The Very Witching Time of Night

Dark Alleys of Classic Horror Cinema


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About the Book

The book covers unusual and often surprising areas of horror film history: (1) The harrowingly tragic life of Dracula’s leading lady, Helen Chandler, as intimately remembered by her sister-in-law. (2) John Barrymore’s 1931 horror vehicles Svengali and The Mad Genius, and their rejection by the public. (3) The disastrous shooting of 1933’s Murders in the Zoo, perhaps the most racy of all Pre-Code horror films. (4) A candid interview with the son of legendary horror star Lionel Atwill. (5) The censorship battles of One More River, as waged by Frankenstein director James Whale. (6) The adventures (and misadventures) of Boris Karloff as a star at Warner Bros. (7) The stage and screen versions of the horror/comedy Arsenic and Old Lace. (8) Production diaries of the horror noirs Cat People and The Curse of the Cat People. (9) Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man revisited. (10) Horror propaganda: The production of Hitler’s Madman. (11) Horror star John Carradine and the rise and fall of his Shakespearean Repertory Company. (12) The Shock! Theatre television phenomenon. And (13) A Tribute to Carl Laemmle, Jr., producer of the original Universal horror classics, including an interview with his lady friend of almost 40 years.

About the Author(s)

Gregory William Mank has written and recorded many DVD and Blu-Ray audio commentaries, has won four Rondo Awards, and has written numerous books on classic horror films. He and lives in Delta, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Gregory William Mank

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 444
Bibliographic Info: 176 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4955-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1543-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. “A Very Lonely Soul”: A Tribute to Dracula’s Helen Chandler 5
2. Mad Jack Unleashed: Svengali and The Mad Genius 28
3. Paramount Horrors: Murders in the Zoo 66
4. The Mystery of Lionel Atwill: An Interview with the Son of the Late, Great Horror Star 91
5. James Whale, Colin Clive, Lionel Atwill and the Riding Whip: The ­Real-Life Horror Story of the Censorship of Universal’s One More River 116
6. “Baby-Scarer!” Boris Karloff at Warner Bros., 1935–1939 142
7. Libel and Old Lace 177
8. Production Diaries: Cat People and The Curse of the Cat People 215
9. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Revisited 263
10. Horror Propaganda: Hitler’s Madman 293
11. John Carradine and His “Traveling Circus” 330
12. Shock! Theatre, the “Half-Witch and ­Half-Fairy” and Dr. Lucifer 365
13. Junior Laemmle, Horror’s “Crown Prince” Producer 387
Chapter Notes 411
Bibliography 423
Index 425

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Mank yokes a fan boy’s obsessive enthusiasm with meticulous research. And after 35 years of research and ten books, he has navigated many quirky side streets off the horror film main drag…beautiful black-and-white production stills throughout, Mank and McFarland’s tag-teamed volume will be a winner in genre film collections”—Library Journal
  • “there is no better writer on the classic Golden era of horror films than Greg Mank. Many great photos. Brilliant, brilliant, book”—Little Shoppe of Horrors
  • “if you’re a fan of early horror films, you’re going to love this book…very enlightening”—SFCrowsnest
  • “superb, and McFarland has done fine job on designing this book. The cover is a spectacular reproduction of the poster for ‘Cat People’, while the inside is well illustrated with many fine black and white photos”—Destructive Music; “Mank has written another must have book to add to one’s collection. Each new book by this cinema historian has been exhaustively researched, bringing astoundingly fresh discoveries and information to the fore about films that are often seventy five years old or older…superior research…a treasure trove of facts that leaves one astonished by what the author is able to uncover. Highly recommended”—Scarlet the Film Magazine
  • “a Psychobabble top reviewed item…what unites this variety of nightmares is Mank’s attention to detail, his often-lyrical writing, and the common issues many of these disparate films faced”—Psychobabble