Category Archives: DVD/Blu-ray News

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-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-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 News #254: Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971).

Directed by Seth Holt
Starring Andrew Kier, Valerie Leon, James Villiers

Scream Factory’s trip through the Hammer vaults continues with Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971), a later-period highlight for Hammer. This picture certainly had its troubles. Peter Cushing shot one day’s worth of scenes before his wife became ill. He was replaced by Andrew Kier. Near the end of the shoot, director Seth Holt had a heart attack and died on the set.

It’s based on a story by Bram Stoker, has really terrific cinematography by Arthur Grant and gives the lovely Valerie Leon a lead role for a change. Can’t wait to see what Scream Factory does with this. Their Hammer series has been really incredible so far. Coming in September.

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Filed under 1971, Andrew Keir, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Shout/Scream Factory, Valerie Leon

Blu-Ray News #253: Moonfleet (1955).

Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Stewart Granger, George Sanders, Joan Greenwood, Viveca Lindfors, John Hoyt, Jack Elam

Fritz Lang makes a pirate movie at MGM, in CinemaScope — and puts Jack Elam in it! That should be enough to sell you on Warner Archive’s Blu-Ray of Moonfleet (1955).

Shot almost entirely in the studio (and Lang’s only ‘Scope film), Moonfleet is a really incredible thing to look at. Lang and cinematographer Robert Planck use color and lighting (or lack of it) to create mood. They gypped MGM out of the big bright color pirate extravaganza they were hoping for — but made a movie perfect for Blu-Ray. I’m so excited to see this again, looking better than I’d ever imagined would be possible. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1955, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fritz Lang, George Sanders, MGM, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #252: A Bucket Of Blood Signature Edition (1959).

Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Starring Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone, Bert Convy, Julian Burton

Olive Films has announced their September release of their Signature Edition release of Roger Corman’s A Bucket Of Blood (1959).

Short in five days for something like $50,000, A Bucket Of Blood is an ink-black comedy starring Dick Miller as Walter Paisley. Paisley’s a bonehead who becomes a respected artist among all the hipsters with his piece “Dead Cat,” which happens to be, well, a dead cat. As his fame grows, so does his need for more art — and the bodies his creations require.

Olive is offering up a bucket-load of extras, beginning with a new 4K scan, a commentary, a few interviews, trailers and other goodies. This one’s essential, folks!

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Filed under 1959, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Olive Films, Roger Corman