Category Archives: Freddie Francis

Blu-Ray News #105: The Creeping Flesh (1973).

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Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Lorna Heilbron, Michael Ripper

Mill Creek Entertainment has announced a three-picture Blu-Ray set for April called Psycho Circus. It consists of three features: Torture Garden (1967), The Creeping Flesh (1973) and Brotherhood Of Satan (1971).

For me, The Creeping Flesh is the cream of the crop. It’s a Tigon picture with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, directed by Freddie Francis. What’s not to like? A scientist comes back from Papua New Guinea with some bones. They get wet and flesh forms around them again — with slimy, murderous results.

Torture Garden (1967) is an Amicus anthology film from Freddie Francis again. It stars Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith and Peter Cushing, based on stories by Robert Bloch.  Then there’s Brotherhood Of Satan which I’ve never seen, but am eager to see — it stars Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, just a couple years after they played Coffer and T.C. in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). The recent Mill Creek Hammer Blu-Ray twin bills were terrific, so I’m really looking forward to this set.

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Filed under 1967, 1971, 1973, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Mill Creek, Peter Cushing, Sam Peckinpah

Blu-Ray News #87: Nightmare (1964).

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Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Jennie Linden, Moira Redmond, Brenda Bruce, David Knight, George A. Cooper, Clytie Jessop

It’s a Hammer horror movie. It’s directed by Freddie Francis. It’s in black and white CinemaScope. Those are plenty of reasons to be excited about its upcoming Blu-Ray release in the UK from Final Cut Entertainment.

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Filed under 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films

Blu-ray News #63: Hammer Horror 8-Film Blu-ray Collection.

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Universal has announced a terrific Blu-ray set of eight Hammer horror films, coming in September.

Brides Of Dracula (1960)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starrings Peter Cushing, David Peel, Yvonne Monlaur

The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller

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Phantom Of The Opera (1962)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Herbert Lom, Heather Sears. Thorley Walters, Michael Gough

Paranoiac (1963)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Janette Scott, Oliver Reed, Sheila Burrell

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Kiss Of The Vampire (1962)
Directed by Don Sharp
Starring Clifford Evans, Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel

Nightmare (1964)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring David Knight, Moira Redmond, Jennie Linden

Night Creatures (1962; UK Title: Captain Clegg)
Directed by Peter Graham Scott
Starrings Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen

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The Evil Of Frankenstein (1964)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Peter Cushing, Sandor Eles, Peter Woodthorpe, Katy Wiuld, Ducnam Lamont, Kiwi Kingston

These are some key Hammer films, and I’m dying to see Night Creatures — which I’ve somehow never seen.

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Filed under 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, Universal (-International)

Blu-ray News #31: Horror Classics, Volume 1.

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The recent passing of the great Christopher Lee makes this upcoming (October) Blu-ray set a bigger deal than it already was. Horror Classics, Vol. 1 from Warner Bros. brings four key Hammer horror films to Blu-ray, three of them starring Lee. Each title will be also be available on its own.

The Mummy (1959)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux

For Hammer Films’ entry into the mummy movie business, writer Jimmy Sangster borrowed from Universal’s The Mummy Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944). Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee had already starred in Hammer’s Curse Of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). The Mummy‘s gorgeous Technicolor really sets it apart.

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Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968)
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing

As Hammer’s third Christopher Lee Dracula picture went into production, director Terence Fisher was ill — and replaced by Freddie Francis. Francis adds some stylistic touches that help out a lot, but the fact that it was shot at Pinewood rather than the typical Bray Studios hurts it a bit.

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Frankestein Must Be Destroyed! (1969)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley

Hammer’s Frankenstein films focus on the doctor and his experiments, not the typical monster. In this one, Frankenstein (Cushing) plays around with brain transplants — with the usual unpleasant results.

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Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970)
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Starring Christopher Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Gwen Watford, Lynda Hayden, Ralph Bates, Roy Kinnear, Michael Ripper

This sequel to Dracula Has Risen From The Grave is quite good. Since Dracula’s killed off in each picture — maybe because Lee always wanted to quit doing them — it’s fun to see what ingenious way they find to bring him back.

I’m really looking forward to this set — it’s sorta like Warner Bros. took a chunk of my childhood and mashed it onto onto some little silver circles.

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Filed under 1959, 1968, 1969, 1970, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher

Blu-ray Review: Tales From The Crypt (1972) And Vault Of Horror (1973).

TFC PC comes back

Scream Factory really went the extra mile on this one. After announcing the Amicus double feature of Tales From The Crypt (1972) and Vault Of Horror (1973) for Blu-ray — two British anthology pictures based on the great EC Comics of the 50s, they ran into trouble finding uncut material for Vault. This pushed the release date from Halloween to early December. And the result turned out to be worth the wait.

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Directed by Freddie Francis
Written by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Norman Warwick
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Roy Dotrice, Richard Greene, Patrick Magee

Tales bikeAnthology films are always a bit uneven, no matter who makes them. There’s typically one story that stands tall — and sometimes one that falls short. But Amicus had a way with them, and theirs tend to hold up pretty well. With Tales From The Crypt (1972), the visuals are very strong — the work of Freddie Francis and cinematographer Norman Warwick. Images like Peter Cushing coming back from the grave (top) or the biker skeleton are easily identifiable to anyone who ever flipped through a 70s horror movie book or magazine as a kid.

Of course, a lot of the credit has to go to the original source material — those great EC Comics. Milton Subotsky obviously knew how good they were and he wisely left the stories alone, though they traded a bit of the black humor for a Twilight Zone feel. I don’t have a favorite segment, but there are moments throughout the film that have stuck with me for decades. Again, those visuals.

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Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Denys Coop
Cast: Terry-Thomas, Curd Jürgens, Tom Baker, Dawn Addams, Denholm Elliott, Michael Craig

Amicus dug up five more stories from EC for their follow-up to Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror (1973). Roy Ward Baker (A Night To Remember) directs this time, and while it’s not as visually arresting as Crypt, it better captures the overall EC vibe. The black humor is certainly more pronounced. Vault Of Horror was cut here and there over the years by various distributors in various countries, leaving Scream Factory with some real detective work to do to bring us a complete cut. They succeeded, and present both the cut and uncut versions.

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On Blu-ray, both Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror look better than I ever thought they would. The color is strong in Crypt, and a bit muted in Vault, but the grain is perfect and the blacks are fine. Both titles really put the distinctive look of film on your TV — and that’s what I want when I drop any disc in my machine. There’s a bit of dust here and there, and a few inconsistencies, all of which I prefer to a bunch of obvious pixel pushing. The mono audio is clear and strong.

Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror are good, creepy, stylish fun. I really appreciate the care Scream Factory put into this set and doubt many companies would’ve bothered. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1972, 1973, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Freddie Francis, Peter Cushing, Roy Ward Baker, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-ray News #10: Tales From The Crypt (1972) And The Vault Of Horror (1973).

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With Tales From The Crypt (1972), one the greatest cinematographers who ever lived, Freddie Francis, directed a handful of stories from those wonderful EC comic books. It did well, so Amicus put together a similar picture, Vault Of Horror (1973), this time directed by Roy Ward Baker, who did the best Titanic movie, A Night To Remember (1958). Vault Of Horror was at some point re-released as Tales From The Crypt II.

Whatever you want to call them, they’re both coming to Blu-ray as a double feature from Scream Factory. And they’ll be here in time for Christmas.

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Tales From The Crypt
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, Sir Ralph Richardson

This one adapts five EC stories as a group of strangers wind up in a mysterious crypt and learn how each of them died. It does a good job of capturing the lurid EC feel. Francis makes sure we have plenty of strong images — like the biker skeleton and Peter Cushing coming back from the dead (below), and they’ve been stuck in this 70s monster kid’s head for over 40 years. Good stuff.

Vault Of Horror
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Starring Dawn Addams, Tom Baker, Denholm Elliott, Curt Jurgens, Michael Craig, Terry-Thomas

This one’s not quite as stylish as Tales From The Crypt, but it’s a solid anthology film. The fact that they stuck to actual EC stories assures you of icky, creepy fun. And Terry-Thomas is always worth watching.

This Blu-ray was originally announced for release around Halloween, but Scream Fatory held it back in order to secure the original uncut version of Vault Of Horror. The new date is December 2.

TFC PC comes back

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Filed under 1972, 1973, Amicus Productions, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Peter Cushing, Shout/Scream Factory