Movie Diary 10/24/2009

You’ll Find Out (David Butler, 1940). When people review the new Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics box set, this is one of the titles that causes eye-rolling and excuse-making; although Karloff and Lugosi are both in the cast, the movie isn’t horror, and if the movie is a vehicle for anybody, it’s for radio cut-up Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. (Complete with Ish Kabbible, a thoroughly 1930s-40s figure who fascinated me in the 1970s.) Horror it certainly is not – although a couple of floating heads in a seance sequence summon up unexpected gooseflesh – but the movie fits neatly into the tradition of haunted-house comedies, and it’s really very spiffy on its own terms. Plus, K & L are joined by Peter Lorre, for an early summit-meeting feel.

zombiesonbroadway2Zombies on Broadway (Gordon Douglas, 1945). The other groaner on the Karloff/Lugosi set, this one with Bela spoofing his White Zombie role as a Caribbean zombie-maker. A cheap knockoff of an Abbott and Costello picture, starring that immortal comedy duo Wally Brown and Alan Carney, the movie is a revelation as a straightforward parody of a recent picture from the same studio, RKO’s I Walked with a Zombie. Calypso troubador Sir Lancelot and looming zombie Darby Jones both return from that film. Brown and Carney aren’t all that funny, but the movie isn’t awful, and the reliable Gordon Douglas keeps it trundling right along. Also, at one point a monkey does a zombie walk.

Five (Arch Oboler, 1951). Key post-atomic-apocalypse film, five survivors of the cataclysm, lots of pre-Rod-Serling bits of humanism and poetry. Plus a few real surprises.

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