The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.
- Audrey Hepburn

Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

User avatar
ken123
Posts: 1807
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 4:08 pm
Location: Chicago

Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby ken123 » May 12th, 2007, 11:39 pm

Val Lewton Produced a series of low budget horror film for RKO, in the 1940's. My favorite is THE SEVENTH VICTIM, about a group of Devil Worshippers in NYC,starring the wonderful Kim Hunter, I also like I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, starring the beautiful Francis Dee and Tom Conway, and THE LEOPARD MAN< starring Dennis O' Keefe and Margo. ISLE OF THE DEAD, which I have not seen in years is the one Lewton Horror that I do not care for. :wink:

User avatar
Dewey1960
Posts: 2514
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 7:52 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Postby Dewey1960 » May 13th, 2007, 12:04 am

My personal favorite is THE LEOPARD MAN, based on a mystery novel by Cornell Woolrich called "Black Alibi." More of a film noir than a horror story, it is nonetheless one of the creepiest films of the decade.

User avatar
dfordoom
Posts: 133
Joined: May 6th, 2007, 4:06 am
Location: Australia

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby dfordoom » May 13th, 2007, 4:51 am

ken123 wrote:ISLE OF THE DEAD, which I have not seen in years is the one Lewton Horror that I do not care for. :wink:


I loved Isle of the Dead. So wonderfully ambiguous and understated. The Lewyon movies were so good at dealing not so much with the supernatural, but with the effects of belief in the supernatural.

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 13th, 2007, 4:33 pm

It's hard to choose. I Walked with a Zombie is wonderful and perhaps contains the best camerawork. I love Boris Karloff and the three he made (The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead, Bedlam) in are very enjoyable. Curse of the Catpeople is not horror, but a beautiful fairy tale while the original Cat People is a great supense film. I thought The Seventh Victim was the most original story and wonderfully written. So, yeah it's a bit difficult to choose. Let's just say they're all great films and have done. :wink:

MikeBSG
Posts: 1777
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 5:43 pm

Postby MikeBSG » May 14th, 2007, 10:09 am

I guess my favorite is "The Body Snatcher." It opens so quietly, yet by the time it ends you are on the edge of your seat. karloff gives one of his best performances there. Henry Daniell is magnificent too.

"Cat people" comes in a close second. I like "The Seventh Victim" a lot, but I can't stand the male actors in that film, apart from tom Conway who is fine as Dr. Judd. When the actors make you appreciate kent Smith, you realize the movie is in trouble. "Cat People" is simply magic.

"Curse of the Cat People" is also very good, even if it isn't horror. I sometimes wonder if Tim Burton likes that movie, although I've never heard him talk about Val Lewton.

"The leopard Man" and "Bedlam" are also good.

I have never warmed to "Isle of the Dead," although the walk-in-the-dark scene near the end is quite powerful. My view of "I Walked With a Zombie" is unpredictable. Sometimes I like it, and other times I find it too genteel.

MikeBSG
Posts: 1777
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 5:43 pm

Postby MikeBSG » November 3rd, 2007, 2:30 pm

I just watched the classic French film "Le Corbeau" (1942) on DVD today, and it gave me an odd feeling. After a while, I realized that it reminded of "The Leopard Man" (1943).

SPOILERS

In "Le Corbeau," the town is sent into a panic by a series of poison pen letters, and the guilty party is this intellectual who was very friendly and helpful to the hero.

In "The Leopard Man," the town is frightened by a serial killer, who turns out to be an ex-professor who was very friendly and helpful to the hero.

I doubt there was any way Lewton could have seen "Le Corbeau," given that it was made in enemy-held territory during WWII. Still, the similarities are interesting. Also fascinating, in one scene, a character sets a hanging lamp swinging, foreshadowing similar effects in "Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Touch of Evil." There is a young girl who wears glasses who reminded me of Pat Hitchcock in "Strangers on a Train" as well.

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Postby Mr. Arkadin » November 4th, 2007, 11:02 pm

Le Corbeau (1943) is a great film. I had never noticed those similarites though until you pointed them out. Very interesting.

Gentree
Posts: 4
Joined: December 17th, 2007, 11:05 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Postby Gentree » December 29th, 2007, 3:19 pm

The Val Lewton box set is worth it for the small appearances of Jean Brooks in two of the films ("Leopard Man" and "The Seventh Victim").

User avatar
ken123
Posts: 1807
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 4:08 pm
Location: Chicago

Postby ken123 » December 29th, 2007, 3:27 pm

Gentree wrote:The Val Lewton box set is worth it for the small appearances of Jean Brooks in two of the films ("Leopard Man" and "The Seventh Victim").




I love Jean Brooks, too bad that her career never took off. :wink:

RedRiver
Posts: 4209
Joined: July 28th, 2011, 9:42 am

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby RedRiver » August 13th, 2011, 3:35 pm

Dormant since 2007, I'll address this thread about a unique and fascinating producer. The epitome of "Less is More," his dark, moody suspense dramas were about what you don't see. What's more frightening than the unknown? Quiet, small and brief, the Lewton films are as low budget as they come. That feature only enhances the effect.

His best films were directed by the talented Jacques Tourneur. THE LEOPARD MAN is the most suspenseful. A creepy, vaguely philosophical tale, full of surprises. CAT PEOPLE shares some of those traits. When the lady takes a late night dip, I want to climb the walls!

My favorite is I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. A little more expansive than the typical Lewton project, it scales smoothly the higher hurdles on its course. A more complex storyline, an outdoor setting, a prolonged line of resolution. Terrifying and literate, it's the producer's best work.

They're not all Tourneur collaborations. Mark Robson's THE SEVENTH VICTIM has been unfairly overlooked by me. Not quite as visceral as the others, it's nonetheless thoughtful and poetic; John Donne is quoted twice! This is a sad, fatalistic story, beautifully told. The final scene makes me stop and say, "Wait a minute! Did that really happen?"

BEDLAM, ISLE OF THE DEAD, THE BODY SNATCHERS. Nice little bedtime stories! Classic fans have heard all this before. But there's always room for one more comment about this one of a kind filmmaker.

User avatar
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 13th, 2011, 4:51 pm

A companion thread you might also enjoy:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1057&start=0

RedRiver
Posts: 4209
Joined: July 28th, 2011, 9:42 am

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby RedRiver » August 14th, 2011, 3:30 pm

On another message board, I had my head ripped off for calling Lewton's work "The best suspense films ever made." Maybe I should have said "the most suspenseful..." That's slightly different. At any rate, can you guess why I've switched message boards?

MikeBSG
Posts: 1777
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 5:43 pm

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby MikeBSG » October 30th, 2011, 9:04 pm

I watched 2/3rds of the Scorsese documentary on Lewton Saturday night. (Then I had to go someplace.)

I liked the documentary better the second time around. He zeroes in on the strengths of the Lewton films, how they get under your skin and have a dreamlike quality.

However, I thought Lorraine Bracco was dreadful as the host introducing the film. She seemed utterly terrified of the camera.

User avatar
intothenitrate
Posts: 398
Joined: January 11th, 2010, 3:12 pm
Location: Cincinnati

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby intothenitrate » October 31st, 2011, 5:16 am

I like that documentary a lot. You can really hear Scorcese's sincere appreciation coming through. And since the Lewton films are so visually stunning, it's like a feast of the moodiest moments all packed into one program.
"Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."
Goodnight Basington

MikeBSG
Posts: 1777
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 5:43 pm

Re: Val Lewton Horror Flicks

Postby MikeBSG » October 31st, 2011, 9:46 am

As for my favorite Lewton films, I would give "Cat People" first place, if only because it seems to have influenced my writing so much.

"The Body Snatchers" is a close second and in some ways is a better movie than "Cat People." Karloff and Daniell are both wonderful, and the actor who plays the medical student is probably the best hero in any Lewton film.

I would put "The Seventh Victim" and "The Leopard Man" in a tie for third place. All the women in the cast of "Seventh Victim" are superb, and apart from Tom Conway, the men are dreadful. "The Leopard Man" starts very well and then falls apart at the end. So both are very effective, but flawed films.

Special mention goes to "Curse of the Cat People," which isn't a horror film but has a lot of fine atmospheric moments. In some ways, I almost think that Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" is an "answer" to this movie. But I'm sure I must be crazy.

I think "Isle of the Dead" has the best "Lewton walk" of any of the films, but the rest of the movie is way too disjointed for me.

I blow hot and cold on "I Walked With a Zombie." Sometimes I like it, but other times I find it too refined for its own good. In any event, I have never ranked it above "Cat People" or "The Body Snatcher."


Return to “Sci-fi and Horror”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests