Category Archives: 1961

Blu-Ray News #91: The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961).

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Directed by Val Guest
Starring Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Edward Judd

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) is an almost impossibly good science fiction movie from Val Guest. It’s coming to Blu-Ray, with a new 2K restoration, in 2017 from Cohen Media Group.

The premise is very simple. Nuclear blasts at the North and South Poles knock the Earth off its axis and send it headed straight for the sun. Sweating and panic ensue as London prepares for what may be The End.

Seeing it as a kid, in a crappy pan and scan late-night TV airing, I was glued to the screen — wanting to throw a brick through the tube when the station went to a commercial break. Back then, I knew Leo McKern from Help! (1965) — “Psst! Hey, Be-a-tle! You shall have fun, yes?” — and Janet Munro from The Crawling Eye (1958) and Darby O’Gill And The Little People (1959). I was surprised to see them in something so dark and intense — and her so near-naked.

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Val Guest’s direction here is top-notch. He got a tremendous amount of movie out of his paltry budget, masterfully using stock footage and matte paintings (by Les Bowie) to create London’s brink-of-desctruction weather. Today, we’d just throw CGI at this story and render it soulless — in 1961, writing, acting and craftsmanship came together to create something really special.

Also of note is Guest and DP Harry Waxman’s use of Dyaliscope, a French anamorphic process. The thought of their work in high definition has me giddy. As you can tell, I am a big fan of this movie. Can’t wait to slide this thing into my Blu-Ray player. As I see it, this one is essential.

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Filed under 1961, DVD/Blu-ray News, The Beatles, Val Guest

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

DVD News #37: Vintage Sci-Fi Six-Movie Collection.

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Mill Creek has brought out a number of these collections, scooping up stuff from the Columbia vaults (some might say from the dumpster) and bringing them out at great prices — and in their proper aspect ratios! It’s hard to keep up with ’em all. I’m really excited about this one, which gives us another picture from the underrated, overlooked Fred F. Sears.

The Night The World Exploded (1957)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Kathryn Grant, William Leslie, Tristram Coffin, Raymond Greenleaf, Charles Evans, Frank J. Scannell

The 27th Day (1957)
Directed by William Asher
Starring Gene Barry, Valerie French, George Vaokovec, Arnold Moss, Stefan Schnabel, Friedrich von, Ledebur

Twelve To The Moon (1960)
Directed by David Bradley
Starring Ken Clark, Michi Kobi, Tom Conway, Anthony Dexter, John Wengraf, Robert Montgomery, Jr.

Valley Of The Dragons (1961)
Directed by Edward Bernds
Starring Cesare Danova, Sean McClory, Joan Staley, Danielle De Metz, Gregg Martell, Gil Peerkins

The H-Man (1958)
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Starring Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara, Akihiko Hirata, Eitarô Ozawa, Koreya Senda, Makoto Satô

Battle In Outer Space
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Starring Ryô Ikebe, Kyôko Anzai, Minoru Takada, Koreya Senda, Len Stanford, Harold Conway

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Filed under 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fred F. Sears, Gene Barry, Ishirō Honda, Mill Creek, Toho, William Asher

DVD News #35: William Castle Horror Collection.

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With their William Castle Horror Collection, Mill Creek’s brought together five Castle pictures into one budget, two-disc package:

13 Ghosts (1960)
Starring Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp. Donald Woods, Margaret Hamilton

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Starring Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe, Oskar Homolka

Homicidal (1961)
Starring Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce

13 Frightened Girls (1963)
Starring Murray Hamilton, Joyce Taylor, Hugh Marlowe, Khigh Dhiegh

The Old Dark House (1963)
Starring Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott, Joyce Grenfell

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All are presented widescreen, as they should be. You don’t get a Ghost Viewer for 13 Ghosts, but a pair of red-blue 3-D glasses will work just fine. A terrific set for less than 10 bucks.

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