Directed by James Whale
Starring Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Raymond Massey
I’ve been on a bit of a Karloff kick lately — just watched Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) for the umpteenth time, and I’m making my way through that Mill Creek set of Columbia Karloff pictures, so I was happy to see that Cohen Media has announced The Old Dark House (1932) for Blu-Ray — from a 4K restoration.
Universal kept The Old Dark House out of circulation for years, and it was on its way to becoming a lost film. Director Curtis Harrington pressured Universal to dig it out, dust it off and let people see it. We all owe him for that. Can’t wait to see how this looks.
Directed by Orson Welles
Starring Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles
In a way, Orson Welles’ The Stranger (1946) is a better movie if you don’t know anything about it. Because if you come at it free of all the stuff film snobs turn their noses up at — Welles did it to prove he could make a “regular” Hollywood movie on time and on budget, his input into the script was limited, etc. — you’re treated to a very good noir-ish thriller filled with the touches that make Welles’ pictures so special.
Welles is a prep school teacher being pursued by a Nazi hunter (Edward G. Robinson). That’s about all you need to know other than that Russell Metty shot it, and he and Welles have a real field day. It’ll be great to see Metty’s gorgeous work, and the incredible sets by Perry Ferguson (who did Citizen Kane), in high definition when Olive Films’ Blu-Ray gets here.
It’s interesting to imagine what the movie would’ve been like if Welles had been allowed to cast Agnes Moorehead as the Nazi hunter!
Directed by Anthony Mann
Starring Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, Frank Ferguson
I’m so glad Classicflix is spiffing up Anthony Mann’s T-Men (1947) for Blu-Ray. It’s one of the most visually striking pictures of the 40s, thanks to the great John Alton. I can’t wait to see his shadows in high definition.
Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder are treasury agents trying to bust up a counterfeit ring, and they end up trying to infiltrate the Detroit mob. Mann gets things to a full boil almost immediately, and we spend the rest of the hour and a half wondering when it’s all gonna blow apart — and how little of the cast will still be alive.
Anthony Mann: “This is what I really call my first film. I was responsible for its story, for its structure, its characters and for actually making it. This was my first real break towards being able to make films the way I wanted.”
Mann and Alton’s use of LA and Detroit locations and their overall documentary-style treatment really add to the realism and tension of the whole thing. Oh, and did I mention it’s got Charles McGraw, Wallace Ford and Frank Ferguson in it? This movie’s absolutely essential.
Directed by Stephen C. Apostolof (as A. C. Stephen)
Written by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Starring Criswell, Pat Barrington, Fawn Silver, William Bates
A couple (Pat Barrington and William Bates) crash their car and wander through a graveyard on their way to help. They end up being tied to stakes by a mummy and a werewolf — the evil minions of the Emperor Of The Night (Criswell) and the Black Ghoul (Fawn Silver). They’re then forced to watch some strippers in the titular Orgy Of The Dead (1965) — one of which is Pat Barrington again, painted gold like Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger (1964).
Exactly what you’d expect from a script by Ed Wood — who also wrote the novel!
Edward D. Wood, Jr. holds Criswell’s cue cards.
Emperor Of The Night (Criswell): “This is a story of those in the twilight time. Once human, now monsters, in a void between the living and the dead. Monsters to be pitied, monsters to be despised. A night with the ghouls, the ghouls reborn from the innermost depths of the world.”
While the sets are pitiful — not even the fog can’t conceal the lameness of the cemetery — the camerawork by Robert Caramico features gorgeously saturated color. He shot a bunch of low-budget movies, including Tobe Hooper’s amazing Eaten Alive (1976), before landing in TV with stuff like The Waltons and Dallas.
This whole crazy mess is coming to Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome. You can bet they’ll have Caramico’s color looking better than ever and the extras will be extra-extraordinary. Wonder what the aspect ration’s supposed to be? No release date has been set.
Note that the novel (up top) features a “special introduction” by Forrest J. Ackerman of Famous Monsters!
Directed by Edwin Sherin
Starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Jon Cypher, Barton Heyman, Richard Jordan, Frank Silvera, Hector Elizondo
Kino Lorber has announced that Valdez Is Coming (1971) is coming to Blu-Ray. It’s the second of three Westerns Burt Lancaster made in the early 70s, the other two being Lawman (1971) and Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid (1972).
It’s based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, and at one point there was talk of Marlon Brando playing Valdez, Lancaster taking the part that went to Jon Cypher and Sydney Pollack directing. What a different movie that would’ve been.
No details from Kino Lorber yet, and the release date is simply later this year.
Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Pam Grier
VCI has announced a Blu-Ray release of Twilight People (1972) for later this year. Eddie Romero directed this Filipino-American take on H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau — with a little of Romero’s previous Terror Is A Man (1959) thrown in for good measure.
Star John Ashley was one of the producers. He and Eddie Romero became quite successful with their cheap horror movies, stuff like Brides Of Blood (1968), Beast Of Blood (1970) and The Woman Hunt (1972, yet another version of The Most Dangerous Game). Their films were often done for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, with budgets of around $125,000.
In Lumberton, NC, Gone With The Wind got bumped by Twilight People!
John Ashley had a fascinating career, going from AIP to TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies to the wonderfully awful AIP TV movie The Eye Creatures (1965) to these Filipino movies to consulting on Apocalypse Now (1979, shot in the Philippines) to producing The A-Team and Walker, Texas Ranger. Wish he’d written his memoirs before passing away in 1997.
VCI put Twilight People out on VHS back in the day, and their eventual DVD was pretty good. I’m really looking forward to seeing this crazy movie again.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Gay Hamilton, Hardy Krüger, Leonard Rossiter
The Criterion Collection has announced Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1976) for an October release.
I didn’t know what to make of this when I first saw it, but like a lot of people, now think it’s absolutely mesmerizing. The Blu-Ray from Warner Bros. was gorgeous, and I’m eager to see how much better Criterion will have it looking. There’s a new 4K transfer and 5.1 surround mix. Of course, you can bet their extras — documentaries, interviews (new and old), etc. — will be terrific. Highly, highly recommended.