Horror movies, self-mutilation, vampire-incest?, publishing old drafts.

Letting more old drafts shine their light into the internet. More quotations from The Monster Show .

I think the reason I saved this first quotation was that I hadn’t thought about movies being made by the most surgically altered and self-mutilated people around. I liked thinking about horror movies reflecting the horror of Hollywood culture, not only of wider American culture.

p.167, On Arlene Francis, star of Murders in the Rue Morgue:

Her real shudders came after the film was completed when other producers, eager to discuss her future in films, began wielding scalpels shaper than those of Dr. Mirakle. They would offer her riches, it appeared, but only if she would consent to give up a portion of her nose. Rhinoplasty was all the rage in a Hollywood that now placed a premium on robotic, standardized glamor in the Busby Berkeley mold. Dorothy Tree, for example, was a highly regarded Broadway actress of the late 1920s, but her strong profile relegated her to bit parts in films, shuffling around in a shroud, for instance, as one of Bela Lugosi’s vampire wives. Finally, after leaving her original nose behind her in the vaults of Dracula, she began to get speaking parts and billing. Producers and casting directors were eager to prescribe and preside over surgical rearrangements of the female body, an obsession beginning to be weirdly echoed, or perhaps weirdly magnified, in horror movies and popular literature. Indeed, the persistent, essential connection between plastic surgery, self-mutilation, and horror had only begun.

And this next one just made me curious about what this proposed link is.

p.191, on incest and vampires…

[In Mark of the Vampire, 1935, Tod] Browning and his screenwriter Guy Endor likely took some inspiration from Ernest Jones’ pioneering psychoanalytic study On The Nightmare (1931), which explicitly linked vampire fantasies to incest guilt.

Freaks, zombies, horror movies… old drafts.

More old drafts that have been sitting in the archives, more quotations from The Monster Show .


[Tod] Browning spent a lot of time at the ballpark and racetrack in the early thirties, and veteran Hollywood writer Budd Schulberg (author of The Disenchanted and What Makes Sammy Run? ??) had a memory of another Browning pastime. “The marathon dance was in vogue then and we went a few times to the Santa Monica Pier to watch the young unemployed zombies drag themselves around the floor in a slow motion dance macabre,” Schulberg wrote in his 1981 memoir ??Moving Pictures. “Even more appalling than the victims on the dance floor were the regulars, affluent sadists in the same front-row seats every night, cheering on their favorites who kept fainting and occasionally throwing up from exhaustion. One of the most dedicated of the regulars was Tod Browning, who never missed a night and who got that same manic gleam in his eyes as when he was directing Freaks.”


The rediscovery and rehabilitation of Freaks became almost a cause celebre in the film journals beginning in the early sixties. Once considered crass and tasteless, the film was now “compassionate” and “sensitive.” In a way, the appreciation of Freaks became a politically correct means to indulge a morbid curiosity about thalidomide deformities, while still being able to feel self-righteous and progressive.

An anti-war horror movie I’d like to see, old random drafts.

In the spirit of spitting things out rather than polishing them forever and driving myself crazy, I’m going through my archives and publishing drafts.

A couple of years ago I was reading a lot about horror and monsters. At some point I saved quotations from The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror.

p.186, regarding WWI vets.

The Frankenstein pictures continued to be a cultural dumping ground for the processed images of men blown to pieces, and the shell-shocked fantasy of fitting them back together again.

That was the first idea I ever heard about horror as a mirror of culture, from a Chuck Palahniuk interview. It doesn’t make me want to watch horror movies, particularly. But this next movie is something I would like to see.


For his unnerving final sequence— completely irrational, but nonetheless a devastating moral statement— [Abel] Gance recruited actual members of the Union des Gueules Cassées, and created a nightmarish montage of all the ruined faces that had been haunting the world’s cinemas for the past fifteen years in the guise of “horror entertainment.” The actual men are nameless, but they could easily be the living models for the masks worn by Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Lionel Atwill, and others. As a conscious antiwar statement, J’Accuse is superior; as an unintentional revelation of horror’s major subtext in the twenties and thirties, it is breathtaking.