Big News: Frankenstein and his Bride, Hitchcock and his Birds Return to Movie Theaters!

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For the first time in decades, some of the greatest Horror films of all time will return to movie theaters nationwide.  In celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary, Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Birds (1963) will be arriving at cinemas near you.

NCM Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures have  teamed up to bring these exciting films to cities all across the country.  But the catch is they will only be shown one night!

A newly restored version of The Birds is the first to make its HD debut on the silver screen.  The Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece will be shown Wednesday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m.  Not only will viewers be treated to a stunning print, but they will also have the opportunity to hear from the film’s star, Tippi Hedren, in an exclusive interview that will play right before the film.  You can see if The Birds will be arriving in your town by checking out this list.

Boris Karloff’s most memorable character, our favorite Monster, will be resurrected on Wednesday, October 24, also at 7:00 p.m .  Certain locations are also offering a matinee showing.  The original James Whale classic will be followed by the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, making the Frankenstein event quite reminiscent of the Monster Movie Double Features of yesteryear.  Bela Lugosi, Jr. along with Sara Karloff and Rick Baker have all been interviewed, and those interviews will be showcased before the start of the first film.  To see if the Frankenstein double bill will “come to life” in your area, check out this list.

View the official site for more information.  (Note that listed talent is subject to change.)  Can’t wait to see you all at the movies!

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Underrated Classics | Dracula’s Daughter

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It seems as if, in the world of Universal Studios Classic Horror, there is one sequel which gets all of the attention – The Bride of Frankenstein.  Granted, it deserves all of the admiration it receives – and more!  But, there are other follow-up films in the Universal canon that are wonderfully-made which also are owed a great deal of respect.  Perhaps the most under-appreciated is Dracula’s Daughter.

A direct sequel to Dracula, the movie begins just moments after the original ends.  Two bumbling policemen stumble upon the body of Renfield in the basement of Carfax Abbey, where they also meet a very much alive Professor Van Helsing (credited as “Von Helsing”).  Admitting to driving a stake through the heart of the evil Count, Van Helsing is arrested for murder and seeks the aid of a trusted friend, Jeffrey Garth.  Garth, a psychiatrist and former student of Van Helsing, must help the professor prove that Van Helsing did not murder anyone, that Dracula was indeed already dead for 500 years – a seemingly impossible task.  But, when the body goes missing and London is once again rife with bloodless corpses, proving Van Helsing’s innocence becomes a tad bit easier.

The film stars Gloria Holden in the title role.  Playing Countess Marya Zaleska, Holden definitely holds a candle to Bela Lugosi’s performance in the previous film, channeling his eerie presence in nearly every scene.  It’s hard to imagine any actress but Holden being able to utter, in such genuinely distant fashion, the famous line, “I never drink… wine.”  Like Lugosi, Holden commands the screen.  Everything about her is eerie, foreign, intriguing, seductive, and just plain creepy.  Her motivations are also the most complex of any early Horror character.  A reluctant vampire who loathes the control Dracula still exerts over her, even from the grave, Countess Zaleska seeks psychiatric “release” from the curse of the vampire, yet still embraces her father’s evil ways.

The film is very much in keeping with the style of the original, using the same sets for Dracula’s Castle, carrying over Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing, referring frequently to characters and situations in the original, and even lifting lines (and a camera shot) from the 1931 classic.  Dracula’s Daughter really is a terrific sequel.  The intended parallels between this film and the original work wonderfully.  The only thing that drags the film down is its uneven pacing and its tendency to dwell too much on the comedic relationship between Dr. Garth and his secretary.

But, for every fault in the film, there are ten positive things which work to its advantage.  In addition to the great performances by Holden and Van Sloan, the film’s music is atmospheric, moody, and chilling.  The theme, used in the opening and during the climax, is one of the best, if not the best, in the Universal Horror repertoire, rivaling the main theme of The Wolf Man as the most sweepingly tragic, dark and elaborate piece of music in the early history of Horror.

While the sequel could have taken any number of directions, and it almost took a very weird one with James Whale helming the first efforts, this film is very enjoyable for what it is.  It could have starred Bela Lugosi.  It could have had Van Helsing be the main hero.  It didn’t.  And, as such, it should be judged on its own merits – and it has plenty.  Perhaps, one day, fans of the genre will come to realize this and bolster Dracula’s Daughter to its rightful place in the Universal library – not being nearly as good as The Bride of Frankenstein, but deserving a lot more credit than some of the later Dracula and Frankenstein sequels.  Overall, the film earns a solid  4 out of 5 stars.