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Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.

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A Trio of New Intriguing Factoids From the Sci-Fi/Horror/Mystery Film Genre

Posted: 09/14/2012 4:51 pm

Here are three more little-known factoids from the scifi/horror/mystery genre for your consideration:

- Fascinatingly, a real-life Dr. Dippel Frankenstein engaged in alchemical experiments to create an animate bioform called a "homonculus" utilizing both animal and human cadavers at Castle Frankenstein in southwestern Germany in the late 1600s and early 1700s!

Some 80 years later, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley actually visited the castle in 1814, as documented in her travelogue, "History of a Six Weeks' Tour." Conceivably, she was inspired by Dippel's work to pen her famous novel that was published in 1818.

(In that work, Dr. Frankenstein's first name was Victor while that of his best friend was Henry. But, for some inexplicable reason, the brainboxes at Universal interchanged the names for the 1931 classic film!)

- Although stunning actress Hazel Court is often associated with the title role in Devil Girl From Mars (1954), that distinction actually belongs to Patricia Laffan, who essayed the role of the malevolent Nyah to perfection. Hazel was only a mere mortal, a model on vacation at the Scottish inn where the action took place.

Some pundits have labelled this film a clone of The Day The Earth Stood Still, as Nyah arrived, as did Klaatu, in a saucer-shaped spacecraft complete with a powerful, gargantuan robot. However, unlike Klaatu's mission, hers was strictly conquistadorial in nature, and she and her vessel were destroyed in the end.

(Hazel was once named the "best screamer in the business," the heiress to Fay Wray's mantle. She honored me by actually screaming as a guest on my program, "Mysteries From Beyond The Other Dominion.")

- Fear-inspiring horror actor Peter Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein in a remote village in Hungary in 1904. Appearing as an ultra-thin actor in such film noir features as M (1931) and The Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), he later contracted a mysterious illness that caused his weight to soar over 100 pounds while in post-war Germany filming The Lost One (1951). Returning to America, he remained decidedly corpulent thereafter, such as in Tales of Terror (1962) and The Raven (1963).

Intriguingly, he essayed the role of the villain Le Chiffre in a 1954 TV production of Casino Royale (an entry of the "Climax" drama program) where Barry Nelson portrayed James Bond, repeatedly referred to as "Jimmy Bond!"

 

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