Category Archives: 1960

Happy Birthday, Vera Miles.

Vera June Miles
(Born August 23, 1929)

Vera Miles was lucky enough to survive Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), but she had to be the one to discover Mrs. Bates.

Vera shot scenes as John Wayne’s wife in The Green Berets (1968), but they were cut by Warner Bros. I’ve never even seen a still from one of her scenes. Wayne made it up to her by casting her as his better half in The Hellfighters (1968).

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960, Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, Vera Miles

Happy Halloween.

the_post_crescent_wed__oct_26__1960_

Halloween in Wisconsin in 1960 looks like it was a lot of fun, especially the Paul Landres double feature at the Neenah.

Here’s hoping your Halloween is every bit as terrific.

3 Comments

Filed under 1960, Hammer Films, Paul Landres, Roger Corman, The Three Stooges

Blu-Ray Review: The City Of The Dead (1960, AKA Horror Hotel).

City Of The Dead UK quad

Directed by John Moxey
Screenplay by George Baxt
Story by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Desmond Dickinson

Cast: Patricia Jessel (Mrs. Newless), Dennis Lotis (Richard Barlow), Christopher Lee (Alan Driscoll), Tom Naylor (Bill), Betta St. John (Patricia), Venetia Stevenson (Nan Barlow)

__________

John Llewellyn Moxey’s The City Of The Dead (1960), under its American title Horror Hotel, was one of those movies I bumped into a lot on TV as a kid. If I came across it, I’d always watch it through to the end.

The sets, the lighting, the fog — there’s something about this movie that really gets under my skin.

the-city-of-the-dead-still

It’s a really simple story: a college student (Venetia Stevenson) travels to Whitewood, Massachusetts, for some research on 17th-century witches (at the urging of her professor, Christopher Lee). That research ends up being a bit more primary than she had in mind, as she discovers that Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel), who was burned at the stake in 1692, is running the Ravens Inn under the name Newless. Why do witches, vampires, etc. take on a new identity by simply reversing their last names?

795

The City Of The Dead is often compared to Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), with it assumed that Moxey ripped off Hitch. But while there are similarities — a pretty young woman heads out on her own, checks into a creepy hotel/motel and something bad happens midway through the picture — The City Of The Dead began production before Psycho. As Horror Hotel, however, it hit theaters in the States after Hitchcock’s film debuted.

By the way, this picture is an early effort from the folks who later became Amicus Productions and made horror films throughout the 70s.

city-4

It couldn’t be more obvious that Whitewood is a soundstage, not Massachusetts. Some see that as a sign of its limited budget, others as part of the stylized, atmospheric look. Whether it’s due to aesthetics or economics, to me it’s one of the picture’s greatest strengths. No other movie looks like this. Desmond Dickinson’s camerawork is terrific.

You can see all this plainly on the new Blu-Ray from VCI, which makes use of original material from the British Film Institute. There’s been some criticism of the framing (1.78 vs. the UK version’s 1.66; it probably ran 1.85 in the States), but the film’s never looked better on video. The contrast seems perfect, accommodating both the fog and, say, headlights in the same shot, without either being compromised. Audio is fine, doing justice to Douglas Gamley’s creepy score. And there are a slew of extras, from multiple commentaries to the trailer to the shorter US cut of the film (Horror Hotel).

No matter how shoddy it might look, I’d recommend The City Of The Dead. This Blu-ray makes it absolutely essential for fans of 60s horror.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960, Amicus Productions, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, VCI

Blu-Ray Review: Hammer Films Double Feature Volume 1 — The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll/The Gorgon.

2da256930d30c1a6d1cd6a29895dd1fd

With a string of terrific Blu-ray releases, this Fall is really turning into a hi-def trip down Memory Lane — so much of the stuff that rotted my brain when I was a kid has been announced for release on Blu-ray. One of the first to make its way to my mailbox and Blu-ray player is Mill Creeks’ Hammer Films Double Feature Volume 1.

two-faces-of-dr-jekyll-27483_1

The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960; US Titles: House Of Fright)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher, 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. This has never been held up as a prime Hammer picture, but it’s well made and Christopher Lee’s in it.

Shot in MegaScope, The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll was released in the UK in Technicolor. No such luck in the States — AIP went with crappy Eastmancolor prints. Lucky for us all, Mill Creek offers up a gorgeous transfer from original, longer British material, with the proper title and the kind of eye-popping color these films are known for.

gorgon-hs

The Gorgon (1964)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Michael Goodliffe, Barbara Shelley, Prudence Hyman

The Gorgon (1964) was the first Hammer film I remember seeing (during one of those local-station all-night Halloween marathons), and it had a huge impact on me. From the Technicolor to the blood to Cushing and Lee to the Gorgon herself, I absolutely loved this thing. And I still have a soft spot for it, even though the studio certainly made better films.

large_hammer_gorgon_03_blu-ray_

It still has one of my favorite Hammer moments, as Professor Heltz (Michael Goodliffe) writes the letter while turning to stone. (That’d be a fun poll, wouldn’t it — “What’s your favorite single scene in a Hammer horror movie?”)

gorgon-lc

On Blu-Ray, The Gorgon won’t turn anybody to stone. It’s beautiful. The color’s appropriately saturated, the 1.66 is spot-on and James Bernard’s score sounds great (and as eerie as ever). Some folks have been harsh on these Mill Creek Hammers, but I don’t get it. There are no complaints here. I’d love to have every horror movie the studio ever made looking as good as The Gorgon does here.

gorgonmummy-adBy the way, The Gorgon played theaters in a twin bill with The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964), which is is included in Mill Creek’s Hammer Films Double Feature Volume 2, which we’ll get around to soon.

With these Blu-Rays in your collection, you might end up with some duplication from some of your other Hammer sets. But the improved picture quality and terrific price make it worth the double dip. For Hammer fans out there, this set (and Number 2) is highly recommended. Thanks, Mill Creek, and keep ’em coming!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960, 1964, AIP, Christopher Lee, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Jerry Lewis, Mill Creek, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher

Help Restore September Storm (1960).

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 2.45.59 PM

The fine folks at The 3-D Film Archive have a Kickstarter campaign going to restore September Storm (1960), the only film shot in both 3-D and CinemaScope.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 2.38.51 PM

It was directed by Byron Haskin (War Of The Worlds, 1953) and stars Joanne Dru (Red River, Wagon Master) and Mark Stevens (Cry Vengeance, Gunsmoke In Tucson). The project’s 3/4 funded. Let’s help ’em finish it up.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960, 3-D, Mark Stevens

Blu-ray News #63: Hammer Horror 8-Film Blu-ray Collection.

da42b42c3d66ba9c1834b6769eb690c2

Universal has announced a terrific Blu-ray set of eight Hammer horror films, coming in September.

Brides Of Dracula (1960)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starrings Peter Cushing, David Peel, Yvonne Monlaur

The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.08.11 AM

Phantom Of The Opera (1962)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Herbert Lom, Heather Sears. Thorley Walters, Michael Gough

Paranoiac (1963)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Janette Scott, Oliver Reed, Sheila Burrell

kiss_of_vampire_poster_06

Kiss Of The Vampire (1962)
Directed by Don Sharp
Starring Clifford Evans, Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel

Nightmare (1964)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring David Knight, Moira Redmond, Jennie Linden

Night Creatures (1962; UK Title: Captain Clegg)
Directed by Peter Graham Scott
Starrings Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen

6a00d83451d04569e201b8d134b85a970c

The Evil Of Frankenstein (1964)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Peter Cushing, Sandor Eles, Peter Woodthorpe, Katy Wiuld, Ducnam Lamont, Kiwi Kingston

These are some key Hammer films, and I’m dying to see Night Creatures — which I’ve somehow never seen.

9 Comments

Filed under 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, Universal (-International)

Blu-ray News #60: William Castle On Blu-ray.

SpineTingler_t614

I’d better type this quick — before I have a heart attack. Four William Castle classics, including 13 Ghosts (1960), are coming to Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment. If I didn’t have a Blu-ray player, I’d be shopping for one now.

EPSON scanner image

The other three pictures are Homicidal (1961), Mr. Sardonicus (1961) and 13 Frightened Girls (1963). They will appear in July as two double bills: 13/13 and Homicidal/Sardonicus. This is essential stuff, folks.

It’s hard to tell from the info available whether we’ll get both the B&W and color versions (to preserve the Illusion-O process) of 13 Ghosts. The DVD, which has been out for years, gave us both — and some reproductions of the Ghost Viewer.

2 Comments

Filed under 1960, 1961, 1963, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Martin Milner, Mill Creek, William Castle