Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jason goes to Niles for JACK PIERCE, MAKER OF MONSTERS

Catching up with the last month. And October always means some Halloween fun at Niles.

JACK PIERCE, MAKER OF MONSTERS is the new documentary by Strephon Taylor of November Fire. Jack Pierce was the makeup guru behind all the famous Universal Pictures monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, etc. Or one of my favorites, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (later the inspiration for Batman's nemesis the Joker.) The film uses interviews, archival footage, news clippings, etc. to go over his exhaustive career, from free-lancing to heading up Universal's makeup department, to largely being forgotten and dismissed. Oh, and along the way coaching the Universal Pictures basketball team, which formed the nucleus of the 1936 Olympic champions. Truly a man of many talents, and one all horror fans--nay, all film fans--should know more about.

Then for the die-hards there was a brief archival Bela Lugosi interview, and then a bonus feature, WHITE ZOMBIE (1932.) Featuring of course Jack Pierce's makeup and Bela Lugosi as a creepy master of an island where he keeps "workers" enslaved as zombies using a mind-control drug (this was long before George Romero changed what we think of as "zombies.") A love triangle and some duplicity set up the story, with Madeline (Madge Bellamy) getting all zombified before the jealous suitor who tried to steal her away has a change of heart. It's not as famous as the iconic Universal monster pictures, but still an overlooked little gem of the time.

Total Running Time: 151 minutes
My Total Minutes: 406,285
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