1940


The Uninvited: Book vs. film

The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle

Although 1944’s The Uninvited has long been one of this viewer’s favorite spooky movies of that great filmmaking decade, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I learned of the special place it holds in cinema history. The film, apparently, was the very first Hollywood product to treat ghosts seriously. Here, at last, the specters on display were not hoaxes, not fakes, and not played for laughs. Rather, they were completely legit; supernatural survivors with unfinished business here on the material plane. Featuring first-rate acting by a cast of pros, impressive direction by Lewis Allen in his first feature-length film, a theme song that would go on to become a classic, remarkable (for its time) special FX, and stunning, noirish and Oscar-nominated cinematography by the great Charles Lang, the picture is a very solid entertainment, indeed, if perhaps a tad tame for today’s horror buffs … especia... Read More

Fear: Hubbard’s classic horror thriller demands to be read at a breakneck pace

Fear by L. Ron Hubbard

The professional reputation of Nebraska-born writer L. Ron Hubbard, it seems to me, has taken a double hit since his heyday in the 1940s. Hubbard, of course, was the founder of the cultish sect known as Scientology, and ever since the release of his initial article on Dianetics in the May 1950 issue of John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science-Fiction, and the founding of the group two years later, his name has been unavoidably linked to this oft-maligned pseudoreligion. And then there was the notorious film version of Hubbard’s 1982 doorstop of a novel Battlefield Earth, featuring Scientologist John Travolta in a picture that most viewers seem to have found dreadful, if not laughable. (Full confession: I have never read the book,... Read More

Farewell to the Master: Nice audio performance

Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates

Farewell to the Master is the short story that forms the premise of the popular 1951 (remade in 2008) science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an alien and his robot visit Earth to warn humans that their atomic weapons and violent tendencies will not be tolerated by the rest of the galaxy. Earth can get in line with peaceful galactic ideology, or be destroyed.

Not surprisingly, Bates’ story, which was published before atomic weapons were developed, is hardly like the movie. Yes, there’s a humanoid alien and his robot who appear in Washington D.C. in a spaceship. Yes, a violent human being shoots the alien. But from there the stories diverge. There’s no threat of Earth’s destruction and Harry Bates never penned the famous phrase from the movie: “Klaatu barada nikto.” While the movie and the original story have different message... Read More