Category Archives: Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray Review: The Night Walker (1964).

Produced & Directed by William Castle
Screenplay by Robert Block
Director Of Photography: Howard E. Stine
Music by Vic Mizzy

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Irene Trent), Robert Taylor (Barry Morland), Hayden Rorke (Howard Trent), Lloyd Bochner (The Dream), Judith Meredith (Joyce), Rochelle Hudson (Hilda), Paul Frees (Narrator)


I love William Castle. There’s something about his movies that’s just Fun. It’s easy to see it in the gimmick-y things like The Tingler (1959) or 13 Ghosts (1960). But it’s there in the noir-ish The Whistler (1944), the whacked-out Biblical “epic” Slaves Of Babylon (1953) — just imagine: Sam Katzman tackles the Old Testament and includes a dance number by Julie Newmar, and everything in-between.

Throughout a Castle movie, it’s like he’s whispering in our ear, “I know this is really ridiculous, but ain’t it great?”

Yes, Mr. Castle, it is great

Robert Taylor, William Castle and Barbara Stanwyck at a party for The Night Walker.

By the time he got to The Night Walker (1964), Castle had stored the gimmick machine in his garage. The ballyhoo was still over the top, with Castle hamming it up in the preview trailer and some sort of monster appearing on the poster, but nowhere in the movie. But that was pretty much it.

If anything, the gimmick to The Night Walker is its cast. Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor had been married from 1939 to 1951, so there was an odd, gossip-y appeal to seeing these two big stars “together again” (as the poster boasted). Then there’s the weirdness of Hayden Rorke,  Dr. Bellows on I Dream Of Jeannie, unrecognizable (to say nothing of hideous and creepy-looking, above) as Stanwyck’s blind, rich, obsessive, jealous and severely-burned husband.

Robert Bloch, who wrote the novel Psycho, cooked up a pretty good murder plot, dressed up in all sorts of psychological dream-interpreting mumbo-jumbo. Like Stanwyck, we aren’t sure what’s real and what’s a dream. A cool prologue, narrated by the great Paul Frees, kicks things off with talk of nightmares and sex and desires and dreams and stuff.

I’m not going to spoil the plot for ya. A lot of it doesn’t make any sense, anyway.

One of the picture’s strongest points is its score by Vic Mizzy, who also did The Munsters and The Ghost And Mr. Chicken (1966). His work here is slightly reminiscent of those, with a cool guitar riff doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Then there’s the camera work by Howard E. Stein. He shot a staggering amount of TV in the 50s and 60s. His limited feature work includes several of Castle’s later pictures, along with MASH (1970) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). He masterfully manages what we can, and can’t, see in the shadows. And that’s crucial to a movie like this.

Which brings us to the new Blu-Ray from Scream Factory. It’s beautiful, offering up Stine’s work with stunning clarity. The grain and contrast are perfect. The audio is dead on, giving Mizzy’s score plenty of punch. Then there’s a nice batch of extras: the trailer, a commentary and a hefty still gallery. This is a terrific release, and while The Night Walker isn’t what I consider one of Castle’s best, the presentation easily elevates it to Essential status.

One more thing. The set decorator on The Night Walker was John McCarthy, Jr. He was at Republic for years, working on everything from The Crimson Ghost (1946) to Trigger, Jr. (1950) to The Quiet Man (1952). He stayed at the studio to the bitter end, then worked in TV — Cimarron City, M Squad, Frontier Doctor, etc. McCarthy ended up at Universal, working on features like The Shakiest Gun In The West (1968), Coogan’s Bluff (1968) and The Hellfighters (1969) and TV shows such as Leave It To Beaver, The Munsters and two of my favorites, Dragnet and Adam-12. The fact that he worked with Republic, William Castle and Jack Webb shows he must’ve been good, quick and dependable.



Filed under 1964, Barbara Stanwyck, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory, Universal (-International), William Castle

Blu-Ray News #149: Charley Varrick (1973).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Andy Robinson, Sheree North, Norman Fell, William Schallert, John Vernon, Bob Steele

I love the good old US of A, but there’s one thing where the rest of the world has us beat — outside the US, you can find a Blu-Ray of Don Siegel’s incredible Charley Varrick (1973). Still no hi-def release here, and our only DVD release was full-frame. No wonder the rest of the world hates us. I’ve proclaimed my undying love for this movie many times before, it’s one of my favorites, easy, from one of my favorite directors.


So when I saw it pop up on, I was overjoyed. This time, Indicator/Powerhouse Films in the UK have announced Charley Varrick on Blu-Ray coming in January with a slew of terrific-sounding extras. The Indicator/Powerhouse release is limited to 3,000 copies. Essentially, this thing is essentially essential.

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Filed under 1973, Andy Robinson, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Don Baker, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau, William Schallert

Blu-Ray News #148: The Night Walker (1964).

Directed by William Castle
Screenplay by Robert Bloch
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, Judith Meredith, Hayden Rorke, Lloyd Bochner

Halloween’s the perfect day for an announcement like this. Scream Factory is bringing The Night Walker (1964) from the great William Castle to Blu-Ray in early 2018. (To me, William Castle owns Halloween.)

This was Barbara Stanwyck’s last theatrical film, and it found her co-starring with her ex-husband Robert Taylor. William Castle had a good script from Robert Block to work with, and the result is one of his best movies. It’ll be a real treat to see Harold Stine’s 1.85 photography in high definition. Not sure what extras, if any, are planned (but I can recommend someone for a commentary). Highly recommended.



Filed under 1964, Barbara Stanwyck, DVD/Blu-ray News, Robert Taylor, Shout/Scream Factory, Universal (-International), William Castle

Blu-Ray News #142: Operation Petticoat (1959).

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Directed by Blake Edwards
Starring Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Joan O’Brien, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Dick Sargent, Arthur O’Connell, Virginia Gregg, Gavin MacLeod, Madlyn Rhue, Marion Ross

Olive Films has announced a retooling of their Olive Signature series, beginning with their November releases. From now on, these titles will be Blu-Ray only and limited to just 3,500 copies. With this announcement comes the news that previous Olive Signature titles are now out of print.*

One of the first titles in the new Signature line is Blake Edwards’ Operation Petticoat (1959), a charming, goofy service comedy that benefits greatly from having Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in the conning tower. It’s also got Virginia Gregg in it, a personal favorite who was always terrific on Dragnet.

Operation Petticoat was originally to be shot in B&W for about a million bucks, but when Grant came aboard, Eastman Color and an extra two million were added to the mix. The picture turned out to be a massive hit, making a ton of money for Grant who had a percentage deal — and spawning a later TV series with Jamie Lee Curtis in it.

This used to surface on TV all the time when I was a kid, and I could never pass it by. Highly recommended.

• That includes High Noon (1952), John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) and The Night Of The Grizzly (1966).


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Filed under 1959, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Olive Films, Tony Curtis, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #146: The Old Dark House (1932).

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.


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Filed under Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Whale, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #137: Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955).

Directed by Charles Lamont
Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, Michael Ansara

Another day, another Abbott & Costello movie on Blu-Ray. This time, it’s Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955), their last picture for Universal (and their last monster meeting). It’s already available in hi-def as part of Universal’s The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection.

Meet The Mummy features Marie Windsor, my all-time favorite actress. Eddie Parker, Lon Chaney’s double on the three previous Mummy movies, plays Klaris throughout this one. The scene where Costello eats a hamburger with an ancient medallion hidden in it had me in hysterics as a kid.

The 1.85 transfer, which I’m sure will be the same one in the Legacy set, splendidly shows off the picture’s backlot and soundstage version of Egypt. Nowhere near the team’s best, but highly recommended anyway.


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Filed under 1955, Abbott & Costello, DVD/Blu-ray News, Marie Windsor, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #112: The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection.


Universal’s next Complete Legacy Collection — each Blu-Ray set covers everything featuring a particular Universal monster — concerns The Mummy. Providing Universal can come up with the proper number of tana leaves, this edition will be available in May. It spreads six movies over four discs.

The Mummy (1932) is one of the most visually-splendid movies I can think of. Karl Freund packs one incredible shot after another in this thing — and Karloff is at his brilliant best.

The first sequel (or maybe it’s more of a remake), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), has Tom Tyler doing a great job filling in for Boris Karloff — and Wallace Ford is a welcome addition to anything.

Jack Pierce turns Lon Chaney Jr. into Kharis.

The next three Mummy movies — The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), and The Mummy’s Curse (1944) — with Lon Chaney, Jr. as a rather portly mummy making his way through Massachusetts and Louisiana, are a real hoot in that 1940s Universal Monsters kinda way. I love these things.


Then there’s Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955), which throws in Marie Windsor, my all-time favorite actress, for good measure. It was A&C’s last picture for Universal, a studio they pretty much saved in the 40s. Eddie Parker, Chaney’s double on the three previous Mummy movies, plays Klaris throughout this one.

All six Mummy movies are black and white, with Meet The Mummy in 1.85 widescreen — and they’re all sure to look marvelous on Blu-Ray.


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Filed under 1955, Abbott & Costello, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Pierce, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Marie Windsor, Universal (-International)