Favorite Monsters Over The Years

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Favorite Monster Movies

I think I became hooked on monster movies at around the age of ten.  I well remember the Friday night late shows that featured an old time monster movie.  I would stay up and see those movies every week.  Frankenstien, Dracula, the Wolfman and all the sequels.  I think the number one rated horror film for me was "The House of Dracula" with the "big three monsters" all starring in it.  The Frankenstein monster, Count Dracula and the Wolfman were featured together in a menagarie of monster shenanigans.  I remember that in this movie, the Wolfman ( Lon Chaney, Jr. ) would get "cured" of his wolfman-itis or whatever it is that a wolfman has.

I always liked the Mummy with Karloff.  I think the scene where the Mummy opened his eyes for the first time in the movie was one of the most specatacular scenes ever in a motion picture.  Of course, I liked to see Dracula spread his arms and become a bat.    Ah!  the things that thrill a nine-year old.

I don't watch as many monster movies as I once did.  I still think the old movie plots are far superior to the modern day science-fiction plots and supposedly super-natural story-lines of today.  There have been many spin-offs on the old-time monster movies, but the simple plot and style of the oldies still carries the most weight when I evaluate my preference of monster movie viewing.

I have put together some of these old movies into this presentation.  I didn't list them as a number 1, 2 or 3, etc; but just grouped them all together.  I, of course, have my favorites but that is another story for another time.

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Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as the title character. Renfield (Dwight Frye), a British solicitor, travels through the Carpathian Mountains via stagecoach. The people in the stagecoach are fearful that the coach won’t reach the local inn before sundown. Arriving there safely before sundown, Renfield refuses to stay at the inn and asks the driver to take him to the Borgo Pass. The innkeeper and his wife seem to be afraid of Renfield’s destination, Castle Dracula, and warn him about vampires. The innkeeper's wife gives Renfield a crucifix for protection before he leaves for Borgo Pass, whence he is driven to the castle by Dracula's coach, which was awaiting him at Borgo Pass, with Dracula himself disguised as the driver. During the bumpy ride, Renfield leans out and starts to ask the driver to slow down, but is startled to see that the driver has disappeared, and a bat is leading the horses.Renfield enters the castle welcomed by charming but odd nobleman Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), who unbeknownst to Renfield, is a vampire. Renfield expresses concern about the strange disappearance of the coach driver and his luggage, but Dracula assures him that he has arranged to have his luggage delivered. They discuss Dracula's intention to lease Carfax Abbey in London, where he intends to travel the next day. Dracula then leaves and Renfield goes to his bedroom. Dracula hypnotizes Renfield into opening a window and then causes him to faint. A bat is seen at the window, which then morphs into Dracula. Dracula's three wives suddenly appear and start to move toward Renfield to attack him, but Dracula waves them away, and he attacks Renfield himself. Aboard the schooner Vesta, bound for England, Renfield has now become a raving lunatic slave to Dracula, who is hidden in a coffin and gets out for feeding on the ship's crew. When the ship arrives in England, Renfield is discovered to be the only living person in it; the captain is lashed on the wheel and none of the ship’s crew is discovered. Renfield is sent to Dr. Seward’s sanatorium. Some nights later at a London theatre, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), who is with a group in a box seat area. Dr. Seward introduces his daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancé John Harker (David Manners), and the family friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is fascinated by Count Dracula, and that night, after Lucy has a talk with Mina and falls asleep in bed, Dracula enters her room as a bat and feasts on her blood. She dies in an autopsy theatre the next day after a string of transfusions, and two tiny marks on her throat are discovered.

Several days later, it is seen that Renfield is obsessed with eating flies and spiders, devouring their lives also. Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) analyzes Renfield's blood, discovering Renfield’s obsession. He starts talking about vampires, and that afternoon chats with Renfield, who begs Dr. Seward to send him away, because his nightly cries may disturb Mina’s dreams. When Dracula awakes and calls Renfield with wolf howling, Renfield is disturbed by Van Helsing showing him a branch of wolfbane. It stops wolves, as Van Helsing says, and also is used for vampire protection. Dracula visits Mina, asleep in her bedroom, and bites her, leaving neck marks similar to those on Lucy. The next morning, Mina tells of a dream in which she was visited by Dracula. Then, Dracula enters for a night's visit at the Sewards. Van Helsing and Harker notice that Dracula does not have a reflection in a mirror. When Van Helsing shows this "most amazing phenomenon" to Dracula, he reacts violently, smashes the mirror and leaves. Van Helsing deduces that Dracula is the vampire. Meanwhile, Mina leaves her room and runs to Dracula in the garden, where he wraps his cape around her and attacks her; the next morning, she is found and awakened from unconsciousness. Newspapers report that a "mysterious, beautiful woman in white" has been luring children from the park with chocolate, and then biting them. Mina recognizes the beautiful lady as Lucy, who has risen as a vampire. Harker wants to take Mina to London for safety, but he is finally convinced to leave Mina with them. Van Helsing orders Nurse Briggs (Joan Standing) to take care of Mina when she is sleeping, and not to remove the wreath of wolfbane from around her neck. Renfield again escapes from his cell and listens to the three men discussing vampires. Before Martin (Charles K. Gerrard), his attendant, arrives to take Renfield back to his cell, Renfield relates to Van Helsing, Harker and Seward how Dracula convinced Renfield to allow him to enter the sanitorium by promising him thousands of rats with blood and life in them. Dracula enters the Seward parlour and talks with Van Helsing. Dracula states that because he has fused his blood with Mina's, she now belongs to him. Van Helsing swears revenge by sterilizing Carfax Abbey and finding the coffin where he sleeps; he will then thrust a stake through his heart. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing, almost succeeding, but Van Helsing shows a crucifix to the vampire and turns away. Harker visits Mina on a terrace, and Mina speaks of how much she loves "nights and fogs". Harker notices Mina’s changes and says he likes them, not realizing that she is slowly transforming into a vampire. A bat (Dracula) flies above them and squeaks to Mina, to which she responds: "Yes? ... Yes? ... I will". Mina then tries to attack Harker. Fortunately, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward arrive just in time to save him. Mina confesses what Dracula has done to her, and tries to tell Harker that their love is finished. Later that night, Dracula hypnotizes Nurse Briggs into removing the wolfbane wreath from Mina's neck and opening the French windows so he can enter her room. Van Helsing and Harker see Renfield, having just escaped from his cell, heading for Carfax Abbey. They see Dracula with Mina in the abbey. When Harker shouts to Mina, Dracula sees them, thinking Renfield had trailed them. He strangles Renfield and tosses him down a staircase, and is hunted by Van Helsing and Harker. Dracula is forced to sleep in his coffin, as sunrise has come, and is trapped. Van Helsing prepares a wooden stake while Harker searches for Mina. He finds her in a strange stasis. Dracula moans in pain when Van Helsing impales him, and Mina returns to normal. Harker leaves with her while Van Helsing stays. Church bells are heard, implying that they may be married.

The film begins with Edward Van Sloan stepping from behind a curtain and delivering a "friendly warning" before the opening credits:

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 monster horror film directed by Jack Arnold, and starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, and Whit Bissell. The eponymous creature was played by Ben Chapman on land and Ricou Browning in underwater scenes. The film was released in the United States on March 5, 1954.

Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features Dwight Frye and Edward van Sloan.

After learning of the death of his brother, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales to reconcile with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains). While there, Larry becomes romantically interested in a local girl named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), who runs an antique shop. As a pretext to converse with her, he purchases a silver-headed walking stick decorated with a wolf. Gwen tells him that it represents a werewolf (which she defines as a man who changes into a wolf "at certain times of the year.") Throughout the film, various villagers recite a poem, whenever the subject of werewolves comes up: Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. That night, Larry attempts to rescue Gwen's friend Jenny from what he believes to be a sudden attack by a wolf. He kills the beast with his new walking stick, but is bitten in the process. He is told that it was not merely a wolf; but was a werewolf, and that now he will become one. A gypsy fortuneteller named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) reveals to Larry that the animal which bit him was actually her son Bela (Béla Lugosi) in the form of a wolf. Bela had been a werewolf for years and now Larry will be transformed into one as well. On the first night of the full moon, Talbot transforms into a wolf-like creature and stalks the village, first killing the local gravedigger. Talbot retains vague memories of being a werewolf and wanting to kill, and continually struggles to overcome his condition. He is finally bludgeoned to death by his father with his own silver walking stick after attacking Gwen. Sir John Talbot watches in horror as his son transforms back into a human form as the local police arrive on the scene.

The Wolf Man is a 1941 American Monster Werewolf-Horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolf Man, featuring Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Béla Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya. The title character has had a great deal of influence on Hollywood's depictions of the legend of the werewolf.[1] The film is the second Universal Pictures werewolf movie, preceded six years earlier by the less commercially successful Werewolf of London.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a crude homicidal maniac.

The greatest and most famous classic adventure-fantasy (and part-horror) film of all time is King Kong (1933). Co-producers and directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (both real-life adventurers and film documentarians) conceived of the low-budget story of a beautiful, plucky blonde woman (Fay Wray) and a frightening, gigantic, 50 foot ape-monster as a metaphoric re-telling of the archetypal Beauty and the Beast fable. [Fay Wray mistakenly believed that her RKO film co-star, 'the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood,' would be Cary Grant rather than the beast. Later in her life, she titled her autobiography "On the Other Hand" in memory of her squirming in Kong's grip.]

Jaws is a 1975 American horror-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The police chief of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant man-eating great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists during the summer season. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the Mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen.

The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan. It was shot in Cantil, California, Universal City, and the Mojave Desert. PLOT: An Ancient Egyptian priest called Imhotep (Boris Karloff) is revived when an archaeological expedition finds Imhotep's mummy and one of the archaeologists, despite a warning, recklessly reads aloud an ancient life-giving spell. Imhotep escapes from the archaeologists, taking the Scroll of Thoth, and prowls Cairo seeking the reincarnation of the soul of his ancient lover, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon. Ten years later, Imhotep calls upon two archaeologists, claims that his name is Ardath Bey, a modern Egyptian, and shows them where to dig to find Ankh-es-en-amon's tomb. The archaeologists find the tomb and give the mummy and the treasures to the Cairo Museum. The archaeologists thank Imhotep for giving them the information of where to find the tomb. Imhotep was once mummified alive for attempting to resurrect her, and, upon finding Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), a woman bearing a striking resemblance to the Princess, he attempts to mummify her and make her his bride. In the end, she is saved when she remembers her past life and prays to the goddess Isis to save her. The prayer causes a ray from the statue of Isis to burst out and burn the scroll that gives Imhotep life. He crumbles into a heap of bones.

Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, and Kevin Peter Hall. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox. The story follows an elite special forces team, led by 'Dutch' (Arnold Schwarzenegger), on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla territory in Central America. Unbeknownst to the group, they are being hunted by a technologically advanced form of extraterrestrial life, the Predator.

Tremors is a 1990 American science fiction horror comedy film directed by Ron Underwood, based on a screenplay by Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson, and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. It was distributed by Universal Studios.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf is a 1957 horror film starring Michael Landon as a troubled teenager and Whit Bissell as the primary adult. Landon's character is Tony Rivers, a disturbed, angry young man in the James Dean Rebel Without a Cause tradition, who seeks hypnotherapy for his problem. Unfortunately, the practitioner he seeks out, played by Bissell, is also a very disturbed man with definite mad scientist overtones who, with the help of scopolamine injections, successfully regresses his patient into a werewolf with tragic results. He is under the belief that man, instead of moving forward, must go back to their pre-evolution states (for some reason, a werewolf). Tony, meanwhile, knows nothing of this. Tony transforms in the high school gymnasium (after he is startled by the school bell suddenly ringing close to him) and kills a girl who is there practicing gymnastics. Realizing that something is wrong, Rivers goes back to the doctor for help. The doctor hypnotizes him again, making him turn back into a werewolf. As he and his assistant, Hugo, prepare to take pictures of this achievement, the telephone rings, which wakes up Rivers and causes him to kill both the doctor and Hugo. He is then shot by the police as he runs from the doctor's building.

The Blob gets started when a meteor streaks to earth and lands in the woods. An old man finds the crater and watches as the pockmarked rock splits apart, revealing a gooey filling. When he pokes the goo with a stick, it leaps onto his hand, which sends him screaming in pain down the nearest highway. Steve Andrews (McQueen) almost runs him over as he returns from an aborted necking session with his girlfriend (Corsaut). They take the old man to the doctor. Later, after Steve sees the doctor attacked by a horrible shapeless mass, he tries to tell the police what he has seen. But, the police won't listen to him. Steve then rallies the local teenagers to help prove his case. Meanwhile, the blob creeps through the local grocery store and into the movie theater. These two sequences are among the best in the movie--particularly the movie theater sequence, which features the blob oozing through the projection room and causing hysteria as the crowd runs for the exits (although even in this sequence, director Yeaworth can't get credible expressions on the faces of the crowd -- many are smiling as they run for their lives!). William Castle would film a similar sequence, to even better effect, for The Tingler (1959).

When a UFO crashes near an arctic research station, an Air Force captain is sent to investigate. A saucer is found under the ice. A frozen alien guy, thrown clear of the saucer, is taken back to the station in a block of ice. A careless technician absentmindedly puts an electric blanket on the ice block, melting it. It escapes outside, killing two sled dogs, losing an arm in the process. The scientists examine the severed arm, discovering that the Thing is actually a vegetable. The thing kills two scientists, draining their blood. The scientists burn the Thing, but that doesn't kill it. Then they electrocute it, which both cooks and kills it.

Them! is a 1954 American black and white science fiction film about man's encounter with a nest of gigantic irradiated ants. It starred James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness. One of the first of the "nuclear monster" movies, and the first "big bug" film, Them! was nominated for an Oscar for Special Effects and won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing. The film starts off as a simple suspense story, with police investigating mysterious disappearances and unexplainable deaths. The giant ants are not even seen until almost a third of the way into the film.