Blu-Ray News #202: The Return Of The Vampire (1944).

Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, Nina Foch, Miles Mander, Matt Willis

The Return Of The Vampire (1944) was Bela Lugosi’s last starring role for a major studio (Columbia). It’s the closest he came to making a sequel to his 1931 Dracula, though you could make a strong case for Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Lugosi’s Armand Tesla (pretty much Dracula with his name changed for copyright reasons), a vampire in London who’s awakened by a Nazi bomb (what a great plot point!). Accompanied by a werewolf sidekick, Tesla/Dracula is soon seeking revenge on those who staked him back in 1918.

Scream Factory has announced its February Blu-Ray release. Extras and stuff have not been disclosed as of yet.

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #201: The Mole People (1956).

Directed by Virgil Vogel
Starring John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Nestor Paiva, Alan Napier

Boy, the good news keeps on coming. Scream Factory has announced The Mole People (1956), coming to Blu-Ray in February 2019.

This is one a lot of the Universal monster nuts complain about, but I love it as much as an adult as I did as a kid. It’s really stupid, it’s fun, the monsters are cool. It’s got a great cast — you can’t beat John Agar and Nestor Paiva. And Reynold Brown cranked out another masterpiece for the posters. Can’t wait!

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Filed under 1956, DVD/Blu-ray News, John Agar, Nestor Paiva, Reynold Brown, Shout/Scream Factory, Universal (-International)

DVD/Blu-Ray News #96-A: The Blue Knight (1973).

Directed by Robert Butler
Starring William Holden, Lee Remick, Joe Santos, Sam Elliott, Anne Archer, Eileen Brennan, Vic Tayback, Jamie Farr

William Holden gave some of the finest performances I’ve ever seen — and one of his best has to be Bumper Morgan in The Blue Knight (1973). The mini-series won a few Emmys (including a well-deserved one for Holden), played theaters overseas in a feature-length cut, and spawned the series starring George Kennedy.

Warner Archive has been promising this one for a while, and it looks like it’ll be here before the end of the year.

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Filed under 1973, DVD/Blu-ray News, Television, Warner Archive, William Holden

Happy Birthday, Charles Bronson.

Charles Bronson (Charles Dennis Buchinsky)
(November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003)

Charles Bronson was born on this day back in 1921. He was born in Pennsylvania to Lithuanian parents, worked in the coal mines until he served in the Air Force in World War II, and eventually made his way to Hollywood.

Bronson made a lot of movies, some of them great, many good, a few pretty terrible — House Of Wax (1953), Crime Wave (1954), Big House USA (1955), Showdown At Boot Hill (1958), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), The Mechanic (1972), Mr. Majestyk (1974, above), Death Wish (1974) and its four sequels, Hard Times (1975), The White Buffalo (1977), Telefon (1978) and many more.

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Filed under 1974, Charles Bronson

Happy Halloween!

Here’s hoping your Halloween offers up a cornucopia of Creature comforts, such as this terrific greeting card that’s making the rounds.*

As a kid, this was one of my favorite days of the year, thanks to the all-night monster movie marathons the local TV stations would run. (DVDs, streaming TV and other stuff have pretty much killed that experience, and I feel sorry for kids today.) So, tomorrow morning, let me know what monster movie(s) you used to mark this monstrous occasion.

* How easy it is to fall into the Forrest J. Ackerman pun/alliteration thing when writing about monsters.

6 Comments

Filed under 1954, Forrest Ackerman, Jack Arnold, Julie Adams, Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray Review: Queen Of Outer Space (1957).

Directed by Edward Bernds
Screenplay by Charles Beaumont
From a story by Ben Hecht
Cinematography: William P. Whitley
Music by Marlin Skiles
Film Editor: William Austin

Cast: Zsa Zsa Gabor (Talleah), Eric Fleming (Capt. Neal Patterson), Dave Willock (Lt. Mike Cruze), Laurie Mitchell (Queen Yllana), Lisa Davis (Motiya), Paul Birch (Prof. Konrad), Patrick Waltz (Lt. Larry Turner), Barbara Darrow (Kaeel), Marilyn Buferd (Odeena), Lynn Cartwright

__________

Some movies are labelled art, others are considered simply entertainment. A select few can actually be both, while unfortunately, some are neither. While film critics and scholars like to decide what falls into which category, we all get to call ’em as they see ’em. For me, Queen Of Outer Space (1958) — which is a real hoot, is a helluva lot better movie than, say, The English Patient (1996).

A team of astronauts, led by Eric Fleming of Rawhide, is drawn to Venus, where they find the planet populated by beautiful women in miniskirts with ray guns — except for a few who wear masks to cover ghastly radiation burns. Zsa Zsa Gabor plays a Venusian scientist — and the only human on the planet with a Hungarian accent. All that, plus a giant rubber spider.

It all started with a 10-page story idea (called Queen Of The Universe) by the great screenwriter Ben Hecht. It had been sitting around Allied Artists for a few years when Ben Schwalb, who was producing The Bowery Boys movies, ended up with it. He handed it off to writer Charles Beaumont. Beaumont’s script was then fiddled with by Ellwood Ullman, who’d written for The Three Stooges. Edward Bernds, another Stooge veteran, directed — just as he’d done with AA’s previous sci-fi picture, World Without End (1956).

Don’t let the DeLuxe color and CinemaScope fool you — Queen Of Outer Space is a pretty cheap affair. You might recognize the spacemen’s uniforms and some of the ladies’ costumes from Forbidden Planet (1956). There are models, sets and footage from World Without End (1956) — which featured rocket footage lifted from Flight To Mars (1951). And the rubber spider is the same one seen in World Without End (1956).

Bud and Lou with Mari Blanchard

Of course, others had boldly gone after the planet-of-women plot-line before. Take a look at Abbott & Costello Go To Mars (1953, above), Cat-Women Of The Moon (1953) and Fire Maidens From Outer Space (1955). But with Queen Of Outer Space, they got the mix of chicks, chills and cheese just right. (Okay, I’m stretching it a bit with the chills part.)

Speaking of just right, the Warner Archive Blu-Ray is a great example of bringing an old movie to high-definition. It’s sharp as a tack, with the color dialed in perfectly. This is maybe the best-looking DeLuxe color I’ve seen on Blu-Ray — and a big improvement over the nice-looking DVD. The audio is clean. And the commentary from that DVD has been retained.

For some of us, and we know who we are, owning this is an absolute necessity. For others, it’s a complete waste of time, money and pixels. If you’re in the former group, you won’t be disappointed.

One last thing: In some lucky cities, Queen Of Outer Space was paired with Howard W. Koch’s Frankenstein 1970 (1958). Those were the days.

31 Comments

Filed under 1958, Abbott & Costello, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Edward Bernds, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #200: The Land Unknown (1957).

Directed by Virgil Vogel
Starring Jock Mahoney,Shawn Smith, William Reynolds, Henry Brandon, Phil Harvey, Douglas Kennedy

A cheesy dinosaur and a model helicopter duke it out in black and white CinemaScope. No wonder I loved this thing so much as a kid (even though Ellis Carter’s CinemaScope photography was butchered on TV), and that I’m so stoked that Kino Lorber’s bringing it to Blu-Ray. It’s set for early 2019.

Reynold Brown’s beautiful poster art promised a lot, and there was no way the movie was gonna be able to deliver any of it. But it has that 50s sci-fi charm to it that makes these things so much fun. What’s left of my nine-year-old self recommends this one very, very highly.

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Filed under 1957, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Reynold Brown, Universal (-International)