Blu-Ray News #121: The Devil’s Rain (1975).

Directed by Robert Fuest
Starring Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, William Shatner, Keenan Wynn, Tom Skerritt

I was watching The Wild, Wild West one afternoon when the trailer for The Devil’s Rain (1975) came on. As with The Legend Of Hell House (1973) a couple years before, these commercials left me really wigged out. Pretty creepy stuff.

Severin has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray release for The Devil’s Rain. So now I can pull off a perfect hi-def movie night: this and Race With The Devil (1975, available from Shout Factory) with Peter Fonda and Warren Oates. Oh man, I can’t wait.

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Filed under 1975, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, Ida Lupino, Peter Fonda, R.G. Armstrong, Shout/Scream Factory, Warren Oates

Blu-Ray Review: World Without End (1956).

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Directed by Edward Bernds
Story & Screenplay by Edward Bernds
Cinematography: Ellsworth Fredericks
Film Editor: Eda Warren
Original Music Leith Stevens

Cast: Hugh Marlowe (John Bordon), Nancy Gates (Garnet), Nelson Leigh (Dr. Eldon Galbraithe), Rod Taylor (Herbert Ellis), Shawn Smith (Elaine), Lisa Montell (Deena), Christopher Dark (Hank Jaffe), Booth Colman (Mories), Everett Glass (Timmek)

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Allied Artists’ ads for World Without End (1956) bragged that it was the first sci-fi movie in CinemaScope and Technicolor. Its writer and director Edward Bernds called it “A-picture mounting for a B-budgeted picture.”*

And what a B picture it is! A team of intrepid U.S. astronauts — including Hugh Marlowe and a very young Rod Taylor — returns to Earth from their trip to Mars. Somehow they wind up in the 26th century, finding their home planet reduced to a hostile, post-Apocalyptic world teeming with mutants (that’s one to the left), giant spiders, underground cities, weird old men wearing kooky hats and beautiful girls in mini skirts. You’re starting to get a feel for how terrific this is, aren’t you?

You know how these things work. Before long, the astronauts are killing the spiders, duking it out with the mutants and romancing the ladies. And people wonder why I love these old things so much.

Allied Artists sprang for Technicolor and Scope for World Without End, but that doesn’t mean Bernds had a blank check. Not by a long shot. The spaceship footage — leaving Mars’ orbit and crash-landing back on Earth — was lifted from Monogram’s Flight To Mars (1951) and severely cropped for CinemaScope (from 1.33 down to 2.55). Of course, Allied Artists used to be Monogram, so it’s easy to understand why the footage was cheap.

Walter Mirisch of Allied Artists and Edward Bernds

Bernds: “It’s strange how some producers, at least at that time, got hooked on the idea of saving money by using stock film… You could duplicate those stock shots for a few thousand dollars — are you going to make a $400,000 picture on the basis of saving a few bucks?”*

Another sign of cost-consciousness (one that you see in a lot of these 50s sci-fi flicks): post-Apocalyptic Earth looks a whole lot like the Iverson Ranch.

Edward Bernds wanted Sterling Hayden for the lead, but Allied Artists went with the much cheaper Hugh Marlowe. He’s a little bland, maybe, but fine. Marlowe would have a pretty good run in 50s science fiction. He started out in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), and he’d follow World Without End with Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956).

Lisa Montell plays Deena, one of the lovely women of our planet’s grim future. As she describes it, “That film was a lot of fun… Part of the fun was that my character was related to the ‘Mutates’ and I got to speak in Mutate talk, which I just made up as I went along.”*

Nancy Gates falls for Hugh Marlowe, and Rod Taylor winds up shirtless. Gates’ career was going a mile a minute at this time, working steadily in movies and TV. Taylor had only been in the States a couple years when he was cast in this; he’d appear in Giant (1956) the same year.

Pin-up artist Alberto Vargas (the pressbook called him an “internationally known painter of curvaceous femininity”) did sketches for the film, focusing on the women’s costumes. These were used to promote the picture, and I’m sure they were effective. A six-sheet was available with each of the ladies 5′ 6″ tall.

Director of photography Ellsworth Fredericks did a ton of stuff for Allied Artists around this time, everything from At Gunpoint (1955) to Friendly Persuasion (1956). Wow, from Gary Cooper as a Quaker to rubber spiders. He shot Don Siegel’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers the same year.

Warner Archive has done us all a huge favor by bringing this glorious bit of nonsense to Blu-Ray, gloriously. Fredericks uses the Scope frame really well, and it’s great to have the CinemaScope presented in high definition. Every plastic rocket, every fake spider, every skimpy costume is as sharp as a tack. The color’s perfectly saturated, and the sound’s clear as a bell.

There are certainly better movies than this, but this has become one of my favorite Blu-Rays. It’s a marvel to look at and a real hoot of a movie. Highly, highly recommended.

Read somewhere that Joe Dante saw World Without End and Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) as a double bill some Saturday afternoon when he was a kid. He loved it so much, he sat through it twice — and when he got home, his parents had called the police!

*Sources: The Edward Bernds quotes are from Tim Weaver interviews; Lisa Montell’s quote comes from the Treasures Of Wonderment website.

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Filed under 1956, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Edward Bernds, Hugh Marlowe, Monogram/Allied Artists, Rod Taylor, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #120: Cease Fire (1953).

Directed by Owen Crump
Starring Roy Thompson Jr., Henry Goszkowski, Richard Karl Elliott

Here’s one I’ve always wanted to see. Cease Fire (1953) was shot on location in Korea, during the war, using real GIs, in 3-D. That’s quite a thing.

Kino Lorber and The 3-D Film Archive are bringing it to Blu-Ray this summer.

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Filed under 1953, 3-D, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Paramount

Blu-Ray News #119: From Hell It Came (1957).

Directed by Dan Milner
Starring Tod Andrews, Tina Carver, Linda Watkins, John McNamara, Gregg Palmer, Suzanne Ridgeway

From Hell It Came (1957) is a really terrible movie with laughable special effects. I love it and can’t wait to see it in high-definition. It’s coming from Warner Archive — 2017 is really gonna be some year for old movies on Blu-Ray.

The monster was originally designed by Paul Blaisdell, AIP’s favorite (cheap) monster maker, but constructed by Don Post Studios. It looks every bit as ridiculous as you’d imagine a walking tree to look.

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Filed under 1957, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Paul Blaisdell, Warner Archive

Screening: Bonnie And Clyde (1967) 50th Anniversary.

Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder

Bonnie And Clyde (1967) is one of those movies my whole family loves. What does that say about us? Anyway, we’re all excited about the 50th anniversary screenings coming this August from Turner Classic Movies. My wife came across the link today, and you can already buy tickets.

So, does this mean we can count on Warner Bros. and TCM to bring Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) back in a couple years?

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, Sam Peckinpah, Screenings, Warren Beatty

Blu-Ray News #118: Junior Bonner (1972).

Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, Joe Don Baker, Barbara Leigh, Ben Johnson, Dub Taylor

Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner (1972) is a wonderful movie, plain and simple. And Kino Lorber’s bringing it to Blu-Ray this summer. Its previous DVD releases weren’t anamorphic, so this will be a huge leap forward.

If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a real treat. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Thanks to Paula for the photo of McQueen and Ben Johnson.

More Peckinpah Blu-Ray news — Criterion has announced Straw Dogs (1971) for June.

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Filed under 1972, Ben Johnson, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ida Lupino, Joe Don Baker, Kino Lorber, Sam Peckinpah, Steve McQueen, The Criterion Collection

Blu-Ray News #117: The Vampire Bat (1933).

Directed by Frank Strayer
Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye

There’s some great stuff making its way to DVD and Blu-Ray these days. The Film Detective has announced the 1933 horror picture The Vampire Bat, from a UCLA restoration that even recreates the original hand-colored sequence!

Like White Zombie (1932), The Vampire Bat is one of those times when a Poverty Row studio went nuts and came up with something really special. Majestic Pictures signed Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray from Doctor X and Mystery Of The Wax Museum, took advantage of some standing sets on the major lots, and stirred in the great Dwight Frye. It’s a great example of how creepy and crazy a 30s horror movie can get. It’s coming in April, and it’s highly recommended.

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Filed under 30s Horror, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fay Wray, Poverty Row, The Film Detective