I’m not quite sure I did the great Boris Karloff justice with the clip I selected earlier this evening. Below, therefore, I’m putting some later career highlights of the great character actor who managed to play some of the nastiest monsters and villains of his era in innumerable films while also being considered one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. (Apparently that little girl he threw in the lake in “Bride of Frankenstein” couldn’t get enough of him, even in full monster make-up.)
First, some of Karloff’s very cool introductory remarks from Mario Bava’s multistory horror flick, “Black Sabbath” — which not only gave Ozzy Osbourne’s seminal heavy metal its name but also was reportedly part of the inspiration, structurally at least, for “Pulp Fiction.”
More videos after the flip!
And here’s a bit of a performance which amounted to something of a very later career comeback for Karloff with the help of the great Chuck Jones.
And finally, a slice of his last good movie, Peter Bogdanovich’s still too little known 1968 debut, “Targets.” It’s a very unusual thriller which, among other things, was an attempt to examine how and why Karloff’s early horror films, while great films, were no longer all that scary, by contrasting the 81 year-old Karloff as a Karloff-like retired horror star with a sniper serial killer inspired by Charles Whitman, who had killed fourteen people at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. In this scene, Karloff and a young Peter Bogdanovich (playing a cinephile director, naturally) deal with comedian Sandy Baron as an extremely annoying radio DJ.
A note for English majors. The story Karloff tells appears to be an extremely short story either told, or perhaps retold, by W. Somerset Maugham. “Targets,” by the way, is rarely screened but is available on DVD and also can be seen in a lowish quality version via YouTube.