No Haunt Me Then!…I Know That Ghosts Have Wandered On The Earth. Be With Me Always…Drive Me Mad, Only Do Not Leave Me in This Dark Alone…I Cannot Live Without My Life! I Cannot Die Without My Soul.: Wuthering Heights (1939)

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.”

The American posters for Wuthering Heights are super boring, while the foreign ones are all much more interesting, although I do like the one above a lot! I really love whoever decided to make Heathcliff green as he looks like a monster (or should I say Munster?).

When I was plotting out what film to start Horrofest X with, I was, as usual, struggling. I always want to be sure the first post is a good one, a film that I adore or is special to me. This year the first film was supposed to be from the 1930s and as I started looking at 1930s films, I realized I had already reviewed a lot of my favorite 1930s horror films. On a whim I decided to search backwards, starting with the last year of the decade, 1939, and when I saw Wuthering Heights, I knew it was the perfect film to begin with.

Wuthering Heights (1939) is an adaption of the 19th century gothic novel of the same name, by Emily Brontë. It is a novel I was obsessed with as a tween and teen. I used to read this book over and over again, and I loved Heathcliff more than I should have. But you know teenage girls, they tend to be attracted to the bad boy who “only needs someone to truly show them love and care and then they will change their ways!” Not true at all, but I believed it, and believed it of Heathcliff (at least until I married one and realized that it was a mistake). I essentially was Isabella.

I still enjoy the book, although my ardor for Heathcliff is not as it was a tween/teen, as it is extremely well written and sucks you in from the moment Cathy taps on the windowpane. And this adaption is one that I haven’t seen in a while but have loved because of one truly handsome and amazing man, Laurence Olivier.

Laurence Olivier has always been one of my favorite actors and classic Hollywood heartthrobs and he truly does this part justice. Jane Austen fans should recognize him as the OG Darcy (and even though that film heavily strays from the book I love his version of Darcy as well). He never would have gotten that part if it wasn’t for this film, this one made him a star! Laurence Olivier was just fantastic in this as he can do the moody mcbroody parts so well.

And speaking of Jane Austen, this film is a double feature as not only is it one I would recommend for Jane Austen fans, an Non-Austen Film for Austen fans:

It is also has a spot on Catherine Morland’s Viewing List as this gothic film is one that Catherine would have loved!

Wuthering Heights is a book where the characters all have issues with each other and spend a majority of time fighting or upset with each other. The process of making this film was another one of those cases of “life imitating art” as the cast spent a lot of time behind the scene not getting along at all. This film was directed by William Wyler and he and Laurence Olivier argued a lot. Olivier really resented his directing style of doing multiple takes with slight differences, (prior to this Olivier had done little film acting and more stage work). Later on, he credited Wyler for a lot of growth, but at the time he was heavily annoyed.

Merle Oberon and Olivier also had a rocky relationship. The two had gotten along in a previous film shoot, but spent this one yelling and arguing with each other whenever filming stopped and could not stand each other.

David Niven and Wyler historically did not get along and Niven was dreading this film. At one point Wyler was upset that Niven wouldn’t cry, and wanted to do repeated takes until he did; but Niven told him he had a no crying clause in his contract. Wyler made him get a copy of the contract to prove that this was true. Niven and Oberon also hated working with each other as the two had a romance go sour.

Merle Oberon did not care for working with Wyler as well as his methods of perfection and pushing his actors and actresses rivals Stanley Kuberick. One rain scene he made Oberon do over and over again until she became so sick she vomited and had a fever. When she came back from the hospital he immediately began pushing her as he had before, but she refused to film the scene unless heaters were brought in to protect her health.

You’ll also notice that the clothing is not accurate to the time period as the director changed the clothing to be the 1840s instead of early 1800s as he liked those fashions better.

Samuel Goldwyn Mayer wanted to change the story too as he thought it was too dark for a romance, luckily this suggestion was not accommodated. I used to think Wuthering Heights was a romance, but now as an adult having experienced someone like Heathcliff but worse, the real romance of Wuthering Heights, is the spooky elements and the mysterious moors.

I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I remember really enjoying it. I know it isn’t your typical “horror film”, but I’m counting it as it has Gothic elements, ghosts, and plenty of psychopaths/sociopaths. I know a lot of people talk about Heathcliff’s behavior and dislike him, but to be honest he really doesn’t deserve as much hate as he gets as every character in this film is a truly terrible person.

The film starts off with the credits but use such romantic music, light and airy-but this manor holds mystery, decay, and trouble.

From Twin Peaks

“Only a stranger lost in a storm would dare knock on the door of Wuthering Heights”.

The story begins with poor Mr. Lockwood. He’s a tenant that started renting on Heathcliff’s land to get away from people. Now he’s lost in a blizzard about to go on a ghostly adventure.

In the house is Heathcliff, scowling, angry, harsh and as cold as the blizzard Mr. Lockwood came in from. This is also a woman, Mrs. Heathcliff, in the home, hard and worn-as weathered as the home they live in. I love this imagery.

Mr. Lockwood is trying to make the best of the rudeness received at the house but you can tell he’s like these people are strange. That night he struggles with sleep, especially when one of the shutters come open. He hears a woman crying and she grabs his hand and holds it tight.

From House on Haunted Hill

Frightened he calls for Heathcliff who storms over. Mr. Lockwood tells Heathcliff, who screams and pushes him out-pulling open the shutter and calling to “her” again. He’s so sad and brokenhearted, making you feel for Heathcliff.

Mr. Lockwood is shocked and the housekeeper Nelly tells him that Heathcliff is searching for the girl, Cathy, who died many years ago. Mr. Lockwood doesn’t believe in ghosts, but thinks he is just seeing things. Nelly then decides to tell him the story of what happened all those years ago.

We then go back to 40 years earlier, when Wuthering Heights was a bright and happy place. Wuthering Heights was never a truly happy place in the book. It was less miserable, true, but the late Mr. Earnshaw was not a kind man at all and produced a horrible son who then abuses his sister and Heathcliff. This house has housed misery for so long time; it is seeped into the bones of the manor.

Mr. Earnshaw returns from his trip to Liverpool and instead of just bringing gifts back he also brings a boy-dark skinned, dirty, a “gypsy” child. Mr. Earnshaw kindly admonishes his children for their rude behavior to Heathcliff and all I can think is this Earnshaw is nothing like the Earnshaw in the book. He puts Heathcliff in Hindley’s room, and Hindley is none too pleased about that.

Mr. Earnshaw has been coughing an awful lot ever since he returned home. You all know what that means-he’s on death’s door. He’s not long for this world.

Heathcliff and Cathy get along swimmingly, racing horses and getting into all kinds of mischief. In one game, Heathcliff wins the race against Cathy and wins her as his slave. His joy quickly ends as Hindley, resentful of the love Heathcliff receives from his father and hating the ire he gets, bullies him. He takes his horse from him, reminding him again he will never be anything as he is a nobody, an orphan; he doesn’t even have a last name. And in a time when where you came and your opportunities from were all tangled up in name and family; Heathcliff has nothing. And he is in a system where he will never be able to achieve or grasp anything-unless he does it in slightly illegal ways. In a lot of ways Heathcliff makes me think of Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Both are single minded and have an obsession with their first love. Both will do anything possible to get a position of power, wealth, status-even if they need to do it in illegal ways. Both have no qualms using others to get what they want-Heathcliff is just more rude and cruel about his methods lashing out in pain instead of living in denial.

Heathcliff and Hindley fight with Cathy defending Heathcliff and turning against her brother. Hindley beats Heathcliff up, although it is really badly choreographed. Heathcliff is angry and it is pretty odd but I have another comparison. The child actor who played Heathcliff is amazingly spot on, he does a fantastic jobbut the way he and Hindley interacted right now-it makes me think if a mafia movie like The Godfather. The way Heathcliff is so calm and cool-he’s another Michel Corleone.

Heathcliff is calmly furious, which is extremely frightening, and is prepared to wait and find a way to do anything possible to make Hindley pay. If I was Hindley, I would be very, very afraid.

Don’t mess with me!

Cathy wants to have fun, but Heathcliff only wants revenge! Cathy does finally convince him and they ride off together. The two play together with Heathcliff pretending to be Cathy’s prince, and it is a super cute scene that really gives you a view into their relationship and friendship.

Of course this isn’t a gothic story without some tragedy. Mr. Earnshaw dies and all happiness is gone from the home. Heathcliff wants to see Mr. Earnshaw, but Hindley is the master now and will not let Heathcliff. He also kicks Heathcliff out to the stables. Poor Heathcliff is sad and alone and crying. It breaks my heart-poor Heathcliff.

With Hindey as the master, the whole house is plunged into darkness and despair. Hindley and Cathy do well and are dressed well, with Heathcliff becoming Cinderfella, a slave-dressed in rags. Heathcliff listens and obeys, but you can see the rebellion in his eyes-he’s biding his time for one day…

Laurence Oliver is such a handsome man. You can pout him in dirt and rags, but he still is a shining star. 

As soon as Hindley leaves each day Heathcliff and Cathy are off to runningin the moors in their special place. Aw, they seem so sweet and happy together. Too bad it won’t last.

Cathy decides to try and “encourage” Heathcliff by insulting his appearance and manhood. She questions why he doesn’t just leave and go somewhere else. And I’m like, girl really? Why do you think he stays here?

Heathcliff is super romantic “I could never part from you”; while Cathy is all “get rich and come take me away.” The two are in two totally different mindsets with Heathcliff all focused on the emotional, and while Cathy is emotional she is also much more practical. The only way she will ever be able to leave Wuthering Heights, her brother, this despair; is through marriage. And the only way she get Hindley’s blessing or survive with nothing from him is if they have money.

Heathcliff begs her to run off with him now, but she declines. You know some people would say she doesn’t really love him or is just using him, but I like that she recognizes a life without privilege as a woman is hard and that is not the life for her. She wants to be with her love, but even more so she also wants to be taken care of. You know there is a big difference between being punished by your brother and sleeping in he stables for a night or two (which she has done) and having to live in stables because you have no money and no connections. Her practicality reminds me a lot of Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice, and her choice of money over love of Mr. Willoughby. Although she is much better than Mr. Willoughby as she made it clear to her partner what she needed and wasn’t running around taking advantage of others. Heathcliff is very Marianne in the way he doesn’t really think about what will happen next, how will they survive?

Heathcliff vows to stay and be treated cruelly if it means they can be together. He gives an oath, but Cathy ignores it as she hears music and goes to their neighbors the Lintons. The two hop a fence to get a closer look, but awaken the guard dogs. They try to hop back over the fence but one of the dogs runs at Cathy’s leg and injures her, Heathcliff being a fights the dogs off with his bare hands. WOW!

Soooo cute!!!!

The party come out and of course they take Cathy in and treat Heathcliff like dirt, trying to keep him from coming in-but he breaks through to se her. Everyone treats him horrible, and Cathy even tells him to go. Heathcliff is furious about his treatment and vows to leave, but will come back and bring ruin everyone’s head. I know we aren’t supposed to root for him as his quest to of vengeance on all these who have wronged him turns him into a crooked cruel man, but after the way they treated him I follow what he’s tracking.

Anyways, Heathcliff gives his strong amazing poetic vow to bring ruin to them all-and let me tell you Heathcliff has style. He knows how to command a room and do it right. He storms out in a powerful exit.

Wow!

Cathy recuperates at the Linton home and when she returns she has had a lot of her wild ways “calmed”. Cathy returns surprised to hear that Heathcliff isn’t gone. He tried but he couldn’t be away from her. Cathy cruelly insults him and shares that the Linton house was so much better. Heathcliff sees the divide between them and does not like this, storming out.

Edgar is such a pompous jerk and insults Heathcliff. Cathy does not like it; she is the only one who can demean him. Being back in the house the real her comes out and her wild ways have all come out. She yells and screams at Edgar Linton and kicks him out of the house.

Cathy then runs off to her room crying. She removes the Linton from her (taking off Isabelle Linton’s borrowed dress) and puts her old clothes on, old self, and runs to meet Heathcliff in their special spot. The wealthy items tossed for plain, showing Heathcliff she chooses him-but does she?

The two cling tighter on the hill, but all I can think is not for long, They pick heather, but while the scene is beautiful and romantic, like the flowers you know that this will not last forever.

Poor Edgar is not run off by Cathy’s bad behavior, he tries to win her by sending gifts and begs her to see him. Cathy agrees to have him over and she really enjoys the way she has manipulated him and all I can think is poor Edgar, poor little soul. Heathcliff has heard Edgar is coming over and he’s furious, even more so by the airs she puts on and stating that he has no control over her-he’s just a stable boy.

Cathy continues to break his heart calling him a beggar, dirty, etc He slaps her and leaves running right into Edgar. Oh no, things are going to get bad-but instead of fighting Heathcliff runs out into the rain to the stable. Morose and alone.

Heathcliff hides out in the stable until Edgar leaves. He returns to the house hands bloody from him trying to cute the “dirt and soil and lower class from them”. Nelly hides Heathcliff when Cathy comes down, as Heathcliff doesn’t want her to know how her words cut at his heart. But Cathy shares that Edgar asked her to marry him and that she loves him because he is handsome, rich, and pleasant. Nelly asks about Heathcliff, and Cathy shares she wished Heathcliff never came back. She wants to be free from the cold depressing life at Wuthering Heights and Edgar is the way for her to do it . They actually do Cathy a lot of injustice in this film, making her seem like a gold digger, when Hindley was horrible to live with. Cathy is a awful person, but she is in a horrible life and is trying to get out the only way she knows how.

Heathcliff runs away and Cathy follows trying to find him. Hindley comes home drunk and doesn’t care wanting to drink to celebrate the departure of Heathcliff. Edgar finds Cathy and brings her to his home.

Cathy recuperates at the Linton’s and Edgar does all her can for her. Poor guy, he’s so sweet and such a fool. He thinks that Cathy could actually love him and not just what he could provide for her-what a delusional man and a poor sad man. Cathy vows to be his wife and treat him well and that she will ever kiss another man (lies, all lies!)

The two are married and Catherine has everything she ever wanted: free from Wuthering Heights, among people who do not like confrontation and are always pleasant, the leading lady of the area, money, power, status, …yet she isn’t happy. Something unsettles her. Something cold is coming…

Cathy loved being lady of the manor and living with the Linton’s. Edgar is trying to marry Isabella off, but she finds all the men weak and boring. A kind peaceful night is interrupted when an old lover returns. Heathcliff has returned from America with money. He wants to see Cathy and she refuses knowing that with their love she won’t be able to resist him. Love? Or obsession? Edgar, however, makes her see him. He’s so secure in his love and affections, what a fool.

Heathcliff walks in even more handsome than before, clothes, hair, and style. He gazes upon Cathy with love and desire in his eyes. They ask how he has become so wealthy and he tells them he claimed his “princely fortune,” reminding her of all they used to say in their games. He also drops a bigger emotional bomb; he is the owner of Wuthering Heights. Hindley is a drunken fool that gambled everything away.

Step one of his revenge plot had started. Step two and three is to destroy Edgar and Cathy Linton. Now I feel for Edgar but he is also such a pompous jerk that he makes me want to slap him. He goes on about poor Hindley losing his home, him having his property stolen. It wasn’t stolen from him, he held it in so little esteem that he gambled it away. That’s life, plus Hindley is one if the most horrible people in this book (he’s not as present in the film) so I don’t gel bad. If it was me I would have kicked him out. Heathcliff actually acts with way more class that Edgar has and leaves.

Oh no, Isabella has fallen for Heathcliff and defends him against her brother and sister-in-law. Edgar tries to stop it, but is too late. She can’t resist that bad boy “that just needs love to fix him”. Don’t do it Isabella, don’t do it!

From Laura

Wuthering Heights is now Heathcliff’s home and he lets Hindley stay, but he has to be in the stables, just like when Heathcliff was a boy. My how have the turntables turned?

Oliver looks so hot in this film, he’s too distracting in his long coat. His intense gaze is so hypnotic I can’t look away. I don’t even know what he is saying; I’m lost in his dreaminess.

The business is interrupted when a lady comes to see him. He thinks it will be Cathy but is disappointed to see Isabella. Isabella came to the house as she was riding in the moors and her “horse went lame” and she “just happened” to be nearby. Poor foolish Isabella. She has this imagined view of who she thinks Heathcliff is, silly girl.

Isabella tries to endear herself to Heathcliff letting him know that she defended him, she cares for him, she can help heal his broken heart. She just lays it all out, shoots her shot. Poor romantic fool. Heathcliff recognizes what is really happening, he did from the beginning, and calls her out. Unfortunately he knows being with Isabella will help his revenge and woos her to get back at Edgar for his treatment and at Cathy for marrying another. Heathcliff don’t you know a path of revenge will only be a sad and troubled road.

The next scene the Linton’s are having a party and Heathcliff waltzes in, being the fine looking man he is. Isabella cheers and is so pleased to see him. Poor foolish girl.

At the party all Heathcliff can do is stare at Cathy and it takes every ounce of willpower for her not to stare back, often breaking as she cannot resist him.

Isabella waltzes with someone and Cathy and Heathcliff sneak away to talk. He tries to get her to admit she cares for him, but she refuses. She insists she loves Edgar and only him, but Cathy is not a good liar-anyone can see that isn’t true. The two have a line here when he tells her he came because she willed him to come from across the sea. Again I never noticed it before but again is very similar to The Great Gatsby. Gatsby thinks the same thing looking at her green light imagining it is a secret sign for the two of them.

Heathcliff: If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day. Not he. Not the world. Not even you, Cathy, can come between us.

Cathy: Heathcliff, you must go away. You must leave this house and never come back to it. I never want to see your face again or listen to your voice again as long as I live.

Heathcliff: You lie! Why do you think I’m here tonight? Because you willed it. You willed me here across the sea.

That night Cathy comes to talk to Isabella and Isabella won’t listen. Cathy tries to warn her that Heathcliff doesn’t care and is just using her, but Cathy comes in yelling and screaming and just sounding like a jealous shrew, and she is jealous. Its so obvious to everyone watching, even to Edgar.

Cathy returns home and speaks to Edgar, but they are too late. Isabella has left and eloped with Heathcliff. Edgar is resigned and Cathy is crazed begging him to stop the wedding-killing Heathclff if necessary and for the first tim Edgar sees that he never really knew Cathy and is seeing her for the first time.

Unfortunately, poor Isabella gets no fairy tale ending- just darkness, despair, and decrepitness. Her innocence, lightness, gayess, etc all gone. The doctor tries to get Isabella to go home, letting her know that Cathy is sick and dying. Isabella is glad at that news, shocking the doctor as she thinks with Cathy gone they might have a chance of happiness.

Poor Isabella, she deserved better. She tries so hard to get his love, but gets nothing. He treats her bad because she isn’t Cathy, ignoring her and not treating her like the pretty little doll everyone did. Instead of pushing her away it makes her more clingy and desperate, what Heathcliff can’t stand.

Nelly comes to get Isabella as Cathy is dying and Isabella does not care. But Heathcliff run to his lady love. Cathy is dying and the one place she truly wants to be, with Heathciff.

Heathcliff storms into the house and runs to his lady love who is wasting away. Cathy dies but befoe she goes they kiss (she broke her vow). Heathcliff spurts out in anger releasing all that has fueled him through the years. Angry she choose money over love, she choose Edgar the unpassionate, etc. He throws curses.

We then bounce back to the present as Nelly finishes her story. Mr. Lockwood still doesn’t believe them. The doctor comes to see Hindley and shares he saw Heathcliff out there in the snow with a woman, but when he caught up to them he only found Heathcliff’s body. Yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are finally reunited in death.

So this film was very well written and had an amazing cast. They did cut out a lot of the book and removed the massive amount of cruelty these people inflict on each other to instead focus more on the romance. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch.

So that is it for the first post of Horrorfest X. It was quite a challenge as all technology was failing me-it I will persevere. Stay tuned for more!

The usual Facebook cover I make. 🙂

For more on Wuthering Heights, go to Shame Book Tag

For more Laurence Olivier, go to Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again: Rebecca (1940)

For more gothic films, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more on Catherine Morland’s Viewing List, go to He’s Married to a Corpse. He Has a Corpse Bride!: Corpse Bride (2005)

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, Walking on Sunshine (2014)

Catherine Morland’s Viewing List

Happy Friday the 13th! I don’t know if you have any plans, but as for me I’m going to spend my evening with pizza and horror films.

Speaking of Horror films I have been getting ready trying to pick out which ones I’ll use for Horrorfest X, my yearly Halloween countdown, but I’ve also been going through old posts and looking at the ones from the original Horrorfest, and thinking some of these movies Catherine Morland would love as they are full of gothic-y goodness.

Unfortunately, while they occasionally have Austen tendencies and can go on my Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans list, like Rebecca, the ones I’m thinking of are more like Catherine Morland’s Reading Listthey don’t have anything to do with Jane Austen but are gothic stories Catherine would love.

Hmm…

Then I thought, why not start a new series, a list of only the good Gothic like horror films for the other Catherine Morland/Henry Tilney spooky people out there? It will only contain movies that I strongly recommend-none of the films that are poorly written or have a lot of issues. And unlike my other lists, this will be a one stop list for people looking for recommendations, while the original posts will only be done during Horrorfest.

So films on this list are going to be Gothic films or films with Gothic components. For those who are wondering what classifies something as a Gothic, here is the definition.

Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

Any films I have already reviewed that fit for this list I will just list and link here, while any future film I review I will add a little specifically why it belongs on this list. I have 9 years of films I have watched/reviewed for Horrorfest, but I’m not sure how many of those will be on her. For now I’m going to put on the ones I have recently re-edited, and then will be adding more constantly. If you are looking for recommendations, be sure to check back for more:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Rebecca (1940)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

The Bad Seed (1956)

Psycho (1960)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Dead Again (1991)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The Corpse Bride (2005)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more movie lists, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans

Just Because I’m a Vampire Doesn’t Mean I’m Bloodthirsty: Cirque du Freak, The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Just because I’m a vampire doesn’t mean I’m bloodthirsty. It’s not about what you are. It’s about who you are.

So with COVID19, the library building has been closed, giving staff the opportunity to work on some projects we have been wanting to do. One project that was given to me was to reorganize the YA section by book series. As I was reorganizing them I came across the Darren Shan/Cirque du Freak series. Because the series had two names (mentioned on different books) it took a google search to see what was the official name, it turned out it had a UK series (the Saga of Darren Shan) and they changed the name in the US (Cirque du Freak)

I also discovered that the first book was made into a movie starring Josh Hutcherson in 2009.

I looked it up as I was completely surprised. I had zero memory of this movie coming out, even though Josh Hutcherson was a big name in the 2000s.The film intrigued me, but we didn’t have a copy because someone checked it out and never returned it.

So a few months later I was thinking of how I would like to see it and decided to search it across my streaming sites and found it on Netflix.

So the story starts with Darren Shan, normal 16 year old boy in a nuclear family-and a bit of a coward. His best friend is Steve, they have been friends since Steve saved Darren from being beat up years ago. Steve is a sad creature-his mother is an alcoholic, no one likes him except Darren, and the only reason he goes to school is to be with his friend. So young and to have so little to live for.

So sad.

They are going to school when they find flyers for a Cirque du Freak freak show. They decide to sneak out that night and go watch it.

When they get there, it is very strange show. They thought it would be fakes pretending, but things are too weird to be fake. One act, Larten Creepsley (John C. Reilly), performs with an incredibly poisonous spider, Madame Octa.Darren loved bugs, espechially spiders and he wants her.

Now Steve is a giant vampire fan and looking at Larten he recognizes him from his vampire book. He points him out to Darren who thinks Steve just has an overactive imagination from reading too many vampire books. Overactive imagination from too many books coupled with vampires-guess what popped in my head?

Darren goes to get Madame Octa, the spider-but before he can escape Larten comes in the room. He is with his friend Gavner Purl, (Willem Defoe), the two talk about vampire business and the Vampaneze, the rivals of the vampires who are bloodthirsty and cruel in their killings. They are interrupted by Steve who wants them to turn him into a vampire.

Nosferatu

This part was really sad to me as Steve shares he has nothing in life but his best friend Darren. Life sucks and he thinks being a vampire is the only way to get a better life, a family. Poor Steve.

Life is grey…

Larten and his friend refuse, telling him that he is evil, full of evil blood. They are really cruel and cold and Steve leaves-threatening them that they will be sorry.

Darren runs off with Madame Octa and right into Mr. Tiny and the Vampaneze Murlough. Mr. Tiny takes a bit of his blood and is interested in him, while Murlough sees him as not worth his time. They drop him off at home.

After they all leave, Darren sneaks out with the spider and takes him home. The next day he brings the spider to school-why? Steve finds him with it and Darren shares that he heard him. He tries to get Steve to talk about it, having not realized how bad Steve was feeling and what he was going through. Steve shrugs it off and tries to get a closer look at the spider.

As he is looking at it, the bell rings and he drops the cage and the spider escapes. Darren tries to get it while Steve tries to squish it. The spider bites Steve and he is in the hospital doing poorly. Darren goes to Larten and begs him to help. Larten doesn’t care, but finally agrees as long as Darren becomes his Vampire assistant.

You know I just want to pause here and say, for years I have said vampires and spiders should go together as spiders basically kill their prey in the exact same way that Vampires do. It makes perfect sense and I’m glad Darren Shan used that in his books (yes the author named the main character after himself).

Anyways, Darren agrees and after Larten administers the antidote Darren takes off.

Hurry!

Darren thinks he can go back on his word, but he starts behaving strange. This scene reminds me of Once Bitten when Jim Carrey’s character acts all weird after his vampire bite.

After Darren almost attacks his sister he realizes that he can’t do this and plans to go with Larten. Larten agrees and throws him out the window.

Larten Crepsley: Nice night, actually. [pointing up, causing Darren to look awayIs that the Little Dipper or the big one? I can never remember it. [breaks Darren’s neck and throws him downSorry about that. I had to do that or they would never believe you were dead. Don’t worry. There’s no damage to your spinal cord. And I’ll sneak into the funeral home and fix your broken neck. Oh, and… sorry about this next part.

Darren is buried, and all come to his funeral. Steve is espechially broken up as now he has no one. He decides he can’t leave his boy languishing in the afterlife and gives Darren his cellphone. While he does he sees the mark of the vampire and knows what happened-Larten said no to him but chose Darren. This makes Steve very upset.

I’m glad the mark is on the hand and not the upper thigh like in Once BittenThat’d be awkward.

Larten digs Darren up the next day and is attacked by Murtagh of the Vampaneze. Larten manages to fight him and they take off with Vampire speed. Larten takes him to where the Cirque resides and he meets the snake boy, Evra Von, and Rebecca, the monkey girl.

Meanwhile, Steve is upset and is considering suicide as he has no one to care for him anymore. Mr Tiny approaches him and Steve is turned into a Vampanze.

So we have teenage Vampire and Vampaneze, this has fulfilled some plan of Mr. Tiny. And when Steve takes Darren’s family and girlfriend to draw him out-you know a fight is going to go down. Vampire vs. Vampaneze, Friend vs. Friend-who will win. You’ll have to watch to see how it turns out.

{Picture from Ringu)

So I really enjoyed it.

I really liked the actors and the special effects. I think they did a good job giving it this macabre look and feel, but still having it in a colorful world. I’m sad I missed it in theaters.

So the nice thing about this is that they don’t just throw vampire lore out the window and create new stuff, they instead keep some aspects of Vampire lore. I like that they weren’t forgetting what’s come before.

I actually liked the fight scenes. I didn’t think I would, but I thought they were well done.

I really loved the costumes-the flowy trench coats, the red pleather coat Darren wears after he becomes a vampire, etc. Larten’s clothes had an old fashioned feel to them, like how the Addams dress in The Addams Family. Darren’s clothes are more modern but still have an old fashioned feel.

Josh Hutcherson as Steve really surprised me. When I read he was in it, I thought he was going to play Darren. It is a little weird seeing him in this role, as it wasn’t the part he usually played, but I guess he was trying to break out of the Little Manhattan, Zathura, Firehouse Dog, etc box.

I know Steve is supposed to be “the bad one”, but having just seen the films and not read the books-I felt really bad for his character. Life is pretty awful for him and the only one who keeps him balanced is his friend Darren, who then “dies” and “betrays” him by becoming the vampire he always wanted to be.

He is pretty creepy, although when the Vampaneze take him to be their leader, I laughed as there is a movie, I can’t remember which one, they say “Steve isn’t a scary name”.

I don’t know why the film wasn’t a bigger hit. I thought it was a fun story, a nice blend of macabre and comedy, and had great costumes.

The only thing I didn’t really like was the end. They left it open as you can clearly see that they definitely planned to make more films. It’s not horrible but it does have a clunky ending. But other than that I thought it was good, and I really wish I had seen it in theaters.

For more Vampire films, go to Time for You to Awaken, Master. Time for You to Go Out: The Return of the Vampire (1943)

For more Teen Vampire films, go to I Don’t Want to Be a Vampire. I’m a Day Person: Once Bitten (1985)

For more Teen Horror films, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more Josh Hutcherson, go to I’ll Do All I Can to Keep You Safe: Catching Fire (2013)

Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

“Trapped in a mansion in the middle of nowhere with a Psycho.”

This movie was sooooo good!

I saw it at the library when we were reorginizing and it sounded really interesting-a will, multiple people inheriting and fighting each other, locked in a house in the middle of nowhere, starring Paulette Goddard, Edith Head did the costumes, and it was early Bob Hope-so hopefully he won’t be too silly.

I have to watch it.

So the film is based off a play and it is one of those horror comedies that spoof horror films-you know like Arsenic and Old Lace or One Body Too Many.

Cyrus Norman was an eccentric millionaire, who insanity ran in his family. He passed away and determined that ten years from that date on midnight the will, will be read. They never say why-but I believe that he wanted certain family members dead, like in Mystery of the 13th Guest

10 years in this movie.

The night has came and the lawyer, Crosby arrives by canoe to the mansion, he will be stuck there until the next day as no boats run after midnight. Trapped like in House on Haunted Hill.

Haunted house!

Crosby goes there and is greeted by the creepiest housekeeper ever. She’s like Mrs. Danvers, Nancy, and Milly rolled into one. This is set in the Louisiana Bayou and she talks about talking to her master, and spirits, and roams the house soundlessly with a black cat. Just an uber creeper!

SUPER creeped

Crosby goes to where the will was stashed and finds not one, but TWO wills!

Hmm…interesting.

Hmmm…

The family starts showing up, all second and third cousins twice removed. We have two older sisters (40-50s age range) Cicily and Aunt Susan who arrive. Both are very unhappy to be out in the swamp-Susan is the older one, loud, aggressive, domineering-while Cicily is sweet, submissive, ad nervous.

Hmm…

Then the men arrive: Fred Blythe, grouchy and sarcastic; Charlie Wilder (Douglas Montgomery), handsome ladies man; and Wally Campbell (Bob Hope), actor, funnyman, and nervous talker. This part was actually created for him, an addition to the play.

They settle in for the will reading, yet there is one left-Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard). Fred is in love with Joyce and tells all the others to back off of her. Charlie and Joyce used to have a thing but haven’t seen each other in years-he trying to ignite the flame again. And Wally and Joyce were friends when they were younger, he was always trying to help her out or protect her (secret crush).

More like a quadrilateral

The will is read with all the money going to the ones who have the last name Norman. That being only Joyce-she inherits everything.

Except there is one caveat. This family is rife with mental illness-if Joyce should  succumb to mental illness in one month or die-the money will go to another person in the other will.

What are you talking about??

That seems like an awful thing to do-the relatives are going to try and make her be declared insane, drive her insane, or kill her. What was he thinking!!!!!

I guess maybe he thought that there would be more heirs, but still-this seems to be a horrible idea.

So all are happy for Joyce, except Aunt Susan who immediately starts psychoanalyzing her-and Charlie who starts trying to reignite the flames and get her interested in him again-really. She just got the money. 

All have the stay in the house overnight together-and then things start taking a dark turn.

The creepy voodoo housekeeper gives Joyce a private message. Joyce then goes to get ready for bed when there is a knock on the door. It is a guard from the asylum down the way who has arrived to let them know that a manic got loose. The maniac has long claws and is called “The Cat”. He warns them to lock the doors and windows and he is going to check the bayou.

So we have crazy relatives, a million dollars, a creepy housekeeper, and an escapee from the insane asylum-things are getting good.

I have to watch it.

Meanwhile, Cosby has discovered something when searching through the files. He goes to tell Joyce, but before he can get the words out-he is kidnapped by someone who creeped through a secret passage.

Yes this house is full of secret passages, has a portrait with eyes that someone can watch you through, and was one of the influences of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Yep, it’s that cool.

Someone’s creeping on Joyce…but who?

Joyce and Wally end up pairing up as he wants to hep her, and they discover a note about Cyrus’ hidden treasure-emerald and diamond necklace-that is on the property. They have to find the treasure, survive the night, and keep Joyce from being driven crazy by her family, and safe from the Cat.

This was an amazing film with great dialogue. I love the pace of the ’30s and ’40s films with such quick and pithy banter. This was just wonderful, I loved every minute of it and it didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend this and can watch it over and over.

For more on Haunted Houses, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more hidden treasure, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

For more Horror-Comedy, go to What Do They Want You For? Murder: Silver Streak (1976)

 

Time for You to Awaken, Master. Time for You to Go Out: The Return of the Vampire (1943)

“Time for you to awaken, Master. Time for you to go out.”

So last year I was lamenting that I couldn’t think of any films I wanted to open Horrofest with from the 1950s as that was the year I was going to start with. I mentioned some films I really wanted to do, but both came out in the 1940s.

So as this year it is time to start off with a 1940s film, I was like why not do one of the ones I mentioned in last year’s post? I already reviewed Rebecca last year, so I chose The Return of the Vampire. 

I loooove this movie!

I saw it year ago on TCM and it has stayed with me my whole life. You know a movie is good when it hooks you years ago and you stay hooked.

The film was just so engaging and has beautiful cinematography. Plus it also has Bela Lugosi! You cannot go wrong with him in anything, let alone in a Vampire flick. I just love him.

So this film was actually supposed to be a Dracula sequel, but Universal threatened to sue Columbia Studios so they changed it to The Return of the Vampire and instead of Count Dracula, we have Armand Tesla.

We start this film during WWI with a vampire Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi) stalking the streets of London and using the war as a cover-who cares about people suffering from anemia and a few deaths when there is a war on?!

But someone does, Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort) and her colleague Professor Walter Saunders (Gilbert Emery) run a clinic and are baffled by the anemia.

Hmm…

Tesla is furious and uses his slave, a werewolf formally known as Andreas Obry, and the two break into the clinic. When he can’t finish his off his former victim he decides to make Saunders pay and goes after his granddaughter.

Professor Saunders, meanwhile, has concluded that the victim was attacked by a vampire. The victim dies and when Saunders goes home he sees a man feasting on his granddaughter. The vampire flees and Saunders saves his granddaughter Nikki (Nina Foch) by giving her a blood transfusion. While her life is saved for now, she will always be in danger. The vampire will continue to search for her to finish the job, and he will also be able to control her.

Professor Saunders and Lady Jane search for the Vampire in order to stake it and kill it.

They search out the local cemetery in order to search out the Vampire. They are both attacked by a werewolf who is being controlled by the Vampire-but once they stake the vampire the werewolf returns to his normal form of Andreas Obry.

Wow!

Professor Saunders and Lady Jane know that the only way to keep a vampire dead is make sure the stake isn’t removed from the heart-remove the stake revive the vampire. They bury the coffin and make sure it is well hidden.

Time moves forward and the year is now 1942. Nikki has fully recovered from her experience, having no knowledge of the attack and is engaged to Lady Jane’s son John (Roland Varno). Andreas Obry has recovered from his experience and has become an assistant to Lady Jane.

You know thinking about this movie in 2020 it is really cool that the Vampire hunter/Doctor is a woman. I mean you wouldn’t expect it in the 1940s, and you certainly don’t see it in modern vampire stories (except Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but she basically is Van Helsing. Not the Hugh Jackman version, but the original one from the 1930s.

Of course what comes to mind is Jane the Vampire Hunter:

So Professor Saunders has passed way and Lady Jane decides to share about the vampire with Scotland Yard detective Sir Fredrick Fleet (Miles Mander) . He doesn’t take her seriously, but he does take the murder of a man seriously. He wanted to arrest Lady Jane, but she convinces him to check the body. If it is a regular man, he will be decomposed. If a vampire-his body will not have aged a day.

Stay the same age forever…

Lady Jane is going to show Sir Fleet but then a bombing raid occurs. One of the bombs hits the cemetery and a lot of bodies are dug up and two gravediggers are set to put all to right. When they come across Tesla’s body they find the stake in the heart and feel bad for the man. They pull it out and the Vampire returns!

The first thing Tesla does is contact his slave telepathically as he will need his help in moving the coffin and such. He calls to his former slave and werewolf Andreas.

Armand Tesla: [Offscreen, as Andreas walks in the woods] Andreas! [Andreas can’t locate the sourceAndreas!

Andreas Obry: [Suddenly seeing Tesla] You! You have no power over me! That was ended many years ago! I’m no longer your slave! Dr. Ainsley has cleansed me of all the evil you forced upon me! You can’t bring it back! You can’t! I won’t let you! I won’t!

Armand Tesla: You’re a fool, Andreas! A complete, utter fool! Your fate is to be what you are – as mine is to be what I am… your Master! [In a commanding toneCome here!

Andreas Obry: I won’t! [He moans]

Armand Tesla: [Commandingly] Look at me, Andreas! [There is a closeup of Tesla’s eyesLook at me!

Andreas Obry: [after Andreas undergoes a metamorphosis into a werewolf] Andreas, come here! [Subserviently] Master, you have returned.

This is a fantastic scene, as you see Andreas really trying! He really, really wants to believe it is true that has overcome this. Looking at this as an adult it resonates so well as you have met people trying to overcome things, thinking they have, but then something happens and they are right back at the bottom again-addiction, toxic relationships, etc. It is extremely well done and poor, poor Andreas.

Now that Andreas is controlled by Tesla he sets him out for his first mission protect the coffin and find him a new identity. Andreas comes across a scientist recently escaped from a concentration camp, Hugo Bruckner. Dr. Hugo Bruckner was freed by help of the Resistance, something Lady Jane is a part of, and will be working with her. Man this vampire is extremely evil to murder a concentration camp survivor.

Tesla takes on the identity and slips into the Ainsleys’ and Nikki’s life. Some of you might wonder why Lady Jane doesn’t recognize him, but she only fought him that one time over twenty years ago, and at night in a foggy cemetery.

Lady Jane is throwing Nikki and her son an engagement party. Sir Fleet shows up and Lady Jane takes the Professor Saunder’s manuscript and locks it up, not wanting Nikki to ever find out about what happened. Tesla/Bruckner shows up, is introduced, and given free reign of Lady Jane’s office and laboratory. He uses this time to steal Saunders’ manuscript, the one Sir Fleet read. All are charmed by him except Sir Fleet, as he feels something is not quite right.

The next night the manuscript is somehow left in Nikki’s room and she reads it and finds out the truth. The Tesla calls to her…and the next day she has been drained of blood! Oh no!

Then they… then my mom made me stop watching it.

I know I was soooooo invested. What happens next? Will Nikki be alright? How will they defeat Tesla? I don’t recall exactly how old I was but this was well before google and we didn’t have TiVo or any blank tapes I could use to record, although my mother wouldn’t have let me as we were leaving the house and they weren’t going to leave the TV on with no one home. So I had to scan the newspaper and TV guide until it was on TV again.

So after she was drained of blood they transfused her. She survives but as we saw in The Horror of Dracula last year, that can only last so long. They need to find this vampire and kill it!

Stake through the heart.

Lady Jane starts to investigate and questions the grave robbers when the body cannot be found. She and Fleet also search Bruckner’s room and discovers the mirrors are all set down and a ring that she recalls from Tesla.

Fleet had had Andreas followed ad he was seen trying to change into a werewolf and found with Bruckner’s effects, his real effects.

Meanwhile, Nikki and John are attacked and Nikki starts to believe she has been transformed into a vampire. She pleads with John to stay away as she doesn’t want to hurt him. But you know these men in this old classic horror films-it doesn’t matter they are staying in this relationship and with the girl. How guys aren’t like that now? Most guys I know would be out in no time at all.

In reality, Tesla has been feeding. Tesla attacks Lady Jane, but she carries a cross and uses it to deflect him.

Wow!

So there are two amazing things I noticed about this scene. First can we just stop and appreciate that Lady Jane has a giant organ. Man, you are a girl after my own heart. I can’t play the organ but if I had money I would want a giant one and learn how to play it. Then I could be my own version of The Phantom of the Opera. 

Second-I love how in this scene she seems so meek and mild-and then bam-she’s got the cross and she flings it out at him. Lady Jane is awesome!

That’s awesome

Later that night Tesla calls Nikki to him again and she and Andreas answer the call. Meanwhile, Lady Jane ad Sir Fleet have decided to follow them. They come upon them in the cemetery but a raid interrupts their pursuit, although Fleet shoots Andreas, mortally wounding him. Andreas begs his master to save him, but Tesla coldly refuses.

Andreas Obry: Heal me, Master. I am hurt!

Armand Tesla: What is that to me?

This was so exciting when I watched it. First of all I really wanted to know what happened after waiting so long. Secondly this scene has the vampire, the damsel, bombs, a gun-you just didn’t know what would happen next!

Tesla leaving Andreas to die is the wake to reality he needs. He grabs a nearby cross and thrusts it at Tesla, coming between him and his victim-Nikki. A bomb hits and the sun comes up, melting Tesla to nothing.

Wow!

This is one of the first films to show a vampire disintegrating like this. It was actually censored in England for being too graphic. Oh, 1940s-if you saw the stuff we have today, although I have to say it was pretty yuck.

Of course Nikki and John get their happy ending, and Lady Jane stays awesome.

It was fantastic! I just loved it and you know who else would have if she existed-Catherine Morland.

You know it.

Please note that this is being said sarcastically.

So that’s our start with Horrorfest IX what else will it bring? Who knows! I start every year off with a plan but you know how that goes-anything can happen! Stay Spooky people!

For more Vampire films, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Bela Lugosi, go to We’ve Seen Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

For more WWII, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours