In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Horror Movie Guide: Bluebeard (1944)

As promised last week, it's time to get back to working my way through the Horror Movie Guide. I left off midway through the B's so now we're onto another oldie, Edgar G. Ulmer's 1944 film Bluebeard. This was one I had no previous knowledge of due to its absence from my local video stores, but it's now on the chopping block so let's dive in

The citizens of Paris live in fear of Bluebeard, a seemingly uncatchable strangler of young women. How long before he strikes again?

I found this one was a bit of a bore, though I admit it was pretty cool to see John Carradine, not only when he was young, but also in a leading role. You know, it would be funny to count up how many movies in this Guide that Carradine is actually in. I feel like I've already covered half a dozen two letters in. He's definitely one of those guys where you think, "was he ever young?" so it was good to see some proof. He's rather dapper and solid in this one, but doesn't get to do as much as I'd like.

I'm assuming that the Hays Code was weighing on this production heavily because you never get to see anything remotely graphic onscreen here. You'll get the close-ups of Carradine's eyes after the first few frames of a strangle and then a shot of the victim on the ground. 

They also do that thing where someone gets hit on the head and then freezes in tableau for a few moments before keeling over. Oh, and this actress clearly failed dead body school.

I guess I was also distracted by the story which seemed to have more in common with Jack the Ripper than Bluebeard. Wasn't Bluey the one that hid all his dead wives in a locked room? Carradine's character Gaston is a starving artist bachelor in this tale, and most of this movie is spent talking about art dealing, painting and puppetry.

While I did fall asleep during my first attempt to watch this, I did find it more interesting in the third act. The police sting sequence and the last chase across the Parisian rooftops were somewhat exciting even if they both ended rather clumsily. Speaking of the latter, the most positive attribute I would say about Bluebeard is the set design which was almost certainly influenced by the Expressionism movement of the 20s.

This is another one to file under glad I watched it, but it's not really the best is it? It's surely no Bedlam. What's surprising to me is that the Guide highly praised this picture.

To each their own I guess. Next up is the 1972 version of Bluebeard with Richard Burton and Raquel Welsh... if I can find it. Stay tuned.

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