Topic: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Hi Again and here is the next entry in the series and it is

8. Bette Davis

A hollywood Legend and supposedly often feared figure who made some Hollywood classics in the 1930's and 40's including Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, Dark Victory, All about Eve, the Virgin Queen and many others, was given a new lease of life in her film career by doing a batch of grand guignol/ macabre films in the 1960's and 70's. here are some in Chronological order.

1. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (1962) Yes i know this one has been covered already when i talked about Joan Crawford but if i'm doing an article on Bette Davis it has to be included again. This was one of Bette Davis's best roles and she certainly has the flashier role as the fading former child star Baby Jane Hudson who relentlesslytorments her crippled sister in their decaying hollywood mansion. Reputedly fueled by their real life rivalry and dislike of each other both actresses go about it hammer and tongs, and Davis is convincing as the disturbed, hateful and dangerous Baby Jane.The dinner scene and what is served is a classic as is the film.

2.HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE (1964) A fter the success of whatever happened to baby Jane this similar film was made, but this time the tables are turned as Bette Davis is the one being tormented. She plays Charlotte, an aging recluse haunted by the memories of what happened thirty seven years before when her lover who was married was beheaded and mutilated by a killer who was never found. This is grand guignol with mysterious and deceitful trickery going on in an old creepy mansion and pretty good of it's type and twists and turns and severed heads and hands etc.

3. THE NANNY ( 1965) i'll let you into a secret i am not and never have been a fan of Bette Davis she always has an aloof prescence in my opinion and looks scary and menacing ( even in her younger days) and can well imagine her being like that in real life. This is a film she starred in for Hammer Films who were trying to varie their output a little at the time and was in fact one of two films she made with them.When i first saw this film on t .v when i was much younger i didn't like it much, but seeing it since and i actually have it on dvd i have changed my mind it is a fairly tense if slow moving little psychological thriller about an E nglish nanny with a dark secret in her past who finds herself rather feared by the family she works for especially the mother, and suspicions are aroused and come to the fore when the little boy is found drowned in the bath, seemingly in an accident but was it?Bette Davis is well cast and keeps you guessing.

4. BURNT OFFERINGS ( 1976) This film with a script part written by the author of the novel it's based on , Robert Marresco is uneven and the novel which i read years ago is better. it concerns a couple who move into an old house where they are to take up the job of summer caretakers with their young son and an elderly relative played by Bette Davis. mysteious and disturbing things soon start happening as it seems the house and a strange prescence in it likes to use fear as an element to rejuvenate itself and by causing deaths.Bette Davis does not have a big part in this film and apparently was not happy making it, apparently she did not get on with it's male star and renowned  hellraiser  Oliver Reed, as to a lesser extent neithier did Karen Black. Film has it's moments but is a little weird and does have a "Shining" feel to it and the ending is predictable but it is watchable.

5. THE  DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME (1978)This was in fact a t v mini series based on Tom tryon's novel and concerned  a couple moving to a quiet New England village to discover that most of it's inhabitants are mixed up in a sinister religious cult that involves ritiuals and human sacrifice to ensure their corn crops are successful. Bette Davis plays a sinister lady Widow Fortune who is the leader of the cult . being a mini series it is padded out with a lot of slow scenes and soap opera stuff but does have it's creepy sisnister moments, and Davis is as you would expect effective and spends many scenes with a large pair of scissors hanging off a cord round her neck. the most memorable thing to me and the first time  i noticed her was the steamy sexy scenes with Roasanna Arquette as a smouldering, sexy and dangerous child like sex siren of the village.

There we have it, as usual feel free to make your comments, and we have two to go. keep a look out for number nine. bye for now smile.

Last edited by wolfman1959 (2013-03-16 11:07:46)

Re: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Oh very cool. Bette Davis was phenomenal.
Haven't seen any of the ones in your list aside The Nanny and it left me absolutely speechless. What a freaking awesome performance.

Re: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Again out of the list I have only seen Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Which is a top notch movie. Very original and creepy. In someways the predecessor to the torture flick. Her and Crawford are great in it.

Re: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Yet another excellent list Wolfie.  Bette Davis was excellent in all her roles but she especially shined in Whatever happened to baby Jane.  And wasn't she in watcher in the woods also?

Re: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Correct Mary she was smile

Re: Horror Films of Actors/ Actresses Not Usually Known For Horror 8/10

Seen 'em all but #s 3 and 5. 

The latter part of Davis' career is interesting to me.  She wasn't the first former A-lister to "lower" herself to genre films during the end of their career, but she was one of the first who never seemed as if she was ashamed to have done so.  The sad reality is that pretty much every actress in Hollywood has a shelf life that lasts only as long as their looks.  Once those fade, the offers come fewer and farther between until the actress is forced to accept less reputable roles just to keep the bills paid. 

But Davis took those less reputable roles and made them reputable by throwing herself into them with every bit as much relish as she did in roles during her earlier A-list status.  She was an actress; she lived to perform and she always gave her best, regardless of the size or genre of the film.  Joan Crawford, while she may have been a complete psychopath off-camera, was the same way.