12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi

Mark Mancini and Mental_Floss present 12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi.  Here are three of my favorites…

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year’s biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

The Demented (2013) / Z-View

The Demented (2013)

Director: Christopher Roosevelt

Screenplay: Christopher Roosevelt

Stars: Kayla Ewell, Richard Kohnke and Ashlee Brian.

The Pitch: “Let’s make a cheap zombie movie with some good looking kids.”

No Tagline:

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Three college aged couples decide to spend the weekend at their rich friend’s parents’ getaway house.  A terrorist attack turns the locals into zombies.

Craig says: If you’re a die hard zombie fan then this might be for you.  Of course you’d have to enjoy zombies that for no reason will freeze in strange positions and sleep until awakened by a noise.  You’d also have to like characters that make really stupid decisions, are loud when they should be quiet, bad special effects and an ending that will really tick you off (at least it did me).


Night Monster (1942) / Z-View

Night Monster (1942)

Director: Ford Beebe

Screenplay: Clarence Upson Young

Stars: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson and Irene Hervey.

The Pitch: “How can we go wrong with people stranded in an old, creepy house with mysterious murders?”

Tagline: “NIGHT MONSTER with Mystery’s Greatest Thrill Team: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Dr. King [Atwill] gets three doctors out to his secluded, remote mansion under false pretenses.  King has been left paralyzed and blames the doctors he invited.  Dr. Lynn Harper  [Hervey] is also there but for another reason.  When one-by-one doctors begin turning up strangled, Harper and her new friend, Don, must figure out who is doing the killing and how they’re able to do it before they become the next victims.

Craig says: This one just didn’t work well for me.  Low on humor, suspense and when all is said and done, not that convincing of a killer aka Night Monster.  It was fun seeing Leif Erickson at such a young age.  It seemed to me that Bela was there just to throw suspicion his way.  I may be in the minority on this one…


Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) / Z-View

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Screenplay: Don Mullaly Carl Erickson from a story by Charles Belden

Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and Glenda Farrell

The Pitch: “If you liked Dr. X…”

Tagline: “Another Lovely Woman Vanished from the Earth!…Another Beauty Molded to His Desire!”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Sculptor Ivan Igor [Atwill] was nearly burned to death when an arsonist destroyed his London wax museum years earlier.  Now living in New York, Igor is ready to open a new wax museum.  Although badly burned and confined to a wheelchair Igor has trained his apprentices to create masterpieces close to his abilities before the fire.

When a spunky reporter notices how much one of Igor’s wax statues looks like a missing model, she decides to sneak back into the museum and see what gives.

If you liked Dr. X, then you should enjoy Mystery at the Museum since it is almost the same movie made with the same director and stars.


Doctor X (1932) / Z-View

Doctor X (1932)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Screenplay: Robert Tasker & Earl Baldwin based on a play by  Howard Warren Comstock & Allen C. Miller

Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and Lee Tracy

The Pitch: “How about a horror-comedy set in a creepy mansion?”

Tagline: “Mightier than words can describe!”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

A sadistic cannibalistic murderer known as The Moon Killer has been busy earning his name.  When the trail leads to Dr. X [Atwill], the cops give him 48 hours to figure which of the scientists working at creepy mansion is the killer.  Wisecracking reporter Lee Taylor [Tracy] sneaks into the mansion and is soon part of the story.

Dr. X is one of the few films shot in two-strip Technicolor which registers colors in only shades of red and green. [Check out Nitrate Diva’s review to learn more about the process and Dr. X.]  This process along with the sets really give the film a unique feel and adds to the atmosphere.

If you like your horror with a bit of comedy, hidden rooms, panels that open to reveal eyes watching or hands reaching to strangle, then Dr. X is for you!


Cloverfield (2008) / Z-View

Cloverfield (2008)

Director: Matt Reeves

Screenplay: Drew Goddard

Stars:  Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan and Theo Rossi.

The Pitch: “Blair Witch in the City with Monsters!”

Tagline: “Some Thing Has Found Us”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

An explosion in the city that isn’t too far away interrupts a going-away party.  When the guests go outside to investigate it becomes clear that there are monsters in the city.  Five friends from the party join together in an effort to survive.

I first saw Cloverfield in a theater in 2008.  As my review here shows I left the theater disappointed.  I hated the shaky camera work and the fact that you never got a clear view of the monster(s).

I recently watched Cloverfield at home.  I liked it much better.  The shaky camera work didn’t bother me as much and the smaller screen made the monster’s appearances clearer.  It also didn’t seem to take as long to get to the action.  I’m revising me rating to…


Preview of Moonshine by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

Moonshine by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso the creative team behind the award-winning series 100 Bullets is…

Set during Prohibition, and deep in the backwoods of Appalachia, MOONSHINE #1 tells the story of Lou Pirlo, a city-slick “torpedo” sent from New York City to negotiate a deal with the best moonshiner in West Virginia, one Hiram Holt. What Lou doesn’t figure on is that Holt is just as cunning and ruthless as any NYC crime boss. Because not only will Holt do anything to protect his illicit booze operation, he’ll stop at nothing to protect a much darker family secret…a bloody, supernatural secret that must never see the light of day… or better still, the light of the full moon. MOONSHINE #1 marks the first time AZZARELLO and RISSO have worked together for Image Comics and reunites the Eisner Award winning creative team that defined modern crime comics with 100 Bullets… and now puts a horror-twist on a classic gangster tale.

Moonshine is for mature audiences due to violence and language.  If you meet those qualifications, CBR.com has a five page preview of things to come.

Captive Wild Woman (1943) / Z-View

Captive Wild Woman (1943)

Director: Edward Dmytryk

Screenplay: Griffin Jay and Henry Sucher

Stars: John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers, Milburn Stone, Martha Vickers and Paula Dupree.

The Pitch: “Hey, isn’t about time for another turn a gorilla into a pretty woman movie?”

Tagline: “STRANGEST OF SIGHTS… The brain of an animal… the form of a woman!”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

An insane scientist [Carradine] develops a transfusion that will turn a gorilla into a beautiful woman named Aquanetta [Dupree] but the process kills the human giving the transfusion.

While visiting the circus it is discovered that Aquanetta has a mysterious power over the animals.  Soon she is part of the act.  All goes well until Aquanetta becomes jealous and begins reverting back to gorilla form…

It was fun seeing the male lead, Fred Mason played by Milburn [Doc on Gunsmoke] Stone.


Invisible Agent (1942) /Z-View

Invisible Agent (1942) 

Director: Edwin L. Marin

Screenplay: Curtis Siodmak based on a character created by HG Wells 

Stars: Ilona Massey, Jon Hall and Peter Lorre.

The Pitch: “Hey, I’ve got an idea on a new Invisible Man movie!”

Tagline: “Today’s most amazing sensation!”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Frank Raymond [Hall], grandson of the man who created the invisibility formula is approached by Nazi and Japanese agents who want to buy the formula.  Raymond refuses and escapes.  Soon enough Raymond is an Invisible Agent for the US of A behind enemy lines!

Invisible Agent is more of a comedy than horror film and works well enough.  Who doesn’t love to see Nazi’s looking foolish?


Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

Last week we took a visit to Guilermo Del Toro’s Bleak House.

If you’d like to see some of Guillermo del Toro’s personal collection of movie props, original art and other collectibles, you can if you live within traveling distance of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The exhibit is called Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters and you can learn more about it at Geekyrant.com.

This “Arrival” Teaser Has My Attention!

This Arrival teaser has my attention!

When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team – lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) – is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. In theatres Nov 11, 2016

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Official Movie Site: WhyAreTheyHere.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ArrivalMovie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/arrivalmovie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ArrivalMovie

Dark Was the Night (2014) / Z-View

Dark Was the Night (2014)

Director: Jack Heller

Screenplay: Tyler Hisel

Stars:  Kevin Durand, Lukas Haas and Steve Agee.

The Pitch: “Hey, anybody remember the movie ‘Prophecy’?”

Tagline: “Evil’s Roots Run Deep”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Strange things are happening and the townspeople are on edge.  Giant cloven hoof prints going through town, pets and livestock turning up missing or mutilated, strange sounds at night have people jumpy.  Some think that a legendary creature is back.

They’re not far off.

Bonus points for the ending.  Minus points for the CGI.


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