Directed by Orson Welles
Starring Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Akim Tamiroff
StudioCanal is working on a 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray release of Orson Welles’ The Trial (1962), based in the book by Franz Kafka. A 4K restoration is being done from the original 35mm negative. The cinematography
by Edmond Richard deserves the best treatment we can give it — he and Welles put together some incredible visuals in this thing. Highly recommended.
Directed by Crane Wilbur
Starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, John Sutton
The Film Detective comes through with another one. Coming in September is The Bat (1959), a mystery thriller that Allied Artists promoted much like House On Haunted Hill (1959). People expected horror and didn’t get it, and that has hurt the picture’s reputation over the years.
Price is as good as ever and Agnes Moorehead is terrific. This The Bat was the fourth film based on the stageplay by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, based on a novel by Rinehart.
The Film Detective has done incredible work over the last couple years, dragging cool movies like this from the depths of PD, dollar-bin DVD hell— and giving them new life on Blu-Ray. This one is easy to recommend.
Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi
Mario Bava’s supremely creepy Planet Of The Vampires (1965) is getting a new 2K restoration (with expanded supplemental stuff) from the folks at Kino Lorber. Even though their previous Blu-Ray was quite nice, this is very good news indeed.
Written by Ib Melchior, Planet Of The Vampires a bit more going for it than most, script-wise, that a lot of Italian science fiction movies, which tend to not make much sense. But with Mario Bava, it’s the visuals we’re concerned about, and Planet Of The Vampires doesn’t disappoint. This thing’s got enough style and atmosphere (and fog) for 20 movies (and oddly enough, no vampires). I see a lot of this film’s influence in Alien (1979), with a heavy dose of It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1957) thrown in.
VHS copies of Planet Of The Vampires in the Eighties replaced the original score with some dreadful synthesizer stuff. The MGM DVD and the later Kino Lorber Blu-Ray restored the music from the original Italian and AIP versions. Highly recommended.
Directed by Harry Essex
Starring Biff Elliot, Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Margaret Sheridan, Alan Reed, John Qualen, Joe Besser, Elisha Cook, Jr.
Peggie Castle appears in the first film based on one of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels — and it’s in 3-D shot by the great John Alton. And to top it all off, the folks at The 3-D Film Archive are getting I, The Jury (1953) ready for Blu-Ray for ClassicFlix.
Will come through with more info as it comes available. Man, I can’t wait!
Directed by Monte Hellman
Starring Warren Oates, Richard B. Shull, Harry Dean Stanton, Laurie Bird, Ed Begley Jr.
Shout Factory is bringing Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter (1974) to Blu-Ray, which is very good news indeed.
Hellman didn’t make many movies, which is a real shame. This is one of his best. It’s got a great cast — Warren Oates, Richard B. Shull and Harry Dean Stanton are some of my favorite character actors ever, and Laurie Bird is, well, Laurie Bird.
Cockfighter had a hard time with distribution, complete with titles changes (Born To Kill, Wild Drifter, etc.) and all kinds of oddball ad campaigns. It obviously was a tough sell. But it’s a terrific picture full of outstanding performances. Highly, highly recommended.
Directed by Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind
Starring Bela Lugosi, Robert Kent, Dorothy Arnold, Edwin Stanley, Regis Toomey, Jack C. Smith, Edward Van Sloan
VCI has been working on a restoration of The Phantom Creeps (1939), a 12-chapter Universal serial starring Bela Lugosi, for Blu-Ray release.
They’ve recently provided some info on why this thing is taking so long: “When we started working on the restoration early last year, we discovered that six of the 12 chapters, of the original film elements we received from Universal Pictures, had many issues. Some reels were missing, and some were on nitrate film and had deteriorated terribly. Fortunately, we found more complete original film elements stored at the Library of Congress. We have requested access to those film elements, however we were informed that film was actually owned by Sony Pictures (FYI, Sony actually is the owner of Columbia Pictures, who had a license in the 1950’s to distribute several Universal serials via their TV syndication division, Screen Gems, and that’s how they came to have these film elements). Since we discovered this, we have been negotiating with Sony’s legal department to give us permission to access and scan this film, which would allow us to finish our restoration. This process with Sony began last July, and so far, they have been cooperating, but still haven’t given us their permission. We feel confident that Sony will give us permission, but we just can’t say when. This is a very high-priority project to VCI, but unfortunately it is not as important to Sony, so we remain on hold.”
As this frame grab from Chapter 1 shows, this thing is gonna be incredible — and well worth the wait. The Phantom Creeps is a cool serial, put together by some of the very best at making such things: director Beebe, writer George Plympton and DP William Sickner.
I’m eagerly awaiting the next thrilling chapter in this story! When it gets here, it’ll be essential.
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Burt Reynolds, Lesley-Anne Down, David Niven, Timothy West, Joss Ackland, Patrick Magee
Burt Reynolds news, two days in a row!
Don Siegel’s Rough Cut (1980) is a picture I’ve been wanting to revisit for quite some time. And this summer, Paramount is bringing it to Blu-Ray — good news for Siegel nuts like me.
It was a very troubled production — Siegel was fired, replaced, then rehired, and it’s a shame Burt Reynolds and Siegel never got a chance to work together again. Together, they could’ve made a really cool, tough movie. I have a feeling time has been kind to Rough Cut, and I’m looking forward to a high-definition chance to find out.
Directed by Antonio Margheriti (Anthony Dawson)
Starring Claude Rains, Bill Carter, Maya Brent, Umberto Orsini
Antonio Margheriti directed quite a few science fiction and horror movies, spy films, spaghetti westerns and peplum pictures in the 60s and 70s. He rarely had much money to work with, and some of the scripts were lousy, but he had a visual flair that makes his films worthwhile. His whacked-out Wild, Wild Planet (1966) is incredible.
The Film Detective is bringing Margheriti’s second film, Battle Of The Worlds (1961) starring Claude Rains, to Blu-Ray this summer. Distributed in the States by Topaz Film Corp. in 1963, it was often paired with Atom Age Vampire (1960). Battle Of The Worlds is one of those movies that looks pretty terrible whenever it turns up, a situation I’m sure the folks at The Film Detective will rectify. Looking forward to seeing it look like something!
Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Starring Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Jimmy Hunt, Leif Erickson, Hillary Brooke, Morris Ankrum, Douglas Kennedy
Finally! Ignite Films has announced a new 4K restoration of William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders From Mars (1953), coming to Blu-ray and 4K this Fall.
This is one movie nuts have been wanting since the minute high-definition reached our homes. Young David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt) discovers an alien invasion of his hometown — and no one will believe him. After all, he’s just a kid — and the townspeople are increasingly coming under the aliens’ mind control. David finds a couple of scientists (Arthur Franz and Helena Carter) who will believe him, and it’s up to them to thwart the alien invasion.
This plays a bit like a kid’s version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956), brilliantly designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies in SuperCinecolor. Menzies uses David’s point of view throughout, even keeping his camera at kid-level. Jimmy Hunt is excellent, which is a big part of the picture’s effectiveness.
Absolutely 100% completely totally essential.
Directed by Jerry Gross
Starring William Watson, Julie Ange, Ron Charles, Arlene Farber
The Film Detective is bringing Girl On A Chain Gang (1966) to DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s a drive-in exploitation picture from Jerry Gross, who made a fortune in the 70s with films like I Drink Your Blood (1970), I Eat Your Skin (1971), I Spit On Your Grave (1978) and The Boogey Man (1980). Gross was a big believer in the power of a good title, and that string of pictures kinda proves his point.
Gross wrote, produced and directed Girl On A Chain Gang, so we have no one to blame it on but him. It’s a junky, yet fascinating story of three young people framed, busted and tossed in a hellhole prison by corrupt Southern cops. (It’s always the South, isn’t it?) The 70s would see a bumper crop of pictures like this — crooked cops in the Deep South. Gross was ahead of the curve with this one.
I’m looking forward to seeing this with the level of care we’ve come to expect from The Film Detective. Coming in April.