22 JULY 1889

The  English film director, theatre director and actor James Whale was born.  Whale is best remembered as a horror film director, having directed such classics as Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Whale directed over a dozen films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive film version of the musical Show Boat.  

 It was during his time spent as a POW in the First World War, that Whale discovered his love of dram. . Following his release at the end of the war he became an actor, set designer and director. His success directing the 1928 play Journey’s End led to his move to the United States, first to direct the play on Broadway and then to Hollywood to direct motion pictures. Whale lived in Hollywood for the rest of his life, most of that time with his long time companion, producer David Lewis.

For fans of horror films it is  most likely his version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein that Whale is best remembered for . In 1931, Universal chief Carl Laemmle, Jr. offered Whale his choice of any property the studio owned. Whale chose Frankenstein, mostly because none of Universal’s other properties particularly interested him and he wanted to make something other than a war picture. Casting the familiar Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Mae Clarke as his fiancée Elizabeth, Whale turned to an unknown actor named Boris Karloff to play the Monster. Shooting began on 24 August 1931 and wrapped on 3 October. Previews were held 29 October, with wide release on 21 November. Frankenstein was an instant hit with critics and the public. The film received glowing reviews and shattered box office records across the country,  earning Universal $12 million on first release. It is one of only a few of Whale’s films that has remained in the public eye and is regarded as a classic of the horror genre.

27 JULY 1979

The Amityville Horror film based on the bestselling 1977 novel of the same name by Jay Anson is released. 

The story is based on the alleged real life experiences of the Lutz family who buy a new home on 112 Ocean Avenue, Long Island, a house where a mass murder had been committed the year before. After the family move into the house, they experience a series of frightening paranormal events.

The Amityville Horror was one of the most successful films produced by an independent studio at that time. It was a huge box office success, earning more than $86 million in the USA. However, the film received poor reviews from critics such as Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert, the latter describing it as “dreary and terminally depressing”.

Lalo Schifrin’s musical score was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out to the score for A Little Romance by Georges Delerue. It is sometimes claimed that this score was the one rejected in 1973 for The Exorcist, but Schifrin has denied this in interviews.

28 JULY 1989

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is a slasher film was  released. It is the eighth film in the Friday the 13th film series, and deals with Jason Voorhees stalking a group of high school graduates on a ship en route to (and later in) New York City. It was the last film in the series to have been distributed by Paramount Pictures in the United States (the 2009 reboot of the first film was distributed by Paramount in non-US countries). The film’s tagline is, “New York has a new problem.” It took in just $14.3 million at the domestic box office, making it the lowest-grossing film in the series.

Other events this week in horror history include :

22 July 
1977 – The Hills Have Eyes released theatrically
1977 – Orca released theatrically
1983 – Jaws 3-D released theatrically
2005 – The Devil’s Rejects released theatrically
23 July 
1993 – Castlevania Chronicles released  in Japan
24 July 

1942 – Chris Sarandon (actor in Fright Night and Bordello of Blood) born
25 July 
1965 – Illeana Douglas (actress in Cape Fear (1991) and Stir of Echoes) born

1973 – Michael C. Williams (actor in The Blair Witch Project) born
26 July 
1976 – Night of the Seagulls released theatrically

28 July 
1999 – Deep Blue Sea released theatrically

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