Category Archives: 1972

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

RIP, Paul Koslo.

Paul Koslo
(June 27, 1944 – January 9, 2019)

I just learned that one of my favorite character actors of the 70s, Paul Koslo, passed away back in January. He’s in so much great stuff: The Omega Man (1971), Joe Kidd (1972), Mr. Majestyk (1974, above), Freebie And The Bean (1974), The Drowning Pool (1975) and Rooster Cogburn (1975), to name just a few. How many actors could say they locked horns with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Paul Newman and James Caan?

Every movie he was in was better for his presence.

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Filed under 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, Alan Arkin, Charles Bronson, Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, James Caan, Paul Newman

Blu-Ray News #231: The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972).

Directed by Philip Kaufman
Starring Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong, Dana Elcar, Matt Clark, Elisha Cook, Royal Dan0, Paul Frees (narrator)

I don’t mean for this to sound negative, but The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972) is one of the few so-called Revisionist Westerns I really like.  From the great cast to the narration from Paul Frees to Bruce Surtees’ terrific camerawork, it’s a picture that really clicks for me.

Shout Factory’s upcoming Blu-Ray should be a real treat. The film deserves it.

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Filed under 1972, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Elisha Cook, Jr., Paul Frees, R.G. Armstrong, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #215: The Take (1974) & Black Gunn (1972).

Mill Creek has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray that pairs a couple of 70s Blaxsploitation pictures — The Take (1974) and Black Gunn (1972). Both were directed by Robert Hartford-Davis — who also did a few British horror pictures like Corruption (1968) and Incense For The Damned (1971). His Nobody Ordered Love (1971) is a lost film since he pulled it from circulation and ordered it destroyed.

The Take (1974)
Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Starring Billy Dee Williams, Eddie Albert, Frankie Avalon, Sorrell Booke, Albert Salmi, Vic Morrow, Tracy Reed

By this time, Billy Dee Williams had already appeared in Brian’s Song (1971), Lady Sings The Blues (1972) and Hit! (1973), but he was still six years away from The Empire Strikes Back (1980). He’s supported by a good cast, as if they didn’t think he could carry the picture on his own.

The cinematographer was Duke Callaghan, whose previous film was Jeremiah Johnson (1972). Mr. Callaghan shot a lot of Adam-12 episodes, so I’m a fan.

Black Gunn (1972)
Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Starring Jim Brown, Martin Landau, Brenda Sykes, Herbert Jefferson, Jr., Luciana Paluzzi, Stephen McNally, Bernie Casey, Bruce Glover

Football great Jim Brown made some terrific movies — stuff like Rio Conchos (1964), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Dark Of The Sun (1968) and The Split (1968). This time, the mob is after Brown’s brother (Herbert Jefferson, Jr.). Black Gunn‘s got a great cast, and you can always count on Bruce Glover to be a superb psycho.

The picture was shot by Richard H. Kline, who also gave us Hang ‘Em High (1968), The Boston Strangler (1968), Mr. Majestyk (1974) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980).

Two cool movies in high definition at a great price. The more of these things Mill Creek pulls from the Columbia vaults, the more I like ’em.

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Filed under 1972, 1974, Columbia, Jim Brown, Mill Creek

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

Blu-Ray Review: Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972).

Directed by Alan Gibson
Written by Don Houghton
Director Of Photography: Dick Bush
Film Editor: James Needs
Music by Michael Vickers

Cast: Christopher Lee (Count Dracula), Peter Cushing (Lorrimer Van Helsing/Lawrence Van Helsing), Stephanie Beacham (Jessica Van Helsing), Christopher Neame (Johnny Alucard), Marsha Hunt (Gaynor Keating), Caroline Munro (Laura Bellows), Janet Key (Anna Bryant)

__________

By 1972, Hammer Films was a bit of a train wreck. Where once they’d been a real innovator with their colorful, bloody takes on the horror classics, they were now chasing trends rather than creating them. Where they’d pushed the envelope a bit with sex and violence in the late 50s, the nudity and gore of the early 70s eliminated a huge part of their core audience — thanks to the R rating in the US and X certificate in the UK keeping kids out of the theaters. Seems like they couldn’t catch a break.

So when a picture like Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) made money by bringing the classic-type vampire into the modern day, doing the same with Christopher Lee must’ve sounded like it couldn’t miss. The result of that thinking is Dracula A.D. 1972 — and it does miss. But maybe not by as much as you remember.

It’s 1972 and some dude named Johnny Alucard is making the scene in London, crashing ritzy parties with his hipster entourage in search of kicks. As any of us could’ve told him, rich old people throw boring parties — and when Johnny figures this out, he figures it’s time for a Black Mass. They end up with Caroline Munro covered in blood and Dracula (Christopher Lee) back from the dead in a dilapidated old church — and wanting revenge on the modern-day descendants of Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). And as “movie luck” would have it, there’s a gorgeous young Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham), in Johnny’s gang.

Every once in a while — mainly whenever Cushing and Lee are on the screen — Dracula A.D. 1972 really gets something going. Those guys can carry a picture on their backs without breaking a sweat, and director Alan Gibson owes them a tremendous debt for their work here.

The period opening sequence is cool, somehow seeming less dated than the “modern” stuff. And the final Dracula/Van Helsing conflict is very strong. But you can’t help but notice the desperation burned into each frame of film. And it’s a real shame.

However, if you’re like me, Cushing and Lee in the same movie is about as good as it gets. So while the results are disappointing, the opportunity to spend some time with those two makes me return to Dracula A.D. 1972 every once in a while. And with it now looking splendid on Warner Archive’s new Blu-Ray, the experience is much improved. The color’s splendid and the sound’s nice and bright and crisp. This is one of those times when the improved picture and sound actually improves the movie itself. So while I’ve certainly given Dracula A.D. 1972 a hard time, it’s not hard to recommend this new Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1972, Caroline Munro, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Peter Cushing, Warner Archive

DVD/Blu-Ray News #205: Horror Express (1972).

Directed by Eugenio Martin
Starring Telly Savalas, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing

There’s something special about a movie with both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in it. Even the crummy ones. Horror Express (1972), which is coming to Blu-Ray from Arrow in February, is far from crummy.

Arrow’s promising a train load of extras, but the real sweet spot will be a new restoration. Horror Express deserves it. Keep an eye out for it. (Sorry.)

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Filed under 1972, Arrow Video, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Peter Cushing