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Friday, October 29, 2010

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Halloween Edition

Steve Hayes opens the movie crypt and unearths two classic spine-tinglers for us this week:
Halloween shakes and shudders settle in as TOQ salutes two Universal horror classics; Todd Browning's DRACULA, starring Bela Lugosi and George Waggner's THE WOLF MAN, starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Lugosi had played the vampire on Broadway, where he was considered a matinee idol because of his on stage sex appeal as the evil count. Although he played everything in horror movies from a hunchback to the Frankenstein monster, it was Dracula that influenced and stunted Lugosi's career.

The yak hair for Cheney's werewolf make-up took six hours to apply and itched him constantly. Chaney came from a background of horror. His father was the legendary Silent Screen star Lon Chaney. Though he'd made a huge impression as Lenny in the film version of John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN (1939), once Lon Jr. played a werewolf, there was no turning back.

Both films feature terrific supporting casts; Everett Van Sloan as Dr. Van Helsing, Dwight Frye as the maniacal Renfield in DRACULA , and in THE WOLF MAN, Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers, the best screamer in horror movies and the great Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy fortune teller who knows too well the werewolf's fate. So carve a pumpkin, grab a crucifix and curl up with a warm monster . . . of some sort.

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