This Halloween season, the Kansas City Public Library hosts Something Karloff This Way Comes, a film series devoted to wicked roles portrayed by the perpetually creepy Boris Karloff, on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. throughout October 2008 in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
“Wanted: soft-spoken and kindly gentleman; will supply neck bolts.” William Henry Pratt answered the ad, and the rest is cinema history. As Boris Karloff (aka Karloff the Uncanny), he became one of the greatest horror icons in the history of Hollywood. He always managed to make his material believable and the monsters understandable even if not sympathetic.
Admission is free for all screenings. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore. The film line-up includes:
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) on October 4. Every monster needs his mate, and here Boris Karloff meets his match in Elsa Lanchester, thereby thwarting what could have been the start of a beautiful friendship with a blind hermit. Over-the-top James Whale directs. One of those rare sequels that outshine the original. Not Rated. (75 min.)
Black Cat (1934) on October 11. Boris Karloff is a 1930s futuristic architect (and Satan worshipper) with designs on a newlywed bride seeking refuge in his Bauhaus house. The honeymooning couple encounters much kindness from strangers, including Bela Lugosi, the strangest of them all. It’s all under the woozy direction of Edgar G. Ulmer. Not rated. (65 min.)
The Mummy (1932) on October 18. Don’t mess with Egyptian tombs is the hard-won lesson administered here by Boris Karloff (understandably feeling a little tetchy after eight hours having his makeup applied). Not Rated. (72 min.)
The Tower of London (1963) on October 25. Shakespeare without the poetry, the bare-bones story of Richard III is afforded a very free mangling in this vehicle starring, in addition to Boris Karloff as the aptly-named executioner “Mord,” Basil Rathbone as Richard, Vincent Price, and Rose Hobart (a name known to fans of the artist Joseph Cornell). Karloff sharpens his already well-honed hardware in preparation for the bloody reign of Richard Crookback. Not Rated, but parental guidance is advised. (93 min.)