THE BLOG
10/25/2012 11:54 am ET | Updated Dec 25, 2012

3 New Fascinating Horror Film Factoids!

A surprising true story was incorporated in The Masque of the Red Death! The stars of The Gorgon hated the creature! Color mitigated the horrific effects of I Was A Teenage Frankenstein!

Roger Corman's 1964 Edgar Allan Poe horror flick, The Masque of the Red Death, afforded Vincent Price a superb role as the evil Prince Prospero who is sheltering several aristocrats in his castle from the plague. In a major masquerade scene, the dwarf Hop Toad (Skip Martin) leads the villainous Alfredo (Patrick Magee) attired in a gorilla suit in chains to the ballroom, then proceeds to burn him to death for unchivalrous remarks about his inamorata, the dwarf Esmeralda (actually a child actress, Verina Greenlaw).

This segment was drawn from a Poe short story, "Hop-Frog," which was based on an actual 1393 incident in which French King Charles VI and five of his lords costumed and chained themselves as wild men, then caught fire due to an errant spark, with four of the aristos dying. The incident became celebrated as the "Ball of the Burning Men."

Ruehl Fact: Co-star Jane Asher asked Roger Corman if she could invite a friend, an unknown musician named Paul, to the set, which he allowed her to do. That pal turned out to be Paul McCartney who lunched with them, then made his debut with the Beatles that evening in London!

Barbara Shelley, who had the title role in 1964's The Gorgon, was Peter Cushing's assistant, Carla Hoffmann, at an asylum who periodically morphed into a snake-haired Gorgon. She pleaded with producer Anthony Nelson Keys to allow her to wear a wig that featured live, non-venomous green garden snakes, but he demurred, claiming it would cost too much to create such a headpiece. But, after he saw the final version, he admitted that the theatrical snakes looked chintzy and regretted not going along with her suggestion.

Co-star Christopher Lee commented, "The only thing wrong with The Gorgon is the 'Gorgon!' "

Ruehl Fact: Shelley's creature was named Megaera, who was one of the three Fates (or Erinyes), not one of the Gorgons, who were named Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale!

In the original theatrical release of 1957's I Was A Teenage Frankenstein, the black-and-white film suddenly morphed into technicolor when Professor Frankenstein (veteran character actor Whit Bissell) completed his work on the teen monster (Gary Conway).

Unfortunately, the shock of suddenly seeing the creature was muted by the fact that part of his hideous face was visible before he turned to the camera, in effect, showing his physiognomy in gentle gradations. Today, on TV, the colorized portion typically remains B&W.

Bissell uttered a classic cinematic phrase when he impatiently admonished his creation, "Answer me! You have a civil tongue in your head. I know... I sewed it in there!"

Ruehl Fact: Bissell was also the scientist who transformed Michael Landon into a lycanthrope in 1957's I Was A Teenage Werewolf.

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