reader forum

Welcome, monster fans. This public forum is intended as on ongoing message board for discussion of the topics addressed by my books and documentaries. Please note: any clearly off-topic posts may be deleted. Questions, comments and responses will remain posted as long as storage capacity allows. Also note: if you want me to know who you are, please ID yourself in the message. Otherwise, I'm a blind hermit.

All this said, I look forward to a lively ongoing discussion.

Best, DJS

Questions or comments?

Click and type in a question or comment

Why did you abandon us?

I wish you weren't such an ass to audiences about your stupid, juvenile and ignorant opinion of Bela Lugosi! Keep your stupid remarks to yourself! On July 5, I watched Martin Landau make equally moronic comments. You do the math!

Dear Mr. Skal,

What a delightful Rains biography. I love that you included Rains referring to Wife No. 5's habits as "...not nice. Let's put it that way." More, please, on Rains' home life -- favorite food, farming, decor. Readers want to know! Thanks again.

Dear Mr. Skal,
I am a PhD student studying German film copyright law and was fascinated by your account of the "Nosferatu" suit that you detailed in "Hollywood Gothic." I noticed you used a lot of letters between Florence Stoker and her lawyer(s) as sources on the lawsuit, and as part of my research I have been trying to find primary sources, for example court documents detailing the arguments and wording of decisions. Do you have any tips on where to look? Did you have luck in your research finding out which court in Berlin the case was tried and appealed in? I have unsuccessfully looked in the Berlin Landesarchiv and would be grateful for any help you could give! Thank you for your work!

Mr. Skal, I read your novel Scavengers in college. I did a paper on the book for a composition class. The TA like the review and I gave her the book.

I enjoyed the book very much.

Carlito Brigante

Bat got your tongue?

It's hard to have a lively, ongoing discussion when you never answer!

Brilliant body of work so far. Read THE MONSTER SHOW, HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC, SCREAMS OF REASON and DARK CARNIVAL which all continue to inspire me and a sources of reference. I write the Classic Horror Blog NITRATE FROM THE GRAVE and have been fortunate to be able to chair panel discussions at conventions on Classic Horror. I always find an the panels to be well attended, lively discussions Cheers to all and a big thank you from Canadian Monster guy Terry Sherwood NITRATE FORM THE GRAVE is at find us on facebook as well.

I attended your lecture on Classic Monsters at Scare-a-Con on Saturday of this year. I asked a question regarding the silent feature, London After Midnight. As point of information, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is showing a bio-film made from the stills of the original movie!! It will be shown on TCM on Halloween (how apropriate) at 6am. If you would like to respond my e-mail address is Hope to see you at Scare-a-Con next year.

Whatever happened to your answers to our questions?

Whatever became of the full size painting of Bela Lugosi?



My question concerns the source of the information that Jack Arnold re-shot the Metaluna scenes for "This Island Earth." A British film critic claims that this is a myth.

As an avid and devoted Claude Rains fan, thank you for writing the long overdue biography. He would have been very pleased.
You do get a feel for the tenacity and sheer will of this man. He really did claw his way up. He made his own luck and worked phenominally hard at his craft, embodying the soul of each character he portrayed. A 'method' actor before 'method' became the popular thing to be.
I'm very glad that the book did not have any real salacious tittle tattle as so many biographies do to draw the crowds. Claude was better than that. He was a private man and that privacy has been respected.
I do however have a question as to chapter one of the book which mentions him being named Claude as it rhymed with Maude (a surviving sister when so many other siblings had died). The 1911 census puts Claude or 'Claud' as the elder child living at home at 21, Hettie 19, and 'Maud'16. The census asks about deceased children but none are mentioned. This obviously conflicts with what is written in the book.

Hello fellow monster fans!

I am looking for Kevin Hammond (who also acted in "Darkness at Noon". We used to puppeteer together at Bob Baker's Marionette Theater during my stay in LA in 1995. We became good friends and share a love for puppets and Star Wars. After another brief visit in 1999, Kevin had moved back to Huntsville and both our e-mail addresses had changed.

Any help to find him will be much appreciated.

If you Google my name Roelof Venter, you will find links to my illustration website and blog.

Hello everyone,
I am fan of vampire-in-Gothic-setting-and-bat-in-the-neck type of stories. I especially love divine Hammer and Coppola´s mistitled but enjoyable version. (Sure, it turned Vlad Tepesh as romantoc hero - no, just no - and showed middle finger to Stoker and his characters but it was great fun with fabulous, detailed visuals.) Now if "Hammer" would go back to make Gothic vampire films! Le sigh. However, I enjoyed Romancing the vampire a lot.

Hello David and Everyone: I've just published a post on my webpage discussing Murnau's "Nosferatu," wherein I nod--graciously I hope--to David "Hollywood Gothic.":

There'll be two more of these coming. There are also other articles revolving around my recent;y published novel "Dragon's Ark."

Thanks for reading!

That stained glass does indeed look sumptuous.

Thomas Burchfield

You can read it here at:

On Wikipedia there is a mention of London After Midnight being used in a defense case in a murder that occurred in Hyde Park. I was wondering if any of the research you have done has any informaton about this case, or if it is mentioned in you Tod Browning biography?

David, I thought you might be interested to read my thoughts on Dracula's Daughter, which turns 75 this year: Would be nice if it got the same DVD treatment as the original Dracula (at least a commentary), though I'm sure that's unlikely now. Cheers, David L Rattigan

I'd love your opinion on a man often considered to be one of the best actors ever, Richard Basehart?

I was just reading about the Jacob's Ladder, and about how it employs dangerously high voltages to produce the great sizzling effect. It got me thinking about the line Martin Landau gives as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood about not wanting to get near one because he was burned in Return of Chandu. Do you happen to know if there is any truth to that line? All I can find is that same quote and no facts.

Have you ever heard of anyone from a sci-fi or horror movie being injured by that old stand by of the mad scientist's lab?

I finished reading „Hollywood Gothic“ today, and wanted to thank you for an account both informative and entertaining. I have just one minor issue on which I disagree with you; in my opinion, you are somewhat too severe with Coppola’s film version. It is not the faithful rendering of the book it promised to be, but personally, I find it a rather endearing curiosity. If it is full of elements that do not quite fit (the outdated trick-photography, the misguided prologue-sequence, Van Helsing’s crazed demeanour), these oddities do not render the film unwatchable as long as one takes it as playful rather than operatic. Doubtlessly, the studio pushed the love-story angle, and many of the courageous concepts Coppola set out with dissolved into nothing, but he was able to preserve a few very idiosyncratic elements (I found cinematographer Michael Ballhaus’s description of the production process quite illuminating on this point - which he gives, if my memory serves me right, in his book "Das fliegende Auge"). Although I was disappointed when I first saw the film, and thought that it looked cheap and even sloppy, I now find that its crammed visuals and its way to toy with vampirism as a metaphor for cinema itself work very well for me – although I now watch it out of interest in films, no longer out of interest in “Dracula”.
Best, Gabriel.

I'd be very interested in your thoughts on one of Hammer's most unusual movies, VAMPIRE CIRCUS?

Any thoughts on the recently deceased Leslie Nielsen?

Have purchased and read the Claude Rains bio. Excellent work. Thanks for providing a wonderful and much-needed resource for Rains's fans.

Any thoughts on the recently deceased Ingrid Pitt?

Paramount currently negotiating rights to a horror book titled The Shadow of the Succubus/The Eternal Thirst: Two Novels of Horror by an author named John Condenzio. Friend in L.A. who read some of it gave me the scoop about it. Reading it myself and can see why-damn good work.
AJ Johnson

I'd love to know your opinion of a particular guilty pleasure of mine: Mantan Moreland's wonderful performance in KING OF THE ZOMBIES? Do you realize just how many pictures that man saved for Monogram?

Hello David: I really enjoyed your DVD commentary on the Dracula special editions. I learned so many things. I was curious as to what Bela Lugosi thought or might have thought about the Spanish production and their interpretation.

Hi David, love Hollywood Gothic by the way, but I was wondering what was the speech Edward Van Sloan made after the showing of Dracula? I remember Carla Laemmle gave a wondelful repeat of it to close "The Road To Dracula". (Also, did you see the "Wolfman" remake? I have no idea what to make of it.)


I haven't seen Karloff on THIS IS YOUR LIFE, but I did see "Lizard's Leg & Owlet's Wing," probably in the 1980s or 1990s on a cable tv re-run, (forget the network), and, like those Famous Monsters readers of 1962-1963, who saw it first run, didn't think it was especially good, but it was OK.

I watched just a little of the Dark Shadows soap opera, and never got into it, and so far have not seen the 2 feature films.
Bossy Bobby

What did you think of the only two movies ever based on an American soap opera, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS?


Thanks for your reply to my post. Below is the link to Mike's London After Midnight Myths page.

I think that, like myself, you'll find it a real masterpiece!

Bossy Bobby

What did you think of the karloff episode of THIS IS YOUR LIFE? He looked quite stunned at first, didn't he?

Are you a fan of the "Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing" episode of ROUTE 66, featuring Karloff, Chaney Jr., and Lorre?

David: Nice to see the news about your screening yesterday of the Spanish Language DRACULA.
On LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, I just visited Mike's London After Midnight Myths Page for the firstime in a few years, and was glad (in a way) to see it was still there after 10 years.When I first read all of his apparently "real" documents "proving" that LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT had never really been lost, I didn't really "believe" what he was saying, but after getting to the final page, & his telling the reader, "you've been had," and it was all a joke, I thought the whole thing was rather dumb.On the other hand, I've wondered if he was doing the page to warn gullible people to beware of anyone claiming to have prints of that lost film for sale? I haven't "gotten into" study of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT too deeply, but from what reading I've done, I suppose there might be a lot of hoaxes surrounding the film. Have there been any known cases of scammers offering LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT for sale?
Bossy Bobby

I haven't followed all the hoaxes, but I think at least one involved someone offering to sell a print. Mostly though, these LAM "sightings" tend to be treated as a good-natured joke--a joke that's getting a bit tired. But I always think it's fun when people like Rick Baker find clever ways to snippet together amusing "clips" from the lost film. I personally don't think we're ever going to see the real thing. In the meantime, I try to enjoy the hoaxes. BTW, I don't know Mike's site--could you post a link?

Hi David, I'm re-reading THE MONSTER SHOW and was amused to note Carl Laemmle's lack of talent spotting -not interested in Bela Lugosi for Dracula, and Bette Davis not having any screen presence. Doh!Keep up the good work, Lee.

Yes, we really need to be grateful to Junior for his overall enthusiasm for monsters, not for his casting acumen!

Peter Lorre's THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK will be on Turner Classic Movies this month (May). Are you familiar with it?

Sorry I missed this time--saw it only once many years ago, and it's a strong Lorre performance.

Criterion's new Blu-ray DVD of Lang's M contains quite a bonus: The American version that Paramount released in 1933, dubbed into English and with some reshot scenes! Long thought lost, it's been rediscovered! Are you as anxious to see it as I am?

Can't wait. Was always surprised that M doesn't have a higher profile with the general public, given all the recent obsession with child predators. Haven't seen it, but no doubt will miss Lorre's voice--don't think he came over here until 1935.

David: I'm not surprised you've done your homework so thoroughly, remembering fractured flickrs, and checking out all the local TV schedules of the time, just like I would do (and did, but with success on my Casino Royale search).I'm still hopeful that LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, or some part of it might eventually be found.Another posssibility mentioned in the MidMar article was an odd Eurpoean film guage something like 9.5mm, but I'd guess you're probably well aware of those possibilities.Will have more to say later.Bossy Bobby.

My personal belief, based on some credible accounts given to me personally, is that a 16mm print existed at least into into the 1960s, probably privately owned. But its survival or whereabouts are anyone's guess now.

David, I'll e-mail you at the address given, and send you a Xerox of the article you need.These posts seem to be running together, so I think I'll start closing them with a new pen name, Bossy Bobby.If I had access to the Cleveland TV Guide, and newspaper listings, I'd do a search for any possible shows that could have been broadcast on Saturday mornings, fitting the description you gave, just as I did to successfully find the CBS broadcast of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. 2 more possibilities are Silents Please (which in his interview starting in FM # 24, Forry Ackerman said he watched, and Fractured Flickers, which I have found Net listings on. Of course, maybe you can rule those out, as you did with Hollywood and the Stars, but both shows seemed to be listed with Kids' shows, which would fit the Saturday morning schedule.That's it for now. I don't think we should give up on ever finding at least some film clips from LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, even if the entire feature film is never found. Bossy Bobby.

Thanks, Bobby. I also immediately thought of Fractured Flickers,but did the research and determined that wasn't it. Also completely scoured the TV guides for clues, with no luck. It was likely just a stray piece of stock footage someone thought was fun and used it in a way that's now impossible to trace. Re the message formatting, I tighten up posts and eliminate line spaces on what's coming in to create readable blocks of text.

Thanks for the quick responses.Altho Midnight Marquee has recently gone to being an online zine viewable with Adobe Acrobat reader, it was still hard copy when issue 67/68 was published, so it would be necessary to get a hard copy back issue, or a xerox of the article on lost films.

If you have a xerox of the piece you could send, I would greatly appreciate it. No source for back issues out here. You can e-mail me at and I'll give you mailing address. Many thanks.

I'm just wondering if the early 60s Cleveland TV supposedly Saturday morning TV show could be ID'd.

I have some old Cleveland TV guides from the period, but nothing rings a bell. Remember, this was a few fleeting seconds in a whole childhood of TV watching.

If any TV Guide or newspaper listing for that early 60s Cleveland show could be found, the obvious question would be, are any prints of the show still in existence?

Pretty sure this wasn't a network show, probably something small and syndicated.

Wasn't it a 1967 vault fire that supposedly destroyed MGM's last LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT print? One hears so many stories that it's hard to keep them straight. William K. Everson, who saw the film in Paris in the early 1950s, always said that it would be a disappointment if it's ever found.

Thought Everson saw the vault print, but I really do need to double-check all the facts, plus all the rumors.

Very good webpage. I read in Midnight Marquee #67/68, in an article by Steven Thornton, titled, "Lost Horrors: Gone and not Forgotten, Page 69, upper right column, regarding the lost film, LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT:
"From a more credible source, film writer and historian David Skal is certain that he viewed clips of the film as part of a televised montage of silent movies during his youth." I am wondering if there's any possibility that montage of silent movies could have been on Hollywood and the Stars, a 1963-1964 show that ran on NBC, in an episode titled "Monsters We Have Known & Loved." Back in about 1979-1980, WCIV-TV, Channel 4, in Charleston, SC, ran that series, and I only caught the last few minutes of the show, and even if I had seen it in its entirety, I wouldn't have been looking for any clips from LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, because at the time I wasn't aware that it was a lost film.

It was definitely not "Hollywood and the Stars," and it wasn't clips, just a single clip of the scene where Chaney rises from a crouch as the vampire and frightens the maid. It was on Cleveland television in the early 60s, and I seem to remember it being a Saturday morning. Although the vault print was destroyed in the 1950s, the MGM also had a trailer listed in their catalog, and I've heard at least one credible story of a 16mm screening way back then. Is that Thornton article available online? I'm revising DARK CARNIVAL and want to include the LAM sighting saga as completely as I can.

I'd be very interested to hear your opinion of Joseph Losey's science fiction film for hammer, THESE ARE THE DAMNED, which just came out in the same DVD set that includes CASH ON DEMAND and the very controversial (for its time) Hammer NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER (original British title: NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER), about a child molester.

Haven't ever seen the film, looking forward to the box set as a chance to catch up with these rarities.

About the doppelganger aspect of Superman, which personality was the real one, Clark Kent or the guy with the big red S on his chest? In the color George Reeves episodes, for example, Superman often seemed much quieter and gentler than the often rather assertive Clark Kent.

The thing about doppelgangers is that they represent the suppressed side of the personality. Both sides are equally real--one is just denied, at least most of the time. Without each other, neither Superman or Clark Kent would exist (or be interesting).

On a completely different topic, have you ever seen Hammer's non-horror Peter Cushing film CASH ON DEMAND, which just came out on DVD? Cushing is excellent! Well, he's ALWAYS excellent, but in this one he surpassed even his own high standards.

Don't know this one, but recently learned that Cushing (along with Christopher Lee)was considered for the part of Henry Irving in Hammer's never-produced Bram Stoker biopic VICTIM OF HIS IMAGINATION. Either actor would have been wonderful in the part.

For me, George Reeves has always been the perfect Superman. In the early black and white episodes, he was believably tough. Later, in the much toned down color shows, he really was immensely likable. Agree? Disagree? Any comments?

My main interest in Superman has always been the doppelganger aspect. Grew up watching the TV show, but even as a kid thought Reeves was a bit on the soft side to be a convincing man of steel. Really did enjoy HOLLYWOODLAND, and never bought the suicide theory in any case. Should have been a James Ellroy novel, or part of one.


I watched it when I could, but found the episodes to be pretty uneven. I did very much enjoy their hilarious deconstruction of THIS ISLAND EARTH.

Hello, David. I am a big fan of your book THE MONSTER SHOW. I have always thought it's the best book I've ever read about anything, much less the movies, but what I would like to know is, why are doctors in Hollywood movies always mad? Hollywood shouldn't give doctors such a bad name you know. I have met a few doctors and they have always appeared to be reasonably balanced individuals, at least to me. I think that scientists and doctors should be very upset! What do you think?

Thanks, Cherie. I deal with this question at some length in my book SCREAMS OF REASON, especially in the chapter "The Doctor Will Eat You Now." The dirty little secret of the technological age is that people fear and mistrust science as much as they depend on it, and medicine is the one branch of science to which most people have the most personal exposure. Therefore, medical doctors frequently bear the brunt of our anxieties about science as it affects us most directly. Also, there are many things about health care today that are truly scary, and aren't being fixed.

If you've seen them, what did you think of the three rather grisly (for the time) I LOVE A MYSTERY B movies released by Columbia in 1945/46?

Sorry, only know them by reputation!

So many of today's horror/sf movie magazines seem to owe a debt to CINEFANTASTIQUE. I remember when it really was the only magazine about these films that covered them in a consistently adult, sophisticated manner. Any memories of the magazine and it's tragic (anyone who commits suicide is, to me, tragic) owner/editor/publisher Frederick S. Clarke? Did you know him?

Sadly, no. Steve Biodrowski was my point of contact for the things I contributed. I agree about the tone and content. Also reminds me that FANGORIA has done a wonderful job over the years with in-depth coverage that's light years beyond canned studio hand-outs. Imagine what our knowledge of the golden age of classic horror would be had there been dedicated independent genre journalism.

Hi again, David. I have been rewatching FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN tonight, and three questions occur to me. i) Do you think FRANKENSTEIN is just as open to a gay reading as BRIDE? It seems to me Fritz is kind of an alter-ego or a projection of Henry's repressed/suppressed self (and the Monster might be too, to some extent). ii) Bride is obviously a self-consciously queer movie, but was all the gay lingo ("queer," "queen" etc) deliberate, too? Even the conversation "Friend? Oh I do hope so," makes me think of "friend of Dorothy." I note a lot of that language is first recorded in the twenties. iii) Was Whale giving a deliberate FU to the Hollywood establishment with BRIDE? And did Hollywood really fall for it? The fact almost all the main cast is either English or at least British makes it seem like a deliberate subversion of the establishment was going on right under Hollywood's noses, and they didn't see it, or didn't care. What do you think? Any thoughts gratefully received. If you can recommend any reading related to this, go ahead. I am planning on reading the "Gods & Monsters" bio of Whale, and also MONSTERS IN THE CLOSET by someone whose name I can't remember offhand. Thanks for your time. Dave Rattigan

FRANKENSTEIN is open to a gay reading if you think anything outsider-themed is "gay," which I don't. The 1931 film was assigned to Whale well into its development with the director as a newcomer at Universal, and he didn't have much room the shape the story, characters, or subtext. BRIDE is a different kettle of fish, and the inside-joke factor is pretty much off the scale. Thesiger/Pretorious pretty much says it all--Whale cast his own gay theatrical mentor as Frankenstein's mentor in the creative realm. I've written about topic in both THE MONSTER SHOW and SCREAMS OF REASON, and it's talked about at some length in my GODS AND MONSTERS DVD documentary. The author of MONSTERS IN THE CLOSET is Harry Benshoff--there's a link on my MONSTER SHOW book page here.

David- where can I find a copy of the 1934 American Cinematographer article by John Fulton about the velvet suit from THE INVISIBLE MAN. I own the original costume and want to research more about it.

What a great piece of history! Pretty sure the Motion Picture Academy Library has bound copies of AC. Also try the UCLA libraries. And I think the Library of Congress Online can display Union List holdings of periodicals in collections all across the country.

Hi, David. A belated happy new year to you and yours. As it's the 75th anniversary of The Bride of Frankenstein (perhaps the most celebrated horror film ever) this year, do you know if anything is lined up? DVD, book, cinema releases? Dave Rattigan

I've heard absolutely nothing. A Blu-Ray release would probably require an enormously expensive frame-by-frame digital re-do (a la METROPOLIS)and any supplements would also need to be remade in HD (the documentaries I did ten years ago look awful in hi-def. Universal has pretty much dropped the ball with its classic library titles, sad to say.

For the benefit of those who haven't yet read your Claude Rains book,and since the film recently became available on Warner Archive DVD, what did you think of Rains's THE UNSUSPECTED?

A minor film, but extremely stylish and entertaining. Rains at his scenery-chewing best in a ridiculous "mystery" plot that is nonetheless very easy to watch.

Very much looking forward to reading the paperback edition of the Claude Rains book once it arrives! Are there any other books in the pipeline at the moment? Keep up the terrific work!

Many book projects on the burner this year. I'm finally finishing my mad science/mad culture opus CITIZEN CLONE: THE MORPHING OF AMERICA, completing a revised and expanded edition of DARK CARNIVAL, as well as a completely updated V IS FOR VAMPIRE. Also revising my early novels and putting finishing touches on two novels that have been gestating for quite a while. If a pending research fellowship abroad comes through later this year, I'll be embarking on a large biographical project which will take up much of 2011. Stay tuned!

Your opinion, please, on the most morbid Val Lewton film (and that's saying a lot!), THE SEVENTH VICTIM?

It's not my favorite Lewton (which is THE BODY SNATCHER--Karloff's finest acting ever--followed closely by THE CAT PEOPLE). I first saw VICTIM while I was actually living in Greenwich Village, and have a soft spot for movies and books with which I have a geographical connection. (I now live in Glendale, where Mildred Pierce baked her pies and Nathanael West's locust people gathered at the airstrip waiting for disasters that never came, and, when I lived in San Francisco, used to walk by the VERTIGO hotel every day on my way to work). Odd that the Village, with all its overtones of oddness, hasn't cropped up more in genre films. I was always struck by that shower scene but never delved into its possible influence on Hitchcock. It's also one of Hollywood's first halfway convincing depiction of cults and their dynamics.

A very calm response to what I thought were some very intemperate criticisms of your book on Claude Rains, David!

Both Jessica and I have had enough feedback, positive and negative, to know how passionately his fans can react. I was a bit surprised how little appreciation there seemed to be for our finally publishing every scrap of direct commentary and information about his career that came from Rains himself, especially his theatre days, which he, of course, valued far more than his film work. This, of necessity, skewed the book toward theatre, but left some readers cold.

I recently enjoyed, for about the ninth time in as many years, your ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MONSTERS DVD documentary. If MEET FRANKENSTEIN is the best of them all, what's second? DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, followed by INVISIBLE MAN, then MUMMY? (I don't include GO TO MARS, since it's a science fiction spoof, not horror. Also, THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF is more of a takeoff on mysteries than horror films.) What did you think of Bud and Lou's earlier HOLD THAT GHOST?

MEET THE MONSTERS was an especially fun project, though I still regret Universal was unable to reach a clip agreement with the Chaney estate--you'll notice that the Wolf Man images all ended up publicity stills instead. JEKYLL & HYDE was my favorite follow-up (because of Karloff's involvement), but I do have a soft spot for HOLD THAT GHOST, which prefigured some of the best moments from the monster series, minus the monsters.

Where do you think Karloff was at his most disinterested, phone it in, take the money and run? HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN? FRANKENSTEIN 1970? VOODOO ISLAND? (Many fans put his performance in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE in this category,but I always thought he was pretty good in that. Check out the scene where he despairingly tells the girl,"Every plan I ever made, I made for YOU!" Genuine pathos... in an Abbott and Costello movie!)

Re Abbott and Costello, you answer your own question. I can't think of ANY Karloff performance, however bad the overall film, in which he didn't give every ounce of his professionalism. In the end, his legendary work ethic may have been a bit exaggerated by intimations of his own mortality--he didn't really HAVE to work, and certainly not in a wheelchair and loaded down with an oxygen tank, but he wanted to, and always wanted to do the best job possible.

It seems like a safe bet that you're familiar with most of Karloff's more important non-horror parts. Well, what did you think of his lecherous reporter/phony clergyman in FIVE STAR FINAL?

A wonderfully twisted pre-Code performance. Makes you believe Karloff could have become a major character actor even without the horror association.

Your opinion, please, on Bogdanovich's TARGETS? In a perfect world, it would have been Karloff's last, valedictory film, wouldn't it?

Can't say enough good things about TARGETS. Still has a startlingly contemporary feel about it. His daughter told me he personally considered it his "last" film, and it was quite a swan song. Peter B. got to live out a horror fan's fantasy--not just directing a living legend, but acting with him in the film's best scene!


Thanks to all for recent comments regarding Claude Rains. No one is unhappier than the author when errors find their way into a printed book. I finished the bio in 2008 during multiple medical crises in my family, and a final file of text corrections--including most of what's been pointed out here--missed the last boat. Wish it had been otherwise, and my apologies to all who were offended. Pages for the first paperback edition (spring 2010)were printed at the same time as the hardcover, but the book will be fully corrected for subsequent printings, and text changes have already been incorporated for foreign editions and translations, the rights for which are being negotiated. I've inserted other, specific responses below.

Claude Rains Biography -- There's another photo error - The photo listed as "With Whitney Bourne in Crime without Passion (1934)" should actually be "With Gertrude Michael in The Last Outpost (1935)."

For a published book, way too many embarrassing?

Did somebody proof this book before publication???
Here's a few mistakes....
Page 101 – Inaccurate synopsis of movie “Juarez” and Bette Davis (Carlotta) did not play Paul Muni’s (Benito Juarez) wife but was the wife of Brian Aherne (Maximillian), who was the misguided and deceived King of Mexico.

Page 111 – Doctor’s daughter was played by Nancy Coleman not Ann Sheridan.

Photo of Claude in a white dinner jacket holding a gun is from the film “Rope of Sand” NOT “Song of Surrender.”

If you're going to write a book about a great professional actor, try to emulate the man and write a professionally accurate book. Geesh!

In the book Claude Rains An Actor's Voice, on page 110 you have a mistake. Ann Sheridan was not the doctor's daughter who was involved with Ronald Reagan. The role was played by Nancy Coleman.

Don't beat around the bush, Candace. Tell us what you really think.

An Actor's Voice: Claude Rains
By Candace Scott (Lake Arrowhead, CA, USA) -
This book is well and thoughtfully presented, but misses the mark to a spectacular degree.

What I miss desperately is that there is so little presented about Claude Rains as a human being. There's really no excuse for this since his daughter contributed. When I come away from a biography having little sense of what this man was really like, then there is a problem. It's hardly a case of paucity of information when Claude's daughter was available to Skal and ostensibly presented as "co-author."

There is virtually nothing about Claude as a man in the entire book. What kinds of music did he listen to? What did he do when he got home? What was he like as a husband? As a father? No mention of his affairs, a few common anecdotes about friends, taken from books published years ago. Why no new interviews with people who worked with him and knew him? There are dozens of those people out there. Clint Eastwood was talking about Claude on PBS just last week. What about Gloria Stuart, Kim Hunter, Audrey Totter, many others? Instead of taking interviews from these people from years back, interview them for this project!

OK, so we're told he drank Scotch and Guinness Stout and by 1942 he was drinking at noon and the suggestion he was drunk but was such a good actor he fooled his colleagues. How about some anecdotes about this? How about some additional information? He was supposed to have been the most professional actor in town yet he was furtively drinking and disguising his inebriation on the set? It's too cryptic. Flesh it out more.

There's a total paucity of any attempt to explain, rationalize or examine Claude's relationships with his six wives. What was really going on? Every wife except the last two cheated on him throughout all marriages. Why? Why was he so desirable externally and apparently so undesirable internally to wife after wife? Is there any analysis? None.

The biggest and most curious ommision is the complete lack of material on Claude's fourth wife, Frances. It's a near-fatal malady, especially when their child is available to fill in the blanks. We get absolutely no sense of who Frances was, her personality, her interests or what their marriage was like. They meet, they fall into bed, they live together for 7 years before they marry (even though he's married to someone else), they marry... and then... NOTHING. Frances briefly resurfaces to give birth to their daughter... then bye bye to Rain's fourth wife.

There is MUCH too much info on The Invisible Man (1933) and Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), all of it boring, repetitive and droning. There are also numerous errors that prove conclusively Skal didn't bother watching many of Claude's movies. His synopsis of several flicks is ludicrously inaccuate.

For a neopthye Claudie person, probably an excellent read. But for someone seeking the essential inner workings of Claudie, a crushing disappointment. If you're seeking information on Claude Rains as a man, forget it.

I would have loved to have interviewed Kim Hunter, but she died about six years before I started work. Fortunately, she had already given some candid and revealing memories of DARKNESS AT NOON I was able to quote. I personally spoke to Gloria Stuart at some length about THE INVISIBLE MAN, and was sorry to have to discount her famous story about being upstaged on the set, but I presented the facts as I saw them. As should be obvious, Claude kept a legendary professional distance from Hollywood people, never letting anyone see anything beyond the mask of the "consummate professional." Frances never talked about her relationship with Rains--not even to her daughter--except for the very brief comment to Aljean Harmetz about the disparity in their ages. I don't like armchair psychologizing, so I didn't psychologize.

I'd love to know your opinion of Karloff's THE WALKING DEAD, soon to be available as a Special Edition DVD.

My mother's parents took her to see it when she was seven years old, and it scared the hell out of her. I haven't seen it in quite a while, but remember Karloff's scene at the piano to be extremely haunting.

Are Karloff's last four Mexican movies really as bad as I've heard, would you know?

They'll all pretty bad, and Karloff was in terrible health during production. I agree with Sara Karloff that his "last" film role was in TARGETS.

Any memories of the 1967 puppet film, featuring the voice of Karloff, MAD MONSTER PARTY?

A cute film, but Henry Sellick makes you realize how little was done creatively with stop motion's potential until recently.

Interesting theory about Hyde being a homosexual blackmailer. I don't think I heard that before, but I remember getting a distinctly gay vibe reading the book, and always wondered whether it was "just me". Dave Rattigan

Stevenson is best read (and understood) on a continuum including The Picture of Dorian Gray with which it shares many a subtext. The subject is well-covered in Elaine Showalter's Sexual Anarchy.

Out of all of Lugosi's cheap little 1940s b's, which would be your favorite? Personally, I always thought that INVISIBLE GHOST was rather well directed. VOODOO MAN was interesting, also. Would you agree that the most degrading part he ever played was THE APE MAN?

VOODOO MAN is certainly the most fun (especially "My wife is not sick--she is dead. She has been dead for 20 years!") but I always liked the dialogue exchange in THE CORPSE VANISHES where the girl discovers Lugosi sleeping in a coffin and complains to her clueless boyfriend, who shrugs it all off: "Oh, everyone has their eccentricities." Of course THE APE MAN is degrading, but isn't degradation center to our fasacination with horror? Lugosi would not be the icon he is without our sharing and savoring his ritual decent into Hollywood hell.

Seeing a local production of the "Jekyll & Hyde" musical got me thinking about how the presentation of the story has changed over the years, and I wondered about your thoughts on this - in particular, the "good/bad" female characters, which weren't part of Stevenson's original. You could argue, I suppose, that they're a too simplistic "madonna/whore" device, but I've always thought that they added a welcome layer of complexity. Also, have you seen the "Jekyll & Hyde" musical, and if so, what do you think of it? (Aside from one number that sounds like a pageant runway song, I rather enjoyed it.)

While it's thematically interesting to add a female duality to the original story--a strenuously all-male affair--I believe this was done as the the usual commercial "love interest" sop, and not to enhance our appreciation of Stevenson. Since the plot revelation is no longer a surprise, we forget that Stevenson set up the original readers with teasing intimations that Hyde is a homosexual blackmailer, then explaines it all away. I found the musical a total bore.

Are you a fan of any current or past horror comic books, American or foreign?

Nothing has affected me as much as the original EC comics, which I first discovered in paperback compilations in the 1960s. I went so far as to record dramatizations on a battery-operated reel-to-reel tape recorder, doing all the voices myself, with music (live in the background on the hi-fi), and grisly sound effects.

Hey David! Neat new setup you have going for the website.Recently I recieved a trivia question. "What did Dr. Frankenstein name his monster in the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN movie? NB: In some DVD versions the scene has been deleted" FRANKENSTEIN is one of my all-time favorite movies and I know the story and its history inside out (thanks considerably to your insightful documentaries and books)... but have I missed something?

Your Aussie chum,
Ryan C

The monster was not given a name by his maker in the 1931 film, so I don't know what the trivia question is getting at. Nothing of this kind was ever deleted. Oddly enough, in the stage play on which it was based, the monster was called "Frankenstein" and the maker "Henry," apparently to underscore the doppelganger dynamic in the story.

Your opinion, please, of Hammer's THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL?

Haven't seen since its original release, but I remember being impressed by the first-time gambit of an attractive Hyde, and distinctly recall being creeped out by the snake crawling over Christopher Lee. My then-juvenile mind was boggled by the idea that the snake was real, and not a camera trick.

Mr. Skal - In your bio of Claude Rains, on pages 110 and 111, you say that the doctor's daughter in "Kings Row" was played by Ann Sheridan. I think the part was played by Nancy Coleman. Am I wrong?

I'm afraid you're right. I made several corrections of fact on the final proofs, which somehow did not make it into the finished book, but will be taken care of in future printings. Thanks for noticing.

Were you happy with Sean Connery's return as James Bond in 1983's NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, recently released as a Special Edition DVD?

As far as I am concerned, Connery is the ONLY James Bond!

As a follow-up to my previous question, have you ever seen a VHS or DVD of Michael Rennie's LIVE version of JEKYLL AND HYDE, which was done on CBS's CLIMAX! back around 1955 or so? Rennie was pretty good, and the transformation scenes used pre-filmed inserts. If memory serves, Gore Vidal wrote it.

Don't know if it's on DVD, but I definitely saw a VHS copies years ago and thought it was pretty good. Wish Vidal had also done DORIAN GRAY!

What's your opinion of the 1968 Dan Curtis-produced version of THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, starring Jack Palance? Some people think that this relatively cheap TV special is the best JEKYLL AND HYDE ever done, and far superior to much more expensive feature film adaptations of Stevenson's classic.

Would hardly call it the best, but very well done. But it rehashed all the music hall girl stuff that was totally missing in Stevenson's all-male meditation.

Mr. Skal - you say in the Rains bio that he had only 1 child - Jessica - yet on page 28 you note that Rains at 16 probably got a seamstress, Rachel Nelson, pregnant, and that the family was probably paid off by Beerbohn Tree. Why is there no follow up that anyone seems to have done on this, including Mr. Rains?? He may have had another child - son or daughter.

The Nelson family contacted us with the story that had been handed down to them without any documentary proof. Nonetheless, it seemed reasonable enough that we included it with open reservations. We found, by the way, that even a DNA test between Jessica and modern members of the family would not conclusively prove anything about Claude. In regard to possible other children, anything's a possibility, and there have been many insinuations that Rains was a chronic womanizer. If so, he was very discreet and no one has ever gone on the record (or even been identified). Jessica remains Claude's only child of record.

Your opinion, please, on what many consider to be Jerry Lewis's one true masterpiece, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR? Do you think his Buddy Love characterization was supposed to be a shot at Dean Martin? Jerry always denies it, but one never knows...

Well, if it wasn't based on Martin, it was certainly based on the lounge-lizard stereotype that Martin popularized. PROFESSOR is (big surprise) my favorite Lewis film, and it's held up well.

Just read a real good gothic horror book titled "The Shadow of the Succubus/The Eternal Thirst:Two Novels of Horror" by a relatively new author named John Condenzio. Recommend it highly to those who like good and unique horror works. Regards, A.J.

Thanks for the recommendation, A.J. Amazing, isn't it, how horror novels and films continue to be a dependable incubator for new talent?

Hiya David. It's my unfortunate duty to report the death of the beautiful Susanna Foster. It's also a shame about Forry, considering you were also, obviously, very close to him :(

I'm grateful that Susanna participated in our "Phantom" DVD for Universal, especially because she was facing serious health problems and could have easily bowed out. That was ten years ago, and I understand her last decade was extremely difficult. Her son has posted a multi-part video tribute on YouTube which is very candid and moving. Forry will forever be missed. I'll be attending his memorial tribute tomorrow in Hollywood.

The sad occasion of Patrick McGoohan's very recent death seems like a good time to ask for your opinion of THE PRISONER, in particular "Fall Out," the last episode?

As I recall, that bizarre final episode probably required a stiff dose of sixties LSD for any kind of comprehension.

Just finished Your WONDERFUL book on Claude Rains. My grandmother was a friend of Mr. Rains. My grandparents had a gourmet market in West Chester where Claude and Frances were special customers.(Delpino's) The Rains' attended my mother's and aunt's weddings. Claude would visit my grandmother in her final days, hold her hand and read to her. Claude knew my grandmother's favorite flowers were violets and he had a beautiful nosegay of violets sent to her. She died the day following the receipt of the violets. My grandfather placed the violets in the casket beside her. Frances asked my mother to be a mother's helper with Jennifer(Jessica) when the family went abroad but my mother had to refuse. My brother as a young boy cut the lawn on Church Street. Don't want to bore you but could you send this to Jessica. Would love her to autograph a book. It would mean so much to my mother. Jessica would come in to the store as a little girl. Thanks Suzanne.

Thanks, Suzanne, and Happy New Year. I've e-mailed you Jessica's contact information and I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

The only Godzilla film for which I ever had any use was the first one, which actually had a message to it, as you know. What's your opinion of the series?

I agree about the first film, which had an appropriately dark post-war message. But there is also a message in the rest of the series--how the world got fat and complacent and learned to love the "bomb" (i.e., a cuddly Godzilla).

In your opinion, can spy films like the Bonds, which feature fantastic, non-existant scientific gadgets, and TV shows like THE PRISONER, THE AVENGERS, THE MAN FROM U. N. C. L. E. etc., which are also filled with far-fetched pseudo-scientific trappings, be considered science fiction?

Science fiction has permeated modern consciousness to such a degree that it's difficult sometimes to distinguish between sf and non-sf. And maybe not so important. The future isn't what it used to be, and we all live there anyway!

Have you seen True Blood on HBO? What do you think? Were you aware of the Charlaine Harris novels? I love the fact that vampires become just another discriminated-against minority population with the invention of synthetic blood - brilliant & funny! Would love your take on it.

I don't have HBO at home, have only seen internet clips, which I find original and intriguing. I appear on the HBO "True Blood" documentary (probably available on-demand), talking about vampires in general.

The Phantom of the Opera. There has always been something intriguing to me about something as beautiful and magnificent as an opera house, being haunted by a disfigured, mad genius, who was created by society's hate and prejudice. I've always loved the Chaney, Rains, and Lom film versions, as well as the Leroux novel. I would still like to see a big-budget, faithful to Leroux, horror-oriented adaptation hit the screen in the near future. My runners-up are Dracula, the Mummy and Baron Frankenstein.

I think the book's in the public domain, so anybody can make a film if they can raise the money. Like Dracula, the Phantom has been culturally morphed into a romantic something Leroux would have trouble digesting.

The answer to this might be pretty obvious, but who is your favorite movie/literary monster?

Not sure I really need to answer this question, but thanks for taking the time to ask. Which one is yours? Seriously, and why?

Have you gotten a chance to look at the recent NEW ANNOTATED DRACULA, edited by Leslie S. Klinger? If so, what do you think? I flipped through it and it looks like an impressive edition.

I've seen it, though not yet read it. It's beautifully produced (by my own publisher, W.W. Norton) and finally someone got access to the original manuscript (not just the notes. What's more, the secret of the manuscript's owner is also revealed: Paul Allen, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft.

Hey David. When you have a moment please view my latest video which looks into my obsession into the classic horror genre. Hope you enjoy. Cheers, Ryan Cauchi.

Did you visit Ackerman? Is there any hope of recovery?

Yes, I visited, but sadly he's weak rapidly declining. But he's comfortable, still smiling, and has several capable caretakers. I gave him a signed copy of the new book, with an inscription (which I read to him) expressing gratitude for all of his early inspiration and influence, without which I would probably never had a career as a writer. A lot of people in Hollywood feel the same way, and there's been a huge expression of affection and thanks from everyone.

I just discovered that a facsimile edition of Bram Stoker's notes for "Dracula" has been published. What's your opinion about this? You had the opportunity to review the originals when writing "Hollywood Gothic," didn't you?

These are Stoker's preliminary notes for the novel, not the finished manuscript, but they've been masterfully edited and annotated by Elizabeth Miller and Robert Eighteen-Bisang. A must for any serious Dracula scholar. I did examine the notes myself for "Hollywood Gothic," but not in this kind of detail. I give the editors special credit for deciphering Stoker's handwriting, which often makes a doctor's prescription look like an illuminated manuscript!

Oh ho. so that french horror film i was thinkin' of was called "Frontiers" (2007)Hey, David. it's Wayne. it may be a bit excessive, but then again you know i'm a fan of the excessive for it's sake. still, i would like to know if you end up seeing it. you can email here:

Hey, Wayne, good to hear from you and hope things are going well. They are for me.I'll definitely look up "Frontiers." Keep me posted at

What do you know about Forry Ackerman's recent medical problems?

I only know that he's in fragile shape. Planning on paying a visit tomorrow if he's up to it.

For Halloween, two friends and I attended Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History's "Martinis & IMAX: Fright Night," which concluded with a showing of Tod Browning's Dracula in Fernbank's IMAX theater. Although it was not specifically stated in the advertisement for the event, I expected to view a print of the film, not the DVD itself. Even worse, they presented it in faux widescreen, which made the characters appear unnaturally short and fat. Very disappointing. At the end of the film, the host announced that all prints were destroyed in a fire so the film can now only be viewed on DVD. I don't recall reading that before and I suspect it was a white lie to appease the packed theater. I imagine you would know best. Many thanks! And Happy Halloween.

No, it's true that all the theatrical show prints of the Universal classics were destroyed in the fire. The negatives are stored elsewhere, but reprinting them all is an expensive process and I wouldn't expect to see them again anytime soon. Like my DVDs, the new prints were funded by a $20 million dollar Halloween promotional campaign in 1999. Hopefully NBC will see the value of restoring these treasures. Much more was destroyed besides the horror films, by the way.

Although I haven't read the Claude Rains book yet, I have enjoyed both editions of HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC, THE MONSTER SHOW, DARK CARNIVAL and other of your work. Despite what one or two Amazon oddballs might say, I don't think you're capapble of writing anything in a superficial manner. How is the second edition of DARK CARNIVAL coming along? -- David from Philadelphia

I've finished the revisions to "Dark Carnival" but the reprint book will likely coincide with the movie version, which is currently in preparation.

Dear Mr. Skal. I heard you on Coast to Coast this evening. It was an enjoyable show. But, reading here, I feel I have to say something: Please don't indulge in gossip and rumour about who slept with who, or who didn't, who was drunk during what film shooting, etc. Why spoil the magic? These kinds of stories about stars long gone, and who are not around to defend themselves is trash talk. Your credibility as an author is greatly diminished by such discussions. I remember Oliver Reed was a guest on the old Mike Douglas show in the 70s. Mike had on a photographer who was beginning to tell a story about how he slept with Marilyn Monroe. Oliver Reed interrupted and asked that the conversation stop. Stating that 'gentlemen don't speak this way about women', and that they should 'honor, not defame her memory'. Well, the audience went wild in applause (this was way before audiences easily went wild with applause, by the way, way before audience hooting was as common as ads for genital herpes remedies). Well, anyway, the conversation did cease. MIke was a little uncomfortable, but he handled it well. The photographer now knew his place. Maybe he learned something that day. If I may be indulged to relate another tale: Years ago I watched a documentary that came with my Casablanca DVD. It talked about the last scene at the air field. It revealed some very clever things about how it was done. Though the doc was captivating and engrossing, my viewing experience of Casablanca, a film I loved, and STILL love, has never been the same since. No matter how hard I try, I cannot forget what I learned, I cannot put the shattered mirror back together again. The illusion is gone. I still love Casablanca dearly. But I cannot enjoy that last scene and consequently the whole movie, as much as I did before learning those things. The viewing experience is, now, different. I believe in the magic of Hollywood. Being an actor, writer and director, I should have known better than to watch that doc, that some magic is best left secret. David Lynch in his tight lipped fashion on filming technique is very wise in this area. I wish others were equally so. I tell these stories not to bore you, but because I hope they will help. Help you and help others here who obviously do love movies and the people who make them. But sometimes we do things out of curiosity, out of a thirst to know more, than we probably should. We go too far. We want more and more, And we end up with less than we had before. Of course, you may heed or disregard my words as you see fit. It's you choice. But I hope you or your readers at least think about what I've said. By the way, I can't help but wonder that of all the images you could have selected to adorn your forum, you chose that one. Good grief. Now that IS scary. Not the image, but your decision to use that of all images. Yes, to quote Robert Plant, it makes wonder. - schizoidman

Dear Schizoidman: Don't believe I uttered a word of gossip about anyone on "Coast to Coast." As for the book, all of the stories about Claude's marriages,etc. were intended by Claude himself for publication and verified by his daughter. It's an authorized biography. I was offered mountains of ugly gossip about Claude that I didn't use because there was no evidence to back it up. Most of the complaints I've received have to do with there being too little sex, etc. in the book. As for the Bush vampire image, it's a brilliant political cartoon and happens to reflect my own politics.

What if? A mortal is bitten by a vampire, resulting in the death of the vampire? Rumor? That the reason a vampire cannot be seen in a mirror, is that it goes from the world on the other side of the mirror. Happy Hallow Ween!

Not sure I understand your question. Don't know any legends about vampires killing themselves by biting victims. That's how they propogate themselves and create more vampires, after all. Regarding mirrors, reflections and doubles have deep roots in supernatural folklore. I think the reason vampires don't reflect is because we'd see our own images in the mirror.

Your Rains book has gotten some brickbats on Amazon for being superficial. What is your response?

Since he's been dead since 1967, I don't know how to get under his skin besides the memories he left. Unlike many Hollywood biographers, I don't speculate on a subject's psychology without documentation.He was austere and aloof with both his co-workers and family. Jessica's parents didn't share their personal problems with their daughter, and Frances never talked publicly about their marital discontents. Even their closest friends were shocked when they divorced.

With the questions about Connery, Moore, etc., I'm GUESSING that the inquiry was: which one do you think makes the best James Bond?

After Connery, my favorite is Daniel Craig, and I hope he repeats the role.

First view of your site. If you really want a monster show, vote for Obama and the dimwit. The image accompanying this is Liberty with her head lopped completely off with Obama drinking from the fountain of blood spouting from her severed neck.

Um, last time I checked, dimwit Palin wasn't Obama's running mate.

Even better, Sean Connery or Roger Moore? Any opinion on George Lazenby?

Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?

All good actors, but what's the question? These posts seem to be from a past thread I couldn't immediately find. It would help if people identified themselves in their posts. The Authors Guild blocks ids of commentators, so it's sometimes difficult to know who you are or what I'm responding to.

Do you have any more DVD commentaries coming up that you're at liberty to talk about?

Wish I did. Was slated to do one for a restored version of NOSFERATU, but the whole project fell through. Very few studios are doing value-added extras on library classics these days.

What did you think of Hammer's rather unusual THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, recently released on DVD in what I'm told is a beautiful copy?

I haven't seen the film since its original theatrical release, when I enjoyed it immensely at the Mapletown Theater in Mapletown, Ohio. I think it was on a revival double bill with BRIDES OF DRACULA. Like Dracula in recent decades, Hyde was excessively romanticized.

So, what's your next project? I'm looking forward to the new edition of DARK CARNIVAL. When will it be released?

Nothing firm yet. The revised edition is finished, but publication may have to wait until something happens with the biopic. I'm finishing a couple of novels, as well as my long-over due book CITIZEN CLONE.

Got your book today at my local bookstore, and can't wait to read. Are you happy with it?

Yes. They did a wonderful production and editorial job.

And why wouldn't Bette Davis make claims "no one ever talked about before?" Others didn't talk about Claude because they weren't close to CR and didn't see these things. Nor were they asked about him, nor were they personally obsessed to the point where they spoke about Claude all the time as did Bette. No one else spoke about Claude throwing horseshoes behind his head because they didn't witness it. He socialized with so few people. Bette talked about what she saw. That answers your question down below.

I don't know or can document that Bette actually said these things.

Claude is frequently spoken about as "vain," "arrogant" and a little haughty. I have read (and enjoyed) your book but I saw scant evidence of this supposed ego in the book. Was he conceited about his looks or voice? He comes off in your book as unhappy some of the time and hopelessly insecure. You quote the fifth wife as saying his success never fulfilled him. The bartender in Casablanca said Claude checked himself out in the mirror constantly (Bette confirmed). So was Claude vain about his gorgeous looks and voice?

I don't think he was conceited, but obviously insecure on a number of levels. His height, obviously. All actors are insecure, by definition.

Have you seen the claude rains movies the clairvoyant and the mystery of edwin drood? if so what is your opinion of those two movies and claude's pe
rfomance in them?

Two of his best screen performances! Clairvoyant drew upon his personal knowledge of English theatre/music halls. Drood was a true tour de force, drawing upon all his melodramatic stage roles.

I have been checking out your reader forum for a month or so in anticipation of the Rains book. I must say that I am amazed at this subculture of Rainsiacs that comment on nothing about the him beyond his supposed wild sex life. This craziness is the direct opposite of anything out there about Rains to date. The Bette Davis piece surprises me...she makes claims that no one has ever talked about before. I hope the book is going to have more than this to it.

The book provides tons of details about his marriages, given directly by Claude and his daughter.

Your book humorously gives a nod to rabid Claude fans who adore his bathtub scene in Hearts Divided. You duly note this was his only "semi nude scene." (A fact deeply lamented by obsessed Claudeophiles). I'm curious if you at least think Claude's body in this scene was attractive. He looks pretty buff and toned. I know you prefer bearish hair-monsters (where does Daniel Craig fit into that scheme?) but do you find Claude's semi-nude body even remotely huggable and do-able?

I'm not a hardcore bear fetishist and if Claude was remotely as buff as Daniel Craig, maybe I'd have different thoughts. But I never had a single erotic twinge about CR during writing the book. Just found him a fascinating puzzle (that may not be entirely solved, ever). In general, I find the sexiest scenes in movies tend to be fully clothed. Think about that kiss in "Notorious." But I may be old fashioned. Sexual attraction/response is deeply personal and individual. Don't know what else to say.

What it be hard for you to understand if I said that out of all the different Batmans (Batmen?), I still like Adam West the best? There's a limit to how seriously I can take stories about someone who runs around in that outfit, and the campy spoofing of the 1966-68 series didn't bother me at all. It was certainly a lot more fun than, for example, Tim Burton's very depressing BATMAN RETURNS.

Adam West's rendition was very iconic for me when I was a kid. I didn't get into the actual comic books until later. Funny the whole thing had its genesis in Chester Morris's impersonation of "The Bat" and one of Universal's original choices for Dracula was Morris.

By now, you may just be itching for a non- Claude Rains question or comment! In your considered opinion, who was the best movie or TV Superman? Batman?

I have a special fondness for the original 50s Superman series.

Selected Works

The ultimate "collector's vault"!
There's much more to the Invisible Man than ever met the eye!
How horror entertainment reveals a "secret history" of 20th century culture.
A comprehensive, backstage chronicle at the undying career of the world's favorite vampire.
An in-depth history of one of America's most popular and perplexing holidays.
Co-edited with Nina Auerbach, the definitive academic edition.
The first full-length biography of the reclusive and mysterious director of "Freaks."
One of the largest vampire anthologies ever published, fully illustrated and annotated.
"The Bible of Blood," according to the Washington Post.
Completely illustrated and annotated, the stage play that put Count Dracula on the road to Hollywood.
The curious evolution of a major cultural icon -- the mad scientist.
Science fiction nvel about a California cult seeking total body replacement
Science fiction novel about genetically engineered, hermaphroditic "children."
Science fiction novel about the ultimate in vicarious living.
DVD Documentaries
A revealing featurette about a Universal legend.
Audio commentary for the ultimate cult film.
The ultimate horror icon comes to life.
Life story of the troubled actor best-known as the Wolf Man.
Biography of the man who was Dracula.
The life and career of Hollywood's favorite bogeyman.
A movie icon unwrapped.
The parallel lives of two immortal imagineers.
A nostalgic look at a studio's extraterrestrial adventures.
Revisiting Hollywood's classic horror comedies.
The undying tale of a beauty and a beast.
Behind the scenes with an Academy Award-winning film.
A head-first dive into watery terror.
There's more to this character than meets the eye.
The monster demands a mate, with decidedly mixed results.
The vampire's bumpy journey from Victorian sex nightmare to modern matinee idol.
Articles and Essays
Read David's foreword to this provocative collection!