Val Lewton org



Ken Yousten (1967-2010) was an influential cinema web site pioneer and ran the 'official' Val Lewton site for many years (that site is offline). He ran the Classic Horror film group at Yahoo, and participated in many online classic film groups.

I knew Yousten through these various online groups and also because I had built a small web site in 1997 about Lewton's I Walked with a Zombie. I sometimes contributed to his Lewton web site, and sent to him items I had found that might interest him in this regard. He generously sent VHS tapes to me of films I wanted to see but couldn't find (chiefly classic era films. This was in an era long before streaming and DVDs, and cable channels like AMC and TCM were the only way to see classic films that hadn't made it onto official VHS releases yet). He was attending college in Blacksburg, Virginia, and called me once to see if I wanted to meet him at the Dulles airport where he was going to have an extended layover. I was working in nearby Washington DC and couldn't arrange it, and my thinking at the time was that there'd be other chances in the future. There wasn't.

Yousten had a particular skill at breaking down a movie into a list of basic elements, and how those elements worked together.

Ken Yousten IMDB Film Reviews

Ken Yousten Obituary

Some of Ken Yousten's film commentary

The Mummy 1932 : "My pick for the best of the Universal monster movies. Director Karl Freund, a veteran of many classic German expressionistic silents, brought a haunting, Germanic sensibility to the atmosphere, photography, and sets. And of course there's Boris Karloff giving one of his best performances. Don't confuse this with the inferior Lon Chaney Jr. Mummy series from Universal, or the Hammer series."

A Tale of Two Cities 1935: "Val Lewton's first screen creditand first teaming with Jacques Tourneur ... Of special interest to Lewton fans is Isabel Jewel in a smallish but very memorable role at the end - that's her as the seamstress holding Ronald Colman's hand."

The Walking Dead 1936: "Despite the lurid title and premise (an innocent man is framed for murder by racketeers, executed, brought back to life when a witness comes forth clearing him, then goes after the men who framed him) this movie doesn't go for the straight horror nearly as much as you might think. Instead it tends more for thoughtful matters, of life and death. Combined with stylish direction and a subtle, sympathetic performance from Boris Karloff - - this movie has the potential to be quite a pleasant surprise or a whopping disappointment, depending on the viewer. (I was in group #1)"

The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941: "A combination of good old-fashioned deal-with-the-devil story and folksy Americana from a Stephen Vincent Benet story, as a hardworking but unlucky farmer sells his soul to Mr. Scratch for money and "all that money can buy" (that phrase was used at one time as a title for this movie) then. When payment time draws near, he has second thoughts about the transaction asking the great lawyer and hero of the people Daniel Webster for help. Lewton fans will note Simone Simon as a provocative demon sent by Scratch to keep an eye on his property. And Robert Wise as editor. (And fans of the TV series The Simpsons will remember an episode in one of their Halloween specials called The Devil and Homer Simpson which cleverly parodies this movie.)"

Curse of the Demon 1957 : "Jacques Tourneur back in horror territory in grand style with this adaptation of M.R. James Casting the Runes. A British movie, the original UK title is Night of the Demon. (The US prints also had 13 minutes cut out to save time, but with video came a restored print.) Full of Lewtonish terror tactics like busses, walks, and things, the only real flaw is at the very beginning, where the studio forced inclusion of up-close demon footage. Granted, it's a terribly hideous and horrifying demon (I mean that in a good way) so the damage is less than it could be, but still... "

Waybackmachine at has archived versions of Yousten's discontinued Lewton site

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