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Saturday, April 18, 2009

MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT #26 -- Another Awesome Issue For Classic Horror Fans

Hello? HELLO? Okay, as soon as you're done admiring that totally awe-inspiring Daniel Horne painting of Karloff from THE WALKING DEAD, which graces the cover of MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT issue #26, then we'll discuss the contents. Whenever you're ready. Like, sometime this week. ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME? Oh, the heck with it--I think I wanna gawk at that cool cover some more myself...

Once inside, we find editor Jim Clatterbaugh's "View From the Vault", which includes a tribute to the late Forry Ackerman, followed by the always interesting letters section where readers get to sound off about this, that, and t'other.

Kicking off the ish in grand style is the scintillatin' saga of "Boris Karloff at Warner Bros., 1935-1939", which describes in great detail the circumstances behind Karloff's sojourn from the Universal Studios lot in order to make THE WALKING DEAD, WEST OF SHANGHAI, THE INVISIBLE MENACE, DEVIL'S ISLAND, and BRITISH INTELLIGENCE for the brothers Warner during the late 30s. As fate would have it, I've never had the chance to see a single one of those films over the years. But just as in the days of FM, it's always interesting to read about movies like this (and salivate over the wealth of juicy Karloff stills) even if I haven't seen them yet. Especially when the article is written by horror historian Greg Mank, who really knows his way around this stuff and can always make it informative and fun.

Gary D. Rhodes keeps things rolling with "One Browning, Two Helens, and a Host of Fakes", the story behind the 1929 production of Tod Browning's THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR. For Browning, the enigmatic director whose work has been alternately critically praised and derided throughout the years, the film began "a shift away from collaborations with Lon Chaney and the beginning of his work with Lugosi." It also continues his fondness for "fakery and deception" so evident in LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT and its later remake, MARK OF THE VAMPIRE.

Largely unseen until it began to turn up on Ted Turner's TNT and TCM channels, the film is of interest today mainly due to its being the first Browning-Lugosi collaboration. David Skal and Elias Savada speculate in their book Dark Carnival that this apparent miscasting of Lugosi may have actually been intended as a screen test for the upcoming DRACULA. Rhodes contends that this is unlikely and that Lugosi, rather than being miscast, was simply cast interestingly against type. Rhodes then treats us to an exhaustive look at the film itself--along with another series of choice photos--detailing the differences between it and Bayard Veiller's play, which opened on Broadway in 1916.

Next up is "Vampires, Zombies, and Sorcerers: The Best of Hammer Horror in the 1960s." According to authors Mark Clark and Bryan Senn: "When MFTV learned that we were co-authoring a comprehensive guide to horror films of the 1960s...tentatively titled Sixties Shockers: Horror Films of the 1960s, editor Jim Clatterbaugh asked us to name our choices for the best films of the decade to emerge from England's fabled Hammer Films." This sneak peek at their upcoming book goes into detail about three key Hammer films--THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, and THE DEVIL'S BRIDE--and is a delight for Hammer fans.

"Universal-International's The Strange Door (1951): Part One" is another sneak peek, this time courtesy of authors Tom Weaver and Steve Kronenberg, of a chapter from their upcoming book, Univeral Terrors: The 1950s (the long-awaited sequel to Universal Horrors). Part One looks at the inspiration, synopsis, and cast of this '51 film which I saw on TV a few times as a kid and always found perversely compelling, with rich performances by Boris Karloff and Charles Laughton.

An interesting note is that Laughton chose to play up the humor inherent in his flamboyantly vile lead character, and, while director Joseph Pevney recounts this being his and Laughton's intention all along, Elsa Lanchester is quoted as saying that Pevney wasn't aware of this during filming and was shocked by the audience laughter at the inital preview!

"Films From the Vault" offers another batch of insightful DVD reviews by Mark Clark. This time he weighs in on "Fox Horror Classics Volume 2" (featuring CHANDU THE MAGICIAN, DRAGONWYCK, and DR. RENAULT'S SECRET) and "Icons of Horror: Hammer Films" (featuring SCREAM OF FEAR, THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, and THE GORGON).

And finally, "Books From the Vault" reteams Clark and Bryan Senn for reviews of I Talked With a Zombie:Interviews with 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-Fi Films and Television and Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.

In a 4/7/09 message to readers of the Classic Horror Film Board, editor Jim Clatterbaugh offers this update: "Now that software, hardware, malware, and virus issues on my computer have been resolved and I've recovered from a brief illness (all of which created havoc on my production schedule for Monsters from the Vault #26), I'm happy to announce that the issue finally went to press this morning! I'll be getting my proof after work today (if all goes well) and my printer says I should have copies back in 10 working days (around April 21st or 22nd). I should be doing my mass mailing on the weekend of the April 25-26 and all copies should be in the mail come April 27th. The issue should start showing up in comic book stores on April 29th or May 6th.

"A BIG thanks to our readers for their patience!"

For information on subscriptions, back issues, and a whole lot more, check out the MFTV website today!

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