Κυριακή, 25 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Zombies archetype of horror Cinema


Zombies - From Haitian Folklore to Hollywood





ZombiesZombies are the only Cinema monsters without previous reference on horror literature. Only on a book about folklore research  “The Magic Island” (William Seabrook, Alexander King) we can find the first reference about Zombies as a believe among the Haitian islanders and rumors among the African slaves in Caribbean.   There are significant differences between the archetype of Hollywood zombies and Haitian folklore zombie.  Cinema presents Zombies as returned dead ready to conquer earth by expanding a disease. Hollywood zombies are unstoppable flesh eaters.  On the other hand according to Haitian tradition Zombies are not necessary dead  and they are not eat flesh they are weird human beings walking on night around cemeteries.  



After the release of the book “The Magic Island” theater was the first art to create an artistic project based on a Zombie concept. In 1932 took place the stage play “Zombie”. The same year cinema introduced the archetype of Zombies in film “The White Zombie” (Victor Helperin, 1932). The film “White Zombie” was produced on a minimal budget by using the already used in films Frankestein and Dracula sets and the available cast form Universal Studio (Bela Lugosi). The theme of the film is about a mad scientist (Muder Legendre) who used a special drug to turn the local citizens of an island into an army of Haitian Zombies. The film is excellent  and it achieved a huge commercial success.



Later in 1936 Halperin brothers tried to repeat the success of the film “White Zombie” by producing a sequel film with the title “"Revolt of the Zombies"”, the theme of the film is about the creation of a Zombie army in Cambodia. As result, the Helperin brothers created a new sub - genre, the military zombie sub genre. The film “The Revolt of the Zombies” was not a great commercial success as the initial film “White Zombie” but influenced the film industry and and the creativity. Later Jean Yarbrough in 1941 directed the film”King of the Zombies” and in 1943 Steve Sekely directed the film “Revenge of the Zombies” both films share the same theme mad Axis scientists trying to use zombies for world domination.



In 1941 Jacques Tourneur directs a masterpiece of horror cinema and in my opinion the best Zombie film ever “I walked with a zombie” by adding another aspect to Zombie mythology, the mental illness. The film “I walked with a Zombie” asks a question to audience “what if, the Zombie is a mental ill person.



After two decades Hammer Studios produced the film “The Plague of the Zombies” (John Gilling, 1949) the theme of the film is about the exploitation of cheap labor with poor white villagers turned into Zombies for use as labor slaves.




(to be continued)


Elias Stoikos

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I walked with a Zombie


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Τρίτη, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2012

The Curse of Cat People (Robert Wise, Gunther von Fitish 1944)


The Curse of the Cat People



"The beast woman stalks the night" , the sequel of Cat People initial film


After the success of the film Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942) there was a huge interests from the audience for a sequel film. Two years after the release of Cat People in 1944 the legendary horror producer Val Lewton produces the sequel film with the title “The Curse of Cat People”.

Key persons behind the film “The Curse of the Cat People




The film “Curse of Cat People” is directed by Robert Wise and Gunther von Fitisch. The screenplay of the film was written by Dewitt Bodeen and Val Lewton. The plot structure of the film is based on a different story and there are no visible cat people on the film. 

Actually the film "Curse of the Cat people"is the directing debut of Robert Wise and Gunther Von Fitch. The marketing campaign of the film was developed around the slogan "The Black Menace Creeps Again".



The cast of the film "The Curse of the Cat People"


Simone Simon performs the part of Irena Reed (the dead wife of Oliver), Kent Smith plays the part of Kent Smith (the main male character) Jane Rardolph performs the part of Alice Reed the main female character. Also in the movieparticipate Ann Courter, Eve March, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Efraid Cage and Sir Lancelot. 



The Plot Structure of the film "The Ciurse of the Cat People"



The storyline of the film starts after the death of Irena (was the main female character in the initial film Cat People) her husband Oliver Reed (the main male character, the part played by Kent Smith) has married his former ex - worker Alice Moore (main female character the part is performed by Jane Radolph). The couple has already a six years old daughter, Amy.


Amy is not an ordinary child and she spends her time day dreaming and not have friends.One day Amy finds a photo of Irena.


On the following video you can watch the film trailer of the film "The Curse of the Cat People




Resources

The Curse oft the Cat People


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Πέμπτη, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2012

The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise, 1945)


The Body Snatchers another one masterpiece by Val Lewton






The film Body Snatcher was directed by Robert Wise and the plot structure of the film is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “The Body Snatcher”.

The film was produced by Val Lewton and the screenplay was written by Philip MacDonald and Val Lewton.



Cast of “The Body Snatchers




Boris Karloff performs  the part of Cabman John Cray (the main male character), Bela Lugosi plays the part of Joseph, Henry Daniell performs the part Dr. Woffe  Mac Farlane, Russell Wade performs the part of Donald Fettes and Edith Atwater performs the part of Meg Camden. In film participates also Rita Corday, Shary Moffet and Donna Lee.

The plot structure of “The Body Snatcher





The plot structure of the film is developed in Scotland’s capital and one of the most beautiful cities on earth Edinbrugh in 1831, the main character is Dr. Wolfe Mc Farlane who is director of the medical school and he has a very active student Donald Fettes.

Donald Fettes is promoted to Dr. Mac Farlanes assistant and he wants to help a local Scottish girl who has a lost one of hers legs. He believes that Mac Farlane’s surgical skill’s could help her.

Donald Fettes will discover very soon the dark side of Dr Wolfe Mac Farlane, medicine school’s director has a very well kept secret he pays money to a local cabbie John Gray to supply him with dead bodies for “academic research”. Fetter discovers that John Cray does not only robe graves but he kills human beings to supply Dr. Wolfe McFarlane with bodies.  

You can see on youtube 'The Body Snatcher" full movie:





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I need to mention that this article tries to provide information to reader using all the available data on the day of its publishing. New information and data for this subject and issue are published every day. It’s been highly recommended to the reader to search on Google for more information. World is moving searching is the driving force. Searching is the source of inspiration and the source of truth.                    

Τετάρτη, 14 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968)


Night of the Living Dead - They keep coming back in blood thirtsy lust for human flesh










Night of the Living_Dead is one of the most significant independent horror films in history of horror cinema. The film was directed and co - written by George Romero. The initial budget of the film was only $ 114.000 and the film crossed about $ 12 million in United States and about $ 18 million in international market, it was a huge box office success.

Important Highlights / Innovations about the film “Night of the Living Dead




(1). The only professional actor in the film were Judith O Dea (Barba main female character) and Duane Jones (Ben the main male character)



Important : Duane Jones  is the first African American lead in a horror film and the first African - American lead in any feature not to have a Romantic Interest. I need to mentioned also that Duane Jones was the only actor who after “The Night” had a career in film industry, he performed roles in films like : Ganja and Hess (1972), Vampires (1986) and Fright Night (1989).

(2). The production of “Night of the Living Dead”

During the production of the film, the working title was “Monster Flick” and it was shot between June and December 1967. George Romero used a cost effective strategy by using a house that has been demolished and it had no basement. The basement scenes of the film “The Night” were shot in the editing studio and in combination with the amateur cast created a unique, strong and unforgettable cinema verite style.

(3). The payment of the Zombies was only $ 1 and a T- Shirt saying “I was a Zombie on Night of the Living Dead”.

(4). Cinematography innovation - “The Night” was shot on monochrome and George Romero achieved to present explicit gore in a Realistic style.

(5). Walter Reade Organization distributed the film - during the marketing campaign Walter Organization published posters announcing the following



“The Walter Reade Organization offers a $ 50 . 000  insurance policy against anyone dying of a heart attack while watching the film”.

(To be continued )

On the following video you can see the trailer of the film "Night of the Living Dead"



Night of the Living Dead is also known also with the titles “Night of Anubis / Night of the Flesheaters”.


As I have already mentioned the film was directed by George A. Romero, it was produced by Karl Hardman and Russell Streiner. Director of cinematography was George Romero the film was edited by George Romero and John A. Russo.  Special Make Up artist was Vincent J Guastini and make up artist was Karl Hardman and Special Effects director for the film was Tony Pantanello and Regis Survinski.

The Cast of “Night of the Living Dead"


The film was produced at a low budget approach and it was shot between June and December 1967. Only two actors had previous professional experience Judith O ‘ Dea and Duane Jones.

Duane Jones performs the main male character Ben, Judith O ‘ Dea plays the part of Barba the main female character. Also Marilyn Eastman performs the part of Helen Cooper, Keith Wayne plays the part of Tom, Judith Ridley performs the part of Judy, Russ Steiner performs the part of Johnny, Kyra Schon performs the part of Karen Cooper, Charles Craig performs the part of Newscaster, S William Heinzman plays the cemetery Ghoul,  George Kosana plays the part of Sheriff McCelland, Fank Doak plays the part of Scientist, Billy “Chilly Billy” Cardille plays the part of Field Reporter, Mark Ricci performs the part of Washington Scientist, Lee Hartman plays the part of News Reporter. Finally the unforgettable ghouls : A C McDonald, Samuel R Solito, Jack Givens, R J Ricci, Paula Richards, John Simpson, Herbert Summer, Richard Ricci, William Burchinal, Ross Harris, Al Croft, Jason Richards, Dave Jmaes, Sharon Carroll, William Mogush, Steve Hutsko, Joann Michaels, Phillip Smith, Ella Mae Smith and Randy Burr.

The Concept of the  film “Night of the Living Dead”


The main theme of the film is “raising the dead” a central horror theme for centuries. The first art project with them “raising the dead” is  “Frankestein Monster” novel of Mary Shelley the first film project with the same theme was the German silent (New expressionism) film “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari” (Robert Wiene, 1919).

Origins and inspiration for the film “The Night of the Living Dead


As I have mentioned on the Zombies as Cinema archetype article the zombie monsters debut was in cinema and not in literature as other cinema monsters. The first reference of zombies was on the folkloric book “Magic Island” based on the rich Haitian tradition of Zombie creatures. George Romero was influenced by the book “The Magic Island” and later from the first ever Zombie film “The White Zombie” (Voctor Helperin, 1932) the plot structure of the film is about a mad scientist and villain estate owner  who uses a secret drug to transform the habitats of the Island into a Zombie army to rule the Island.

It’s said that George Romero afyer the first read of the film “White Zombie” added another hypothesis on the Zombie Mythology “what if the zombies are uncontrolled”. Also films like “The Revolt of Zombies” (Halperin, 1936), “King of the Zombies” (Jean Yarbrough, 1941), , “I walked with a Zombie” (Jacques Tourneur, 1941) and “Plague of the Zombies” (John Cilling, 1966) influenced George Romero for the creation of the film “The night of the living dead”.

Also films outside the zombie sub genre influenced the cinematoigraphic techniques of George Romero and especially the look and feal of the film, among them are film like “Carnival of Souls” (1962, Herk Harvey), Repulsion (Roman Polansky, 1965). The concept of house siege was influenced from films like Invisible Invaders (Edward Chan, 1959), The last man on earth (Sidney Salkork, 1964). Also its believed that George Romero was influenced also by Universal Horror films like “Frankestein” (James Whale, 1931) and especially he uses almost the same camera angles as the classic Universal horror film.

Apart from films, there was a strong influence from comics and graphic novels and especially the comic book editions of EC Comics. The majority of EC Comics  published the decade of 50s with titles like “The Huant Fear”, “Tales from the Crypt”, “The Haunt of Fear” and they featured very frequently the living dead and most important of all in EC Comics the protagonists were from different ethical backgrounds. “The Night of the Living Dead” is the first horror film with an African American as the main male character.


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Elias Stoikos

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Resources


Night of the Living Dead - Wikipedia

Night of the Living Dead - Internet Movies Data Base

Night of the Living Dead - Rotten Tomatoes

Home page of the Dead : George Romero

Night of the Living Dead - Roger Bert "The Sun"


I need to mention that this article tries to provide information to reader using all the available data on the day of its publishing. New information and data for this subject and issue are published every day. It’s been highly recommended to the reader to search on Google for more information. World is moving searching is the driving force. Searching is the source of inspiration and the source of truth.                    

Τρίτη, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson, 1945)


Isle of the Dead, you are invited to a Forbidden Adventure



Abandon all hope, you are on the Isle of the Dead!



Isle of the Dead is one of the most significant horror films ever (I share the same idea with Martin Scorsese (Isle of the Dead is among the 11 horror films of all time). The film “Isle of Dead” is directed by Mark Robson, the screenplay was written by Ardel Wray and the idea of the film is based on the Arnold Bocklin painting “Isle of the Dea”. The score of the film is was composed by Leigh Harline and director of photography is Jack Mackenzie and the film was edited by Lyle Boyer and finally the film was distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

The cast of “Isle of the Dead





The part of General Nikolas Prenides (the main male character) is performed by Boris Karloff, the part of Thea (the main female character) is played by Ellen Drew. Also, in film participate Marc Cramen, Katherine Emery, Helen Thing, Alan Napier, Jason Robards, Ernst Deutsh, Sherry Hall, Erick Hanson and Skelton Knaggs.

The plot structure of film “Isle of the Dead



During the first world war in a small Greek island a plaque forces an emergency situation and a quarantine. One by one the habitats of the isle are dying and ayoung woman is accused by being a “vrykolakas” a Greek - version of vampire and actually the oldest on earth.

Isle of Dead and box - office


The film was not a huge box office success and it’s production budget was the highest in relation with previous films of Val Lewton

You can see on the following video, the trailer of the film "Isle of the Dead".




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Isle of the Dead - painting

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Δευτέρα, 12 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Cat people (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)


Cat People “I like the dark is so friendly”






Val Lewton in 1930 published a short story with the title “The Baghette”. The story is about a girl who believes that she belongs to a special kid of people who can transform into cats.

In 1942, twelve years after the initial publishing of the story, the story was adapted by De Witt Bodeen for the silver screen and Val Lewton was offered the change to produce a film based on De Witt’s screenplay.  Actually, the film Cat People it is not just a good film it’s one of the most significant works of horror cinema.
Director of Photography in film “Cat People” is Nicholas Musuraca, the soundtrack of the film was composed by Roy Webb and it the film was edited by Mark Robson.
The film “Cat People” was distributed by RKO Pictures and it was a huge box office success. According to financial data the ”Cat People” film crossed about $ 4 million and it’s production and distribution planet was about $ 134.000. The ratio of sales / production cost is about 29, 8 and it is among the most attractive in film business.


The Cast of Cat People




The main female character is Dubrova Reed and her part was performed by Simone Simon. The main male character Oliver Reed is played by Kent Smith. Also in film participate Tom Conway as Dr. Louis Judd, Jane Randolph plays the part of The Cammrode and finally participate in film Elizabeth Rusell, Alan Napier, Theresa Hains, May Hasley and Elizabeth Dunn.

The plot structure of Cat People



The Serbian born fashion designer Irena Dubrova (Simone Simon) draws sketches of a black panther. She attacks the interest of a marine engineer Oliver Reed, who starts a conversation with her. Irena invites Oliver to her apartment, Oliver likes the statue of a medieval warrior on horseback impaling a large cat with a sword. Irena informs Oliver that the statue figure is King John of Serbia and the cat represents evil.  According to Serbian legends, centuries ago the Christain residents of her home village in Serbia, turned their faith from Christianity to witchcraft or devil worship during their enslaving by the Mamelukes. During the war against Mamelukes, King John of Serbia drove his enemies out of the village and saw what her village residence had become and decided to kill all Satan believers. But a small number of village residents “the wisest and the most wicked” according to legend escaped into the mountains.

Later, Oliver will buy her a kitten but upon their meetings, kitten attacks her. They go to a pet shop to exchange it but as they enter into the shop the animals go wild in her presence. The pet shop owner comments that animals can sense things about people.

Day by day Irena believes that she is descend  from the Satan believers of her home village in Serbia.  Irena fears that she will transform into a panther when her passion arises. She remembers from her childhood when other children  called her mother a cat person and the mysterious death of hers father

Despite all the above incidents, Oliver marries Irena. Few days after their wedding at a Serbian restaurant a woman walks over ans asks Irena if she is “moja cetra” (my sister). This incident created anxiety and fear to Irena.  Their marriage is ready to be destroyed, Irena denies to sleep with her husband. Oliver persuades her to visit a psychiatrist. Dr Judd tries to convince Irean that there is no reason to worry. Oliver has spoken to her attractive assistant about their marriage problems.

Oliver starts a relationship with his beautiful assistant Alice Moore. Irena sees her husband Oliver with Alice seated together at a restaurant. Irena follows Alice as she walks home alone  through one of the Central Park’s pathways. Irena is walking behind Alice. Alice becomes increasingly uneasy. She’s feeling that something is behind her.  She hears a menacing sound a bus pulls up, and she hastily bouds it. Soon after, several sheeps are killed. There are paw paths with blood and away turn into imprints of a woman’s shoes.

After hours later Alice is taking a dip in the basement swimming pool, she sees the shadow of an animal and she fears. Alice, jumps into the pool, using the water to keep creature at bay. Alce screams for help, Irena turns on the lights and claims that she was looking for Oliver.

Alice is not sure, she believes that she has imagined the whole thing, but she convinced only when she finds her robe torn to shreds.

Finally Irena will announce to her husband that she doesn’t fear anymore. Unfortunately, for her Oliver has decided to take divorce and to marry Alice.
     

to be continued

You can see on the following video (youtube) the classic pool scene from the film “Cat people”






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I need to mention that this article tries to provide information to reader using all the available data on the day of its publishing. New information and data for this subject and issue are published every day. It’s been highly recommended to the reader to search on Google for more information. World is moving searching is the driving force. Searching is the source of inspiration and the source of truth.