“I was disappointed not to be able to bring our audience the full-on JBFC Halloween Marathon experience again this year—fingers crossed for 2022!—but decided that if we couldn’t have the Marathon in 2021, we should still have a little fun. Fun is, after all, what I think most folks are looking for as we all come back to the movies during this rough time. I started thinking about what entertaining (but light) horror films I could screen to bring everyone together and still have a great, and much shorter, night at the JBFC to celebrate what is—in my opinion—the best time of the year!
My thoughts finally drifted to the world of the Universal Monsters, and how there are a ton of these movies, but only very few get a lot of play. We’ve all seen Bela Lugosi do his thing as Dracula, and Lon Chaney Jr. run around the forest as the Wolf Man. But most of the original Universal Monster films received a fair number of sequels that never get much attention, so I put together this triple feature of some slightly underseen, but totally enjoyable, monster movies.
I also want to point out that we’re keeping ticketing limited so folks can spread out in the big house and enjoy these three features without feeling too crowded, so be sure to scoop up your tickets ASAP. I look forward to seeing you all on the 29th!”
—Andrew Jupin, Senior Film Programmer
Tickets: $25 (members), $30 (nonmembers)
THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
1940. 81 min. Joe May. Universal Pictures. US. English. NR.
We kick things off with Joe May’s 1940 sci-fi/horror sequel, The Invisible Man Returns. This time around, the legendary Vincent Price (starring in just his second-ever horror film after Rowland V. Lee’s Tower of London, which released the year before) portrays the titular Invisible Man, subbing for the great Claude Rains who played a different invisible fellow in the first film. Here, Price plays Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe, a man on death row after being wrongfully convicted of murdering his brother. Radcliffe convinces Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), the brother of Claude Raines’ Dr. Jack Griffin, to turn him invisible so he can escape from prison and track down the real killer. Price is so outrageous in this performance; but as time winds down and the invisibility serum begins to turn Radcliffe mad, Price goes into overdrive, quickly reminding us why he was one of the best to ever play in the world of horror.
REVENGE OF THE CREATURE
1955. 82 min. Jack Arnold. Universal Pictures. US. English. NR.
Our middle feature is 1955’s Revenge of the Creature, the first of two sequels they made to Jack Arnold’s 1954 classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Arnold returned to direct this sequel, as did Ricou Browning, the man who played the “Gill Man” during the underwater sequences of all three Creature films. This time out, the Gill Man is captured in his natural habitat in the Amazon, and brought back to—yikes—Florida to be studied at the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium (basically a cheaper Sea World-type facility). Once in captivity, animal psychologist Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) and ichthyology student Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) attempt to study the creature, and even begin to train and communicate with him. Working late hours on their scientific studies, Clete and Helen begin to fall in love, much to the chagrin of the Gill Man, who breaks out of his confines and terrorizes the small, Floridian town. Much like King Kong before it and The Lost World: Jurassic Park after it, Revenge of the Creature is another bonkers yet cautionary tale about why it’s a terrible idea to bring dangerous monsters to our shores and put them on display as tourist attractions.
Please Note: We will be screening the 2D version of the film.
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
1935. 75 min. James Whale. Universal Pictures. US. English. NR.
We bring the night to a close with the big one. Absolutely the most seen out of all the Universal Monster sequels, and possibly one of the most seen Universal Monster movies period: James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. Whale returned four years after directing Frankenstein in 1931 to produce what is possibly one of the first cases of a film sequel surpassing the original in quality. The film saw Boris Karloff, credited here only as KARLOFF, return as The Monster and Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein. Taking place immediately after the events of the first film, Bride sees Dr. Frankenstein, having survived being thrown off a windmill in the last film, pressured by his former mentor Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger), to create a mate for the Monster who also, thanks to sequels, survived the events of the first film. As with all instances of mad scientists playing God, things do not go according to plan when The Bride (Elsa Lanchester, who also doubles as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly in the film’s prologue) is brought to life, and mayhem ensues. Wildly entertaining, and still containing the same gorgeous gothic, expressionist aesthetic as the first film, Bride of Frankenstein also manages to be incredibly heartfelt by the time the credits roll.