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Turner Classic Movies
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Classic Films To Spook & Scare
Written by Diana Saenger   

Whether you are an avid horror fan, or just want to get in the mood for Halloween, there's nothing better to scare up a fright than a horror film, especially some of the classic ones. Filmmakers in those days, like producer Val Lewton, knew how to make a frightening movie. He used psychological terror that infused the horror genre with a new intelligence and put a spotlight on the literary aspects of horror. Actors like Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Laird Cregar, Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi  and Basil Rathbone were made to produce chills. And of course - there's always some of the B-slasher movies to provide some good laughs.

Check Out These Frightful Classics

Bedlam (1946) is on the same disc with Isle of the Dead. St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum in 1761 London provides the setting for Bedlam. Boris Karloff gives an uncanny performance as the doomed overseer who fawns on high-society benefactors while ruling the mentally disturbed inmates with an iron fist. Mark Robson, who edited three films for Lewton and directed five, guides both of these films. © Warner Home Video - 79 minutes - not rated.

catpeople-120.jpgCat People (1942) is on the same disc with Curse of the Cat People, is directed by Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, I Walked with a Zombie), and is the trailblazing first of Val Lewton's nine horror classics. The film stars Simone Simon portraying a bride who fears an ancient hex will turn her into a deadly panther when she's in passion's grip. © Warner Home Video - 73 minutes - not rated.

dracula_ad_1972120.jpgDracula A.D. 1972 (1972) - London's become a small town for a handful of jaded psychedelic-era hipsters. But Johnny Alucard has a groovy new way for his pals to get their kicks. A certain ritual will be the living end, he insists. And if you still wonder where Johnny's coming from, try spelling his last name backwards. Dracula is raised into the modern era in this Hammer Studios shocker that's "quite well done" (John Stanley, Creature Features). Christopher Lee dons the cape for the sixth time and seeks out fresh victims. As archnemesis Van Helsing looks on, fellow horror legend Peter Cushing clutches a vial of holy water and edges within throwing distance. Their harrowing battle is not to be missed. In fact, it's the living end.   © MGM/Sony Home Entertainment - 96 minutes - rated" "PG".  

fromawhisperscream120.jpgFrom A Whisper To A Scream (1987) - On the night his niece is executed for committing a string of brutal killings, historian Julian White (Vincent Price) reveals the sinister secrets of her hometown, Oldfield, Tennessee, a horrific hamlet that spawns evil! But as the town's murderous legacy is exposed with White's chilling accounts - including stories of a necrophiliac madman, a voodoo priest with life-prolonging powers, and a legion of children with an appetite for flesh - White doesn't realize that he is about to write the final chapter of Oldfield's morbid history...in his own blood. © MGM/Sony Home Entertainment -100 minutes - rated "R".

frombeyond120.jpgFrom Beyond (1986) - Few directors have been as devoted to a single source as Stuart Gordon has to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Throughout his varied career, Gordon has tackled Lovecraft five times to date, the second of which was 1986's From Beyond. Released a year after his breakout cult hit Re-Animator, From Beyond rivals and perhaps even trounces its big brother in sheer grossness, depravity, and all-around ickiness -- in other words, this is a movie that was made to relieve its viewers of their lunches or any other recent meals they've ingested. Empire Pictures - 88 minutes - rated "R". Review of From Beyond.

hangoversquare120.jpgHangover Square - George Harvey Bone (Laird Cregar) is a classical composer living in Hangover Square in London and suffering from periods of blackouts, disillusionments and dizziness. When Sir Henry Chapman (Alan Napier) invites George to finish a piece of music, George is ecstatic. When Sir Henry leaves, his daughter Barbara (Faye Marlowe) stays behind to be with George and he tells her he doesn't know how he spent the night on the streets. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment - 77 minutes - not rated. Review of Hangover Square.

iwalked_zombie-bodysnatcher120.jpgI Walked with a Zombie (1943) is on the same disc with The Body Snatcher and is part of producer Val Lewton's classic horror films and stars James Ellison, Frances Dee and Tom Conway. Film historians Kim Newman and Steve Jones provide commentary on the film about a young nurse sent to a plantation to care for a woman classified as a zombie. © Warner Home Video - 69 minutes - not rated.

islethedeadbedlam120.jpgIsle of the Dead (1945) is on the same disc with Bedlam. In Isle of the Dead Boris Karloff shares a quarantined house with other strangers on a plague-infested and perhaps spirit-haunted island. © Warner Home Video - 79 minutes - not rated.

Land of the Dead: Unrated Director's Cut (2005-okay it's not a classic but nice to compare to the ones that are) In this new tale, Romero creates a harrowing vision of a modern-day world where the walking dead roam an uninhabited wasteland and the living try to lead normal lives behind the walls of a fortified city. © Universal Home Entertainment - 97 minutes - rated "R".

Night of the Lepus (1972) is a hormone intended to alter the breeding cycle of rabbits overrunning ranchlands instead turns them into flesh-eating, 150-pound monsters in Night of the Lepus. Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelley are among the intrepid humans facing the behemoth bunnies. They use guns, flames and dynamite to subtract them. But the rampaging rabbits know how to multiply. Can anything stop these hare-y scary monsters?   © Warner Home Video - 88 minutes - not rated.

Tales of Terror (1962) is on the same disc as Twice Told Tales.   This triple treat of terror is a three-episode treat dripping with murder, necrophilia, dementia, live burials, zombies and the terrifying performances of some of horror's greatest spooks - Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone - resulting in nothing less than "juicy entertainment" and "spine-chilling cinema" (Cue)! © MGM/Sony Home Entertainment - 120 minutes - not rated.

The Body Snatcher (1945)   is on the same disc as I Walked with a Zombie and stars Boris Karloff, the most celebrated star in the history of screen horror, stars in this Val Lewton adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher. Directed with subtle calculation by versatile young Robert Wise, the story is about a doctor (Henry Daniell) who needs cadavers for medical studies and Karloff is willing to provide them - one way or another. This film includes Karloff's famous scene with fellow horror icon Bela Lugosi. Warner Home Video - 77 minutes - not rated.

The Curse of the Cat People (1944) is on the same disc as Cat People and Simon returns in this sequel that has become a landmark study of a troubled child that proved to be so astute it has been used in college psychology classes. Surprisingly, this gothic-laced mix of fantasy and fright marks Robert Wise's directorial debut. Warner Home Video - 70 minutes - not rated.

demon_seed.jpgThe Demon Seed (1977) - In a truly fine performance Julie Christie plays Susan in this taut techno-thriller based on the Dean Koontz novel. Packed with suspense, surprise and special effects, Demon Seed follows Susan's desperate attempts to outmaneuver and outthink her captor. Then Susan learns what Proteus - an artificial brain that has learned to reason and to terrorize - wants: its own child, conceived in her womb and destined for domination.  Warner Home Video - 94 minutes - not rated.

foodsoftgods120.jpgThe Food of The Gods (1976) - When Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) and friends go to remote Canadian island on a hunting trip they're attacked by a swarm of giant wasps. Things get worse while looking for help when Morgan runs into an enormous killer chicken. He soon discovers the island is inhabitated by giant- sized bugs and animals. Watch out for the rats! They're after the human. MGM/Fox Home Entertainment -  88 minutes -  Rated "PG."

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) is on the same disc as Voodoo Island. The sins of the fathers rest heavily on the heads of the sons - literally - in this fun-filled fright fest that'll keep you "awake and screaming through many a traumatic night" (Variety)! Faced with an age-old family curse that beheaded their forefathers, two brothers attempt to unravel the family plot even as sinister forces attempt to put them into it! MGM/Sony Home Entertainment - 70 minutes - not rated.

the_garbage_pail_kids120.jpgThe Garbage Pail Kids (1987) - When Dodger (Astin) accidentally releases the Kids from their magical trash can prison, all smell breaks loose. Despite their offensive personal habits - and attitude problems - Dodger soon becomes fond of the Kids. But when Messy Tessie, Foul Phil, Valerie Vomit and the whole misfit crew join his fight against thuggish bullies, their efforts just might land them behind bars at the State Home for the Ugly! © MGM/Sony Home Entertainment - 97 minutes - rated" "PG".

The Ghost Ship (1943) is on the same disc as The Leopard Man. Director Mark Robson (Bedlam, Peyton Place) helms this brilliant nautical thriller. Richard Dix (Cimarron, The Whistler series) plays the sinister captain whose port of call may be madness. © Warner Home Video - 69 minutes - not rated.

 The Leopard Man (1943) is on the same disc as    The Ghost Ship.     In    The Leopard Man,    an escaped leopard provides the catalyst for a foray into fear in which castanets clack wildly, a cemetery is a rendezvous for death and love, and a closed door heightens rather than hides the horror of a young girl's fate. It's the third and final teaming of producer Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur. © Warner Home Video - 66 minutes - not rated.

the_lodger120_copy.jpgThe Lodger ­ (1927) - This remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 silent film about Jack the Ripper, and based on Marie Belloc Lowndes's book, was very well done. In addition to the terror plot, the scenes of London's Victorian actress Kitty Langley (Merle Oberon) performing are light-hearted with wonderful costumes, which provide a great counter balance to the drama. She even surprised the director when she pooh-poohed her stand-in and did a can-can herself. Merle Oberon actually married the film's cinematographer, Lucien Ballard. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment - 84 minutes - not rated. Review of The Lodger.

the_seventh_victim120.jpgThe Seventh Victim (1943) is Val Lewton's stunner about a Greenwich Village devil cult where six people have broken the clandestine group's code of silence. The same six appear to have died as a result. Now a new member of the group has gone missing. Will she meet the same fate? Kim Hunter debuts as a schoolgirl whose search for her vanished sister unearths an urban lair of devil worshippers. Mark Robson directs the first of his five Lewton films, bringing dark foreboding to moments that include a much-noted pre-Psycho shower scene and a shocker of a subway encounter. © Warner Home Video - 71 minutes - not rated.

theundyingmonster120_copy.jpgThe Undying Monster (1942)- Adapted from Jessie Douglas Kerruish's novel,  this is another early picture about the myth that a man can become a werewolf and turn into a wolf late at night and stalk victims. The Hammond family lives in a gated English country estate. While all seems normal on the surface, the family has actually been dealing with suspected "ghosts" in the house and even worse, that there are rumors of werewolves in the family history. Review of The Undying Monster.  

talesofterror120.jpgTwice Told Tales (1963) is on the same disc as Tales of Terror. It's spine-tingling terror...in triplicate! Virtuoso of horror     (Los Angeles Times) Vincent Price dials up the depravity in this spellbinding trilogy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "all-chiller" (LA Herald-Examiner) classics! Featuring "a demented genius! Poisonous plants! Oozing blood! [And] a corpse in a wedding gown" (The Film Daily), Twice Told Tales spins three diabolical nightmares of madness, mayhem and murder most foul! © MGM/Fox Home Entertainment - 120 minutes - not rated.

voodoo_island120.jpgVoodoo Island   (1957) is on the same disc as The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake - Boris Karloff stars as a leader of an investigation of mysterious disappearances on a South Pacific island that is the proposed site of an exclusive resort. But after a few encounters with carnivorous plants and zombies, he realizes that this might not be the ideal place for a vacation and that his team will be lucky to make it off the island alive! © MGM/Sony Home Entertainment - 78 minutes - not rated.

WARNING - parents should always watch these films, no what the rating, before showing them to small children.

 



                       

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