Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Boris Karloff

Universal Monsters

Universal-MonstersThe newest assortment of Universal Monsters action figures is out now at Toys”R”Us and is coming soon to comic shops and specialty stores, as well as an all-new figure of the greatest monster hunter of all time.

Frankenstein’s Monster as he appears in Son of Frankenstein, and a super-poseable version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Both feature entirely new sculpts by Jean St. Jean, and both come packaged on a blister card with a small display base. Additionally, the Monster comes with the prosthetic arm of Inspector Krogh.

As a bonus, hanging alongside the Creature and Monster is Diamond Select Toys’ original take on the famous monster hunter, Van Helsing. Also sculpted by St. Jean, Van Helsing stands around 7 inches tall, and comes armed with an axe, a sword, a crossbow and a rifle, all of which can be carried on his back. Definitely not based on Van Helsing as portrayed by Edward Van Sloan in the 1930’s Universal classics… Now make a Hammer series and give us Peter Cushing, by far the best Van Helsing.


Jack Pierce

Jack-Pierce_bannerJack Pierce (born Janus Piccoula; May 5, 1889 – July 19, 1968) was a Hollywood make-up artist most famous for creating the iconic make-up worn by Boris Karloff in Universal Studios’ 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, along with various other classic monster make-ups for Universal Studios.

frankenstein_jack-pierce_themanbehindthemonstersAfter immigrating to the United States from his native Greece as a teenager, Pierce tried his hand at several careers, including a stint as an amateur baseball player. In the opportunist twenties, Pierce embarked on a series of jobs in cinema—cinema manager, stuntman, actor, even assistant director—which would eventually lead to his mastery of in the field of makeup. In 1915 he was hired to work on crews for the studio’s productions. On the 1926 set of The Monkey Talks, Jack Pierce created the make-up for actor Jacques Lernier who was playing a simian with the ability to communicate. The head of Universal, Carl Laemmle, was won over with the creative outcome. Next came Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs, also a silent Universal picture. Pierce was then immediately hired full-time by the newly established Universal Pictures motion picture studio. The 1930 death of Lon Chaney, who throughout the 1920s had made a name for himself by creating grotesque and often painful horror makeups, opened a niche for Pierce and Universal, Chaney’s films provided audiences with the deformed, monstrous faces that Pierce and moviegoers so clearly enjoyed.

jack-pierce_boris-karloff_frankensteinUniversal’s first talkie horror film, Dracula, eschewed elaborate horror make-up. Pierce designed a special color greasepaint for Bela Lugosi for his vampire character, but apparently the actor insisted on applying his own makeup. For all film appearances of the character thereafter, Pierce instituted a different look entirely, recasting Dracula as a man with greying hair and a moustache. The most significant creation during Pierce’s time at the studio was clearly Frankenstein, originally begun with Lugosi in the role of the Monster. The preliminary design was apparently similar to the Paul Wegener 1920 German film of The Golem. When James Whale replaced Florey as director, the concept was radically changed. Pierce came up with a design which was horrific as well as logical in the context of the story. So, where Henry Frankenstein has accessed the brain cavity, there is a scar and a seal, and the now famous “bolts” on the neck are actually electrodes; carriers for the electricity used to revive the stitched-up corpse. How much input director James Whale had into the initial concept remains controversial. Universal loaned out Pierce for the Lugosi film White Zombie. They also loaned out some of the Dracula sets for the troublesome filming. Lugosi had collaborated with Pierce on the look of his devilish character in the film.

frankenstein_boris-karloff_jack-piercePierce’s make-up can be seen in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Mummy (1932), Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man (1941), and their various sequels associated with the characters. He also helped comedian Bud Abbott augment his thinning hairline with a widow’s peak toupee in his early films with Lou Costello. Pierce’s final credit is as makeup artist for the TV show Mister Ed from 1961 to 1964. He died in 1968 from uremia.

Jack Pierce’s enduring work at Universal has become a huge influence to many in the entertainment field, including make-up artists Rick Baker and Tom Savini. Jack Pierce was an innovator in the world of screen entertainment and material design. Pierce understandably felt he never got the recognition he deserved and died a bitter man. Finally, in 2003, Pierce was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Make-up Artist and Hair Stylist Guild.

jack-pierce_wolf-man_lon-chaney-jrIn recent years, there is a strong desire to give Pierce a Hollywood Boulevard star for his popular lasting triumphs that have been preserved for decades on the movies he worked on. Pierce undeniably created screen icons to last beyond his lifetime. His contributions still continue to attract droves of attention to his astonishingly memorable, entirely original designs.


Peanut Sculpture – By Steve Casino

Steve-Casino_Creature_Bride-Frankenstein_MunstersCheck out these exquisitely made pieces of art… from peanut shells by artist Steve Casino. I’ve posted some of his horror-themed art here, there is much more at his website HERE

Steve-Casino_Hitchcock_Universal-Monsters


Universal Monsters – Infographic

If you have a monster fan in your life who isn’t quite as in touch with the Universal Monsters legacy as they should be, send them this handy chart, which highlights all of the major films involving these core characters from 1923-1960. Courtesy of  Movie.com

Universal-Monsters_infographic


Image

Horror Icons – By Diego Parpa

Horror_Icons_Diego-Parpa


Mike Hill Art

Boris-Karloff_Frankenstein_Mike-Hill Mike Hill is a world renowned portrait sculptor and artist. Originally from Warrington, England, Mike now lives in Los Angeles, CA. His career spans more than 20 years, and covers everything from garage kits to life-size figures; British television to Hollywood films.

Regan_The-Exorcist_Mike-Hill

In addition to private commission work, Mike has worked for companies such as the Franklin Mint, Sideshow Toys, DC Comics, Dynamic Forces and Tussauds Waxworks. Want, want, want… Check out his site HERE


Universal Monsters – by Shag

bride-of-frankenstein-shagthe-invisible-man-shag1the-mummy-shagthe-creature-from-the-black-lagoon-shag0frankenstein-shag


Image

Absolut Karloff – Boris Karloff Tribute

Absolut Karloff


More Boris Karloff transforming into Frankenstein’s Monster

Boris Karloff_Frankenstein_3Boris Karloff_Frankenstein_2


Image

Boris Karloff – Undergoing Make-Up for Bride of Frankenstein

Boris Karloff_Bride of Frankenstein_bts


Vampires are Back!

true-blood-season-6-bannerIt’s impossible to escape vampires these days. The Twilight movies are as insanely popular as ever; the HBO series “True Blood” has a large and dedicated fanbase; and Justin Cronin’s best-selling, post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy (the first two installments, The Passage and The Twelve, are currently in bookstores) looks poised to become the next blockbuster vampire franchise (the books have already been optioned for a planned series of film adaptations by Ridley Scott). The last piece of vampire pop culture to sink its teeth into movie audiences’ necks was the fifth and final Twilight installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2. Hopefully that’s the end of ‘tween vamps…

The release of Byzantium and Only Lovers Left Alive, bodes well for what has been a bloodless few years. Here’s a selection of a few lesser known vampire films that put unique spins on vampire mythology. These are all creative, fascinating movies that definitely do not suck.

Black Sabbath (1963)
directed by Mario Bava

This creepy, eclectic anthology is an early work from Italian horror maestro Mario Bava, who has built up a sizable cult following over the years due to his Gothic, gorgeously photographed fright films, which have inspired the likes of Dario Argento and Tim Burton. Black Sabbath contains three atmospheric stories, the second of which remains one of the most chilling vampire tales ever filmed. Entitled “The Wurdalak,” the segment is based on a story by Aleksei Tolstoy and stars Boris Karloff in one of his last, most sinister performances. Unlike typical vampires, who feast on random human beings, those transformed into “wurdalaks” only prey on those they love most—essentially, their own families. With its haunting yet beautiful visuals, “The Wurdalak” is a masterful family tragedy that shouldn’t be missed.

Martin (1977)
directed by George A. Romero

One of the most underrated horror films of all time (writer-director Romero has said himself it’s his personal favorite of his work), Martin is a modern vampire tale set in a deteriorating Pennsylvania town. The title character (played by John Amplas) is a troubled, disaffected 17-year-old who believes, based on a family legend, that he’s an 84-year-old vampire. Yet Martin doesn’t behave like a typical vampire: He’s immune to garlic and sunlight, and instead of fangs, uses razor blades to drink his victims’ blood. After going to live with his elderly uncle, who strongly believes in the family vampire myth, Martin attempts to live a normal life, but his craving for blood continues to haunt him. Martin is a disturbing, utterly original take on the vampire mythos. Although there are a few creepy, violent scenes to keep horror fans satisfied, the movie is most compelling when we gain insight into the main character. Romero seems to be saying that the suave, seductive vampires we’ve seen in movies, as played by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, are of a past generation. This modern vampire works on a much more realistic, practical, horrifying level.

Near Dark (1987)
directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Before she became the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director trophy (for The Hurt Locker), Kathryn Bigelow helmed this unusual film, which fuses together the Western, biker and vampire genres. The film stars Adrian Pasdar as an aimless young man in a rural Midwestern town who becomes involved with a family of dangerous nomadic vampires (among them Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Jenny Wright). These aren’t your typical blood-suckers—they’re a group of dirty, unhinged drifters who roam the highways in stolen vehicles (during the day, incidentally), moving from town to town to satisfy their insatiable bloodlust. In fact, the destructive, amoral vampires of Near Dark seems to share more in common with the modern serial killer than the classic Dracula archetype. This gritty, genre-bending film put Bigelow on the map, and, 25 years later, it still has the power to dazzle and disturb.

Cronos (1993)
directed by Guillermo del Toro

This remarkably innovative Mexican film marked the feature debut of writer-director del Toro. The movie revolves around an elderly antique dealer (Federico Luppi) who comes upon the deadly yet enticing object of the title—an ancient mechanism that promises eternal life to its owner. When opened, the device painfully inserts a needle into the owner’s skin, yet the wound also brings about a sudden burst of youthful vitality, as well as a desperate craving for blood. Though the word “vampire” is never spoken in Cronos, del Toro’s bold vision provides a unique spin on the age-old vampire mythology. Especially unnerving is the sequence in which the infected old man discovers a puddle of blood (resulting from another man’s nosebleed) in a public bathroom. In what is surely one of the ickiest moments in vampire movie history, he lies down on the floor and proceeds to lick it up, much like a cat would spilled milk. From its fable-like beginning to its surprisingly tragic end, Cronos is full of disturbing yet unforgettable images.


Classic Horror Posters from Mondo

City of the Living dead_MondoBride of Frankenstein_Mondo


Bride of Frankenstein – Behind the Scenes


The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven” is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in January 1845. It is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking Raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow descent into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references.

Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay “The Philosophy of Composition”. The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe borrows the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett’s poem “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship”, and makes use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.

“The Raven” was first attributed to Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime, though it did not bring him much financial success. Soon reprinted, parodied, and illustrated, critical opinion is divided as to the poem’s status, though it remains one of the most famous poems ever written. New movie version coming soon.


Colin Clive

Colin Clive (20 January 1900, Saint-Malo, Ille-et-Vilaine, France – 25 June 1937) was an English stage and screen actor best remembered for his portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein in James Whale’s two Universal Frankenstein films ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Bride of Frankenstein’.

Clive was born in France, to an English colonel, and he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where an injured knee disqualified him from military service and contributed to his becoming a stage actor. Clive first worked with James Whale in the Savoy Theatre production of Journey’s End and subsequently joined the British community in Hollywood in the 1930s, repeating his stage role in the 1930 film version of ‘Journey’s End’, which was also directed by Whale.

Although Colin Clive made only three horror films, Whale’s two Frankenstein movies and Mad Love (1935), he is widely regarded as one of the essential stars of the genre by many film buffs. His portrayal of mad Dr. Frankenstein has proved inspiration and a launching pad for scores of other mad scientist performances in films over the years. In the film, the character is renamed Henry Frankenstein (a later film shows his tombstone bearing the name “Heinrich”) and he played opposite British actor Boris Karloff as the Creature. Clive reprised his role in the superior 1935 sequel, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, which reunited Clive, Whale and Karloff, as well as first giving Frankenstein the official title of Baron.

Clive was also an in-demand leading man for a number of major film actresses of the era, including Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Jean Arthur. He also starred as Edward Rochester in a 1934 adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ opposite Virginia Bruce. He was related to Clive of India and appeared in a featured role in a film biography of his relative in 1935.

From June 1929 until his death, Clive was married to actress Jeanne de Casalis. Although she worked in films and on stage, her greatest success was as a comedienne on radio sitcoms in England. De Casalis did not accompany her husband to Hollywood. There has been speculation that de Casalis was a lesbian and Clive either gay or bisexual, and their marriage was one of convenience. David Lewis, the longtime companion of Clive’s frequent director James Whale, flatly states that Clive was not gay.

Colin Clive suffered from severe chronic alcoholism and died from complications of tuberculosis in 1937 at age 37. Clive’s alcoholism was very much apparent to his co-stars, as he was often seen napping on set and sometimes was so intoxicated that he had to be held upright for over-the-shoulder shots. Not only did his ailment contribute to his ultimate demise, it also mentally took its toll. But Clive was also tormented by the medical threat of amputating his long-damaged leg. It was a final demon to taunt this brilliant, sad, young actor before his death.

Forrest J. Ackerman recalls visiting Clive’s body in the funeral parlour. “As I recall, he had a dressing gown on and he was calmly lying there. And he looked very much like that scene in Bride“. Over 300 mourners turned out for the lonely soul that died alone. One of the pallbearers was former co-star Peter Lorre.

His cenotaph is located at Chapel of Pines Crematory, but his ashes were scattered at sea in 1978 after they spent over 40 years unclaimed in the basement of the funeral parlor where his body was brought after his death.


Universal Monsters – the 40’s and 50’s.

During the forties, the most successful of the new series of Universal Horror movies was ‘The Wolf Man’ (1941), which also established Lon Chaney, Jr., as the new leading horror actor for the studio, following in his father’s foot steps.

In 1943, the studio created a remake of ‘Phantom of the Opera’, this time starring Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster in a film that was as much musical as horror. Claude Rains played the Phantom.

The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with ‘The Ghost of Frankenstein’ (1942) and ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man’ (1943) while ‘Son of Dracula’ (1943) featured Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Count. The Mummy, too, continued to rise from the grave in ‘The Mummy’s Hand’ (1940) and ‘The Mummy’s Tomb’ (1942). Eventually, all of Universal’s monsters, except the Mummy and Invisible Man, would be brought together in ‘House of Frankenstein’ (1944) and ‘House of Dracula’ (1945), where Dracula was played by John Carradine. As the decade drew to a close the comedy ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’ (1948) proved an instant hit for the studio, with Bela Lugosi starring alongside Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster.

With the success of ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ (directed by Jack Arnold in 1954) the revived “Universal Horror” franchise would gain a whole new generation of fans.

The original movies such as Dracula and Frankenstein were re-released as double features in many theatres, before eventually premiering on syndicated American television in 1957 (as part of the famous Shock Theater package of Universal Monster Movies).

Soon dedicated magazines such as Famous Monsters in Filmland would help propel these movies into lasting infamy.


Carl Laemmle

Carl Laemmle (January 17, 1867 – September 24, 1939), born in Laupheim, Wurttemberg, Germany, was a pioneer in American film making and a founder of one of the original major Hollywood movie studios – Universal. Laemmle produced or was otherwise involved in over four hundred films.

Regarded as one of the most important of the early film pioneers, Laemmle was born on the Radstrasse just outside the former Jewish quarter of Laupheim. He emigrated to the US in 1884, working in Chicago as a bookkeeper or office manager for 20 years. He began buying nickelodeons, eventually expanding into a film distribution service, the Laemmle Film Service.

On June 8, 1912, in New York, Carl Laemmle of IMP, Pat Powers of Powers Picture Company, Mark Dintenfass of Champion Films, and Bill Swanson of American Eclair all signed a contract to merge their studios. The four founded the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company in 1914, and established the studio on 235 acres (0.95 km2) of land in the San Fernando Valley, California.

Universal became known as the most paternalistic of all the Hollywood studios. Virtually all of “Uncle” Carl’s relatives (including his son, Carl Jr., and his vastly more talented nephew, William Wyler were employed there). The studio enjoyed enormous hits during the 1920’s, especially Lon Chaney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (1923/I) and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1925) before the actor was lured away to MGM.

Lacking a theater network, Universal concentrated on independent rural theatrical houses, offering affordable exhibitor’s packages which allowed them to change bills numerous times per week. This marketing strategy largely concentrated on product that would appeal to rural theaters through 1930. During the 1920’s Europe also became a major source of revenue, with Universal actively involved in co-productions overseas. Sound productions became the norm by 1929 and Universal responded by increasing the number of quality productions, scoring it’s first Academy Award for Best Picture with ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1930) the following year.

However, for me, it will always be synonymous with horror. Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is the name given to a series of distinctive horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios from 1923 to 1960. The series began with the aforementioned 1923 version of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, and continued with such movies as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Dracula’, ‘Frankenstein’, ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, ‘Werewolf of London’, ‘Son of Frankenstein’, ‘The Wolfman’, and ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’. The iconic gallery of monsters created by Universal has created a lasting impression on generations of avid moviegoers around the world.

In spite of the Great Depression, executive Carl Laemmle Jr produced massive successes for the studio in 1931 with the legendary Dracula (directed by Tod Browning) and Frankenstein (directed by James Whale). The success of these two movies launched the careers of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and ushered in a whole new genre of American cinema. With Universal at the forefront, film makers would continue to build on their success with an entire series of monster movies. These films also provided steady work for a number of genre actors including Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, and John Carradine. Other regular talents involved were make-up artists Jack Pierce and Bud Westmore, and composers Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner. Many of the horror genre’s most well-known conventions—the creaking staircase, the cobwebs, the swirling mist and the mobs of peasants pursuing monsters with torches—originated from these films and those that followed.

The Mummy was produced in 1932, followed by a trilogy of films based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe: ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1932), The Black Cat’ (1934) and ‘The Raven’ (1935), the latter two of which teamed up Lugosi with Karloff. ‘The Invisible Man’, released in 1933, was a phenomenal hit and would spawn several sequels. Of all the Universal monsters, the most successful and sequelized was undoubtedly the Frankenstein series, which continued with ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935). Althugh Dracula too had its share of sequels, beginning with ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ in 1936.

1936 also marked the end of Universal’s first run of horror films as the Laemmles were forced out of the studio after financial difficulties and a series of box office flops. The monster movies were dropped from the production schedule altogether and wouldn’t re-emerge for another three years. In the meantime the original movies were re-released to surprising success, forcing the new executives to give the go-ahead to ‘Son of Frankenstein’ (1939) starring Basil Rathbone.

Following his death from cardiovascular disease on September 24, 1939, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 72, Laemmle was entombed in the Chapel Mausoleum at Home of Peace Cemetary.


Bela Lugosi

Béla Lugosi (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956), was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in Lugos (at the time part of Austria-Hungary, now Lugoj in Romania), to Paula de Vojnich and István Blaskó. He later based his last name on his hometown. At the age of 12, Lugosi dropped out of school and began his acting career probably in 1901 or 1902. Moving to Budapest in 1911, he played dozens of roles with the National Theater of Hungary in the period 1913–1919.

Lugosi made 12 films in Hungary between 1917 and 1918 before leaving for Germany. In exile in Germany, he began appearing in a small number of well received films before leaving Germany in October 1920, intending to emigrate to the United States.

With fellow Hungarian actors he formed a small company that toured Eastern cities, playing for immigrant audiences. He acted in his first Broadway play, The Red Poppy, in 1922. Three more parts came in 1925–1926, including a five-month run in the comedy-fantasy The Devil in the Cheese. His first American film role came in the 1923 melodrama ‘The Silent Command’ (1923) . Several more silent roles followed, as villains or continental types, all in productions made in the New York area.

Lugosi was approached in the summer of 1927 to star in a Broadway production of ‘Dracula’ adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L.Balderston from Bram Stoker’s novel. The Horace Liveright production was successful, running 261 performances before touring. He was soon called to Hollywood for character parts in early talkies.

He was best known for having played Count Dracula in that Broadway play and the subsequent film version, however, despite his critically acclaimed performance on stage, Lugosi was not Universal Pictures first choice for the role of ‘Dracula’ (1931) when the company optioned the rights to the Deane play and began production in 1930. A persistent rumor asserts that director Tod Browning’s long-time collaborator, Lon Chaney, was Universal’s first choice for the role, and that Lugosi was chosen only due to Chaney’s death shortly before production. This is questionable, because Chaney had been under long-term contract to MGM since 1925, and had negotiated a lucrative new contract just before his death. Chaney and Browning had worked together on several projects (including four of Chaney’s final five releases), but Browning was only a last-minute choice to direct the movie version of Dracula after the death of director Paul Leni, who was originally slated to direct.

Through his association with Dracula (in which he appeared with minimal makeup, using his natural, heavily accented voice), Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such classic movies as ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1932), ‘White Zombie’ (1932), ‘Island of Lost Souls’ (1933), ‘The Black Cat’ (1934), ‘Mark of the Vampire’ (1935) and ‘The Raven’ (1935). His accent, while a part of his image, limited the roles he could play.

His career was given a second chance by Universal’s ‘Son of Frankentein’ (1939), when he played the character role of Ygor, who uses the Monster for his own revenge, in heavy makeup and beard. The same year saw Lugosi playing a straight character role in a major motion picture: he was a stern commissar in MGM’s comedy ‘Ninotchka’, starring Greta Garbo. This small but prestigious role could have been a turning point for the actor, but within the year he was back playing small roles in horror, comedy and mystery B-films, such as ‘The Gorilla’ (1939), the remake of ‘The Black Cat’ (1941), ‘The Wolfman’ (1941), ‘Ghost of Frankenstein’ (1942) and ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman’ (1943) in which he often received star billing for what amounted to a supporting part.

Ostensibly due to injuries received during military service, Lugosi had developed severe, chronic sciatica. Though at first he was treated with low grade pain remedies, doctors increased the medication to opiates. The growth of his dependence on pain-killers, particularly morphine and methadone, was directly proportional to the dwindling of screen offers. ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’ (1948) was Bela Lugosi’s last “A” movie. For the remainder of his life he appeared — less and less frequently — in obscure, low-budget features.

Bela Lugosi again received star billing in movies when filmmaker Ed Wood, a fan of Lugosi, found him living in obscurity and near-poverty and offered him roles in his films, such as ‘Glen or Glenda’ (1953) and as a Dr. Frankenstein-like mad scientist in ‘Bride of the Monster’ (1955). During post-production of the latter, Lugosi decided to seek treatment for his drug addiction, and the premiere of the film was said to be intended to help pay for his hospital expenses. The extras on an early DVD release of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ (1956) include an impromptu interview with Lugosi upon his exit from the treatment center in 1955, in which Lugosi states that he is about to go to work on a new Ed Wood film, The Ghoul Goes West, with Lugosi in his famed Dracula cape, Wood shot impromptu test footage, with no storyline in mind, in front of Tor Johnson’s home, a suburban graveyard and in front of Lugosi’s apartment building on Carlton Way. This footage ended up in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956, while lying on a couch in hi Los Angeles home. He was 73. Lugosi was buried wearing one of the Dracula Cape costumes, per the request of his son and fourth wife, in the Holy Cross Cemetary in Culver City, California.