Saturday, 17 September 2016

Watching old, old movies part 2

I'm on a roll here. Even more so because these old movies are usually between 70 and 90 minutes long :P Could easily fit two or three of these old movies in the same time it would take to watch one modern epic adventure movie (I'm looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings). So the next batch from my list:

(Part 1)

4. Frankenstein (1931)
Another iconic movie. This one set the image for what everyone thinks Frankenstein's monster looks like. Even if you haven't seen the movie you're sure to have seen pictures from it or pictures based on it.
I'm not gonna go into the plot because most people know the broad strokes of this story. Something that surprised me, though (maybe a reflection of the times): in the beginning it says "Based on the novel by Mrs. Percy B. Shelley". Why not just Mary Shelley? Why use her husband's name? As always when I watch or read the Frankenstein story I just feel sorry for the monster. Awakened into a world where everyone's afraid of you. That little girl was the only one to show him kindness, and he accidentally killed her. He didn't understand it wouldn't work that way - that the flowers would float, but the girl wouldn't. How could he? He was nothing more than a baby, really. A baby with inhuman strength that could kill you if he threw a tantrum. The Frankenstein story always makes me question who's the most monstrous; the actual monster who means well, but looks and sounds scary, or the humans whose base instinct is to kill anything that's different? I haven't read the novel yet (it's in my bookshelf waiting for me), so I can't be sure, but in every adaptation I've seen Dr. Frankenstein's assistant is named Igor, but here he's named Fritz (awesomely played by Dwight Frye btw), and in every adapation Dr. Frankenstein's first name has been Victor, but here it's Henry (Henry actually has a friend named Victor which was very confusing to me in the beginning of the movie). I don't know which is the real names from the novel, but suddenly having new names for the characters was slightly bewildering.
There was nothing unexpected about this movie, and although I'd like to call it amazing it doesn't quite reach all the way. It was good. I enjoyed it. But maybe the whole story is too well-known for me already. Boris Karloff was as great as you'd expect as the monster, and Dwight Frye was masterful as usual.

5. The Mummy (1932)
Another Boris Karloff movie. Before I started watching it I had a slight wondering, then when the title cards started showing the actors and their characters, I knew. The Mummy film from 1999 that I absolutely love is a remake with spiced up story of this movie from 1932. I figured that out when I saw that Boris Karloff played Imhotep - the mummy himself - with the same name as the mummy in 1999. The base plot of the two movies is the same: a 4000 year-old mummy is exhumed and accidentally awakened, he then tries to get his ancient love back by using a living girl that looks like her, his love betrays him and the living girl is rescued by her boyfriend and the mummy destroyed. Karloff was amazing. In a speaking role like Imhotep he was a lot more charismatic and appealing than as the monster from Frankenstein. His "mummy-stare" is scary and hypnotic at the same time. (I really understand how he got the Hollywood nickname "The Uncanny"). His voice was deep and appealing (imagine a mix of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee). I mean, I can see that his looks aren't that amazing, but I sort of fell in love with Karloff here!
In terms of excitement I really liked the story! But then again I may be biased, because I love the 1999 movie so much.

6. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
The creature looks like a mix between the Ice Warriors and the Sea Devils from classic Doctor Who.
The whole story was very King Kong-y. Scientists discover a basically untouched lagoon in the Amazon and begin exploring it for fossils etc. They discover a creature that they call the Gill-Man (sounds like a very stupid superhero name tbh). Gill-Man becomes interested in the woman of the group and attempts several times to run off with her. She's afraid of him and the men of the group keep arguing about whether they should kill Gill-Man or capture him for study. In the end Gill-Man is killed but not brought back for study (for some reason - now they have all the proof they need to show the world of science that Gill-Man was real). I quite liked the movie though, to me it had some similarities with King Kong and Anaconda. I wouldn't call it a favourite, but it was definitely neither boring nor bad.

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