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John Barrymore prepares to tamper with the supernatural in the silent, 1920 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Though the film was later eclipsed by a 1931 version, for which Fredric March won the best actor Oscar, horror aficionados still speak of the Barrymore version with reverence.
No, this isn’t Bruce Lee, even though the film is called “Bruce Lee The Invincible.” But so what? Apparently the melodramatic acting and classically comical dubbing are enough to draw a crowd: The film has been the most popular download on Veoh so far.
A classic B horror flick if ever there was one, 1959’s “The Giant Gila Monster” starts off with a weirdly howling theremin and the following voice-over narration, spoken by a slightly sinister version of the same guy who narrated all those film strips you remember from the third grade:rn
rn”There are still vast and virtually unexplored regions, bleak and desolate, where no human ever goes and no life is ever seen…It is in these lonely areas of impenetrable forest and dark shadows that the gila monster still lives. How large the dreaded gila monster grows, no man can say.”rn
rnWell, the forest may be impenetrable, but two teenyboppers in a hot rod have managed to find their way in. However, just as it looks like they might get into a little necking… a giant claw appears!rn
rnCrank the theremin and roll the opening credits, revealing the odd names of actors and technicians who never quite became stars: “Stormy Meadows” and “Wee Risser” among them.
A vintage “Pathegrams” newsreel includes striking shots of the Hindenberg over Manhattan. And the silent shots of smiling passengers and crew give fresh poignancy to a disaster we’ve become desensitized to through repeated viewings of Murray Becker’s famous photographs.
In addition to newsreels, historical documentaries are posted on Veoh. “Exploration of the Planets” was made by NASA in 1971.
King Kong isn’t the only escaped simian to have terrified audiences, as this screaming headline from 1939’s “The Gorilla” makes clear.
Everyone’s favorite bit of celluloid antidrug propaganda, “Reefer Madness,” is available for download on Veoh. Just don’t inhale.
This is what playing “Grand Theft Auto” till five in the morning will get you. Or is that “Ninja Death 1”?
No, it’s not “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” It’s “The Mad Monster,” a lycanthropic masterpiece from 1942.