The horror stars of Universal's classic monster era fell on hard times as the cinema audiences craved something new. Left typecast and in need of work, the once big names found a home in cheaply produced B-movies that sought to draw in audience in every way except quality. While some B-movie were the birthing ground of new talent, it was also where old talent went to die. "The Black Sleep" sees horror icons Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolfman) , John Carradine (The Grapes of Wrath), Tor Johnson (Bride of the Monster) and what would have been Bela Lugosi's (Dracula) final film had not Ed Wood dug up some off cuts of him running out a forrest and resurrected him for the infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space".
Considering the talent in the film, it surprising this is not more well known, and while many B-movies fail to deliver on their promise this one actually comes pretty close to being everything one could hope for in an epic monster mash. However, you do have sit through over an hour of not much happening to get to the truly bonkers finale.
Director: Reginald Le Borg
Writers: Gerald Drayson Adams (story), John C. Higgins (screenplay)
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Akim Tamiroff, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi
Trivia: Bela Lugosi was very upset he did not have more lines (ie some) and although the director finally relented and shot some, they were cut from the final film. This echoes what happened to Bela in "Mark of the Vampire" where he has more lines in the trailer than the finished film.
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