Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Starring James Franciscus, Richard Carlson, Gila Golan
The incredible stop-motion creature effects of Ray Harryhausen seem made for high-definition. So it’s always good news when some of his work is announced for Blu-Ray. The latest is The Valley Of Gwangi (1969) from Warner Archive.
The cowboys vs. dinosaurs storyline, with a good bit of King Kong (1933) worked in, came from Ray Harryhausen’s mentor Willis O’Brien. It had been brought to the screen as The Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956). The effects in Gwangi are incredible, some of the master’s finest. And while the movie wasn’t a hit back in ’69, Harryhausen’s legion of fans have always dug it. Warner Archive haven’t put a date on it yet, but it’s coming.
Directed by Edward Bernds
Starring Hugh Marlowe, Nancy Gates, Rod Taylor
Allied Artists bragged that with World Without End (1956), they’d given the world the first sci-fi movie in CinemaScope. And Warner Archive is about to give it to us on Blu-Ray.
So, these astronauts return to Earth from a trip to Mars. Somehow they end up in the 26th century, to find a post-Apocalyptic world (actually, the Iverson Ranch) of mutants, monsters and girls in mini skirts. I love this kinda stuff.
Director Edward Bernds had a most interesting career, going from The Three Stooges to The Bowery Boys to Westerns like The Storm Rider (1957) to a string of sci-fi movies — World Without End, Queen Of Outer Space (1958), Return Of The Fly (1959) and Valley Of The Dragons (1961). He wrote or co-wrote all of these. Oh, and Sam Peckinpah was the dialogue director. So far, there is no specific release date.
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Starring Robert Clarke, Margaret Field, Raymond Bond, William Schallert
Another no-budget miracle from the incredible Edgar G. Ulmer. The Man From Planet X (1951) movie creeped me out so bad as a kid — and it still has an odd, unsettling quality to it unlike any other film I can think of.
Filmed in just six days at Hal Roach Studios, on sets left over from Joan Of Arc (1948), it looks like most of the shoestring budget went to juice for the fog machine. It ended up being one of the first ( some say the first) alien-comes-to-earth movies. And I’d put it near the top of my Edgar Ulmer list.
Shout Factory has this one touching down on Blu-Ray this summer. Highly, highly recommended. Let’s hope more Ulmer makes its way to Blu-Ray.
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Eduard Franz, Henry Daniell, Valerie French, Grant Richards, Lumsden Hare, Paul Wexler
If people would stop and think for a second that we live in an age when an Edward L. Cahn picture like The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake (1959) gets a high-end Blu-Ray release, maybe they’d quit freaking out about the sorry state our world is in. There is hope indeed. (However, if someone wants to organize a Cheap Movies Matter march, I’m in!)
Fake politics aside, this is one of those movies I saw repeatedly growing up, and it left quite an impression on me. Paul Wexler with his mouth sewn shut is an image seared into my brain — thanks to the stills in all the monster movie magazines and books I hoarded as a kid.
Edward L. Cahn is a director whose work I adore — from stuff like Girls In Prison (1956) and Dragstrip Girl (1957) to cheap Westerns like Flesh And The Spur (1956) to all those terrific monster and sci-fi movies — Creature With The Atom Brain (1955), It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), Invisible Invaders (1959) and so many more. I’ve never seen his 1933 picture Laughter In Hell, but it boasts one of my all-time favorite movie titles. Cahn doesn’t transcend his material the way Fred F. Sears or Paul Landres sometimes do, but he goes at these silly things absolutely seriously, and it always seems to work for him. (He would’ve been an ideal director for the Batman TV show.)
Shout Factory have this listed for a Spring release. I can’t wait to butt heads with The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake again.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of movies sitting on our collective DVD and Blu-Ray Want Lists. But coming across this pressbook for a twin bill of Machine Gun Kelly and The Bonnie Parker Story (both 1958) — while doing some research on William Witney — got me thinking what a fun widescreen, hi-def package this would be.
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Christopher Lee, Richard Greene
The Blood Of Fu Manchu (1968, AKA Kiss And Kill) and The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969) — the last two pictures in producer Harry Alan Towers’ series based on Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, star Christopher Lee, Richard Greene and the Law Of Diminishing Returns.
Directed by the Spanish cult director Jess Franco, they have their fans — and they’ll be happy to know that Blue Underground is bringing them to Blu-Ray some time this year. The previous DVD release had a lot of extras, which will make their way to the Blu-Ray set.
The first and third Lee/Fu Manchu pictures, The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965, directed by Don Sharp) and The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu (1967) are available from Warner Archive. (I really like Face.) The second, The Brides Of Fu Manchu (1966), was released several years ago from Warners, paired with Chamber Of Horrors (also 1966). How deep you want to go in this series is a personal thing, but Lee makes a terrific Fu Manchu — and let’s not forget him as Chung King in Hammer’s Terror Of The Tongs (1961).
Scream Factory has announced the upcoming releases of Daniel Mann’s Willard (1971) and Phil Karlson’s Ben (1972) this May. Willard, a story of a young man and the rats that have infested his rundown home, was a big creepy hit. The sequel, Ben, has the benefit of Phil Karlson in the director’s chair (and a song by Michael Jackson that I hate). Both films are effective.
I’m surprised it’s taken this long to get these pictures out there, and I’m sure Scream Factory will do a terrific job with them.