Category Archives: William Castle

One Quick Thing.

The second volume of Kit Parker’s Noir Archive series showed up yesterday. In a year filled with really great stuff coming out on Blu-Ray, this might be my favorite so far.

Four of my favorite B directors are here: William Castle, Nathan Juran, Phil Karlson and Fred F. Sears. Some of my favorite actors, too — John Agar, Robert Blake, Mari Blanchard, Timothy Carey, Richard Denning, Faith Domergue, Vince Edwards, Beverly Garland, Brian Keith, Guy Madison, Kim Novack and more.

All nine pictures look terrific — the Columbia transfers are almost flawless. Proper reviews will follow, but I can’t recommend Noir Archives Volume 2: 1954-1956 highly enough.

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Filed under 1954, 1955, 1956, Beverly Garland, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Faith Domergue, Fred F. Sears, John Agar, Kit Parker, Mari Blanchard, Nathan Juran, Phil Karlson, Richard Denning, Sam Katzman, Timothy Carey, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #229: Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956.

The first nine-film, three-disc volume in Kit Parker’s awesome assemblage of hi-def Film Noir hasn’t hit the street yet, and now the second’s been announced. These are coming in July, and it’s another great lineup.

Bait (1954)
Directed by Hugo Haas
Starring Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, John Agar

Hugo Haas directs himself, Cleo Moore and John Agar in a love triangle involving a lost gold mine.

The Crooked Web (1955)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning

Nathan Juran directed lots of cool stuff, but this is the only one with Mari Blanchard as a waitress. This one involves gold, too, but it’s a stash of Nazi gold. Nathan Juran did some cool stuff — from The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (1957) to Good Day For A Hanging (1958).

The Night Holds Terror (1955)
Directed by Andrew Stone
Starring Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes, David Cross, Jonathan Hale

Sort of a combination of The Hitch-Hiker and The Desperate Hours, with John Cassavetes one of the crooks.

Footsteps In The Fog (1955)
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons, Bill Travers, Ronald Squire

The only picture in the set in color, this one has Stewart Granger as a killer who chooses the wrong victim, literally.

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Cell 2455, Death Row (1955)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring William Campbell, Marian Carr, Kathryn Grant, Harvey Stephens, Vince Edwards

Based on the true story by Caryl Chessman. Director Fred F. Sears is a real favorite of mine.

5 Against The House (1955)
Directed by Phil Karlson
Starring Kim Novack, Alvy Moore, William Conrad, Kerwin Mathews

A team of Army buddies snag a camper trailer and head to Reno to rob the casinos. Phil Karlson keeps things tough and tight. Terrific movie.

New Orleans Uncensored (1955)
Directed by William Castle
Starring Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Helene Stanton, Mike Mazurki

William Castle working for Sam Katzman. Beverly Garland. Black and white widescreen. Why haven’t you pre-ordered one already?

Spin A Dark Web (1955)
Directed by Vernon Sewell
Starring Faith Domergue, Lee Patterson, Rona Anderson, Martin Benson

A boxer gets sucked into the London mob, with a little help from Faith Domergue. Vernon Sewell directed lots of B movies in the UK, and this is a cool one.

Rumble On The Docks (1956)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring James Darren, Laurie Carrol, Michael Granger, Robert Blake, Timothy Carey

Fred F. Sears, Robert Blake and Timothy Carey all working on a Sam Katzman movie — and the results are every bit as wonderful as you might be imagining.

To have these nine pictures, in their original aspect ration and high definition, is a real treat. I can’t wait.

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Filed under 1954, 1955, 1956, Beverly Garland, DVD/Blu-ray News, Faith Domergue, Fred F. Sears, John Agar, Kit Parker, Mari Blanchard, Mill Creek, Nathan Juran, Phil Karlson, Richard Denning, Timothy Carey, William Castle

2018 In Review – Part 2.

When I started doing DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries, it no longer felt appropriate to survey the best DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the year. So, as a substitute (maybe a poor one), here’s a reminder of a few things we were treated to this year. We’ll let all the praise, complaints or ranking come from you in the comments. Part 1 can be found over at 50 Westerns From The 50s.

This was a banner year for old sci-fi and horror movies making their way to Blu-Ray. From what we’re hearing so far, next year might be the same for noir and crime pictures. Anyway, here’s some of 2018’s bounty — a few of which I’m still working on proper reviews of.

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)
This is one of the all-time favorite movies. I find something new in it every time I see it — a line, a look, a particular setup, the music, a new appreciation for the guy who did the fire stunt. It’s always something — and that, to me, is one of the requirements for a Great Movie. Warner Archive worked long and hard on this one, and I’m in their debt for sure.

The Hammer Draculas
It’s like there was some sorta Monster Movie Summit, and it was decreed that the Hammer Dracula series would be given its due on Blu-Ray. Warner Archive did a lot of the heavy lifting with Horror Of Dracula (1958), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1974). In the meantime, Scream Factory came through with Dracula – Prince Of Darkness (1966). Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970) hit Blu-Ray a few years ago. That leaves Scars Of Dracula (197) as the only Hammer Dracula picture not available on Blu-Ray. Who’s gonna step up to the plate for that one?

The Hammer goodness wasn’t limited to the Dracula pictures. Mill Creek included some Hammer pictures in their twin-bill sets, some of the best values in all of home video. Hammer Films, William Castle, Ray Harryhausen — there’s some good stuff in those sets.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Complete Legacy Collection
That’s quite a name for a set that only includes three movies. But what movies they are — the first two, anyway. And they’re in both widescreen 2-D and 3-D.

Gun Crazy (1949)
Joseph H. Lewis hit it out of the park with Gun Crazy (1949). So did his cast — and this year, with a stunning Blu-Ray, so did Warner Archive.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
Don Siegel making it to Blu-Ray is always a reason to celebrate, and this is one of his many milestones. Over the years, we’ve all put up with some pretty shoddy-looking stuff when it comes to this incredible movie. Olive Films’ Blu-Ray is a huge improvement.

The Tingler (1959)
It’s hard to pick between this one and House On Haunted Hill (1958) for my favorite William Castle movie. Scream Factory did a wonderful job with this one, and they’ve given us other Castle pictures as well.

Dark Of The Sun (1968)
Warner Archive has been hinting around about this one on Blu-Ray for a while. It’s beautiful — and still one of the damnedest movies I’ve ever seen.

There’s a few that stood out for me. What DVD and Blu-Ray releases knocked you out this year?

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Filed under 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1970, 1972, 1973, 3-D, Barbara Shelley, Caroline Munro, Christopher Lee, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Howard Hawks, Jack Arnold, James Arness, John Agar, Joseph H. Lewis, Julie Adams, Kenneth Tobey, Kevin McCarthy, Mill Creek, Nestor Paiva, Olive Films, Peggy Cummins, Peter Cushing, Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Richarld Carlson, RKO, Rod Taylor, Shout/Scream Factory, Terence Fisher, Vincent Price, Warner Archive, William Castle

Blu-Ray Review: Strait-Jacket (1964).

Produced and Directed by William Castle
Written by Robert Bloch
Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling
Film Editor: Edwin Bryant
Music by Van Alexander

Cast: Joan Crawford (Lucy Harbin), Diane Baker (Carol), Leif Erickson (Bill Cutler), Howard St. John (Raymond Fields), Rochelle Hudson (Emily Cutler), George Kennedy (Leo Krause), Edith Atwater (Mrs. Fields), Lee Majors (Frank Harbin)

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WARNING: STRAIT-JACKET VIVIDLY DEPICTS AX MURDERS! That, my friends, is the genius of William Castle. With a tagline like that, how could Strait-Jacket (1964) not have played to theaters packed with kids?

Another sign of his genius is that his gimmick for this picture didn’t require a special viewer or wired seats. It was simply its casting. The axe murderer is none other than the great Joan Crawford. You see, Joan  chopped off the heads of her cheating husband (Lee Majors) and his floozie. And oddly enough, as soon as she’s released from the nuthouse 20 years later, people start getting chopped up.

Naturally, everyone suspects Joan, even Joan herself. But being that Castle’s producing and directing from a script by Robert Bloch, we can expect some sorta twist — even if by the second reel, we have a pretty good idea what that twist’s gonna be.

I love Strait-Jacket. You can feel Castle’s ghoulish glee in every swing of the axe, every lopped-off head, every cryptic line of dialogue. He had a way of making movies fun, which has to be the main reason his pictures are still so popular.

Even the Columbia lady’s head gets chopped off.

Of course, Crawford’s terrific — even though it’s ludicrous having her play her younger self in the early scenes. We feel for her, even though we really just wanna see another head roll. The rest of the cast is functional, which is all they’re called upon to do. George Kennedy snarls his way through the whole thing, and we can’t wait for his appointment with the axe. It’s wonderful.

Mill Creek has brought Strait-Jacket to Blu-Ray in a bargain-priced double bill with Berserk!, a Herman Cohen picture from 1967. In that one, Joan’s the owner of a British circus where people keep winding up dead.

Both films look terrific here — Columbia’s HD masters of their old films are almost always gorgeous. Strait-Jacket really shows off Arthur E. Arling’s crisp B&W photography, giving it an edge over Berserk!‘s color. There are no extras, but with high definition at such a low price, who’s gonna complain?

It’s very easy to recommend this set. I wish the rest of the home video world would take a good look at what Mill Creek is doing with these Blu-Ray pairing of pictures from Crawford, Castle, Hammer and others.

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Filed under 1964, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Joan Crawford, Mill Creek, Robert Bloch, William Castle

Blu-Ray Review: The Tingler (1959).

Directed by William Castle
Written by Robb White
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Film Editor: Chester W. Schaeffer
Music by Von Dexter

Cast: Vincent Price (Dr. Warren Chapin), Judith Evelyn (Martha Higgins), Darryl Hickman (David Morris), Patricia Cutts (Isabel Stevens Chapin), Pamela Lincoln (Lucy Stevens), Philip Coolidge (Oliver Higgins)

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If there’s a single movie that made me a hardcore devotee of the whole B movie thing, it’s probably this one. Everything about it is perfect, from Vincent Price’s hateful glamour-puss wife to the laboratory right off the living room to injecting LSD to the Tingler itself — all of it delivered with a ghoulish glee by the wonderful William Castle.

I’ve seen The Tingler so many times, it’s more like visiting an old friend than watching a movie. And with this new Blu-Ray from Scream Factory, that old friend’s holding up a lot better than I am.

So there’s this weird, slug-like thing (kinda like a cross between a lobster and a centipede) that hangs out along our spines, and it feeds on fright. That’s the Tingler. We get scared, it gets bigger and more powerful. When we scream, we release our fear and the Tingler is stunned — it shrinks and awaits the next time we get scared. Coroner/scientist Vincent Price discovers the Tingler, removes it from a corpse, then chases it down when it gets loose. There’s also a murder, an attempt at another one, an execution and an LSD trip. Something for everyone.

In case you ever wondered where this blog’s banner came from.

And that’s all leading up to the big finish, when the Tingler runs amuck in a movie theater, the very one you’re sitting in! You see, back in ’59, theaters were equipped with little motors attached to the seats, and at the proper time, these motors created a whirring sound and vibration in each seat — prompting the audience to scream to ward off the Tingler. “Scream for your lives!” It was called Percepto, and it was pure genius.

Scream Factory has outfitted The Tingler beautifully for Blu-Ray. First and foremost, the movie itself looks really terrific. The grain and contrast levels are exactly where they need to be. It’s perfect, and the simple, effective color sequence fits in nicely. (In the theater, the cut to color film stock was jarring and looked like crap.) The extras are everything you’d want, from the drive-in version of the loose-in-the-theater sequence to all sorts of promo material to various video pieces.

The Tingler is a real favorite, and Scream Factory has given us the kind of presentation fans have always wanted. It does William Castle proud, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Essential.

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Filed under 1959, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory, Vincent Price, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #167: An Evening With Joan Crawford.

Mill Creek Entertainment has announced an upcoming twin-bill Blu-Ray of two Joan Crawford horror pictures, Strait-Jacket (1964) from William Castle and Berserk (1967), produced by Herman Cohen.

Strait-Jacket
Directed by William Castle
Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, George Kennedy, Leif Erickson

William Castle’s Strait-Jacket (1964) has Joan Crawford as an axe murderer who’s released from the nuthouse. Oddly enough, as soon as she gets out, people start getting chopped up.

Berserk!
Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Starring Joan Crawford, Ty Hardin, Michael Gough, Diana Dors, Judy Geeson

This time, Miss Crawford runs a circus where people keep winding up dead — in the most grisly ways. Berserk‘s in Technicolor, shot by Desmond Dickinson. Herman Cohen, Michael Gough and Dickinson had already enriched our lives with Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959).

Mill Creek’s double features like this are terrific — they’ve already treated us to a number of Castle and Hammer films. All are a great deal and come highly recommended.

Strait-Jacket is also on its way as a stand-alone Blu-Ray from Scream Factory, which will come with some supplemental stuff. All of a sudden, there’s more Joan Crawford than you can shake an axe handle at.

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Filed under 1964, 1967, Columbia, Desmond Dickinson, DVD/Blu-ray News, Herman Cohen, Joan Crawford, Mill Creek, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #163: The Tingler (1959).

Directed by William Castle
Written by Robb White
Starring Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn,  Philip Coolidge, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln

There’s about to be an open slot on my Blu-Ray Want List — The Tingler (1959) is coming from Scream Factory in August.

It’s maybe William Castle’s most whacked-out and outrageous movie of all. And that’s sayin’ something. A slug-like creature lives in our spines and grows when we’re scared; only screaming will keep it from killing us. And when one of these things (removed from a dead lady’s back by researcher Vincent Price) gets loose in a movie theater, the real audience got buzzed by little whirring motors attached to their seats. That, my friends, is why William Castle is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

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Castle with some of his Tingler cast.

Scream Factory has done a masterful job with all the old horror pictures they’ve put out, and I’m sure this one will be a real beauty — with all sorts of cool extras. God, I can’t wait!

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William Castle and Joan Crawford plugging Strait-Jacket.

Strait-Jacket
Directed by William Castle
Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, George Kennedy, Leif Erickson

And if that’s not enough, Castle’s Strait-Jacket (1964) has Joan Crawford as an axe murderer who’s released from the nuthouse. Oddly enough, as soon as she gets out, people start getting chopped up. Scream Factory’s bringing the Psycho-inspired Castle masterpiece out at the same time as The Tingler.

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Filed under 1959, 1964, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joan Crawford, Shout/Scream Factory, Vincent Price, William Castle