After years of planning, the time for the Universal Horrors Challenge Podcast has finally arrived!
Placard by Tantz Aerine
After years of planning, the time for the Universal Horrors Challenge Podcast has finally arrived!
Placard by Tantz Aerine
So, the more I’ve attempted to compile the list, the more I’ve discovered that trying to pin down a clear indication of what could be considered Universal’s overall silent horror film output is like trying to lasso a tornado. Still, I think this is a fairly solid list.
Thus, it is after much deliberation and examination that I’ve decided to release what is to be my mostly final list–“mostly”, because I may add titles as I become aware of them (especially at the back end of the list–I’m still a little concerned about the completeness of my list post-1946, and I may add one or two additional silent titles as “specials” here and there).
Some titles on the list may be considered less horror and more science fiction, or espionage, or film noir, or mystery, or suspense, or fantasy, or comedy–but these titles are added here because they fit a certain criteria agreed upon by film scholars of the genre, and their place on this list will no doubt be discussed in depth when it comes time for each movie’s respective episode.
Bold means the movie is lost, unavailable, or fragmented. Italics means I own the title. Neither means I have yet to purchase the title.
Format will be podcast, with youtube videos for each at some point later. Any materials that are available for public consumption (posters, stills, clips, etc.) will be linked to a corresponding “Learn More” blog post.
The episodes will consist of at least one preparatory introduction (giving a brief history of Universal Studios), at least one epilogue (offering my conclusions regarding the breadth of Universal’s horror output), and several episodes (of varying lengths) dealing with the titles on the list below.
Episodes will consist of me doing some or all of the following:
I may be accompanied by others for certain episodes (such as Mike Podgor and/or Jeffrey Holloway of Fictosphere fame), but I think time constraints will likely place me at the center of most episodes. Don’t worry–I’m told I have a very soothing voice. Considering I have a face for radio, that’s an especially good thing.
Again, Paramount horror films owned by Universal have been eliminated from the list, due to the fact that they are not “true” Universal films. They may show up in a later project (depending upon the success of this one), but for the Universal Horrors Challenge, they shall remain off of the list.
Without further ado, the (mostly) final list:
So, I’ve known about a film and DVD distribution company called Grapevine Video for a couple of weeks now. They specialize in releasing to DVD titles from cinema’s yesteryear which are more obscure than what everyone’s used to seeing. That said, they fill an important niche in silent film and early talkies, releasing affordable copies of movies (printed on demand) that are often of better quality than what you’ll find in Alpha Video releases (though I admit Alpha Video has its uses).
When it comes to my procurement of materials for the coming challenge, I’ve gone to Grapevine Video no less than six times thus far. They do great work, and accept donations to help them restore the films they currently possess and to help them in buying more. Please considering giving a donation, as they are criminally under-funded.
You can find them by clicking here.
So, I think I’ve decided upon how I will tackle each film, and in what medium.
In terms of rules, the challenge for each is composed of three parts:
The marathon will be preceded by an introductory podcast, laying out my own personal horror film history, and briefly touching upon the early days of Universal Studios (it’s actually a fascinating story). The final podcast will be a wrap-up, discussing the evolution of Universal’s horror over the years, and offering perhaps a preview of what’s next to come.
So, I renovated the list a little. I made the decision to remove the Paramount horror films from the list, and will do something different with them later–I’ll have my hands quite full when dealing with the breadth of Universal’s horror output.
I also removed the Paramount films to make room for more Universals that might be considered “horrors”, or at least have sci-fi or fantasy elements nearing the requirements to be covered by some of the books listed in a previous post.
Still not the final list, but a little more svelte and goal-oriented.
NOTE: The lost films for which there exist nothing but summaries and perhaps a still photograph might be covered in a single episode, possibly two episodes. I’m also kicking around the idea of splitting the list, and tackling this year only the films up to The Brute Man (1946), which would cover the majority of Universal’s horror output but would also grant me additional time to properly research and acquire titles from the late 40s and 50s up through Psycho in 1960. I do feel like that’s a cop-out, though we’re still talking (right now) of about 101 films. Hopefully I’ll look at the final list and decide to go big instead of going home. At any rate, this is not the final list.
So, in 1931, Universal Studios released Dracula, a film starring the great Bela Lugosi as the eponymous vampire and directed by Tod Browning, who had under his belt at the time a number of Lon Chaney MGM silent films. Dracula is generally considered to be the official start of the Universal Horror cycle, and as such, is considered both the first and last nail in the coffins (pun intended) of Universal’s competitors in the arena of horror cinema in the 1930s.
But what if there happened to be another Universal horror talkie, one that had a full audio soundtrack (not merely a silent-to-talkie conversion like 1929’s The Phantom of the Opera) and predated Dracula by one year?
This isn’t a what-if scenario: such a film exists. Entitled The Cat Creeps, released in 1930, and based on the play The Cat and the Canary, this film has writhed in obscurity for over 75 years due to its status as lost. All that remains from the film (and its Spanish language counter-part) are a handful of still images, a few posters, and the wax audio disks that were to be played in tandem with the film.
Now, it’s fairly easy to find the photos and posters that remain–most of those are online, and those which are not are available in film books like Of Gods and Monsters. The audio, however, is not available online; at least, it wasn’t when I searched high and low for it. The full set of surviving sound disks is located currently at the film archives at UCLA, and one would need to arrange a special engagement in order to listen to this lost film. Of the few who even know the film existed, fewer have heard the audio.
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a gentleman in the Monster Kid community, I now possess a copy of the audio from these film disks–and so when I deliver my review during the challenge, I can do so having experienced all that exists of the film.
As many may have heard, I’m part of a writing collaborative known as The Fictosphere (shared universes, characters, etc.). Well, one of our own, Mr. Mike Podgor, won 2nd place in the 2016 Ligonier Valley Writers Flash Fiction contest! Congratulations, Mike!
To read his award-winning flash fiction story, “The Infernal Dozen”, click here.
To check out The Fictosphere and some of Mike’s other work (including a novel and some comics), please click here.
Though I haven’t added anything to the list (those additions will be forthcoming), I have recently acquired a few new pieces:
I’ve picked up the novelization of the lost The Phantom of the Violin (1914/1915) by H.M. Egbert (which is a novelization in name only as it amounts to less than five actual pages) and I’m currently tracking down some additional material related to The Cat Creeps (1930) that will help me give the most comprehensive review of the lost film possible. More updates as they become available.
So, while I’m railing against Millennial concepts, allow me to comment upon one of the most abhorrent: Ghosting.
Ghosting happens when someone stops communicating with someone else completely, usually permanently. It is often abrupt and always without explanation. Sometimes it can even happen whilst in a relationship, and usually ends the relationship in the most confusing fashion possible.
Jimmy Hoffa: World Ghosting Champion since 1975. Also, probably just “Ghost Champion”.
The reasons as to why someone might ghost are multitude, but most often it happens when someone isn’t interested in you, and would just like to avoid the awkwardness of having to confront you with that fact. This is regardless of whether or not you’ve given any indication of being interested in the person doing the ghosting. Because, hey, if they’re of the opposite sex and talking with you, that must mean they want to bang–I mean, who wouldn’t want to bang you, right? Pure perfection. Mm, mmm!
The word you’re thinking of is “elephantine”, baby.
In addition to a delusional and over-inflated sense of self, ghosting reveals a serious lack of emotional maturity. Most people don’t like conflict, but conflict is a part of life–and life is about doing things you don’t want to do. Eventually, you’re going to have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear (like you’re just not that into someone), or you’re going to have to discover something you don’t want to discover (that, in spite of you thinking the greeting “hi” is some sort of secret-handshake within the swingers’ community, it really isn’t and no one would want you to join anyway).
This is the typical–and, therefore, normal–reaction to ghosting.
So, how does one avoid ghosting? By remembering these simple lessons taught to every toddler:
If every emotionally crippled baby (i.e. Millennial) follows the above, they too will communicate like adults.
So, this is a post that I made to Facebook on June 22, 2014. It popped up on my feed yesterday, all as part of some sort of “Hey, remember the 80’s?!”-style initiative that Facebook is doing these days. It was written shortly after I ended my engagement with an especially toxic cheater, and was single for a minute.
The post tackles the mythical claptrap known as The Friendzone. Some people (women) call The Friendzone a misogynist concept, but I personally feel that calling it such gives it too much credibility; the word “misogynist” implies a degree of manhood somewhere.
Feel free to disagree with me, but The Friendzone is a concept that only Millennials (sadly, my generation) could have conceived. It’s whiny, entitled, and smacks of weakness and cowardice. It’s really the other side to “ghosting”, which is a concept I will discuss later on at some point I’m sure.
Yes, I realize I call it the “friend zone” in the post. No, I don’t know which of these spellings of the word/concept/Atlantis-analog is correct, because I’m not a pansy.
And now this intro is longer than the post itself.
– Randall Malus, 06/23/2016
DEFINITION OF “THE FRIEND ZONE” (from Urban Dictionary):
When a girl decides that you’re her friend, you’re no longer a dating option. You become this complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.
Friend1: Are you still with that girl?
You: We’re just friends.
Friend2: A moment of silence for our brother in the friend zone.by rodjak October 11, 2012
To all those men who complain about being friend zoned:
Some companies send out mass mailings of free samples of a new product in order to drum up new customers. Typically, it’s only one sample. That one sample can only be used for a short period of time, because it’s a sample and samples run out eventually. If you like the product, chances are you’ll go out and pay for it once the sample runs out. If you don’t like the product, you’ll either stick with what you currently use or you’ll look elsewhere. Maybe what’s elsewhere or what you currently use are inferior products in the end to the sample you used, but that’s your problem; the company’s only sending out one free sample. If you want more, it won’t be free–because you won’t buy something that you can otherwise get for free.
In much the same way, let your patience, your kindness, your gentle nature, your understanding, your shoulder to cry on, your affection, your love–let those be nothing more than free samples. If a woman wants what you have to give, she will give you what you give her in equal measure, because the price of love is love in return. But if she places you in the “friend zone”, she’s not buying what you’re selling. So stop sending her free samples. Let her look elsewhere, or stick with an inferior product. Move onto other customers, and in doing so retain some of your dignity and self-esteem in the process.
Let no one take advantage of your better nature. Ever.