actor, personally introduces some of his favourite Sulu episodes from the Original Series.

"George Takei selects Star Trek" will take over Horror Channel on Saturday 25 January, from 3pm, showing four specially selected episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Here are George's chosen episodes with transmission order:

3pm: Star Trek: The Original Series - The Naked Time
A rescue party goes to save some scientists on a dying planet, but they are all dead when the team arrives. Can McCoy save the day?

4.05pm: Star Trek: The Original Series - Shore Leave
The crew enjoy some downtime on a peaceful p...

SHARE: READ MORE
10 of the best from 2019!
Posted on Sunday 22nd December 2019

The last 12 months has been a prime year for the horror genre fan with titles that stretched well-trodden ideas mixed with some truly original pieces.

We've had sequels, remakes, and more than our fair share of true oddities and for once the good outweighed the bad.

Here in no particular order are ten of the best the year had to offer either at festivals, in cinema or home entertainment.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot
Sam Elliott and Aidan Turner are The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot the critically acclaimed, genre-bending, breath-taking adventure that sees a legendary American war hero as a young man and in his twilight years, taking on two very different adversaries. Decades after serving in WWII and assassinating Adolf Hitler, Calvin Barr (Elliott/Turner) is enlisted as the only man for the job: to hunt down the fable...

SHARE: READ MORE
"Danger, Will Robinson!" - Time to get Lost in Space with Horror
Posted on Wednesday 18th December 2019

Created by Irwin Allen and set way into the (then) future, Lost in Space is one of those cult TV series that Hollywood is rightfully proud of. Allen, of course had already given the world the gripping series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68) and would go onto create more classics such as The Time Tunnel (1966-67) and Land of Giants (1968-70) and produce cinematic thrills as The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974).

Originally running from 1965 until 1968 and across three seasons and an incredible 83 episodes, the series, set in 1997, brought the space age to homes across the globe, just a few years before we made it to the moon.

Influenced by the classic...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel kicks off the New Year with a Stranger Fears Season
Posted on Tuesday 10th December 2019
Horror Channel kicks off the New Year with a Stranger Fears Season - a retro-flavoured selection of 1980s influenced modern horror, which includes the UK TV premieres of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski's hard-core hospital horror The Void and Jackson Stewart's throwback paranormal fantasy Beyond the Gates, starring horror legend Barbara Crampton. Broadcast every Saturday night throughout the month, the season also includes Todd Strauss-Schulson's entertainingly subversive slasher fantasy The Final Girls and Lowell Dean's stylish, rage-fuelled WolfCop.

There is also a UK TV premiere for Mathieu Turi's terrifying and moving horror thriller Hostile and channel premieres for Barry Levinson's brutal and ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Seasonal shocks aplenty on Horror in December including UK premiere of Tyler MacIntyre's Patchwork.
Posted on Thursday 21st November 2019

Wayward werewolves, genetic mutants, a female Frankenstein, man-eating spiders and the return of The Creeper... Horror Channel provides plenty of seasonal shocks in December, including the UK TV premiere for Tyler MacIntyre's incandescent comic horror Patchwork, a modern spin on Mary Shelley mythology, mixed with fun gore and a cheeky tone. It received rapturous applause when first screened in the UK at FrightFest Glasgow 2016 and will delight fans of classic 1980's scream fests.

There is also a UK TV premiere for spider-infested supernatural thriller Guardians of the Tombs, starring Kelsey Grammer and Channel premieres for martial-arts futurist thriller Ultraviolet, starring Milla Jovovich, werewolf chiller...

SHARE: READ MORE
Features Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Insidious
INSIDIOUS
Tuesday 7th April
10.45 PM
Fright Night
FRIGHT NIGHT
Sunday 12th April
10.45 PM
Triangle
TRIANGLE
Thursday 9th April
9.00 PM