100 years of movie horror in 11 hours…sorta. Mill Creek Entertainment (with MultiCom Entertainment) has released 100 Years of Horror, the 26-episode syndicated TV series from 1996, hosted by horror icon, Christopher Lee.
By Paul Mavis
Originally a Passport International Production from executive producer Dante J. Pugliese (uh oh, I wonder where these clips came from…), 100 Years of Horror takes vintage horror and sci-fi clips and trailers, interspersed with old and new 30-second interview bites from directors like Roger Corman and Joe Dante, stars like Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Hazel Court, and writers like Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury, and ties them all up with on-screen bumpers from Lee for 26 25-minute looks at subjects such as “Demons,” “Bela Lugosi,” “Zombies,” “Baron Frankenstein,” “Man-Made Monsters,” “Boris Karloff,” and so on. For hard-core horror, fantasy, and sci-fi fans, 100 Years of Horror doesn’t cut it as history lesson; however, everyone should enjoy its sheer weight of clips and trailer footage, and the odd bit here and there of interesting trivia.
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I have zero recollection of 100 Years of Horror playing in my television market back in 1996, but then again, I usually shied away from these cheaply-produced syndicated world market TV outings, anyway. I’ll bet, though, that in 1996 (a few years before internet use really exploded), viewers that did catch this clip show had a good time spotting old favorites while being reminded of more obscure titles you either had to catch-as-catch-can in TV Guide, or research at your local library’s VHS room.
Created and produced by Jeff Forrester and John Johnson (who also writes for the series), and written and directed by Ted Newsom and Tom Forrester, 100 Years of Horror begins with host Christopher Lee welcoming you to the show (looks like it was shot with a camcorder), before he gets down to prefacing a particular episode’s focus, such as “Mad Doctors,” “Blood-Drinking Beings,” or “Werewolves,” for example. Then the clips and trailer fragments begin, mixed in with the interview bites, with Lee’s narration trying to tie up the mishmash. Frequently, the same people keep showing up in episode after episode (Bela Lugosi, Jr. and Roger Corman appear in at least 6 or 7 each), as their longer interviews are parsed out over the series. As true movie history, 100 Years of Horror doesn’t even begin to be comprehensive, but for time-wasting, it succeeds at what most clip shows aim for: throw as many shots at the viewer as possible to keep their attention. Let’s look really briefly at each episode:
Dracula and His Disciples
Lee, in his debut bow, seems a bit…careful in his delivery as he peers at those cue cards. The rhythm of his speaking is just off (I wonder if they shot all this in one marathon session?). Brief rundown on the literary and theatrical origins of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, before we get some interviews with Bela Lugosi, hamming it up. Then, we’re introduced to some celebs who will reappear quite often throughout 100 Years of Horror: Hugh Hefner (the Spanish version of Dracula was “parody”); Mark of the Vampire actress Caroll Borland, director Fred Olen Ray (always some dismissive crack about these movies), actress Nina Foch (probably the smartest interview in this whole series), actor John Carradine, attorney Bela Lugoi, Jr. (pretty smooth…), actor Francis Lederer (animated), actor Peter Cushing, Hammer vet Jimmy Sangster, actress Veronica Carlson, director Freddie Francis (wishes he hadn’t done Hammer movies!), Hammer producer Michael Carreras, Hammer director Roy Ward Baker, and actress Caroline Munro (sublime…). Clips and trailers include Nosferatu, 1931’s Dracula, Mark of the Vampire, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Scared to Death, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (some funny outtakes), Plan 9 From Outer Space, Return of Dracula, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Scars of Dracula, and Dracula A.D. 1972.
Vampires other than Dracula are looked at here. Interview bites include historian D.P. Smith, Roy Ward Baker, Jimmy Sangster, actor Ferdy Mayne, actor Robert Cornthwaite, Charlton Heston (a god…), director/producer/writer Roger Corman (he’s like your mailman—hilarious anecdote about how “exploitation,” “genre,” and “high concept” movies are all the same: only money separates them), actor Dick Miller (always amusing), Caroline Munro, and, um…Brinke Stevens, scream queen (uh…yeah). Clips and trailers include Planet of the Vampires, Isle of the Dead, Black Sabbath, Vampyr, Blood and Roses, The Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire (hilarious), Twins of Evil, The Vampire Bat, The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Werewolf versus The Vampire Woman, The Devil Bat, The Vampire, Blood of the Vampire, The Thing from Another World, The Last Man on Earth (so underrated), The Omega Man (“They’re vermin,”), Not of This Earth, and Captain Kronos, Vampire Killer.
Frankenstein and Friends
The origins of the Frankenstein legend are explored here. Interview bites include historian Ira Lawson, icon Boris Karloff, biographer Michael Blake, author David Skal, Hugh Hefner, Sara Karloff (daughter, with some cool color home movies of Karloff in the Frankenstein makeup and costume), actor Ralph Bellamy, and director Jack Hill (who acts just like an exploitation director should act). Clips and trailers include Edison’s silent Frankenstein, James Whale’s original Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, and Ghost of Frankenstein.
No opening credits for this one…which makes me think it’s just the second half of the above episode. Interview bites from author Donald Glut (annoying), Hammer actresses Veronica Carlson and Hazel Court, Freddie Francis (laughing about not watching horror movies), Hugh Hefner, director Richard Cunha (good attitude about the crap he directed), Jimmy Sangster, and odious, overrated snot Kenneth Branagh. Clips and trailers include The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Created Woman, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, How to Make a Monster, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Frankenstein 1970, Tales of Frankenstein (a rare TV pilot with Anton Diffring), Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Horror of Frankenstein, Lady Frankenstein, and Branagh’s whatever.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson’s book and its various cinematic versions are discussed (do you get the feeling that a clearly bored Christopher Lee is confirming what you suspected all along: that he hates the movies you loved as a kid?). Interview bites include Don Glut, Sara Karloff, actress Gloria Talbott (oh my god what’s with that red perm?), actor John Agar (fun attitude), Roy Ward Baker, Caroline Munro, actress Martine Beswick (she’s nude here, kids). Clips and trailers from the 1913, 1920 (with John Barrymore), 1931 (with Fredric March), and 1941 (with Spencer Tracy) versions, Black Friday, The Mad Monster, Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Nutty Professor (masterpiece), Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, The Hideous Sun Demon, Hand of Death, The Haunted Strangler, The Manster, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, and I, Monster (with Lee still bitching about the title change), are included.
Lycanthropic movies are next. Talking heads for this one include Michael Blake, Ralph Bellamy, Gary Chaney (Lon’s great-grandson…right), actor Richard Denning (The Wolf Man’s Evelyn Ankers’ husband), Bela Lugosi, Jr., Nina Foch, director Joe Dante (whatever happened to that guy?). Clips and trailers include The Howling II (Lee says, “The less said about that, the better,”), Werewolf of London, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Abbott & Costello Meet the Wolfman, La Casa del Terror, the famous “Universal Monsters” episode of TV’s Route 66, Beauty and the Beast, The Return of the Vampire, Cry of the Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, 1954’s The Werewolf, The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, and The Howling.
The iconic horror actor is examined. Interview bites from Junior, Caroll Borland, Hugh Hefner (in our first repeat clip!!!), Ralph Bellamy, John Carradine, and goofy-acting director Robert Wise (how did he make so many cool movies?). Clips and trailers include Lugosi doing a sketch with Betty Boop, Lugosi cracking up Dorothy West, White Zombie, Dracula, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Invisible Ray, Son of Frankenstein, Dark Eyes of London, Black Friday, The Return of the Vampire, The Body Snatcher, The Ape Man, a clip from TV’s You Asked For It, and sad, sad footage of Lugosi leaving a drug sanitarium. Coffin shot, too.
Classic movie horror’s other iconic performer is looked at here. Interview bites from Sara Karloff, Hugh Hefner (discusses his “Shudder Club”—cripes), B-legend Turhan Bey (flamboyant as ever), Robert Wise, Richard Matheson, Dick Miller, Jack Hill, and Roger Corman. Clips and trailers include a This is Your Life TV clip, the original Frankenstein, The Mask of Fu Manchu, The Black Room, Night Key, some Karloff color home movies, The Invisible Ray, The Climax, The Body Snatcher, TV clips from Carol Burnett, Thriller, and Route 66, The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, The Terror, Die! Monster, Die!, Targets, and The Snake People (love it).
The Evil Unseeable
Ghosts are next. Interviews with Ray Bradbury (always irritating as hell), Robert Wise, Turhan Bey, Richard Matheson, Pamela Franklin (childhood crush), Roger Corman, Beverly Garland (an absolute hoot, talking about Vincent Price stealing props—what a broad), and Dick Miller are included. Clips and trailers include The Uninvited, The Curse of the Cat People, The Amazing Mr. X, the original The Haunting (still the best ghost movie, hands down), The Legend of Hell House, The House on Haunted Hill, House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, Twice-Told Tales, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Terror, The Skull, The Ghost, The Haunted Palace, and an uncredited clip of Audrey Rose (getting sloppier…).
The Phantom of the Opera and The Invisible Man horror characters are discussed here. Interview bites include Michael Blake, Gary Chaney, Lon Chaney, Jr., Jessica Rains (daughter of Claude), Turhan Bey, and Sheldon Leonard. Clips and trailers for the 1925, 1943, and 1962 Phantom of the Opera versions, Lon Chaney, Jr. explaining his father’s sign language as it pertained to acting, The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, Invisible Agent, Topper Returns, Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man, The Invisible Boy, The Phantom Speaks, Phantom of the Rue Morgue, and The Phantom of the Paradise are here (the editing in this episode is atrocious: we’re on the Phantom, then the Invisible Man, and then back to the Phantom with no explanation for the hopscotching).
Our newest protected religion is up next. Interview clips include Vincent Price, Roger Corman, and lots of commentary from Christopher Lee. Also lots of clips that go uncredited (sloppier and sloppier, guys). Clips and trailers include Mark of the Devil (where’s my officially sanctioned “Mark of the Devil Barf Bag”?), The Witchfinder General, Cry of the Banshee, 1922’s wild, wild Swedish-Danish Haxan, The Undead, The Wicker Man, Eye of the Devil, Rosemary’s Baby, Weird Woman, Burn, Witch, Burn (an unjustly unknown masterpiece), I Married a Witch, Bell, Book and Candle, The Brotherhood of Satan, The Devil’s Hand, and City of the Dead. Lee’s really pushing for the acceptance of witchcraft here….
Demonic monsters are chronicled in this episode. Interview bites with Jessica Rains, anti-American Robert DeNiro, director Alan Parker, actor Dana Andrews (now that’s a star, Bobby…), and “scream queen” Linnea Quigley (jesus) are here. Clips and trailers include D.W. Griffith’s The Sorrows of Satan, lots of uncredited clips (lazy, boys), The Devil’s Messenger, Lisa and the Devil, The Omen, Angel on My Shoulder, Angel Heart, Hercules in the Haunted World, Night of the Demon, Diary of a Madman. You want to know how bad 100 Years of Horror is getting by this point? They plug in an interview with Quigley as if she starred in the classic masterpiece, Night of the Demon, and not her own craptacular Night of the Demons, from 1988. Amateur night in Dixie.
Mutant killers are up. Interview clips from Michael Carreras, author Mark McGee, John Agar, screenwriter William Alland, Richard Denning, actress Lori Nelson, Beverly Garland, actor Jonathan Haze, actor William Schallert, Richard Cunha, and Dick Miller. Clips and trailers include The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, The Snow Creature, The Mole People, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, The Creature Walks Among Us, Curucu: Beast of the Amazon, This Island Earth, The Day the World Ended, Missile to the Moon, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Black Sleep.
You can tell this was made before the P.C. goons got their hooks in…. This one is about actors with facial deformities (yep), including Reggie Halder, Rondo Hatton, Angelo Rossito, the Hamilton Sisters, and Lock Martin. Interview bites include Lee discussing his Bond villain, Scaramanga (third nipple), Fred Ray, Beverly Garland, Richard Cunha, author David Skal, and Michael Blake. Clips and trailers include Freaks, Mark of the Devil, Jungle Captive, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Monster Maker, The Unearthly, Invaders from Mars, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Chained for Life, The Magic Sword, The Human Monster, The Face Behind the Mask, She Demons, Man of a Thousand Faces, the 1923 and 1957 versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a clip of the original The Hills Have Eyes with absolutely no explanation why it’s included here. Oh, and if they drop this Lee quote in one more episode (this is the third time now)—“Aside from the budget, the only thing inconsequential about this film was the amount of critical praise it received,”—I’m turning this thing off.
Lots of lovely yelling ladies here. Linnea Quigley starts off the interview bites (“one of the top scream queens in Hollywood” had me hitting the floor), Brinke Stevens, Carroll Borland, Gloria Talbott, Beverly Garland (she’s so funny, describing the urinals on the actors’ heads in The Alligator People), Roger Corman, Lori Nelson, Peggy Moran, Caroline Munro, Richard Denning, and Hef. Clips include Halloween, The Fog, The Return of the Living Dead, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, The Haunting Fear, The Cyclops, Not of This Earth, It Conquered the World, Revenge of the Creature, Horror Island, Dracula A.D. 1972, The Curse of Frankenstein, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, Blood of the Vampire, The Gorgon, Dracula, Prince of Darkness, the original King Kong, The Most Dangerous Game, Doctor X, The Vampire Bat, Metropolis (yep, a silent clip for a scream queens episode), and Slumber Party Massacre.
Maybe I spoke too soon about the date of this series and P.C. concerns: lots of hand-wringing about female stereotypes here. Noted intellectual Brinke Stevens starts off the interviews (I got the giggles when she bitched about up-and-coming nobodies calling themselves “scream queen” stars when they haven’t earned it yet), with Gloria Talbott, Nina Foch, Don Glut, Hazel Court, Roger Corman, and Robert Cornthwaite finishing up. Clips and trailers include Dracula’s Daughter, Cry of the Werewolf, She Wolf of London, Captive Wild Women, Jungle Captive, Vampyr, The Velvet Vampire, Nightmare Castle (about time they got to the legendary Barbara Steele), Black Sunday, The Hunger, The Masque of the Red Death, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Nanny, The Gorgon, Clash of the Titans, Carrie, The Haunting Fear, and Nightmare Sisters.
Psychotic killers are up next. Hazel Court, Caroline Munro, Jimmy Sangster, Freddie Francis, director Herschel Gordon Lewis (!), and director John Carpenter (the obvious unease of being pigeonholed as strictly a horror director just oozes off him. That guy wanted to be master-of-all-trades Howard Hawks, not William Castle). Clips and trailers include The Silence of the Lambs, Peeping Tom (is it heresy to say you enjoy this more than Hitch’s Psycho?), Circus of Horrors, Horrors of the Black Museum, The Black Zoo, Repulsion, the 1934 version of Night Must Fall (the Finney version is better…), The Face at the Window, Maniac (both ’34 and ’80), Les Diabolique, Paranoiac, Homicidal, Strait-Jacket, Blood Feast (yep, you get the tongue scene), 2 Thousand Maniacs, House of Exorcism, Halloween, and The Fog.
Ballyhoo and showmanship for exploiters (color, 3-D, fake publicity) is the subject of this episode. Interview bites include author Mark McGee, Richard Denning, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, Vincent Price, and John Carpenter. Clips include Doctor X, Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom of the Opera, Scared to Death, Unknown Island, Invaders from Mars, The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, War of the Colossal Beast, House of Usher, Young Frankenstein, House of Wax, The Mad Magician, It Came from Outer Space, Dial “M” for Murder, The Mask, The Creeping Unknown, Macabre, House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, Rasputin (“Get your free ‘Rasputin’ beard, kids!”), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Moving more into fantasy, rather than horror, interview bites on sorcery films include Dana Andrews, Mark McGee, Richard Matheson, Hef, Frances Lederer, Lee (with a long golfing story about Conrad Veidt…), Vincent Price, and Pamela Franklin. The Clips and trailers include Night of the Demon, The Magic Sword, The Devil’s Bride, the original The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Thief of Baghdad, Svengali, Tales of Terror, The Masque of the Red Death, To the Devil a Daughter, Necro-Mancy (Franklin looking hippie-hot), and The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
Background on the UFO phenomenon in the 1950s segues into interview bites with William Schallert, Robert Cornthwaite, John Carpenter, William Alland, Ray Bradbury, Hazel Court, Richard Denning, Roger Corman, Dick Miller, Robert Wise, and Commie scriptwriter Bernard Gordon (the “common enemy” during the Cold War wasn’t aliens, Bernie…it was Communists). Movies featured here (lots of clips) are The Man From Planet X, The Thing from Another World, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Alien, The Thing remake, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Satellites, Kronos, Queen of Blood, The Blob, The Andromeda Strain, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Village of the Damned, and The War of the Worlds.
Some backstory on Carter’s King Tut find in 1922 leads into interview bites with Sara Karloff, Michael Blake, makeup artist John Goodwin, Peggy Moran, Turhan Bey, Hef, screenwriter Mike Gavin, Michael Carrares, and Ira Lawson (what a natural delivery). Movie clips and trailers include the 1932 and 1959 The Mummy, The Ghoul, The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Ghost, The Mummy’s Curse, Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy, The Mummy’s Shroud, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Pharaoh’s Curse, and…Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy.
A little info on voodoo leads to sound bites from Bela Lugosi, Jr., Turhan Bey, John Agar, writer/producer Anthony Hinds, director Gordon Hessler, and (ugh) Linnea Quigley. Movies represented by clips and trailers include White Zombie, Revolt of the Zombies, The Mad Ghoul, I Walked with a Zombie, Zombies of the Stratosphere, Invisible Intruders, Creature with the Atom Brain, Plague of the Zombies, Night of the Living Dead, The Last Man on Earth, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, Sugar Hill, The Oblong Box, The Return of the Living Dead (no explanation), and…The Snake People.
The title says it all as we dig in with insight from the same goddamn people we’ve been listening to for the last 20-some episodes: Frances Lederer, Turhan Bey, Fred Ray, Bela Lugosi, Jr., Hef, Richard Cunha, Hazel Court, and Gordon Hessler. Movie clips and trailers include Doctor X, Terror is a Man, The Bat, The Mad Monster, Black Dragons, The Human Monsters, The Ape Man, The Devil Commands, Return from the Dead (Hef’s first 8mm movie–it’s awful), The Hands of Orlac, The Frozen Dead, She Demons, Corruption, Mania, Scream and Scream Again, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Mad Doctor of Blood Island, and 1977’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. And yes…they keep using that same sentence about “critical attention.”
Dive right in with interview bites from gee-whiz writer/director Michael Curtis, William Schallert, Roger Corman, John Carradine, and actor D.P. Smith (with a creepy story about Lon Chaney, Jr.). Movies include the 1920 version of The Golem, The Colossus of New York, Colossus: The Forbin Project (what a great unsung sci-fi thriller), The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (what a great unsung sci-fi thriller…), Rabid!, the original The Fly, The Return of the Fly, The Phantom Creeps, The Atomic Monster, an entire repeated segment about Captive Wild Woman (I’m getting bugged with all the recycled crap), Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, and The Indestructible Man.
We fear giants because we hate our parents, according to Christopher Lee; other interviews include Gordon Hessler, Mark McGee (why have this guy on? He just makes fun of the movies), William Schallert, John Agar, Michael Curtis, Richard Denning, and Richard Matheson (what a crank–he doesn’t like any movie made from his deathless prose). Movies include The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, Village of the Giants, Empire of the Ants, Them!, Tarantula, Beginning of the End, The Black Scorpion, Attack of the 50ft Woman, Attack of the Puppet People, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Why does this open with clips from John Huston’s The Bible…In the Beginning? That has to be my favorite moment in this loony series. Interviews include our old friends William Alland, Mark McGee (shut up), special effects wiz Ray Harryhausen, Raquel Welch (el-kaboiiinnnng!), Martine Beswick, and director Val Guest. Movies include Son of Kong, The Lost World, The Land Unknown, King Dinosaur, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Godzilla, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Reptilicus, Gorgo, The Valley of the Gwangi, One Million Years B.C., and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.
PAUL MAVIS IS AN INTERNATIONALLY PUBLISHED MOVIE AND TELEVISION HISTORIAN, A MEMBER OF THE ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY, AND THE AUTHOR OF THE ESPIONAGE FILMOGRAPHY. Click to order.
One thought on “‘100 Years of Horror’: Vintage horror, sci-fi docuseries comes to disc”
I have this box set hosted by Christopher lee and its awesome, he has done a good job hosting this as nobody is as good as Christopher.
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