Saturday, October 16, 2010

SH! THE OCTOPUS - Heinz Roemheld - "That Music Will Be Your Funeral March When You Hear It Again" (1937)

"Sh!The Octopus" is a fantastic little piece of cinematic history. It clocks in at right under an hour, so they didn't waste a lot of time on filler! Watch this movie, and be amazed at what they could do way back in 1937! A big Thanx to Prof. Grewbeard, for turning us on to this timeless early monsterpiece!

It's essentially not much more than a stage play, and it all starts in this creepy olde lighthouse!! The cast is very modest and consists of basically only nine players, but each and every one of them is a character!

The first trick of the film is the fact that they try and convince you that there is actually a story, but your mind keeps telling you that it doesn't make sense, and there's a reason for that! The movie immediately starts off with John Eldredge as Paul Morgan, showing up as the new resident of the lighthouse! John was in an incredible array of classic films! Here's just a handful: "The Black Cat," "Invaders From Mars," "Francis In The Haunted House," and "I Married A Monster From Outer Space," and his TV appearances go on forever. He was Harry Archer in 36 episodes of "Meet Corliss Archer," and also in 3 episodes of "Science Fiction Theater," 4 episodes of "Adventures Of Superman," and everything else from "Twilight Zone" to "Mr. Ed!" What a career!!

Right out of the box, something is amiss as a dead body is found hanging and dripping blood in the centre of the lighthouse!

It's not long before The Octopus is sighted for the first time, and the viewer is left wondering just what in the heck is going on here?

Enter the main players, Detectives Kelly and Dempsey, who are about to be drawn into this whole convoluted mess that's just getting started over at the olde lighthouse! These shots always crack me up, because the guys have to sit so close together! Detective Harold Kelly on the left is Hugh Herbert. Hugh wrote over 150 plays and vaudeville sketches and was the original "Woo Woo" guy that inspired Daffy Duck's shtick! It's 1937, and it sure as Hell looks like he's texting!

On the right is Allen Jenkins as Detective Dempsey! Allen was raised in the theatre, and also has a credits list as long as your arm, as sidekicks, cabbies, and gangsters with colorful names like Off-Beat Davis, Willie "The Knife" Corson, and Skeets Wilson. He also was the voice of Officer Dibble in all the "Top Cat" cartoons!

The music for "Sh! The Octopus" was composed by Heinz Roemheld, who might hold the Heavyweight Dungeon Crown for credits, with 420 titles in the music department, and with 258 of those as composer, mostly for stock music starting in 1929 with "Tarzan The Tiger" and ending in 1966, with "Let's Kill Uncle, Before Uncle Kills Us"

Detectives Kelly and Dempsey, through no fault of their own, end up investigating this rather strange murder, at this rather odd location! Dempsey's lookin' like Stallone in this shot!

Again, are you expected to understand anything that's going on here? Not really, that just wouldn't prepare you for the end properly!

Here is the cryptic note from The Octopus! "Don't fail."

Everybody's a suspect, including Elspeth Dudgeon as Nanny! She was the Gypsy's Mother in "The Bride Of Frankenstein" and the woman whose skunk was stolen in the 1933 classic "Zoo in Budapest." Elspeth, now there's a name you don't hear every day, and her last name is almost Dungeon!

Captain Hook gets attacked by The Octopus! The character of Captain Hook was played by George Rosener whose first role was in the 1930 feature, "The Doorway To Hell" in the role of a guy named Slick!

What a great shot from Cinematographer Arthur "Number 99" Todd!

So you got all that now, there will be a test later! Left to right, Hugh Herbert, John Eldredge, Allen Jenkins and George Rosener; what an amazing array of talent!!!!

Those four are joined by Nanny and the rest of the cast for what seems like the final crescendo. There's Marcia Ralston as Vesta Vernoff, Eric Stanley as Police Commissioner Patrick Aloysious Clancy, Margaret Irving as Polly Crane, and Brandon Tynan as Captain Cobb.

Then what you think is just a good old fashioned comedy turns into a full blown freakshow as Nanny reveals her true evil and nefarious identity!!

Probably not what you were expecting at this point, the freakin' lighthouse is totally demolished by an explosion!!!

Even though this movie is 73 years old, I still feel bad about giving away the ending, so I'll just say, the reason it never had to make sense was because it was only a dream!!! What a movie!!!!!


prof. grewbeard said...

glad you like! that "Horror Nanny" scene freaked ME out, that's for sure!...

TABONGA! said...

Definitely remember these guys from WB cartoons! This flick rocks!

Greg Goodsell said...

I was always intrigued by this title when it was offered from Sinister Cinema! Thanks for the peek!

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