Tag Archives: dracula films

Padre Steve’s Favorite Halloween Horror

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“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

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I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

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The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

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I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch.

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Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Night and The Lost Boys.

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There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

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Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

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Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

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Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg.

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In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.”

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When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

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Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

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In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Horrific Humor: Young Frankenstein

Horror and comedy, like peanut butter cups they are two great tastes that go great together. I think that the funniest of this genre are those based on the classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula. There are other films that fit this category such as Love at First Bite a Dracula film set in the late 1970s staring George Hamilton, Jill St. John and Arte Johnson.  Other twists on the Dracula story is Mel Brooks Dracula Dead and Loving It which starred Leslie Nielsen, Peter McNichol, Harvey Korman and Amy Yasbeck and Once Bitten starring Lauren Hutton.  I also like some that are new creations in their own right such as Ghostbusters.  However, for me the film that is the real classic among all of them is Young Frankenstein. So in the spirit of Halloween I submit to you Padre Steve’s favorite all-time Horror Comedy Young Frankenstein.

Of course the first on my list is Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein which came out in 1974, the same year as Brooks’ other classic of Western filmography Brazing Saddles. Young Frankenstein is the classic humorous take on the Mary Beth Shelley Frankenstein novel and subsequent films.  It starred Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Terry Garr, Cloris Leachman and the late Peter Boyle as the Monster Brooks. Brooks used the original set from the original Frankenstein and brought the Frankenstein saga a hilarious twist. It is hard to forget some of the great scenes such as when Dr. Frankenstein discovers that he has implanted an abnormal brain in the monster, and the subsequent game of charades as Inga and Igor try to guess what the Doctor wants as he struggles in the grasp of the Monster “give him a sedagive.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP5Gcuwp2Sg Of course after a “sedative” has been administered the conversation between the Dr. Frankenstein and Igor is classic.  The Doctor sits down and questions Igor about the brain about the brain and Igor tells the Doctor that the brain belonged to “Abby someone, Abby Normal.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ_pKqiB5Rg

There is the scene where the Monster escapes and comes to a small house where a blind monk played by Gene Hackman awaits.  The monk offers the Monster hospitality which turns into a horror story with the Monster as the victim.  The Monster has hot soup spilled on his lap, his mug of wine shattered and finger set afire by the well meaning monk and runs out in terror.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw2IIU0a9qw&feature=related

Of course there all of the one-liners and gags interspersed through the film at a cyclic rate which leave the audience laughing.  I remember seeing the film for the first time when it came out in 1974 in Stockton California.  The opening scene where someone opens the crypt of the elder Dr. Frankenstein to retrieve his diary and has to fight the skeleton is just the beginning of the fun.  The fun continues with the young Dr. Frankenstein, a neurosurgeon saying that his name was pronounced “Fronkensteen” rather than Frankenstein when questioned by a medical student about his grandfather’s experiments.  One can’t forget the scene in the graveyard when the Doctor and Igor are digging up the body of the monster.  When the Doctor complains Igor utters the immortal line “it could be worse it could be raining” which of course was followed by a thunderclap and downpour.

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Of course we cannot leave out Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher and every time that her name was said that the horses would “whiney.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wTbNIsopg&feature=related

Then there is the sequence after Doctor Frankenstein’s arrival in Transylvania and rides to his castle with Igor and Inga.  The Doctor hears a wolf howling in the distance and asks “Werewolf” and Igor answers “there wolf.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQQtgx4iG8E&feature=related This sequence of course includes the part where Inga asks Doctor Frankenstein about having a “roll in the hay” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqClWdOcWog&feature=related and their arrival at the castle.  Dr. Frankenstein sees a large set of door knockers as he is lifting Inga off the wagon saying “what knockers” and Inga answering “well thank you Doctor.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9K9wiH2Lko

Likewise there is the segment where Madeline Kahn playing Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancé Elizabeth is abducted by the Monster. The Monster has fallen in love with her as he takes her she discovers something that leaves her singing “oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you.”

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Of course this is followed at the end of the film when the newlywed Doctor and Inga are in their bedroom and she asks him what he received from the Monster and then begins to sing “oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you” when she discovers exactly what her husband received from the Monster.

This has to be one of the greatest horror-comedies of all time if not the very best.  Everything from the sets to the gags and great interactions among the characters makes this one of the greatest if not the greatest film of its genre ever made. The film is so stocked with great lines and scenes that there are too many to mention here, so if you never have seen this comedy classic go get it.

So Happy Halloween my friends and in the midst of all the blood and gore films, have a good laugh with Young Frankenstein.

Peace.

Padre Steve+

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