The Master of Horror films : Val Lewton
"If you make the screen dark enough, the mind's eye will read anything it you want! We are great ones for dark patches" - Val Lewton
Val Lewton had an different idea about the classic films of Universal Monster films, he believed that they were old fashioned and they used to recycle the same film techniques and shock effects. Val Lewton re established the horror genre in an entirely different way with a series of films that change the horror genre for ever and by presenting a different face of horror.
Val Lewton believed that by withholding a certain amounts of visual information the audience would fill in the nasty details. The box office success of his films are empirical evidence of the correct approach to his believes. Val Lewton worked with other filmmakers (directors, editors and writers) who shared the same vision about cinema with him. Among them I can mentioned Jacques Tourneur, Robert Wise and Mark Robson.
A few words about the personal life of Val Lewton
Val Lewton was born in
Russia in 1904 as
Vladimir Ivan Leventon and he was raised in . His mother Nina was actress. He
started at MGM department of publicity and he became an experienced fiction
writer (one of his book is the notorious Weird Tales). Then he moved to New York and started
as editorial assistant to “Gone with the Wind”. In 1942 Val Lewton joined the
RKO Pictures and he was allowed complete creative control – with conditions as
to use the studio’s already tested sensational titles, to avoid messages, to
spend less than $ 150.000 per picture or per month on shooting and to limit the
length to around 75 minutes. Working on those guidelines and his own professed
terror formula – “a love story, three scenes of suggested horror and one of
actual violence” – Val Lewton rethought and revitalized the genre, though a
series of revered nightmares that rejected mad scientists and monster make –
Lewton wrote “Cat People” (1942) inspired by the initial plot of Algernon Blackwood's story “Ancient Socceries” and it was a huge success saving RKO from a very difficult situation just a step before the bankruptcy. The he produced the unforgettable film “I walked with a Zombie” (1943). The same year 1943 Val Lewton produced “The Leopard Man” (1943) based on the thriller “Black Alibi” by Cornell Woolrich. The plot structure of the film is about a supernatural leopard overtones are redhearings and the invention of a psychopath to mask his murders,
Then Val Lewnton produced the film “The Seventh Victim” (Mark Robson, 1943) and the plot structure of the film is about an orphaned schoolgirl in
discovering that her sister is a
devil worshipper. New York
According to a large number of critiques Val Lewton is a significant film producer and among his best works are “The Body Snatchers” (1945), “Isle of the Dead” (1945) and Bedlam (1946).
You can see a video tribute to Val Lewton
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Val Lewton - Wikipedia
Val Lewton - Internet Movies Data Base
Val Lewton - The Man in the shadows
Val Lewton - Bright Films Journal
Val Lewton - University of California, Berkeley
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