Monday, February 22, 2010

50 Pack Horror Classics- Disk 2- Side A

Black Dragons (1942) Dir. By William Nigh

Prior to the beginning of World War II, the Nazis, at the request of Japan's Black Dragon Society, sends Doctor Melcher to Japan to transform six Japanese into identical likenesses of six prominent Americans. The Americans are done away with and Melcher, on the orders of High Dragon Yakhamea, is imprisoned so his secret will die with him. In his cell, Melcher switches places with the soon-to-be-released Colomb and, when he is freed, follows the six Japanese to America, where they have assumed the positions of the industrialists and are causing sabotage in the Monogram defense plants that didn't exist yet as the war hadn't started. One by one Melcher kills the impostors, despite the fact they are performing for-free work for his employer Adolph, and dumps their bodies on the steps of the Japanese Embassy, which still existed as the war hadn't started. FBI Chief Colton and agent Dick Martin finally piece together what the five murdered men had in common---aha, a visit to Japan---and stake out the sixth man as bait for Melcher. Written by Les Adams {}

It seems to me that a lot of these Horror Classics really aren’t horror at all. I’m not saying they aren’t good movies, just not horror. Black Dragons is more of a drama. The only scary part of the movie is how Bela Lugosi is a scary good actor. I can see how this movie may have played off the fears of the 1940’s. The fear of the Nazis, the Japanese, imposters, and murderers. This movie has the most complex plot I have ever seen in an hour long movie. Sometimes it is a little hard to follow. I caught up about midway through the movie. Had the supporting cast been anything more than mediocre I might have enjoyed this movie a little more. Lugosi is really the only strong point of the film. The movie gets progressively better as the movie goes along, but it wasn’t enough to keep me terribly interested. The Story was choppy and riddled with holes. Editing was atrocious and lacked anything reminiscent of a decent transition. A few amazing camera shots and a slight amount of action keep it from becoming a snooze fest.

After some interesting plot twists, and a hilariously unnecessary flashback, I’d say that Black Dragons is watchable, but I can’t say I would care to see it more than once. I would actually nominate it to be remade though.

Entertainment Value: 5 Jap Daggers out of 10
Cinematic Value: 5 Jap Daggers out of 10

Invisible Ghost (1941) Dir. By Joseph H. Lewis

Bela Lugosi stars as Charles Kessler, a man turned to homicidal maniac due to desertion by his wife. Old western extraordinaire Joseph H. Lewis does an excellent job directing this tense thriller.

The movie starts off by giving you almost all the facts off the bat, and allows you to put them together yourself. Ernie Adams ( of 1932’s Freaks) gives a strong but short performance as the man hiding Mrs. Kessler. The extremely inventive direction by Lewis is as breathtaking as the dignified treatment of the black Evans the Butler (played by Clarence Muse). Then there is Bela, and his amazing ability to play two different sides of the same character, the vicious killer, and the respectable town citizen. He is the glue that holds this movie together. Sound recorder Glen Glenn adds to the tension with a good music background, very subtle and not too overused. Lewis uses one of my favorite Hitchcock style lighting schemes. The half light, half dark lighting portrayed when Lugosi is on the screen implies the collide of his good and evil side. The ending really makes the story all come together, and really leaves you thinking about the events that lead up to the dramatic finish.

All in all, great written story, good acting, and nearly perfect execution make this an amazing movie, and truly a classic.

Entertainment Value: 9 Burning Candles out of 10
Cinematic Value: 10 Burning Candles out of 10

1 comment:

The Mike said...

Oooh, I dug Invisible Ghost. High quality Bela. I always get it confused with his color movie, though, which sucked.

Life is hard. :)