(May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993)
Here’s the great Vincent Price having a drink during the shooting of Roger Corman’s Pit And The Pendulum (1961). You get so thirsty in those crypts!
Directed by Ib Melchior
Starring Preston Foster, Philip Carey, Merry Anders, John Hoyt, Joan Woodbury, Delores Welles, Forrest Ackerman
Who can resist a picture from American International in 1964 that gives you a Playboy Playmate (Delores Welles, June 1960), hideous mutants and Forrest J. Ackerman and promises to let you “SEE women use the Love Machine to allay the male shortage!”
Ib Melchior’s ideas were too big for his budget, but he still managed to pull off a pretty big-looking sci-fi flick. This thing just oozes mid-century, early 60s cool — from the costumes and hairstyles to the sets and the tacky Pathécolor (shot by the great Vilmos Zsigmond).
Scorpion Releasing is bringing this crazy thing to Blu-Ray, distributed by Kino Lorber, in April. Highly recommended.
Directed by Charles B. Pierce
Starring Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde, Mel Ferrer, Jack Elam, Susie Coelho, Christopher Connelly, Jimmy Clem, Deacon Jones
When it comes to costume films, I tend to prefer the cheap, cheesy exploitation pictures to the serious epic ones. And they don’t come much cheesier than the gloriously stupid The Norseman (1978) starring Lee Majors.
The premise is pretty simple: the Six Million Dollar Man is a Viking who comes to North America about 500 years before Columbus got here — and has to fight it out with the Indians. And in a subplot that’s never fleshed out, the Viking Jack Elam must’ve fraternized with the Native American ladies, since his wild-eyed bloodline turns up in lots of Westerns in the 1950s.
Lee Majors did The Norseman between The Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. He got half a million bucks and a percentage. Cornel Wilde and Mel Ferrer round out the cast. Charles B. Pierce (The Legend Of Boggy Creek, The Town That Dreaded Sundown) wrote, produced and directed it, and American International handled the distribution. It’s pretty terrible, but that’s of little consequence here.
I love to see anything bearing an AIP logo make it to Blu-Ray, and Kino Lorber and Scorpion Releasing are bringing The Norseman to the format in February of 2021. See, once we get out of 2020, things are gonna get better.
Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Starring Sally Fraser, Roger Pace, Dean Parkin
Scream Factory has announced a July release for another of the “Arkoff AIPs,” Bert I. Gordon’s War Of The Colossal Beast (1958). It’s a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), with a different cast (the monster’s mangled face hides the fact that it’s a different actor this time). One thing that hasn’t changed are the less-than-special effects. The last scene was shot in color, though the ads give you the impression that the whole movie would be. It ain’t much of a movie, I guess, but it’s a lot of cheesy fun.
It’s great to have another AIP picture getting the terrific Scream Factory treatment. Can’t wait.
Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Starring Ed Kemmer, June Kenney, Eugene Persson, Gene Roth, Hal Torey
I absolutely love the 50s Big Bug movies. So I was excited to hear the big news that Scream Factory’s AIP series (of the Arkoff-controled pictures) will include Bert I. Gordon’s The Spider (1958). It’s announced for an April release.
Bert I. Gordon made a number of movies about big stuff: The Amazing Colossal Man (1957, giant guy), Beginning Of The End (1957, giant grasshoppers), War Of The Colossal Beast (1958, sequel to Colossal Man), Attack Of The Puppet People (1958, a switch to tiny people this time), Village Of The Giants (1965, giant teenagers and duck), The Food Of The Gods (1977, giant rats and wasps), Empire Of The Ants (1977, giant ants, naturally).
Originally titled Earth Vs. The Spider (which appears in the film’s credits), the titled was shortened after The Fly (1958) became such a hit. For those who like this sorta thing, this one’s highly recommended. And isn’t that hot rod up top gorgeous?
Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Ray Milland, Diana Van Der Vlis, Harold J. Stone, John Hoyt, Don Rickles, Morris Ankrum, Dick Miller
Bring on the AIP and Corman! Second Sight out of the UK has announced a Blu-Ray release of Roger Corman’s X – The Man With The X-Ray Eyes (1963). It’s a terrific movie that does wonders with its small budget (you could say that about most Corman movies, I guess).
Ray Milland is researching ways to boost man’s eyesight, who in typical horror movie fashion, tries his serum out on himself — with the usual results.
One of Corman’s best, with outstanding camerawork from the great Floyd Crosby. And Milland is really, really good. Highly recommended.
Directed by Haruyasu Noguchi
Starring Tamio Kawaji, Yoko Yamamoto, Yuji Okada
Under its American TV title, Monster From A Prehistoric Planet, Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967) is already available from just about every public domain video company there is. Sounds like we’ll be able to throw all that pan-and-scan junk away — Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters is bringing it to Blu-Ray!
The deal with Gappa is this. It’s a Japanese Kaiju film, from Mikkatsu Studios instead of the usual Toho, that never saw theatrical release in the States. American International sent it straight to TV in 1968 as Monster From A Prehistoric Planet. It’s more or less a remake/ripoff of the British (fake Kaiju) monster movie, Gorgo (1961). In it, a sea monster is discovered and brought to London, only to have its angry mother trash the city to get her kid back. In Gappa, the monster is a “bird-lizard” — a giant reptilian chicken with green scales, and both cheesed-off parents come to Japan in search of their offspring.
As a kid, I had the 200′ Super 8mm version from Ken Films — which took the AIP TV material and printed a few minutes of it in B&W. A long way from the widescreen, color original, but since it focused on the monster stuff, I was happy with it. Really looking forward to this Blu-Ray, and a chance to see the way we were supposed to. Coming in February.
Directed by Herbert L. Strock
Produced & Written by Herman Cohen
Starring Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Conway, Gary Clarke, John Ashley, Morris Ankrum
This news is like Christmas is coming early this year. Scream Factory is not only promising Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended (1955) on Blu-Ray, but How To Make A Monster (1958), too!
When it’s announced that American International Studios is going to quit making horror movies and focus on musicals and comedies, the makeup man (Robert H. Harris) who created the creatures that made the studio successful vows to get revenge.
This sets us up for a very contrived (they had no studio) look at the inner workings of AIP. It’s cool to see Paul Blaisdell’s masks and stuff sitting around, and the crossover from I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and I Was A Teenage Werewolf (both 1957) is terrific.
If all that wasn’t wonderful enough, the last reel was shot in color. When I saw How To Make A Monster on TV in the 70s, the color wasn’t color anymore — the print was B&W all the way, and I felt so cheated. I’m sure that won’t be a problem when this arrives on Blu-Ray next year. Scream Factory will certainly have it all in tip-top shape. Highly recommended.
As a kid, I completely agreed that ditching monster movies for musicals should be a capital offense.
Produced & Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, Mike Connors, Paul Birch, Jonathan Haze, Paul Blaisdell
Scream Factory just keeps coming up with the gold! They’ve announced a March Blu-Ray release of Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended (1955). It’s got Corman directing — his fourth time at bat. It’s got a perfect B-picture cast — Denning and Nelson are both veterans of the Creature movies and Adele Jergens is always terrific. Plus, it’s got a great Paul Blaisdell monster, which he plays. What more could you want?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: seeing these cheap movies get the white-glove treatment on Blu-Ray makes my heart feel good. Glad there’s enough demand to make such efforts worthwhile — wish 50s Westerns had a fanbase of the same size (or, no offense, willingness to part with their money).
Not sure what the extras will be, but given Scream Factory’s track record, it’ll be quite a haul. And it’ll be a treat (maybe a grainy one) to see it in its original Superscope framing. Highly, highly recommended.
UPDATE: Evidently, that March date was announced too soon. No official release date has been given, but it’s coming — and that’s good news indeed!