CREEPY CLASSICS presents...
Every weekend we're watching movies together...whether you're in Pennsylvania USA, or Sydney Australia. It's a throwback! Back to the days when you had the anticipation for waiting till the weekend to see the classic horror or science fiction film that was listed in the TV Guide. The plan is to watch a movie at 7:30PM on Saturday night in your own time zone. Or, if you can't Saturday night...anytime during the weekend. Then, we'll all get together and e-mail our thoughts on the film...a few paragraphs...or simply a sentence if you'd like. They after-viewing reviews appear on our Creepy Classics/Monster Bash News Page. See the latest thoughts posted by viewers ther now.
Concept submitted by Mike Adams of Cartaret, New Jeresey.
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Creepy Classics Spotlight Movie Last Weekend - DOCTOR X (1932)
Every week, readers here are selecting a movie to view...then we all try to watch it together utilizing our DVD/video library. This past Saturday night, many of us watched DOCTOR X (1932). This was suggested by Mike Adams, Cartaret, NJ. Details about movie nights to come are HERE. Please include your name and location after your comments, so we can see how we're all joining together from diffeent locals around the globe! Let's all Synch-Up Saturday nights at 7:30PM, or catch this week's movie sometime over the weekend!
I didn't see this movie yntil the late 1980s. I happened to turn on TNT or Turner Network and saw the last 10 minutes. was stunned and captivated. What was THIS!? A hideous monster in an all out fight with some guy. Obviously a 1930s movie. It was amazing. How could I not know what this film was...? It ended and they never announced what it was that was on. It wasn't in the listings. I did some research and was able to discover it was DOCTOR X (1932). I had seen a few pictures from it in Famous Monsters magazine over the years, but didn't make the connection when I saw it on TV. It's even the cover of an old Monster World mag.
Finally I got it on VHS and saw the whole thing. What a treat! It had that soft pastel color to it. It was actually filmed in an early two-color process. That adds even more to it's look and Halloween feel with all the soft oranges in color. It has the look ofan old tinted photo or lobby card. Unreal and cozy in a way.
Now the story is just plain crazy. Not making sense in the way people in a real world would act or operate. But, hey, it's just plain fun and never boring. It was on the coatails of FRANKENSTEIN (1931), DRACULA (1931), DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (1931). Released in August of 1932, it was the Halloween Horror for 1932. For me, it's a Halloween Horror every year now!
Pretty unsavory stuff for the period: cannibalism discussed, regenerating limbs with gooey "synthetic flesh," a stop by the lead reporter in a brothel. They were going for the throat to outdo the horror masterpieces of the year before. Wild.
The next year, the same team would release THE MYSERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM with the same two-color process. A sister film to DOCTOR X.
Interesting to note that ther is a rare black and white version of DOCTOR X that features some different dialogue, differet camera angles. Basically it's a different version of the same film (not just a black and white version).
-Ron Adams, Ligonier, PA
One of the best 30's horror films shot in a rare 2 color technicolor process stars the lovely Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Preston Foster as three people who are entangled in a series of gruesome killings attributed to the "Full Moon Killer."
With hits of cannibalism and savage murders this movie has always been a favorite of mine. This moves along briskly and I cannot recommend this movie enough.
A real winner.
Hi to Ron and everybody:
This was the first time my wife Eileen saw Doctor X, and the first time I had seen it on a good sized TV screen. Wow! We were blown away. It was great watching director Michael Curtiz alternate between "someone's-watching-us" shots looking into the set from overhead (remember the autopsy in the 1931 Dracula) and side tracking shots that drift slowly across the wide sound stage. When the actors aren't moving, the camera is.
Curtiz is creating a beautifully ominous atmosphere...and without music! Drama on the live stage didn't need music, so it was obvious to the sound pioneers that film didn't. Art director Anton Grot's incredible sets evoke a gothic modernism similar to Metropolis, and richer than The Black Cat.
I love the way the 2-strip Technicolor gives this movie the look of hand-painted photo-animation.
I have to admit, though, that the comedy of Lee Tracy was a problem; my wife found him overdone. I think Bob Hope was the master of achieving a balance between comic and leading man in the few horror films he did. Catch The Cat and the Canary for an example of that.
A little interesting side note from wife Eileen: Look for the maid character, Mamie, calming herself to sleep with a swig from a bottle of Gordon's Gin! Especially interesting since the film was made while Prohibition was still in force!! Character reporter Lee Taylor earlier asks how much they paid for booze offering him in a flask...must have been steep!
Last, but not least, as you can see in the credits, I, Thomas Jackson, was in the film! Neat trick on my part, since I wasn't born yet.
Tom Jackson (and Eileen Wolfberg)
Here are my thoughts on DOCTOR X.
Lee Tracy sure had the market cornered on smart aleck banter.
DOCTOR X is a lot like a haunted house at the amusement park. It aims for nervous laughter as much as genuine thrills and there isn’t really anything profound about it. But it sure is a fun ride.
Hello to Steven Thornton in Michigan:
I agree with your remark about Fay Wray looking good as a brunette. If I'm not mistaken, she was a natural brunette.
-Tom Jackson, in Philadelphia
Fifteen years ago, this Halloween, I was browsing over a table at the Chiller Show in Secaucus,NJ. On the table were hundreds of VHS cassettes. The table was manned by someone who I was fast becoming friends with. His name is Ron Adams, and the name of his company was Haunted Hollywood. Easily he had the best selection of classic horror, and he continues to do so. I asked what could he recommend to me for some good Halloween viewing. He picked up a box and asked "have you ever seen Doctor X ?" I never saw the movie, and had no idea of the plot, but I heard of the title. He said "you have to see this!"
The next day was actually Halloween so I waited until then to watch it. The movie started and right away I was mesmerized by it. The beautiful muted colors were something I never saw before. The sound of the steamships and foghorns blowing set the mood perfectly. What followed held my attention for the next hour and fifteen minutes like no other film. This was total candy for my senses. I just couldn't get over the colors and how well they worked for all the different sets. The labs of the academy, the library, the morgue, everything looked amazing!
As the story unfolded I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. We learn of these murders that have been occurring in the area. Next we are informed by Dr. Xavier that cannibalism is the motive, cannibalism!?! Wow! That's pretty gruesome stuff for a 30's movie. Over time I would come to learn just how gruesome the films of that decade could be. In fact I believe this film is what started me on the road for appreciating the films of the 30's. Next, we see our wisecracking reporter duck into a bar. A bar? No not a bar, a brothel! It took a second or two for me after the madam( Mae Busch) comes down the stairs to greet Mr. Taylor with a " say what's the hurry big boy!" By now I was well on my way to loving this film! After Lee informs the night desk via telephone that another "Moon Killer Murder" has taken place he goes over to greet the ladies. Straightening his tie, he begins to speak using what sounds like a prepared speech that I think he may have used several times in the past. Remembering his duty he waves the ladies away and exits, but not before asking the piano man to give us a more ominous piece of music. Yeah, I'm hooked by now.
For the rest of the film all my notions of classic horror were thrown out the window, and so was any logic. This movie probably has more plot holes than any other, but I DO NOT CARE! No two lines meet and no numbers add up, but once again I DO NOT CARE! Characters do things that make no sense, and there's so much scientific babble that has no merit whatsoever. but , yes you guessed it I DO NOT CARE! This movie,for me, is just about the most enjoyable old horror movie there is. It's such a visual treat, and the characters are so much fun that one can just take all the nonsense and have fun with it. And fun I was having until the killer is revealed.
We first glimpse the full moon emerge from the clouds. Then, from a distance, we spot Dr. Wells transfixed by it. The next shot brings us much closer to him and we hear that awful breathing of his. A change is taking place in the kindly one armed doctor. It's a change that has started deep inside his mind, and now he's going to bring it out into the open. He moves menacingly to a bookshelf and removes from behind it an hand, a hideous hand! What follows next impressed and still impresses me far more than any scene in any movie. We see him subject his new appendage to electric torture! His sweaty face expresses pain and agony, but he continues to hold his hand over the arc. It begins to move as some horrible thing with a life of it's own. WOW this is nuts! Then he sits down and glops "synthetic flesh" all over his head in mounds and heaps.
The sequence where we see his face in the reflection of that mysterious liquid, (is it water?) with the dry ice mist and the great crackling and humming of electric sounds is still a wonder to behold. After the completion of his new self he rises from his seat. He straightens up and just keeps going as if he's grown another few inches in height. What a transformation! That was all I needed to see. Ladies and gentleman we have a new winner. With the completion of this sequence Doctor X now moved into the top spot.
When the film ended I sat there thinking how I never saw anything like that before. Over time I came to learn that it was the first horror film shot in color. I also came to learn how amazing Michael Curtiz was as a director. Much to my delight I also acquired The Mystery of the Wax Museum. Also shot in that beautiful color process and directed by Curtiz, this was a Halloween to remember! Many look on Wax Museum as the superior film, but for me there's no topping what I consider one of the most outrageous and original horror films of all time, Doctor X
Mike Adams, Cartaret, NJ
You can get DOCROR X on the DVD collection HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS OF HORROR in the Complete DVD Catalog in-line at Creepy Classics.