Saturday, September 10, 2011

THE STRANGE DOOR - "The Sire de Maletroit's Door" (1951)

I really haven't been in the mood for any period pieces lately, so I was kind of dreading watching this film, but what a mistake that was, because this little film with the odd name, "The Strange Door", is not one to be missed. In fact, I'll go a step further, go out of your way to see it, you won't be disappointed, with a monkeyback guarantee. To make the whole deal even sweeter, "The Strange Door" is a double bill DVD with the equally thrilling Karloff film, "The Climax!" There is no way to go wrong with a double dose of Boris like that!!

Methinks "The Strange Door" is a fairly weird sounding title, and it's written by some guy named Bob Stevenson, who also wrote the Mario Bava film, "Kidnapped," and also wrote a saga about a casino in Las Vegas, called "Treasure Island," and another tale you night have heard of, about a dysfunctional relationship, entitled, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde!" Other than that, he didn't do much! The whole thing gets rolling right here at the fine establishment called "Le Lion Rouge!"

Picked out at the bar for being a worthless vagabond, Richard Stapely is Denis de Beaulieu, a man about to be framed! In 1968, Richard decided to start using the name Richard Wyler for the rest of his career! First thing, set up a mock bar fight with Charles (The Mugger in "The Werewolf") Horvath........

.....then have some guy conveniently leave a gun laying around with no bullets, only gunpowder in it!

And then when somebody gets shot, have him start screaming bloody murder, and chase the unknowing participant into the night with a mob of drunk and angry locals!

The first shelter Denis comes upon is a strange door indeed, and how 'bout that, it's not locked!!

Who lives amongst all this opulence, and who is the guy who set this whole thing up? It's the incredible Charles Laughton as Sire Alain de Maletroit, a man Hellbent on hate and revenge!

The one and only Boris Karloff is Sire Alain de Maletroit's faithful man servant Voltan!

Sally Forrest is Blanche de Maletroit! Born in 1928, Sally started her entertainment career as a dancer, went on to be in films like "Mystery Street" and "Hard, Fast, And Beautiful," did some TV in the 60's and then quit in 1967. Sally turned 83 a couple of months ago!

So just what the Hell is going on here? Well, in a nutshell, Sire Alain de Maletroit has had his brother Edmond, played by Paul ("Port Sinister", "House Of Wax," "Francis In The Haunted House") Cavanagh, imprisoned in his dungeon for the last 20 years! Alain was in love with Edmond's wife, and when she died in childbirth, he flipped out! Alain has raised the child from a baby, and she thinks her Father is dead! So the loathesome Alain is marrying her off to a drunken scallywag, just to ruin her and what's left of her Father's life! Being imprisoned for 20 years has turned Edmond into a raving madman, but Alain might really be the madder of the two, dude holds a grudge for a long time!!

Aah, but the reality of the situation is that Voltan has been secretly taking care of Edmond all these years, giving him extra food and water, and keeping him informed as to what's going on! Edmond is nowhere near as mad as Alain believes, or as Alain himself! Voltan carries around all the keys, except the one to Edmond's cell is hanging around Alain's neck, and he likes to affectionately twirl it around his finger!

Voltan has been spying on Alain, so he knows the plan, and decides to murder Denis, not knowing he is really of noble blood and is going to try and rescue Blanche himself.

Voltan has a little difficulty wrapping his brain around the whole concept, and although he still doesn't trust Denis, he accepts the lady's word on it!

As promised, here he is again, the absolutely amazing Alan "Arthur" Napier as Count Grassin!

The stunning Dungeon Goddess Allison Hayes is seen at the wedding party in her first onscreen role ever!

The music used in "The Strange Door" is a hodgepodge of stock music culled from the works of Paul Dessau, William Lava, Charles Previn, Miklós Rózsa, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner, and Edward Ward, with Joseph Gershenson overseeing the whole thing!

I don't know whether it's more classic or more fake, but either way, this is a great graveyard scene!

Monster Movies 101: Charles Laughton was Phineas V. Lambert in one of my favourite films of all time "If I Had A Million," and he was Dr Moreau in the überclassic "Island Of Lost Souls," both in 1932, and he was Quasimodo in the 1939 film "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame!" I'm sure every film he ever made is worth seeking out! In fact, Hollywood should just stop making movies for a while and re-release all of Charles Laughton's films! His character as Dr. Moreau was based on his own dentist! Now that's scary!

Before he imprisons them with his Brother, Alain explains a few details to the happy couple! Blanche is an exact ringer for her Mother!

Everything spirals into disorder, first Voltan gets shot in the graveyard, but he claws his way back to the castle in an attempt to rescue Blanche, Edmond, and Denis!

Just like a good boss, Alain literally stabs Voltan in the back!

There's a big fight scene between Voltan and Alain, and The Boss ends up going over the side, and into the gears of the big paddle wheel........

.......which stops the wheels from turning, and causes the sides of the cell to temporarily stop closing in on the helpless victims!

Shot and stabbed, and getting pretty tired, Voltan makes one last ditch efort at getting the key to the cell door before the walls start moving again! Will he make it??? Some things you need to figure out on your own!

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??