Bela Lugosi

All posts tagged Bela Lugosi

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Hattie McDaniel

Published November 25, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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After Hattie McDaniel won her Oscar in 1940, it was 24 years before another black performer received the statuette. While criticized for taking on stereotypical roles in her lifetime, McDaniel is now often praised for being a pioneer in the entertainment industry and for her commanding performances under frequently humbling circumstances. Nicely, the fun revue Thank Your Lucky Stars allowed her majestic personality to fill the frame as something other than a domestic and she appears to truly be enjoying herself as the neighborhood gossip in the number below, Ice Cold Katie.

Granted, McDaniel’s connections to the horror genre were small as she was mainly cast in comedies. But she did appear alongside terror icon Bela Lugosi in 1935’s Murder By Television. As the cook Isabella, she provided the studio mandated, over exaggerated comic relief, but she is eventually given a couple of more level headed moments. In one more progressive segment, she even interrupts a murder scene intruder and helps throw him out, proof positive of her power and strength as a performer.

Hattie Murder shots

Until then next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Maid for Horror: Leila Bennett

Published December 8, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

Leila Terror 1

With elastic eyes and a rubbery physique, Leila Bennett enlivened multiple Golden Age comedies, almost always playing domestics. On a controversial level, she even played a maid named Hattie, in black face, in both the stage and screen versions of a piece called The First Year. While this is a decision she probably would have neLeila Dr X 2ver made in a more enlightened time period, thankfully, she did make some correct assessments, career wise. For example, classic fright fans will forever benefit from her choice to appear in a number of fun, highly regarded gothic horrors.

In 1932’s Doctor X, Bennett’s often timid Mamie is forced to reenact the death throes of a serial killer’s victim through the investigative experiments of Lionel Atwill’s determined titular character. Nicely, when Mamie isn’t being terrified by Atwill, she is tending to Joanne, his supportive daughter who is played by the legendary Fay Wray. Coming to Joanne’s defense when Lee Tracy’s manipulative reporter tries to con her, Bennett is able to also display some feistiness here, giving her screen time a fine sense of fun and inventive balance. Leila Terror 2

In 1933’s lesser known Terror Aboard, Bennett displays an aggressiveness not seen in Doctor X. Here, as a maid named Lena, she pursues famed comedian Charles Ruggles’ frazzled steward, Blackie, with an ardent surety. Harassment as humor turns to horror, though, when Lena discovers that John Halliday’s smooth Maximilian, the owner of the ship on which this misadventure occurs, is the man responsible for all of the mayhem and bloodshed that the guests are experiencing. Bennett, nicely, applies a little coy navigation to her concern here, but her efforts to outwit Halliday end in failure. Thrown overboard by the villain, Bennett’s Lena joins the other victims in this Pre-Code slasher pre-curser. Mostly ignored upon its release, this piece’s interesting kills, including death by freezing and assisted suicide, have begun to give it a bit of recognition among gothic connoisseurs, as of late. This will, hopefully, help to put an end Bennett’s semi-obscurity, as well.

Leila Mark 11935’s Mark of the Vampire, dominated by Bela Lugosi’s haunting presence as Count Mora, is probably the most famous of this moldable pro’s terror offerings. But, Maria, her character, is, perhaps, the most pedestrian of the trio represented here. Put in charge of watching over Irina, the film’s heroine played by the regal Elizabeth Allan, Bennett is required to do little more than react in ever growing fright. Her presence, as in the other roles, is substantial and committed to with boundless energy, though. In fact, Bennett has more screen time than the mystical Carroll Borland, whose exotic nature and haunting composure have long made her one of this project’s most memorable features.

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Seemingly retiring from acting in 1936, Bennett died in New York City at the age of 72. But, forever young in celluloid, this engaging, unique performer is truly ripe for deserved rediscovery now.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Congrats, Carla!

Published February 28, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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“Give me a sense of purpose, a real sense of purpose, now!” – The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde

This isn’t trending like a white or gold (or is it blue?) dress (really Facebook?!?), but the Academy of Arts and Sciences did give the grand Carla Laemmle (1909-2014) some post-Oscars memoriam recognition for her contribution to motion pictures.

http://oscar.go.com/photos/2015-oscars-in-memoriam/media/laemmle_carla_actress

As one of the premium members of Universal’s film dynasty, Carla appeared in Lon Chaney’s classic silent The Phantom of the Opera and spoke the first lines in the beloved Dracula, featuring the one and only Bela Lugosi.

Since her death this fall, Laemmle’s family has, frequently, updated her fan page with new photos and interviews.

If you’re ever in the mood for old school Hollywood glamour, check it out at:

https://www.facebook.com/carlalaemmleactress

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Femmes: The Corpse Vanish’s Elizabeth Russell

Published February 20, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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My hypnotic stare has always read as catatonic. Just ask the neighbors who consistently try to call emergency services on me.

Thankfully, graceful beauty Elizabeth Russell (1916-2012) was much better at magnetism than me. Enacting a series of emotionally troubled, occasionally murderous dames in low budget genre films in the 40s, Russell often brought haughty imperviousness to mystical heights. Historically, her work at RKO, Universal and Monogram brought her into performance-contact with the monstrously popular Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr., as well.

The Corpse Vanishes

The Corpse Vanishes

One of Russell’s biggest roles was in 1942’s The Corpse Vanishes. Portraying Lugosi’s evilly aging wife, Russell radiates with poisonous intentions. When she isn’t busy slapping heroine Luana Walters in the face, she spends her time encouraging Lugosi to drain young brides of their blood for their rejuvenating effects.
Curse of the Cat People

Curse of the Cat People

Weird Woman and Curse of the Cat People (both 1944) showed her off to vengeful effect, as well. But in each of these roles, Russell provides moments of true heart, bringing out these characters’ inherent emotional agony.

The 7th Victim

The 7th Victim

1943’s The 7th Victim, meanwhile, allowed her to show off a broad variety of her skills. As Mimi, a victim of agoraphobia, she withers with cautious fear. But as another character chooses to end her life, Mimi emerges from her shell. With quiet optimism, Russell grandly provides this spooky tale with its haunting denouement.
Bedlam

Bedlam

Nicely, as Karloff’s gin loving niece, Mistress Sims, in 1946’s Bedlam, Russell was able to prove her comic worth, too. With arch sauciness, she provides a number of comic interludes, easing the gravity of the film’s asylum based horror and proving, beyond a doubt, that she is one of classic horror’s unsung femmes.
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Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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