Vintage Glass Slides Celebrate Classic Horror Films + An Interview with Colin Clive!

Halloween 2015 gives us a good reason to take a fresh look at some of the greatest horror film classics ever made. But not by viewing the familiar artwork found in vintage posters and lobby cards. Instead we have found several rarely-seen and extremely fragile glass slides that were projected onto movie screens over 80 and 90 years ago. Let’s begin the tour.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) is often credited as the first American horror film. Although filmed many times beginning in 1911, this 1920 silent film version starring John Barrymore in his “breakthrough” movie performance is generally regarded as the best film version. This takes nothing away from at least two excellent sound film versions made in 1931 and 1941. The 1920 version is readily available today on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming video:
Jeykyll Hyde slide

Before Lon Chaney frightened audiences in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923), the Man of 1,000 Faces created chills in this 1922 film, which alas, is lost:
Chaney A Blind Bargain

Decades before JURASSIC PARK let loose an army of angry dinosaurs, movie audiences were awed by living prehistoric creatures in THE LOST WORLD (1925). Based on the popular novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this film is available on DVD:
Lost World copy_edited-Final

Lon Chaney scored a huge hit with one of the most memorable films of all time. New generations today find THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) is still a potent brew. The enduring popularity of the Chaney film has resulted in this PHANTOM being available on Blu-ray as well as DVD. We are also lucky to have TWO glass slides for this classic:
Phantom slide_edited-Final
Phantom_edited-1 copy

Chaney Sr. did not rest on his laurels with PHANTOM, but followed it up with edgy dramas such as THE ROAD TO MANDALAY (1926), which only partially exists today:
Road to Mandalay 1

American horror films didn’t become established until the talkie era with DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN, both released in 1931. A lesser-known film released in 1932 is THE WHITE ZOMBIE starring Count Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi. This low-budget film has grown in stature through the years and today is considered a classic. As a sign of its stature, ZOMBIE is available on DVD and even Blu-ray:
White Zombie

One of the best of the early 1930s horror classics is THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), based on a novel by H.G. Wells, and starring Claude Rains in his first film. The romantic lead was Gloria Stuart who 60 years later appeared in TITANIC (1997):
Invisible Man Final

1933 was a banner years for classic films and horror movies were no exception. In addition to THE INVISIBLE MAN, the public was treated to KING KONG:

The public barely had time to catch its collective breath when later in 1933 the sequel to KONG was released. While not as good as the original, SON OF KONG is enjoyable on its own terms:
Son of Kong Glass Slide

Another early horror talkie that has grown in stature is THE BLACK ROOM (1935) starring the Frankenstein monster himself, Boris Karloff. And yes, it’s available on DVD:
The Black Room 1935 copy

It was only a matter of time before those Twin Princes of Horror Films, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, were co-starred. THE RAVEN (1935) is the second of several successful films from the Karloff-Lugosi team and, yes, is on DVD:
Raven Final

Is there a consensus on one classic horror film that is considered the best ever made? Well, if there is, that film would be the sequel to FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Filmed under the working title of THE RETURN OF FRANKENSTEIN, this stunning film would be known to the world as THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Of course, this one is available on Blu-ray and DVD:

British actor Colin Clive played Dr. Henry Frankenstein in those first two films of the series, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Here is a candid of Colin Clive and Valerie Hobson on the Universal backlot in January 1935 during the filming of BRIDE:
Clive_ Hobson-copy_Final

Colin Clive was regarded as a gifted actor but a troubled individual. He passed away in 1937 following years of alcohol abuse complicated by tuberculosis. Typical of many actors of that time, Mr. Clive was unhappy with his being cast in these so-called “horror films.” But unlike other actors, he had no hesitation to go public with his concerns. Here is a rare interview with the man that many consider to be the definitive Dr. Frankenstein:
Clive Interview


On the Set with… Karloff and Lugosi: A Halloween Salute

There was something about Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi that was just plain creepy. Neither actor had to “do” anything other than merely show up. Even the occasional non-horror role they landed didn’t change each man’s fundamental ability to send chills down the spines of viewers by saying nothing more threatening than, “Good evening.”

Speaking of which, Bela seems to be inviting us to watch as he applies makeup for DRACULA (1931). He seems cordial enough – but we know better!

Since this is late 1930, it’s worth mentioning that many actors handled their own makeup chores because they had to do it themselves in the theater. During the 1930s, makeup artists began to assist film stars and eventually handled all the tasks:

Bela could even make smoking a cigar look sinister:

Boris Karloff often played roles that required arduous makeup sessions. Here Universal’s makeup wizard Jack Pierce turns Boris into the Frankenstein Monster for the very first time for FRANKENSTEIN (1931):

Filming the world’s first glimpse of Boris as the Monster:

Bela definitely had the romantic edge over Boris. Here Helen Chandler (Mina) seems to respond to the mysterious guest from Transylvania while Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Van Helsing) and David Manners (Jonathan Harker) appear suspicious, or perhaps they’re only jealous:

When mummies are restored to life and want to blend in with other folks, they remove their wrappings. But the passage of 3700 years can cause dry skin. Here Jack Pierce checks to make sure Boris’s parchment-like skin doesn’t come off in THE MUMMY (1932):

Bela seems so charming here – so why do his fellow cast members in DRACULA look terrified? From left to right, Bela, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan:

Boris did get to do a romantic scene with Zita Johann in THE MUMMY, but it was cut out of the film:

Double the chills – by the mid 1930s Boris and Bela were teamed up in THE BLACK CAT (1934), THE RAVEN (1935), and one of my favorites, the sci-fi yarn, THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936) where they play perfectly respectable scientists – until the murders begin:

It’s difficult to believe these are the same two gents, joined by Basil Rathbone, as they celebrate Boris’s birthday on the set of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939):

Bela finally got to know what it felt like to sit for hours in Jack Pierce’s makeup chair while he is prepared for his role as Ygor in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN:

Jack Pierce at long last gets his comeuppance from Bela and Boris in this gag photo. That’s director Rowland V. Lee assisting in the skullduggery:


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