Monday, October 28, 2013

Cinema Gothic: The 1950s

The original Universal horror series that followed the stories of Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Wolf Man concluded in the late 1940s. The 1950s saw a rebirth of horror. Universal ventured into new waters with The Creature from the Black Lagoon, while a small studio in England began reinventing the characters that had made Universal great for a new generation.

Director: Jack Arnold. Screenplay: Henry Essex and Arthur A. Ross. Starring: Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Ben Chapman, Ricou Browning. Studio: Universal. Country: USA.

Universal, fresh from exhausting its original monster lineup, started anew with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. With some beautiful underwater scenes, there are some obvious nods to the recurring theme of the romantic interest of an animal in a human female, something that has played out time after time in earlier classics like Murders in the Rue Morgue and King Kong. The film also, however, explores themes far ahead of it time in the 1950s, such as mankind's effect on the environment. Originally shown in 3D, a new, restored Blu-Ray edition has replicated that format for capable players.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot. Screenplay: Henri-Georges Clouzot and J r me G ronimi. Based on the novel Celle qui n' tait plus by Boileau-Narcejac. Starring: Simone Signoret, V ra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel. Country: France.

A stylish film in the European tradition, Diabolique is a murder mystery (or is it?), and paranormal (or is it?) tale that leaves the audience figuring out the clues until the twist ending that reveals all. The favorite film of Robert Bloch, the author of the novel Psycho, this film also was an inspiration to Hitchcock in his decision to shoot the film version of Psycho in black and white. Today, well recognized as a marvel of the genre and given a Criterion Collection release, Diabolique is an intriguing thriller in the best sense of the term.
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