Tuesday, October 04, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 4 - Movie 1

For today I've decided on a Boris Karloff double feature. The first movie, The Black Room (1935), is a Karloff double feature in itself. Karloff plays Anton, a kind and beloved man with a right arm that has been paralyzed from birth. He also plays Anton's scheming, tyrannical brother, Gregor. When local women disappear after paying visits to the Baron, Gregor, the villagers rise against him. Gregor decides to save himself by transferring his title to his brother and then going in to exile. The villagers agree to this little suspecting that Gregor plans to continue his rule by murdering his brother and posing as him from then on out sowing more misery through his manipulations. There's also a prophecy regarding the two brothers that every attempt to avoid it's coming to fruition only seems to serve insuring it comes true.

The Black Room is only marginally a horror movie in the same way that other Karloff movies such as Tower of London and Bedlam are horror movies. For Karloff fans this movie is a real treat. He does a great job in his dual roles. While playing characters that are such polar opposites as the malignant, Gregor and the gentle, kind, Anton, may seem to make the job easier because of their opposite natures, Karloff does much with body language, movement, and facial expressions to differentiate the two into distinct personalities that really seem like twin brothers and not just one actor in two roles. Even better is when he plays Gregor impersonating Anton. A lesser actor would simply revert to playing it as they did Anton, but Karloff really gives the impression of Gregor trying to suppress his own personality beneath his own interpretation of his brother's.

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