The Halloween season is here and in the run up to the big day I decided to
examine what is considered “scary” in the world of horror movies.
Going with Rotten Tomatoes list of the 31 scariest movies, I decided to
compare each film with another horror film from the same year to determine which one I found scarier.
Both films in todays showdown feature actress Fay Wray in the lead. So which one is scarier? Is it King Kong or The Vampire Bat?
Actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) travel to the Indian Ocean to do location shoots for Denham’s new jungle picture. Along the way, the actress meets and falls for rugged First Mate John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot). Upon arriving at a mysterious island, Ann is taken hostage by natives who prepare her as a sacrifice to the enormous ape Kong who rules over their jungle. But when Ann is rescued and Kong is captured, the real trouble begins.
The jungle sets used for the film were also used for the film The Most Dangerous Game also starring Fay Wray.
Fantastic special effects for the time period.
Some really innovative uses of the camera.
Some great, tension filled moments as Ann is taken deeper into the jungle by Kong.
The racist imagery.
The racist depictions of the tribespeople and the ship’s cook.
All the racism.
The Vampire Bat
When corpses drained of blood begin to show up in a European village, town elders suspect a vampire on the loose. Policeman Karl Brettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) doubts the existence of vampires, but Dr. Otto von Niemann (Lionel Atwill) argues to the contrary. Fingers point at the village idiot, Herman Gleib (Dwight Frye), but after local vigilantes get him out of the picture, the killings continue. Brettschneider then tries to keep a cool head as he searches for possibly supernatural answers.
To keep costs low, Majestic Pictures filmed the movie at night on the sets of Universal’s Frankenstein.
Fay Wray is good.
The story is ridiculous.
There nothing that could be remotely considered scary.
The cinematography looks cheap, even for the time.
The resolution of the film is a lazy, nonsensical bore.
While neither one of these films is scary and both have their own laundry list of negatives, one had to prevail over the other. By process of elimination, the winner of this showdown is…..
Let me know what you think. Did you enjoy either of these films? If so, why? Let me know in the comments below.