Friday, June 4, 2021

A Little Filmed H.P. Lovecraft with a Touch of Derleth: Vincent Price, Nick Adams, Carol Lynley, and Sandra Dee

For those only familiar with the name of Howard Phillips (H.P.) Lovecraft and not August William Derleth. It was Derleth, a Horror and Science Fiction writer in his own right, that had to create the 1939 book publisher, "ARKHAM HOUSE"with Donald Wandrei. Otherwise, none of H.P. Lovecraft's stories would have been published in a hard-cover book collection after his death. Because no other publisher, apparently, thought the stories were worth their time and effort. 

It was also August Derleth that coined the term: "Cthulhu Mythos". 





The first, second, and fourth of the following four motion pictures are based upon stories written by H.P. Lovecraft. The third is based upon Lovecraft's story notes and was written, as a homage, by August Derleth.

























Above, H.P. Lovecraft, and below, August Derleth.




















Most of H.P. Lovecraft's stories take place at, or near the fictional town of, "ARKHAM, MASSACHUSETTS"!

Which, of course, was the source for the name of August Derleth's book publishing company. Later, yes, even the source of "Batman's" creator, Bob Kane's, "Arkham Asylum". Although that was located just outside of the "City of Gotham", in the State of New Jersey, not New York, as many think.

Below, the town of Arkham, Massachusetts, based upon a sketch H.P. Lovecraft made:






THE HAUNTED PALACE released August 28, 1963







Director Roger Corman wanted to get away from his "Edgar Allan Poe Horror Tales" and turned to H.P. Lovecraft. However, Corman was dealing with "American International Pictures" and owners James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. He became pissed off at them, because they turned his Lovecraft story into a Poe story.

Roger Corman wanted to film H.P. Lovecraft's, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". This short novel, only 51,500 words. somebody actually counted them, takes place in Rhode Island, in 1928. When the title character escapes a mental institution. The staff, who hardly check their patients, find his cell very dusty as if hadn't been used for years. So how long has "Charles" been gone?

The investigation of "Ward's" disappearance is conducted by the family doctor, "Marinus Bicknell Willet". The doctor will discover that "Charles Dexter Ward" had spent many years looking for the grave of his ancestor "Joseph Curwen". " Curwen" was an eighteenth-century shipping-entrepreneur, an alleged Alchemist, Necromancer and mass murderer. A raid on "Joseph Curwen's" estate, in the 
eighteenth-century, turned into a battle with not-quite-human figures and at the end of it. Every human involved in the raid still alive, was sworn to secrecy.

Further investigation, reveals that "Ward" found his ancestor's ashes and through incantations brought him back from the dead. "Dr. Willet", also discovered that "Curwen", who closely resembled "Ward", murdered him and assumed his life. 

The story first introduced the "Cthulhu Mythos" character of "Yog-Sothoth". It also was the first reference of H.P Lovecraft's, "Necronomicon", aka: the "Book of the Dead", aka: the "Kitab al-Azif".

It is believed that the character of "Charles Dexter Ward" was one of H.P. Lovecraft's autobiographical characters.

However, as I mentioned, American International Pictures wanted the feature film to be part of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe series. Nicholson and Arkoff required that the screenplay include Poe references. In this case, Vincent Price, reads a couple of short stanzas from the poet's April 1830 poem, "The Haunted Palace". Which became the  film's title. Nowhere, on the above poster, will you find the name H.P. Lovecraft.

Looking at the film's opening title and credits. Somebody goofed, and as this was an AIP film, nobody really cared, but, Edgar Allan Poe's name appears as "Edgar Allen Poe".

For those of my readers interested in Roger Corman's Poe series. My article, "Quoth, "The Raven", Rodger Corman", may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/06/quoth-raven-roger-corman.html




The Motion Picture Version:

The motion picture was from "Alta Vista Productions", a "B" Company working in association with "American International Pictures". The film would be distributed, Worldwide, by "AIP". 

The screenplay was by Charles Beaumont. Beaumont had been writing for television since 1954 and his first screenplay was Roger Corman's, 1962, version of Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Premature Burial". Which is the only film in the series not starring Vincent Price, but Ray Milland. 

Additional dialogue came from one of Corman's staff writers, without on-screen credit, Francis Ford Coppola. This was the third screenplay he worked on for Rodger Corman and was still prior to his first Directing assignment..

The motion picture was Directed by Corm, himself. Corman had just Directed 1963's, "The Man with the X-Ray Eyes", that also starred Ray Milland. He would next go to England and Direct the Poe motion picture, 1964's, "The Masque of the Red Death", starring Vincent Price and Hazel  Court.

For those of my readers familiar, or not, with British actor Hazel Court, 1957's, "The Curse of Frankenstein", my article, "HAZEL COURT: Frankenstein's Bride and Roger Corman's Evil Lady", can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/06/hazel-court-frankensteins-bride-and.html


The Main Cast:

Vincent Price portrayed the dual roles of "Charles Dexter Ward" and "Joseph Curwen". Price had just been seen as "Big Daddy", in 1963's, "Beach Party". That introduced third and fourth billed, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in their first teaming-up. Vincent  Price would follow this picture with AIP's, Nathaniel Hawthorne based, 1963, "Twice-Told Tales".























Above, Debra Paget with Vincent Price.

Debra Paget portrayed "Ann Ward". Paget started on-screen acting in 1948, co-starred with James Stewart and Jeff Chandler in, 1950's, "Broken Arrow", was "Cosette" in 1952's, "Les Miserables", starring Michael Rennie and Robert Newton and was the girl Elvis was married to in his first motion picture, 1956's, "Love Me Tender". That same year Paget portrayed "Lilia", the girl loved by John Derek's "Joshua", but taken away by Edward G. Robinson, in Cecil B. DeMile's "The Ten Commandments". In 1958, she co-starred with Joseph Cotton and George Sanders in the Jules Verne story, "From the Earth to the Moon". After "The Haunted Palace", Debra Paget left Hollywood and would marry Chinese Oil Executive, her third husband, Louis C. Chung, in 1964.


Lon Chaney portrayed "Simon Orne". Chaney was just seen in an episode of the one-season, Richard Egan television series, "Empire", and would follow this film with his third appearance on the television series, "Route 66". 



















The role of "Simon Orne" was originally meant for Boris Karloff, but he was ill at the time of filming. So, Lon Chaney, Jr. was offered the role.

For my readers interested in Lon Chaney's acting career. My article, "Lon Chaney, Jr. 'Of Mice and Werewolves", may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/05/lon-chaney-jr-of-mice-and-werewolves.html


Frank Maxwell portrayed the dual roles of "Dr. Marinus Willet" and "Priam Willet". Maxwell was basically a television character actor that did the occasional motion picture.





















The Actual Screenplay:


The movie opens in 1765, and the audience in not in the novel's state of  Rhode Island, but in Arkham, Massachusetts. The towns people are suspicious of "Joseph Curwen", whose "Grand Palace", is on a hill overlooking the town, and they believe he is a warlock.

A young girl, played by Darlene Lucht, in a trance is led to the "Palace" by "Curwen's" mistress, "Hester Tillinghast", played by Cathie Merchant.




















There the girl is subjected to a strange ritual and something rises out of a covered pit. Meanwhile, the residents of Arkham had observed the girl being led to the "Palace". They storm it, find the girl apparently unharmed, but believe a spell was put on her to forget what happened. They take "Joseph Curwen" to a burned alive, but "Ezra Weeden", played by Leo Gordon, asks the mob not to hurt "Hester", whom he was to marry.

Before "Curwen" is burned alive, he places a curse on all the town's inhabitants and their descendants.
















































The change in the years that the Lovecraft story takes place is again shown. As it only moves forward one-hundred-and-ten-years to 1875.

"Curwen's", great-great-grandson, "Charles Dexter Ward" and his wife "Ann" arrive in Arkham to take possession of "Curwen's Palace". The two are not welcomed by the towns people. Who have experienced deformed children  being born over the decades since "Curwen" was burned to death.





However, for some strange reason, "Charles" feels he's at home and knows the "Palace". Then he discovers a painting of his ancestor and is struck by the resemblance to him.








"Charles" and "Ann" meet "Simon", the caretaker and he will convince the two to remain in the "Palace". Next, the two befriend the local doctor, "Marinus Willet". "Dr. Willet" tells "Charles" and "Ann" the story of "Joseph Curwen", mentions the "Necronomicon" that was believed to be in his possession, and tells them the legend of the "Elder Gods, Cthulhu" and "Yog-Sothoth". According to the doctor, it was "Joseph Curwen's" plan to mate local woman to these "Elder Gods" and create a race of super-humans. Instead, he created monstrosities. The townspeople are afraid that the curse has been fulfilled and "Charles" is "Joseph" returned from the grave.

"Charles" is now possessed by the spirit of "Joseph" and joins with two other warlocks, "Simon" and "Jabez Hutchinson", played by Milton Parsons.




















The three make plans and he first is to resurrect "Hester", but before this is done. "Joseph" attempts to rape "Ann" and she seeks "Dr. Willet's" help. "Joseph/Charles" tries to get the doctor to believe "Ann" is insane. While this is happening, the three warlocks do succeed in resurrecting "Hester".






The climax comes as the townspeople discover the burned corpse of "Peter Smith", played by Elisha Cook, Jr. The actor had played his character's ancestor, "Micah Smith" in the opening segment. The citizens of Arkham now head for the "Palace" to burn "Joseph" once again.

"Dr. Willet" and "Ann" go to the dungeon in the hopes of rescuing "Charles", but are ambushed by "Simon", "Jabez", "Hester" and "Joseph". "Willet" is knocked out and the three warlocks take "Ann" to be a sacrifice to the creature in the pit.

The townspeople arrive and start to raze the "Haunted Palace". In their rage, one of the townspeople destroys the portrait of "Joseph Curwin", releasing "Charles Dexter Ward" from his possession. "Charles" is able to rescue his wife and urges the doctor to take her away from the "Palace". With the "Palace" ablaze, "Simon" and "Jabez" grab "Charles". "Ann" is now safe outside and "Dr. Willet" re-enters the burning "Palace". He discovers that "Simon", Jabez" and "Hester" have disappeared and saves "Charles", but it is apparent that somewhere in the body of "Charles Dexter Ward" lives "Joseph Curwin".



DIE, MONSTER, DIE! released October 27, 1965



  

Written in, March 1927, and published in the, September 1927, issue of "Amazing Stories", was H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space".















The story takes place in the "Wild Hills" to the West of the town of "Arkham, Massachusetts". The narrator of the short story, has arrived from Boston to investigate an area the townspeople call the "Blasted Heath"! He seeks out an old and crazy man named "Ammi Pierce" and the story is told by "Pierce".

Back in June of 1882, a meteorite crashed upon the fertile farmland of "Nahum Gardner".

The meteorite starts to shrink in size, but does not cool as one would think should have happen. Some scientists take pieces of it and even "Nahum Gardner" takes a piece into his house, but all of them start to shrink in size and eventually disappear. The meteorite gives off, in H.P, Lovecraft's words, "globules of color", that are out of the normal known visible spectrum.

The following year, "Nahum Gardner's" crops grow to enormous size, but are still eatable. The farm animals, that have come in contact with those crops, are altered in strange ways.
Thus begins the short story.


The Motion Picture Version:


The motion picture version was from "Alta Vista Film Productions" and distributed in the United Kingdom as "Monster of Terror", by "Anglo-Amalgamated Productions". In the United States, the motion picture was distributed by "American International Pictures", the primary financial backer.

Jerry Sohl, was a television writer, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits", and both adapted "The Colour Out of Space" and wrote the screenplay for "Die, Monster, Die!".

Daniel Haller, Directed the motion picture. Haller had been an "Art Director" for American International Pictures, and specifically Director Roger Corman's features, such as, 1958's, "War of the Satellites", 1959's, "The Wasp Woman", 1961's, "The Pit and the Pendulum" and 1962's, "The Premature Burial". As a Director, Daniel Haller, had started with this feature and in 1971 move to television.

The working title was "The House at the End of the World" and was shot at Shepperton Studios, in Surrey, England, between February and March 1965.

The Main Cast:

Boris Karloff portrayed "Nahum Witley". His five proceeding motion pictures are an interesting collection. Four of these were released in 1963 and include Roger Corman's great comic-rip-off of his own Edgar Allan Poe series, "The Raven". The early Jack Nicholson, Napoleonic War entry, "The Terror". Along with, Italian Horror master, Mario Bava's, "I tre volti della pura (The Three Faces of Pure)". The English language dub title is, "Black Sabbath" and that source for the English Rock Band's name.

Karloff finished 1963 off with, Director Jacques Tourneur's, "The Comedy of Terror", with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. While 1964, saw Boris Karloff in his first of two appearances in a Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, " Beach Party", movie, "Bikini Beach".


















Nick Adams portrayed "Stephen Reinhart". Adams was one of the High School students in the James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mino, 1955, "Rebel Without a Cause". Nick Adams portrayed "Billy the Kid" in the same years, "Strange Lady in Town", starring Greer Garson, Dana Andrews and Cameron Mitchell. However, he became known to 1950's television viewers for the Western series, "The Rebel", as "Johnny Yuma", from 1959 through 1961.

"Die, Monster, Die"
was released between two Japanese monster movies from Toho Studios. These were, 1965's, "Furankenshutain tai chitei kaiju Bargon (Frankenstein vs the Subterranean Monster Baragon)". Which came to the United States in 1966, as "Frankenstein Conquers the World". Along with 1965's, "Kaiju daisenso (The Giant Monster War)". Which came to the United States in 1970 as "Invasion of the Astro-Monster"

In those original Japanese language versions, Nick Adams was billed as "Nikku Adamusu". On a personal note, Adams fell in love with his Japanese leading lady in both features, Kumi Mizuno. They became romantically involved and after the filming of the second picture was completed. Adams returned to the United States, where he was in divorce proceedings from his wife of nine years, Carol Nugent. The divorce was granted in January 1966 and Nick Adams returned to Japan, in his mind, to marry Mizuno. However, he discovered that she was already engaged to be married and the actor left the country.

Adams was to have starred in the previous "Frankenstein" entries direct sequel, 1966's, "Furankenshutain no Kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira (Frankenstein's Monsters: Sandra and Gaira" with Kumi Mizuno. That feature would now be filmed with American Russ Tamblyn. Tamblyn portrayed a different doctor than the Adams character, but Mizuno was still her original character. When this film came to the United States, in 1970, most of the references to the previous 1966 feature were dropped and it was now titled, "War of the Gargantuas".












Freda Jackson portrayed "Letitia Witley". British legitimate stage and motion picture actress Jackson was in some outstanding films. Among these were, Sir Laurence Olivier's, 1944 version of William Shakespeare's "Henry V", Director David Lean's, 1946 version of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations", the Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger, 1956, "Bhowani Junction", Hammer Films, 1960, "Brides of Dracula" and Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1969, "The Valley of Gwangi".














Suzan Farmer portrayed "Susan Witley". British actress Farmer started her on-screen career in a 1958 British television mini-series and stayed in that medium into 1963 and this motion picture. After which, Suzan Farmer returned to her primary work on television, but appeared in three Hammer Films starring Christopher Lee, 1964's, "The Devil-Ship Pirates", 1966's, "Dracula, Prince of Darkness", and also in 1966, "Rasputin, the Mad Monk".















The Actual Screenplay:


Note the change in the last name from "Gardner" to "Witley".. This was to make Boris Karloff's character's last name close to those found in Lovecraft's
"Cthulhu Mythos" of "Whateley".

A
question for my reader, which version are you watching?

The American International Pictures release runs 72-minutes, but the United Kingdom, Anglo-Amalgamated release, is 8-minutes longer. I tried to locate the reason why, what was seen in London, England, was longer than what was seen in, New London, Connecticut. I did note that many of the on-line reviews seem to speak to the AIP cut, but the Blu-ray version is the 80-minute U.K. release.

The overall screenplay is partly the standard spooky house story line. That goes back to the 1927, silent classic film, "The Cat and the Canary", that starred Laura La Plante. 

The screenplay seems to mix in definite elements from Richard Matheson's screenplay, for Roger Corman's, 1960 version of, Edgar Allan Poe's, "House of Usher". There are visuals which appear to be from the this picture, or at least in set-up.

Boris Karloff's "Nahum" seems very much like Vincent Price's "Roderick Usher" in tone and character. While, Nick Adams', "Stephen Reinhart", is very close to Mark Damon's, "Philip Winthrop" as written. Suzan Farmer's, "Susan Witley", is very close to Myrna Fahey's "Madeline Usher", until "Madeline" goes bonkers. 

However, this all works, remembering that Jerry Sohl had to expand the original H.P. Lovecraft story into a love story.

Both motion pictures begin in similar ways. "Philip Winthrop" is seen riding his horse in the burnt countryside surrounding the "Usher Estate". "Stephen Reinhart" is seen walking in the burnt countryside surrounding the "Witley Estate". The difference here, is the audience first sees "Reinhart" in the town of "Arkham" not finding anyone who would take him to the "Witley House".
















Above the countryside in the "House of Usher", and below the countryside in "Die, Monster, Die!" 












Below the first sight of the "House of Usher", followed by the first sight of the "Witley House".



















Scientist, "Dr. Stephen Reinhart" arrives at the "Witley House". After being introduced to  "Nahum Witley". "Witley" orders "Reinhart" to immediately leave without seeing his daughter "Susan". "Nahum" is obviously hiding something from his visitor. However, "Stephen" was invited by "Mrs. Witley" to take her daughter away from the house and "Stephen" wants to see both of them first.

Next, from the top of the second floor staircase, "Susan", sees "Stephen", goes down, and runs into his arms. "Nahum" must now accept his unwanted guest.














What follows is the discovery that "Nahum" had taken the meteor, that crashed on his land, into his house. He has been experimenting with the strange radiation coming from it and has mutated flowers and animals. Part of what "Nahum Witley" wanted to keep secret, is the fact that "Susan's" mother is mutating and dying from the meteor's radiation.































Above, "Letitia" has gone insane and attempts to kill her daughter and "Stephen", but dies during the attack. Below, "Nahum" is finally overcome by the radiation he has been experimenting with and changes into something not human.



























What was once "Nahum Witley" falls off the balcony during a fight with "Stephen Reinhart". "Witley" bursts into flames, hits the floor and dissolves into nothingness. 









The entire "Witley House" has become a raging inferno and "Susan" and "Stephen" manage to escape the blaze and the "Colours Out of Space".


THE SHUTTERED ROOM released first in Japan on May 20, 1967






The very long novella, this motion picture was based upon, was actually written by August Derleth and not H.P. Lovecraft. According to Derleth, he was inspired by notes written by Lovecraft for a proposed story. The novella was first published in a 1959 collection of 30 stories, "The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces". 12 of which, were actually written by H.P. Lovecraft, and 4 by August Derleth. Derleth's included 1 other story he claimed was inspired by Lovecraft's notes. 





























There would be confusion over who actually wrote "The Shuttered Room". This was caused, because when publishers, other than "Arkham House", published the story. They played up H.P. Lovecraft's name and made August Derleth's a very small secondary name as seen below.































The characters and location of the story also gives the impression of an original H.P. Lovecraft published in 1929. The "Whately's" of this story are a different branch of the family then the "Whateley's" of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror", but apparently live in the same community.

The story takes place in the town of "Dunwich", in the Miskatonic River Valley of Massachusetts. The "Miskatonic University" is located in the town of Arkham.

The protagonist is "Abner Whately", who has inherited an estate from his grandfather, "Luther Whately". On the property is a old run-down mill house that "Luther" and "Abner" visited many times. On these visits, young "Abner" felt a sense of dread, but could never find out why. Then, there is that locked and "Shuttered" second floor room he was never to go near inside that mill house.

Now as an adult, "Abner" feels his "Uncle Zebulon", seems to know more about what went on at "Luther's" Old Mill than he would tell anyone who inquired about it.


"Luther" has left a letter for "Abner". It instructs him to demolish the mill house and should he find any "Living Thing", like a "Tiny Frog-like monster, "Abner" is to immediately kill it.

Upon his arrival on his new property, "Abner" unpacks his things, then lets his curiosity finally take sway. He decides to go to the mill house to unlock the title room. Inside, he finds old furniture, a terrible smell, because the windows are nailed shut. "Abner" breaks open a window over the mill's wheel and sees a "long-legged frog" scurry under a bureau. He thinks there's no importance to the frog, forgetting his grandfather's instructions.

"Abner" goes into the town of Dunwich, but the people seem unfriendly toward him. Returning to the mill house, "Abner" sees suspicious wet footprints on the mill's wood water wheel like those of a small frog. A search reveals those prints match those going out the broken window and returning through it. However, the returning prints seem far larger than those leaving the room. 

There is a cryptic journal from "Luther" and it tells of his daughter, "Sarah". Who returned from visiting her cousin, pregnant, and seemingly unfeeling toward his daughter! "Luther" locks "Sarah" up in "The Shuttered Room". After his birth, "Sarah's" son escapes confinement and goes from petty vandalism to full-out cannibalism. Starting with live-stock and eventually turning on humans. He, it, is eventually lured back to the title room and locked inside and the shutters nailed shut from the outside. "Sarah" continues to care for her son. At some point "Sarah" dies, but her son doesn't. Still locked within that Shuttered mill room without food gets smaller and smaller in size, but he is an immortal being and cannot die.
 
He again was able to escape from the room with the arrival of "Abner", fed himself, and returned. "Abner" now realizes that "Sarah's" son is that frog-like creature. In the end, "Abner" throws kerosene on his strange relative and sets it ablaze. As "Sarah's" son dies, "Abner" hears it call out, "Mama-mama-mama".


 
The Motion Picture Version.

Note the above movie poster doesn't mention H.P. Lovecraft anywhere, or does the following British poster. However, the cover for the British DVD release plays off his name.





















The motion picture was Directed by David Greene. Between 1953 and this motion picture, his first, British Director Greene worked strictly on both British and American television programs. He would return basically to television after this film. Although he did Direct the 1973 musical, "Godspell". David Greene's television programs included, the 1976 mini-series, "Rich Man, Poor Man", and 1977's, "Roots". 

Although the "Official Writing Credits" list both H.P, Lovecraft and August Derleth for the novella. The only credits seen on-screen and posters belonged to, D.B. Ledov, who had only one more screenplay credit and that wasn't until 1979, and Nat Tanchuck, who was a 1950's "B" movie and television series writer.

However, the original screenplay was written, without on-screen credit, by the film's British Associate Producer Alexander Jacobs. Who wrote the screenplays for  three crime dramas,  Lee Marvin's, 1967, "Point Blank", 1973's, "The Seven-Ups", with Roy Scheider, and the Gene Hackman, 1975, "The French Connection II". Alexander Jacobs also wrote the screenplay for the hard hitting, two person World War 2 drama, 1968's, "Hell in the Pacific", starring Lee Marvin and Toshio Mifune.


The Main Cast:


Depending upon the country this motion picture was shown in, the three leads switched the number one and number two billings on both the posters and the actual opening credits. The motion picture was an American production, but it was filmed in the United Kingdom. The following list is based upon the first poster I used for this section.


Gig Young portrayed "Mike Kelton". Young had mainly been seen, at the time, on American television rather than the motion pictures he was known for. His two previous appearances were on the forgotten, one season, 1964 through 1965, television program "The Rogues". Followed by a 1966 appearance, on "The Red Skelton Hour". Gig Young would follow this feature with a made-for-television movie. Then his Oscar Winning Best Supporting Actor Academy Award role, for 1969's depressing drama, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"












Carol Lynley portrayed "Susannah Whately Kelton". Lynley was appearing on television, but made an impression in her first motion picture, 1959's, "Blue Denim", as a pregnant teenager. The same year she appeared opposite Teen Singing Idol, Fabian, in "Hound-Dog Man", Carol Lynley had the main role of "Allison MacKenzie" in 1961's, shocker, "Return to Peyton Place" and in 1964, she joined actresses, Ann-Margaret and Pamela Tiffin in the updated version of 1954's, "Three Coins in the Fountain". now moved from Rome to Madrid, as "The Pleasure Seekers". In, 1965, Carol Lynley battled actress Carol Baker, in dueling motion picture biographies of "Jean Harlow".














My article, "JEAN HARLOW: The 1965 Biographical Motion Picture Race", for those who may be interested, will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/05/jean-harlow-1965-biographical-motion.html


Oliver Reed portrayed "Ethan".  Reed was great at playing either troubled, or truly evil roles. Those roles, at times, hid his comic talent. Which came out in Director Carol Reed's 1973, "Three Musketeers" as "Athos". 

Reed had a contract with Hammer Films and was the title character in the excellent, 1961, "The Curse of the Werewolf", was in Hammer's creepy rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock's, "Psycho", 1963's, "Paranoiac". The actor had a rare good-guy role in Hammer's version of the story of "Dr. Syn", "Night Creatures", starring Peter Cushing.








Flora Robson portrayed "Aunt Agatha". Character actress Robson's career varied in roles. In 1937 she portrayed "Queen Elizabeth I", and in the 1937 Charles Laughton and Merle Oberon, "I Claudius", Flora Robson was the 4th billed, "Livia". The actress repeated the role of "Queen Elizabeth" in Errol Flynn's 1940, "The Sea Hawk", had another 4th billing as "Ftatateeta" in the Claude Rains, Vivian Leigh and Stewart Granger, 1945, version of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra". I first saw Robson as the "Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi", in 1963's, "55 Days at Peking", starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven. For fans of Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen, the actress was one of the "Stygian Witches" in 1981's, "Clash of the Titans".







The Actual Screenplay:


The screenplay changes the novella and it now takes place on the "Island of Dunwich", located off the Massachusetts coast. Kent and Norfolk, England, substituted for the United States and the island.

The picture opens, as a little girl saying her prayers, is tucked her into bed in their Mill House by her mother. Next, the audience sees the girl's mother and father asleep. Using the camera as eyes, something comes out of a room with a bright red door. The rest of the Mill House are in muted browns and greys and the red door has a peep-hole surrounded with spikes.






















Whatever has left the room, goes down the stairs and enters the nursery with the sleeping girl. She awakes and suddenly screams at whatever is staring back at her. The little girl's mother and father awake and she tells him:
You forgot to lock the door!

The little girl's mother is attacked and falls to the floor. Whatever left the room takes a swipe at the father, but he is able to force it back up the stairs and into "The Shuttered Room" and lock the door. Again, these entire scenes are with the camera as eyes.




















Above, Robert Cawdon as "John Whately, Susannah's Father". Next to him is, Ceclia Hewitt, as "Aunt Sarah".  A little confusion on the cast listings is found with Cawdon also listed as "Luther Whately", but so is Rick Jones. I believe Jones actually had the role.

The screaming little girl's face now morphs into the older "Susannah Whately Kelton". Who has convinced her husband, "Mike Kelton", to take a vacation visit to the island and the family Mill House! 

After "Susannah's" parent's funeral, her aunt had sent the four-years-old girl to New York, not clear as to who, because the film never even shows the funeral. So, she grew up away from the family curse "Susannah" knew nothing about, but had a childhood plagued with horrible dreams that finally stopped.

 













It's not as clear as it should be, that "Ethan" is the son of "Uncle Zebulon", played by William Devlin, but "Ethan" believes he was to inherit the Mill House and other property until "Susannah" turned up. 





























Above Barnard Kay as "Tait" and William Devlin as "Zebulon Whately".

As "Susannah" and her husband look over the deserted and cobb-webbed filled house. At the kitchen window, "Ethan" makes his entrance looking at them. He enters and informs the two that "Aunt Agatha" wants to see them.



"Aunt Agatha" lives in a abandoned watch tower on the coast with her pet eagle. She seems to be the only person, on the island of "Dunwich", that knows what's really going on. "Aunt Agatha" tells " Mike" that his wife's parents were killed by "Lightening". Which is the story told to "Susannah". She warns him that if he lets her stay on the island that may happen to "Susannah".













Back at the Mill House, "Susannah" and "Mike" enter her old cob-webbed nursery. She notices her old dollhouse. Telling her husband, that sometimes when she looked at it. She was sure somebody was looking back at her. "Susannah" picks up her old doll and "Mike" watches his wife become the traumatized four-years-old little girl of the past.








Later, "Ethan's" gang attacks "Mike" just outside of town. While this diversion is taking place, "Ethan", who is sexually attracted to his cousin, breaks into the Mill House. He locates "Susannah" and attempts to rape her, but things don't go as he planned.




















There is something strange about "Susannah", almost like it isn't her. "Ethan" panics, runs out and finds himself at the "Red Door". Something compels him to unlock it, he enters, and learns the secret of the room. Which kills him by tossing "Ethan" out of the second story window. 

The ending is a complete twist and confuses almost everyone who has seen the motion picture. As up to this point, they and you will think you've figured out the secret of "The Shuttered Room".







Above is Ann Bell portraying, what the "Official Cast Listing" and IMDb state is, "Mary, Susannah's" mother". So, why was Carol Lynley listed as also playing someone named "Sarah"? 

You'll just have to find out for yourself and this obscure film is well worth the look.



THE DUNWIH HORROR released January 14, 1960






H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" was originally published in the April 1929 issue of "Weird Tales". 

The story takes place in the isolated village of Dunwich, Massachusetts, after the birth of "Wilbur Whateley". His mother was a deformed and unstable of mind Albino. His father, if you believe his mad grandfather, "Old Man Whateley", was the "Old One", "Yog-Sothoth"

"Wilbur" matures into a full-grown man in only a decade, but gives off a strange odor. With his grandfather, the two have hidden something in their farm house and year, after year, it is growing. While, "Wilbur's" mother suddenly disappears and cows and other large animals keep disappearing that belong to the "Whateley's" neighbors.

"Wilbur Whateley" now ventures into Arkham and the "Miskatonic University" to obtain a copy of the Necronomicon. The family copy is damaged and he needs the University's copy to obtain the spells necessary to open the door to the "Old Ones". The University refuses to release a copy of the book and when "Wilbur" attempts to steal it at night. A guard  dog attacks and kills him. The noise brings three professors, led by "Professor Henry Armitage", and they watch the body of "Wilbur Whateley" melt before their eyes and leave no trace he ever existed.

Whatever was being kept at the farmhouse is now free to roam the village. It is invisible and kills a police officer and two families. The three professors arrive with the tools needed to stop and kill it. They use a magic powder to make the thing visible, which sends one man into shock, and then they hear it babble in some ancient tongue. They three professors use a spell to kill it and in English, "Wilbur Whateley's" twin brother calls to their father "Yog-Sothoth" for help. 


The Motion Picture Version:


One again the picture was made by "Alta-Vista Productions" and released by "American International Pictures". "AIP" originally planned the film for 1963 as an American-Italian co-production, but that was shelved. 

The motion picture was Directed by Daniel Haller of "Die, Monster, Die!". Haller said the motion picture idea was resurrected after the success of Director Roman Polanski's, 1968, "Rosemary's Baby". 

In the April 18, 1969, issue of "The San Francisco Examiner", in writer Jeanne Miller's article, "Rosemary Is Expecting Again, in Mendocino", the location for the exterior shoot, Daniel Haller is quoted as saying:

We were not making a Gothic horror story. We want a much more contemporary image - one that will bring witchcraft and necromancy in an area of credibility, at least to some extant.


The screenplay was written by three writers. This was his first screenplay of just nine for Curtis Hanson,. Henry Rosenbaum was a television writer. He would follow this picture with 1970's, "A Bullet for Pretty Boy", starring Teen Idol Fabian, as "Pretty Boy Floyd". The third writer was Ronald Silkosky, who would write just one other motion picture.



The Main Cast:

Sandra Dee portrayed "Nancy Wagner". Dee hoped this picture was her escape from the wholesome image she had been playing with "Gidget", "Tammy", and similar roles. For the last three years, Dee had not made one motion picture, or appeared on television. Her contract with Universal International had expired in 1969. 













Dean Stockwell portrayed "Wilber Whateley". Stockwell, started acting at the age of nine in 1945. The actor was known for 1945's, "The Boy with Green Hair", about the plight of World War 2 orphans, the Gregory Peck antisemitism film, 1947's, "Gentleman's Agreement", 1950's, version of Rudyard Kipling's, "Kim", with Errol Flynn and the 1959's crime drama. "Compulsion", starring Orson Welles, and was working mainly on television by this year.












Ed Begley portrayed "Dr. Henry Armitage". Like Dean Stockwell, one-time solid motion picture supporting actor Begley, 1957's, "12 Angry Men", starring Henry Fonda, 1962's, "Sweet Bird of Youth", starring Paul Newman and 1968's, "Hang 'Em High", starring Clint Eastwood. Had been concentrating on television appearances since the 1960's.





Lloyd Bochner portrayed "Dr. Cory". Since he started acting in 1951, Bochner had always primarily been a television actor. However, his film career did include, Director William Castle's, 1964, "The Night Walker", starring Robert Taylor and his ex-wife, Barbara Stanwyck, the Carrol Baker, 1965, "Sylvia" and Carol Lynley's, 1965, "Harlow".





















Sam Jaffe portrayed "Old Whateley. Depending on if you're into fantasy, adventure, crime dramas, science fiction, or television. Will decide how you look upon Sam Jaffe. In 1937, he was the "High Lama", in Director Frank Capra's version of the James Hilton novel, "Lost Horizon", in 1939, Jaffe was the title role in Director George Stevens version, of Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din", in 1950, the actor was behind the jewelry store robbery gone wrong, in Director John Huston's, "The Asphalt Jungle". Then in 1951, he portrayed "Professor Jacob Barnnhardt", in Director Robert Wise's classic science fiction, "The Day the Earth Stood Still".







The Actual Screenplay:


A woman groans in labor in what appears to be a bedroom from a by-gone era. She is under the care of two women who appear to be twins and they help her out of the room and past an elderly man who has been watching everything.













Cut to:

"Dr. Henry Armitage" finishing a lecture at the "Miskatonic University" on local history and the book, the Necronomicon. He now gives the copy he's been using to his student, "Nancy Wagner" to return it to the University's library. As she walks to the library, a man follows "Nancy", approaches her, and introduces himself as "Wilbur Whateley".






"Wilbur" would like to see the book, but it is near closing time and "Nancy" says she can't give it to him. However, she has been looking into his strange almost hypnotic eyes and she hands "Whateley" the 
Necronomicon. "Dr. Armitage" arrives and takes the book, "Wilbur" leaves, and "Armitage", who has been researching the "Whateley" family, gives "Nancy" a warning about the young man. 

Cut to:

"Nancy" is on her own way home and spots "Wilbur" at the bus stop. He has missed his ride, or has he? She offers to drive him back to the "Whateley" house.

On the outskirts of "Dunwich", "Nancy" stops at a gas station and meets the first signs that the locals do not like, or is it they're afraid of, "Wilbur Whateley"?

At the house she meets "Wilbur's" kindly grandfather, "Old Man Whateley". Who disables her car and drugs "Nancy Wagner". 

Later, "Wilbur" breaks into the University library and steals the Necronomicon and begins reading it at home.


























Now, under the influence of drugs and hypnotic suggestion, "Nancy" decides to stay at the "Whateley" house. Even after "Dr. Armitage" and her good friend, "Elizabeth Hamilton", played by Donna Baccala, arrive to find out what happened to her.





















The two do not abandoned "Nancy" and suspect something is going on. Investigating they discover that "Wilbur's" mother, "Lavinia Whateley", played by Joanne Moore Jordan, is still alive and in an asylum.

The two go to the town doctor, "Dr. Cory". Who tells them that "Lavinia Whateley" gave birth to twins, but one was still born. The doctor was out of town at the time and did not deliver the twin boys.

 The following day, "Elizabeth" is advised by the locals that "Wilbur's" twin still lives somewhere inside the "Whateley House". She enters, nobody is around, and finds a locked door.















She opens it and meets "Wilbur's" brother, who kills her and escapes. The movie uses psychedelic imagery related to the brother's appearance.









"Wilbur" and the still drugged "Nancy" return to the house to find ":Old Man Whateley" angry over "Elizabeth" and "Wilbur's" now missing brother. The grandfather starts an argument with his grandson and during it. The "Old Man" falls down some stairs and dies.

"Wilbur" now takes the body of his grandfather for a non-Christian burial, but the townspeople show up and force the funeral to be stopped.





Meanwhile, "Wilbur's" twin brother is running amok in the town of "Dunwich" and the surrounding houses. Several people are murdered, "Lavinia Whateley" suddenly just dies in the asylum looking decades older than her 45 years. 





While, somehow, the "Whateley" house explodes and burns to the ground.

On the top of a cliff, "Wilbur Whateley" prepares to sacrifice "Nancy Wagner" to bring back the "Old Ones". "Dr. Armitage" arrives and a battle of counter spells will take place.














































"Wilbur" calls upon his father, "Yog-Sothoth" to help him fight "Dr. Armitage's" reverse spells.





In the end, "Wilbur Whateley" is struck by lightening and is killed along with his twin.
Both "Dr. Henry Armitage" and "Dr. Cory" are thankful that the "Whateley's" are no more and "Nancy Wagner" is safe.

The film ends with the audience discovering "Nancy" is pregnant with "Wilbur's" child.



BONUS FOR WHOVIANS:


Unless you are of my generation and had seen Patrick Troughton's "2nd Doctor Who" when the programs originally came out. There were several episodes that, to make more recording tape available for the BBC, simply were erased!

Among one of these programs was the surprising tie-in to H.P. Lovecraft. That the following blog article reveals:

"H.P. LOVECRAFT MEETS DR. WHO: The Old Ones and the Time Lords",

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/07/hp-lovecraft-meets-dr-who-old-ones-and.html

























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