Category Archives: Columbia

Blu-Ray News #156: A Study In Terror (1966).

Directed by James Hill
Starring John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Robert Morley, Frank Finlay, Barbara Windsor, Cecil Parker, Judi Dench

Mill Creek has announced that they have the terrific Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper movie, A Study In Terror (1966), in the works for Blu-Ray release. While I might prefer Murder By Decree (1978), John Neville makes a great Holmes in this one.

Mill Creek has an April 10 date for this one. I’m sure the price will be great. (There’s a four-movie Charles Bronson Blu-Ray coming at the same time.)


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Filed under 1966, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mill Creek, Sherlock Holmes

Blu-Ray News #154: Two More Hammer Double Features From Mill Creek.

A couple years ago, Mill Creek Entertainment treated us all to a couple of twin-bill Blu-Rays of some Hammer horror pictures. While some folks had problems with the transfers — I thought they were terrific, you sure couldn’t complain about the price. My hope was that those titles would sell enough to warrant more, and it looks like they did. The next two double features pair up Scream Of Fear (1960) with Never Take Candy From A Stranger (1960) and The Maniac (1963) with Die! Die! My Darling! (1965). All four of these were originally released by Columbia in the States.

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

These four films come from Hammer’s string of often Psycho-inspired thrillers of 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. This is a good one.

Never Take Candy From A Stranger (1960)
Directed by Cyril Frankel
Starring Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford

In a way, it’s hard to believe this story of an old man praying on young children even exists. But it does, Hammer made it, and while it’s hard to take (especially is you have a teenage daughter), by implying what’s happening rather than showing it, it becomes all the more effective. That’s a lesson I wish all filmmakers would learn. Not for everyone, for sure, but it’s excellent.

Oh, it was called Never Take Candy From A Stranger in the UK.

(The) Maniac (1963)
Directed by Michael Carreras
Starring Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston

Aside from the psycho freak (Donald Houston) wielding a blowtorch, what strikes me about Manic is what a slimeball Kerwin Mathews is in it. To see Sinbad himself hitting on both a teenager and her stepmother, as he pounds gallons of brandy, is a little jarring.

Michael Carreras’ direction is a bit flat, and the movie suffers for it. He was a much better producer or writer than a director — his dad ran Hammer. What the picture really has going for it is DP Wilkie Cooper’s black and white Megascope — love those B&W ‘Scope pictures!

For some reason, Columbia dropped the The from its title in the US.

Richard Burton (center) is about to kick Donald Houston’s teeth out in Where Eagles Dare (1969)

Donald Houston, the picture’s maniac, would go on to appear in my all-time favorite movie — he’s the Nazi agent Richard Burton kicks in the face during the cablecar fight in Where Eagles Dare (1969). In Maniac, he’s appropriately over the top, and stills of him with his torch and goggles fascinated me as a kid.

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965; UK title: Fanatic)
Directed by Silvio Narizzano
Starring Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Peter Vaughan, Yootha Joyce, Donald Sutherland

This time, Hammer aimed for something more in the vein of Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). They wisely got the great Richard Matheson to write it and the incomparable Tallulah Bankhead to star. Good, creepy stuff. This would be Bankhead’s last role, aside from her turn as Black Widow on Batman.

Mill Creek has these scheduled for a March release. I’m eternally grateful for their ongoing efforts to bring movies like these to hi-def at such low cost.


Filed under 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965, Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Lee, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Mill Creek, Richard Burton, Richard Matheson, Robert Aldrich

Coming Back: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977).

Written and Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Francois Truffaut

CE3K truckSteven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) is 40 years old, which for some of us serves as a reminder of just how old we are. Yikes.

In a sci-fi movie year that had already given us Star Wars, Spielberg’s followup to Jaws (1975) was a big, big deal. We all went a little UFO-happy, just like we’d gotten collectively spooked by the ocean a couple years before.

For those of us who want to relive those days (to “make contact again,” as the trailer says) or give our kids a little taste of ’em, Close Encounters (Spielberg’s Director’s Cut) will play theaters for a week in September, with a new 4K and Blu-Ray release coming a couple weeks later. I’m getting stoked.


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Filed under 1977, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Richard Dreyfuss, Screenings, Steven Spielberg

It Came From Beneath The Sea (1957).

Here’s a cool comic-style ad for It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955). This one has it all: Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Ray Harryhausen and Sam Katzman. Click on the ad and you can see it much bigger.


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Filed under 1955, Columbia, Faith Domergue, Kenneth Tobey, Ray Harryhausen, Sam Katzman

Blu-Ray news #130: Castle Keep (1969).

Directed by Sidney Pollack
Starring Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Patrick O’Neal, Scott Wilson, Tony Bill, Al Freeman, Jr., Bruce Dern, Michael Conrad

This is a weird movie, but I always liked it — thanks largely to Burt Lancaster and the terrific supporting cast (Peter Falk, Scott Wilson, Bruce Dern). Lancaster’s a one-eyed major whose company takes over a French castle toward the end of World War II.

The production had its woes, from unusually warm Yugoslavian temperatures that melted the snow and prompted the trees to sprout buds to trouble with pyrotechnics that meant sets had to be rebuilt. Hopefully some of that will be covered in the interviews and others supplements that are part of the upcoming Blu-Ray from Indicator/Powerhouse Films in the UK.


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Filed under 1969, Burt Lancaster, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Peter Falk

DVD News #116: Man On A String (1960).

Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Matthews, Colleen Dewhurst

Ernest Borgnine stars in this 1960 spy picture based on the life (and autobiography, Ten Years A Counterspy) of Boris Morros, a Russian-born musical director in Hollywood (John Ford’s Stagecoach, 1939) who was first a Russian spy, then a counterspy for the FBI.

Man On A String is given a gritty, documentary-style treatment by director Andre de Toth, who focuses on the double-crosses that stack up like cordwood. It’s coming to DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment in a four-picture “Soviet Spies” set that also includes Anthony Mann’s last film, A Dandy In Aspic (1968). These two films are well worth the $14.98 price tag. It’s great to see de Toth’s work show up on DVD or Blu-Ray. Recommended.



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Filed under 1950, Andre de Toth, Anthony Mann, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, Mill Creek

Blu-Ray News #114: White Line Fever (1975).

Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Starring Jan Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Don Porter, R.G. Armstrong, Dick Miller

Growing up in the South in the 70s, White Line Fever (1975) was a very big deal. It seemed like every kid I knew was crazy about either White Line Fever or Jaws (1975) — or they hated their moms for not letting them see them.

Jonathan Kaplan was clearly (and admittedly) inspired by Sam Peckinpah here, and it shows, especially in the cast: Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones and R.G. Armstrong. This thing was a huge hit, with every redneck kid in the fifth grade wanting a Ford cabover truck like Jan Michael Vincent’s Blue Mule.

Mill Creek’s bringing it to Blu-Ray as part of its Payback Time Triple Feature. The other two are Chuck Norris in Silent Rage (1982) and Blind Fury (1989) with Rutger Hauer. I worked in a few video stores in college back in the 80s. If I had a nickel for every time someone rented Silent Rage, I’d be trying to buy that Bullitt Mustang from the previous post.

Not sure why, but the CED Videodisc seemed like the perfect image for this post.


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Filed under 1975, Chuck Norris, Columbia, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Sam Peckinpah, Slim Pickens