TCM unleashes ghosts, witches, curses and creatures in a feast of October horror films

Movies teach us lessons.

Like think twice before accepting an invitation to stay overnight in a mansion. Don’t visit an English village – especially in the 17th century. If an inheritance involves an old house or meeting relatives for the first time,  you might want to politely decline. And Dracula is never really dead.

Those are some of the recurring themes in the more than 70 horror films being aired in October by Turner Classic Movies.

TCM’s annual October scarefest returns with a night of themed horror movies every Thursday in October: “Betwitched” is the theme on Oct. 3, “Black Magic” on Oct. 10, “Ghost Stories” on Oct. 17, “The Undead” on Oct. 24 and “Horror Classics” on Oct. 31.

Friday nights are devoted to the TCM Monster of the Month, Godzilla (who brings along a few friends). You’ll find other horror films sprinkled throughout the schedule, too, with a horror marathon starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 30 and concluding in royal fashion with “Dracula, Prince of Darkness” at 6:45 a.m. Nov. 1.

This is what we have to look forward to: at least 10 movies from Hammer Film Productions; 8 movies starring Christopher Lee; 6 films each that  feature Vincent Price and Peter Cushing; 4 with Karloff and 3 films directed by Roger Corman. Multiple movies carry the names of Barbara Shelley, Val Lewton, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson and American International Pictures (AIP), another favorite studio for horror fans.

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July on TCM: It’s ‘Out of This World’ for sci-fi fans

Giant ants, pod people, trips to the moon, journeys back in time and close encounters with aliens both friend and foe. It’s a dream lineup for sci-fi movie fans.

We get all of that and more during the TCM Spotlight “Out of This World: A Celebration of Sci-Fi Movies” every Tuesday in July.

The series has 34 sci-fi films broken into weekly categories.

It starts July 2 with a night of early sci-fi films including the one considered to be the first in the genre: “A Trip to the Moon” by George Méliès.

July 9 is dedicated to films of the 1950s, a highly influential film decade that gave us such classics as “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “It Came from Outer Space” (see photo, above).

July 16 is broken into two parts. Prime time is dedicated to “moon” movies in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Late night (or very early morning) programming screens some great creature features including a giant reptile named Ymir.

July 23 is all about the 1960s with films from directors George Pal and Stanley Kubrick.

July 30 goes into galactic travel with films from the 1970s and ‘80s that changed Hollywood – including a little movie called “Star Wars.”

Remember – it’s no fun to watch movies alone, so be sure to use  #outofthisworld and join others in live tweeting the films. Movies start at 8 p.m. each Tuesday. Here’s the lineup.

Continue reading “July on TCM: It’s ‘Out of This World’ for sci-fi fans”

‘The Gorgon’: A look at Hammer’s most underrated monster

It was an easy decision to take part in the second “Great Hammer-Amicus Blogathon,” a celebration of two studios that have given so much to fans of horror and fantasy (like me).  Once again, the blogathon is hosted by Barry P of Cinematic Catharsis and Gill Jacob of RealWeegieMidget reviews. It’s a fun idea with such an abundance of options that it’s hard to choose just one movie.

My initial thought was to write about my favorite creature: the vampire. An important member of the Hammer family, the vampire enjoyed its greatest cinematic transformation under the studio where it was made over from feared beast to a sensual killer, setting a new tone for vampire films to follow. (Thank you Christopher Lee).

But let’s be honest – the vampire, mummy and werewolf get all the horror film love (and the bulk of the movies, too). So I thought about a creature that has yet to get its due and there was only one choice for me: the snaked-haired Gorgon from Hammer’s 1964 film “The Gorgon.” (How underrated is “The Gorgon”? Even one of the in-depth books on Hammer Films brushes off the film in six paragraphs!)

Just thinking about the Gorgon freaks me out.

Many film buffs know this creature as Medusa from the inventive work of Ray Harryhausen in the 1981 film “Clash of the Titans.” In Greek mythology, the Gorgones (Gorgons) were three winged sisters– Stheno, Euryale and Medusa. They had hair of living snakes and could turn people to stone.

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5 favorite films from the 1950s

For Classic Movie Day on May 16, Classic Film TV Cafe hosted a blogathon asking movie fans to share their 5 favorite films of the 1950s. I missed the original announcement so it was too late to participate in the blogathon, but I did join others on Twitter by listing my five choices:

“Best of Everything”
“House of Wax”
“Picnic”
“Tarantula”
“Vertigo”

It’s an odd mix, I know. The only common denominator  is that I saw each for the first time as an impressionable kid, so my emotions are elevated with all of these 5 films. I do adore this misfit list that has creature feature/horror, romance, melodrama and masterpiece. Here’s a brief look at why.

Hope Lange, left, and Diane Baker start their new jobs at a publishing company yon the same day in “The Best of Everything.”

“Best of Everything” (1959)

Hollywood in the 1950s knew how to do drama and this Cinemascope soaper is one of the best. (It’s based on the first novel by Rona Jaffe.) I think I could love it simply because Johnny Mathis sings the romantic theme song that is repeated throughout the film.

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Chaney, Lee, Karloff, Price: TCM sets wonderfully horrific lineup for October

Horror fans rejoice! Turner Classic Movies has once again packed a horrific lineup for October programming including a creature of the month, a night devoted to ghostly encounters and 200 years of Frankenstein.

Plus, there’s  not one star of the month but four as TCM showcases four greats of the horror genre. Lon Chaney, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price will each have a Wednesday night devoted to them in October. The series starts at 8 p.m. Oct. 3 with Chaney and includes five of his silent films.

The misunderstood Mummy is the designated creature of the month, earning a slot every Sunday night starting at 8 p.m. The schedule includes some cool Universal films in the “Kharis” series on Oct. 7 and a trio of mummy films with a sense of humor on Oct. 14.

The Bowery Boys even get in on the action with a night of horror films starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 30.

Here’s a look at the schedule broken down by topics with some descriptions:

The Mummy

Oct. 7

8 p.m. “The Mummy’s Hand” (1940). Depending on your point of view, this may or may not be a sequel to the Universal original. It is the first in a series with a mummy named Kharis.

9:30 p.m. “The Mummy’s Ghost” (1944). Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Kharis in this sequel to “Mummy’s Tomb.”

10:45 p.m. “The Mummy’s Curse” (1944). Chaney returns in the final of the Kharis films.

Oct. 14

8 p.m. “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” (1955). The sixth in Universal’s Mummy franchise comes with laughs.

9:30 p.m. “Mummy’s Boys” (1936)

10:45 p.m. “The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy” (1958)

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