Saturday, January 14, 2012

126th Birthday of the Great and Unappreciated George Zucco

George Zuccos 126th Birthday passed last Wednesday with little to no recognition. Which is kinda a bummer I think because this guy is one of the great horror icons, undoubtedly up there with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. He not only was a staple in Horror films he performed in a wide variety of cinema and played in such movies as The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes were he played one of the best Professor Moriarty`s (if you ask me I think his image of Moriarty had an influence on this past Decembers Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, just my opinion though). He also played the Governor in one of my favorite swashbuckler pirate movies from the 50s The Black Swan. As well as having a supporting role in the 1939 version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Then his role in the 1947 thriller Lured is one of the best performances of any actor i`ve ever seen.
          Anyways the movie that made me realize that George Zucco was a awesome horror actor was when I watched 1943`s Dead Men Walk for the first time, that movie is a highly over looked vampire movie that has Zucco playing two roles (twin brothers) and costars Dwight Frye. In the way Boris Karloff and Lionel Atwill were to the Universal Frankenstein series was what George Zucco was to the Universal Mummy series. He was three of the Mummy movies including the second one The Mummy's Hand were his villiones portray of Professor Andoheb has laid the groundwork for just about ever antagonist in any Mummy movie since. Though he also had a brief but memorable role in 1944s House Of Frankenstein were he played  Bruno Lampini (the guy who had Dracula's skeleton).
           Of course he was in share of super B-Horror movies such as Voodoo Man, and The Flying Serpent both very low budget but none the less fun and very enjoyable to watch. Overall George Zucco was a phenomenal actor who truly left a mark on Horror.

                                         This cartoon is from an episode Johnny Quest and I cant help but
                                          notice how much that guy resembles George Zuccos character in 
                                           The Mummy's Hand.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freakshow (2007)

Genre: Psychological, Exploitation

Source: Netflix Instant Que

Grade: C

   Before I watched this gut wrenching gruesome horror movie, I was a bit unclear on weather or not  it was intended to be a remake of Tod Browings 1932 masterpiece Freaks. According to IMDB it was and on the cover of the DVD it clearly says "In The Tradition Of Tod Brownings Freaks". Yet there is no credit given to Browing or the writer of Freaks on the screen credits. So I was trying to decide was this a honest remake? Or just a sleazy cheap rip-off? Well upon finishing the movie I discovered the answer is yes its a intended remake, but just barely.

        For starters contrary to my prior expectations this movie is or at least appears to be set during the 30s like the original and not the modern day like I expected. Which I feel is a wise choice because I don`t think the story would work nearly as good had it been in the modern day. Also they used some very cool music from that time period. Which for some reason actually enhanced the overall freakishness of the movie. I was very impressed at how well the director made the movie with such a minuscule budget, $1,000,000 to be exact. 
         Now unfortunately on the other hand if this remake does anything for the original "Freaks" it just goes to show that that movie is one that cant be replicated and true untouchable classic. This film pretty much falls short of achieveing the greatness of Browings original film in every way possible.For starters they strip the original story down to its thinnest almost to the point were its unrecognizable and rather than go for the suspense and atmosphere the original had this one decided it be better to go for the gross out Hostel/Saw style scares were its not at all scary or suspenseful but just flat out disgusting. Which i`ll give it to them  I was pretty grossed out at some points, almost to the point of me wanting to cover my eyes it was so disgusting. Especially the ending were they turn the "evil" girl into a worn thing, which they show ever disgusting sicking detail.

          I must also say I felt that ironically there weren't enough freaks in the movie. Or at least they spent more time focusing on the band of criminals who are attempting to rob the circus. Though to be truthful the freaks just arnt as freaky in this version as they were in the original. I am guessing because most if not all the freaks in this movie are fake as opposed to the original were they were real actually circus freaks. Now to be fair plot wise they kept a couple of the trademark original scenes of the original like the "One of us, One of us" scene and the ending were you see what they did to the girl. Unfortunately both scenes were shallow and did not have the same effect when compared to the original.

            I know it was probably unfair to compare this particular remake to its original. But with Freaks being one of my all time favorite movies of all time I just could not help it. Though as far as remakes go this ones not to bad, it boosts a couple good scenes and some great music from the 30s. Sadly the over the top torture porn "Hostel"style horror that was way overused in this movie just did not work for me.