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"The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

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"The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Old 09-23-13, 12:38 AM
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"The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7





The Black Sleep (1956)



Selected by Mondo Kane



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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 10-07-13, 01:58 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Last time I watched this was in the '07 Challenge! Long overdue for a revisit (Which I'll get to sometime later on in the day)

Even though this movie is jam-packed with Horror All-stars, the one guy that I wasn't able to forget was John Carradine. Now I'm sure most of you Horror-Challenge vets have had plenty of run-ins with Mr. Carradine throughout the years, but have any of you ever heard the man laugh? He does a cackle towards the end (While doing a violent act) and I have not been able to get that laugh out of my head since that last viewing.

Hopefully I'll find new things to like again....

EDIT-Joe Dante did some swell VO for this at trailersfromhell, but it looks like they took that trailer down for some reason.

Last edited by Mondo Kane; 10-07-13 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 10-07-13, 09:44 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

I thought that when the credits started - that the first list of names was excellent. It was almost disappointing that the second half of the credits was 'just' more regular actors.

Very clever. And another film which, for me, seems quite unoriginal when compared to things I've seen, but probably (possibly) was the/an original source for said ideas and themes! A particularly good comeuppance/ending, even if Sgt. Steel turns up immediately rather conveniently.
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Old 10-07-13, 10:02 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

As it began I feared that it'd be just another evil scientist story, but it turned into quite a good little movie. Interesting to read that Peter Lorre was initially cast into the 'gypsy' role, but backed out; that would have made an already amazing genre cast perhaps the greatest ever.

I won't buy the DVD-R, but would gladly buy this on BD someday.
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Old 10-07-13, 03:24 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Sherlock Holmes and Dracula's Howling Plan 9 for the Wolf Man. Back to back subset selections with a "living legends" cast. Watching the actors play their characters was more interesting than the movie itself. The patient reveals in the lab at the end had to have scared kids to death back in the '50s, especially the scene where the woman rips off the cloak to reveal the effects of her surgery. It was a creepy end to the Frankenstein twist that carried the film.
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Old 10-07-13, 05:28 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Streaming and downloadable from here http://stagevu.com/video/rhipjnxmesvj
I could not get the streaming to work but downloads in pretty good quality.
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Old 10-07-13, 07:05 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

My 2nd viewing made it felt much like a Val Lewton film. A slow and steady trip into the macabre untill:

Originally Posted by cproaps View Post
The patient reveals in the lab at the end had to have scared kids to death back in the '50s, especially the scene where the woman rips off the cloak to reveal the effects of her surgery. It was a creepy end to the Frankenstein twist that carried the film.
Yup. The last 15 minutes almost suddenly turned into a schlocky House of Horrors, but in a good way.

Joe Dante also pointed out that the exposed brain in the surgery scene was also groundbreaking for it's time.
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Old 10-07-13, 08:45 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

I hadn't heard of this movie before. I really enjoyed it. I wish I had seen it as a child, because no doubt it would have scared me senseless. Still, I can enjoy it for the historical value. Movies like this are elegant yet spooky at the the same time. They're fun to watch.

What a great cast of horror legends. Had they squeezed in Boris Karloff, it would have been a royal flush.

Carradine deserves mention because he's a leading man in his own right. I love his performance in 1944's Bluebeard, and would encourage anyone to watch it if they haven't.

A nice little film. Thanks to Mondo Kane for the selection.
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Old 10-07-13, 10:58 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

This was an enjoyable film with effective pacing. I loved the surgery segments which made it feel more demented and especially the dungeon bit. It felt like Frankenstein on steroids. The well developed villian made it easy to cheer for the "monsters" to give him a comeuppance. Some of the mystery components felt a little far fetched (protagonist is accused of murdering a guy who ends up being alive in the same building chained up by a third party).
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Old 10-08-13, 12:29 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

I liked it, but I didn't love it...which is the way I feel about most every 1950s, set-in-a-castle, filled-with-genre-vets film. It really wasn't all that different (except for the light gore) from THE STRANGE ROOM or any of the other early 1950s Universal cheapies. Unlike several of the posters above, I found Carradine's performance to be irritating; however, I thought that Basil Rathbone was excellent. The ingenue was pretty atrocious, and I felt sorry for Bela and Lon, since neither of them had any lines and their roles could have been played by pretty much anybody. I'm glad that I can say that I've seen it, but it's not going to be a film that I'll revisit often.
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Old 10-08-13, 07:18 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Thanks for putting this film on the subset list. Like others above, I liked it. Genuinely creepy with a lot of original ideas and some great scares with the reveal of the patients. And of course, great to see all those legends in the same movie.
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Old 10-08-13, 10:08 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
Interesting to read that Peter Lorre was initially cast into the 'gypsy' role, but backed out; that would have made an already amazing genre cast perhaps the greatest ever.
I didn't know that but when I was watching the first scene he was in I thought that this was a Peter Lorre role or the actor was imitating him.


Originally Posted by Burgundy LaRue View Post
Carradine deserves mention because he's a leading man in his own right. I love his performance in 1944's Bluebeard, and would encourage anyone to watch it if they haven't.
Another solid role for Carradine is in The Face of Marble recently released on DVD in a 4 movie package.

My thoughts about this movie pretty much echo the previous reviews. Fun but not great, Rathebone does a fine job with his role, and its a pity some of the other horror greats couldn't have had bigger parts. And yeah, I really loved the "monsters" in the basement part. I also particularly liked the beginning when we are introduced to the black sleep for the first time -- very mysterious. The one part I didn't like was the scene where the gypsy procures the next female subject -- that went on way too long for me. Maybe it would have worked better if it had been Lorre? But all in all a fun watch -- very glad I saw this.
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Old 10-08-13, 11:28 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Pretty good classic horror flick. I really enjoyed the performances by Rathbone and Tamiroff. Rathbone delivers dialogue in such a sophisticated way, I could listen to him talk about medical mumbo jumbo all day. Tamiroff was hilariously entertaining as the smooth-talking gypsy, I really enjoyed his character. I also felt bad that Lugosi and Chaney had nothing to do but shuffle around like zombies. Especially Lugosi, I can't see him without thinking "How dare that asshole bring up Karloff? You think it takes talent to do Frankenstein? It's all makeup and grunting."

I bet the sequence in the dungeon scared the hell out of the kids back in the day. Carradine was fun, and of course it's always good to see Tor Johnson. Some spooky moments but the real meat of the film was about the moral dilemma of using innocent people to further medical science. I like how they revealed Rathbone's motivation in regards to his wife's condition early on, it made him more sympathetic, and I loved his speech about sacrificing a hundred men to get his wife back for just one day. He reminded me of Mr. Freeze from Batman, kind of a tragic villain who goes too far.

Last edited by DaveyJoe; 10-08-13 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-08-13, 11:52 AM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I liked it, but I didn't love it...which is the way I feel about most every 1950s, set-in-a-castle, filled-with-genre-vets film. It really wasn't all that different (except for the light gore) from THE STRANGE ROOM or any of the other early 1950s Universal cheapies. Unlike several of the posters above, I found Carradine's performance to be irritating; however, I thought that Basil Rathbone was excellent. The ingenue was pretty atrocious, and I felt sorry for Bela and Lon, since neither of them had any lines and their roles could have been played by pretty much anybody. I'm glad that I can say that I've seen it, but it's not going to be a film that I'll revisit often.
Great post and basically echoes my thoughts. It was cool to see the all-star cast but I found the movie to be a bit of a bore. The brain sequence had to have grossed out a lot of people back then though.

I have to say that the transfer was excellent on Netflix. Crystal clear picture!

My rating: **1/2 out of *****
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Old 10-08-13, 12:22 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
This was an enjoyable film with effective pacing. I loved the surgery segments which made it feel more demented and especially the dungeon bit. It felt like Frankenstein on steroids. The well developed villian made it easy to cheer for the "monsters" to give him a comeuppance. Some of the mystery components felt a little far fetched (protagonist is accused of murdering a guy who ends up being alive in the same building chained up by a third party).
Surely it wasn't a coincidence but a deliberate set-up, though? Protagonist needed by third party, framed for a murder he didn't commit that is 'proven' despite the body not being the right body, as the "body" is chained up.
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Old 10-08-13, 12:39 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
...the real meat of the film was about the moral dilemma of using innocent people to further medical science.
Much like today's Peter Cushing pick...

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
I like how they revealed Rathbone's motivation in regards to his wife's condition early on, it made him more sympathetic, and I loved his speech about sacrificing a hundred men to get his wife back for just one day. He reminded me of Mr. Freeze from Batman, kind of a tragic villain who goes too far.
Yes, good point. Actually, I might just check the dates...! I know it's not an original premise, but still.
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Old 10-08-13, 12:45 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

Originally Posted by ntnon View Post
Surely it wasn't a coincidence but a deliberate set-up, though? Protagonist needed by third party, framed for a murder he didn't commit that is 'proven' despite the body not being the right body, as the "body" is chained up.
Yes, that's exactly how I read it. Mr. Curry served not only as an experimental subject but as a means to get the other doctor to help Dr. Cadman.
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Old 10-12-13, 12:17 PM
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Re: "The Black Sleep" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 7

I don't know how I missed this one all these years. Maybe it was never in any of the horror movie syndication packages sold to local stations back in the '70s and '80s. Thanks Mondo Kane for bringing it to my attention. It's always fun to see a "new" flick with any of these horror legends.
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