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My Top 5 Favorite William Henry Pratt (aka Boris Karloff) Movies

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It has just occurred to me that I have never written a biographical piece on English-India born character actor William Henry Pratt, aka Boris Karloff. Never. Not once. Sure, I’ve had other writers on here talking about some of the movies he has been in, namely Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein and even The Mummy, but never, not once have I stepped up to plate. That ends here. For those who are betrothed to the dark and unusual of filmage, that this, horror movies, the name Boris Karloff is not unfamiliar, it is, in fact, legendary. And for good reason. Even tempered natured folks who do not ordinarily dabble in nightmare landscapes know, rudimentary, who Boris is, that is, the Monster, that Frankenstein monster that is. And they wouldn’t be wrong. That’s his role, after all, no skirting the issue or sipping from your craft beer or wine, dressed in some flannel button up with a shaggy beard, pretending as if he never endured the makeup. Just because you saw him in The Black Cat (1934) or Targets (1968) doesn’t negate his crowning achievement. He was the Monster. Don’t walk through the past with blinders on. He will always be the Monster. And here and now, I’d like to correct my above-mentioned misstep and celebrate his career (his work), as it is, highlighting briefly my top 5 favorite Boris Karloff movies.

 

5. House of Frankenstein (1944). I’m not entirely sold on House of Frank, particularly concerning the Dracula character and how easily he was dispatched; however, I cannot negate Boris’s role as Dr. Niemann, a mad scientist who has supposedly discovered Frankenstein’s secret to immortality and the creation of a new human race of perfectly made people. His role here, obviously, is not the Creature. And as a tip of the hat, I would say he was very dark in this movie, uncaring of dispatching anyone who got in his way.

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4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). Say what you will, but I would feel horrible if I did not mention this classic film. Especially now that we’re shuffling towards the holiday season and Turkey Day tomorrow, I would be amiss to ignore one of my favorite Christmas movies. Even at the tender age of 79, Boris’s voice, his deep growls, and slight lisp is uncanny. His performance as the narrator is actually what draws me to the cartoon. If it had been anyone else, I’m not sure I’d enjoy it as much.

3. Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Seems like a total cop-out, but no, back to my above argument, we cannot ignore his masterpiece of horror cinematography. The Frankenstein monster was a role that was limited in dialogue, and so he had to manipulate audience reactions and emotions through gesture and skewed hardened facial expressions. Bride of Frankenstein showcases the evolution of the creature, from mute stumbler to an array of humanistic-like qualia. He was driven, not by fear, but by necessity, the most basic human desire, companionship, a mate.

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2. The Black Cat (1934). One of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe adaptations in a string of Poe-inspired films, among such as The Raven (both 1935 and 1963), House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, etc etc, The Black Cat wins the prize, for me at least. The story is adapted for the 1930s era and is based just after The Great War, which ended in 1918. Dr. Vitus Werdegast is on a quest for revenge against the man who took his beloved wife and daughter, an old friend and comrade in arms, Hjalmar Poelzig. Poelzig is harboring a few dark secrets, most of which he shares openly, all but for his insidious religion. Caught in the middle is a young American couple on their honeymoon. The Black Cat is not action oriented, but rather, filled with an overwhelming sense of dread and some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. If you’ve been holding out, you need to see this movie. This 82-year-old movie may shock you.

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1. The Mummy (1932). Without a shadow of a doubt, unashamedly, The Mummy is my all time favorite movie starring Boris Karloff. Why? Sure, we know and love and celebrate him for his role as Frankenstein’s monster, however, for me, his total sum of charisma and stage performance is defined in his role as Ardath Bey, aka Imhotep, priest of Pharaoh Amenophis, mummified for attempting to resurrect his forbidden lover, the princess Ankh-es-en-amon. regarding the other Mummy movies, though Lon Chaney Jr. did his best with what he had to work with, they did not, however, capture the tragedy that is Imhotep. Is he the villain? Perhaps. He certainly has his own agenda in mind. But there’s more. He’s a romantic. Deeply so. All he wants is his beloved princess. Not power or gold or influence, nothing political. He manipulates those he must. And strikes down those who get in his way. Love is not all puppy dogs and rainbows, it’s brutal at its core. Violent even. A man desperate enough to do whatever he must so he can attain that which he desires the most. True love. And Karloff, he plays the role wonderfully.

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And there you have it folks, my top 5 Boris Karloff movies. I’m sure you’ve got a few in mind. What are some of your favorite Boris Karloff movies? Comment below in the comment box to enter for your chance to win a signed copy of my latest book, Conceiving (Subdue Book 3), scheduled to release next week on November 29, 2016. Now available for preorder on Amazon (wink wink), you can get your copy here. And if you are curious about my other books, you can find them on the altar of Amazon by following this link here. As always, you can stay connected with me on Facebook, where I post reviews, new book info, and other horror related topics. Thanks for reading everyone!

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33 responses

  1. Hands down, The Mummy! He was the mummy that all the other mummies wished they were! He was the best!

    November 23, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    • Thanks for reading! You are now entered in a chance to win a signed copy of Conceiving. And absolutely, Chaney did his best, but could never compete with Boris.

      November 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm

  2. Jonny Numb

    You mentioned it up top, but I love reality-based horror of TARGETS. Compared to the rest of his filmography, it is strange to see Karloff not obscured by layers of makeup, but his face depicts a sadness all its own (notions of obsolescence, aging, and being left behind in a rapidly-changing world). The moment where Byron Orlok wakes up hungover and flinches at his reflection in a hotel mirror makes me laugh every time, and the way in which he figures into the climactic action is brilliant.

    November 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    • Yup, totally wanted to mention that movie. Great insight, Jon. Thanks for reading and commenting, you are now (hold your breath) entered for a chance to win a signed paperback of Conceiving 🙂

      November 23, 2016 at 4:41 pm

  3. Joan MacLeod

    The Black Cat as the suspense kept building so you kept waiting to see what was coming and of course The Mummy.

    November 24, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    • Thanks for reading, Joan! The Black Cat was such a crazy good movie, it certainly blew me away. Thanks again for commenting, I’ve got your name down for a chance to win a signed paperback of Conceiving. 😁

      November 24, 2016 at 11:07 pm

  4. rcanipe2012

    I love The Black Cat with Bela.

    November 25, 2016 at 5:22 am

    • Totally! I think Black Cat is one of Bela’s best work, aside from when he played Igor in Son of Frankenstein.

      November 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm

  5. Bride of Frankenstein is my favorite. A female “monster” in a movie is just kick ass!

    November 25, 2016 at 5:30 am

    • Bride is without a doubt legendary. I’d be cool to see more of her story, other than what we get from Bride.

      November 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

  6. Robin Barber

    the Black Cat!

    November 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    • Absolutely! Such a dark and smart film. One of my favorites as well. Thanks for reading, Robin. Stay tuned, a winner will be selected on Wednesday.

      November 26, 2016 at 3:47 pm

  7. Debra Smith

    BBurn,Witch,Burn is my all time favorite

    November 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    • I have never seen that one. Will definitely need to add to my Boris list. Stay tuned, ill be posting a winner on Wednesday!

      November 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm

  8. Anna

    While I loved Bride and Cat, I have to admit that my favorite will always be the first time I ever saw his movies, making the Mummy my all-time Karloff favorite.

    November 26, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    • The Mummy is also my all time favorite of his. There’s not much action, but there’s just this essence about it, the top notch acting. Very cool. Keep an eye out, we’ll be posting the winner on Wednesday!

      November 26, 2016 at 7:29 pm

  9. Susan Pigott

    Mine has always been a toss up between Frankenstein and The Mummy.

    November 27, 2016 at 2:07 am

    • Hard picks to decide between. The Mummy would be my pick 😉. Thanks for reading! We’ll be announcing a winner on Wednesday.

      November 27, 2016 at 4:23 am

  10. Joyce Stokley

    The Grinch is mine favorite but love all of them

    November 27, 2016 at 4:40 pm

  11. Joyce Stokley

    How the Grinch stole Christmas is my favorite but love Mummy also close race between them
    Not sure 1st went through

    November 27, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    • I’m a fan of both as well. He makes The Grinch, but The Mummy is an instant classic. Hard picks! Be sure to stay tuned, a winner will be selected on Wednesday.

      November 27, 2016 at 9:30 pm

  12. Jaime Blocker

    The Mummy is my favorite.

    November 27, 2016 at 5:32 pm

  13. Matthew Tangen

    While it’s not his best movie I get the most enjoyment out of watching The House of Frankenstein. Its a fun adventure and one of the better monster collaboration films. My favorite movie for acting is Bride of Frankenstein for sure.

    November 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    • Bride will always be a legendary movie. His role in House, if I’m remembering correctly, was as the mad scientist, wasn’t bad either. Very dark, for sure.

      November 27, 2016 at 9:32 pm

  14. Margaret Appel

    I love Boris Karloff’s voice! I loved The Mummy and altho there have been recent reincarnations of this film no one, and I mean no one, can hold a candle to Boris Karloff!

    November 28, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    • So much this! Thanks for reading, Margaret! The Mummy is for sure my favorite too. Stay tuned, we will be selecting a winner on Wednesday.

      November 28, 2016 at 11:44 pm

  15. David Ahearn

    The Grinch is a childhood favorite of mine.

    November 29, 2016 at 4:48 am

    • Thanks for reading, David. I do not think that movie would be the same with Boris’s iconic voice. Oh, and stay tuned, tomorrow we’ll be selecting a winner!

      November 29, 2016 at 2:37 pm

  16. Joy Boysen

    Am I too late? The Mummy was the best. I love Egypt and even have three Egyptian tattoos. When watching the Borgias I thought Jeremy Irons in his little pope hat looked just like Karloff.

    November 30, 2016 at 1:07 am

    • Not too late 😁. I’m smitten with The Mummy as well. I know it’s not action packed, but there’s a deeper quality about it.

      November 30, 2016 at 1:57 am

  17. Joy Boysen

    I think the Mummy was the best. I love Egypt and have three Egyptian tattoos. When I think of a mummy Boris comes to mind. When watching the Borgias Jeremy Irons in his little pope hat looked just like Karloff.

    November 30, 2016 at 1:14 am

  18. Congrats to JOY BOYSEN, you won a free signed paperback of Conceiving (Subdue Book 3). Please contact me through Facebook or Twitter to claim YOUR prize.

    November 30, 2016 at 9:21 pm

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