10 Best Boris Karloff Films

Hi gang! Following on from my threads on the old black and white films, here is a list of my favourite horror icon Boris Karloff's top 10 films, in my humble opinion. Feel free, to check them out and see what you think, and comment  on them, good or bad. So here we go in reverse order:

10) THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (1958) Karloff plays John Rankin, a criminologist who while investigating a case of 20 years before in 1860 involving " The Haymarket Strangler"suspects that the wrong man was executed. He discovers a scalpel in the convicted man's coffin and has blackouts and the murders start again.A nice Little film that builds to a revelation that you might guess but it's a good performance from Mr Karloff.

9) THE WALKING DEAD ( 1936) Karloff plays John Ellman, an ex-con who is framed for murder and executed.A scientist uses his body to try to bring it back to life, succeeds , and Ellman semingly controlled by a celestial power goes after those responsible for his death.Karloff gives a sensitive , lonely and sad performance as the walking deadman.

8) ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945)Karloff plays General Pherides, who during the Balkan Wars in 1912 goes to a tiny Greek island with an American newspaperman to visit the grave of his wife.While there a plague breaks out and the superstitious islanders think vampires are responsible.Karloff is at his paranoid best in this slow, talky Val Lewton production.

7) BEDLAM (1946) Karloff plays Master Sims the cruel chief warden of  a mental institution in London in 1761. The mistress of one of his benefactors sets out to expose him and seek reforms at the asylum, so he has her committed there on false charges. Karloff is at his evil best in this film, and his ill treatment of one hapless male patient precedes " Goldfinger"by having him suffocated in gold.Karloff's last scene is especially memorable.

6) CORRIDORS OF BLOOD ( 1958) Karloff plays Dr Bolton in 1840, a surgeon who is working on a way to operate without the patient being conscious. He carries out experiments with drugs on himself and becomes addicted and is dismissed.  He continues to work  on his project but gets involved with criminals who force him to help them in their " Body Snatching " activities so his experiments can be funded.Another sympathetic performance from Boris as a misguided but kindly man who wants to stop the suffering of patients.Not really horror but it does have a lot of blood and gore for it's time, and some brutal scenes.

5) BRIDE OF  FRANKENSTEIN (1935)Karloff's second portrayal of the monster, and a much better film than the original. Some surreal, comic scenes in this one and some classic scenes i.e the monster and the blind man, the meeting of the monster and Dr Pretorius, and the climatic scene.Against Karloff's wishes he had a few lines of dialogue  here and he makes you feel sad and sympathetic for his plight.

4) THE BLACK ROOM (1935) Karloff plays twins here one good, one evil in a film that i think is an unheralded classic. It concerns a curse in  the early 1800's in a Czechoslovakian province where the birth of twins to the royal family of the province will cause it's downfall.Gregor, the evil twin murders and tortures but when confronted by an angry mob, he kills Anton the good brother and passes himself off as him. Another lesson in villainary from a master performer with another memorable demise.

3) TARGETS (1968)Karloff virtually plays himself in this very good thriller with horror elements,including real life horror.He Plays Byron Orlak an aging horror star who announces  his  retirement. He makes his last appearance at a drive in showing one of his films as a tribute, but a young disturbed man who has a penchant for guns goes on a murderous spree and ends up taking a sniper position and shooting people at the drive in. This is the film that anybody curious about Karloff should watch. It features scenes from " The Terror" and shows him as a kindly, humorous, self mocking man. Karloff has great scenes here, his last great film, critically acclaimed and is still powerful today. This was the directorial debut of Peter Bogdanovich and he clearly admires his star.

2) BLACK SABBATH (1963) This film is in my personal top 10 horror films of all time.Directed by Mario Bava. It is a trio of macabre tales and Karloff appears in the second and best" The Wurdalak". Karloff plays Gorca the head of a Eastern European family in the 17th century who goes away hunting for a bandit and comes home with the bandit's headbut he has also become a vampire like creature who sets about destroying his own family and making them vampires also.This is a very effective and his most chilling performance ever, and easily director  Bava's best film in my opinion.

1) THE BODYSNATCHER (1945).Karloff plays John Grey, a cab driver in Edinburgh in 1832 who has a hold over a Dr Macfarlane who has used bodies for medical research illegally and grave robbing and blackmails the doctor in return for his silence.As the law clamps down  on this crime, Grey starts to murder to provide fresh bodies and a conflict arises between the doctor and himself leading to a macabre climax.Quite simply Boris Karloff should at least have been nominated for an Oscar for this film, he is alternatively, kind hearted,sympathetic and also murderously evil, and cunning.Some great scenes here, expertly directed by a young Robert Wise and produced by Val Lewton.  a very good film, with an excellent performance from the genre's greatest star.
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