October is finally here, I’m so happy I could turn cartwheels down main street. This is my favorite month, hands down.
As the calendar crept closer to the first day of Fall last month, I found myself spending more and more time watching movies and TV shows with the great Boris Karloff in them. I came to be a Boris Karloff fan in my late 20s, after spending years seeing almost every classic I could get my hands, I had never looked into the wonderful world of Universal Monsters.
That all changed one night when I was at home and trying to find something to watch, Turner Classic Movies that night was airing the original “Frankenstein” a film that I had never seen, and I decided I was overdue seeing the film. As I watched the film I was completely wrapped up in it, it was so good, and like many before me, I was completely stricken with Boris Karloff’s amazing performance as The Monster. I quickly realized I needed to see more of Karloff’s work, including “Bride of Frankenstein” which is now one of my absolute favorite films.
Karloff was born in 1887 in London as William Henry Pratt, he began his acting career in Canada in the early 1900s—disappointing his family who wished he become a lawyer. It was during these stage years when he adopted Boris Karloff as his moniker. Karloff came to Hollywood towards the end of the sound era, and mostly played bit parts in films until he took on the role which made him a star, The Monster in James Whale’s 1931 “Frankenstein.” Karloff was in his early ‘40s when he became a star, which serves as a lesson you’re never too late or anything in life to get what you want.
“Frankenstein” was a, um, monster success at the box office. Single handedly making a $700,000 profit (which is about 11 million in modern terms) for Universal. Overnight Karloff had a career as a horror star, which he would enjoy the rest of his life. Karloff was so appreciative, and enjoyed the work, that he rarely turned down parts. Even taking a Broadway role of Jonathan Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace”—which has lines joking that Jonathan “looks like Boris Karloff.”
With his presence and that sonorous, English voice of his—which he used to great effect making the animated “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” Karloff is one of the great icons of Horror cinema, and of classic Hollywood. There’s a gem of an early ‘60s Horror Anthology series he hosted called “Thriller,” I wrote about the show when it came out on DVD seven years ago. Karloff stars in a handful of episodes, and each of them are absolutely worth seeing.
Having grown into quite the fan of Boris Karloff, you can imagine my delight when I saw that Target this year has a talking Halloween decorative bust of him as The Mummy. It’s all part of a line of Halloween goodies featuring the famed Universal Monsters, that Karloff was a central part of. Horror franchises come and go, but if in 2017 kids can still buy monster masks that look like his characters, it’s proof that Karloff is eternal. See you next week.