24 September 2012

September 24th

The Cat and the Canary (1927) directed by Paul Leni
Inspired by fellow Six Weeks-a-teer Kaedrin's positive review, I decided to stream this silent horror-comedy.  I don't think I'd actually heard of this one before, but it was a nice surprise.  It's kind of the granddaddy of "stay the night in a creepy mansion" films, but also quite funny in a similar vein to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Best. Intertitles. Ever.  Admittedly, I've only seen a couple dozen silent films, but none have ever had as dynamic of intertitles as this one.  Text that scrolls for suspense.  LARGE CAPS for shouting.  WiGgLy letters for fear.  Even a  Scooby-Doo-like "G-g-g-g-host!"  It all really adds to the film and makes me wonder why no one else was doing the same at the time.

Similarly dynamic was the shooting style.  It's rare to see a silent picture have this much fun with the camera.  There were low-angle shots, super-impositions of skulls, the creepy silhouette of the mansion, a warped shot of Aunt Susan's screaming face, lighting tricks to make Cousin Paul's glasses look creepy.  It all keeps the film very entertaining.  Well worth the watching.

Watched: stream on Hulu.


Inhumanoids 1.01-05: "The Evil That Lies Within, Parts 1-5" (1986) directed by Jim Graziano
Iron Maiden cover or kids' show?
It was the fall of 1986, I was just 9-years-old, and both this show and The Real Ghostbusters debuted as Saturday morning cartoons.  Wham!  Just like that, a horror fan was born.  These series blew my mind as a kid, offering a tantalizing glimpse of just what kind of weird and scary and grotesque and unique things horror could offer.  Horror, these two shows made clear to me, was not at all like the stuff other kids liked.  It was special.

Reaction to an Inhumanoid.
Inhumanoids was one of several Marvel/Sunbow/Hasbro cartoons produced in the mid-80s.  Their Transformers was for sci-fi geeks, G.I. Joe for action fans, Jem for girls and Inhumanoids was for people like me.  I can't say I'm terribly surprised it only lasted 13 episodes, but, for my money, it was the best of the bunch.  For one, it had the best animation of the lot and a unique look that featured lots of heavy shadowing.  It also was well-written for what was, let's admit it, a 22-minute-long toy commercial.  The episodes were truly episodic, building on what came before, and the plots involved such things as corrupt senators, nuclear winter and discussions on the morality of first strikes.  Heavy stuff for a 9-year-old to observe.  Still, this was all placed into the mold of an '80s cartoon, with its breathless pacing and "just because it looks cool" decision-making.

The show was also incredibly, incredibly messed-up for something ostensibly aimed at little kids.  The titular main villains look like they walked out of a D&D campaign or a Lovecraft story.
D'Compose (center) was especially gory.  Not only did he have an exposed rib cage, he could open it like a cabinet and trap hapless people in his chest next to his pulsating and oozing organs.  Added to that, anything he touched would turn into a zombie.  In these first five episodes, Sandra, the female main character, is touched and turns into this:
Sandra, not having a good day.
That's right: the equivalent of Scarlet or Arcee is turned into a hideous monster for a couple of episodes.  Hell, even the good guys were scary.  Here's the friendly Redlin, a sentient redwood tree:
Take one step closer with that chainsaw, bub.
Years later, when asked about this craziness, writer Flint Dille said in an interview: "Hasbro just did not care. I mean, you couldn’t kill people unwontedly, but inside that little concern, they didn’t care."  What's cooler: the show gets even more utterly screwed up in the final 8 episodes, which I plan to watch next.  Goddamn, Inhumanoids was cool.

3 comments:

  1. Apparently everyone is reviewing "Cat and the Canary" this season and apparently on this day.

    Great write-up on your love of "The Inhumanoids." That was before my time but I'm certain I would have loved it as a kid.

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  2. I forgot to mention this in my post, but Cousin Paul's glasses made me think he looked like a grown up, pervy Harry Potter. (And thanks for the shout out!)

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  3. thanks for sharing.

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