Halloween is just a few weeks away, and Farmer’s Almanac is predicting some pretty nasty weather just around the corner, so what else is there to do but curl up on the couch with a good movie and possibly an even gooder adult beverage, or many. I mean, yeah, maybe you can take up a hobby like woodworking – but to some, this IS a hobby, so its a win win in the deepest philosophical sense. I posit the following for your cinematic, and drinking, enjoyment:
1. Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943)
Directed by Roy William Neill Starring Lon Chaney, Jr, Illona Massey, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Maria OuspenskayaRarely does a sequel outshine the original, but Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman is not just your average monster rally, this one throws off more sparks than a Dr. Frankenstein’s Jacob’s Ladder. Lon Chaney, Jr. returns as tormented anti-hero Larry Talbot. By nights, he hunts victims in his cute little puppy-with-an-under bite form. By day, and the rest of the lunar calender, his human alter ego teams with the glorious Illona Massey, a woman once described as the female Bela Lugosi, to break the curse. When he meets up with The Monster: hijinks abound! The standout scene is the glorious Festival of the New Wine scene, where the villagers sing a rousing version of Faro Li Faro La before the killing and screaming starts. This is guaranteed to turn you into a howling beast:
2. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Jack Arnold (Dir.) Starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Whit Bissell and Ricou Browning
Full disclosure, I have a great personal connection with this film. A human fish hybrid myself, the Gillman is a hero of mine. This is a visually beautiful film. Our boy Gil is one heck of a charming anti-hero whilst cavorting in his secluded lagoon. The humans are the villains in this one – especially that jerk, Whit Bissell. While the sequels are both excellent, Creature is the gem here. Further, my buddy, Ricou Browning, was one serious looker back in the day. Check out this Aqua Buddha:
The underwater shots are hypnotic, and there is no scene more menacing than the one where he stalks an unsuspecting Julie Adams. While huddled in your couch fort, knock back a couple of these babies made from about six different kinds of rum. They’re as powerful as the Creature.
But please, DO NOT go swimming afterwards, because, it might be cold, and you probably want to wait an hour so afterward so you don’t get cramps, and it might be dark so watch out for sharks, unless you’re in a lake – and then watch for gators or platypus. However, if you do choose to swim, don’t drink, and always swim in a supervised area under the watchful eye of a certified Lifeguard.
3. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Lambert Hilyer (Dir.) Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden and Marguerite Churchill
This is one of my favorite lesser known horror films. Very atmospheric and tragic. Gloria Holden’s Countess Marya Zaleska is horrified by her parentage, and worse – her destiny as the undead. She is a tragic, lonely figure who tries, but eventually learns, she cannot escape her fate. Very loosely based on a Bram Stoker story by the name of Dracula’s Guest, it features some very heavy sapphic overtones — which was pretty dang scandalous back in its day. Apparently, even Universal exploited this a little in marketing. Also, Irving Pichel does a spot on impression of Moe Howard in a shiny disco shirt. Have a Blood Thirst Cocktail, if you dare! It’s got hot sauce in it!
4. Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Erle C. Kenton (Dir.) Lon Chaney Jr, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers
Okay, I admit it – I’m sweet on Lon Chaney Jr. He was overlooked as an actor, and you gotta admit –Dad was a pretty hard act to follow. I will state unequivocally though, that Junior was a better dramatic actor. Senior was bombastic and incredibly physically talented – and while he killed it as Eric, Quasimodo, and the Man in the Beaver Hat, he was NOT capable of the subtlety that came so effortlessly with Junior.
I can’t find a good cocktail that fits the Frankenstein theme. Curiously, they all seem to have fruit in them. Tropical ones. Because, yeah – fruity cruise ship drinks just scream Gothic Germanic horror. So, really, I got nothin’. Just knock back a couple of boiler makers and garlic brats. Or, really, just go straight for the Jager, but, don’t even bother with shots – just chug from the bottle like you’re hitting the NyQuil.
5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
James Whale (Dir.) Boris Karloff, Elsa Lancaster, Colin Clive, Ernest Thesiger
James Whale really hit his directorial stride with this gorgeous gem. Its predecessor, you know – the one about her boyfriend – while a great film, is a crude practice run. This is the real deal. Colin Clive is full-on manic in this one, and the post Bauhas school set design paved the way for every damn 80s Goth band with the exception of Gene Loves Jezebel because really – they were never a thing, were they?
The film boasts some gorgeous pre-cgi special effects and incredible cinematography, and two of the most amazing scenes in film history. The first, when Dr. Pretorius introduces his homunculi to his colleague. Made when optical printing was in its infancy and CGI wasn’t even a gleam in its daddy’s eye, this was some ground breaking technology for its time.
The second is the bride’s actual creation. It is an incredible thing of beauty. The tension, the lighting, and the split second pacing make for some of the most exciting viewing in film ever. Not even the original laboratory scene in Frankenstein comes close to the birth of the Bride.
Again, all of the online cocktails just don’t grasp the cosmic truth of The Bride. Her cool beauty and psycho kitten elegance do not scream black berry wine spritzers or Chambord whipped cream shooters, you know?
Out of pure frustration, and slavish genuflection unto the Bride herself, I posit this simple Gin and Tonic that is my favorite tipple at my favorite haunt. Splurge on some Ransom Wine & Spirit’s Old Tom Gin (it’s a little sweeter than your average London Dry) and a good quality tonic water (Q or Fever Tree, but Schweppes works in a pinch). Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and a handful of pink pepper corns. It is pure silk, with a bite, just like The Bride herself.
Bottom’s Up, Horror Kids. I’ll be back with more movies and more drinkin’ things. Until then…