PAUSE IT: What do you see? It’s famed horror star Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Isle of the Dead, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and Targets). Born William Henry Pratt, Karloff possessed a knack for embodying all that was eerie and went bump in the night. In this shot from Santos Alcocer’s Cauldron of Blood (1970), Karloff stares back at us–directly into camera–and into our souls! Cast in shadows, his eyes masked by his dark aviator goggles, the close-up puts us ill at ease–we cannot know him. This is a close-up used to great effect. It arrests our attention. If we think of how close-ups are traditionally used we soon realize Alcocer’s gifts as a director. Unlike the vast majority of close-ups which function to provide an audience with more visual information this shot proves less is sometimes more. By missing key information, we feel unsafe and our fears of the dark are laid bare.

Cauldron of Blood a.k.a Blind Man’s Bluff (1970)
Director: Santos Alcocer
Director of Photography: Francisco Sempere
Cast: Boris Karloff, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Viveca Lindfors
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Pause It Archive:
Try and Get Me
Deadly Prey
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
The Trip
La belle captive
Amazing Grace
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Breaker! Breaker!
Beat Street
Let There Be Light
The Night They Raided Minsky’s
The Deadly Bees
Beach Blanket Bingo
Baby It’s You