Archive for lon chaney jr.

The Chaney Blogathon: HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by goregirl

House of Frankenstein reviewed for The Last Drive In & Movies Silently as part of The Chaney Blogathon.


Erle C. Kenton directed one of my all time favourite horror films; Island of Lost Souls (1932). Island of Lost Souls is not the only horror gem Mr. Kenton directed that is near to my heart. Kenton directed three films in the Universal monster franchise; Ghost of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and today’s subject review House of Frankenstein. Clearly Universal studios was milking the commercial and critical success of Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Wolf Man (1941) with multiple entries featuring the three aforementioned monsters. It was overkill, but that is no reason to write the series off. You would be missing out on plenty of goodness. Some very talented directors and actors were involved in the making of these films. Actors such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and of course Lon Chaney Jr. who is the reason I am doing this review. Chaney played Larry Talbot aka the Wolf Man four times. The follow-up to 1941’s The Wolf Man was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) which I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed for a werewolf feature I did a while back. House of Frankenstein I suppose could be the sequel to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man as we do meet Frankenstein and the Wolf Man where we left them; in the ruins of Castle Frankenstein. Dracula makes an appearance in this one and there is a random mad scientist with a hunchback assistant. Continuity is not really a huge concern in these later monster films.

lobbycard for house of frankenstein

No matter though, the more monsters the merrier if you ask me! House of Frankenstein is action packed! Erle C. Kenton wastes no time at all getting into the action. We get a prison escape, a kill, and Dracula in the first 15 minutes. The film’s runtime is only seventy minutes and it just flies by. In seventy minutes our mad scientist and his hunchback assistant meet Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein and in classic movie fashion ends with a lynch mob. The sets and set pieces are decent enough although there isn’t much that particularly stands out. The cave-like ruins of the Frankenstein place was pretty neat though. The effects are admirable; Dracula’s silhouette on the wall that becomes a bat was well done. Chaney’s Wolf Man makeup looked great and the transformation is well done. Well done except they forgot to put fur on Chaney’s hands! Normally I am not one to notice things like that, but he is looking in the mirror during the transformation and you can really clearly see his hands in a prolonged shot. There was no getting around that oops. House of Frankenstein’s best asset is definitely its performers who are all just perfect. Boris Karloff has long been one of my favourite actors and especially when he is playing the villain. Karloff wears these roles like a finely tailored jacket and they fit him to a tee. John Carradine plays the suave variety of vampire but he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. I enjoyed Carradine as Dracula although his character doesn’t linger long. J. Carrol Naish who plays Daniel, Dr. Niemann’s hunchback assistant is promised a solution to his ailment in exchange for services. Daniel is not a particularly likable character but I nonetheless found him an empathetic one. Glenn Strange who plays Frankenstein’s monster was apparently coached by Karloff who played the monster in the original 1931 version as well as The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Strange plays the large lumbering creature convincingly well and I think he looked superb in the makeup. Strange apparently also did all his own stunts! Last but certainly not least is Mr. Lon Chaney Jr. who plays Lawrence Talbot also known as the Wolf Man. Lawrence Talbot is a tortured character. Talbot is well aware of his crimes and is unable to control his transformations. He knows he should not exist but like all living things he has an instinct for survival. Werewolves represent men’s inner struggle and Chaney’s performance captures this so beautifully. Lon Chaney Jr. is the most sympathetic monster of all time in my opinion. I highly recommend checking out House of Frankenstein; a non-stop, fast-paced multi-monster thrill ride loaded with top-notch performances that looks a little something like this….


A Vehicle in a travelling show called Professor Lampini’s Chamber of Horrors runs into some trouble outside of Neustadt Prison.




A natural disaster creates the perfect escape route for Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) and fellow convict Daniel (J. Carrol Naish).



The unfortunate and unlucky Professor Lampini (George Zucco), gets “a hand” with his stranded vehicle from the conniving doctor and his sidekick. Lampini invites them in to his trailer and boasts about his main exhibit “The Actual Skeleton of Count Dracula the Vampire”. They kill Lampini and take over his show.



Step right up and see the skeletal remains of Count Dracula the Vampire!


Dracula (John Carradine) has been resurrected!



Dracula mesmerizes Rita (Anne Gwynne) who just so happens to be an in-law of Dr. Niemann’s sworn enemy Carl Hussmann.



Dracula transforms into a bat.



Daniel meets a pretty Gypsy Lady named Ilonka (Elena Verdugo) whom he falls in love with.


Dr. Niemann and Daniel explore the ruins of Castle Frankenstein and find the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s creature.


Dr. Niemann thaws the two creatures out and we meet Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) in his non-Wolf Man form.


Ilonka, Daniel’s gypsy lady takes an instant liking to the handsome Lawrence.


Dr. Niemann makes the promise of a cure for Talbot’s wolfism.


Daniel divulges Lawrence’s secret to Ilonka.


Frankenstein (Glenn Strange) is ready to wake from his long slumber.


Dr. Niemann’s promise is shallow and he has no intention or desire to help Lawrence. Lawrence transforms into a werewolf and kills a local man.


The death of a local man brings unwanted attention from the local police.


Ilonka and Lawrence share a tender moment.


Lawrence gives Dr. Niemann a piece of his mind.


Dr. Niemann is far more interested in his current project; the re-awakening of Frankenstein’s creation!




Lawrence Talbot’s transformation into the Wolf Man.


Dr. Niemann.


What is a monster movie without a lynch mob equipped with torches?

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Erle C. Kenton

Starring: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Elena Verdugo, Sig Ruman, William Edmunds, Charles Miller, Philip Van Zandt, Julius Tannen, Hans Herbert, Dick Dickinson, Glenn Strange

The Chaney Blogathon: Hosted by The Last Drive In & Movies Silently

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2013 by goregirl


Lon Chaney Jr. transforming into a werewolf?! What is the deal Goregirl?! Are you not doing a silent horror film feature?! Lon Chaney Jr. did not transform into a werewolf in a silent film!! No he did not. If I had any sense at all I would have chosen to review a film starring his father Lon Chaney who was a star of the silent era. Well, sense is for sensible people, and they can have it. I will be taking an ever so brief detour from the silent horror movies with a weekend post for the mucho under-appreciated House of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Lionel Atwill and of course Lon Chaney Jr.! House of Frankenstein is my contribution to The Chaney Blogathon running November 15th to 18th hosted by The Last Drive In and Movies Silently.

Chaney Blogathon

Fun With GIFs: Spider Baby (Part 2)

Posted in Fun with GIFs, horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , on August 11, 2013 by goregirl

No! There is not a sequel to Spider Baby you did not know about! This is the sequel to my first set of GIFs posted last week which focused on the ladies of Spider Baby. This week’s GIF set focuses on the men of Spider Baby. Oh yeah, and there is also an owl. I am not aware of the owl’s sex. Hoot. Hoot.


Lawyer Mr. Schlocker snoops around the Merrye residence and passes by a number of mounted stuffed birds. He enters a room and sees a stuffed owl and moves his flashlight to what he thinks is another stuffed owl.


Ralph has just arrived back home after a ride with Bruno. Ralph is played by the great Sid Haig!


Bruno has a talk with Elizabeth and Virginia after finding the mailman dead. Bruno is played by genre legend Lon Chaney Jr.


Ralph sees the dead mailman.


Dinner with the Merrye’s.


Poor Bruno! These “children” are going to be the death of him!


Virginia plays a game of Spider with a most uncomfortable looking Uncle Peter. Uncle Peter is played by the handsome Quinn K. Redeker.

Fun with GIFs: Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told

Posted in Fun with GIFs, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2013 by goregirl

Jack Hill’s 1968 film Spider Baby is one of my favourite films of all time! I’ve been dying to make a GIF set for this film. I made a huge step forward in my GIF making this weekend and finally figured out how to convert JPEGs/PNGs to GIFs more cleanly! This is just part one for this GIF set which focuses on the ladies of Spider Baby; Elizabeth and Virginia Merrye and Emily Howe. Elizabeth and Virginia have a million priceless moments; every single second they are on the screen is a priceless moment. It was tough choosing just a handful. Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner are perfect beyond perfection as Elizabeth and Virginia! And what can I say about lovely Carol Ohmart who plays the bitchy Emily Howe? First, I could say I wished I had been able to collect more usable images to make a gif that was befitting her awesomeness. Alas, only two were usable and they really don’t do justice to her brilliance. Watch for part 2 next week. To read my review of Spider Baby; or the Maddest Story Ever Told click here.


The opening credits for Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told.


“I smell a bug.”
“A big black juicy…”


“Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served.”


“I don’t know what you people are up to here but I’m going to have to call the authorities. Now there are laws. Criminal laws…”
“Kill him!”


“They’re coming, what’ll we do?”
“We’ll have to make a plan.”


“Good Evening Uncle Peter.”
“Is Mr. Bruno about?”
“No. No, he’s away.”
“Won’t you come in?”
“Yes, please do come in.”


“Ralph? Ooooooooh, Ralph?”



The Girls

Jill Banner as Virginia Merrye and Beverly Washburn as Elizabeth Merrye.


Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by goregirl

Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told has long been a favourite and is way past due to get the review treatment! Even the credits are utterly fantastic! Check out this awesome animated credit sequence with music courtesy of the great Lon Chaney Jr. Beware! There’s a full moon tonight!!

Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told may not be the maddest story ever told, but it is certainly wonderfully warped! The Merrye family, due to decades of inbreeding share a peculiar malady that rots the brain and causes them to regress to some not quite explained pre-human existence. Bruno the family chauffeur has been left with the care of the three children; Elizabeth, Virginia and Ralph. The film opens with a messenger arriving at the Merrye home to deliver a letter. Unfortunately he meets Virginia who wants to play a game of “spider” (more on the spider game later). This does not end well for our messenger. The letter announces the impending arrival of some greedy relatives who aim to get their mitts on the Merrye estate. Worst still, they are arriving that very day!

Bruno has a talk with the girls about killing visitors and reminds them that it is not nice to hate. They are to be on their best behavior for the arrival of their guests.

Brother and sister Emily and Peter Howe, lawyer Mr. Schlocker and his secretary Ann Morris arrive. They are introduced to Elizabeth and Virginia, but where is Ralph? Ralph loves hiding.

Uncle Peter is okay but that Aunt Emily it one haughty uptight bitch! Aunt Emily insists on staying for dinner and being put up for the night much to Bruno’s chagrin. Dinner is quite the ordeal! The Merrye children are vegetarians (well sort of) but in honor of their guests, Ralph has caught a rabbit for dinner. Mushrooms and grass from the backyard is also served.

I like you Uncle Peter. Will you play spider with me?

Bruno has an epiphany!

Jack Hill’s tale of the eccentric Merrye family manages to be quirky, eerie, disturbing, amusing and even a bit touching. Although the violence is not graphic it is not ineffective. All of the characters are wonderfully over the top. Virginia (Jill Banner) loves spiders. She likes to play a game where she throws a web over your head and than stings you with two large kitchen knives! She is a wild flower who keeps spiders as pets, and occasionally eats one. Poor Ralph (Sig Haig) is the most brain rotted of the children and it won’t be long before he must join his relatives in the basement. I won’t tell you anymore about the relatives in the basement; I’ll leave that for you to discover. Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) is the youngest of the trio and is often left in charge of Virginia whom she has no control over whatsoever. Elizabeth loves to hate, even though she is not supposed to. Elizabeth scorns Virginia for her naughtiness, but secretly enjoys it. And than we have Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr). Poor Bruno! He made a promise to the children’s father that he would always look after them. He has been a loyal guardian and loves the children dearly. All four actors play their characters brilliantly! Particularly Chaney, who is absolutely charming and unforgettable as Bruno; one of his best roles since the 40s! I should not leave out Carol Ohmart who plays the bitchy Emily Howe. Emily has a rigid exterior, but in the privacy of her bedroom dawns lingerie and dances in front of a mirror! The friendly and overly accommodating Peter Howe played by Quinn Redeker is also some fun and I loved how they included a conversation between him and his love interest Ann Morris (Mary Mitchel) about classic horror films (including The Wolf Man of course!). And I can’t forget the great cameo from Mantan Moreland as the messenger!

Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told is wacky, weird, wonderful, nutty, nasty, spooky fun! Highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jack Hill

Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig, Mary Mitchel, Karl Schanzer, Mantan Moreland