Bonus: The Curse of Frankenstein

Watched: December 25 2017

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Valerie Gaunt

Year: 1957

Runtime: 1h 22min

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Victor Frankenstein (Cushing) is smart, ambitious, handsome, charming and rich. He is also an arrogant jerk. And imprisoned. He confesses to a priest and tells his unusual, and somewhat unbelievable, story.

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“It all started, as these things tend to do, with a dead dog…”

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Orphaned at a fairly young age, Baron Frankenstein hires his own tutor, Paul Krempe (Urquhart), to be his teacher and later partner. Together the two explore the world of science!

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That’s just normal glass – his eyes are really like that. If you don’t believe us, watch Top Secret (1984)

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Their greatest achievement, the reanimation of dead tissue, brings about different reactions in the two scientists. While Kempe’s initial reactions is “yay! This’ll make surgery so much easier and safer!”, Frankenstein’s first impulse is to go out and harvest body parts to make himself a new man-puzzle. Kempe finally starts to see the sociopath in his student, and they have a falling out.

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“It’s MY turn to reanimate the corpse!” “No, it’s MINE!” “Who’s the one paying for all this?” “Screw this, I’m out.”

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Things escalate when Victor straight up murders another intellectual to use his brain for his creation, and then uses his successfully assembled and animated creature (Lee) to kill his knocked up maid Justine (Gaunt) who threatens to expose his shady dealings if he does not marry her.

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“Sorry, sweetheart – you’re certainly not good enough for the likes of me. Think of what the children will be like??? No, I’m engaged to marry my cousin. Yay gene pool!”

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Meanwhile, Victor’s cousin Elizabeth (Court) has arrived to marry him, which adds another complication. With the death toll rising, a creature on the loose, a falling out between the friends, and a Fair Maiden innocently roaming the large house at night, how on earth will this end?

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Let’s face it: fancy, defenseless ladies roaming around castles in the night with only a small lamp for company are usually not indicative of happy endings…

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The Curse of Frankenstein is quite different from its early predecessor Frankenstein despite their many similarities. For one, the monster (or, in this case, creature) isn’t really all that important. As creepy and scary as Christopher Lee is in this, the focus is all on the Mad Scientist Victor Frankenstein.

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For such an unfortunate looking creature, he’s a surprisingly snappy dresser!

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Frankenstein himself is also very different. Personally, we feel that this take on the Baron is closer to the source material than many other incarnations – he really is an arrogant, egotistical, spoiled brat with a God complex in the book, no matter how bad he feels once everything falls apart. Cushing’s Frankenstein is particularly ruthless, and we love him for it. Well, not him as much as this version of events, we suppose. But we definitely love this film!

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…and this guy! #decompositionchic

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What we learned: If you’re going to stand up to a rich, insane, megalomaniac nobleman who doesn’t like being told what to do, you’d better have a contingency plan…

Next time: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

#54 Citizen Kane

Watched: October 22 2016

Director: Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles & the Mercury Actors

Year: 1941

Runtime: 1h 59min

Note: only Sister the Oldest watched this, as Sister the Youngest had fucked off to Oslo. Incidentally, she timed her trip so that she would avoid watching Citizen Kane… And unlike The Bank Dick, whose title no one could resist, Sister the Oldest couldn’t find anyone interested in watching this classic drama with her, so it was just her, a bottle of wine, and Orson Welles. She had a blast!

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It was terrific!

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We suppose no one really needs a recap of this classic, as it is generally considered the greatest film of all time. Still, we’ll give you a short summary. A rich, narcissistic publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane (Welles), dies alone in his vast mansion, and for some reason everyone knows his last word, “Rosebud,” even though he was clearly alone when he died.

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Our theory is he was overheard by a chatty ghost, as this place is clearly haunted!

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A journalist working on a newsreel of the magnate’s life (which was in no way based on real people, by the way! No siree, not at all!) sets out to find the meaning of Kane’s last word, and interviews old associates, friends and an ex-wife to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. He fails in that particular quest, but what he does find is a sad boy with abandonment issues and a slight case of megalomania. As for “Rosebud,” the audience are given the answer at the end of the film.

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Hint: it’s pictured here, and it is not wearing a top hat. #spoileralert

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I have to level with you, and admit that we were not looking forward to this. We both watched it in school when we were about 16 or 17, and found it incredibly boring, which is why S.t.Y. decided to skip town rather than rewatch it. I, S.t.O., wasn’t really excited either (while interested in film at 17, I was more into the Jackson and Raimi cult horror stuff than the Welles classics kind), but I have clearly matured a bit since 17 (thank God!) and this time around, I loved it.

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It even has a dance number! More than enough to keep me entertained.

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It had me from the Gothic opening and I was enthralled throughout. The story, the shots, the camera angles, the non-linear storytelling, not to mention the increasingly unlikable Kane, all come together to make a great film. One could spend hours (and paragraphs) analysing and commenting on the technical and artistic brilliance of Citizen Kane, but that has been done several times by people better qualified than me, so I shan’t even attempt it. I’ll just tell you this: if you were forced to watch it at a young age and didn’t like it, wait until you’re older and rewatch it. You won’t be sorry.

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I’d also like to point out that Welles was only 26 when Citizen Kane was released. Just to add to any inferiority complex you might have.

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What we learned: no matter how good your intentions, money and power corrupt.

Next time: Dumbo (1941)