Category Archives: 1968

Blu-Ray News #346: Corruption (1968).

Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Starring Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Noel Trevarthen, Kate O’Mara, David Lodge, Antony Booth

Corruption (1968) is a weird one, placing Peter Cushing in the swinging London of 1967, up to the nasty business we’re accustomed to him doing in a more Gothic setting. His fiancee (the terrific Sue Lloyd) is scarred and Cushing goes about all sorts of butchery to set things right. It was seen as rather lurid and gory back in the day, and it’s still a bit jarring to see Mr. Cushing involved in something like this (which Columbia slapped a “Suggested For Mature Audiences” banner on).

Indicator/Powerhouse Films is bringing Corruption to Blu-Ray in August, giving us two versions of the film — the 92-minute theatrical version and the more graphic international one. They’re also piling on the extras: commentary, interviews, trailers, TV and radio spots, galleries and more. 

A good friend mentioned this the other day, that they saw this in the theater as a kid. This Blu-Ray sounds pretty exhaustive and definitive. Recommended, as is anything Peter Cushing touched. 

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Filed under 1968, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Indicator/Powerhouse, Peter Cushing

Blu-Ray News #331: The Hellfighters (1968).

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Jim Hutton, Vera Miles, Jay C. Flippen, Bruce Cabot

Mill Creek has announced the May Blu-Ray release of The Hellfighters (1968) Based (at least in part) on oil well firefighter Red Adair, it’s a pretty good later John Wayne movie (watch for something on 1974’s McQ in the next day or so).

This has always looked good on laserdisc or DVD, so I imagine the Blu-Ray will look terrific.

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Filed under 1968, Andrew V. McLaglen, DVD/Blu-ray News, John Wayne, Mill Creek, Uncategorized, Universal (-International), Vera Miles

Old John Robertson.

I’m reading the delightful, insightful book Time Between by Chris Hillman of The Hillmen, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Desert Rose Band and other bands.

In an early chapter, Hillman covers growing up in San Diego County and the old movie director John Robertson who lived nearby. He and his wife Josephine, a screenwriter, became the inspiration for the song “Old John Robertson” on The Byrds’ The Notorious Byrd Brothers LP from 1968. (A different version had been the B-side to the 1967 “Lady Friend” single.)

Robertson directed a number of silent films, with his biggest being the silent Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1920) starring John Barrymore. One of his later pictures was Little Orphan Annie (1932). In the 50s, when Hillman and his friends encountered him, he was still dressing the part of a silent movie director, complete with jodhpurs and a handlebar mustache.

“Old John Robertson”
by Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn

Old John Robertson
He wore a Stetson hat
People everywhere would
Laugh behind his back

No one cared to take
Any time to find out
What he was all about
Fear kept them out

Children laughed and played
And didn’t know his name
They could tell when he
Was coming just the same

Walking slow with old John’s
Crippled wife by his side
Then she sighed, then she died

Magic words from him
Entrancing children’s ears
But they laughed at him
When he went to hide his tears

All in vain was no game
For he’d lost an old friend
In the end, in the end

Old John Robertson
He wore a Stetson hat
People everywhere would
Laugh behind his back

No one cared to take
Any time to find out
What he was all about
Fear kept them out

Robertson passed away in 1964, so he was never aware that he’d been immortalized in song by one of the local kids. Shame, it’s a wonderful song — on a terrific album. Of course, Mr. Hillman is a national treasure.

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RIP, Barbara Shelley.

Barbara Shelley
February 13, 1932 — January 4, 2021

I grew up watching Barbara Shelley in pictures like Dracula – Prince Of Darkness (1966) and Quatermass And The Pit (1968). She was always terrific. She passed away today at 88.

Miss Shelley was one of those actors or actresses that didn’t look down on material like this, and her performances were as good as the genre ever saw. I’d have a real hard time picking a favorite — so I guess I’d recommend you watch ’em all. Which is what I plan to do.

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Filed under 1966, 1968, Barbara Shelley, Christopher Lee, Hammer Films, Terence Fisher

Blu-Ray News #324: Targets (1968).

Directed by Peter Bogdanivich
Starring Boris Karloff, Tim O’Kelly, Peter Bogdanovich

Targets tells the stories of a troubled young man with a thing for guns (Tim O’Kelly) and an aging horror film star (Boris Karloff). O’Kelly’s character is based on Charles Whitman, who shot a bunch of people from the tower at the University Of Texas in Austin in 1966. Karloff’s character is based on, well, Boris Karloff. The movie gets creepier, and more topical, as time goes on. It also illustrates the shift from Gothic horror to more contemporary horror in a very literal way.

Targets came about because Boris Karloff owed Roger Corman a couple days’ work. Corman let Peter Bogdanovich make a picture out of the two days of Karloff and some footage from The Terror (1963). Bogdanovich and his wife Polly Platt based the story on Whitman, which was then in the news. Samuel Fuller helped out on the script, without credit or payment. The director managed to sell the picture to Paramount, which landed Corman a profit before it was even released.

The British Film Institute is bringing Targets to Blu-ray in March 2021, which will give us all a good look at the cinematography by László Kovács. The BFI will certainly load this up with supplemental stuff, too, making for a terrific package, I’m sure (hopefully, they’ll keep Bogdanovich’s commentary from the Paramount DVD). Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1968, BFI, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman

Blu-Ray News #278 – Danger: Diabolik (1968).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Claudio Gora

You can have all 57 Avengers movies and those new Batman and Joker things. Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968) is the best comic book movie ever made. And it’s a Blu-Ray folks (including me) have been screaming for for years.

Shout Factory is bringing Danger: Diabolik to high definition in May — and at this time, the specs haven’t been announced. There’s been some controversy over the years about the two different English dubs, so it’ll be interesting to see what they wind up with. But one thing’s for sure, Bava’s incredible use of color and whacked-out camera angles, along with Ennio Morricone’s fuzzed-out score, will be well-served on Blu-Ray. Highly, highly recommended.

Why take my word for it? A more qualified movie expert, Glen Erickson of CinemaSavant, is just as nuts over this thing as I am.

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Filed under 1968, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ennio Morricone, John Phillip Law, Mario Bava, Marisa Mell, Paramount, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray Review: Quatermass And The Pit (1968).

Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by Anthony Nelson Keyes
Screenplay by Nigel Kneale
Director Of Photography: Arthur Grant
Film Editor: Spencer Reeve

Cast: James Donald (Dr. Roney), Andrew Keir (Quatermass), Barbara Shelley (Barbara Judd), Julian Glover (Colonel Breen), Duncan Lamont (Sladden), Bryan Marshall (Captain Potter), Peter Copley (Howell)

__________

When I was a kid, there was a Sony Trinitron in the guest room. It was a great television, able to pick up out-of-town stations our other TVs couldn’t touch.

At 10 years old, armed with that television, the TV Guide and a Radio Shack earphone (with a 15-foot cord), I began the clandestine, full-scale rotting of my brain on old monster movies at all hours of the night. (If they have Internet service in Heaven, I sure hope my mom doesn’t see this!*)

One of the films I discovered late one night using that Sony/Radio Shack rig was Hammer’s Five Million Miles To Earth (1968). It scared me to death, and I’m sure I was totally useless at school the next day.

In the UK, Five Million Years To Earth went by the same title as the BBC TV serial it was based on, Quatermass And The Pit — which is how it’s billed everywhere nowadays. This movie doesn’t waste a second, plunging immediately into its story. A crew is digging in a London Underground station. They find a fossilized skull, followed by an entire skeleton. Dr. Roney (James Donald) is brought in, accompanied by his fellow scientist Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley). As they dig, they find what is believed to be an unexploded bomb. At this point, the military and the brilliant Dr. Quatermass (the brilliant Andrew Kier) get involved.

More and more stuff is ingeniously added to the plot as things get weirder, darker and a bit supernatural. The bomb isn’t a bomb after all, it’s an ancient spacecraft that seems to have brought grasshopper-looking creatures to earth millions of years ago (there’s the Five Million Years To Earth.) And those interstellar insects, well, they’ve been responsible for all sorts of evil havoc in this part of London for generations.

There are a few things about Quatermass And The Pit that have stuck with me for more than 40 years. To this day, I can’t see a grasshopper without thinking of this film. The scene where the rotting insects are dissected, as green “blood” oozes out and everyone complains about the smell, never ceases to give me the willies. And Barbara Shelley in her 60s plaid skirt has to be one of the loveliest women to ever grace the motion picture screen.

At 97 minutes, Quatermass And The Pit is one of the longer Hammer films, but it moves like a runaway train — thanks to director Roy Ward Baker, editor Spencer Reeve and writer Nigel Kneale — as it piles one plot point on top of another. To prove my point, the first skull is found before the movie’s two minutes in — and that includes the main titles. It maintains that pace throughout until all hell breaks loose in the last reel — as Quatermass and Dr. Roney save the world from heinous evil from another world.

Andrew Kier is just terrific as Quatermass, as is James Donald as Dr. Roney. Julian Glover is perfectly hatable as the military man who refuses to believe what Roney and Quatermass tell him is happening. And Barbara Shelley is great as the young scientist with a strange attachment to those weird grasshoppers from Mars. This is one of those movies were everybody brought their A game. As preposterous as it all sounds, the movie snatches you up and carries you along with its own logic.

Now, back to that Sony Trinitron and the earphone. Arthur Grant’s subtle, very effective use of color was completely lost on the late show (and on a faded 16mm print run at a convention in the 90s), but it shines like a jewel on this Blu-Ray from Shout Factory. It’s beautiful. The audio, which includes all kinds of noises, sirens and screams is clear as a bell. And there’s all sorts of extras: commentary, interviews, stills, trailers, even an episode of World Of Hammer. It’s another terrific Hammer Blu-Ray from Scream Factory — they’ve been knocking these out of the park since they started this series. Highly, highly recommended.

* If they had Internet access in Heaven, Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven, would it?

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Filed under 1968, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Roy Ward Baker, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #217 UPDATE: Madigan (1968).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Harry Guardino, James Whitmore, Susan Clark, Don Stroud

Madigan (1968) is yet another terrific picture from Don Siegel, from that late 60s – early 70s period when he was knocking out great movies one right after another. It came between his The Killers (1964) and Coogan’s Bluff (1968), and it’s one of the best cop movies of the 60s.

Kino Lorber has had this on their “coming soon” roster for a while, and they’ve given it an official release date — November 12, the same day as their new Blu-Ray of Siegel’s Charley Varrick (1973).

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Filed under 1968, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Whitmore, Kino Lorber, Richard Widmark, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #248: Godzilla – The Showa-Era Films (1954-1975).

If I had a nickel for every minute I stared at this FM cover as kid…

For their 1000th release (or spine number), The Criterion Collection has gone very big with a great big giant box of Godzilla movies. Not those new things — no thank you — but the real ones.

Of course, this being a Criterion release, you can count on each of these the films — all 15 Godzilla movies released from 1954 to 1975 — shining like a jewel. And naturally, there will be tons of extras, from alternate versions to commentaries to documentaries and trailers and so on. Does my heart good to know the work of Mr. Honda and Mr. Tsuburaya will get the level of respect these folks will give it.

The films are:
Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1963, 2.35 AR)
Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964, 2.35 AR)
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964 2.35 AR)
Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965, 2.35 AR)
Son Of Godzilla (1967, 2.35 AR)

Destroy All Monsters (1968, 2.35 AR)
All Monsters Attack (1969, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Ss. Hedorah (1971, AKA Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, 2.35 AR)

Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974, 2.35 AR)
Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975, 2.35 AR)

I absolutely love some of these movies. One of them I hate with a passion. Son Of Godzilla is criminally lame, and at 10, I considered it the worst movie I’d ever seen (that was before The Witches Of Eastwick). The very thought of making my way through this thing (yes, even Son Of Godzilla)  makes me happy.

Stomping its way to TVs everywhere in October. Make sure yours is one of them.

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Filed under 1954, 1955, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, AIP, Criterion Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eiji Tsuburaya, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Toho

Blu-Ray News #244: The Devil Rides Out (1968, AKA The Devil’s Bride).

Directed by Terence Fisher
Screenplay by Richard Matheson
Starrings Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi, Leon Greene

1968 was a really good year for Hammer Films — they released Quatermass And The Pit and The Devil Rides Out. 2019 is a great year, too, thanks to Scream Factory — they’re bringing the same two movies to Blu-Ray.

Christopher Lee is terrific and Terence Fischer was really at the top of his game on this one. Known as The Devil’s Bride in the US and based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley, is one of the best occult films ever made, if you ask me. (You didn’t, did you?) Coming in October.

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Filed under 1968, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Shout/Scream Factory, Terence Fisher