Category Archives: 1959

Blu-Ray News #220: The Alligator People (1959).

Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Starring Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney, George Macready, Richard Crane

Scream Factory has just announced a Blu-Ray release of The Alligator People (1959) from 20th Century-Fox and Robert Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc.

This is one of those 50s monster movies that is 100% carried by its cast. Beverly Garland, one of my favorite actresses, is terrific here — as she always was in these things. This kind of hokum needs just the right touch to really work, and Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney and George Macready are on hand to help pull the whole thing of. Garland’s new husband (Richard Crane) suddenly disappears during their honeymoon. It takes her a couple years, but she tracks him down to his family’s Southern estate, where a botched medical treatment has turned him into an alligator.

fly-alligator-ad

It’s clearly inspired by The Fly (1958), and it’s a load of fun. 20th Century-Fox proudly boasted that The Alligator People (and its co-feature The Return Of The Fly) were in CinemaScope, no longer releasing their black-and-white Scope pictures under the Regalscope banner. Scream Factory has done a great job with their old monster movies, and I can’t wait to see this in hi-def — backed by an alligator purse full of extras.

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Filed under 1959, Beverly Garland, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lippert/Regal/API, Lon Chaney Jr., Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray Review: Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959).

Directed by John Guillerman
Produced by Sy Weintrab
Screenplay by Bern Giler & John Guillerman
From a story by Les Crutchfield
Cinematography: Ted Scaife

Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Anthony Quayle (Slade), Sara Shane (Angie), Niall MacGinnis (Kruger), Sean Connery (O’Bannion), Al Mulock (Dino), Scilla Gabel (Toni)

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Right off the bat, I have to admit I’m not much of a Tarzan fan. But Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959) is a solid attempt to do something a little different with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character. Some say the idea was to take the ape man back to Burroughs’ original intent — for one thing, Gordon Scott gets to speak in complete sentences. Whatever they were trying to do, they ended up with a tight, tough action picture — with Tarzan driven to take out some really nasty bad guys.

The previous Tarzan’s had been Johnny Weissmuller and Lex Barker, and by this time, Gordon Scott was no stranger to the role and seems quite comfortable. He’d only don the loin cloth once for, in Tarzan The Magnificent (1960), before starring in a series of peplum pictures. By the way, Cheetah makes an appearance, but there’s no Jane.

A gang of crooks, lead by the heinous Slade (Anthony Quayle), massacre a village to get a stash of explosives — which they will use to access a diamond mine. Tarzan heads after them to set things right. Along the way, he encounters a lovely pilot named Angie (Sara Shane) who follows him along the river to the final encounter with Slade and his cohorts.

The real selling point for Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure has become the chance to see a pre-Dr. No Sean Connery. He’s one of Slade’s slimy bunch, and he’s perfectly sweaty and sinister. But this picture’s more than a curiosity or the answer to a trivia question.  There’s plenty to recommend it. Along with what I’ve already mentioned, it was shot on location in Kenya, which gives it a certain edge. And Quayle is really terrific — a formidable foe for the Lord Of The Apes.

The location work is one of the picture’s real strengths, and something highlighted in the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. The color’s quite good, the framing is dead-on, and while the sharpness fluctuates from shot to shot at times (location vs. studio, perhaps?), on the whole it looks terrific. As a Bond-crazy kid, I watched this on local TV in the mid-70s — the 16mm print had turned so red, it looked like Tarzan was on Mars (where he did eventually travel to, didn’t he?). This Blu-Ray was a great way to rediscover a solid adventure picture. Recommended.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Gordon Scott, Sean Connery, Warner Archive

2018 In Review – Part 2.

When I started doing DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries, it no longer felt appropriate to survey the best DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the year. So, as a substitute (maybe a poor one), here’s a reminder of a few things we were treated to this year. We’ll let all the praise, complaints or ranking come from you in the comments. Part 1 can be found over at 50 Westerns From The 50s.

This was a banner year for old sci-fi and horror movies making their way to Blu-Ray. From what we’re hearing so far, next year might be the same for noir and crime pictures. Anyway, here’s some of 2018’s bounty — a few of which I’m still working on proper reviews of.

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)
This is one of the all-time favorite movies. I find something new in it every time I see it — a line, a look, a particular setup, the music, a new appreciation for the guy who did the fire stunt. It’s always something — and that, to me, is one of the requirements for a Great Movie. Warner Archive worked long and hard on this one, and I’m in their debt for sure.

The Hammer Draculas
It’s like there was some sorta Monster Movie Summit, and it was decreed that the Hammer Dracula series would be given its due on Blu-Ray. Warner Archive did a lot of the heavy lifting with Horror Of Dracula (1958), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1974). In the meantime, Scream Factory came through with Dracula – Prince Of Darkness (1966). Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970) hit Blu-Ray a few years ago. That leaves Scars Of Dracula (197) as the only Hammer Dracula picture not available on Blu-Ray. Who’s gonna step up to the plate for that one?

The Hammer goodness wasn’t limited to the Dracula pictures. Mill Creek included some Hammer pictures in their twin-bill sets, some of the best values in all of home video. Hammer Films, William Castle, Ray Harryhausen — there’s some good stuff in those sets.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Complete Legacy Collection
That’s quite a name for a set that only includes three movies. But what movies they are — the first two, anyway. And they’re in both widescreen 2-D and 3-D.

Gun Crazy (1949)
Joseph H. Lewis hit it out of the park with Gun Crazy (1949). So did his cast — and this year, with a stunning Blu-Ray, so did Warner Archive.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
Don Siegel making it to Blu-Ray is always a reason to celebrate, and this is one of his many milestones. Over the years, we’ve all put up with some pretty shoddy-looking stuff when it comes to this incredible movie. Olive Films’ Blu-Ray is a huge improvement.

The Tingler (1959)
It’s hard to pick between this one and House On Haunted Hill (1958) for my favorite William Castle movie. Scream Factory did a wonderful job with this one, and they’ve given us other Castle pictures as well.

Dark Of The Sun (1968)
Warner Archive has been hinting around about this one on Blu-Ray for a while. It’s beautiful — and still one of the damnedest movies I’ve ever seen.

There’s a few that stood out for me. What DVD and Blu-Ray releases knocked you out this year?

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Filed under 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1970, 1972, 1973, 3-D, Barbara Shelley, Caroline Munro, Christopher Lee, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Howard Hawks, Jack Arnold, James Arness, John Agar, Joseph H. Lewis, Julie Adams, Kenneth Tobey, Kevin McCarthy, Mill Creek, Nestor Paiva, Olive Films, Peggy Cummins, Peter Cushing, Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Richarld Carlson, RKO, Rod Taylor, Shout/Scream Factory, Terence Fisher, Vincent Price, Warner Archive, William Castle

DVD News #211: The Giant Behemoth (1957).

Directed by Eugène Lourié & Douglas Hickox
Starring Gene Evans, André Morell, John Turner, Leigh Madison, Jack MacGowran

Lately, Warner Archive has really become Monsterville USA, turning old horror and sci-fi pictures into their main industry. An industry we should all support to the best of our financial ability.

Their latest announcement for Blu-Ray is The Giant Behemoth, an UK-USA tag team monster movie from 1959. It’s a complete ripoff of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), done by some of the same people. The actors were shot in England, and the stop-motion dinosaur stuff was overseen in LA by none other than the great Willis O’Brien. O’Brien was a technical genius, of course, but he was evidently a terrible negotiator — for his later films, the arrangements he worked under were ridiculous. For The Giant Behemoth, there was little money to work with, and some of the effects works was contracted out, limiting O’Brien’s actual influence on the finished product.

But for lovers of these old things, that hardly matters. It’s got a stop-motion monster tearing things up — presented in high definition B&W widescreen. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive, Willis O'Brien

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