After a 2-hour drive to Plainville, Connecticut (including a hair-raising stretch through Hartford on I-84, the road that seems to attract those drivers with a prominent death wish), we arrived yesterday afternoon at our destination!
Upon entering, we were greeted by Cortlandt Hull, curator of the museum and the great-nephew of actor Henry Hull, who played the title role in Universal’s “Werewolf of London” in 1935. Cortlandt is actually featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for his longstanding role as curator of this museum.
As he took us into his prop room, Cortlandt shared a lifetime of history behind the scenes of the films he has represented by the props on display, many of which were used in the films (such as the head cast of Linda Blair, used for the head turning sequence in The Exorcist).
For example, I asked him about something I’d read where Jack Pierce (Universal’s makeup artist, who developed the iconic makeup for Boris Karloff in Frankenstein) had a design he wanted to use for Henry Hull, but Henry objected because he wanted to be recognizable. Cortlandt told us that was originally put in a gossip rag back in the day, but what really happened is that Henry pointed to the script and told Pierce that the script called for his on-screen wife (played by Valerie Hobson) to be able to recognize him, so they modified the design, adding the prominent widow’s peak. Pierce was able to use his original concept a few years later on Lon Chaney Jr. when Universal released The Wolf Man in 1941. (As he shared this story with us, Cortlandt smiled and said, “And that’s right from the wolf’s mouth!”)
Here’s more from his website to enjoy!
And then, it’s on to the displays themselves. Our tour guide was Farnsworth the Butler, who did a tremendous job introducing each display, describing the actor, the character, the title and year of each film and playing the audio samples that many of the displays included. One example was the Dracula display playing many of Bela Lugosi’s most memorable lines from 1931’s “Dracula” (“I am… Dracula. I bid you welcome”). Farnsworth was the perfect guide for the tour, and fit right at home in the museum.
And again, here’s more from the website to enjoy!
As we prepared to depart the dungeon and head back to the real world (far more frightening!), Cortlandt was gracious enough to take a photo with me!
Here are some of the extraordinary guests and friends who’ve visited and contributed to the dungeon!
This day was an early birthday present from my amazing wife Anita and was an experience I’ll enjoy remembering for a lifetime. There aren’t many like Cortlandt who preserve the traditions and history of movie monsters from when it all began, so this was truly a special day for me!
If you’re a monster kid like me and find yourself within driving distance to Plainville, CT, do yourself a big favor and visit The Witch’s Dungeon. You’ll enjoy the trip, I guarantee it!
Visit The Witch’s Dungeon website to learn more!