On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »
Martin Scorsese narrates this tribute to Val Lewton, the producer of a series of memorable low-budget horror films for RKO Studios. Raised by his mother and his aunt, his films often ... See full summary »
Shadows In The Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (Constantin Nasr, 2005; TV) ***
Serviceable rather than outstanding documentary (close to one hour in length) about Val Lewton, the celebrated producer of a series of nine classic - and highly influential - horror films made at RKO in the 1940s; it's part of Warner's 5-Disc THE VAL LEWTON COLLECTION Box Set (included as a double-feature with THE SEVENTH VICTIM ).
Apart from the films themselves (which are dealt with in more detail - though not all of them! - in the individual Audio Commentaries on their respective discs), it touches upon his entire life and career. Therefore, I was somewhat disappointed to find that CAT PEOPLE (1942) takes up a lot of the running-time - having been the first film in the series - while THE GHOST SHIP (1943) and ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945) are once again overlooked; in fact, the three Boris Karloff films are discussed simultaneously - with, for instance, BEDLAM (1946) cited as being Lewton's best film but with no proper context provided to back up such a statement (with which many would argue to begin with, myself included)!
Still, all the participants - including film-makers such as Joe Dante, William Friedkin, John Landis, George A. Romero and Robert Wise (at the time, the sole surviving member of Lewton's "Snake Pit" unit), as well as the critics/writers who contributed to the various Audio Commentaries (it was especially nice to be able to see the face behind the voice) - are clearly well-informed, enthusiastic and reverential about their subject, so that, in the end, the documentary proves well worth viewing (if not the penetrating look at the man himself - what really made him tick, essentially - one would have wished for).
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