Archive for black and white

Goregirl’s 20 Favourite Horror Films of the 1920s: #10 – #1

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2013 by goregirl

For My Favourite Horror Films of the 1920s: #20 – #11 click here.

Directed By: Henrik Galeen

The Student of Prague is a German-made film directed by Henrik Galeen and starring Conrad Veidt based on the novel by Hanns Heinz Ewers. This is the first of three films on my top ten featuring the fabulous Conrad Veidt. The Student of Prague reunites Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss who starred alongside one another in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in 1920. Conrad Veidt plays the titular student named Balduin who is a renowned party animal but is beginning to tire of his role. The partying is also draining Balduin of funds. He also begins to contemplate the notion of settling down and taking a wife. A mysterious stranger named Scapinelli played by Werner Krauss offers him a large loan which Balduin refuses. Before he parts ways with the stranger Balduin adds that if he really wanted to help, he would find him a rich woman to marry. Scapinelli begins working on the project immediately and we learn he has supernatural abilities. Scapinelli’s plan almost works as a young Countess meets Balduin but their introduction is cut short. Balduin can not stop thinking about the beautiful Countess. Meanwhile a flower vendor named Liduschka has a mad crush on Balduin which he does not reciprocate which does not prevent her from continually attempting to change his mind. Scapinelli calls upon Balduin once more with an even grander more tempting deal of a huge amount of gold in exchange for Balduin’s mirrored reflection. Balduin accepts this deal and furnishes himself a lovely new home and makes his move for the Countess. Needless to say, such an insidious deal does not come without drawbacks. Balduin’s own malcontent reflection threatens to destroy him completely and utterly. What a fantastic story! I loved every minute of this sorted fantastical tale. The Student of Prague is also a beautiful film visually. The camerawork seemed particularly competent among the films I watched from this era. The Student of Prague is lively paced and the story is utterly engaging. The mood and atmosphere in general is electric with mystery and suspense. The Student of Prague is superbly acted and while I certainly do have a significant crush on Mr. Veidt, his performance really is undeniably fantastic. The Student of Prague is a magnificently macabre and mysterious tale with fantastic visuals and great performances.



#9 FAUST (1926)
Directed By: F.W. Murnau

Nosferatu was one of the first silent films I ever seen and I loved it so checking out director F. W. Murnau’s other work was a no brainer. Faust is a German-made film based on Goethe’s story. God and the Devil make a wager on Faust’s soul. The Devil will rule over all of humanity if he manages to corrupt Faust. During a terrible plague that has swept the town the devil appears to the frustrated Faust in the form of Mephisto, a pot-bellied middle-aged man. Faust makes a pact with the devil to help the dying people but this backfires and he is forced to seek the devil’s assistance once more. The Devil offers him youth which Faust readily accepts and as you might expect does not quite work out as he may have hoped. Frankly Faust was pretty easily tempted for a supposed good Christian but no matter as it makes for a helluva good watch! This film is yet another visual stunner. I am a little conflicted about the love conquers all message at the end but beyond that I have no complaints about this hypnotic, gorgeous well-acted masterpiece. Especially notable is Emil Jannings who plays Mephisto/The Devil; he plays the character with such panache that if Satan existed he would be proud. He perfectly embodies a mischievous little devil with his widow’s peak, goofy outfits and that naughty smirk. Such a fantastic character! The imagery of the Devil wrapping his massive black wings around an entire town is phenomenal; there are in fact numerous phenomenal scenes in Faust. The mood is eerie and intense with the right amount of lighter moments threaded through. The Score by Timothy Brock, performed by The Olympia Chamber Orchestra for the Kino DVD release of Faust is superb. Faust is a breath-taking, visual odyssey that is an absolute pleasure to behold. To read my full review click here.



#8 THE PENALTY (1920)
Directed By: Wallace Worsley

The Penalty is the first of three films featuring Lon Chaney to make this top ten list. It is official, I am a fan. The Penalty is an American-made film directed by Wallace Worsley adapted from the book by Gouverneur Morris who also wrote the screenplay for the film. Morris’s father was a statesman and founding father of the United States! IMDB lists The Penalty as crime, drama, horror and while I am not really seeing the horror I enjoyed this film so damn much that I am sneaking it in as a genre film anyway. The Penalty does an extraordinary job of creating special details for its central character Blizzard. Lon Chaney’s character Blizzard is an amputee. Every aspect of his environment has been created to accommodate his legless stature. Pegs used for climbing walls, door knobs lowered, ramps, ladders and a fireman’s pole are employed. Chaney goes to great lengths when he plays a character. In The Penalty he moves about with the natural ease of a man who has actually been without legs most of his life. Blizzard is “lord and master of the underworld” and he is a brutal sonofabitch who is not afraid to rough up the ladies or have someone snuffed out for the most insufficient of reasons. The Penalty focuses on Blizzard’s elaborate plans for revenge. Blizzard should not have been an amputee and he intends on making the doctor who performed the operation, his family and the entire city of San Francisco pay! Chaney’s Blizzard is deliciously rotten and nasty to the core. Anyone who appreciates a good crime drama and fantastic performances should check out Wallace Worsley’s The Penalty. “Fate chained me to evil – for that I must pay the penalty.” To read my full review click here.

the penalty


Directed By: Robert Wiene

The Hands of Orlac is a German-made film directed by Robert Wiene who has two films in my top ten (the second is in the glory hole at #1) it also stars Conrad Veidt who makes three appearances in my top ten. The Hands of Orlac is based on a story by Maurice Renard. The Hands of Orlac is about a concert pianist who is in a terrible train accident where he is severely injured and loses the use of both of his hands. His wife Yvonne pleads with the surgeon to save her husband’s hands at any cost. The surgeon is unable to save the hands and opts to perform a transplant. The transplanted hands are those of a recently executed man named Vasseur which has lasting repercussions for the musician. Plagued by the notion that he has adapted the murderers affinity for killing he is tortured by their presence and begs the surgeon to remove them. The surgeon of course reassures Orlac that such a thing is impossible and actions are ruled by the heart and mind not the hands alone. Orlac’s inability to play the piano has caused the couples funds to quickly dwindle. Adding to his trauma is the murder of a loved one Orlac believes he may have committed and a blackmailing con artist. Orlac’s personal decent into hell is a joy to watch! Conrad Veidt is at the top of his game as Pianist Orlac! He is so deliciously animated and every move is perfect and haunting. As is the case with all the German silent films I watched for this feature the visuals are quite phenomenal; although expressionistic elements are a little more spare in this one than others from the period. The print I watched was not in the best condition unfortunately, but the elaborate visuals nonetheless shone through. I adored The Hands of Orlac and thought it was a tremendously fun and creepy little tale elevated hugely by a perfect performance from my man Conrad Veidt.



Directed By: Victor Sjöström

The Phantom Carriage is a Swedish-made horror film directed by and starring Victor Sjöström based on the novel by Selma Lagerlöf. Director Victor Sjöström plays the central character David Holm an alcoholic bastard. Sitting around getting stinky with a couple of his buddies they speak about the legend of death’s carriage. Allegedly the last person to die in a year is tasked with being the driver of the carriage that picks souls up for the following year. A friend of the group Georges had died the previous year and just may be the carriage driver. Crazy legends! Meanwhile a woman’s dying wish is to see David the drunken lout before she passes on. The dying woman is a good-hearted volunteer for the Salvation Army. David is located and his presence requested but he refuses to go see the woman. A drunken fight breaks out and David is killed just before the stroke of Midnight. And wouldn’t you know it, the legend is true! Soon the carriage driver, who is indeed his friend Georges appears to pass on his duties. The film from here is basically a series of flashbacks of which we see the deterioration of David and his character. We learn of the breakdown of his marriage and how he came to know the salvation army volunteer. The imagery of the “phantom carriage” is genuinely chilling. The special effects in this film are amazing! Victor Sjöström does a hell of a job with the visuals in The Phantom Carriage; it is absolutely gorgeous. The color tint and remastered print I watched was practically without flaw. Mr. Sjöström also does a brilliant job in his central role as David. I hated David although when all is said and done he does find some redemption. Spell-binding, gorgeous and unique; The Phantom Carriage was a real stand out from the decade.



Directed By: Rupert Julian

The Phantom of the Opera is an American-made film adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux. The film was directed by Rupert Julian but IMDB also lists Lon Chaney, Ernst Laemmle and Edward Sedgwick as “uncredited”. The film features Lon Chaney in the title role. This is the second of three films to make my top ten featuring the immensely talented Lon Chaney. Chaney’s makeup takes the cake! Bloody Hell! Look at that magnificent makeup! I said LOOK dammit! Really look! It almost brings a tear to my eye it is so goddamn beautiful! As if the man’s immense acting talents were not enough he actually did his own makeup! What the hell?! It takes my breath away! It really does! Has there ever been or will there ever be anyone quite like Lon Chaney in the world of acting? He died so tragically young it breaks my heart that the world of cinema lost someone so great so early! An immensely talented actor who went to incredible lengths for his work which is clearly illustrated with the three films on this very list! I had not seen The Phantom of the Opera in years but always loved it and that gorgeously grotesque makeup has always stayed with me. Those unfamiliar with this story, it is about a phantom that haunts a Paris opera house. The film opens with the opera house celebrating a new season and we meet Christine; the understudy to the prima donna. A sudden resignation of management due to the opera house ghost is laughed off, but not for long. The prima donna Carlotta receives a letter from the phantom demanding that she allow her understudy Christine to replace her. She of course refuses but the next evening she falls ill and Christine sings in her place. The phantom becomes completely entranced with Christine and begins speaking to her and eventually mesmerizes her and allows her to enter his trippy dream-like world. She becomes free to come and go from his world as she pleases. There is just one rule, she must never see what he looks like beneath the mask he wears. I am not sure how anyone who loves and admires cinema in general, horror or otherwise could not appreciate this grand production. The sets and costumes are lavish, the camera work and direction is skillfully executed, the effects are fantastic, the performances are pitch perfect and the atmosphere is eerie. A beautiful breath-taking affair that deserves all the praise heaped upon it.



#4 HAXAN (1922)
Directed By: Benjamin Christensen

Häxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages is a Swedish-made documentary about witchcraft directed by Benjamin Christensen. Christensen shows how superstition and fevered religious beliefs poison the mind and cause human beings to act irrationally. Christensen spent two years pouring over countless manuals and other documents to learn as much as possible about witches. Häxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages consists of a series of images in the form of illustrations, models and re-enactments. He highlights the witch hunts, the confessions and torture devices used by the monks, female hysteria, and how shoplifting and sleepwalking might have been interpreted as devil possession or bewitching; among other topics. Häxan is, “A presentation from a cultural and historical point of view in 7 chapters of moving pictures.” Benjamin Christensen wrote the script and produced this film between the years 1919 and 1921 with help from Johan Ankerstjerne who did the photography and Richard Louw who handled the art direction. Häxan was heavily edited or outright banned in just about every country in the world. Häxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages is actually quite brutal at times and shocking even by today’s standards. At one point they bleed an unbaptized baby and throw it in a pot! The costumes, sets, props, art work, performances; everything about Häxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages is first-rate, not to mention incredibly informative. Häxan is without a doubt one of the most interesting and visceral documentary/docudramas I have ever seen. Whether you seen the full version or the truncated version narrated by William Burroughs you are getting a one of a kind treat. To read my full review click here.



#3 THE UNKNOWN (1927)
Directed By: Tod Browning

The Unknown is an American-made film directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney is the star of three films on my top ten! In The Penalty he had no legs and in The Unknown he has no arms. I was going to review those two films back to back but after reading my chum Jo’s review over at The Last Drive In I decided I should direct you there instead. In The Unknown Chaney plays knife thrower Alonzo the Armless. He is in love with the carnival owner’s daughter Nanon who also performs as his assistant. Alonzo however is not what he appears to be and is in fact a mastermind criminal with a deadly smirk. Man, you just gotta love Lon Chaney’s smirk! The talented Lon Chaney learned how to smoke and play the guitar with his freaking feet! You gotta respect that! Its appealing carnival premise and an outstanding performance from Chaney make this film well worth a visit. I would be amiss if I did not mention Joan Crawford in an early role as Nanon who is absolutely lovely and charming and is really perfect in the role. It is an intriguing story, lightening paced that made me wish it hadn’t ended so soon. A fantastic finale too I might add. I highly recommend you check out Jo’s awesome extensive review of The Unknown here. I also did a tumblr post of Alonzo and Nanon images here.

the unknown


#2 NOSFERATU (1922)
Directed By: F.W. Murnau

Nosferatu is another German-made expressionist masterpiece and F.W. Murnau’s second film to make the top ten. The film focuses on Thomas Hutter tasked to travel deep into the mountains to meet with a Count Orlok who intends to purchase a residence in Wisburg. Strange and disturbing things occur while Hutter is a guest at the Count’s home and he becomes unwell and has difficulty making the long journey back home. His motivation is his beautiful wife Ellen who awaits his arrival but whose lovely neck has unfortunately caught the eye of the mysterious Count. There is some impressively immense and breath-taking scenery along the route Hutter takes from Wisburg to Orlok’s castle. The vastness and seclusion of his surroundings as he heads towards his destination, created an effective foreboding to the scenes that follow. Orlok’s castle is this amazing, massive, tomb-like structure. An ancient relic and the perfect nest for a vampire. The chilling scenes that take place on the ship Count Orlok travels to Wiburg in are especially effective. Nosferatu is a beautiful haunting film and Max Schreck as Count Orlok is nothing short of inspired. His captivating performance is a pleasure to behold. The hunch in his lanky frame, his bat-like ears and long pointy fingers cast a most intimidating shadow. Nosferatu’s bad-ass vampire, impressive visuals and eerie atmosphere make it a classic of the first order. To read my full review click here.



Directed By: Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German-made expressionist masterpiece directed by Robert Wiene; Mr. Wiene’s second film to make the top ten. It is one of the better known films from the genre and rightfully so; it deserves every bit of praise that is oust upon it. I absolutely loved this film. I watched it twice just for the joy of it and had to scroll through it three times to do screen caps for slideshows. I would love to see this on the big screen and I think Zenzile, whose music I have featured this month would be the perfect live accompaniment. Every single gorgeous hand-painted set is extremely elaborate and immensely impressive, every beautiful minute of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is perfect. It is genuinely creepy and features a top-notch cast including Lil Dagover (Jane), Werner Krauss (Dr. Caligari) and the great Conrad Veidt (Cesare the somnambulist). It tells the tale of a man named Francis who attends Dr. Caligari’s act at a carnival passing through town with his friend Alan. Dr. Caligari presents Cesare the somnambulist who has been asleep for his entire twenty-three years on earth. He awakes the somnambulist who is able to predict people’s future. He predicts Alan will die that very night and the prediction comes true. Francis and his fiancée Jane become entwined in Dr. Caligari’s eerie world. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is “A film in six acts written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz.” The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is not only visual eye candy it is also well written and well-performed. It has a perfect eerie atmosphere and a creepy vibe with an intriguing premise that keeps you mesmerized. I adore this film, and like every film on this top ten it will get repeat viewings in the years to come. To read my full review click here.



Goregirl’s Dungeon on YouTube: Needle Io Jeswa & Otto Von Schirach – Nosferatu

Posted in Germany, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2013 by goregirl

Needle Io Jeswa & Otto Von Schirach’s take on the score for NOSFERATU; crazy electronica piece that will punch you right in your third eye.

Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair – Guy Maddin Short Film

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , on September 26, 2013 by goregirl

I think this superb 2009 short featuring Isabella Rossellini is a delicious taste of the awesomeness that is Guy Maddin. If you dig this, you should do the following…seek out every single Guy Maddin film and watch it. The Vancouver International Film Festival started today; September 26. I am on vacation for two weeks beginning October 1 AND I will be moving back to downtown Vancouver’s West Side that day! I will be sharing my own personal VIFF experience beginning October 2. Have a goretastic weekend my friends!

DAY TWO of The William Castle Blogathon & The Women of Castle

Posted in movies, USA, William Castle Blogathon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by goregirl

Castle Blogathon Banner

Welcome to day two of The William Castle Blogathon! Today I have The Women of Castle for you, but first let’s check to see what other Castle goodness our contributors have in store for us…

Silver Scenes have harnessed the awesome power of Emergo to bring you their fabulous features The Films of William Castle AND Busy Bodies: Promoting Castle’s Camp.
13 Ghosts

“Innocence stands face to face with terror!” “She sees too much! She knows too much!” Read Mondo Heather’s review of 13 Frightened Girls! (1963) & her Bio on William Castle!

“Terror Over Texas!” Speakeasy has a review for William Castle’s 1956 film The Houston Story.

Go check out The Last Drive In’s feature William Castle’s Villains and Victims In wondrous Scream-O Vision! PLUS! EVEN more awesomely, spectacular, superterrific William Castle contributions!!


My focus for The William Castle Blogathon was his “horror years” which began with Macabre in 1958. Between 1958 and 1974 Castle made 17 films. While there were a few exceptions like The Busy Body which was a comedy and Project X which was science fiction the majority of these titles were horror, or at least had enough horror elements to squeeze it into the genre. I have stayed within the horror years for all of my features but I did make one exception for The Women of Castle. The one and only film I visited that was outside of my focus was It’s a Small World. I was so impressed with Lorraine Miller’s performance in It’s a Small World I had to include her on my list. Below are six women from William Castle films that I felt gave particularly memorable and outstanding performances.

JOAN MARSHALL (as Jean Arless) in Homicidal

Joan Marshall was born in Chicago in 1931. Marshall started out as a Showgirl at Chicago’s Chez Paree and was soon appearing in Las Vegas productions. In Vegas she met her first husband whom she had two children with. They moved to California where Joan got work on television shows like Bold Venture and The Red Skelton Show. She was also cast as Phoebe Munster in the original pilot for The Munsters but was replaced by Yvonne De Carlo.
Joan Marshall in The Munsters as Phoebe MunsterMarshall was in just a handful of feature films. Among these films was William Castle’s Homicidal (1961). Joan chose to use the pseudonym Jean Arless allegedly so she could make it disappear from her resume. Joan co-wrote TV sitcom scripts with her childhood friend Dirk Wayne Summers and married director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Being There). Ashby’s film Shampoo is based on Joan’s life. Joan and Hal stayed married until his death in 1988. Joan married Mel Bartfield in 1989 and eventually moved to Jamaica where she died in 1992 at the age of 61. It seems a shame that Joan Marshall wasn’t in more feature films. There is a reason she is at the top of this list; she kicks some serious ass! In Homicidal Joan Marshall plays dual roles but the vast majority of her screen time she is Emily. Emily is attractive, well-dressed and holds herself with confidence; if only she could keep her emotions in check! Emily is employed by the often absent Warren; charged with the care of an elderly wheelchair-bound woman named Helga. Poor Helga does get more than her share of Emily’s Homicidalness! When we meet Emily she is checking into a hotel and propositioning a bellhop. Emily gets up into all kinds of no good; emoting and a-killing she is! Emily is a fantastic character! Melodramatic, demure, catty, conniving, sexy, and….homicidal! Emily has some delicious dialog but it is her dramatics that stand out; Marshall’s range of emotions was impressive and her expressions are priceless! Joan Marshall’s performance in Homicidal is unrestrained perfection.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-100130Count it.

1900 bucks…”

2000 all together….yours.”

Who do I have to murder?

No one.”

What do I have to do?”

Marry me…on the 6th of September.”

Wow. That wouldn’t be so hard to take, even without this.”

Very well. One other thing; the marriage will be annulled immediately after the ceremony.”
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101256screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101456Joan Marshall as Emily…emoting.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103515screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103530“What kind of knife did you say this was? Never seen one before.”

“It’s a surgical knife…doctors use it.”

“What do you use it for?”

“Various things.”

screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104805screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104854screenshot-from-2013-07-21-105048“At least you won’t scream the way Warren did when he was a little boy. Out here in the woods; no one could hear him scream. Could they?! I never liked your eyes Helga…they see too much!”

screenshot-from-2013-07-21-102526Joan Marshall plays dual roles in Homicidal. Here she is as Warren.


JOAN CRAWFORD in Strait-Jacket

Where does one even begin with the life and career of Joan Crawford? The woman had a long and illustrious career in film from 1925 – 1972; she has 104 acting credits on IMDB. Joan Crawford was born March 23, 1906 in San Antonio TX. Her career started in dancing; she was discovered by a producer while touring with a musical revue. In 1924 she signed a contract with MGM and it was decided that her birth name Lucille LeSueur should be changed; readers of a fan magazine chose her new name Joan Crawford. Crawford would be featured in several successful films for MGM through the 20s and 30s including one of my favourite’s Tod Browning’s The Unknown (1927). Crawford has been quoted as saying she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anyone else through her career. “It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.”
The UnknownIn the late 30s her popularity began to wane and in 1943 her contract with MGM was mutually terminated. She than signed a deal with Warner Brothers and made the film Mildred Pierce which won her an Oscar for best actress. Her career experienced a resurgence and she had a good run but in 1952 asked to be released from her Warner contract. She would continue to work steadily through the fifties and made the hugely successful What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Bette Davis in 1962. Apparently Castle seen What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 17 times and it was his dream to have one of its stars featured in a film. His dream came true when Crawford agreed to star in Strait-Jacket but under her terms.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-203957Caviar and special liquor in her dressing room, actresses fired at her request, sets kept icy cold so her face would stay tight; that is some seriously divaesque behavior. Castle pretty much let Crawford do whatever she wanted. According to her co-star Diane Baker (who plays her daughter Carol), Crawford was unhappy with the ending as it did not focus on her and had Castle change it. There is no doubt about it, this is Crawford’s film. She chews up the scenery every time she is on screen; which is a goodly portion of the film.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205425Crawford plays Lucy Harbin a woman released from an asylum after twenty years of institutionalization. She moves in with her brother and his wife who adopted her young daughter Carol when she was sent away. Carol is all grown up and a sculptor who is in love with the son of a wealthy dairy owner. Lucy attempts to adjust but soon people begin disappearing making her the obvious suspect.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205544Despite Lucy being sent home “cured” she never seems right. Lucy is paranoid, twitchy, excitable and emotional at regular intervals. Lucy is also empathetic at times. Lucy is haunted by the ghosts of her past and any number of things can set her off. Carol takes Lucy shopping and buys her new clothes and a wig and she seems to become possessed by the garments. A scene where she seduces Carol’s boyfriend in her new garb is particularly memorable. Joan Crawford gives an inspired performance in Strait-Jacket worth applauding.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210015Lucy all dolled up.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210055Lucy in more comfortable attire.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210349A fantastic scene where Lucy trips out believing she is trapped in the small, striped wallpapered room.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210755Straight-Jacket’s finale; Joan’s way.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-222602Joan Crawford also had a supporting role in William Castle’s I Saw What you Did; pictured here with John Ireland.


CAROL OHMART in House on Haunted Hill

Carol Ohmart was born in Salt Lake City, Utah July 3, 1927. Ohmart received the title of Miss Utah in 1946 and won fourth place in the Miss America Pageant. This led her to modelling and television commercials which led her to signing with Paramount Pictures in 1955.
screenshot-from-2013-07-23-184650The above pic is Carol Ohmart as Emily Howe in Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told. Looking at the wonderful Ms. Ohmart’s resume it appears to me that she was a seriously underutilized actress. According to IMDB it appears she made just nine feature-length films; the majority of her credits are in television. I have only seen two of Ms. Ohmart’s feature films; Spider Baby, Or the Maddest Story Ever Told (one of my favourite films of all time!) and House on Haunted Hill (the reason she is on this list). These two outstanding credits and Ms. Ohmart’s superb performance in each is worth celebrating!
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180503In House on Haunted Hill Carol Ohmart plays Annabelle Loren. Annabelle is in an unhappy marriage to eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. The couple loathe one another which makes for some snappy and extremely entertaining dialog! Carol Ohmart holds her own with the legendary Vincent Price and even betters him once or twice during their banter. She is strong, confident, sexy and seething with hatred for her husband. The expression on her face when Frederick touches her says it all. Omhart’s body language and facial expressions are perfection. House on Haunted Hill is worth watching just based on Carol Ohmart’s performance and her spirited jousts with Vincent Price. Ohmart is a beautiful talented actress who should have been in more films! Long retired from acting the lovely Ms. Ohmart celebrated her 86th birthday on July 3.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180548Frederick and Annabelle sharing some champagne and jabs.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184007Annabelle looking particularly ravishing.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184646This picture does not do Annabelle’s nightgown justice.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185241A concerned Annabelle.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185810A frightened Annabelle.
Carol OhmartCarol Ohmart rocks!



French actress Tsilla Chelton was born June 21, 1919. After settling in Paris she met and married decorator Jacques Noël. Chelton started acting in Marcel Marceau’s troupe and went on to have a successful career in theatre. She acted in several plays based on the writing of Eugene Ionesci and even won a Moliere Award for her work in Ionesco’s The Chairs. She worked alongside such actors as Michel Serrault and Michel Piccoli. Chelton taught comedy in the early 60s to the likes of Michel Blanc. Chelton did a fair amount of television and film work also. Chelton has 71 credits spanning 1962 to 2013. Her final film Landes has yet to be released.
TSILLA CHELTONThe above picture is Tsilla Chelton in the lead role of Etienne Chatiliez’s 1990 film Tatie Danielle. Chelton was nominated for a César Award for Best Actress for her role. I was so smitten by her performance in Shanks I added Tatie Danielle to my queue.

In Shanks Chelton plays the salty Mrs. Barton. Mute puppeteer Malcolm Shanks was the brother of Mrs. Barton’s first husband and now pays rent as a tenant. Mrs. Barton is re-married to an alcoholic with a bad temper; although she clearly has control of their relationship. The couple is not kind to Shanks which makes what follows so much more delicious and rewarding. The couple meet their demise relatively early in the film and spend the balance as corpses controlled by puppeteer Malcolm Shanks. Fun fact; William Castle has a cameo as the owner of a market Shanks visits with the Bartons. Marcel Marceau had significant input on William Castle’s Shanks. I am guessing that Chelton was handpicked seeing as she acted in Marcel Marceau’s troupe in Paris. That goes a long way to explain why her body work is so superb! She is required to do a great deal of physical work in Shanks and she is truly marvelous. I am also not the least bit surprised to learn she taught comedy; her comedic timing and delightfully quirky accent are top drawer! Chelton’s performance is a huge highlight of Castle’s wonderful and unique film! The immensely talented Tsilla Chelton died July 15, 2012 at the age of 93.

***A super huge MERCI BEAUCOUP to David Arrate at My Kind of Story who was kind enough to donate these pics. Watch for Mr. Arrate’s feature It’s a Small World, Malcolm Shanks on August 2***
MrsBarton(1)Tsilla Chelton as Mrs. Barton; in curlers. It takes some big curlers to set that big do!
MrsBarton(3)Shanks10Puppeteer Malcolm Shanks beautifully captures Mrs. Barton in doll form.
shanksShanks22Malcolm puts on a puppet show using the corpses of Mr. & Mrs. Barton. One of many fine examples of Ms. Chelton’s outstanding body work.
William Castle Shanks (03)Shanks05The Barton’s help celebrate Celia’s birthday. Another wonderful Chelton moment.


LORRAINE MILLER in It’s a Small World

There is very little information out there about actress Lorraine Miller. I contemplated leaving her off the list due to the lack of information I could find. I watched several William Castle films over the past few weeks for this feature. Some were re-watches and a few were first time viewings. One of those first time viewings was It’s A Small World. It’s a Small World is about the hardships of little people. It is Harry Musk’s story. Upon learning that Harry would no longer grow, his father pulled him out of school and hid him from the world. His sister resents him and refuses to bring friends home out of embarrassment. Harry eventually decides to begin a life of his own. Lorraine Miller plays Buttons a character Harry meets on his journey. The lovely Lorraine Miller is so damn likable as Buttons it really stung when it is revealed that she is not what she seems. I can’t imagine how poor Harry must have felt! Despite the lack of information on Ms. Miller’s acting career she deserves to be on this list. She really does give a memorable performance that was one of my favourites through my Castle viewing.

Lorraine Miller3

The above picture is a promotional shot of Ms. Miller for Andrew L. Stone’s 1943 film Hi Diddle Diddle. Lorraine Miller was born January 5, 1922 in Flint Michigan. In 1940 she won a contest where she was crowned Rodeo Queen and the reward was a contract with MGM. Apparently she shared a room with Donna Reed when she first arrived in California. Miller has 34 acting credits listed on IMDB but several of them are noted as uncredited. Her first significant part was in the 1943 Western Beyond the Last Frontier, but several more uncredited roles followed. In 1945 she had a small part in Between Two Women along side Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Lionel Barrymore and Gloria DeHaven. A starring role would follow in the 1945 film The White Gorilla. She was in several Westerns through the forties including Border Badman, Ambush Trail and Trouble at Melody Mesa.

Lorraine MillerWilliam Castle’s It’s a Small World (1950) was her second last feature film. In It’s a Small World Miller plays Buttons; nicknamed on account of her affinity for buttons which adorn everything she wears. Buttons is a femme fatale that uses her charms to lure Harry into a scheme. Despite his nativity Harry knows what Buttons is asking him to do is wrong but he agrees just the same. Harry just wants to be close to Buttons. And who wouldn’t? Buttons is a beautiful woman; beguiling, kind and a lot of fun. Harry and Buttons become fast friends. Unfortunately for Harry, Buttons’ friendship comes with an agenda. Lorraine Miller is delightful in this role; she made me smile, she made me angry and she broke my heart. Miller has a wonderful natural ease and plays Buttons with strength and confidence. I got the feeling Buttons was the kind of woman who has taken her knocks in life and refuses to let it keep her down. Miller gives an irresistible performance in It’s a Small World worth the price of admission. Lorraine Miller died February 6, 1978 in Los Angeles California.

It's a Small World (3)(1)It's a Small World (6)When Harry sees a woman living across the hall being roughed up he jumps to her aid. The woman introduces herself as Buttons.
MBDITAA EC007Harry and Buttons share some soda and laughs.
LORRAINE MILLER1Buttons; so named because of her affinity for buttons.
lorraine-millerButtons broke my heart.


BARBARA STANWYCK in The Night Walker

I thought summarizing Joan Crawford’s long, successful career was brutal until I started working on Barbara Stanwyck! Ms. Stanwyck has 106 actress titles listed on IMDB; and most of those are leading roles. The critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning actress also seemed to be both liked and respected by her peers and everyone else she came in contact with. There is tons of information about Barbara Stanwyck out there and I did not stumble upon a single negative comment or divaesque story about her. Barbara Stanwyck was born July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn NY. Stanwyck was only four years old when her mother was pushed from a streetcar by a drunk and killed. Her father joined a work crew a short time later and was never heard from again. Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens and along with her brother Byron was raised by her older sister Mildred. Stanwyck wanted to be a performer and at the age of sixteen she was hired by the Ziegfeld Follies. While working as a chorus girl she met Willard Mack who gave her a role in his play The Noose and LaHiff. Stanwyck had a successful run on Broadway and Hollywood soon came a-knocking. Stanwyck married fellow actor Frank Fay and the two moved to Hollywood. Apparently their marriage ended badly; the film A Star is Born (1937) is allegedly based on Stanwyck and Fay’s marriage. Her first role was a bit part in Joseph C. Boyle’s Broadway Nights (1927) but starring roles immediately followed. Stanwyck was a natural! A few of her early highlights included Frank Capra’s Ladies of Leisure (1930), William A. Wellman’s Night Nurse (1931), Alfred E. Green’s Baby Face (1933) and George Stevens’ Annie Oakley (1935).
Stella DallasStanwyck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for the 1937 film Stella Dallas (Anne Shirley was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress). She was nominated three more times for Best Actress for Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948); Stanwyck did not take home a statue until she received an honorary Oscar in 1982. Stanwyck’s career began to decline in the late 1950s; nonetheless she made a few films that are gems in my book including the reason she is on this list; William Castle’s The Night Walker.
The Night WalkerThe Night Walker would be the last feature film Barbara Stanwyck would make. Stanwyck eventually made the move to television. She played three roles in the series Wagon Train (61 – 64) but is probably better known as the matriarch of the Barkley family in The Big Valley (my mom’s favourite TV show of all time). Her television career ended with The Colbys (85 -86).
The Night Walker1In The Night Walker Barbara Stanwyck plays Irene Trent. Irene is a woman in a bitterly unhappy marriage. Her husband Howard is a wealthy blind inventor who believes Irene is having an affair. He goes to great lengths to discover proof of her infidelity. Irene is indeed having an affair…in her dreams. When Howard is killed in an explosion in his laboratory Irene is suddenly free from their oppressive relationship. Or is she? Murder, mystery and betrayal abound!
The Night Walker2My first viewing of The Night Walker was about a week ago for this blogathon. It turned out to be one of my favourite watches! While I love and adore Castle’s camp, I was thoroughly impressed by the mystery and atmosphere in The Night Walker; and those dream sequences are really something else! I wish there had been more of those dream sequences!
The Night Walker4Stanwyck is the focus of The Night Walker and she goes through a wide range of emotions through the film. She is a smart and tough woman albeit slightly beaten that begins to question her own sanity. Irene frets, shakes her fists and refuses to lose grip! That wonderful raspy voice of Stanwyck’s is well utilized by Castle. Stanwyck can scream like a banshee! Not everyone is capable of a good horror scream. According to IMDB Gary Oldman couldn’t scream to Coppola’s satisfaction in Dracula; they had to bring in Lux Interior of The Cramps as a scream double. That is not meant as a slight against Oldman; all I am saying is some folks can scream and some just can’t. My girl Barbara can scream!
The Night Walker3Barbara Stanwyck is empathetic and likable as Irene. Irene is frightened and questioning her sanity but she maintains a strength and faces her fear head on. As far as I am aware, Barbara Stanwyck never gave a bad performance and The Night Walker is certainly no exception. Stanwyck was a no-brainer choice for a list of my favourite women of Castle.
stanwyckladyofburlesqueThrough my research of Barbara Stanwyck my curiosity was aroused by the title Lady of Burlesque (1943). It is available to watch on IMDB archives so I thought I’d share my find. It is based on the book by Gypsy Rose Lee.