Friday, August 10, 2012

Battle Royale #4: Battle of the Horror Movie Giants

Welcome to the fourth Battle Royale here at The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World.   It is an ongoing series that will pit two classic cinematic greats against each other - and you can vote for who is the greater by clicking your choice over in the poll at the top of the sidebar.

With our fourth edition of the popular Battle Royale, we are going to get a little scary.  I remember first seeing many of these two great actor's films on late night television.  Back when I was growing up - that would be the 1970's and early 1980's if you are keeping score at home - before there was constant 24/7 TV broadcasting, there was a thing called the late show.  These late shows, or sometimes, late late shows, were where I first saw such classic horror movies as Dracula and Frankenstein and The Black Cat and King Kong and The Wolf Man and The Creature From the Black Lagoon and many many more.  These films had stars such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Lon Chaney, Sr. and Jr. - not to mention Julie Adams in that white bathing suit in The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  But none of these great stars were a match for the two that are invariably numbers one and two on any self-respecting classic horror movie star list - Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

Béla Ferenc Deszo Blascó was born in 1882 in the town of Lugos, in what then was called the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and is now called Romania.  After changing his name to Bela Lugosi (taking his stage name from his hometown), the great actor became famous for portraying Bram Stoker's legendary Count Dracula on both stage and screen.  Meanwhile, William Henry Pratt, born in 1887 in London England, and going by the name of Boris Karloff, became equally as famous as Mary Shelley's creation, Frankenstein's Monster.  Always rivals (Lugosi was the first choice to play the monster in James Whale's film) but also always friendly and cordial to each other, Karloff and Lugosi were the kings of Universal Horror in the hey days of the 1930's.  When the horror craze began to wear down (it would speed back up again then in the 50's) it was Lugosi's career that would be damaged the most.  He would end said career with a series of films with the notoriously terrible director Ed Wood.  Meanwhile, Karloff's career (and the actor would not get typecast as badly as his rival, able to make some non-horror films as well) would pick back up again, albeit in the most b-picture manner, until one of his final roles as Byron Orlok, a not so thinly disguised version of himself, in Peter Bogdanovich's 1968 debut masterpiece Targets.

So you must ask yourself, is it Lugosi's creepy charm or Karloff's wicked charisma that gets your vote?  Do you go for the guy who was buried in one of his Dracula capes (at his son and widow's bequest, not his own as is commonly believed) or the man who gave voice to that mean one, Mr. Grinch?  The man who gave blood sucking its original debonair style (long before today's glittering fops turned such a thing into a running joke) or the man who bitch slaps a lone gunman into submission at the end of Targets?  The man who scared the bejeezus out of poor Lou Costello or the man that scared the bejeezus out of poor Lou...oh, yeah, they both did that.  Anyway, it is time to pick your favourite of the horror movie giants.  Karloff or Lugosi.  All you need do is go on over to the poll sitting up there at the top of the sidebar, and make your choice.  You can make as many comments as you wish on this post (and please do just that) but for your vote to count, you must vote in the poll in the sidebar.  You will have three weeks to get your vote in, at which time we will announce the scary victor of our fourth Battle Royale.  And also, if you have any ideas for future battles (preferably in the classic cinema mold), please let me know.  And let's try to get into the triple digits in voter turnout this time around.


7 comments:

David Blakeslee said...

I chose Boris based on greater familiarity with his work and admiration for the way he mounted his comeback in the late 50s. I enjoyed The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood when I reviewed them for my blog... I guess Karloff's Criterion connection sealed the deal and won my vote!

stan wong said...

Unfortunately, Bela's career was cut short by an earlier death and he had a more difficult time starring or playing great parts in the cinema during some lean years. He is the iconic Dracula but he enjoyed some wonderful turns as both the Monster and Ygor. With Karloff's long distinguished career and 3 Frankenstein Monster roles that I know for sure he played..I need to go with Karloff. I think him being the voice of the Grinch makes it more in Karloff's favor. Karloff by a whisker (or two)!

The Movie Waffler said...

I’m putting together a new blogathon. It’s called “Winning Streak” and the idea is that you write about what you consider to be the most impressive unbroken run of great movies from a chosen film-maker. So for example mine would be Robert Altman’s run from Brewster McCloud (1970) to Nashville (1975) where in my opinion he made seven fantastic movies.
Let me know if you fancy taking part.

Kevyn Knox said...

Movie Waffler, count me in - and reserve me a Powell/Pressburger run.

The Movie Waffler said...

Ooo P&P, good choice. Email me at moviewaffle@gmail.com when you're good to go

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting.

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