Directed by Breakston and Kenneth G. Crane
Starring Peter Dyneley, Jane Hylton, Tetsu Nakamura, Terri Zimmern
The Manster is an American movie, shot in Japan in 1959, but not released till 1962. Some might say it shouldn’t have been released at all. Whatever your take on it, it’s coming to Blu-Ray from Shout Factory.
Peter Dyneley plays Larry Stanford, an American reporter in Japan who’s injected with an experimental serum by a demented scientist. At first, Larry’s transformed into a drunken womanizer (or make that even more of a drunken womanizer), then he goes all the way to become a murderous freak with two heads. There’s a rampant sleaziness to the whole thing that goes way beyond what we normally expect from a 50s monster movie (though The Brain That Wouldn’t Die comes pretty close).
The Manster played the States in a double bill with Georges Franju’s Eyes Without A Face (1959), which was retitled The Horror Chamber Of Dr. Faustus. One’s an eery classic, one’s a bad-movie milestone. Both are highly recommended.
This one snuck up on me — and with so many great things being announced, one right after another, it was just a matter of time before something would fall through the cracks. Retromedia Entertainment if offering up this terrific twofer, “2 New Thrill Shocking Hits!” from 1959 — The Wasp Woman and Beast From Haunted Cave. The set’s evidently available now.
The Wasp Woman was produced and directed by Roger Corman and stars Susan Cabot. 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. Of course, the Wasp Woman in the movie looks nothing like the incredible poster art.
Beast From Haunted Cave was directed by Monte Hellman, who’s since made some superb movies like 1966’s The Shooting and 1971’s Two-Lane Blacktop. It was shot in South Dakota’s Black Hills; the cave is actually an abandoned mine. Written by Charles Griffith, it’s a remake of Naked Paradise (1957) with a monster dropped in the middle of it. Griffith would dust off the story again (complete with the monster) for Creature From The Haunted Sea (1961). That’s one thing you can count on with a Roger Corman movie — the picture might be lousy, but the production history will always be interesting.
Both films are already available on DVD from various sources, usually looking pretty terrible. Retromedia says the both film will be presented widescreen on their Blu-Ray, which is a huge plus. Not sure what their source material is, but the TV prologue for Wasp Woman is supposedly going to be an extra. If anyone sees or hears anything about what these look like, please let me know.
Directed by Ib Melchior
Produced by Sidney Pink
Starring Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen
This cheap. weird-looking science fiction picture was shot in 10 days for $200,000. The creepy miniatures, solarization and red tinting (advertised as CineMagic) make the Martian sequences pretty effective. As a kid, I was certainly impressed.
Since its effects and camerawork, from the great Stanley Cortez, are its claim to fame, it’s terrific that Shout Factory is bringing it to Blu-Ray. It’ll be great to see its widescreen framing restored — and hopefully the “Angry Red” will not be the muted orange of previous video releases. Guess we’ll find out this June.
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.
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Cornel Wilde, Victoria Shaw, Mickey Shaughnessy, Edgar Buchanan, Rian Garrick, Jack Elam
Don Siegel didn’t like CinemaScope. But the setting of Edge Of Eternity (1959), the Grand Canyon, screams for the wide screen. So here we get one of the great director’s few films in 2.35. (Flaming Star was also in ‘Scope; Dirty Harry and a few others were in Panavision.) His director of photography for this one was the great Burnett Guffey, who he’d worked with on Private Hell 36 (1954). Guffey’d go on to do the groundbreaking camerawork for Bonne And Clyde (1967).
Edge Of Eternity is a Siegel picture I’ve never seen, so I’m really stoked that Twilight Time is bringing it to Blu-Ray. Siegel certainly deserves the kind of treatment that comes from Twilight Time — they’ve already put together a great Flaming Star. Edge Of Eternity will be available in February.
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Starring Orson Welles, Diane Varsi, Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, E.G. Marshall, Martin Milner
Kino Lorber has announced a Blu-Ray release of Richard Fleischer’s Compulsion (1959), a fictionalized take on the Leopold and Loeb murder trial. Orson Welles shines in a picture filled with terrific performances. William C. Mellor’s black and white CinemaScope photography alone makes this Blu-Ray a real reason to celebrate. It’s coming in March.
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Starring Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney, George Macready, Richard Crane
Anolis Entertainment, a company out of Germany, has announced a DVD/Blu-Ray combo 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.
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. The domestic DVD presents the picture in gorgeous widescreen and stereo. The Blu-Ray can only be stunning.
Thanks to John Knight for the tip.