Send in the Crones: Older Women Stars in Contemporary Gothics, 19621976
Selected films and star appearances
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- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962); dir. Robert Aldrich. The one that started it all: Joan Crawford vs. Bette Davis as Hollywood sisters battling over their lost stardom and vying for the romantic attentions of Victor Buono.
- Strait-Jacket (1963); dir. William Castle. Strong Joan Crawford performance as a released mental patient whos handy with an axe. Robert Bloch screenplay.
- The Night Walker (1964); dir. William Castle. Bizarre dreamsor are they dreams?plague widow Barbara Stanwyck. Robert Bloch screenplay.
- Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964); dir. Robert Aldrich. Follow-up to Baby Jane featuring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland with Agnes Moorehead, Mary Astor, etc.
- Lady in a Cage (1964); dir. Walter Grauman. The “psychos” are amoral teens led by James Caan, tormenting Olivia de Havilland, whos stuck in a stalled elevator.
- Die! Die! My Darling a.k.a. Fanatic (1965); dir. Silvio Narizzano. Tallulah Bankhead is a religious maniac with young Stefanie Powers locked in the attic. Richard Matheson screenplay; a Hammer film.
- The Nanny (1965); dir. Seth Holt. Effective Hammer horror with tour de force performance by Bette Davis as title psycho.
- The Devils Own a.k.a. The Witches (1966); dir. Cyril Frankel. Joan Fontaine goes to Hammer for her swan song as a schoolteacher among Satanists (not witches).
- Eye of the Devil (1966); dir. J. Lee Thompson. Deborah Kerr learns that a cult intends to execute David Niven for agricultural errors. Cast includes Sharon Tate and Dame Flora Robson (an honored supporting actor of the classic era and a regular in 1960s & 1970s horrors).
- Berserk (1967); dir. Jim OConnolly. Picturesque circus murders cause personnel problems for ringmaster Joan Crawford.
- The Anniversary (1968); dir. Roy Ward Baker. Mad one-eyed matriarch Bette Davis makes her family reunions even more stressful than most. A Hammer film.
- Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969); dir. Lee H. Katzin. Geraldine Page vs. Ruth Gordon in the third such film from Robert Aldrichs production company.
- Flesh Feast (1970); dir. B.F. Grinter. Mad biologist Veronica Lake gives Hitler the business and delivers a belated anti-Nazi speech.
- Trog (1970); dir. Freddie Francis. Joan Crawford discovers the Missing Link with predictable complications in her last film.
- The Devils Widow (1971); dir. Roddy McDowall. Ava Gardner appears as a cult queen.
- Whats the Matter With Helen? (1971); dir. Curtis Harrington. This time, Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters are the weird Hollywood sisters; Agnes Moorhead appears as a preacher.
- Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1971); dir. Curtis Harrington. Last of the “question” films, this time retelling Hansel and Gretel with Shelley Winters as the witch.
- Dear Dead Delilah (1972); dir. John Farris. Agnes Moorhead stars, for a change, as a malevolent southern matriarch.
- The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972); dir. Waris Hussein. Bewildered Shirley MacLaine and her children are threatened by Uncle Joel, who is possessed by the ghost of a criminal.
- The Night God Screamed (1973); dir. Lee Madden. Jeanne Crain, singing sweetheart of the 1940s, is tormented by teenagers in her last movie role.
- Persecution (1973); dir. Don Chaffey. Lana Turner is a psycho mom in league with misanthropic cats.
- The Devils Rain (1975); dir. Robert Fuest. Notable for employing Ida Lupino in supporting role, slumming with an all-ham cast led by Satanist Ernest Borgnine, with Eddie Albert, William Shatner, Keenan Wynn and Tom Skerritt.
- Inn of the Damned (1975); dir. Terry Bourke. Dame Judith Anderson goes homicidal in Australian inn.
- Burnt Offerings (1976); dir. Dan Curtis. Weak supporting role for Bette Davis in a fairly routine haunted house flick.
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David Christenson is a journalist, photographer, dealer in used and rare books, ex-beekeeper and movie buff who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Copyright © 2001 by the author. All rights reserved.