The subtle trick Showtime's "Penny Dreadful is that it is far less about the blood, gore and the specter of gruesome death than the sharp pain and exhilarating pleasure of living, and the terror of feeling alone even in close company. Read our review in the May Picks section.
I suppose that it is somewhat appropriate that a biography of Bela Lugosi should come across as being interesting yet flawed because, and don't lynch me here, Lugosi fans, that is exactly how the man's film career and personal life panned out. I have a great love of all the horror greats of yester year and so have plenty of time for Lugosi. However, it has to be admitted that he made some poor choices - and the biggest, the rejecting of the Frankenstein's Monster role that made Karloff a legend, was made purely on egotistical grounds. A lot of his issues were of his own creating - lots of divorces, a four day marriage, drugs. Fair play to the man that he battled on - and you will never hear me disrespect an actor who is working, particular in the genre that made him, until his death. You won't hear me criticise the films of Ed Wood Jnr, Lugosi's last director, because his films were poor, low-budget efforts. Like Lugosi, he was trying his best. My biggest gripe? That excuses are made every step of the way in this documentary. Poor old Bela, all the time. Poor old Bela - trapped in mad scientist roles - as if that stopped Boris Karloff! Poor old Bela - all those marriage issues - didn't stop Oliver Hardy! Poor old Bela - stop making excuses! Bottom line - he was a horror legend who didn't quite keep the boat steady as well as Karloff - end of story! The other problem with this bio? Well, the background filming from Lugosi's home country and scenes of still superstitious villagers might be interesting but it feels tacked on. Feels like two documentaries trapped in one body - now there's an idea for a B-movie!
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