Wednesday, March 22, 2017

There's Morphine Where That Came From

Quite at ease playing zany neurotics,
Japanese, or else any exotics
This character star
From the bar won't stray far
As he freezes his brain with narcotics.

David Cairns

According to The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre, as a young man, Lorre suffered a ruptured appendix and underwent surgery. When a second surgeon treated further complications in 1925, he prescribed morphine to soothe the discomfort. This was the beginning of Lorre's lifelong dependence on morphine. Image: The Lost One (Peter Lorre, 1951)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dialect For Murder

With an accent incredibly thick
Bela lacks in street cred, sounds ridic
Racketeering's not right
Drac seems weird, without bite
His attacks cause no dread in this flick.

David Cairns

Béla Lugosi as your standard Hungarian gangster in Black Friday (Arthur Lubin; 1940).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Three Wise Menaces

Three menaces bend in a huddle
Old friends, with their tendrils they cuddle
And, brandishing knives
And handguns, the lives
Of enemies end in a puddle.

Baddies Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff conspire in You'll Find Out (David Butler; 1940).

Sunday, March 19, 2017

She Boops to Conquer

From days of the pre-code hot mama
To sex symbols in Cinerama,
The tangiest poon
In any cartoon
Was Betty, the feline's pajama.

Donald B. Benson

Betty Boop in Red Hot Mamma (Dave Fleischer; 1934).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hail to the Thief

Groucho's pumped up with power in "Duck Soup"
They blast trumpets, strew flowers, loudly whoop
But no prince, he's a heel
He'll throw insults and steal
Like that chump in his tower - what a poop!

David Cairns

Top: Zeppo and Groucho Marx in Duck Soup (Leo McCarey; 1933); Above: Mike Pence and Donald Trump in Beelzebub Over the White House (Alan Smithee; 2017).

Friday, March 17, 2017

Stooge Struck

A profane little ditz and what's more
Mundane little Fritz ain't top-drawer
The guy's unprepared   
By surprises is scared
Which explains why the brain hits the floor. 

Dwight Frye as Fritz in Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931). Drop everything, it's Dwight Frye-Days.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thrifty Shades of Crayola

It's rotten and witless "suspense"
The plotting omits common sense
Though they shot it in color
It could not be much duller
Not a lot at such little expense.

Lobby cards for Scared to Death (Christy Cabanne;1947). Top: Béla Lugosi, Molly Lamont; Above: Gladys Blake, Lugosi, Angelo Rossitto, and Nat Pendelton. One of only two color films with Lugosi, and the only one with him as a star. It's awful, but it does contain a few eerie visual bits, caught here. Title by nifty Donald B. Benson.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Apes of Wrath

A criminal scientist/monkey
And his simian, spine-snapping flunky
Two screwballs who kill
Tap fluids at will
It's flimsy, it's minor, it's clunky.

Dr. James Brewster (Bela Lugosi) spots his next victim in The Ape Man (William Beaudine; 1943). With Emil Van Horn in the ape suit. A Monogram release.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Play Mystic For Me

Don't doze near Lugosi the mystic
Lord knows the old pro goes ballistic
The guy gets his kicks
With dynamite sticks
And those who oppose turn statistic.

Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre do their best to enliven the wretched Kay Kyser comedy, You'll Find Out (David Butler; 1940).

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brokeback Monkey

The perverted old quack flips his wig
Now a spurt from your back he would swig
But before this ordeal
He gets floored by Emil
And his vertebra crack like a twig.

David Cairns

Emil Van Horn is the man in the ape suit, hench-monkey to Béla Lugosi, The Ape Man (William Beaudine; 1943). Attempting to reverse his condition, Lugosi injects the spinal fluid from his murder victims. Makes sense to me. Title by Donald "B for Brokeback" Benson.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Hench Frye


You'd wager the slob's not too bright 
Engage him for jobs done by night 
Low-rung, not topnotch,
He'll bungle and botch
Enraged torch-lit mobs will make right. 

Colin Clive and Dwight Frye in Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931). Dwight Frye-Days does the dirty work at LimerWrecks.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Beast is None Too Good

Be wary of primates hirsute
Take care when you eye a large brute
They're feral and wild
But hairy and mild?
Who's scared of a guy in a suit?

Minerva Urecal and Emil Van Horn in The Ape Man (William Beaudine; 1943). Urecal pays the sister of star, Béla Lugosi, the mad doctor of the title. You might know her as "Mother" on the TV series Peter Gunn. Title by Donald "Beastly" Benson.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Ape Man Cometh

This doctor's a cheap missing link
A schlocky old B movie fink
Commits crimes in a spree
Then he climbs in a tree
The blockhead should see a good shrink.

Béla Lugosi and Emil Van Horn (as the ape) in The Ape Man (William Beaudine; 1943).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Not at Home on the Range

On attractive young hotties he dove
And snacked on carotids, by Jove!
He was scary, exotic
And his stare was hypnotic
Now Dracula plots by a stove.

Anne Nagel and Bela Lugosi in a lobby card for Black Friday (Arthur Lubin; 1940).

Monday, March 6, 2017

Creepy and Beery

In Horror, as Drac he would roam
Post-gore, he relaxed at his home
He'd open a beer
With cold cuts -- a schmear --
And pour it for maximum foam.

Bela Lugosi circa 1940.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Great Brain Robbery


The theft didn't go as he planned
He was effed by a bony left hand
This one's beastly, insane
But at least it's a brain
And bereft, Fritz just knows he'd be canned.

It's Dwight Frye-Day! Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931). Title by brainy Donald B. Benson.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

An Accent to Grind

Here's Bela, top-billed in a gang
What fells him is villainous slang
His tongue in a tangle
He'll bungle and mangle
No telling what fills each harangue.

Left to right: Béla Lugosi, Paul Fix, Edmund MacDonald, and Raymond Bailey in Black Friday (Arthur Lubin; 1940).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Black Friday On My Mind

Trading brains is a dangerous game
Though it's plain, when exchanged, there's acclaim
But the sad old recipient
Finds madness incipient
Goes insane, quite deranged. It's a shame.

David Cairns

Boris Karloff and Anne Gwynne in Black Friday (Arthur Lubin; 1940). Karloff''s character transplants the brain of a gangster into a bookish college professor. Writer Curt Siodmak would revisit this theme again in his novels Donovan's Brain and Hauser's Memory, as well as several screenplays.