Category Archives: 1958

Blu-Ray News #299: Universal Horror Collection, Volume 6.

I’m really excited about this one, as Shout Factory’s Universal Horror Blu-Ray series moves into the 50s. This is announced for release on August 25.

The Black Castle (1952)
Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Starring Richard Greene, Boris Karloff, Stephen McNally, Rita Corday, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Hoyt, Michael Pate
You could say this was the last of the true Universal-type horror movies, with all the trapping and a few of the actors we associate with such things. It was Nathan Juran’s first time as director. He was on the film as art director, but was moved into the director’s chair when Joseph Pevney walked.

Cult Of The Cobra (1955)
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Starring Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Kathleen Hughes, Marshall Thompson, Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, David Janssen
This story of a cult of snake worshippers, a deadly curse and the beautiful, deadly snake goddess (Faith Domergue) making their way to New York went out as the second feature behind Revenge Of The Creature (1955).

The Thing That Couldn’t Die (1958)
Directed by Will Cowan
Starring William Reynolds, Andra Martin, Jeffrey Stone, Carolyn Kearney
Running just 69 minutes, shot by the great Russell Metty and with terrific poster art from Reynold Brown (up top), this played with Hamer’s Horror Of Dracula (1958) in the States. It’s about a telepathic head that’s discovered in a box at a dude ranch.

The Shadow Of The Cat (1961)
Directed by John Gilling
Starring André Morell, Barbara Shelley, William Lucas, Fred Jackson
A cat witnesses a murder, then helps both solve it and bring the culprits to their just rewards. Shot in black & white by Hammer’s ace cameraman Arthur Grant.

Scream Factory has come up with some real gold in this one, and it’s good to see these more obscure Universal horror pictures get a chance to shine. They’ll be seen in their original widescreen aspect ratio, with the exception of The Black Castle, which predates the shift to widescreen. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1952, 1955, 1958, 1961, Arthur Grant, Barbara Shelley, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Faith Domergue, Hammer Films, John Gilling, Lon Chaney Jr., Marshall Thompson, Nathan Juran, Reynold Brown, Shout/Scream Factory, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #294: War Of The Colossal Beast (1958).

Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Starring Sally Fraser, Roger Pace, Dean Parkin

Scream Factory has announced a July release for another of the “Arkoff AIPs,” Bert I. Gordon’s War Of The Colossal Beast (1958). It’s a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), with a different cast (the monster’s mangled face hides the fact that it’s a different actor this time). One thing that hasn’t changed are the less-than-special effects. The last scene was shot in color, though the ads give you the impression that the whole movie would be. It ain’t much of a movie, I guess, but it’s a lot of cheesy fun.

It’s great to have another AIP picture getting the terrific Scream Factory treatment. Can’t wait.

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Filed under 1958, AIP, Bert I. Gordon, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #291: The H Man (1958) & Battle In Outer Space (1959).

Mill Creek’s been offering up some really good stuff lately, and this one’s gonna be terrific. Here’s a Blu-Ray twin bill of Toho pictures from director Ishirō Honda — The H Man (1958) and Battle In Outer Space (1959).

The H Man plays like a bit of a Japanese radioactive tiff on The Blob (1958), with some gangsters thrown in for good measure. Columbia cut some of the criminal element out for its US release, making it 8-9 minutes shorter than what Japanese audience saw. Still, it’s a cool movie.

The great Eiji Tsuburaya at work on Battle In Outer Space.

Battle In Outer Space, aside from the English dubbing, Columbia left alone. It’s set in the future, 1965, with Earth being attacked by the planet Natal, which is causing natural disasters and other chaos from afar. Eventually, the UN battles it out with the saucer fleet from Natal. Toho’s special effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya had a real field day with this one.

Both pictures were in Eastmancolor and Tohoscope, and they should look great in high-definition. Coming in June. Boy, us grown-up monster kids are getting spoiled these days!

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Filed under 1958, 1959, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishirō Honda, Mill Creek, Toho

Blu-Ray News #289: King Creole (1958).

King_Creole_advertisement_-_Modern_Screen,_August_1958Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dolores Hart, Dean Jagger, Vic Morrow

Paramount has announced “Paramount Presents,” a new line of Blu-Ray releases and limited theatrical runs. Along with Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (1957), they’ll be launching the line with King Creole (1958). One of Elvis’ better films, with one of his best performances (I’d say Flaming Star is his best), King Creole should make for a terrific Blu-Ray. It’s for a great cast — Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau are both excellent, good songs (“Hard Headed Woman” is awesome) and fabulous B&W cinematography from Russell Harlan.

They’re promising deluxe packaging and a slew of extras. Watch for ’em in April.

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Filed under 1958, Carolyn Jones, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elvis Presley, Paramount, Walter Matthau

Blu-Ray News #277: The Spider (AKA Earth Vs. The Spider, 1958).

Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Starring Ed Kemmer, June Kenney, Eugene Persson, Gene Roth, Hal Torey

I absolutely love the 50s Big Bug movies. So I was excited to hear the big news that Scream Factory’s AIP series (of the Arkoff-controled pictures) will include Bert I. Gordon’s The Spider (1958). It’s announced for an April release.

Bert I. Gordon made a number of movies about big stuff: The Amazing Colossal Man (1957, giant guy), Beginning Of The End (1957, giant grasshoppers), War Of The Colossal Beast (1958, sequel to Colossal Man), Attack Of The Puppet People (1958, a switch to tiny people this time), Village Of The Giants (1965, giant teenagers and duck), The Food Of The Gods (1977, giant rats and wasps), Empire Of The Ants (1977, giant ants, naturally).

Originally titled Earth Vs. The Spider (which appears in the film’s credits), the titled was shortened after The Fly (1958) became such a hit. For those who like this sorta thing, this one’s highly recommended. And isn’t that hot rod up top gorgeous?

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Filed under 1958, AIP, Bert I. Gordon, DVD/Blu-ray News, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Rays News #270: How To Make A Monster (1958).

Directed by Herbert L. Strock
Produced & Written by Herman Cohen
Starring Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Conway, Gary Clarke, John Ashley, Morris Ankrum

This news is like Christmas is coming early this year. Scream Factory is not only promising Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended (1955) on Blu-Ray, but How To Make A Monster (1958), too!

When it’s announced that American International Studios is going to quit making horror movies and focus on musicals and comedies, the makeup man (Robert H. Harris) who created the creatures that made the studio successful vows to get revenge.

This sets us up for a very contrived (they had no studio) look at the inner workings of AIP. It’s cool to see Paul Blaisdell’s masks and stuff sitting around, and the crossover from I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and I Was A Teenage Werewolf (both 1957) is terrific.

If all that wasn’t wonderful enough, the last reel was shot in color. When I saw How To Make A Monster on TV in the 70s, the color wasn’t color anymore — the print was B&W all the way, and I felt so cheated. I’m sure that won’t be a problem when this arrives on Blu-Ray next year. Scream Factory will certainly have it all in tip-top shape. Highly recommended.

As a kid, I completely agreed that ditching monster movies for musicals should be a capital offense.

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Filed under 1958, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Herman Cohen, John Ashley, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #257: Hammer Volume 4 – Faces Of Fear.

The folks at Indicator have done a terrific job with their Hammer Blu-Ray sets — and I expect just as much from this one.

Scream Of Fear (1961; UK title: Taste Of Fear)
​Directed by Seth Holt
​Starring Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee

Hammer made a string of Psycho-inspired thrillers in the early 60s. One of the best of the bunch is Scream Of Fear, which borrows more from Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1955) than it does from the Hitchcock picture. Susan Strasberg is terrific as the handicapped young woman who is being systematically scared to death by a conniving couple. Jimmy Sangster’s script, Seth Holt’s direction and Douglas Slocombe’s black and white photography are all top-notch.

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Eunice Grayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958) is the second entry in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, coming after The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957). Hammer went a different route than Universal — they follow the Doctor, not the Monster, which lets the stories go in all sorts of different directions. And more important, it established Peter Cushing as a leading horror star through the 70s.

Revenge picks up where Curse left off. Frankenstein escapes the guillotine, flees to Carlsbruck and builds a successful practice under the name Stein. Of course, he’s conducting his usual experiments on the side — and they go horribly wrong. Frankenstein transplants the brain of a willing assistant into the newly constructed monster, giving the crippled young man a stronger, straighter body. Or that’s the idea anyway.

This, for my money, is one of Hammer’s finest films. Cushing is terrific as the brilliant doctor completely taken over by arrogance and misguided ambition (making it quite appropriate during this Presidential election). Eunice Grayson and Francis Matthews are good as the nurse and young doctor caught up in Frankenstein’s mayhem. Michael Gwynn is really superb as the monster, perfectly balancing the sympathy and horror the part requires. His performance is what makes the movie work as well as it does. Jimmy Sangster’s script is more disciplined than usual, free of the diversions that can lead his films astray. And Terence Fisher’s direction is as assured as ever.

The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960; US Title: House Of Fright)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Oliver Reed

Hammer always put their own spin on the horror standards they tackled, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde is no exception. Their Dr. Jekyll (Paul Massie) is rather boring, but his potion transforms him into the suave, yet lecherous and murderous Mr. Hyde. Minus the murder part, this seems like a precursor to Jerry Lewis’ The Nutty Professor (1963). This framework provides ample opportunity for everything from rape and murder to snake-charming — the kind of stuff censors pounced on, resulting in a cut-up American release from American International.

The Damned (1963; US Title: These Are The Damned)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Starring MacDonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Viveca Lindfors, Oliver Reed

Fleeing the harassment of a motorcycle gang (lead by Oliver Reed), a couple (MacDonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field) winds up in a cave occupied by a group of children — the product an experiment to create a race of radiation-friendly humans.

Hammer sat on this one a while before releasing it, and in in the States it was cut to just 77 minutes. It’s never been given its due, though it’s cherished by fans of Joseph Losey. Indicator, of course, is offering up the original cut, not the chopped-up American thing.

Coming November 18, this Region-Free set loads each picture up with extras — from interviews and trailers to commentaries and photo galleries. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, AIP, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Indicator/Powerhouse, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher

Blu-Ray Review: Frankenstein – 1970 (1958).

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Directed by Howard W. Koch
Produced by Aubrey Schenck
Screenplay by Richard Landau and George Worthing Yates
Story by Charles A. Moses and Aubrey Schenck
Cinematography: Carl E. Guthrie
Music by Paul A. Dunlap
Film Editor: John A. Bushelman

Cast: Boris Karloff (Baron Victor Von Frankenstein), Tom Duggan (Mike Shaw), Jana Lund (Carolyn Hayes), Donald Barry (Douglas Row), Charlotte Austin (Judy Stevens), Irwin Berke (Inspector Raab), Rudolph Anders (Wilhelm Gottfried), Norbert Schiller (Shuter), John Dennis (Morgan Haley), Mike Lane (Hans Himmler/The Monster)

__________

This review is partially based on a review of the previously-released DVD.

The last member of the Frankenstein family has fallen on hard times. To keep things afloat, namely his experiments, Baron Victor Von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) has rented his castle to a company shooting a cheap horror movie. The lecherous director’s played by Don “Red” Barry. Frankenstein’s eager for them to wrap and get out, until he realizes the cast and crew offer up a sizable supply of body parts for his “work.”

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Director Howard W. Koch on the set with Boris Karloff.

Frankenstein 1970 (1958) takes this terrific film-within-a-film premise — an American film crew making a Frankenstein movie in the real Frankenstein castle, while the real monster reposes in the lab below — and puts almost none of its obvious potential on the screen. Another thought-provoking idea, that Frankenstein was tortured by the Nazis — in other words, he got a bit of his own medicine, is brought up and dropped. And what could’ve been made of Karloff’s “real” monster meeting its cheesy movie namesake?

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I was dying to see Frankenstein 1970 as a kid, thanks to a stack of lurid stills that kept turning up in my monster movie books and magazines — and the fact that it was in black-and-white CinemaScope (always a huge draw for me). And for an eight-day Allied Artists monster picture, it certainly has its moments. The opening’s well done, with a young woman chased through a foggy swamp by a deformed monster, only to have it revealed as part of the movie being made. And a scene where Karloff, convinced to appear in the film project, goes off script as he tells the story of his ancestors’ work — is a hoot. You don’t see Karloff get that worked up in many movies. Both of these ideas demonstrate the plot-line gold that was waiting to be mined here. Cinematographer Carl E. Guthrie does a terrific job, as always, and I’ve always liked long takes in Scope movies (I’m sure they were used more for efficiency than aesthetics on this one). If there’s one thing I’ve learned watching cheap movies of the late 50s, there were some real pros doing excellent work on these crummy things.

Howard W. Koch is never going to make a list of the Great Directors, but he made a few films I love dearly — Shield For Murder (1954), Big House, USA (1955), Untamed Youth (1957; it’s got Eddie Cochran in it!) — and I’ve developed a real fondness for Frankenstein 1970. (He produced some terrific stuff like 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate and 1967’s The Odd Couple. I’ll overlook the fact that he produced Ghost.)

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Carl Guthrie’s craft is beautifully presented on the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive, though it’s a tad lighter than I would’ve expected. The material they worked with was either in perfect condition or they skillfully made it look that way. It’s a nice jump up from the DVD. So, while I spent the last few paragraphs pointing out the picture’s disappointments, I’m thrilled to have it on Blu-Ray. For fans of such stuff, this one is easy to recommend.

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Filed under 1958

Blu-Ray News #233: Noir Archive Volume 3: 1956-1960.

I’ve been making my way through the first glorious volume of this terrific series from Kit Parker and Mill Creek Entertainment, and now they’ve announced the third. There’s another great lineup on the way (no pun intended).

The Shadow On The Window (1956)
Directed by William Asher
Starring Phil Carey, Betty Garrett, John Barrymore, Jr., Jerry Mathers

Jerry Mathers goes into shock after seeing his mom hassled by a group of thugs, then helps his dad (Phil Carey) and the cops rescue her. The Beaver is really good in this.

The Long Haul (1957)
Directed by Ken Hughes
Starring Victor Mature, Diana Dors

A British noir picture with Mature all tangled up in the shifty trucking industry — and a hood’s girlfriend.

Pickup Alley 6S

Pickup Alley (1957, UK Title: Interpol)
Directed by John Gilling
Starring Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg, Trevor Howard

Victor Mature and Anita Ekberg in a B&W Scope picture about dope smugglers — directed by the guy who did The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)! Where’s this movie been all my life?

The Tijuana Story (1957)
Directed by Leslie Kardos
Starring Rodolfo Acosta, James Darren, Jean Willes

Another lurid geography lesson from the great Sam Katzman. I love Rodolfo Acosta — his tiny part in One-Eyed Jacks includes one of the coolest single shots in all of Cinema, if you ask me (which you didn’t). Here, he’s got the lead!

She Played With Fire (1957, UK Title: Fortune Is A Woman)
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
Starring Jack Hawkins, ArleneDahl, DennisPrice, ChristopherLee
More UK noir, this one about a painting and insurance fraud.

The Lineup (1958)
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Warner Anderson, Richard Jaeckel

The TV series is turned into a typically tough and tight Don Siegel film. Siegel’s San Francisco movies (this and Dirty Harry) really get in the way of the city’s whole peace and love/hippie vibe. This time, it’s a town crawling with dope, crooks and killers. This set’s worth it for this one alone!

The Case Against Brooklyn (1958)
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Starring Darren McGavin, Maggie Hayes, Warren Stevens, Nestor Paiva, Brian G. Hutton

A documentary-style, true-story crooked cop picture starring Darren McGaven. Paul Wendkos also did The Legend Of Lizzie Borden (1975). Produced by Charles H. Schneer in-between Harryhausen movies. Oh, and Nestor Paiva’s in it.

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw

On the surface, it’s a detective story, but that’s never how a Fuller movie works, is it? Fuller understood that the best way to tackle an issue/message in a picture was to wrap it up in something else like a cop story or a Western. He also knew that if you stuck to B movies, the suits didn’t pay much attention and left you alone to do what you wanted. This one’s terrific.

Man On A String (1960)
Directed by Andre De Toth
Starring Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Mathews, Alexander Scourby, Colleen Dewhurst, Glenn Corbett, Ted Knight, Seymour Cassel

Ernest Borgnine stars in this 1960 spy picture based on the life (and autobiography, Ten Years A Counterspy) of Boris Morros, a Russian-born musical director in Hollywood (John Ford’s Stagecoach, 1939) who was first a Russian spy, then a counterspy for the FBI. Andre de Toth focuses on the double-crosses that stack up like cordwood.

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Filed under 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, Andre de Toth, Christopher Lee, Columbia, Darren McGavin, Diana Dors, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, John Gilling, Kit Parker, Mill Creek, Nestor Paiva, Sam Fuller, Sam Katzman, William Asher

Blu-Ray News #228: Frankenstein 1970 (1958).

Directed by Howard W. Koch
Starring Boris Karloff, Tom Duggan, Jana Lund, Donald Barry, Charlotte Austin

Thanks to Warner Archive, in about a month, we’ll be able to recreate this terrific twin bill in high definition in our own living rooms, as they add Frankenstein 1970 (1958) to their list of terrific Allied Artists ‘Scope monster movies on Blu-Ray.

Frankenstein 1970 is one I like a lot — in spite of itself in a few spots. I really dig Queen Of Outer Space (1958), too.

Black & white CinemaScope is such a cool thing on Blu-Ray, I can’t wait for this!

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Filed under 1958, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Howard W. Koch, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive