His Majesty The American (1919)Until the mid-1920s,
Last Of The Mohicans (1920)
The Cave Girl (1921)
The Prisoner (1923)
The Golden Web (1926)
Tarzan & The Golden Lion (1927)
Phantom of the North (1929)
The Criminal Code (1931) based on a previous stage roleBut it was as villains and monsters that he was best known. His 140 movies included:
The Lost Patrol (1934) as a religious fanatic
Mr. Wong - Detective (1938), the first of 5 movies as a gentle Chinese detective in San Francisco: The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939)
Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939)
The Fatal Hour (1940)
Doomed To Die (1940)
The Sea Bat (1930)In addition to movies, Karloff continued doing plays after "The Criminal Code," noted already:
Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
The Mummy (1932)
The Ghoul (1933)
The Black Cat (1934), his first with Bela Lugosi
Bride of Frankenstein (1935, again as the monster, with Elsa Manchester)
The Black Room (1935), as twins
The Raven (1935)
The Walking Dead (1936)
Charlie Chan at the Opera (1937, as prime suspect in murder)
The Invisible Menace (1938)
Son of Frankenstein (1939) as monster, revived by mad doctor's son
Tower of London (1939) as the Executioner
Black Friday (1940) conducting a brain transplant, Lugosi as donor
The Ape (1940) as a mad doctor
You'll Find Out (1940 comedy), Kay Kyser & his goofy band spend the night in a house haunted by Karloff, Lugosi & Peter Lorre
The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942), with Lorre. Traveling salesmen go into Karloff's house but they don't come out
House of Frankenstein (1944)
The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead (both 1945)
Bedlam (1946) as head of the infamous real 18th century asylum, he has an investigating reporter committed to get rid of her
Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) as villain
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), do I have to tell you which one Karloff plays?
Abbott & Costello Meet The Killer (1949), Karloff's name was added to the title in re-release
The Black Castle (1952), supporting role in boring movie
Voodoo Island (1957) as a detective
Frankenstein 1970 (1958, set 12 years in the future), this time as the Doctor
Corridors of Blood (1958), aka The Doctor From 7 Dials (1962 US), with Christopher Lee in a minor role. Lee was well-known by 1962 so the U.S. credits gave him a starring role
The Raven (1963) Karloff as victim of Edgar Allan Poe-obsessed Lugosi
The Terror (1963) Karloff as a castle owner, same set as The Raven
Black Sabbath (1963) host Karloff tells 3 atmospheric stories and appears in the final one, about a vampire
The Comedy of Terrors (1963) with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone
Die Monster Die! (1965, by H. P. Lovecraft), with Patrick Macnee
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) yes, even Karloff did a Beach Movie and no, you can't see the girl (ghost) under the invisible bikini
The Daydreamer (1965, by Hans Christian Andersen), as voice of one of the puppets
The Venetian Affair (1967), one of Robert Vaughn's Man From UNCLE-type movies, with Karloff in a good supporting role
The Sorcerers (1967) confusing mess about a couple doing mind-control experiments
Mad Monster Party (1967) another children's puppet movie, loosly based on the novelty song "The Monster Mash," Karloff as voice of Baron Frankenstein
Targets (1968), Peter Bogdanovich's directing debut, about a former horror film star & Drive-In theater owner (Karloff) who becomes the target of a sniper
The Crimson Altar (1968) aka The Crimson Cult, about black magic & witches
The Snake People (1968/1970), drug exploitation film mixing LSD and voodoo
The Incredible Invasion (1968), aka Sinister Invasion (1971), semi-remake of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"
Cauldron of Blood (1967), re-released as "Blind Man's Bluff" (1971), Karloff as a blind sculpter who uses skeletons supplied by wife's murder victims. Filmed in Spain with all-Spanish supporting cast
Previous tv broadcasts on the Sci-Fi Channel
Thriller: The Incredible Doktor Markesan (1962)
Here's a list of videos from his "Thriller" tv series:
Thriller: The Premature Burial (1961)
Thriller: Masquerade (1961)
Thriller: The Grim Reaper (1961)
Thriller: The Terror in Teakwood (1961)
Thriller: The Prediction (1960)
Boris Karloff guest starred in various programs and anthologies on TV, and even was a panalist on the gameshow "Down You Go" (1954-55), a gameshow somewhat like Weakest Link, except that panalists could return for other rounds after missing a question and hearing the dreaded "Down you go," putting them out of the game for the rest of that round. And the somewhat more appropriate Tales From Tomorrow and Lights Out, and even the Halloween broadcast of rock & roll show "Shindig" in the mid-1960s. Karloff, Peter Lorre, and John Carradine appeared in some episodes of "Suspense," the 1949-64 TV-version to a 20-year network radio series.
9-22-49 to 12-15-49, Karloff hosted "Mystery Playhouse Starring Boris Karloff," with tales of horror on ABC. Karloff's name was added to the tv series title on October 27, after the series had been on the air for about a year. As with "Lights Out," this series got its creepy music from organ music (played live by George Henniger), rather than an expensive orchestra. Up against the Ed Wynn Show on CBS and the Morey Amsterdam Show on the Dumont Network, ABC pushed it back a half-hour, with the name change, but ratings didn't improve.
The first broadcast, "5 Golden Guineas," was about an English hangman who is paid five gold coins for each hanging, even though he unduly enjoys the snap of each victim's neck and dangling arms. He hadn't told his newlywed wife his occupation and when she finds out, already pregnant, she leaves him. Twenty years later, the hangman executes a young man while keeping secret some evidence that may prove him innocent. Then he is confronted by the wife who left him 20 years ago, who tells him he just hung his own, innocent son. In a rage, he strangles her, is convicted of murder, and results in another hangman getting the 5 gold coins for executing him. The series only lasted out the year 1949 and was not renewed.
However, a decade later NBC revived the idea of a horror anthology hosted by Karloff, calling it Thriller. Karloff not only hosted, he starred in some of the hour-long episodes, including a remake of "5 Golden Guineas." Thriller ran at 9pm Tuesdays, following Alfred Hitchcock Presents for its first year. Starting September 1961, it was moved to 10pm Mondays, up against Ben Casey (a popular doctor show starring Vince Edwards that ran until 1966), which did it in after a 2-year run. It was replaced in September 1962 by the half-hour David Brinkley's Journal, after which NBC simply went off the air at 10:30pm. In 1963, the hour-long "Sing Along With Mitch" took the timeslot, and the following year Alfred Hitchcock expanded to a full hour at 10pm Mondays (they, too, only lasted 1 year each in the timeslot). But the 2-year run of Thriller gave a boost to Karloff's film career. He hadn't made a movie since 1958 but starting in 1962, made one to four movies a year until his death in 1969.
* Speaking of awards, the late Imogene Coca, the token female comic genius in TV's "Your Show of Shows," was visited at home by Mark Evanier of Comic Buyer's Guide in 1994. He writes in his column Point of View that he noticed that her only award, an Emmy, was broken in two. "Oh, it came that way." Why hadn't she demanded a replacement in 40 years? "Oh, I didn't want to bother them. I figured I might win another one someday." She didn't win any awards for her role in the black comedy National Lampoon's Vacation and frankly, didn't care for the role. "I died in it and it was supposed to be funny. I don't think that's funny."
Factoid: It took 7 hours to apply Karloff's make-up for "The Bride of Frankenstein", and his make-up and costume weighed 62 lbs. Karloff had a brick placed under each foot so the monster's walking would look labored.
A biography of Boris Karloff is on our Wild Wild West website.
And Karloff was in some Edgar Allen Poe movies
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The Organite music has been moved to the Edgar Allen Poe page
Click here if you want to see dead people
Click here to hear Karloff as the Grinch again or right-click to save it to your computer
Animated graphics (c) 2003 by The Animation Factory.
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This page copyright Bill Laidlaw, who lives in a cave above Whoville with a pet dog