Heaving Bosoms and Lurching Un-Dead

One of my favorite movie sub-genres is the Horror Melodrama. You know the ones; Hammer Horror, Roger Corman, perky blondes with Barbie make-up & hair sporting 3-D breasts, scientists dabbling in Things Man Was Not Meant To Wot Of, pits & pendulums, etc. Late-night popcorn stuff, idealling in lurid color.

So which ones are your favorites?

I’ve always been very partial to Roger Corman’s “The Raven”, because it seems the purest example of the form. Gothic castles, good wizard vs. bad wizard, all my favorite actors (Lorre, Price, Karloff), evil redhead & virtuous blond (who exist only to fill out their low-cut gowns), a carriage chase on a cliff road during a storm, and as an extra bonus, a barely post-pubescent Jack Nicholson getting to play the hero AND the hero as a madman possessed. Yee-haw.

Of the Brit flicks, my favorite is “Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors” (I think it had a different name in the UK), four vignettes tied together by a scary stranger with a tarot deck on a train. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, classic tales of crawling hands seeking revenge, a voracious plant, angelic children practicing voodoo, big gothic country houses.

Actually, one of my favorites is a Roger Corman film as well, altho it’s usually considered the last of the Poe trilogy. “The Tomb of Ligeia” starring Vincent Price just rocks. Price just comes across as a wholly different character than in many other of his films, almost a romantic hero. And the whole concept of the dead wife’s haunting him/mesmerizing him is classic. Great colors, good acting, nice mystery, and great fire scene in the end! Although, as an aside, something I read said that Price was actually “scared” of fires, and hated being in so many films that featured death scenes involving them. He actually got injured a bit during the filming of “The Tomb of Ligeia” as well.

I adore “Theatre of Blood”; it fulfills every cheesiness need. Vincent Price is an out-of-fashion, scenery-chewing Shakespearean actor who is driven to suicide (maybe) by vicious reviews. Diana Rigg, his daughter, and a motley assortment of theatrical weirdos exact terrible, appropriate deaths on the heartless reviewers, e.g. drowning in a butt of malmsey, eating one’s “children”, etc.

The whole thing is over-the-top FUN. The cast has a ball with it and it’s one of the few quasi lit-based screamers where you genuinely won’t “get” the jokes without a basic grounding in Shakespeare.

Damn, I love that movie.


Without a doubt: The Abominable Dr. Phibes: A horribly mutilated Vincent Price bringing the Plagues of Egypt down on the people who failed to save his wife after a car wreck. Complete with virtuoso pipe organ playing and maniacal laughter from the good Dr.

A close second is Asylum: another 4 part vignette piece about four inmates in a British looney bin. My favorite piece was the one where the man dismembered his wife, wrapped her pieces in butcher paper and put them in the big freezer. Of course, they all reanimated and came after him. The paper sucking in and out of the mouth as the head rolled itself across the floor was a masterful stroke.


Not forgetting the sequel, which finishes with Phibes poling off down a subterranean river on the coffin of his dead wife, to the strains of ‘Over the Rainbow’ :smiley:

I notice a common theme here…Vincent Price! I love his movies! The Raven is my all-time favorite but what about Tales of Terror? Three vignettes starring Price and such luminaries as Peter Lorre and Sebastian Cabot. One of the tales was Dr. Heidigger’s Experiment. Another was A Cask of Amontillado, I believe. Can’t recall the third at the moment. Great Stuff!

On a related note, as a teenager I actually got to see Vincent in person. He was on a lecture tour - My Life as a Villain. A night I’ll never forget.

[sup]He’s got some good cookbooks, too![/sup]

The one with Herbert Lom in an insane asylum, with the demon-possessed dolls, and shoot, I’ll probably remember the title in the middle of the night. (Is that “Asylum”?)

The Peter Cushing “Dracula” with Christopher Lee.

Also, there’s a Freddie Francis black and white pic from the 1960s, (“Frenzy”?) where a heartbreakingly young and slender Oliver Reed (that hair! those eyes!) gets to go insane at the end in the finest piece of scenery-chewing I have ever seen.

Also, leave us not forget the immortal Lon Chaney, Sr. as the Phantom of the Opera. Heaving bosoms, yes, but no actual tits. But they weren’t necessary, that’s the important thing. Accept no substitutes, not even Claude Rains (sorry, Claude).

And hey, I loved “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, a classic 60s Hammer vampire show if ever I saw one. What Hammer could have done if they’d had access to 90s special effects (and Gary Oldman).

Normally I can’t stand Corman but…

“Frankenstein Unbound” is one of the most brilliant gems of a movie I have seen ever, I consider it my mission to spread the gospel of this underrated masterpiece…

The recent The Mummy with Brendon Fraser was good. It kept the light tone of the original.

The strange thing is that they never seem to have read their own script. In one scene the mummy is afraid of a housecat. In the next, nobody thinks to sic the cat on him.

Haven’t seen the movie but maybe it’s because cats don’t sic worth a damn? (Other than horking up hairballs at inopportune moments. ::chortles inanely::slight_smile:

Ahem! Yes. Anyway, most self-respecting cats would take one look at a mouldering heap of animated flesh and LEAVE. Worse, they’d probably gain traction for flight by digging their hind claws into any human foolish enough to give them orders in the first place.

Sorry. Digression.


*Originally posted by FallenAngel *
**Without a doubt: The Abominable Dr. Phibes: A horribly mutilated Vincent Price bringing the Plagues of Egypt down on the people who failed to save his wife after a car wreck. Complete with virtuoso pipe organ playing and maniacal laughter from the good Dr.

----Isn’t THIS the one with the DYNAMITE SETS? Gets my vote.

Recently I was at my local video store, cruising through the DVDs, when I decided on impulse to take a quick walk through the horror section. And what should I find but the 103-minute (the most-desirable) version of The Wicker Man. Nice eerie feel to that movie, and it’s very unusual in that there really aren’t scenes of abject terror (just sort of a creeping dread), and most of the movie takes place in daylight.

One almost wishes that Mike Meyers would make a movie which starts out like a Hammer film, in which Dracula goes into suspended animation in order to evade Van Helsing. Van Helsing then has himself cryogenically frozen, and awakens in 2001 to find that all the vampire hunters are using kung-fu a la Blade and Buffy, and that the old bell, book, and candle techniques are out of style.

In fact, Hammer actually did do something of the sort, except that Dracula started out in the 19th century and ended up in 1972, to fight Van Helsing’s great-grandson. Oh, and there was no kung-fu.


Oh great, Ben. Put ideas like that out into the ether and you just know it will be in production by this time next year. Yearrgh.

Wow, just reading through the replies has me jonesing for good wine and silly horror movies. Why can’t every city have a Salzer’s Video? I sure hope Hollywood has a good selection. Maybe “Lust for a Vampire” or “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed”. And can anyone remember the title of the one where Christopher Lee plays some sort of wicked necromancer who gets drawn & quartered and need the blood of a dozen virgins (supplied by his faithful henchman) to be revived? I think it was Spanish, made somewhere around 1970.

I swear I only keep shelling out for cable because of AMC’s Friday night cheesey horror movies. (okay, I really like “Jonathan Creek” too.)

Ben, add some Kung-Fu Ninjas and at least one giant robot in a rubbery suit to your idea, and I’d pay big bucks to see it.

As an aside to comics fans who enjoy this sort of thing, I can’t recommend highly enough Astonishing Tales #23-24:

Fin-Fang-Foom and IT! The Living Colossus team up to fight evil space-aliens in a tremendous, amazing Kung-Fu smackdown! “The Five Claws of Death”! How could anyone not enjoy that?


( <Anna Russell> I’m not making this up you know</Anna Russell> )