Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Blogathan" 2009--Boris Karloff

by Mike Worley

I guess this weekend has a "blogathan" going on, and the subject is the late, and great, Boris Karloff. One of the things mentioned(I think on Facebook) was to talk about a favorite movie in which Mr. Karloff starred. That would be a toughy as he is my favorite actor, Vincent Price and Johnny Depp coming in right up there, too.

What I liked about Karloff was that he didn't shy away from his "monster movie" image. He never acted like being a "boogeyman" was a bad thing. After all, it DID make him famous.

So what would I pick as my "favorite" movie with Boris Karloff? Certainly the ones with the role that made him a star as the Frankenstein monster. Or as "Im-ho-tep" in "The Mummy." I also liked a lot of his AIP stuff, too. "Die, Monster, Die" scared me greatly when I saw it at the Fox Theatre in Atchison, KS back in the early '60's. But to pick one movie, one role, I'd have to give that one to the movie, which was also his "swan song"--"Targets."

What can you say about a movie, even though dated, still chills with things that have/are happening still around us? Karloff played essentially himself, and even denigrated himself playing an "aged, broken-down 'has-been'" horror movie actor. But the real horror was in the "other" story in the movie...the "monsters" which live around us and have our faces. The young man who goes on a killing spree, randomingly sniping unsuspecting motorists along the highway as they drive by. Dispassionate horror. Indiscriminate killing. Mayhem. Later on, this "monster" shoots people from the back of a drive-in movie screen while one of Karloff's movies is playing. In the "confrontation" between the "monsters," "reel" and "real," Karloff is increduled by the fact that the "real" monster is nothing more than a kid, who, if I remember correctly, got a whack with Karloff's cane.

It's a great commentary on real monsters. The Jeffrey Dahmers, Bob Burdellas, the Phil Gerrados, even the Ken McElroys. We allow them their "power." But in the end, Dahmer was a geek, Burdella a fat twerp hiding behind his lawyer, and McElroy a bloated bully who would've eventually complained about being diabetic. For that matter, Hitler was socially retarded, barely able to carry on a conversation.

Years ago, there was a woman shot at Royals Stadium here in KC. An indiscriminate shooting/sniping from across the highway. She was injured and terrorized to be sure, but still living. Her "monster" slinked back into the dark. And while he/she/it may glory in new found "power," in the end they are just that which they hate being--common.

So for the blogathan, I recommend you check out "Targets," starring Boris Karloff.

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