Category Archives: AIP

Blu-Ray News #263: Goliath And The Vampires (1961).

Directed by Sergio Corbucci & Giacomo Gentilomo
Starring Gordon Scott, Gianna Maria Canale, Jacques Sernas, Leonora Ruffo, Annabella Incontrera, Mario Feliciani

After their terrific Blu-Ray of Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World (1961), I was hoping Kino Lorber would keep the peplum coming. Well, with Goliath And The Vampires (1961) coming in early 2020, there’s at least one more in the works. This one has Gordon Scott as Goliath and was co-directed by Sergio Corbucci (there’s some debate about how much input he actually had). Dino De Laurentiis is credited as executive producer — I think it’s the only one of these pictures he did.

AIP released it here in the States, but didn’t get around to it until 1964. Reynold Brown’s poster art was typically beautiful. Like Hercules In The Haunted World, Goliath And The Vampires stirs a little Gothic horror into the usual peplum stew, which I always appreciate.

These movies looked like crap when I saw them on TV in the late 70s and early 80s — usually faded color and always a brutal pan-and-scan job on the ‘Scope camerawork. Can’t wait to see this one looking like it should. Recommended.

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Filed under 1961, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gordon Scott, Kino Lorber, Mario Bava, Reynold Brown, Sergio Corbucci

Blu-Ray Review: A Bucket Of Blood (1959).

Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette
Music by Fred Katz
Film Editor: Anthony Carras

Cast: Dick Miller (Walter Paisley), Barboura Morris (Carla), Antony Carbone (Leonard de Santis), Julian Burton (Maxwell H. Brock), Ed Nelson (Art Lacroix), John Brinkley (Will), John Herman Shaner (Oscar), Judy Bamber (Alice), Myrtle Vail (Mrs. Swickert), Bert Convy (Detective Lou Raby), Jhean Burton (Naolia)

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This is the kind of blog, read by the kind of people, where A Bucket Of Blood (1959) doesn’t require a lot of set-up. It was written by Charles B. Griffith, directed by Roger Corman for AIP, shot in five days for $50,000 (on sets left over from Diary Of A High School Bride), with the great Dick Miller in the lead. The end result is wonderful.

So, 60 years later, we get A Bucket Of Blood on Blu-Ray from Olive Films, part of their Signature series, and it’s incredible. You probably never thought you’d see this movie look like this. I certainly didn’t.

Sure, it’s still a $50,000 movie about a guy that kills people to make statues. But now we get a chance to really appreciate all that’s going on. We see Corman showing some real confidence as a director, displaying some real chops here and there — and turning out one of the better Horror Comedies, a very-hard-to-pull-off sub-genre. Dick Miller makes Walter Paisley both a lovable chump and a creepy killer. And everyone seems to be in on the fun when it comes to showing us how pretentious, cynical and hypocritical the whole Beatnik scene could be. The dime-store set design is really effective and fun to study in high definition.

Olive Films has given A Bucket Of Blood the attention I think it deserves. We’ve seen it looking so bad for so long — from muddy 16mm dupes to crappy PD VHS tapes and DVDs, it’s a bit of a shock to see it so crisp and clean. I found myself pausing it repeatedly to study things.

Along with the movie looking like a million bucks, a big leap from its $50K origins, we get a bucket-load of terrific extras, most courtesy of Elijah Drenner, whose documentary That Guy Dick Miller is a treasure. Drenner provides a new interview with Corman, an audio commentary and a wonderful visit with Dick Miller and his wife Lanie. This package is a joy from one end to the other, and a great way to revisit an old favorite. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1959, AIP, Charles B. Griffith, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Olive Films, Roger Corman

Blu-Ray News #262: The Beast With 1,000,000 Eyes (1955).

Directed by David Kramarsky
Starring Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, Dona Cole, Dick Sargent, Chester Conklin

The Beast With 1,000,000 Eyes (1955),  early effort from AIP (called American Releasing Corporation at the time), features Paul Blaisdell’s first monster, was partially directed by Roger Corman (who fired David Kramarsky midway through production) and stars the great Paul Birch.

It’s coming to Blu-Ray from Scorpion Releasing with a new transfer and a commentary by Tim Lucas. Can’t wait.

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Filed under 1955, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paul Birch, Paul Blaisdell, Roger Corman, Scorpion Releasing

Blu-Ray News #257: Hammer Volume 4 – Faces Of Fear.

The folks at Indicator have done a terrific job with their Hammer Blu-Ray sets — and I expect just as much from this one.

Scream Of Fear (1961; UK title: Taste Of Fear)
​Directed by Seth Holt
​Starring Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee

Hammer made a string of Psycho-inspired thrillers in the early 60s. One of the best of the bunch is Scream Of Fear, which borrows more from Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1955) than it does from the Hitchcock picture. Susan Strasberg is terrific as the handicapped young woman who is being systematically scared to death by a conniving couple. Jimmy Sangster’s script, Seth Holt’s direction and Douglas Slocombe’s black and white photography are all top-notch.

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Eunice Grayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958) is the second entry in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, coming after The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957). Hammer went a different route than Universal — they follow the Doctor, not the Monster, which lets the stories go in all sorts of different directions. And more important, it established Peter Cushing as a leading horror star through the 70s.

Revenge picks up where Curse left off. Frankenstein escapes the guillotine, flees to Carlsbruck and builds a successful practice under the name Stein. Of course, he’s conducting his usual experiments on the side — and they go horribly wrong. Frankenstein transplants the brain of a willing assistant into the newly constructed monster, giving the crippled young man a stronger, straighter body. Or that’s the idea anyway.

This, for my money, is one of Hammer’s finest films. Cushing is terrific as the brilliant doctor completely taken over by arrogance and misguided ambition (making it quite appropriate during this Presidential election). Eunice Grayson and Francis Matthews are good as the nurse and young doctor caught up in Frankenstein’s mayhem. Michael Gwynn is really superb as the monster, perfectly balancing the sympathy and horror the part requires. His performance is what makes the movie work as well as it does. Jimmy Sangster’s script is more disciplined than usual, free of the diversions that can lead his films astray. And Terence Fisher’s direction is as assured as ever.

The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960; US Title: House Of Fright)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, 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.

The Damned (1963; US Title: These Are The Damned)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Starring MacDonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Viveca Lindfors, Oliver Reed

Fleeing the harassment of a motorcycle gang (lead by Oliver Reed), a couple (MacDonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field) winds up in a cave occupied by a group of children — the product an experiment to create a race of radiation-friendly humans.

Hammer sat on this one a while before releasing it, and in in the States it was cut to just 77 minutes. It’s never been given its due, though it’s cherished by fans of Joseph Losey. Indicator, of course, is offering up the original cut, not the chopped-up American thing.

Coming November 18, this Region-Free set loads each picture up with extras — from interviews and trailers to commentaries and photo galleries. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, AIP, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Indicator/Powerhouse, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher

Blu-Rays News #256: Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic (1959).

The great Fritz Lang returned to Germany to put together two adventure films — The Tiger Of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb (both 1959), got special permission from the Maharana to shoot at Indian locations previously off-limits, and in the end, AIP edited them both down to a single 95-minute thing called Journey To The Lost City (1959) — and had censor trouble thanks to Debra Paget’s barely-there costumes. The original pictures, which were impossible to see for years, are unbelievably cool. (Keep in mind that if Fritz Lang made a movie out of the phone book, I’d be the first one in line.)

Film Movement Classics is bringing The Tiger Of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb to Blu-Ray — with theatrical screenings at NYC’s Film Forum in late September 27. Highly, highly recommended.

By the way, the Warner Archive Blu-Ray of Lang’s Moonfleet (1955) is gorgeous.

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Filed under 1959, AIP, Debra Paget, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Movement, Fritz Lang

Blu-Ray News #255: Circus Of Horrors (1960).

Directed by Sidney Hayers
Starring Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Donald Pleasence

A plastic surgeon (Anton Diffring) takes over a circus, transforming unfortunate women into great beauties who work under the big top — and are killed in terrible accidents when the decide to leave.

Caught this thing on TV about 10,000 times as a kid. It’s every bit as nasty as its makers’ previous picture, Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959). And it’s coming to Blu-Ray from Scream Factory in September. Can’t wait to experience this thing in high definition!

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Filed under 1960, AIP, Donald Pleasence, DVD/Blu-ray News, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray Review: How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965).

Directed by William Asher
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff & James H. Nicholson
Written byWilliam Asher & Leo Townsend
Director Of Photography: Floyd Crosby
Film Editor: Eve Newman
Titles: Art Clokey

Cast: Annette Funicello (Dee Dee), Dwayne Hickman (Ricky), Brian Donlevy (B. D. “Big Deal” McPherson), Buster Keaton (Bwana), Beverly Adams (Cassandra), Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper), John Ashley (Johnny), Jody McCrea (Bonehead), Mickey Rooney (J. Peachmont “Peachy” Keane), Marianne Gaba (Animal), Len Lesser (North Dakota Pete), Irene Tsu (Native Girl), Arthur Julian (Dr. Melamed), Bobbi Shaw (Khola Koku), Alberta Nelson (Puss), Mary Hughes, Mickey Dora, Frankie Avalon, Michele Carey, Elizabeth Montgomery, The Kingsmen

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The merits, or lack of them, of the Beach Party movies may be the embodiment of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” To me, these things are treasure all the way. I love these stupid movies, so I was overjoyed to learn that Olive Films was bringing How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965) to Blu-Ray.

How To Stuff A Wild Bikini is one of the later ones — some consider it the last “official” one, and admittedly things were getting a little tired by this point. But many of the key people and elements are in place — Annette, Eric Von Zipper, Bonehead, Animal, surfing, Rock N Roll, Mary Hughes and so on. Buster Keaton is a welcome addition — he’d been in a couple of the previous ones. Instead of Timothy Carey as South Dakota Slim, we get Len Lesser as North Dakota Pete. Frankie’s on hand, but he’s limited to not much more than a cameo.

It goes something like this. Frankie’s away  Tahiti in the Naval Reserve. While he’s enjoying the company of the local girls, he wonders if maybe Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) is behaving as badly. A witch doctor (Buster Keaton) sends the beautiful Cassandra (Beverly Adams) to the beach to catch the eye of Dwayne Hickman, a young advertising man who’s taken a shine to Annette.

Cassandra creates quite a splash at the beach — all the surfers go nuts for her, an executive (Mickey Rooney) wants to use her to sell stuff, and Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and the Ratz and Mice turn up. It all winds up with a bunch of nonsense on motorcycles, along with a cameo from Elizabeth Montgomery.

Annette Funicello with The Kingsmen.

Some terrific musicians and bands make their way through these films, from Dick Dale to Stevie Wonder. This time around, we get The Kingsmen, the Portland garage band whose “Louie Louie” is the one you hear constantly. A soundtrack LP for the picture had two songs by The Kingsmen, one being the title tune.

And if all that’s not enough, the titles are by Art Clokey, the clay animation guy behind Gumby.

Dee Dee (Annette Funicello): Men! They’re all beasts!
Animal (Marianne Gaba): Yeah. But isn’t it wonderful?

Olive Films has brought How To Stuff A Wild Bikini to Blu-Ray, and it looks splendid. Having seen these things on TV countless time growing up, it’s a revelation to see them on Blu-Ray. Floyd Crosby’s Panavision photography makes the most of the wide screen and saturates the Pathecolor, and it’s all perfectly presented on this Blu-Ray.

Some might consider this a waste of high-definition technology, but this is the only way to see these movies. It’s gorgeous and highly recommended. Now, where’s Bikini Beach (1964)?

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Filed under 1965, AIP, Annette Funicello, Buster Keaton, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Elizabeth Montgomery, Frankie Avalon, John Ashley, Mickey Rooney, Olive Films