Nothing Will Stop It! Nothing Can Stop the Blob!: The Blob (1958)

Nothing will stop it! Nothing can stop the Blob!

So back at the beginning of the year my book club read Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon by Greg Laurie.

After I finished reading it, I thought it would be perfect to end Horrorfest IX with The Blob as I would have all my book reviews completed by then.

Yes, I was so idealistic at the beginning of the year. You see I am behind in my book club reviews. I am like 16 months behind.

Yes its bad. Eventually I will catch up, but as I hadn’t gotten to that book yet, I decided to move the review up and end on a different film.

This film is one of my favorite “B” horror films and I just love it. The first time I watched this film I saw it on TCM and I remember hearing this really interesting tidbit in the intro. Steve McQueen was offered 10% of the profits or $2500. At the time he had no money, very little food, and needed to pay the rent. He thought the film was going to bomb or have relative success so he took the paycheck. This film made so much money-people estimate he could have made as much as 40,0000. Everything in life is a gamble and you win some and lose some.

Here we go with the review:

So we start with a jazzy song written for the film. It was supposed to be in the style of The Monster Mash, but to me it sounds weird with the film-like it should be less dancing and more grim in my opinion. It became a huge hit and was on the Billboard Charts.

We start the film off with two teens making out, one is Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) the other Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut). They stop as Jane is upset as she feels used and that Steve just brought her up to neck, and doesn’t really care about her. Steve tries to reassure her, but it doesn’t seem to help. He finally convinces her that he is being honest and cares when they are interrupted by a shooting star streaking across the sky and crashing. Steve wants to get it, so the two drive off to look. Be careful, sometimes a shooting star is more than you think it will be, case in point:

Meanwhile, an old man and his dog who live up there are awoken by something-the dog barking like crazy and freaking out. The man leaves the dog inside and goes to investigate ad finds a huge hole with a little meteor in it.

Hmmm…

The man pokes it with a stick and it unfurls-it’s pretty gross and it actually reminds me of Alien when we first see the Xenomorph XX121 things.

The man puts the stick to it and it goes right into it and grabs the old man. He tries to get it off but can’t.

Steve and Jane come looking for the meteor but don’t see anything and they decide to head back into town and eat. While they drive the old man come running out into the road-they stopping just in time. The man is screaming and upset, so Steve says he ca take him to a doctor. Steve almost touches the old man’s hand, but the old man pulls away, thank goodness.

Every time they show Steve McQueen I am struck by how gorgeous he is with those ice blue eyes.

The doctor is supposed to be heading out of town for a trip, asking his neighbor to watch his house. Luckily Steve catches the doctor right as he is leaving so he can look at the old man (or unluckily for the Doc I should say). To get there Steve had to drive around some other cars, something his friend don’t take too kindly. They will be back to settle it later.

That’s not good.

Adults are really suspicious of kids in this movie. Steve says they ran into the old man and the Doc gets all upset, Jane saving Steve by saying they picked him up. And its not just him, the cops act rude to the “kids” too.

Hmm…

Steve shows the doctor the hand and the blister has become bigger, consuming his hand.

The doctor sends them back up the hills to see if they find out what happened while the Doc consults his books. When they leave the doc’s office they see the guys from earlier, Tony, Mooch, and Al crowding around Steve’s car.

Tony wants to race as he can’t have his reputation damaged as being slower. Steve keeps trying to get out of it or brushing them off but but they won’t let him.

I like how the guy calls him King, since Steve was the King of Cool.

The two race backwards Steve stopping so the guys have a red light, but he can’t go forward as a cop pulls him over.  It’s thankfully Lt. Dave and not the kid hating cop. I love this scene when Steve is trying to talk himself out of a ticket, it makes me think of my nieces and nephews when they get in trouble and try to talk themselves out of it without actually admitting it.

Steve Andrews: I’ll never do it again.

Lt. Dave: You’ll never do what again?

Steve Andrews: Uh…[speaks softly, not looking at Lt. Dave] whatever you think I’m doing.

It cracks me up.

After the cops, the guys are all friends again. The race has been forgotten. Steve invites the guys to come with and help with the Doctor’s task of seeing if they can find anything helpful where the old man was found, but the guys want to go to the movies and see the midnight flick. Steve convinces the boys to come help.

Meanwhile, the Blob is growing larger on the old man. And the Doc is more confused, calling a friend to consult but he has already left for the convention. He then calls his nurse as he plans to amputate the parasite on the old man.

Back with Steve and the gang they find the hole and the meteor shell plus the lantern the old man had. Jane hears a dog barking and wants to investigate, she calls Steve to come with her, but I never noticed this before he is the last to leave. I think it is interesting how he really thinks about meteors and shooing stars and knows a bit about it. Maybe earlier the line of him coming out to that makeout spot to watch the sky wasn’t a line to get with Jane, but he maybe he is into astronomy.

The friends leave to the movies and invite Steve and Jane to join them. But Steve refuses, as he’s thinking about the meteor.  He and Jane go back to the Doctor’s, Jane taking the dog as she can’t stand to lave it behind and starve.

The nurse and Doc are getting ready, the Doc waring her not to touch whatever is on the man. She goes to get the old man’s pulse and he’s gone, just a blob of something-bigger now.

I know people make fun of this but just think if that was real-that would be so creepy. It’s like a jellyfish-Jellyfish have no bones, brains, blood, etc.-they are basically teeth just floating and consuming. You can’t reason with it.

The doctor and nurse try to stop it, she throws acid on it but it doesn’t stop it. The thing…excuse me that’s another movie…the blob consumes her while the Doc goes for his gun, the lights being knocked out and the doctor can’t see. He tries to use his gun, but it can’t stop it-nothing can stop the Blob!

Aahhh!!

Steve goes to the Doc’s but everything is closed and dark. He goes to check the garage and sees the doctor consumed by something.

Ahhhhhhh!

Steve goes to tell the police the Doc was killed, but falters when it comes time to explain as to what he saw. He tries to tell Lt. Dave but Sgt. Jim Bert, the kid-hater, refuses to listen. Dave overrules him and they go investigate the Doctor’s office. At the Doc’s they can’t find anything. Everything looks as if the doctor left-no trace of him at all. They do find a mess in the doctor’s study, like a struggle as the room is all messed up and a shotgun having been fired but no shots or shot marks.

Burns is just yelling at Steve thinking they are playing a prank and ouch-Jane sends out a zinger.

Lieutenant Dave: Hold on, Jim, the kids couldn’t have done this. You saw for yourself, the window was locked from the inside, and so was the door.

Sgt. Jim Bert: They rigged it with a piece of string to lock from the outside to make us look silly.

Jane Martin: I think you’re doing a good job of that all by yourself, Sergeant.

The neighbor, Mrs. Porter, says the Doc left for the convention. Mrs. Porter is no help explaining everything away so the cops don’t believe Steve. The police tell her not to touch anything in the “crime scene”, but she refuses she wants to clean up.

At a nearby garage two guys are working on a car, when the Bob comes around and consumes a guy under a car.

The police brought them to the station and called the parents. Jane’s dad is very upset as he is the principal and it damages his reputation. Steve’s dad is much calmer. Mr. Andrews, Steve’s dad comes to his defense saying that he wouldn’t lie about this-about breaking in somewhere.

Dave sends the kids home but it doesn’t sit well with him, something doesn’t feel right.

Hmm…

The cops argue with each other should we charge them or not? Dave thinks that the have no reason to as they will wait and speak to the doctor in the morning. We also find out Sgt. Jim Bert hates kids as one crashed into his wife and she died. Aw. Poor guy.

Jane is trying to sneak out of the house when her little brother Danny spots her leaving. She tries to keep him quiet, but man this kid is yelling. Every time I watch this all I can think is how do her parent’s not hear them?

Steve is asleep in his bed, at least until his parents think he is as he too sneaks out of the house and right into Jane. It’s funny that she scares him like a little kid.

Steve is completely freaked, I know I would be if I witnessed what he did. He tells Jane-the trauma and how he feels crazy. Jane is a good girlfriend and tells him she believes him. But Steve is starting to wonder…did he see what he think he saw? No, he know he did! Didn’t he?

Jane us such a great girlfriend she zones in what he is feeling and tells him not to convince himself it didn’t happen as he knows it did.

Steve is unsure what to do next as they might end up getting killed by whatever the thing is. Jane suggests they get Tony, Mooch, and Al to help them search. Steve goes to the movies and not only convinces his friends, but their dates to help them, they are such good friends.

The kids go looking for the Blob and to warn people, but everyone laughs them off and no one takes them seriously.

Steve and Jane find the dog by Steve’s dad’s store. The door is unlocked which is strange as the last employee should have locked up and gone home.

They look around the store in the dark, and it’s very creepy. The dark alway is as you don’t know what is out there.

Hmm…

It tuns out the Blob is in there and Jane faints when she sees it. Steve picks her up and tries to carry her out the back way, but the door is locked and the Blob moves fast. They are hurrying in the back and hide out in the freezer. Jane starts getting hysterical knowing that no one will come to help them as no one knows they are there. The Blob starts creeping under the door when it suddenly retreats? Why?

Hmm…from Saboteur

In the beginning the Blob was a blue black, then clear, and now a deep dark red. I never noticed before that the more it consumes the darker it gets.

Jane is freezing in the storeroom and still freaking out-similar to how Steve was the first time he saw it. Steve takes command and they slowly peek out to see if it is safe. They come into the store but it is still creepy as the lights are off and it is hard to see where the Blob might be. Steve and Jane run and get out and share with the rest of the gang that the Blob was in the store.

The kids call the police but Dave has gone home to bed and Sgt. Bert is there and refuses to listen to the kids as kids are all liars.

Ugh…this guy

The kids start driving up and down the streets making a lot of noise trying to wake everyone up. Soon everyone starts coming to see what is going on.

Steve tries to warn everyone but Bert still won’t listen. Steve is trying his best to convince them but the police are still not sure-although Dave knows that Steve is telling the truth that he is scared.

Steve Andrews: Dave, look at me! Do I look like somebody’s playing a practical joke? Am I laughing, or am I scared stiff?

Lieutenant Dave: He’s telling the truth.

Dave sends everyone home and gets the firefighters to grab guns and help them. Meanwhile in the movie theater all are having a good time when the Blob slinks through the air vent and attacks the projectionist. Then the movie cuts out and the Blob is coming down on the the seats. The blob has grown even bigger.

They have a Blobfest where this was filmed and they reenact this scene. I had planned to go this year but unfortunately…canceled like everything else.

People are running into the diner, but the Blob is coming for them.

Jan’s brother Danny shoots his pop gun and then hides in the diner. Where the heck are his parents? How did he get there?

In the diner are Steve, a waitress, Jane and Danny. The blob is on top. They have tried guns and nothing seems to be able to stop it. The police decide to drop a power line on it, the group moving to the cellar, but it doesn’t work.

That’s not good.

The diner catches on fire and the group starts coughing. There is no way out as they are completely surrounded and are going to die  by smoke or the Blob.

Reality Sucks

Jane is freaking  out but calms herself down to be strong for Danny, telling him everything is going to be alright.

The diner owner hasn’t accepted death and starts using the fire extinguisher which causes the Blob to retreat.

I-got-this-reaction-gif

Steve figures out that it can’t stand the cold, and that’s why it didn’t attack them when they were in the freezer.

SteveMcQueenTheBlobReally

Steve starts yelling to the phone, thank goodness it is one of those old ones, if it had been plastic it would be burned out by now. Dave sends the fire chief after some fire extinguishers while Principl Martin, Jane’s dad, takes Steve’s friends to the school to pickup all the ones there.

I was about to say something sarcastic like of course he brought his school keys with him in the middle of the night when it turns out he doesn’t and their have to break a window-Principal Martin doing it as he is so worried about his daughter and son in the clutches of the Blob. Good job writers!
loveitSupernatural

The police get through to the military while the rest of the people fight off the Blob with fire extinguishers. The group slowly makes their escape.

The freeze the Blob and It is transported to the Artic. Good, it can hang out with The Thing from Another World.

We end with a question mark, will we seeit again? I know I will watch it again. I still think it is a great movie after all this time and love watching it and Steve McQueen.

blob

In reading Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon, by Greg Laurie, he mentions that the film was made by a Christian company trying to reach the kids of today. Just for fun I tried to think of any Christian messages I could see a minister using to make a sermon.

You can be consumed by sin the way one is consumed by the Blob. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

The way the adults treat the kids not listening to them or valuing their opinions because they are kids. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” Timothy 4:12

When Steve gets his friends to help him look for the Blob warning them and knowing that if they encounter it they will most likely die, but his friends agreeing to help anyway: “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends. ” John 15:13

What do you think?

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For more visitors from another world, go to Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto!: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

For more “B” Horror Films, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

For more shooting stars, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

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Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto!: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto!

So I wrote the outline of  this review on March 21, 2020, back when we were all first told to quarantine because of the COVID-19 virus.

Every time they said the words “quarantine”, “shelter in place”, and seeing the lack of people driving at 6pm-made me think of this movie-as essentially the world was “standing still” (although there is still a line at Starbucks and the McDonald’s drive thru.)

While watching the movie there are quite a few things people say, that if you just replace the spaceman/alien with virus it actually applies. Their hysteria, the anger at the government, how each country reacts differently in what they do-but all panicking.

I first saw this movie on TCM or AMC, I can’t remember which, during one summer vacation. I remember it had to be summer because I was home that day and the movie channel had set the film to play so that it lined up with the 12:00 power going out at 12:00pm that day.

I really loved it the film, and of course later bought my own DVD of it. When the new one came out I watched it and was severely disappointed. The story just didn’t work as he came to help the planet-as humans needed to change or they would be destroyed-but to me it just didn’t work. This one makes a lot more sense.

It is 1951 and everything is normal until a flying saucer comes flying across the sky and lands in Washington D.C.

People all over the world are listening to the news and panicking!

To increase the sense of reality, some of the most famous broadcast journalists of the time were hired to do cameos as themselves. These included Gabriel Heatter, H.V. Kaltenborn, Drew Pearson and Elmer Davis. I had to look this up as the only one I recognized was Elmer Davis.

Meanwhile, out of the saucer comes a spaceman and a giant robot. Of course the military are there and they freak out about it, shooting him and getting their guns blasted by the robot, Gort.

The robot Gort was played by a 7ft. tall doorman, cast only for his height. He looks impressive next to Michael Rennie (the actor playing the spaceman) as Rennie is quite tall (6’4)

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The spaceman’s name is Klaatu and he leaves Gort and the spaceship behind when the army takes him to the hospital. He has a humanoid like body, is over 100 years old, and heals quickly from gunshot fire.

The studio originally wanted a big name to play Klaatu, but was later convinced by the director to use Rennie, a relatively unknown actor at the time. I think Rennie was perfect as he was taller than any other man in the film, he has a voice that shows strength and power without being overbearing, and he is able to convey so much in slight movements. No one else could have done as great a job.

The army tries to break into the spaceship and destroy the robot, but nothing they have is strong enough.

Klaatu wants to meet with all the world leaders as he has a very important message, but unfortunately people are not so willing. Russia will only come to the summit if it is in Russia, England won’t unless it is in England, and so on and so on. I don’t know why they don’t do it in the United Nations building in NYC but whatever-world leaders just can’t get their act together.

Klaatu also wants to see the people-the ordinary ones-but the government won’t let him out. Just like in Escape from Planet of the Apes-the government control everything because they are afraid.

Klaatu waits until night and sneaks out-he gets some clothes, a briefcase, and finds a room to rent-going by the name “Carpenter”.

In the boarding house, the boarders are all crowded around the TV and are scared, watching about the escaped spaceman. When Michael Rennie comes into the room all shadowed and tall, he does look creepy. Especially with his height and the fact he doesn’t say anything right away.

Like something out of a horror film, it makes you think of the panic people get so quickly-like The Monsters on Maple Street or the COVID-19 panic (you remember the sanitizer and wipes hoarding).

The boarders are nice but worried and freaked out.

George Barley: Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I’d like to know.

Mr. Krull: What can they do, they’re only people just like us.

George Barley: People my foot, they’re democrats.

People complaining about the politicians running things? Doesn’t look like things have changed much.

Helen (Patricia Neal) is the mother of Bobby and before the spaceman visited she and her boyfriend, Tom Stevens (Hugh Marlowe), were supposed to go on a day trip. She wants to take Bobby along as she doesn’t have anyone to watch him- as everyone is prepping for the end of the world.

Now Tom is the worst guy ever. He doesn’t want Bobby to go on their trip and when the new boarder, who NO ONE knows ANYTHING about wants to watch Bobby he is like sure let’s go.

Dump Tom. Seriously, this new guy could be a pedophile, molester, or just crazy -you have no clue who he is. And if your boyfriend is willing to pass your child off to the first person he meets, dump him! He’s obviously not a good boyfriend or stepfather material.

Of course they say yes, so innocent in the 1950s, and Bobby and Klaatu go check out the sites. Bobby takes him to the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, etc-which is fine, but watching this as an adult I think it is a little odd. Like wouldn’t a kid want to show him something they think is cool? I mean he looks like he is 10, wouldn’t there be something more kid-friendly he wants to go to? An amusement park?

He does mention the movies in which Klaatu wants to treat him, but Klaatu only has diamonds-the currency of his people. He trades the diamond for Bobby’s $2 so he can pay for the movie tickets.

When he trades the two dollars for the diamond, Bobby says:

Bobby: Let’s not tell mom about this.

Klaatu: Why not?

Bobby: She doesn’t like me to steal from people.

This kid is hilarious and adorable.

Klaatu and Bobby also go check out the spaceship, where we get this great line that sums up my feelings regarding people’s extreme reactions to COVID-19-you know buying mass quantities and hoarding them, spraying themselves with Lysol, etc.

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.

Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

Klaatu asks Bobby who is the greatest man on Earth today, Bobby says the spaceman, and I’m surprised he didn’t say a baseball player or superhero, If someone had asked me question at Bobby’s age I would have said Spider-Man.

After Bobby thinks about it, he picks his mother’s boss, Professor Barnhardt and they stop at his house. He’s out, but Klaatu solves part of an equation-as his calling card, and the two head home.

Later that evening Helen comes back and Tom proposes to her. Ugh.

Ugh, this guy.

She wants to think about it, but he wants her to answer now as he has to go to Chicago Monday. Like triple UGh! this guy is the worst Helen! I know it is hard for a single mom but you can do so much better. Tom continues to be a total jerk as he gets all jealous and angry about them making a big deal over how sweet Carpenter/Klaatu was to take Bobby out. Oh so now you are all protective, asking “what do you know about him”. It didn’t matter when you wanted to take off with your girl but now it is an issue? You ARE THE WORST.

As the film progresses Helen and Klaatu are starting to become friends but you can tell there are deeper feelings stirring underneath the surface. They apparently filmed more of them talking and showing those feelings develop, but had to cut it. I think what the film has, portrayed their relationship beautifully in the way Helen and Klaatu look at each other-their voice inflection, the slight touches between them. I always thought they fell for each other, but just couldn’t be together.

Goverment agents come and fetch Klaatu to see Professor Barnhardt and he reveals who he is and that his mission is of the upmost importance. Barnhardt wants to help him and he will have all kinds of scientists from round the world come, but he worries that even seeing him and hearing they won’t believe. He asks him to do something to show the power-but something in which people won’t be hurt.

Hmm…

That night Klaatu returns to the boarding house, borrowing a flashlight from Bobby. He goes to bed and Bobby goes up too, as his mom leaving to go out with ugh Tim. BLEH!

I hate him basically

As Bobby is heading to bed he sees Klaatu turning the light off-that sparks Bobby’s attention as Klaatu told Bobby that he needed a flashlight because the lightbulb in his room went out. Bobby decides to follow him and watches as he heads down to the spaceship and goes inside.

Bobby runs home and into his mother who is upset about him not being in bed. He tries to tell her about the spaceman, but she and Tom don’t believe him.Tom goes upstairs to prove Klaatu is there, but when he goes to the room it is empty. He pokes around-not cool Tim, not cool-and finds a diamond. He brings it down and goes on about how he doesn’t like Klaatu, he is trouble, a robber, etc. Oh, but you trusted him to watch Bobby! What a jerk! DUMP Him!!!!!

This dude, ugh!

First of all-why would you assume he is a thief and not a diamond salesman or he could just own a diamond as some people do? I mean the US was in a housing crisis after WWII maybe he has money and is staying at the boarding house until he finds a house of his own? Huh?

Secondly, where was this protectiveness earlier when you were throwing the kid at him since you didn’t want to be bothered by having a child along on your romantic weekend? EH!!??

You jerk!

Yeah, he’s a real jerk Helen-let him go.

The next day Klaatu speaks to Bobby and realizing that he has figured out who he is, he goes to see Helen so that she can keep the secret until he has the summit with the scientists.

Meanwhile, Tom took the diamond to have it appraised and it is declared to be something out of this world. Tom is excited as he sees fame, glory, and dollar signs.

Klaatu has tracked Helen down and the two become trapped in an elevator as Klaatu’s plan has gone into effect. From 12-12:30 everything electrical stops (except planes in flight, hospitals, etc)-no phones, no cars, no anything-making it the day the Earth stood still.

When we had those huge summer storms that resulted in California burning, the power went out for the whole day and it made me think of this part of the film.

As they are traped in the elevator, Klaatu tells Helen who he is and the importance of the meeting. She agrees to help him-he is going to stay at the boarding house until it is time to meet-while she tries to track down Tom, and convinces him keep quiet.

Tom however does not want to keep quiet and has decided to call the army. Helen tries to tell him they need the summit for the safety of their world, but he doesn’t care.

Helen: What about the rest of the world?

Tom: I don’t care about the rest of the world! [Seeing her shocked expression You’ll feel different when you read about me in the papers.

Helen: I feel different now.

And Helen dumps him.

YYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOOO YIPPEE!!

Good job Helen. You know you should be thankful for this as if Klaatu hadn’t come into your lives you probably would have married this horrible human being.

Klaatu and Helen go away from the boarding house as it is no longer safe and head to Professor Barnhardt’s house. Klaatu cautions her that if anything should happen to him, she must go to Gort and tell him “Klaatu barada nikto!”

Klaatu of course gets shot by the military, as we fear what we do not understand and often shoot first in these movies. And Helen hurries to the spaceship.

When she gets there Gort destroys two guards and then carries her into the spaceship. I hate the posters that showcase this as the illustration looks nothing like the actress. In the posters they always have her in a sweetheart pink dress which is nothing like what Neal actually wears as Helen. I mean she has her nice dress from work, but it is just an average dress with a high collar.

Seriously!

Gort goes off and gets Klaatu bringing him to the spaceship and back to life.

[Klaatu is revived by Gort after being fatally shot]

Helen: I – I thought you were…

Klaatu: I was.

Helen: You mean… he has the power of life and death?

Klaatu: No. That power is reserved to the Almighty Spirit. This technique, in some cases, can restore life for a limited period.

Helen: But… how long?

Klaatu: You mean how long will I live? That no one can tell.

Klaatu then gives his speech before he, the spaceship, and Gort are all whisked away.

Klaatu: I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated…I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.

Powerful way to end a film. I’m sure after WWII this really resonated with a lot of people. I, of course enjoy it, and hope you all did too.

For more on aliens, go to They’re Moving From Planet to Planet…After They’ve Consumed Every Natural Resource They Move On…and We’re Next: Independence Day (1999)

For more Michael Rennie, go to I Do Think You Are Confused Mrs. Bowman: Dangerous Crossing (1953)

For more with Hugh Marlowe, Will We Survive the Night?: Rawhide (1951)

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

You Don’t Know Which Way to Turn, There’s No Place to Hide, Nowhere to run…: The Blue Gardenia (1953)

“By now you must be frightened out of your wits. You don’t know which way to turn, there’s no place to hide, nowhere to run… except to me. So take my advice, Blue Gardenia. Go to the nearest phone booth and invest a dime on the rest of your life.”

So I watched this movie years ago on TCM. I remember loving it and trying to find it again to watch, but every time they played it again they never showed it at a time I could watch it.

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The other day I was shelving at the library and found it, I immediately had to check it out and watch it again to see if it is as good as I remember.

The film starts off with a jaunty tune as we follow reporter Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) as he heads to a phone company for a story. There he runs into Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr), artist and player.

Ugh

Yes, Harry is always coming by and using the phone operators as “models”, starting with sketching, then taking them out to a fancy dinner and plying them with drinks, later taking them home.

Harry has his eye on Crystal Carpenter (Ann Sothern), but she’s not buying it. She let him draw her but refuses anything else as she is dating her ex-husband.

Harry turns to Crystal’s roommate, Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), but she has eyes only for her long-term boyfriend who is a soldier in the Korean War.

That night Crystal, Norah, and their other roommate Sally Ellis, continue their plans for the night. Crystal is going out with her ex-husband, Sally is getting the newest Mickey Mallet novel and going to read it.

For Norah, she has something very special planned. It’s her birthday and she has a letter from her boyfriend. She can’t have him here for the celebration she really wants-so she does the next best thing. She bought a new dress, made a roast, and bought champagne to go with it.

Yay!

After her roommates leave, Nora gets everything ready and then opens the letter.

Dear Norah, You’ve probably learned by now that I’m not so hot as a letter writer. I remember when we were kids in Bakersfield and I worked vacations in San Joaquin Valley. You used to bawl me out for not writing. Well, I guess I’ve gotten worse. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about you… a lot. And also thinking about someone else, Norah. A nurse I met in Tokyo when I took a load of Commie shrapnel with me. Angela, that’s her name, supplied the strength and the courage and everything else to pull me through. I didn’t want it to happen but… there’s nothing a guy can do about the real McCoy, and that’s what this is. We’re in love. And when I get out we’re going to be married. That’s the story, Norah. And, I guess there’s nothing else to say except I hope you’ll understand. With affection, always… and best wishes for your future. “Best wishes for your future”. Yours very sincerely. Yours very… truly.

Oh MY GOSH…seriously????? This is the real McCoy? So all those times you said I love you it was a lie!!!???  What a major jerk!!! And ON HER BIRTHDAY!!!!

Norah is upset and doesn’t know what to do. The phone rings and she answers it. It is Harry calling to ask Crystal out. Norah tries to tell him that she’s not Crystal, but he doesn’t listen to her. Norah decides to take Harry up on his offer and goes down to The Blue Gardenia restaurant. There Harry is waiting with Polynesian Pearl Diverswhich has like three different kinds of rum in it and Harry asks for extra rum.

Casey Mayo sees Harry there and they say a quick hello as Casey goes on the prowl for his own dame.

Harry is surprised to see Nora, but in his mind one beautiful girl is just as good as another. Norah enjoys the drinking as she wants to forget the beginning of the night ever happened. Harry supplies lots and lots of drinks and Norah keeps on drinking. She is extremely wasted.

Its just what Harry wants, and he asks her to come to his place for a party with friends.

Yes his friends rum, rohypnol, and rape.

They get to his place and he shows her his pictures. It actually reminds me of Blackmail. While there Norah is starting to nod off, Harry puts on the song The Blue Gardenia and gives her coffee. Coffee that tastes odd to Norah.

Harry starts to put the moves on Norah as she starts to question where the friends are. When he goes on her she attacks him, pulls away, breaks the mirror, and…fade to black.

The next morning all the girls are up and early, except Norah. She has a headache and a hangover. The girls think she went out drinking as they both read her letter. Norah can’t remember anything.

The police start investigating Harry’s death. The maid has already started cleaning up before she fund the body and washed two sets of dishes-no dice on DNA. All they have to go on is black suede heels size 5. And that she was a beautiful blonde-Harry’s type.

Casey directs the police to the phone company, knowing that where Harry found his ladies. He heads to the newspaper office, hit with the fantastic idea of calling her “The Blue Gardenia” after the song and the restaurant.

They question girl after girl, Norah becoming more and more upset with each one, more afraid as bits of the previous night come back to her piece by piece.

She can remember being there and if she was there that night she must have murdered him. Se continues to grow restless and snappish, having her friends and roommates questioning her.

Then Casey gets told he will have to be sent elsewhere to report on something, but he wants to see the Blue Gardenia play out. He gets the idea from a joke of a coworker to write a letter and see if she will speak to him.

A Letter to an Unknown Murderess. Dear Blue Gardenia, Any day now, any hour… any minute, the police are going to catch up with you… But, all they want is a quick confession… I want to help you. When I say “I”, that means my newspaper and me. To us you’re a story… a big story! If we get it first we will go all out for you. You can trust me. And, I promise not to print a line without your permission. By now you must be frightened out of your wits. You don’t know which way to turn, there’s no place to hide, nowhere to run… except to me. So take my advice, Blue Gardenia. Go to the nearest phone booth and invest a dime on the rest of your life. Dial Madison 60025. And ask for, yours very earnestly, Casey Mayo.

Norah decides to answer. But will she end up in prison? Could a nice girl who has never done wrong have to spend a lifetime paying for a mistake?

Didn’t realize that the film was so close to Blackmail. It had similarities with the painting scene and walking at night in the fog, regretful.

A great movie, just as good as I remember and well worth watching.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006)

For more film-noir, go to Go Ahead and Shoot…As Far As Killing Me, Well, I Don’t Think You’re That Good a Shot: Possessed (1947)

For more Anne Baxter, go to Oh, Moses, Moses: Happy 60th Anniversary to The Ten Commandments

For more on Ann Southern, go to Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Feast your eyes! Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness

I love this movie so much that words fail to express how I feel. This movie was the one that not only was my gateway into horror films, but also caused a life-long love affair with classic cinema.

It all started one day at the library. I was about six years old and complaining to my mother that I couldn’t find any books to read. Nothing just felt right. You know what I mean, when a book synopsis just connects to you, and you know you need to take it home to read?

So my mother eager to get home, pulls a book off the shelf and suggests that I read it. Instead of paying attention to whatever novel she had in her hand, I saw the one behind it. It was The Phantom of the Opera; a slender, abriged, children’s version.

It became my new favorite book and I would check it out all the time, completely annoying my mother.

classicnovel

Later on I read the original, whole  version; which I also love. It is written so well, if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.

I just connected with this poor man. He was bullied and betrayed because he was disfigured. No one paid attention to his genius in building and composing. He was living a life alone in isolation. I wanted to go underground with him.

phantom of the opera

I would have gone off with him and loved him unlike Christine Daaé, she’s a total jerk and loser.

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Anyways, not long after I was flipping the channels and stopped on TCM. I love TCM (Turner Classic Movies) with a passion. I wish I could watch it 24/7 as they show the most amazing films ever.

Anyways, so that day they were doing a biography on Lon Chaney, and mentioned that he played the Phantom. I was now sucked in and had to watch. The film was the biopic Man of a Thousand FacesLon Chaney quickly became my favorite actor as I just fell in love with what a genius he was. He used to wait outside the movie studio, using his make-up to change his apperance to better fit roles. His most famous one being of course, the Phantom.

Phantom of the Opera

Afterwards, they held a marathon of his films, but I stopped watching as they didn’t show the one I wanted to see. I now had to watch the 1925 film! I did more research and found out that it is one of the first films to use color, only being able to for the Masque of Red Death scene. It was supposesed to be one of the most dramatic scenes in the film.

I now absolutely HAD to see that film. I went and rented it, hoping that it would be as good as it sounded. It was better than that! The film was not only horrtastic, but simply, and honestly amazing! It also stayed very close to the book, making only a few changes, and doing a much better job than some other versions (the 1943 one, so bad 😦 ).

Phantom of the Opera

Now I know that silent film isn’t for everyone, but I suggest that you check it out.

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So we start off the film with someone lurking in the catacombs of the opera house. We don’t know who he is or what he is after. Then we switch to the opera house, and the creme de la creme of the elite milling about. Everyone is settling down as the show is about to start.

We see the ballerinas on stage dancing away.

Reminds me of Degas

Meanwhile in an office upstairs, the opera house is being turned over to new owners. Owners who know nothing of what lurks in the belly of the building.

For there lies the Phantom and a friend. A Persian man that had traveled with him since the Phantom has been abroad, but no one knows more than that.

So the new opera owners have gained a lot of problems with their purchase. Besides having to pay the phantom money, give him box 5, and a few other amenities; he is also demanding that they replace Carlotta with Christine, the girl he has been coaching. Needless to say, this is very upsetting for Carlotta.

I refuse to be treated in such a manner

In fact the Phantom has threatened Carlotta if she does not stay away. Carlotta is most unhappy; and leaves declaring she will not sing that night.

Instead Christine Daaé sings beautifully. She is also noticed by the stupid Vicomte de Chagny. I really dislike Raoul, Team Phantom all the way!

phantom of the opera

In the book Raoul struck me as a real annoying guy. Like one who is always trying to do different things; but only does them halfheartedly, always expecting someone to bail them out of a jam. Then again I could be biased.

Anyways Stupid Raoul notices Christine and tries to get with her. But she is not as receptive, in fact telling him kindly to get lost as she has her career to think about.

Stupid Raoul goes to leave, but actually, is secretly waiting outside her door to spy on her.

Now for anyone out there; if you tell a person you want a relationship to end and they don’t listen and spy on you, you need to call the police and get rid of them. I can’t believe him. Raoul just went from stupid to stalker. I mean who listens outside their ex’s door like that? Who does that?

How rude

So Carlotta decides to sing anyway, even though she has been warned that bad things will happen. The Phantom makes sure that she will never want to sing again.

“Erik: Behold! She is singing to bring down the chandelier!”

So Christine goes to her room and Raoul being the creep he is  follows her. Erik, the Phantom, calls to her and tells her to go through her mirror; which is really a trapdoor. The Phantom built the Opera House, so built himself a home underneath the Opera House along with tons of secret passage ways and hideouts.

The Phantom takes her to his subterranean home, across a hidden lake.

Christine is amazed and kind of freaked out being there with him. All she can focus on is the fact that he is wearing a mask. Erik starts telling Christine his life story, and the sadness it has brought him. She ends up fainting, and he carries her to his guest room; beautiful and full of things she will love. It has a whole wall of shoes!

The next day everyone is in an uproar as Christine is missing! She wakes up to hearing the organ being played by the Phantom. He has been working on an opera for a long time.

Erik: Since I first saw your face, this music has been singing to me  of you and of –love triumphant!”

While he is romantically sharing his feelings, Christine is determined to rip off his mask.

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Lon Chaney is truly amazing! I mean look at him! He is so awesome looking! So creepy! He is such a genius, devising his own make-up. The Phantom’s makeup was designed to resemble a skull. Lon Chaney attached a strip of fish skin (a thin, translucent material) to his nostrils with spirit gum, pulled it back until he got the tilt he wanted, then attached the other end of the fish skin under his bald cap. For some shots, a wire-and-rubber device was used, and it cut into Chaney’s nose and caused a good deal of bleeding. Cheeks were built up using a combination of cotton and collodion. Ears were glued back and the rest was greasepaint shaded in the proper areas of the face. The sight was said to have caused some patrons at the premiere to faint.

Christine is completely shocked at his apperance. Mary Philbin, the actress who played Christine, reaction to the unmasked Phantom was real – she had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.

Phantom of the Opera

So the Phantom is upset, but Christine has to stay with him. He is not about to let her go. Now I know that is not appropriate behavior, but I feel so bad for him. She loved him until she saw his face, Now he has nobody. 😦

Then they have the most amazing scene ever! This was one of the first films to have color! They do this huge masquerade scene in color and he comes as the Red Death! It is too fantastic for words. I cannot describe it, you will have to watch it. His entrance, his outfit, etc.

Erik: Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

Christine escapes from the Phantom and sneaks off with Raoul. They make plans to run away together, but little do they know that the Phantom has overheard everything.

Christine prepares to do her last performance, and as she is doing so, the Phantom comes and spirits her away. His only friend, a Persian courtier who has been with him through everything, goes to Raoul to lead him to Christine.

They go through the secret passage, but end up accidentally in the Phantom’s torture chamber.

The Phantom gives Christine two choices; she can choose to hit this ceramic scorpion,which means that she has chosen to marry the Phantom and be his forever, or the grasshopper which means death to Raoul and the opera house. The grasshopper if pressed will light a fuse of the gunpowder that is packed throughout the opera house and interconnected. Everything will blow! The scorpion is connected to a switch that will pump water into the bottom of the opera house and soak all the gunpowder and keep the opera house from blowing up.

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She chooses the scorpion, but as the water starts to come up and drown Raoul. Christine asks the Phantom to save his life, that she will do anything for him if he does. He pulls Raoul out and then takes off with Christine, as the Parisians are hunting him down.

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

The villagers follow in pursuit. As they are running, Christine throws herself out of the carriage. The Phantom goes to her, but the villagers are too close and he takes off. Raoul goes to Christine, and the Phantom is “killed” by the people.

I’ve never been a fan of that idea, you can’t kill the phantom, he’s unbeatable!

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I love him! Is that sad and pathetic?

That’s the post for today. More to come! 4 days ’till Halloween!

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara 

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to My Favorite Movie Lines

For more on classic horror films, go to I Want Friend Like Me

For more films based on books, go to Quite a Horror Story

For more films that spanned countless remakes, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more of my favorite quotes, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeper