Category Archives: 1959

Blu-Ray Review: The Tingler (1959).

Directed by William Castle
Written by Robb White
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Film Editor: Chester W. Schaeffer
Music by Von Dexter

Cast: Vincent Price (Dr. Warren Chapin), Judith Evelyn (Martha Higgins), Darryl Hickman (David Morris), Patricia Cutts (Isabel Stevens Chapin), Pamela Lincoln (Lucy Stevens), Philip Coolidge (Oliver Higgins)

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If there’s a single movie that made me a hardcore devotee of the whole B movie thing, it’s probably this one. Everything about it is perfect, from Vincent Price’s hateful glamour-puss wife to the laboratory right off the living room to injecting LSD to the Tingler itself — all of it delivered with a ghoulish glee by the wonderful William Castle.

I’ve seen The Tingler so many times, it’s more like visiting an old friend than watching a movie. And with this new Blu-Ray from Scream Factory, that old friend’s holding up a lot better than I am.

So there’s this weird, slug-like thing (kinda like a cross between a lobster and a centipede) that hangs out along our spines, and it feeds on fright. That’s the Tingler. We get scared, it gets bigger and more powerful. When we scream, we release our fear and the Tingler is stunned — it shrinks and awaits the next time we get scared. Coroner/scientist Vincent Price discovers the Tingler, removes it from a corpse, then chases it down when it gets loose. There’s also a murder, an attempt at another one, an execution and an LSD trip. Something for everyone.

In case you ever wondered where this blog’s banner came from.

And that’s all leading up to the big finish, when the Tingler runs amuck in a movie theater, the very one you’re sitting in! You see, back in ’59, theaters were equipped with little motors attached to the seats, and at the proper time, these motors created a whirring sound and vibration in each seat — prompting the audience to scream to ward off the Tingler. “Scream for your lives!” It was called Percepto, and it was pure genius.

Scream Factory has outfitted The Tingler beautifully for Blu-Ray. First and foremost, the movie itself looks really terrific. The grain and contrast levels are exactly where they need to be. It’s perfect, and the simple, effective color sequence fits in nicely. (In the theater, the cut to color film stock was jarring and looked like crap.) The extras are everything you’d want, from the drive-in version of the loose-in-the-theater sequence to all sorts of promo material to various video pieces.

The Tingler is a real favorite, and Scream Factory has given us the kind of presentation fans have always wanted. It does William Castle proud, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Essential.

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Filed under 1959, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory, Vincent Price, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #193: Battle In Outer Space (1959).

Directed by Ishirō Honda
Starring Ryo Ikebe, Koreya Senda, Yoshio Tsuchiya

Sonny has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray release — at end end of this month — of Toho’s 1959 sci-fi picture Battle In Outer Space.

Eiji Tsuburaya at work on Battle In Outer Space.

This Technicolor and Tohoscope bit of dead-serious nonsense, which takes place in 1965, looks great on DVD in the Icons Of Sci-Fi collection from Sony. I’m sure it’ll be a real stunner on Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1959, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ishirō Honda, Toho

Blu-Ray News #192: The Mamie Van Doren Film Noir Collection.

Three lurid Mamie Van Doren pictures (did she make any other kind?) in one high-definition package. How cool is that?

The Girl In Black Stockings (1957)
Directed by Howard W. Koch
​Starring Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, Mamie Van Doren​, John Dehner​, ​Marie Windsor​,​ Stuart Whitman​, ​Dan Blocker

A girl is brutally murdered at a Utah hotel and everybody seems to have some sort of motive. Look at that cast!

Guns, Girls And Gangsters (1959)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Mamie Van Doren, Gerald Mohr, Lee Van Cleef, Paul Fix

Edward L. Cahn directs an armored car robbery picture that has both Mamie Van Doren and Lee Van Cleef in it. How could it miss? It doesn’t.

Vice Raid (1960)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Mame Van Doren, Richard Coogan, Brad Dexter, Carol Nugent

Mamie’s a call girl sent to New York to get an un-corruptible cop in hot water. But when her sister is raped, Mamie has to turn to the framed cop for help.

Due in November, the longest of these movies is 75 minutes. Perfect.

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Filed under 1957, 1959, 1960, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Howard W. Koch, Kino Lorber, Lee Van Cleef, Mamie Van Doren, Marie Windsor

Blu-Ray Review: Operation Petticoat (1959).

Directed by Blake Edwards
Screenplay by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin
From a story by Paul King and Joseph Stone
Cinematography: Russell Harlan, Clifford Stine
Film Editors: Ted Kent and Frank Gross

Cast: Cary Grant (Commander Matt Sherman), Tony Curtis (Lieutenant Nick Holden), Joan O’Brien (Nurse Dolores Crandell), Dina Merrill (Nurse Barbara Duran), Arthur O’Connell (Tostin),Virginia Gregg (Major Edna Heywood), Gavin MacLeod (Hunkle), Gene Evans, Marion Ross, Dick Sargent

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There was a time in the 70s and 80s when it seemed like Operation Petticoat (1959) was on TV every three minutes. It was perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Who knows how many times I’ve seen it.

What’s interesting to me is, the script itself doesn’t seem all that funny. It depends on the appeal and natural humor of its cast — mainly the two leads, Cary Grant and Tony Curtis — to keep it going and make sure it’s actually funny. And at that, they certainly succeed.

Grant’s the commanding officer of the USS Sea Tiger, a brand new sub that has a very hard time getting into the war. Sunk by the Japanese before it’s ever really set sail, the Sea Tiger is pretty much written off till Grant convinces his superior officer to let him try to get it seaworthy. Grant ends up with an aide (Curtis) who turns out to be quite a scrounger — his cons and schemes provide what’s needed to get the sub ready to move on to Australia for more thorough repairs.

Along the way, a group of women are taken on as passengers (leading to the usual inconveniences), a shortage of primer results in the Sea Tiger being painted pink, and it’s almost sunk by the US Navy (the radio doesn’t work). And, of course, some of the sailors and nurses fall in love.

Believe it or not, much of what transpires in Operation Petticoat was based on real events — even the pink submarine.

The cast is terrific. Grant and Curtis are everything you’d expect. Joan O’Brien and Dina Merrill are quite good as some of the nurses who join the crew of the Sea Tiger. I love Virginia Gregg, who you’ll find in a ton of Dragnet episodes. Gavin MacLeod and Gene Evans are quite funny. And Marion Ross of Happy Days turns up.

There’s a funny scene with Tony Curtis trying to round up stuff for a New Year’s Eve party. He and Gavin MacLeod steal a pig from a villager, then have to pass it off as a sailor to fool MPs and get it on base. It’s every bit as silly as it sounds, but Curtis makes it work. Watch a few Tony Curtis movies from the 50s, and I promise you’ll come away impressed.

You’ll also be impressed with Olive Films’ Signature Edition of Operation Petticoat. The picture was shot in Eastman Color — it was going to be B&W, but when Cary Grant enlisted, color film stock and a few more dollars were added to the budget. Eastman Color can be an ugly thing, harsh-looking at times, but Olive keeps it in check. Grain is consistent, the blacks are strong and the 1.85 framing’s dead on — easily the best I’ve ever seen this movie look. It comes with a slew of extras — a commentary, interviews and more — everything you need to really wallow in this charming little service comedy. Recommended.

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Filed under 1959, Blake Edwards, Cary Grant, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Olive Films, Tony Curtis, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #176: The Wasp Woman (1959).

Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris, William Roerick, Michael Mark, Lynn Cartwright

The Wasp Woman (1959) was produced and directed by Roger Corman and stars Susan Cabot and Anthony Eisley (who turns up in several episodes of Dragnet). It was written by character actor Leo Gordon. He’s not in it, but his wife Lynn Cartwright is. The budget was around $50,000. The Wasp Woman in the movie looks nothing like the incredible poster art.

This is already available on Blu-Ray from Retromedia. I’m looking forward to seeing what extras Scream Factory will include in their version, coming in October.

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Filed under 1959, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Leo Gordon, Roger Corman, Shout/Scream Factory, Susan Cabot

Blu-Ray News #173: Retromedia Goes To The Drive-In.

Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia has been putting some good stuff out on Blu-Ray —from Lugosi Monograms to early AIP stuff and beyond. But it’s really hard to sort out what’s available. Here’s a couple things I’ve tracked down. They’re currently available from Amazon.

Wasp Woman/Beast From Haunted Cave (both 1959)

This one I covered over a year ago. The Wasp Woman was produced and directed by Roger Corman and stars Susan Cabot. It was written by character actor Leo Gordon. The budget was around $50,000. Beast From Haunted Cave was directed by Monte Hellman and written by Charles Griffith. It’s a remake of Naked Paradise (1957) with a monster dropped in the middle of it. These actually played as a double feature back in ’59.

Teenagers From Outer Space/Attack Of The Giant Leeches (both 1959)

Teenagers From Outer Space was an independent picture directed by Tom Graeff and released by Warner Bros., who paired it with the second Godzilla movie.  Attack Of The Giant Leeches was from AIP. Leo Gordon wrote it and Bernard L. Kowalski directed. It stars Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers and Jan Shepard.

Next up: Lugosi and Karloff on Poverty Row.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray News, Leo Gordon, Monte Hellman, Retromedia, Roger Corman

Blu-Ray News #166: Hammer Vol. 3 – Blood And Terror.

Indicator has announced their upcoming boxed set Hammer Volume 3 Blood and Terror. It gathers up four non-horror pictures from Hammer’s glorious do-no-wrong period. The set includes —

The Camp On Blood Island (1958)
Directed by Val Guest
​S​tarring Carl Möhner, André Morell, Edward Underdown, Walter Fitzgeral​d, Barbara Shelley, Michael Ripper

Yesterday’s Enemy (1959)
Directed by Val Guest
Starring Stanley Baker, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, Gordon Jackson

The Stranglers Of Bombay (1959)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Guy Rolfe, Jan Holden

The Terror Of The Tongs (1961)
Directed by Anthony Bushell
Starring Geoffrey Toone, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Monlaur

POWs, firing squads, Thuggee cults, Chinese crime families — this set’s got something for everyone.

Chung King (Christopher Lee): “Have you ever had your bones scraped, Captain? It is painful in the extreme I can assure you.”

As a kid, The Terror Of The Tongs haunted me for days after catching it on TV. Yesterday’s Enemy is one of the best films Hammer ever did. The Camp On Blood Island and The Stranglers Of Bombay (in Strangloscope!) are both wonderfully exploitive. Coming in July. It’s gonna be great.

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Filed under 1958, 1959, 1961, Christopher Lee, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Terence Fisher, Val Guest