Five Guns West
At precisely the point when it appears that the drama of Five Guns West is expressed by the lighting as much as anything, Corman ends an interior day at the stagecoach waystation by panning right, from the girl and her uncle conversing at the table, to an unlit lamp.
He begins with extraordinary swiftness by having the prisoners hear their records of murder and rapine, upon which they are obliged to raise their hands and be sworn into the Army of the Confederacy. The journey to the waystation permits an extended display of Corman’s great eye for natural wonders in an autumnal West with bare trees in front of the camera and deep views. Shadows are prevalent, not dispersed by counterlighting them, and forest scenes are often highlighted with glittering leaves while the main action is unlit, even in the foreground. Or daylight streams in horizontally to cast perpendicular shadows across a puddle.
These conscripted outlaws commandeer the waystation, which leads to a night filter barely inducing its effect, “darkness at noon.” A second, deeper filter is used when the girl (Dorothy Malone) attempts to escape.
This is a basis for Eastwood’s continual studies of light, principally here in Pale Rider. After the second night scene clinches the effect, shadowless light enforces the ambiguity, until the Union stagecoach arrives with a Confederate turncoat and a box of gold.
The final scene is the dramatic handling of the surrealistically developed theme. The outlaw leader (John Lund) defends the girl, the rest besiege the station. One is killed, another crawls under the building, firing up through the floorboards, and Lund has to go down after him.
There are precedents and comparisons for the lighting in Wellman, Ford and De Toth, and the theme has been explored elsewhere. Malone is surprisingly delicate, a flower of the wastelands, clever, sulky, with auric hair. Lund is a tough, silent hombre whose snake eyes twinge a bit at the list of his crimes (Mike Connors in this scene gives a great forced smile). A great film and a great Western, where a bad guy dies on the ground in a close-up that dissolves to the dirt being shoveled on his grave in the identical shot.
Corman lights a shadowed porch briefly for a conversation between Connors and Malone in the doorway, letting the jamb cast a dark countershadow. The waystation interior is a large room indeterminately lit by pools of light suggesting outdoors, and a shot frames the abstraction in an angular covered table with lamp and bottle, stained papered walls, the drunken uncle and the concerned girl.
Day the World Ended
The sea captain and his daughter (but not her fiancé), the geologist, the cheap hood and the striptease artist, the prospector and his burro, the man badly disfigured by radiation burns, live in the hills after “total destruction by nuclear weapons”.
A very elegant system drives the screenplay, in which John Ford’s Wagon Master has its part to play.
Stage One of the mutation is a craving for raw meat from contaminated game roundabout, Stage Five a horned demon.
God’s plan for all this disaster is as simple as a walk in the countryside.
It Conquered the World
Drama of the quisling, a long-suffered crackpot vindicated by the Benefactor.
Terribly eloquent script by Lou Rusoff, fine score by Ronald Stein.
“The word ‘enemy’ is about to disappear from the human language.”
“Well, what about the word ‘tact’?”
The Benefactor is a Venusian, “born too soon” in a climate not so temperate as Earth’s by “a million years”.
All power resides in the Benefactor, literally, nothing else works. “Control devices” regulate civic leaders to the purpose.
And so forth in “the new world society”, given out as the official response to “a Communist uprising”. The Benefactor arrives in a commandeered orbiting Earth satellite.
A work of genius, with a shooting schedule of five days, reportedly.
Girls on the make at Mardi Gras, typified singly in Marie, Daddy approves her choice of a young oilman with prospects in the swamps.
A drunken panhandler is a sober pickpocket in the first simple mirror of the theme.
A police lieutenant on the distaff side goes undercover to liberate diamonds stashed by a captured gang, she’s put in prison with their molls. The four young women make their escape and commandeer the oilman’s motor skiff to reach the hidden loot.
Contrary to some notions about the film, it is a perfect expression of Corman’s pure style throughout, a masterwork on its subject. A certain critical disregard shames the whole human race, which happily flocked to see Swamp Women.
In the swamp, Corman achieves a Déjeuner sur l’herbe, and later (with Vera) an Olympia.
A tale of callow youth and punch-drunk age at a small nightclub on the fun pier. The young gambler and his singing mistress rise through adversity, the owner falls from cloud nine, it’s studded with songs, the whole thing excellently well-played formally makes an ornamental x like a musical segno.
Not of This Earth
On the groundling side, the influence of Landers’ The Boogie Man Will Get You is evident (as also on Wood’s Bride of the Monster).
Upstairs, an alien with dying blood, colonist, destroyer.
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Pacific island, after nuclear testing. Second scientific expedition, the first was lost.
Immaterial crabs, molecularly liquid, devouring men with brains that stay intact as “electrical impulses”, hence dead voices speak from metal objects on the island.
Fantastically complicated in its minute evocations of the dread peril, filmed for the maximum effect of minimal imagery, and supplied with a great Fred Katz score.
The fixed-liquid crabs, immense in size, reduce the island to manageable dimensions. They cannot be wounded, but their ions are negatively charged. Hence, a film that begins with a decapitation and ends not unlike Quatermass and the Pit.
A fantastic symbological exploit on a complex case treated artistically as psychic research under hypnosis into past lives.
The streetwalker was a belle at court in Aquitaine, awaiting the grand ball. Before that, falsely accused as a witch and sentenced to beheading.
Her future selves cry out to be spared nonexistence if she escapes advised by her modern self.
There is much matter here, swiftly conveyed in a poetic screenplay well-run by Corman in clear anticipation of his later style, and nearly a witch-battle ahead of The Raven.
“Look down there, it’s so quiet and empty. It’s like it’s deserted. It’s like the face of the moon.”
Fallen from a roof, dead in a back alley (cf. Buñuel’s Los Olvidados).
Vandals and Vandalettes, Tarantulas and Black Widows, to them a girl from the Midwest, well brought up as far as it goes. “The most vital issue of our time... a sickness, a spreading epidemic that threatens to destroy our very way of life.”
No glamor in it, rather the horrors are conveyed as far as possible (screenplay Charles B. Griffith, cinematography Floyd Crosby, music Walter Greene). “People are made, not born!”
The title in a Damon Runyon sense, “young lady”.
Leonard Maltin, “above-average sleazy B”. TV Guide, “nihilistic elegance”.
His moll rides him like a rearing ass until the cold reality sets in, the modern Macbeth who knows the end of the play.
“You wanted the jungle, now live in it!”
He slaps cripples and homos and women around, savage as a wild mountain lion, a Tommy gun squares him against wreaths and skulls and the gaping coffin that is the madam’s daughter.
And this is purely structured as a long ill-understood dream finally punctured with a shriek and a gunburst.
A great invention, well-received by Variety.
War of the Satellites
A UN manned satellite orbiting beyond the moon can’t get there because of an “energy barrier” preventing the human race from exploring the universe.
The top scientist on the project is killed and replaced with an extraterrestrial duplicate impervious to pain who endows himself with a heart to pass a physical, and is furthermore capable of splitting his symmetrical self in two, each replica serving the function of a saboteur.
An adroitly-made original of Star Trek down to the “new frontier” attained at last.
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
Teenage Cave Man
Reportedly the title was Prehistoric World, changed before release.
The film repays more than one debt to One Million B.C. in its strenuous sense of purpose and the marvels of primitive logic it portrays. The image is quite complete when it’s stood on its end to telescope the dilemma.
A few years later came Chaffey’s color version of the Hal Roach original, exhibiting the same deep awareness of essential problems in early humanity.
“Kill the beast!”, says a certain tribesman, Brook’s Lord of the Flies is already present in more than one scene.
She Gods of Shark Reef
It would be Corman, wouldn’t it, who goes to Hawaii like Gauguin in Tahiti and gets the pictures that make the movie.
Incredible gag for openers. Military dock, two swimmers at night (one is Gunga Din’s grandfather), they climb up after a shipment of rifles, a guard intervenes, the younger one turns to see his accomplice swimming away.
On the lam in the Sulu Archipelago, the young gunrunner and his brother are shipwrecked on an island of pearlfishers, all women, managed by “the island company”.
The location is Hawaii, Hawaiian dress and songs prevail, the hula is amply demonstrated. The brothers wear native trunks, the scene is complete.
There is a shark god, the young men are taboo, a lovely maiden in a bikini made of flowers is tossed overboard from an outrigger, she descends to the god in a shroud of air bubbles, her lover rescues her, his brother dreams of escape, the company boat is due to arrive.
A Bucket of Blood
The title has a simple explanation. Walter Paisley is a busboy at The Yellow Door, a Beat café. When he accidentally kills his cat with a knife, he covers the body with clay (leaving the knife sticking out) and exhibits it as sculpture. A female admirer thrusts herself upon the nudnik, and finding her tribute to his genius not so much repulsed as ignored, she pays homage as best she can by slipping some pills into his pocket. An undercover cop observes, follows Paisley home and arrests him. Seeing a drawn pistol, Paisley becomes afraid and beans the cop with the edge of a pancake pan. His landlady hears the noise and knocks on the door. After a pause, he lets her in, shows her nothing is amiss, and in the background a limp arm drops into view near the ceiling in the kitchen. Paisley hustles her out, then goes over to place a large pot under the dripping body to catch the blood, all the while pondering miserably his next work. “I don’t have another cat,” he says to himself. The next day he unveils his first full-length figure, Murdered Man.
This stupefying masterpiece is not only the profound work of art that gave rise to Dementia 13, it’s so deeply imbued with the Beats that it really belongs with Pull My Daisy as an authentic creation in the spirit of the time. Ulmer’s The Black Cat is evidently a major influence, here and elsewhere.
It’s said to have been made at a cost of $25,000, and it’s quite a pearl. In the opening scene, a bearded poet (who later, at Paisley’s art opening, wears black tie and sandals) poeticizes to the camera, accompanied by a jazz saxophone. His theme is art, it’s an extensive poem and deserves to be cited verbatim. The camera pulls back and moves around the café, taking it all in.
I will talk to you of art, for there is nothing else to talk about, for
there is nothing else,
Life is an obscure hobo bumming a ride on the omnibus of art.
Burn gas, buggies, and whip your sour cream of
And hope, go ahead and sleep your bloody heads off.
Creation is, all else is not.
What is not creation is graham crackers, let it all
crumble to feed the creator.
The artist is, all others are not, a canvas is a canvas or a painting, a
rock is a rock or a statue, a sound is a sound or is music, a
preacher is a preacher or an artist.
Where are John Joe Jake Jim Jerk, dead dead dead, they were not
born before they were born, they were not born, where are
Leonardo, Rembrandt, Ludwig, alive alive alive, they were
Bring on the multitudes and the multitude of fishes,
Feed them to the fishes for liver oil, to nourish the artist, stretch
their skin upon an easel to give him canvas, crush their bones into a paste, that he might mold them, let them die, and by their miserable death become the clay within his hands, that he might form an ashtray or an ark,
For all that is comes through the eye of the artist.
The rest are blind fish, swimming in the cave of aloneness.
Swim on you mortal and muddling maddened fools
And dream, of one bright and sunny island,
Some artist will bait a hook, and let you bite upon it, bite hard, and
In his stomach, you are very close to immortality!
In the Nineties, television began to forgo art for a simpleminded realism, and finally ended up all geek and no circus. A Bucket of Blood not only discusses the theme, it directly touches on the Vatican’s 1999 definition of God as “creator” vs. artist as “craftsman”. A brassy model challenges Paisley to make something out of a bit of food, he mashes it in her palm and calls it Hand. She’s not convinced, if he really were an artist he’d be able to create something, she says.
In the end, after amassing enough “sculptures” to have a formal show, the “artist” is found out and forced to flee. He returns home to his wretched apartment, daubs himself with clay, and hangs himself. “His greatest work,” someone says, “Hanged Man”.
Now, whether the French are as alive to this as they were when Baudelaire discovered Poe, Griffith and Corman are as vividly aware of the artist’s life as anyone, and A Bucket of Blood is a sublime picture of it that also ranks with Losey’s Eva (or, if you prefer, Picasso’s Le Chef-d’Œuvre Inconnu) as a portrait of the artist, who creates beauty and truth in a tenuous relationship with inspiration by cutting away “everything that doesn’t look like an elephant”, as the old joke has it, after asking how you make a sculpture of an elephant...
The drily humorous depiction of these lesser Beats and their startlingly contemporaneous fads (health food, Yugoslavian wine, etc.) has led to a misconception in some quarters that this is a satire, and a “heavy-handed” one at that, as ‘alliwell says. You could say as much (or as little) of Pull My Daisy’s portrait of the bishop, and A Bucket of Blood also signifies, if you will, the human condition.
The Wasp Woman
“A woman is beautiful when she is loved.” (Mr. Skeffington)
There can’t be a doubt this is a response to the treatment in Vincent Sherman’s film.
The wasp makeup is a mask.
Ski Troop Attack
An enemy patrol led by the director (an excellent actor) pursues a U.S. Army recon patrol on skis.
It’s the Battle of the Bulge, the dramatic conflict is between the American lieutenant and his sergeant, recon or fight?
The lieutenant prevails, they spy a railroad bridge supplying the counterattack.
But first there is the hausfrau whose husband is at the Russian Front, the Americans observe her rancor and speculate that any wife at home would act the same way if Nazis invaded, she explains that Poland started the war, England and France followed suit, why are the Americans in Germany?
House of Usher
The type of mediocrity, Roderick Usher, is represented as vastly overshadowed by a plague upon the land, his arch-criminal forebears.
The story has been made into a film, as dully and dutifully noted by the New York Times.
A complete and utter picture of Poe’s idea, superbly acted by all the cast, with a typically fine Corman score by Les Baxter.
The Little Shop of Horrors
In Cancel My Reservation, Chief Dan George tells Bob Hope, who has come to seek enlightenment of a kind, to go and water his fern.
Blood, as the author of Creature from the Haunted Sea and Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype would say (and young Kate’s Pa does say in Bloody Mama), is thicker than water.
A work of genius from its very first frame, with really magnificent cinematography, so reductively absurd in its tragic implications it brings down a very hefty weight of Sartre, Miller, Sophocles and whatnot to a nifty and pointed conclusion.
Obviously a response to The World, the Flesh and the Devil, and moving toward Knife in the Water and Cul-de-Sac. There is an especial beauty in the medium shots and one track along a row of windows, and a great eye for architecture. And then, Corman drops the thing into fairy-tale or Great American Nude like shifting an automatic.
Creature from the Haunted Sea
The outgoing Cuban government takes with it gold from the Treasury, in the care of “an American gangster and gambler” who has a fishing boat.
He undertakes to steal the gold for himself by concocting a “monster” to kill the Cuban soldiers on board.
Romance, adventure on the high seas, comedy in plenty, Hemingway, and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pit and the Pendulum
The brilliant screenplay gives a clear series of images before the apparatus and its counterpart are shown, and still the critics ignored it. The Spanish Inquisition has its twofold theme, a careful division and a void.
The ambience of script and setting partakes of several Poe motifs, with a sense of creating a style appropriate to a film version. John Kerr is the Londoner whose sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele) has died in Spain, Vincent Price the nobleman who married her, Luana Anders his sister, Antony Carbone his doctor and friend.
The horror stems from the practical application of sordid theories. Not to care how the other half lives and, finding out, enforcing the split or casting an offender into darkness below.
A typically fine production by Corman, with an ending that suggests an unfortunate reaction.
An incomparable story of melancholia and psychological morbidness with a rare transcendent touch from a director who always states what he sees, here Corman gives a citation from Dreyer’s Vampyr (the cortege and the windowed coffin) that justifies and explains the formal necessity of the dramatic turning that follows.
Sarris’s absurd remarks simply do not attend, here is Lang’s paranoia, if you like, that really is persecution.
It proceeds directly on Clarence Brown’s Intruder in the Dust in the naturalism and immediacy of the treatment, which are taken up by Jewison for In the Heat of the Night.
As a study of the feminine psychology in crowds or mobs, the film was completely overlooked by critics and audiences alike. It’s along these lines, however, that Beaumont arranges his art here, and his acting performance is one of two missed by reviewers (Leo Gordon is brilliant).
Shatner pulls off the tour de force, neatly balanced by a chorus of non-actors brought up to perfect pitch by Corman’s expertise.
Tales of Terror
The vast and dusty palace looks as desolate as the country house berimed in Doctor Zhivago. Mother and daughter fight, the one from beyond the grave.
The Black Cat
A sot with a stingy wife bests a foppish and pretentious critic at a wine tasting, then immures him and the wife after the two have become lovers.
The Case of M. Valdemar
The mesmerist who forestalls Valdemar’s extinction has designs upon the widow, who is loved by the doctor.
The moral terror in each instance is a fine trick of style, not to be confused with Corman’s original camera stylizations for effect.
The performances are brilliant, as is the script by Matheson.
Tower of London
The great screenplay works its way along the course of Crookback’s plot to gain the throne in a way like Ma Barker much later in Bloody Mama. It’s the recognitions along the way, brought to the fore and played to the camera as the stated evil announced in the opening narration, that jar the spectator and completely arrest his attention.
Learnéd Clarence shall not rule the realm but war-hungry Richard, who tortures Mistress Shore to death and, so short of his design to prove the princes bastards, smothers them.
Ghosts appear, Mistress Shore he throttles as her shade appears to coincide with his wife, who beckons him later from her coffin. And so on to Bosworth.
The Young Racers
In the opening sequence at Monte Carlo (just ahead of Frankenheimer), the Roman ferocity of the sport is seen as rarely if ever, more like Ben-Hur than anything.
The dramatic concern begins with the Grand Prix fraternity and the winner who couldn’t care less.
Peter Lorre as the feathered twat, Vincent Price as the Great Masturbator and son of a shaman, Boris Karloff as the father of the feast, with two geniuses well to the fore (Olive Sturgess, Jack Nicholson) and Hazel Court as “the lost Lenore”.
It cannot be possible to create a work of genius in the domain of literary criticism pertaining to Poe’s immortal poem with any degree of relevance that compares to this, which is why Ken Russell in his magnum opus on the poet makes a sidling joke of it only (The Fall of the Louse of Usher), “he’s raven mad!”
Anyone’s masterpiece, Poe’s, Corman’s, Matheson’s.
“Enough,” as Pinter would say, “this is no answer!”
Le Mystère Picasso, Bride of Frankenstein.
After the Polish campaign, Baron von Leppe (Boris Karloff) found his wife in bed with one Eric, there was a fight, and with the aid of his servant Stefan (Richard Miller), the Baroness was killed, but also the Baron.
Eric’s mind snapped, ever after he believed himself to be the Baron and was abetted in this by Stefan.
Eric’s mother Katherine (Dorothy Neumann) fashioned a revenge. Many years after the event, the spirit (Sandra Knight) of the Baroness has begun to appear, enticing the supposed Baron into suicide. Fearing damnation, mad Eric refuses, but finally the prospect of rejoining the Baroness is too much, he opens the seagates and dies in the flooded crypt beneath the Castle von Leppe.
The direction is rather unusual in its strange insistence on the voluminous and well-crafted set, and then again by contrast in its use of colored gels to light the crypt impressionistically as putrescent and ghastly.
The disused chapel in the castle graveyard is a false burial place, and leads beyond its heavy bronze inner door to the crypt.
A young lieutenant in the French Army (Jack Nicholson), whose father Count Duvalier was guillotined, has lost his way and seeks refuge in the castle.
The “mesmerism” scene is a great invention from Tales of Terror, consisting of a revolving magic lantern of colored glass and a lens.
Three months after The Birds, this film appeared with its falcon scene, a direct psychological shock interpolated like Max Ernst and ending with the bloody-eyed victim plunging off a cliff to the rocks below.
The Haunted Palace
It harbors the spirit of a warlock done to death, his descendant moves in to claim the property.
The new occupant grows possessed and uses his own wife to carry on “the work”, breeding half-human monsters with the powers of darkness.
Blind cripples haunt the town from the previous owner’s failed experiments. Revenge delays the resumption of efforts, all the townspeople must be burned alive.
Eugene Archer of the New York Times had a free ticket but otherwise no business at all in the place.
How, if you were to imagine powers of analysis literally complete, could you conceive a better representation? The thing skirts every level down to “the unborn city, its flesh dissolved in an acid of light, a city of the dead,” and past that to Ray Milland in the torments of perception like Buster Keaton à la Film, finally wrenching away the all-seeing eye, Nabokov’s oculus.
The Masque of the Red Death
The most sublime and terrible of Corman’s films, because its terms are so simple and so absolute.
The temptation is to subscribe to the prince’s delusion, there is no security in that, neither for him nor for anyone, even his wife.
The exacerbating demands of Poe’s visual scheme are met with Nicolas Roeg and a slightly longer shooting schedule, and “Hop-Frog” as an interlude.
The Secret Invasion
Just before the invasion of Italy, five convicts are enlisted in a plan to liberate the Italian commander in Dubrovnik so that he can rally his troops against the Germans as a second front.
An IRA bomber, an art thief and master of disguise, a forger, a professional assassin, and a highly-educated criminal mastermind, under the command of a British Army major.
Opulently filmed on location, with an inner theme very closely related to The Masque of the Red Death.
The Tomb of Ligeia
The composition is worked out from Premature Burial in the Lady Ligeia’s coffin (Dreyer’s Vampyr), and thence flows along with Hitchcock’s Rebecca until the finale erupts into Ulmer’s The Black Cat, recalling a particularly grisly Faulkner story (cp. A Bucket of Blood).
A number of Poe themes are treated symphonically to crown this suite of films.
“Tedious and talky” (Variety). Time Out Film Guide rarely expresses admiration for a film of any worth, this is one.
Halliwell’s Film Guide reports it as “complex but rather fascinating”.
“Anyway,” said Howard Thompson of the New York Times with that typical wit, “some honeymoon!”
The Wild Angels
The Nazi endeavor, from Benedek’s The Wild One, a foreign adventure and a funeral.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times had no use for it, just so much unpleasantness in “the Christmas season.”
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
A sordid, dull tale of gangland murders. Nothing great, and this requires all of Corman’s resources, not a little skill goes into resisting the chrome and blandishment of stylization.
Even this is not a style, it’s not a study of anything in particular, just a fact of life in Chicago then and renewed by the time of filming bigger than before.
The intent, as in its main precedent, The Untouchables on television, is to recognize the criminal element. Two citations from Wellman’s The Public Enemy perfect this view.
High in the Hills, down on the Strip, a television advertisement director on the verge of a divorce takes LSD.
Looking out over the city, he’s neurotic and visionary. In the “mercantile Gehenna” and at a rock venue, he experiences the maelstrom of popular culture.
His wife has had an affair, he has one too.
The Kafkaesque graverobbers in Premature Burial are figments of his hallucinations, two black-robed Arabs on horseback, two motorcycle cops, two go-go dancers wearing the cops’ helmets, his wife and his mistress.
On his descent he walks into a house and watches a TV news broadcast on the Vietnam War, the picture cannot be seen. A little girl asks him for a glass of milk, her father chases him away.
At a laundromat where he is fascinated by the machines there is a “sarcastic” young woman in curlers, she practically explains that her mother and father did it with each other.
He wakes up the next morning in bed with a blonde, realizing he loves his wife and “everybody”.
The doors of perception in a guy who makes TV commercials, “it works... it’s a living”, he’s seen at the start shooting a perfume ad, a posh young fashionable-looking couple embrace while standing on the ocean, she emits the slogan.
A perceptible influence can be construed on Russell’s Altered States, perhaps also the snake-and-cross imagery in The Lair of the White Worm.
All the drama and all the psychology have been taken out of the gangster film, so that it most resembles the actual reality.
Critics undertook a stylization of their own to compensate, it became operatic, Jacobean (and tragic), Freudian, campish, and all the other little words.
Corman has precedents for every step he has taken, but he has taken them all without flinching or adopting a pose, even of objectivity.
His direction is neither too much nor too little, he takes stock of every situation in the swath of crime, his imbeciles rise on the world’s stage for their inconscient greed and depart.
Ma Barker joins the “tyranny of complaint” at an early age, her brothers hold her down for a rape by her father, she vows then and there to have sons of her own to do her bidding and kill for her.
Von Richtofen and Brown
A major consideration of the Second Thirty Years War in its first phase (1914-18), and a major masterpiece by any consideration.
Wellman’s Wings is the express starting point, given a direct and thorough analysis straight through, to reach an understanding of the war as fought.
In spite of all efforts, critics divined none of this whatsoever, though Greenspun of the New York Times was at least aware that a significant motion picture was being screened for him.
The great implication is that hunting The Red Baron without scruples merely opens the way for total war, and in fact leaves Goering to command the squadron.
This is Corman with an abundant budget, and nothing wasted. The flying sequences do Wellman proud by exceeding him, every reckoning is made of the dilemma in a typically profound Corman screenplay, the cast is excellent (Hatfield as Fokker), Friedhofer contributes apposite music.
The main style is Hammer on location, the locus is Russell’s Gothic. Corman records at once the shock of understanding before it is known, the film elucidates it.
Laser implosion is tested on a model of the Statue of Liberty, the scientist’s son buries his bicycle because it’s dead, how does he know? Because he has a new one. The heavens are rent, a Hun on horseback descends to beset the scientist with his spear, then returns. The scientist is in Geneva for the gathering of Byron, Shelley and Godwin. Dr. Victor Frankenstein has his laboratory nearby.
Some films cannot be understood at once because they anticipate events. “New Los Angeles, 2031” is the opening venue, Eli Broad has announced his intention of building it.
Dr. Frankenstein’s brother is dead, a girl is to hang for it. The monster kills Frankenstein’s mistress for spite, she is revived, the monster wants a mate.
The scientist’s ultramodern car comes when it’s called like a horse, prints out Mary Shelley’s novel when it’s unwritten, speaks in a female voice and provides the electricity for Dr. Frankenstein’s experiment. The scientist gives the authoress a ride in it.
Byron wears telescopic goggles loaned by the scientist. He and Shelley are gentlemanly youths unfazed by the visitor from America.
“There are more things,” the scientist all but says to Dr. Frankenstein, “in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The man from the future heroically tries to rescue the condemned girl and is pitched into the lake. The monstress is appalled by her state, Dr. Frankenstein wants her for himself, his pistol is about to finish the expectant monster, she pulls it to her breast and dies.
The scientist has craftily transported them to the latter day, his laboratory greets him by name. Frankenstein is dead, broken by his monster (who early on rips a policeman’s heart out), the scientist’s weapon destroys the monster, he exits the lab in a bleak and wintry future to contemplate the city, with the monster’s voice ringing in his ears, “unbound forever!”
Amid the many precedents, Cocteau’s Orphée perhaps holds formal sway unexpectedly.