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Boris Karloff

Before I Hang

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Before I Hang (1940) starring Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Edward Van Sloan

Before I Hang is a rather enjoyable Boris Karloff film, with a fine supporting cast, and a strong theme: the allure of eternal life. And a strong question: is murder in the blood?

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Boris Karloff biography

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William Henry Pratt (23 November 1887 — 2 February 1969), better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English  actor.

He was widely known for his roles in horror films, particularly for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931),  Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939), which resulted in his immense popularity. His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  (1966). He also had a memorable role in the original Scarface (1932). For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Bride of Frankenstein

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Bride of Frankenstein (1935) starring Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive
reviewed by: The masked reviewer

Bride of Frankenstein begins with Mary Shelley informing her friends that she has written a sequel to her masterpiece. She begins this story at the end of Frankenstein with Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) recovering from his injuries, and the mill fire still crackling. A curious villager and his worried wife are watching the fire when a familiar hand strangles the man and throws the wife down to her death.Minnie (Una O’Connor) starts screaming when she spots the monster walking away from the ruins. The monster runs away before the mobs can begin their monster hunt again. Henry refuses to accept the monster as his creation and decides to quiet the evil experiment business to follow in the family business.

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The Raven (1935)

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The Raven (1935), starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff

Synopsis of The Raven

A wealthy judge coaxes the brilliant but eccentric neurological surgeon Dr. Vollin (Bela Lugosi), who also has an obsessive penchant for Edgar Allen Poe, out of retirement to save the life of his daughter. She’s a dancer , crippled and brain-damaged in an auto wreck. Vollin restores her completely. But he also envisions her as his “Lenore”. He then cooks up a scheme to kidnap the woman and torture and kill her fiancee and father in his Poe-inspired dungeon. To do his dirty work, Vollin recruits a wanted criminal (Boris Karloff). He turns him into a hideous monster to guarantee his subservience.

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Bedlam (1946)

written by: The Masked Reviewer

After a friend of the portly aristocrat Lord Mortimer (Billy House) dies in an attempted escape from Bedlam. In order to appease the angered aristocrat, Master George Sims (Boris Karloff)  throws a party for Lord Mortimer and his friends at the asylum with the inmates as entertainment.

Master George Sims (Boris Karloff): (  referring to the inmates. )
Ours is a human world. Theirs is a bestial world, with reason, or soul.
Some are pigs, those I let wallow in their own filth.  They’re animals. Some are dogs, these I beat.  Some are are tigers, these I cage.
Some like this one are doves-
Nell Bowen: I’ve seen enough!

When the inmate known only as the Gilded Boy collapses while performing, Lord  Mortimer’s spirited protege Nell Bowen (Anna Lee) decides to fight for the inmates’ rights. While  Nell seeks the help from the law, Lord Mortimer and Master George Sims have arranged to have Nell locked up in bedlam herself. Now she must find a way to help the inmates from the inside, without becoming a madwoman herself.

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The Black Room (1935)

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Synopsis of  The Black Room (1935)

Boris Karloff is superb in a dual role as twin brothers (one evil, one good), born to the ruling family in the early 1800’s in Czechoslovakia. The bad twin inherits the castle and becomes infamous for his sadistic behavior and murders the good twin, assuming his identity so that he might continue his heinous acts.

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The Raven

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The Raven (1963) starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Jack Nicholson, Hazel Court

In short,  The Raven is one of the funniest movies that I’ve ever seen, in any genre. It has some truly scary moments as well, and gives some of the best horror actors of all time — Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre — room to work, and they do so wonderfully.

The movie is ever-so-loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, The Raven. And, in fact, Vincent Price plays the part of Dr. Erasmus Craven, the previously-unnamed narrator of the poem, who is mourning for his lost wife, Lanore (played by the beautiful and talented Hazel Court) — although his daughter Estelle (played by Olive Sturgess) tries to comfort him, he turns inward, and away from the world, a virtual recluse — until he gets a visit from the titular raven. A talking raven …

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The Body Snatcher [Boris Karloff]

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The Body Snatcher  (1945) starring Boris Karloff, Henry Daniell, Bela Lugosi

The Body Snatcher is considered by many to be Boris Karloff’s finest role–and they may well be right.   Unlike what the trailer for the movie says, this is not a team-up between Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.   Both appear in  The Body Snatcher, but in this tale Lugosi is strictly a secondary character, although important. And the scene between the two of them is definitely the most chilling of the film. “Stand still, man! How can I demonstrate if you won’t stand still?”

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Son of Frankenstein

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Son of Frankenstein (1939), starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill

Movie review of “Son of Frankenstein” starring Basil Rathbone as the son of the deceased mad scientist.  He tries to repair and revive the Monster to vindicate his father.  All the while Ygor (brilliantly played by Bela Lugosi) schemes to use the Monster for his own plans … for revenge.

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The Black Cat

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The Black Cat (1934) starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

 Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi appeared together in eight different horror films–but very likely, the best of them was the first,  The Black Cat  – a monster movie where the monsters are all too human.

Synopsis of  The Black Cat

A young American couple traveling by train on their honeymoon meet Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) where they are both going to the same destination.   Lugosi is returning home after a fifteen-year absence, having been a prisoner of war.  Which we later learn was due to the betrayal of his commanding officer, Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff).  This resulted in the death of thousands of his own men.   After a driving accident, they are all the “guests” of Karloff. Who doesn’t seem eager for any of them to leave …

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