Ghostmann’s Horror Movie Guide: The 1940’s

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

Directed By  – Robert Florey

Starring – Robert Alda, Andrea King, Peter Lorre

***** 5 out 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: A tiny Italian village is being terrorized! The locals believe an unspeakable evil of massive proportions has taken over the estate of a recently deceased pianist. Something so huge and horrible has been occurring at the estate and there have even been some murders! What could this diabolical monster be? The pianist’s severed hand!!!!!!!!……!

Fun Fact: The film was remade in 1981 by director Oliver Stone as The Hand.

Fake Classic Quote: “I got your Chopsticks right here bitch!” – The Severed Hand

Real Classic Quote: Police Inspector Naish: (turning to the camera and addressing the viewer) “Can you imagine anyone believing in a hand that would walk around?

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Directed By  – Robert Wise

Starring – Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

****** 6 out 10 ghosty orbs

Plot: What do you do when you are an anatomy teacher in Edinburgh and your classroom needs some cadavers for demonstration purposes? You fucking rob graves of course! But the key is to have someone else do the grave robbing, and that is just what the teacher, Dr. MacFarlane, does by paying John Gray, a cabman, to clandestinely bring him exhumed bodies of the recently deceased. The local cemeteries, tried of being robbed of all their bodies, have started posting guards on the grounds, you know, to keep out crazy grave-robbing cabbies. But do you think that stops Cabbie Gray? Oh no my friends, homeboy really wants to get those classroom cadavers for Dr. MacFarlane, so he starts to murder people to provide him, and his students, with fresh bodies. Realizing that he will never be rid of Gray, who constantly taunts him with his knowledge of MacFarlane’s past indiscretions (“remember when you skull-fucked that dog Dr MacFarlane?”), MacFarlane engages the malevolent Gray in a hand-to-hand fight to the death, the ultimate results of which provide the victor with an episode of unprecedented psychological horror.

Fun Fact: This film featured the 8th and last on-screen teaming of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Filming took place October 25-November 17 1944, delaying the completion of Karloff’s “Isle of the Dead” (which didn’t make the 1940’s cut).

Classic Quote: “Gray, I must be rid of you. You’ve become a cancer, a malignant evil cancer rotting my mind.” – Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane

Filming Locations: RKO Ranch, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California, USA

Cat People (1942)

Directed By – Jacques Tourneur

Starring – Simone Simon, Kent Smith

****** 6 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Most people when they hear “zoo” think fun times with the family looking at cute animals and getting ice-cream and shit like that. But what naval construction designer Oliver Reed hears is,” I’m gonna find me some ass and get laid!” Reed spots Serbian born beauty Irena Dubrovna, near the howler monkey cage, and starts to spit some game, “Sup girl. You like monkeys? I like monkeys too. Let’s go make some monkey love together.” And with that they soon they fall in love and marry. But Reed ain’t getting any of that Serbian pussy (get it? “pussy,” as in pussy cat. as in the cat people. as in yeah Erik, we fucking got it bro) because once married Irena drops this bomb on him,”Oh shit Ollie, I forgot to tell you I’m a victim of an ancient Serbian curse that causes me to turn into a panther if a man tries to make love to me.”  Bummer. Oliver, suffering from the worst case of blue balls ever recorded, sends Irena for treatment with psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd (“You crazy bitch!”), and then goes and seeks “consolation” with his colleague Alice Moore (“Ahhhh, finally, relief!”). Irena becomes jealous when she learns that she may be losing Oliver to Alice.

Fun Fact: The horror movie technique of slowly building tension to a jarring shock which turns out to be something completely harmless and benign became known as a “Lewton bus” after a famous scene in this movie created by producer Val Lewton.

Classic Quote: Irena Dubrovna: “I like the dark. It’s friendly.”

Filming Locations: Stage 7, RKO Studios – 780 Gower Street, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA


Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Directed By –  Roy William Neill

Starring – Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona MasseyBela Lugosi,
Maria Ouspenskaya

******** 8 out 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: This is the sequel to The Wolf Man (1941) and opens with a couple of grave robbers accidentally resurrecting Larry Talbot, aka The Mother Fucking Wolf Man! Now that Larry is back amongst the living and turns into a werewolf at every full moon, he decides he’d rather be dead. So with the help of an old ass gypsy woman named Maleva, they travel together to find the one the one man that can end Larry’s suffering, Doctor Kevorkian. No wait, I mean, Doctor Frankenstein. Once they get to Castle Frankenstein they find out that the good doctor is dead, but his daughter is alive and Larry begs her for the papers of her father’s that contain the secrets to life and death. She doesn’t have them so Larry goes to the ruins of the Frankenstein castle to find them himself. There he finds the Monster, whom he chips out of a block of ice, right as the full moon peaks from behind the clouds. Mistake. The two iconic monsters then have an epic brawl that leaves the Castle in ruins.

Fun Fact: The film was shot during WWII, amid a notorious anti-German public campaign by the United States government. Screen writer Curt Siodmak, a German Jew himself who had fled his country after hearing anti-Semitic speeches there in 1937, deliberately changed the location of Frankenstein’s castle from Germany to the fictional “Vasaria.” “Vasaria” translates loosely to “water place” in German, obviously correlating the dam, waterfall and hydroelectric turbine that are integral to the film.

Classic Quote: “You think I’m insane. You think I don’t know what I’m talking about. Well you just look in that grave where Lawrence Talbot is supposed to be buried and see if you find a body in it” –  Lawrence Talbot

Filming Locations: Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE OPENING SCENES OF ANY HORROR MOVIE.

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Directed By – Jacques Tourneur

Starring – James Ellison, Frances Dee, Tom Conway

**** 4 out 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Betsy, a young Canadian nurse (or should I say a young Canadian HOME WRECKER!) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager whom she tries to steal away from Jessica. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever, which makes it all the more easy to steal her husband away from her. Betsy then decides the best way to steal a husband away from his wife is to subject said wife to a voodoo ceremony and turn her into a zombie! Damn.

Fun Fact: Edith Barrett, who played the mother, was only 3 years older than James Ellison, who played her younger son, Wesley. She actually was 2 years younger than Tom Conway, who played her older son, Paul.

Classic Quote:  “She makes a beautiful zombie doesn’t she?” – Dr. Maxwell

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

Directed By – Arthur Lubin

Starring – Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, Claude Rains

***** 5 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Enrique Claudin (yes, that’s a dude’s name) plays violin for the opera and has fallen in love with the rising operatic soprano Christine Dubois. Turns out Claudin isn’t the only one to fall under Christine’s spell. The  baritone Anatole and police inspector Raoul also have a thing for her. But Enrique takes his desire to be with Christine a little too far and starts to secretly aid her career by pulling strings and asking for favors, oh and also MURDERING a music publisher because he wouldn’t take Christine as one of his new acts! (Enrique Claudin was sorta like the 19th century Suge Knight. Holding fools by their ankles as they dangle them over a balcony when they won’t sign the contract!). But living the Thug Life doesn’t work out for E-Claud and he gets acid thrown at him that ends up scarring his face. Soon after, mysterious crimes plague the Paris Opera House, blamed on a legendary “phantom” whom none can find in the mazes and catacombs. But both of Christine’s lovers have plans to ferret him out.

Fun Fact: The auditorium and stage of the Paris Opera House seen here was the same set built for the 1925 version. It still stands at Universal Studios today, and has been used for countless other productions, including Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Sting. It is the oldest remaining film set in the world.

Classic Quote: ” They’ve poisoned your mind against me. That’s why you’re afraid. Look at your lake, Christine. You’ll love it here when you get used to the dark. And you’ll love the dark, too. It’s friendly and peaceful. It brings rest and relief from pain. It’s right under the Opera. The music comes down and the darkness distills it, cleanses it of the suffering that made it. Then it’s all beauty. And life here is like a resurrection.” – Enrique Claudin

Filming Locations: Stage 28, Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

THE UNMASKING SCENE. NOT QUITE AS GOOD AS THE LON CHANEY ONE

The Uninvited (1944)

Directed By – Lewis Allen

Starring – Ray Milland, Gail Russell, Ruth Hussey

****** 6 out of 10 ghosty orbs

Plot: Rule Number 1 when buying a house: When the dude selling the house says “strange things” have happened here and that the previous owner committed suicide by jumping off the nearby cliff, DON”T BUY THE FUCKING HOUSE! Well, the brother and sister team of Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald ignore rule number 1 and buy the house anyway. And of course strange shit starts to happen. They also ignore Rule Number 2: Brothers and Sisters don’t buy houses together.

Fun Fact: In an article in USA Today (August 22, 2011), Guillermo del Toro chooses this as one of his six favorite “fright flicks.”

Classic Quote: “They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire and Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the westward ocean. Mists gather here… and sea fog… and eerie stories…” – Roderick Fitzgerald

Filming Locations: Paramount Studios – 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

The Wolf Man (1941)

Directed By – George Waggner

Starring – Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy

********* 9 out of 10 ghosty orbs

Plot: Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. After spying on a local woman Gwen through a telescope (fucking pervert) Larry bullies her to hang out with him later that night. Gwen brings her friend Jenny along as security and Larry is all, “Whatever. Let’s go hang out with the gypsy’s at their camp in the scary woods at the edge of town”. It’s there at the scary gypsy camp that Jenny is attacked by a wolf. Larry kills wolf but is bitten during the fight. The old ass gypsy woman tells Larry he’s pretty much fucked and that at the next full moon he’s gonna become a werewolf. Should have just went to the movies instead bro.

Fun Fact: Many of the modern myths of werewolves originated from this film, such as a person becoming a werewolf through a bite, the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet, and changing into one during a full moon. These are original concepts created by writer Curt Siodmak.

Classic Quote: “Gypsy woman? Now we’re getting down to it. She’s been filling your mind with this gibberish. This talk of werewolves and pentagrams. You’re not a child Larry, you’re a grown man and you believe in the superstitions of a Gypsy woman! ” – Sir John Talbot

Filming Locations: Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA



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