Category Archives: VCI

Blu-Ray News #281: Jungle Queen (1945).

Directed by Ray Taylor & Lewis D. Collins
Starring Edward Norris, Eddie Quillan, Douglass Dumbrille, Lois Collier, Ruth Roman, Tala Birell, Clarence Muse

Anything with Douglass Dumbrille as a Nazi, Ruth Roman as the Jungle Queen and Clarence Muse as anything is worth a few hours of your time. And since the Universal serials VCI has been bringing to Blu-Ray lately are absolutely beautiful, I’m really looking forward to this one.

It’s 1939, and the Nazis are trying to take over Africa. They’re looking for the fabled Sword Of Tongu, which will help them win over the natives and have them join the fight against the British. It’s up to a couple of Americans (Edward Norris and Eddie Quillan), a British agent/archeologist (Lois Collier) and the beautiful, mysterious Jungle Queen, Lothel (Ruth Roman), to stop them.

Directors Ray Taylor and Lewis D. Collins did a ton of serials, and Collins went on to direct a few of the terrific William Elliott B Westerns at Monogram and Allied Artists. Universal’s serials boast better production values than other studio’s chapter plays, though this one is a bit talky and makes liberal use of stock footage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Douglass Dumbrille, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lewis D. Collins, Ray Taylor, Ruth Roman, Serial, Universal (-International), VCI

Blu-Ray News #224: The Vanishing Shadow (1934).

Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Onslow Stevens, Ada Ince, William Desmond, Walter Miller, James Durkin, Lee J. Cobb

Universal’s 12-chapter serial The Vanishing Shadow (1934) is making its way to Blu-Ray from our friends at VCI. It’s a science fiction revenge story, containing maybe the first use of a ray gun. It also feature a terrific robot.

What’s incredible about this release is that at one point, The Vanishing Shadow was thought to be a lost film. This June, it’ll be available in high-definition from original 35mm fine grain material. How cool is that? I’m really stoked to be doing a first-chapter commentary for it.

5 Comments

Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Lew Landers, Universal (-International), VCI

Blu-Ray News #221: Beyond Atlantis (1973).

Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Patrick Wayne, Leigh Christian, George Nader, Sid Haig, Lenore Stevens

VCI has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray release (March 12) of Eddie Romero’s Beyond Atlantis (1973). This time around, Romero and producer-star John Ashley aimed a bit higher and added Patrick Wayne to the mix. With a transfer form the original 35mm negative and a commentary, interviews and other extras, this should be a lot of tacky fun.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1973, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eddie Romero, John Ashley, VCI

Blu-Ray News #207: Beast Of The Yellow Night (1971).

besta

Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Mary Charlotte Wilcox, Leopoldo Salcedo, Eddie Garcia, Ken Metcalfe

VCI has announced their upcoming Blu-Ray release (late February) of Eddie Romero’s Beast Of The Yellow Night (1970). They promise a new restoration from the camera negative and an archival print. Made in the Philippines, it was the first film released by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1970, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eddie Romero, John Ashley, New World, VCI

A Night At The Movies, June 1965.

Back in 1965, Young Dillinger (1965) played as a twin-bill with Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace (1964). This ad’s for the opening in L.A., but they played everywhere this way — even drive-ins not far from where I’m sitting here in North Carolina. Man, what a “blazing double-blast of thrills and shocks” this must’ve been.

One’s in gorgeous black and white, the other in eye-popping Technicolor. One is a cinematic love letter to the Tommy Gun, while the other favors all sorts of things with blades. Both are lurid, violent masterpieces — the stuff that makes early 60s genre movies so wonderful.

Incidentally, and the reason I came across this, both of these pictures have seen some recent video activity. Young Dillinger was just made available on DVD by our friends at Warner Archive (the movie’s terrific and the disc looks great), and VCI is prepping Blood And Black Lace for a Blu-Ray due in October.

So, with a little coordinated eCommerce, you can recreate June 9, 1965 in the privacy of your own home.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1965, A Night At The Movies, DVD/Blu-ray News, John Ashley, Monogram/Allied Artists, Nick Adams, VCI, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #191: Blood And Black Lace (1964).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Paul Frees, 30 of the most glamorous girls in the world

VCI is bringing Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace (1964) to Blu-Ray here in the States with a slew of extras, some of them carried over from VCI’s previous DVD.

This picture is worthwhile for Bava’s use of color alone. Then consider that the whole thing was done for about $150,000. It’s really incredible.

This is one of the great Paul Frees’ finest hours, as he provided most of the male voices for the English-dubbed version.

Coming in October. Highly recommended.

1 Comment

Filed under 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mario Bava, VCI

Blu-Ray News #141: Twilight People (1972).

Chicago_Tribune_Mon__Mar_20__1972_ (1)

Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Pam Grier

This is an update to a previous post.

VCI has announced a Blu-Ray release of Twilight People (1972) for January 2018.  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. This one was the first film released by Dimension Pictures. It played in double bills with everything from Man Beast (1956) to The Sin Of Adam And Eve (1969) to Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972).

twilight-3John 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. This Blu-Ray release will feature a 2K scan of the original negative, presented in the proper aspect ratio. Extras will include a video interview with Eddie Romero, a still and poster gallery, and a commentary by Toby Roan.

2 Comments

Filed under 1972, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eddie Romero, John Ashley, New World, Pam Grier, Roger Corman, VCI

DVD/Blu-Ray News #134-A: One Million BC (1940) Update.

Directed by Hal Roach and Hal Roach, Jr.
Starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Hubbard

UPDATE: One Million B.C. (1940) is on its way to DVD and Blu-Ray from VCI, from the materials at UCLA. Not exactly sure what the full list of extras will be, but I do know there’ll be a commentary (by yours truly) and (I think) a still gallery. The release date is mid-October.

Leave a comment

Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Lon Chaney Jr., VCI

Blu-Ray News #134: One Million BC (1940).

Directed by Hal Roach and Hal Roach, Jr.
Starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Hubbard

One Million B.C. (1940) has dinosaurs that are real lizards with fins and stuff glued on. It’s got a guy in a pretty primitive Godzilla-type suit. It’s got Lon Chaney Jr. as a caveman. Some of it was shot at the Iverson Ranch. Oh, and the beautiful, tragic Carole Landis is in it. And even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve no doubt seen stock footage from it in something.

One Million B.C. is one of those movies that’s suffered the horrible injustice of having been available in all sorts of shoddy tapes and discs over the years. VCI Entertainment seems to be about to change all that with an upcoming Blu-Ray transferred the 35mm negative. Hopefully, come July, they’ll have pre-history looking brand new.

Leave a comment

Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Lon Chaney Jr., VCI

Blu-Ray Review: The City Of The Dead (1960, AKA Horror Hotel).

City Of The Dead UK quad

Directed by John Moxey
Screenplay by George Baxt
Story by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Desmond Dickinson

Cast: Patricia Jessel (Mrs. Newless), Dennis Lotis (Richard Barlow), Christopher Lee (Alan Driscoll), Tom Naylor (Bill), Betta St. John (Patricia), Venetia Stevenson (Nan Barlow)

__________

John Llewellyn Moxey’s The City Of The Dead (1960), under its American title Horror Hotel, was one of those movies I bumped into a lot on TV as a kid. If I came across it, I’d always watch it through to the end.

The sets, the lighting, the fog — there’s something about this movie that really gets under my skin.

the-city-of-the-dead-still

It’s a really simple story: a college student (Venetia Stevenson) travels to Whitewood, Massachusetts, for some research on 17th-century witches (at the urging of her professor, Christopher Lee). That research ends up being a bit more primary than she had in mind, as she discovers that Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel), who was burned at the stake in 1692, is running the Ravens Inn under the name Newless. Why do witches, vampires, etc. take on a new identity by simply reversing their last names?

795

The City Of The Dead is often compared to Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), with it assumed that Moxey ripped off Hitch. But while there are similarities — a pretty young woman heads out on her own, checks into a creepy hotel/motel and something bad happens midway through the picture — The City Of The Dead began production before Psycho. As Horror Hotel, however, it hit theaters in the States after Hitchcock’s film debuted.

By the way, this picture is an early effort from the folks who later became Amicus Productions and made horror films throughout the 70s.

city-4

It couldn’t be more obvious that Whitewood is a soundstage, not Massachusetts. Some see that as a sign of its limited budget, others as part of the stylized, atmospheric look. Whether it’s due to aesthetics or economics, to me it’s one of the picture’s greatest strengths. No other movie looks like this. Desmond Dickinson’s camerawork is terrific.

You can see all this plainly on the new Blu-Ray from VCI, which makes use of original material from the British Film Institute. There’s been some criticism of the framing (1.78 vs. the UK version’s 1.66; it probably ran 1.85 in the States), but the film’s never looked better on video. The contrast seems perfect, accommodating both the fog and, say, headlights in the same shot, without either being compromised. Audio is fine, doing justice to Douglas Gamley’s creepy score. And there are a slew of extras, from multiple commentaries to the trailer to the shorter US cut of the film (Horror Hotel).

No matter how shoddy it might look, I’d recommend The City Of The Dead. This Blu-ray makes it absolutely essential for fans of 60s horror.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960, Amicus Productions, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, VCI