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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #4, 50 Horror Classics

"I live by feeding people's desires to escape the present." Alexis--The Amazing Mr. X


Eagle Lion Films, Inc.
Presents
Director Bernard Vorhaus'
The Amazing Mr. X
1948



Christine (Lynn Bari), wealthy widow and socialite, lives with her younger sister, Janet, (Cathy O'Donnell) in a coastal mansion on cliff, but she just can’t seem to get over her husband, Paul, (Donald Curtis) who’s been "dead" for two years. It doesn't help that she hears him calling to her in the waves (and from the hidden electronic equipment he’s set up in the basement below). 

As she walks along the beach, she meets a mysterious man in suit and tie, Alexis (Turhan Bey), leaning against the rocks. He seems to know all about her, and may be in a position to help her reach her dead husband. He disappears as suddenly as he appeared, and she can't shake the feeling that she should seek him out just in case he can help her. It seems he's the only one who understands. 

Her would-be suitor, Martin (Richard Carlson), an all to logical attorney, certainly doesn't. In fact he believes she should stop pining away over Paul, whether it be with him or someone else. But with that said, he's still determined to help console her grieving and delusions. 

Alexis, The Amazing Mr. X, turns out to be a seer, but not a very good one. His talents consist of nothing more than props and gadgets and simple magic tricks. He's all about conning Christine, a wealthy mixed up widow who lives in a mansion on the beach, and better yet, he has a bonus in the form of her naive little sister who along with Martin want to get to the bottom of Christine's odd behavior and her belief that Alexis can indeed raise Paul from the dead. 

But his plan soon backfires when Janet, who visits Alexis undercover as "Mrs. Charles Harper", soon falls under the charms of The Amazing Mr. X, when he plays to her vulnerabilities, the vulnerabilities of all young women, that she is indeed far more mature than most her age, or the older boys, and even her sister, of whom she has always been a tad jealous. However, Paul isn't dead at all, and really does show up at one of Alexis' seances, much to his surprise. 

You see, Alexis isn't the only con man on the bill. Paul isn't dead at all. He is merely "technically dead". The body found in his car, was none other than his first wife, who tried to pull her inheritance from ever reaching his bank account, once she saw through his scheme. He recognizes an opportunity when he sees it, so he blackmails Alexis to continue with his scam but on a higher level. The Amazing Mr. X must marry Janet. Paul will have easier access to the fortune through the young woman, and after all, she is too young and naive to be of any threat.  If Alexis wants to stay out of jail, he'll have to go along with it. but he is not in the murdering business. He's a simple charlatan, not a murderer. He doesn't want to hurt these women. He just wants to rip them off.  

Now he must watch as Paul gaslights Christine with the intent of eventually offing her, which he almost succeeds in doing in the best scene of the movie. He has Emily (Virginia Gregg), his accomplice who is posing as the resident maid, drug her warm milk before Christine retires. And then through a microphone and speakers hidden in the chimney in her bedroom, Paul coaxes her to the balcony and down the stairs to the cliffs, upon which they used to race. "Last one there is a coward" she mumbles. And through warped vision she makes her way down, fully seeing Paul in the lead, but she's high, and she trips and falls and rolls head over heals down this massive cliff. I have to say, the stunt was awesome. Alexis, wooing Janet on the beach, turns out to be more of a man than we thought, and saves her.  

Through drugs and The Amazing Mr. X, Paul speaks from the shadows, on the piano, and through seance. But Janet isn't as stupid as he thinks, in fact he's the stupid one. He should be more careful when he is speaking through his microphone filling Christine's room with his words and recorded music. 

Don't you just hate it when you're trying to gaslight someone with an LP recording and the darn thing skips? This alerts Janet who is holding vigil next to Christine's bed after her fall, and she makes her way towards the sound, towards the chimney, and once she looks inside and up, she spies the speakers. 

Down to the basement she goes and finds Alexis. While confronting him, Paul walks in. But when Paul aims a gun at Janet, Alexis tunes into his "kinder side" once more, and they grapple. The gun goes off. The Amazing Mr. X has been shot. Janet runs for the phone, but before Paul has a chance to cut the wires, Martin hears a scream. All the commotion brings Christine downstairs as well, but when Paul tries to kill both women, Alexis uses his last bit of strength to take him down. The sirens approach, and Martin and the police arrive in time to see Janet saying her good byes to her beloved, Alexis, who was indeed falling for the lovely young lady. He whispers to her, "Do not dwell on the past." 
The End

Although the ending was a pretty good segway to a sequel, thank God they spared us.

What begins with the makings for a pretty decent horror film: a raven's caw, a mansion on a cliff, whispers heard in the crashing waves, a gnarled tree on the sand, a man who appears out of nowhere to a vulnerable widow who wishes her dead husband will return, and a dark and mystifying tone, turns out to nothing more than a charlatan who feeds on people’s desires to escape the present by seemingly raising the dead and in turn gets caught up in the life of an egotistical murderous wretch who marries women for their money. Excuse me for saying...A Classic Horror Film should have real seers or real dead raising...or both.

I hesitate to give this film even one flame on the flame scale. I don’t think it’s much of a horror film. Let alone a Classic horror film. Granted their was an ominous mansion on a cliff, and Christine's gowns flowed in the marine breeze no less so than the Bride of Frankenstein’s in her castle, but it wasn't scary. Not even the apparition. I did like one thing about it, though, well, besides the cliff fall, the mansion, and the tresses and dresses, it was the tracers during the seance. They were cool. When the hands appeared over the girls' heads and moved from side to side, they left tracers. Kind of reminded me of one night in high school when the leaves in the trees had tracers as well. But that's enough about that. Yes. The tracers the hands left were truly a sight to behold, albeit, maybe not enough to watch the film. Unless, of course, you are particularly in need of tracers or find seeing them nostalgic, as I do.

So since there were some scary elements, even if they were sketchy scary elements, The Amazing Mr. X., (released as The Spiritualist in the United Kingdom), I believe, warrants at least one flame. I certainly wouldn’t consider this a “Horror Classic”, by any means, but at least it wasn't a Crime/Adventure like The World Gone Mad and Swamp Women.

Next time it’s Dead Man Walk (1943), and I sure I hope they do! Even though I’m not a Zombie gal, as I've said before, at least I could call it Horror! Until Next time…Keep those fires stoked!

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Saturday, December 21, 2013

And we have a winner....FREDDY? Seriously?

Hell o Prisoners!


Thanks to all of you who voted for MICHAEL, Jason, and Freddy! Michael was like that race horse who had the lead till the finish line, and then in the final stretch was beat by a razor sharp finger nail. What a world! As the wicked witch says. I appreciate your votes, even if I'm in mourning thi 'smorning with the outcome. To all you die hard Michael fans? Let's wear black today. Well, more black then usual. Maybe black with a little red...and a white mask with holes for eyes...and a plumber's jumper...and carry a nice sharp butcher's knife...just in case YOU SEE A FREDDY FAN!  Oh, and I suppose I can't leave out all FIVE of you Jason fans! lol. No wonder they are making another installment and published a beautifully done, I might add, coffee table book.


Maybe if they keep trying, they'll be able to stab it like they did the first time. What is it now, 14? Even though they are the clear LOSERS in my poll, I can't knock them for their tenacity!


The whole day is not an entire loss, however. Classic Gothic films won out Slasher by a razor thin line. So I'll add a little white with my black today. 

All in all, for my first poll, I'm thrilled and chilled with the number of votes, even if there were only 24 votes in 180 days, and Michael didn't win. Next poll I'm shooting for 25! So for all of you die hard Michael fans, like Holly over at Holly's Horrorland! This ones for you! Better than a Bud any day. 







And yes. I do like Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon. Cute as a spider. Until next time...Keep those fires stoked! I'll get to The Amazing Mr. X ones of these days. Classic work avoidance, I know, just can't wait till I run into another five flamer on my 50 Horror Classics 5 disc set! There have been three, and I have like 37 to go, so I have hope! Just like the Jason fans (lol), and even if Freddy did win.....

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

ps And not to discourage all of you Freddy fans from voting next time...but can I say all you winners are losers? I mean seriously, Freddy doesn't have the balls to kill you when you're awake! Has to wait till you're asleep. What a...kitten. hah.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Colin Clarke's Witchfinder (2013)

Hell o Prisoners

Since many of my "50 Horror Classics" are, like Brandon over at Movies at Dog Farm noted, neither Horror or Classic, I think we all need a diversion.


Daredevil Films
Presents
Director Colin Clarke's
Witchfinder (2013)



Daredevil Films' Colin Clarke takes us back to New England for a little magic and a witch fry, circa 17th century Salem.


Rule #2 (Rule #1 Always pack a Swiss Army Knife, in case you break down in a remote area, and some psycho wants to kill you, as in Peter Duke's Alone.) Think twice before asking a Dark Witch to improve your love life--You may just end up dangling from the end of a rope.


Rule #3 Think thrice before hammering a metal mask onto a witch and then burning her---you might lose your loved ones.


Witchfinder delighted me in more ways then one. You can have your vampires and zombies; I like witches...at a distance, of course, or on the TV, Laptop, or Big Screen, especially 17th Century witches in New England. I think most of them got a bad rap, as many weren't witches at all, but not this one. You knew this Dark Witch (Valerie Meachum) was bad news from the moment she wiped goo all over John Hawthorne's (Travis Worthey) face when he came to her seeking help in ways of the heart. But before the spell is cast, Witchfinder William Thatcher Blake (Dave Juehring) bursts in, and the next Hawthorne knows, he's dangling from the end of a rope, Blake's cursed, and the Dark Witch is wearing a metal mask and burning at the stake. 


This is not your average iron mask. Who needs clasps in the back when you have four inch nails protruding from it's underside--a couple where the eyes go, and well, isn't that enough? And what better way to fasten it then by whacking it with a wooden mallet? Streams of blood ran freely from her iron eyes. Truly made me cringe and watch with one eye closed, either out of horror or sympathy pains, I'm not sure.


After a rough night and a long day's ride, Blake makes it home. But while settling down for a good nights sleep, his wife Sarah (Nicole Kilmer) starts gasping for breath, coughs up blood, and drops dead. Shortly thereafter the witch returns, and if the mask scene wasn't grim enough, we meet little Mary, (Chloe Konieczki) whose makeup is second only to her acting, and in my opinion the little darling steals the show. Like a cat sucking the air from a baby, Mary's breath becomes labored. Each of her gasps for air takes my breath away, and then in her father's arm's she breathes her last. Her head falls back, and with eyes fully open she dies. I believe we will be seeing much more from little Chloe Konieczki. 


Witchfinder is not just straight horror, though. Colin provides us with a reprieve, allows us to catch our breath, so to speak, between the witch fry and the chaos of Blake's wife and child dying before his eyes, with the Witchfinder's ride home. I don't know where you picked up that horse Colin, but he/she was a beaut. I was truly mesmerized by its gait, main, tale, and sheen. Your groom oughta get a raise. Just watching Blake riding through the woods with the bare trees, and the cinematic grays, was beautiful. All in all, like James from Behind the Couch (one of my favorite places to hide!) wrote, more or less, There was a lot packed in to this 18 minute film, and Colin, I'll add, you used ever minute of it, including the opening and closing credits, which were just as mesmerizing as Blake's trip through the woods. What a joy.....Thanks for giving me a snapshot into an era near and dear to my heart, and hooking me up with your short. Now for your viewing pleasure, here's the trailer and a link to the movie over at Popcorn Horror.



Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The World Gone Mad (1933)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #3, 50 Horror Classics


Majestic Pictures Corp.

Presents

Christy Cabbane's
The World Gone Mad (1933)

Well, Prisoners, here we go again. THIS IS NOT A HORROR PICTURE EITHER! I AM BEGINNING TO THINK THAT I HAVE BEEN DUPED! This is a crime film with your typical fast talking press agent on a mission. He and his buddy, the new D.A., try to figure out who took down the old D.A, uncovering high society Wall Street stock mongers have embezzled their own company's stock to invest in a pyramid scheme. The End. 

In short, I found the speed of the dialogue simply too fast to pick up. I'm either deaf, a dumb ass, just plain slow, or they just talk too damn fast. That seemed to be quite the trend in the 30s. Press agents that talk too damn fast. Slow the hell down, so I don't have to rewind every 20 seconds. It makes a 1.5 hour movie last about 3 hours, which wouldn't be so bad, if the movie was great, but it wasn't! OR it wouldn't have been so bad, if it was A HORROR MOVIE! But it wasn't! So I muddled through three hours thinking, Damn it! Hurry the hell up, because I have to write a post about how I can't write a post on a horror movie....AGAIN! 

The good parts, well, and I hate to mention it now (maybe I should close with it. Naw, I've already started), but there was one scene between the press agent and his assistant, which was pretty entertaining, because their banter back and forth was so quick and on cue, problem was, I don't know what the hell they said, but it sounded funny. Another thing were the dresses, slinky and satin, the classic 30s hairdos (love them)-- the way it's just flat to the head, shiny, smooth, with little waves. My mom, rest her soul, was in her teens about then, and she said, to do that you put your finger on your hair at the top, and pushed it up towards your crown or towards the back of your head, and then inserted a bobby pin. You just kept doing that till it was wavy all the way down. I'm not sure how to explain it really, but I've tried it, and well, it didn't work. hahaha. MOM! And, if I may digress for just a moment...and this is not a generalization of all women, just most women....Back in the day, women took a lot more time to make sure they looked nice. Now granted, these girls are actresses with a costume designer and a make up artist, but my mother and her sister and her mother, my Nana, rest her soul, always looked as nice as they could. They didn't go out in sweats with their hair tied up in a messy bun donning slippers or shabby shoes. Women now, not all, of course, are lazy! Just plain lazy! Get up earlier and wash your face and brush your hair and put on some clean clothes and shoes for goodness sakes! And maybe a little lip color or mascara. But back to what I liked. Oh yes, sheez, here I go again, their boobs. haha. Maybe I'm just a boob gal. Hell, Idk. lol. I don't seem to notice them so much in the horror movies. Maybe I just have nothing else to focus on in these crime movies. ug. Anywho, they really are quite interesting. I think I could write a whole social history on breasts and how they change from decade to decade. 

For instance, in the 30s, unlike the 50s in Swamp Women, women embraced their flatness! Yay! I'm a 30s girl, well, without the satin gown and wavy hair. I never really thought about it, but at the turn of the century, they were accentuated, and then in the 20s, they were definitely just flat, like the flappers, then in the 30s, they were defined somewhat, but still, flat was fine, and then in the 40s, they started popping out again with bras and suits, and in the 50s, well, we've talked about the 50s in their perky Vasserettes, and then in the 60s, well, they barely wore clothes at all in the 60s, and then in the 70s, no bras, and then in the 80s, 90s, and the turn of the millenium, they just got huge and fake, and now I think they are tapering down to a more natural size again. And, Yes, I really am a Horror Blogger. I am a full fledged member of the Horror Blogger Alliance, (Jeremy told me so), and I have a T shirt to prove it. But if I can't produce a write up of a horror movie, I've learned boobs are a big hit! lol. Alas, I'm done. Sorry fellas. 

Oh yes, I did like a couple other things, well maybe more than a couple. The Director was a girl! Christy Cabbane! In 1933! That's what I'm talking about. Chalk one up for the ladies! And I loved the, gosh, I don't know the lingo, but the fade in and out shots? Every time a scene changed, well, almost every time, you saw the shudder close and open to the new scene. Sometimes it would simply close from left to right or vice versa, and sometimes it would close in completely in a circle and open back up. I thought that was dandy. And the camera played some tricks with the angles. For instance, in one scene the shot opened on some calves, girl's calves with shoes, and as the camera rose, it wasn't a girl at all, but just some fake calves! It was funny, and what made it funnier was that when the camera backed up, it shot a photographer taking a picture of the calves! I thought that was fun and clever. Oh yeah, and one other thing. Boy, I'll tell you, Carlotta Lamont (Evelyn Brent) had a seriously provocative role. In fact, she and her two accomplices were seriously cozy, and neither one of the gents seem to mind that she was kissing on both of them. She was a vamp after my own heart. Aww the 30s. 

Alas, it still must warrant zero flames on the flame scale, as it is NOT a horror movie. 

So, as time is of the essence....AGAIN.... I'm moving on to Disc #2, Movie #4, The Amazing Mr. X (1948). And please let it be a horror movie.

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!
Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Swamp Women (1956)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #2, "50 Horror Classics"



Woolner Brothers Pictures, Inc. 

Presents

Roger Corman's
Swamp Women 
(1956)

JUST BECAUSE ROGER CORMAN DIRECTED THIS, AND IT IS ONE OF 50 "HORROR CLASSICS", DOES NOT MEAN IT IS A HORROR FILM! IT'S NOT! SO, JUST LIKE I DIDN'T WANT TO WASTE YOUR TIME WITH A WRITE-UP ON WILLIAM NIGH'S DOOMED TO DIE (1940), FEATURING BORIS KARLOFF, DUE TO IT'S NOT BEING A HORROR FILM, I WILL NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS ONE, AS IT IS NOT A HORROR FILM EITHER, BUT AN ADVENTURE/CRIME FILM, AND HAS NO BUSINESS BEING ON A FIVE-DISC SET ENTITLED, "50 HORROR CLASSICS". (Please excuse the run on sentence with triple negatives. I figured since it was not a double negative, and is chocked full of expletives, it would be alright.) 

SWAMP WOMEN RATES A BIG FAT ZERO FLAMES ON THE FLAME SCALE. SINCE THE FLAME SCALE IS RATING HORROR FILMS, NOT ADVENTURE/CRIME FILMS. BUT, HAD IT BEEN ON A FIVE-DISC SET ENTITLED "50 ADVENTURE/CRIME CLASSICS" I WOULD HAVE GIVEN IT AT LEAST 2 FLAMES, AS IT KIND OF GREW ON ME. 

THE SWAMP WOMEN WERE BAD ASS CHICKS. THE BEGINNING WAS HORRIBLY BORING, AND THE AUDIO WAS JUST BAD, AS WELL AS THE LIGHTING, BUT IT GOT BETTER AS TIME WENT ON. I FOUND THE GALS HIGHLY ENTERTAINING, A REAL SWELL LINE UP, HONESTLY, NOT TO MENTION, EASY ON THE EYES. THEY WORE REALLY CUTE 50'S HIGH WASTED SHORTS, SHIRTS THAT WERE CROPPED, TIED, OR TUCKED IN, AND THEIR BREASTS, NOT THAT I'M A BIG BREAST GAL (no pun intended, i'm flat as they come, sorry--tmi, and I probably just lost a few followers. oh well, sucks to be me), ACTUALLY, I'M STRAIGHT AS THEY COME, BUT THEIR BREASTS WERE PERFECT IN THEIR VASSERETTES. WE JUST DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT ANYMORE. AND, QUITE FRANKLY, VICTORIA, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING ON THESE GALS! 

AND WHAT'S MORE! IF BEING AN ADVENTURE/CRIME MOVIE, INSTEAD OF A HORROR MOVIE, ISN'T HORRORBLE ENOUGH, THE MENU ON THE SCREEN DOESN'T EVEN READ "SWAMP WOMEN"; IT READS SWAMP WOMAN! WITH AN A! IT WAS THE SAME ON THE BACK OF THE CASE! SO THE WHOLE THING HAD ME QUESTIONING MY SANITY, AND WORSE THAN THAT, MY VISION! SOMETHING WITH, AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE, I NEED NO HELP! 

AFTER THE INITIAL VIEWING (WELL, THE INITAL VIEWING WAS SOME TIME AGO, I MEAN THE VIEWING FOR MY WRITE-UP), I KEPT THINKING TO MYSELF, WHY THE HELL DID HE CALL IT SWAMP WOMAN? THERE WERE AT LEAST FOUR WOMEN? IF ANYTHING, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TITLED SWAMP WOMEN. PLUS I DON'T SEE ALL THAT GREAT, AND IT SEEMS TO GET WORSE ON A DAILY BASIS, SO THE TITLE LOOKED LIKE SWAMP WOMEN, BUT THE MENU AND THE CASE SAID SWAMP WOMAN, SO I THOUGHT I WAS LOSING MY EVER LOVING MIND...AGAIN!

Alas, I have to give it zero flames for reasons stated above. I mean you no disrespect, Mr. Corman. I'm an avid fan. I'm sure you see my dilemna here. The scariest part about this film is the opening credit image of the girl with her hands tied behind her back. So, Spit On Your Grave.

But as time is of the essence, I'm moving on to Disc #2, Movie #3 The World Gone Mad (1933). 

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!
Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nosferatu 1922

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #1, 50 Horror Classics

I started this write-up with my regular style, my voice, so to speak, but it didn't fit. There is a certain sort of reverence that I cannot ignore, and so if you find it boring, I'm sorry, but I simply had to just back off on the humor. It somehow seemed almost disrespectful, which is something I don't usually take into consideration, since I'm the Warden of Hell, and can pretty much do whatever the hell I want. But in this case, it simply did. It's also a bit long, but it's not as long as the film, and I simply could not omit the quotes....

"From the diary of Johann Cavallius, able historian of his native City of Bremen:
"Nosferatu! That name alone can chill the blood!
"Nosferatu! Was it he who brought the plague to Bremen in 1838?"
"I have long sought the causes of that terrible epidemic, and found at it's origin and its climax the innocent figures of Jonathan Harker and his young wife, Nina."


Jofa-Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal and Prana-Film GmbH 
Presents Max Schreck as Count Orlok
in 
F.W. Murnau's
Nosferatu
(1922)

At home in Bremen, Jonathan Harker (Gustav von Wagenheim), and his lovely wife, Nina (Greta Schroeder) enjoy their wedded bliss until duty calls, and Jonathan's off to work as clerk to the estate agent, Renfield (Alexander Granach). "The agent Renfield was a strange man, and there were unpleasant rumours about him." 

An opportunity for the young Harker has presented itself in the form of a letter his boss received from Count Orlok (Max Schreck), a rich man, who lives in Transylvania. He is "free with his money" and looking for a place to reside in Bremen.  "You will have a marvelous journey. And, young as you are, what matter if it costs you some pain--or even a little blood?"  

While Jonathan is checking out the map, Renfield is all a flutter turning the letter over and over, relishing the mark of the Count.

“The house facing yours….That should suit him” he says. "Leave at once, my young friend. And don't be frightened if people speak of Transylvania as the land of phantoms..."


Excited about the opportunity, he rushes home to share the news with Nina. "I may be away for several months Nina. Renfield is sending me to some lost corner of the Carpathians..." Needless to say, Jonathan is far more excited than she, but at least she will stay with their good friends, Westenra (G.H. Schell), and his wife, Lucy (Ruth Landshoff). "Don't worry, Nina. Nothing will happen to me." And he is off.

He reaches an inn, and quite frankly, whoops it up a bit, so before he knows it, he's behind schedule, and shouts to the innkeeper for his dinner, so he can get to the castle. The other guests are shocked, and the innkeeper warns, "You must not leave now! The evil spirits become all-powerful after dark!"

The horses in the fields skit and scatter, and that which is supposed to be a wolf, or a werewolf, or even a phantom whose taken possession of a wolf, is really a hyena, but it's ok with me. It's 1922 for goodness sakes, and this movie has me glued to the TV.

The Innkeeper's wife shows Harker to his room, and I have to say, the bed was so great! A simple wooden frame, with long legs, that made the mattress sit, probably, three or four feet off the floor. I have never seen anything like it in the in the states. Although, maybe the rich have high beds. Wouldn't know about that. Maybe it's just a European thing. But it's practical and functional, maximizing what little space was available, and creating a great storage area beneath. There is a simple step stool to climb on board. It's well into the night, and the horses are freaking out. We see our four footed furry creature again, women cowering and huddling, and as Harker closes his window, he shivers, climbs up to his bed, and notices a book on the bedside table. "The Book of the Vampires." 

"...and it was in 1443 that the first Nosferatu was born."  Harker yawns, gives a "ah hooey" look, tosses the book aside, and turns in. 

Upon rising, he greets the day with another fine stretch and a gander outside. The animals return, and after stretching some more, he picks up the book. "Men do not always recognize the dangers that beasts can sense at certain times." Laughing again, he tosses, more vigorously than before, the book upon the floor, and then does something I've never before seen. He slips his arms out of his nightshirt and ties them around his waste, so he is bare from the chest up, and begins his morning ablutions: dipping his head in the bowl, washing his face, etc. Then it's time to ride, and another interesting thing happened. The coachman takes his usual seat, but another rider mounts one of the lead horses, and they are on their way. 

They bounce and wrench from side to side, and it looks loud and uncomfortable, and I'll bet that's exactly how it was. The day is drawing to a close, and the coachman calls out, "Hurry! The sun will soon be setting!" And just before it does, they stop, and Harker disembarks. "We will go no further, sir. Not for a fortune!" The coachman informs, and although Harker is taken aback, he grabs his bags. When he looks to the coachman, he's told, "We will go no further. Here begins the land of phantoms." And they part ways. "And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him."

We see a shot of Count Orlok's castle, and another carriage coming to meet Harker. The driver wears a hat with a feather, like Robin Hood, that sits low on his brow, and his cape is high, revealing nothing but his dark rimmed eyes. He motions, with his switch, to get in the coach. They arrive at the castle, and without a word, he simply points to the entrance. After entering the outer walls, Harker is greeted by a mysterious man, the Count no doubt, whose body, attire, and gait, remind me of a cross between Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka and Barnabas Collins, plus a slightly humped back, and a big crooked nose. His hat is, I'm sure, like the one in the little German ditty, "My hat, it has three corners. Three corners has my hat."  If I'm wrong, please let me know. He speaks, "You are late, young man. It is almost midnight. My servants have all retired." 

Once inside the castle, the Count reads a paper, while Harker eats. He can't help but notice the Count's eyes, and is shaken to say the least, and while cutting some bread, the clock strikes midnight; he's loses his concentration, and the knife slips, cutting his thumb. And when I say cutting his thumb. I think he really cut his thumb. It sure looks like he cut his thumb, which instantly grabs the Count's attention. He rises and approaches Harker. "Blood! Your precious blood!" 

His reaction startles Harker, who starts backing up while the Count moves towards him. "Let us chat together a moment, my friend. There are still several hours until dawn, and I have the whole day to sleep." Nosferatu bows to him, and Harker, seriously freaked out at this point, just keeps backing up without taking his eyes off the Count, making his way toward the chair he knows is behind him, concentrating, so intently, on the Count, that he practically trips on the step he must navigate prior to taking a seat. They converse, I suppose, for some time, until Harker falls asleep.....

"As the sun rose, Harker felt himself freed from the oppressions of the night.” But, something is off, and he grabs the mirror close by, and takes a look at his neck with wild eyes, a grin, and a yawn. It’s breakfast time, so he pours himself some wine. I do not see him eat. Exploring the grounds takes him to a gazebo, where he writes a letter.

"Nina, my beloved~
         Don't be unhappy. Though I am far away. I love you.
         This a strange country, amazing.
         After my first night in the castle, I found two large bites on              my neck. From mosquitoes? From spiders? I don't know. 
         I have had some frightful dreams, but they were only dreams.         You mustn't worry about me."

He runs to meet a rider who takes the letter and heads back into the woods.

"As twilight came on, the empty castle became alive with menacing shadows." 

And as the Count and Harker look over possible housing for the Count, he spies a picture of Nina. And his eyes widen. And here is my favorite line in the film....

"Is this your wife? What a lovely throat!" 

It is at this point, that the Count agrees the apartment across the street from the Harker's is best suited to him. "That old mansion seems quite satisfactory. We shall be neighbors." Harker's not as excited as was before. And that night before retiring, when he puts Nina's picture back in his bag, he finds The Book of Vampires

"Nosferatu drinks the blood of the young, the blood necessary to his own existence. One can recognize the mark of the vampire by the trace of his fangs on the victim's throat." The clock strikes midnight, and Harker is beginning to realize what is happening. Terrified, he opens his door, and sees Nosferatu in the hallway staring at him. Frozen at first, he then takes to his bed, turning aside to block out the view of the vampire entering his room. 

"That same night in Bremen, in a somnambulistic dream..." Nina rises from her bed and takes to the balcony, walking the ledge. "Nina?" Westenra frantically asks, and catches her just in time, as she faints and falls. "The doctor, quickly!"

And while Harker sleeps, Nosferatu bears down upon his neck, and drinks. But back in Bremen Nina wakes suddenly, "Jonathan! Jonathan! Hear me!" And it's as if Nosferatu hears her, and he backs away, never moving his arms with his gait. Nina is exhausted and falls immediately to sleep, once Nosferatu has left her beloved's room. "A sudden fever" the doctor tells the Westenras. 

"The doctor laid Nina's trance to some unknown disease. Since then I have learned that she had sensed the menace of Nosferatu that very night. And Harker far away, had heard her call of warning." Rising quickly, and in a state of panic, grabbing his neck, Harkern feels ill and weak. Searching for the Count takes him to the bowels of the castle where he spies a coffin. There between the broken slats of wood, he sees the face of the vampire, and throwing open the lid, he is floored, literally. Crawling up the stairs and away to his room, he is so shaken, he can barely make his way to the window to watch Nosferatu quickly assembling coffins, filling them with dirt, gathering them into a pile, and carting them off. Harker escapes his room by ripping and tying sheets together and lowering himself from the window to the ground, where he faints from fear and exhaustion. 

Down the river, a ferry makes it's journey to the sea to meet the ship Demeter“The men little suspected what terrible cargo they were carrying down the valley.”

Harker recoups in the home of the peasants who found him, but alas he still has a high fever. Waking with a fright, and in a state of delirium, Harker mumbles, "Coffins...Coffins filled with earth." The cargo in question is transferred to the ship's hold, and the Demeter sets sail to Bremen. The crew finds the boxes are not only filled with dirt, but also with rats.

“Nosferatu was en route; and with him disaster approached Bremen. At the same time, Dr. Van Helsing was giving a course on the secrets of nature and their strange correspondence to human life.”

“The professor told his students about the existence of a carnivorous plant” And his students, all four of them, watched while the Dr. fed a fly to a venus flytrap.

“Astonishing isn’t it, gentlemen? That plant is the vampire of the vegetable kingdom.”

“Nosferatu held Renfield under his influence from afar...That patient who was brought in yesterday has gone out of his mind!”  And so the warden, the other warden, checks on him. He is seriously wacked, grabbing flies from the air. 

“Blood!...Blood!”  He screams, before he attacks the Warden, but the guard takes him down.

Class is still in session…. "And now, gentlemen", Van Helsing continues, "here is another type of vampire: a polyp with claws…” And it is really fascinating, it’s a real polyp, like under a microscope, moving, and everything. This is 1922 Prisoners! “…transparent, without substance, almost a phantom.” 


And Renfield sees a spider in his cell, but the guard won’t let him get to it, and they tie him up.

This is such a beautiful shot.
“Nina was often seen alone among the dunes, watching and waiting for her husband’s return.” This is where the Westenras find her, and deliver a letter from her Jonathan, stating he has had frightful dreams, but is leaving immediately to return to her. 

Harker is still very weak and pale, with deep sunken eyes and dark circles around. He thanks the peasants, makes his way to a horse, and begins the long journey home. 

In his cell, Renfield spies a news page in the back pocket of the guard sweeping his room and snatches it. It reads.....

"New Plague Baffles Science
A mysterious epidemic of the plague has broken out in Eastern Europe and in the port cities of the Black Sea, attacking principally the young and vigorous. Cause of the two bloody marks on the neck of each victim baffles the medical profession." 

This makes Renfield very excited....

"Aboard the Demeter first one man was stricken, then all." And still the coffins lie unattended. "One evening, at sundown,the captain and his first mate buried the last man of the crew." One more burial at sea. The First Mate grabs an ax, and heads down to take a look in the hold. When he smashes open a coffin, the rats come pouring out, but this is not the worst of it. Across the room a coffin lid opens, and Nosferatu stands up, stiff, with arms stuck to his sides, and the First Mate freaks out, goes up on deck, and jumps overboard. The Captain sees where this is headed, ties himself to the wheel, (Is this what Captain's do when they go down with their ship?) as Nosferatu makes his way to the bridge. 

“Despite all sorts of obstacles, Harker pushed on towards Bremen. Meanwhile, driven by the fatal breath of the vampire, the vessel moved rapidly towards the Baltic.”

Nina is still drawn to the balcony, and raising her arms, she cries, "He's coming. I must go to him..." But she is under a spell, and is not talking about her husband, I don't think, please correct me if I'm wrong, as the ship approaches the harbor. Renfield is also sensing the arrival, "The Master is coming! The Master is Here!" And he starts going nuts, trying to escape up the wall, but he can't so he crawls up onto his bed and sits on his knees in the corner like a little kid waiting in anticipation. Seriously one of the creepiest sights I've ever seen, as he is not a little kid, but a wild haired old man. 

The Galley door opens, and Nosferatu rises from the depths of the ship. A guard enters Renfield's cell, and that was a major mistake. Renfield takes him down and flees. 

From Cavallius's Diary...

"I have long tried to understand why Nosferatu travelled with the earth-filled coffins. Recently I discovered that to preserve their diabolic power, vampires must sleep during the day in the same unhallowed ground in which they had been buried." 

He enters the town of Bremen with his coffin under his arm. The rats have entered Bremen as well, and flee the ship. Harker hurries down the road towards his home, and finally, after many moons, he is home safe in Nina's arms. She is quite weak, but he kisses her, like he hasn't seen her for months. It's very sweet. 

Nosferatu reaches his destination, and standing in a small boat, with his coffin under one arm, he crosses what looks to be a moat. Seriously, one of the craziest sights I've ever seen.

When the villagers check out the ship, they find the captain, dead, or near death, tied to the wheel, and not a single soul left on board. The ship's log reads....

"Ship's Log~Varma to Bremen 29 April 1838
Passed the Dardanelles--East Wind--Carrying 5 passengers, mate, crew of 7, and myself, the Captain."

As they examine the Captain's body, they read on...

"6 May 1838
Rounded Cape of Inatagran~One of my men, the strongest, is sick~Crew is restless, uneasy.

"7 May 1838
Mate reported stowaway hiding below decks~will investigate...

"18 May 1838
Passed Gibraltar~Panic on board~Three men dead already~Mate out of his mind~Rats in the hold~I fear the plague..."

And they panic.......... 

"The Plague is Here!
Stay in your Houses!"

And they flee, leaving the body of the Captain where it lay, and covering their faces with their handkerchiefs. A declaration is read aloud by the town crier.

~Notice~
To halt the spread of the plague, the Burgomaster of Bremen forbids the citizens of this city to bring their sick to the hospitals until further notice."



The townspeople seek shelter in their homes and barricade their windows. The undertaker goes door to door marking the dwellings of the dead with a cross. There are many crosses.

“Nina had promised her husband never to open the The Book of the Vampires, but she found herself unable to resist the temptation..."

"One can recognize the mark of the vampire by the trace of his fangs on the victim's throat. Only a woman can break this frightful spell~a woman pure in heart~who will offer her blood freely to Nosferatu and will keep the vampire by her side until after the cock has crowed."

When Harker finds her, they embrace. She knows he was bitten, and she knows by what, or in this case, by whom, and she knows Nosferatu is a vampire, and she knows that she has been under his spell, and she knows what she must do. Harker knows to, and cannot stop her. 

"The townspeople lived in mortal terror. 'Who was sick or dying? Who will be stricken tomorrow...'" And now their dear friend Lucy is sick, as well. Nina stares out the window as more and more caskets are carried down the street.  

Meanwhile, Renfield is running a muck through the town, a village mob hot on his tail. He's run through alleyways and straddled rooftops, while Nina cross stitches devising her plan. He gets to a field, but the villagers catch him, tearing his clothes to shred, and taking him back to prison. 

At his window, Nosferatu stares across the street, beckoning Nina to hers. While Jonathan sleeps in the chair next to her bed, she throws open the window inviting the vampire to enter. He disappears, and is on his way.

She wakes Jonathan and asks that he call the Professor, to get him out of the house. Nosferatu's shadowy form creeps up the staircase and into her room. She takes to her bed holding her heart in terror as the shadow hands reach and clench towards her. 

He goes down on her lovely throat, but he stays too long, and the cock crows, and he realizes his grievous err too late. Renfield senses it, and calls out through his cell window, "Master! Master! Beware!" 

And when the sun begins to glow on the buildings outside, he tries to flee, but is caught in it's rays, and disappears before my eyes, leaving nothing but a bit of smoke rising from the ground. 

Renfield, all tied up, is a broken man, and simply mumbles, "Master, Master." 

But Nina rises, and is finally free, shouting "Jonathan! Jonathan! Just as he and the Professor arrive. "And at that moment, as if by a miracle, the sick no longer died, and the stifling shadow of the vampire vanished with the morning sun."





One last shot as the sun shines on the Count's castle...



The End. 

And I am left in awe, and probably a needlessly lengthy post, but I simply could not help myself. One of the things I like most about this film is how realistic everything is. I mean, when you watch Gunsmoke and Miss Kitty and Matt are in the wagon, they’re not doing much bouncing, no pun intended. What I mean is, the wagon ride looks fairly smooth and comfortable. Now, I’ve never been in a wagon out in the desert, but I doubt very highly that it is a smooth ride. I’d say it was loud and dusty and bouncy and downright uncomfortable, and probably scary as hell, because you figure each rotation of the wheel was going to be it's last, and you'd be stuck out in the middle of the desert, and by the time one reached their destination, they were sore and miserable. The wagon on the way up to the castle was realistically wrenching from one side to the other, with wheels going into ruts on each side, and the whole dang wagon looking like it was about to fall apart. I think that’s what it was really like. And as a History major, I found so many simple things so fascinating, the height and simplicity of the bed. The slipping out of the nightshirt and tying the sleeves around his waste. The extra rider on the lead horse of the carriage. And how Count Orlok disappeared. He literally disappeared. It was filmed almost 100 years ago, and it wasn't even botched. And when Harker cut his thumb, I'd say he really cut his thumb. The hyena was a surprise. At first I thought it was some sort of animal that really lived there that is now extinct, so that's a little off, because who thinks of hyenas in the Carpathians right off the bat. Who knows? Maybe there are hyenas in the Carpathians. I've never been there, so I couldn't tell you. And Nosferatu carrying his coffin under his arm like it was a newspaper. And the passion between Jonathan and Nina was so clear and evident, but not slimy or dirty, just passionate. The way he held her. The things he wrote to her. And how it was just normal that he would be home in a few months. Ya know, I'll bet, and please bear with me, while I go on a little tangent here that really bugs the crap out of me. You can fast forward if you don't want to listen, but it's my blog, so I'm writing it. I could argue, and I believe I could argue successfully, that the number of divorces has risen steadily with the rise of technology. Seriously. 100 years ago people didn't have to account for every second of the day. They didn't expect a reply to a text in five seconds, and start getting nervous if they don't get one. They just lived. And if they received a letter, that was a treat. One didn't waste time writing about how you should have done this or why didn't you do that or where were you or why didn't you answer my texts. I think it has made us all paranoid and anxious and impatient and expectant of something right this second. They didn't deal with stuff like that. And they sure wouldn't waste their paper and ink to write about stuff like that. It was sharing the good things, and saying how much you missed each other, and then when you got to see them in three months, it was just heaven. Not that I'm given up my cell. I see the value, especially when children are involved. It's far less invasive, and they are far more likely to respond to your texts, by text, then they are to a phone call they actually have to pick up. But as far as relationships go, I think people are far to quick to just text off a frustration, and since there is not inflection in a text, they are often misconstrued, and then the trouble starts. So with relationships...limit the texts, unless they are sweet. With kids, hey, if you can shoot them a short message, they'll look at it. If you call them? Well, it depends. But back to the film. One problem I have, is a loose end, and if I've missed something, please comment and straighten me out. Dr. Van Helsing makes what I will call a cameo appearance. He is in the film, as far as I can tell, simply to infer to the relationship between vampires and the animal and plant world. Somehow making it plausible that there could indeed be vampires, because there are essentially vampires in flora, i.e.venus flytraps, and fauna, the polyp. He is in no way a vampire hunter, at least in this film, but simply to state scientific argument that vampires could exist. Unless I am missing something, and that may very well be the case. I am in no way an authority on Nosferatu, nor am I the sharpest tack in the box. So please, if you know something I don't about this particular aspect of Nosferatu, please chime in on the comments! And this story just goes to show, how misunderstood disease was, and how stories and myths and legends are made up to explain what can't be explained or stopped. If it can't be explained, than it must be supernatural, right? It's been going on for thousands of years, take the gods for example. That's how panic begins. And witch hunts. And vampire hunts. And Inquisitions. And mob mentality. Such a scary thing. And, as far as I'm concerned, the film is a little long. Probably like my post. Well, these little nit picky things certainly don't warrant taking away a flame, and Nosferatu, without a doubt, warrants five flames on the flame scale. What they pulled off in 1922 blew me away...again. 

Next it's Disc #2, Movie #2, Swamp Woman!

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely