Each day in October, three brave souls from our gang of Groovy Goolies (co-editor Paul Childs, Boardgames Master Aaron Nash and Ultimate Movie Geek Nathaniel Jepson) are watching horror films from around the world and across a wide spectrum of the horror genre, so expect slashers, ghosts, cultists, demons, vampires, cannibals, zombies, kaiju, aliens and more!
Paul’s Choice – Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
This is my first time watching Bride of Frankenstein. I have, however, read Mary Shelley’s novel, seen the 1931 precursor movie and also the 1994 version of Frankenstein, so the first thing I realised, just a few minutes in is that BOF is not an original sequel but a continuation of the book. Shame, as that meant I knew pretty much how it was going to pan out.
However, there’s plenty of artistic license taken so I needn’t have worried too much. On Blu-Ray it’s a great looking film. I forgot I was watching something made over 70 years ago. And the special effects are better than some from today’s films! The model work, especially the collapse of Frankenstein’s castle is exquisitely done!
But what about the story? Well, on the whole, I loved it. Frankenstein is a story which has, over the years been horribly misinterpreted, casting the monster as a mindless, musclebound beast. Here he’s portrayed (as in the first film) with pathos and sensitivity, without ever ignoring his brutality. I felt good for him when things were going well and, rather than being afraid of him, I was disappointed in him when he flew into a rage and killed people. As with many of the greatest horror stories, it’s the prejudice and misunderstanding of humans which is the scariest. Performances, especially from Elsa Lanchester (as the titular Bride) and Karloff, are very good. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) himself comes across as a much more sympathetic character than in the first film and his mentr Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) gives us a suitably pantomime-ish turn as the new villain of the piece.
I felt that a few things could have improved things. I could happily have done without the prologue with Byron and the newly married Shelleys. Also, and I accept that this is my modern sensibilities projecting onto a product of a different time, I felt rather uncomfortable watching the scene where the old hermit teaches the monster that smoking is good (not to mention being left with the really quite odd image of Karloff’s monster puffing on a cigar like it’s some humorous TV ad). But these are minor niggles – for a classic film with a lot more heart than most modern horror films you should check this out!
Aaron’s Choice – Hellbound (1994)
CHUCK NORRIS VS SATAN!
I mean…what more is there to say. Is that not the greatest premise ever? It feels like the logical next step in the line of people/entities on Chick Norris’s hit list. He’s taken on most nation’s on earth, so why not take on the big baddie himself.
Unfortunately, we never get to see Chuck roundhouse kick the evil horned one back to the depths of hell but we do get to watch him try and stop him from arriving on earth. In fact, the devil seems to be the only thing Chuck doesn’t fight in the film. He seems very much in the mindset of fight first, ask questions when they are unconscious. This even includes members of the police force. At one point an officer just wants to ask him a question. ‘Nope!’ Is the answer as Chuck knocks him unconscious.
The plot is pretty formulaic in that the devil’s emissary is collecting pieces of a staff, that when put together will bring the end of times. The only people to stop him are detectives Frank Shatter and Calvin Jackson. Now, let me just say that I think the name Frank Shatter is absurd ( I apologise to ant Frank Shatters out there) but brilliantly in line with action movie main characters from the 80’s. It has to sound strong and dangerous and this just makes me chuckle.
The director (who just so happens to be Chuck Norris’s son Aaron Norris) clearly thought that the devil’s emissary didn’t quite seem evil enough in looks so the opted to dubb in lots of over the top evil laughter. Sometimes its relevant such as when he tears the hearts out of random people. At other times they just randomly insert the laughter to emphasise the evilness. As with the rest of the film, it’s so stupid, it’s just funny.
We even get some slow-motion fight scenes as Chuck battles against demons which appear out of nowhere. It looks terrible but adds to the films charm.
The film feels a bit like the precursor to films such as ‘End of Days’ and ‘Constantine’ which both have similar plots albeit with less Chuck Norris. It’s over the top, silly and ridiculous, but it is highly amusing and a pretty fun action-horror film. Although not scary in the slightest I’d say it’s a great bit of 90’s action starring the ever-great Chuck Norris.
Nathaniel’s Choice – Scream 2 (1998)
Do you like scary movies? Our resident YouTuber does (well some of them)! Check out his video review of the continuing meta-adventures of Ghostface!