Monday, January 31, 2011

The Mummy's Verse

A pyramid's myriad rooms
include a few secreted tombs
Where mummies that slumber
will get up and lumber
when sniffing the tana leaf fumes

Martin Kosleck, Peter Coe and Lon Chaney Jr. ignore The Mummy's Curse (Leslie Goodwins, 1944).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tomb Nadir

Most ancient remains are unsightly
So Mummies are wrapped good and tightly
Beset by a curse
their tombs they traverse
Though slowly: the dead aren't sprightly

Boris Karloff and Bramwell Fletcher in a still and lobby card for The Mummy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sin of Thoth

Deciphering scrolls hieroglyphic,
the thrill that he feels is terrific
But also desirous
of ancient papyrus
is something he finds is horrific

While reading the scroll of Thoth, Bramwell Fletcher is driven mad by the sight of The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932). The images on this post were stolen from the sarcophagus at Arbogast on Film, here, where they're part of the blog's terrific annual feature, 31 Screams.

Friday, January 28, 2011


An ancient Egyptian high priest
as mummy from tomb is released
He tries to uncover
his long ago lover
in spite of the fact she's deceased

The "uncanny" Boris Karloff as Imhotep, with Zita Johann in The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life and Limbo

When Death gets stuck up in a tree,
The planet's mortality-free
But endless longevity
Is no cause for levity
Get a stepladder, ASAP!

David Cairns

Lionel Barrymore traps
Death (Cedric Hardwicke) in his apple tree, causing consternation in the medical profession in On Borrowed Time (Harold S. Bucquet, 1939). All so he can spend more time with child actor Bobs Watson, who plays his grandson, 'Pud'.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Sir (Cedric) With Love

More pleasing than any old card trick
Was wonderful Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Bags under his eyes
Of staggering size
Fine thespian by any yardstick

David Cairns

Sir Cedric Hardwicke's performances could be quite eccentric. In The Hunchback of Notre Dame (below) he seems to stare at Maureen O'Hara's cleavage for entire scenes, as David notes on his blog Shadowplay, here.
Image source: Doctor Macro's Movie Scans; Classic Movie Monsters.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dripping Yarn

In London it's thought of as rude
To go for a dip in the nude
But naked cavorting
Brings ape men a-courting
And in jungles one can't be a prude.

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan's naked body double frolic underwater in Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons, 1934). In a scene that is decidedly pre-code, Tarzan rips off Jane's clothing and pushes her into the water. Johnny Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer and won 5 gold and one bronze medal. Watch this astonishing scene on Youtube, here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Monkey Businessman

The law of the jungle is plain
A man has to master domain
But the lord of the jungle
got something that's fungal
from messing with Cheeta, not Jane

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jungle Book of Names

Once Jane had stopped playing it coy
she soon bore a bundle of joy
Her favorite names
were Jay, Jon and James,
but Tarzan kept calling him "Boy"

So long to actor Johnny Sheffield, who died last October. The late actor’s widow, Patty, has stated that Johnny suffered a heart attack four hours after falling off a ladder while pruning a palm tree. “He was a jungle boy to the end,” Patty said.

Starting with Tarzan Finds a Son (1939), Sheffield played Boy in the Tarzan films, and later the title character in his own series, Bomba the Jungle Boy. Top: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and Johnny Sheffield in Tarzan's Secret Treasure (Richard Thorpe, 1941); Above: With Cheeta the chimp in Tarzan's New York Adventure (Thorpe, 1942); Below: Sheffield as Bomba.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Naked Came Me

The ape man was wild more than bad
But Jane drove the jungle king mad
He just couldn't wait
to make her his mate
because she was scantily clad

Weissmuller and O'Sullivan return to their roots (and vines) in the pre-code classic, Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons, 1934).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jungle Drum Boogie

In tree-house as honeymoon suite
their hearts like the jungle drums beat
Though watched by a chimp
her body goes limp
as Tarzan sweeps Jane off her feet

Maureen O'Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller go native in the pre-code Tarzan the Ape Man (W. S. Van Dyke, 1932).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hollywood and Vines

While swinging on vines through the trees
His loincloth would flap in the breeze
And lifting his britches
He'd scratch at what itches
Then pick off the nits from the fleas

Johnny Weissmuller goes out on a limb as Tarzan the Ape Man.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ooze and Oz

Where farmhouses spin in the sky
and witches will shrivel and die
The wizard is scary
and trees are nightmare-y
and monkeys wear jackets and fly.

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming [and others], 1939) is one of the most vivid and terrifying memories of my childhood--and I only knew it in black-and-white on television. Margaret Hamilton was a wicked witch to remember. This tops my personal Childhood Chills.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Calling All Mars

The grownups just don't understand
The Martians have started to land
They hide underground,
and when you're around,
they suck you down into the sand.

They're pulling out all of the stops
They've taken control of the cops
Be sure that you check
for holes in their neck,
like those in my mom and my pops.

Fifties paranoia and sci-fi meet in Invaders From Mars (William Cameron Menzies, 1953), pre-dating the similarly themed Invasion of the Body Snatchers. With wonderfully stylized color and sets designed to exaggerate a child's perspective (see the police station, above), this boy's-eye view of an alien invasion scared the holy heck out of me as a kid--even in black-and-white on TV! Forget the aliens--I had nightmares about being sucked into quicksand! There's more Childhood Chills still to come.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Future Schlock

She travels through time in a race
as scientists try to keep pace
The future will need
a man for his seed
But first she must steal someone's face

This cheapie was titled in error
It's lacking both budget and terror
A time-travel mess
that says, more or less,
beware of a stolen face wearer

Youthful Norm Knott was terrified by the hideous high-heeled face-stealing woman-from-the-future with the hypnotic fingernails. Or maybe it was her four-eyed cat? In any case, Terror From the Year 5000 (Robert J. Gurney Jr, 1958) was another of our Childhood Chills. It was originally released on a double-bill with the equally execrable, The Screaming Skull.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Screaming Skull Fracture

Today this old thriller seems dull
Its pacing one long, dragging lull
And though it is bad,
when I was a lad
I cringed when I watched Screaming Skull!

Girlie Hack
Peggy Webber plays an unstable wife that's driven mad by The Screaming Skull (Alex Nicol, 1958). As much as I hate to admit it, as a boy I was frightened watching this snooze-fest on television. Stay tuned for more Childhood Chills!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bed Head

An actor, much loved for Dad's Army,
(A show that would never alarm me)
is murdered in bed
when they saw off his head
(The fellow that did it is barmy)

Cairns the Bairn

David Cairns was given the Childhood Chills by Theatre of Blood (1973) . Dave, what were you thinking? This isn't a kids movie! In the film, the thoroughly mad Vincent Price and Dianna Rigg (in drag) decapitate Arthur Lowe, an actor best known for the British television sit-com and film, Dad's Army.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just Shoot Me in the 2nd Amendment

The mantra is guns do not kill
But madmen who shoot them sure will
Plus gangbanger thugs
at war over drugs
Let's give the gun lobby the bill

There is more than one form of insanity in the United States of America.

Cave Emptor

When Cyclops burst out of that cave
I didn't know how to behave:
To switch off the telly,
or quiver like jelly?
So I sat and just tried to be brave.

David "Cowardly" Cairns

Young David was terrified by The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan H. Juran, 1958), which featured the stop-motion creatures of animator Ray Harryhausen, as well as a score by Bernard Herrmann. Below: Photo © Watson-Guptill Publications. Chilhood Chills continues...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Giant Filler

A giant from somewhere unknown
refused to let small me alone
--That's to say, my young thoughts
(which knew naught of 'ought's) --
each time that this turkey was shown

Mrs. Henry Windle Vail

Welcome to Childhood Chills at Limerwrecks, where we recall films that scared the pants off us when we were young--even though they may now seem harmless or ridiculous. Writer Mrs. Henry Windle Vail's childhood was haunted by the Giant From the Unknown (Richard E. Cunha, 1957), a no-budget monster movie from the director of She Demons and Missile to the Moon. The title character (with make-up created by Jack Pierce) is a giant Conquistador that is revived by lightning, and harasses a mountain town inhabited by Sally Forrest and Morris Ankrum. Watch a clip on Youtube, here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hold the Phone Booth

Just glasses, a suit and a tie
and "Supes" was a different guy
Not Olsen or Lane,
nor White paired the twain
As logic that bit doesn't fly

John Hamilton, George Reeves, Jack Larson and Noel Neil in the Adventures of Superman.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Four Star General Electric

His act at the carnival shows
is taking the juice 'til he glows
A doctor then jolts
the dolt with more volts
and charges the guy 'til he blows

As part of his nefarious plan to build a superhuman army, mad scientist Lionel Atwill turns sideshow performer Lon Chaney Jr. into a Man-Made Monster (1941).