Wednesday, October 4, 2017

THE PROJECTED MAN 1966



    Scream Factory have just announced they're  going to release the 1966 sci/fi horror THE PROJECTED MAN at some point next year. A placeholder date of "Jan. 30, 2018" is listed on the website, so hopefully we're looking at somewhere in the first quarter.
    Most famous for Famous Monsters of Filmland readers as they would run mouthwatering stills from it periodically, it was released on DVD release about 10 years ago in Great Britain (which was cropped to1.78 from the film's 2.35 aspect ratio) and this has been the film's solitary legit release. Starring Bryant Haliday (DEVIL DOLL) it plays upon the standard wronged and disfigured scientist whose now looking for revenge and co-stars Mary Peach (wife of Hammer's Jimmy Sangster) as the love interest and female in peril.
    Produced by U.K. company Compton Productions it was picked by Universal in America where it played on double bills with ISLAND OF TERROR. Although a cheap looking production it does have some effectually gruesome make-up and Shout's release will help fill a hole a long standing hole in your British horror collection.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Coffin Full Of Hammer Is On The Way !


    This October & Nov. Studio Canal unleashes a torrent of Hammer Films on Blu-Ray. After several years of silence were getting seven (!!) new titles which include three of their more interesting psychological thrillers from 1972 with DEMONS OF THE MIND, FEAR IN THE NIGHT and STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING along with a couple of their iffy later Gothics with 1970's SCARS OF DRACULA and HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (which originally shared a double bill) and classic Hammer's swan song TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER from 1976. The luridly fascinating DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE from 1971 is coming at a later date.
    The seventh tile is 1971's BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB. Hammer always struggled a bit with their mummy films after the masterful THE MUMMY (1959) and after two previous films (CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB & THE MUMMY'S SHROUD) they ended their association with the Egyptian walking dead with this film. A truly cursed production as star Peter Cushing had to leave after a few days shooting because of wife's illness and director Seth Holt's tragic death a week before the film was to wrap, it always been rather unfairly maligned. 
     I've always been fond of it however as it contains a typical wonderful performance by Andrew Keir (filling in for Cushing), an interesting take on the mummy mythos's (based upon THE JEWEL OF THE SEVENTH STAR by Bram Stoker) and best of all Valerie Leon makes for one heck of a mummy. 



Sunday, August 27, 2017

THE DEVIL'S HONEY Coming On Blu


    Coming this Sept. 26 from Severin is Lucio Fulci's 1986 perversely kinky thriller featuring among other things motorcycle sex and a weird use of a saxophone. The last great film by the Italian horror master it's been MIA for years on home video and Severin's new release will feature the film in it's HD debut in a new scan from the original negative.
   Blanca Marsillach plays the mentally unstable Jessica who's goes on a erotically fueled vendetta against the doctor she believes caused her boyfriends death.
   Long overdue for a new release it will also feature a batch of extras including interviews with cast & crew and appreciations from scholars Stephen Thrower and Troy Howarth. Throwers's long oop Fulci book BEYOND TERROR is also going to be reprinted this fall from Fab Press.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

INQUISITION from Mondo Macabro


   Mondo Macabro has announced the specs for their first of two Paul Naschy releases (with 1979's EL CAMINANTE following later this year) as INQUISITION from 1978 will be released this April/May.
   Written and directed by Naschy under his Jacinto Molina moniker its a period piece concerning a with a witch hunter (Naschy) who falls under the spell of local beauty Daniela Giordana (YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY) who in reality was sent by Satan to destroy him. 
    Packed with nudity, blood and that wonderful Spanish horror Gothic atmosphere it should look ravishing with Mondo's new HD transfer.

From the Mondo Macabro Facebook page :
Brand new cover illustration by Gilles Vranckx
Region-free worldwide Blu-ray premiere
HD transfer from the original negative
Spanish and English Language Tracks
New created optional English subtitles 
Audio commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of the Naschycast
Archival video introduction to the film by Paul Naschy
“Blood and Sand”, Eurotika! documentary on Spanish horror 
Mondo Macabro previews



FROM HELL IT CAME Is Shambling Into Your Blu-Ray Player !


    Coming from Warner Archive later this year is the greatest monster tree movie ever made. Sporting a newly remastered 1:78.1 HD transfer 1957's FROM HELL IT CAME comes as a surprise announcement and coming so soon after their release of VALLEY OF GAWNGI and WORLD WITHOUT END hopefully this will mean future releases are in the works from their classic horror sci-fi library (in particular as in the case here from the rich Allied Artists archives).
    Originally released on a double bill with THE DISEMBODIED (also available from Warner Archives), this wonderfully entertaining and woefully inept slice of 1950's drive-in horror is fully endorsed by the evil Tabanga. 



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

  

    Coming April 11 from Severin Films is this atmospheric and creepy slice of Lovecraftian horror.  A UK/Italian/Russian co-production directed by Mario Baino, its Italian roots have lent it to be labeled as one of the last gasps from the golden age of Euro-horror.
    Filmed in the Ukraine, its a beautiful looking film that should translate well to HD. The plot concerns a young woman played by Louise Salter (INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE) who after the death of her father travels to her place of birth which is a remote island containing a reclusive group of nuns who hold strange rituals in an attempt to guard "something"
    Oozing Gothic atmosphere with a strong Lovecraft vibe, it rewards with attentive viewing and hopefully this release will bring it to a wider audience.
     On the same day Severin is also releasing Bruno Mattei's nunsploitation classic THE OTHER HELL. Sounds like a great double feature.



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Paul Naschy Spanish Horror Coming !


    Shout Factory  has announced a very cool release for June 20 of a Paul Naschy box containing five (!) of the master of Spanish horror classic films including VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1972), HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1972), the giallo influenced BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL, NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1980) and HUMAN BEASTS (1980). All will be uncut from new HD masters and will feature extras such as alternate credits, deleted scenes and the alternate "clothed" sequences all where applicable.
   In addition,Code Red recently announced over on their Facebook page an upcoming release of these three classics from the golden age of Spanish horror and again all starring the great Paul Naschy. Containing Naschy's ultra gory take on the Mummy mythos THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY from 1975 (which has the welcomed presence of Helga Liné & Jack Taylor), 1972's THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN and the 1970 Spanish/German/Italian take on the classic Universal monster mash-ups ASSIGNMENT TERROR all of which make for 2017 to be a bloody fun year for fans of Spanish horror - plus anytime we get more Helga Line in HD, its time for applause. 





Monday, March 6, 2017

THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH 1959 On Blu





   This lesser known Hammer production is the recent recipient of a new Blu-ray release courtesy of Kino Lorber. Previously available from Legend Films in a double feature Blu where it was paired with Freddie Francis's superb THE SKULL (another new Kino release), it's a bit of a strange misfire from the famous British horror studio. Not a bad film in the broadest sense, it just seems to be lacking is some respects as if all the participants both in front and behind the camera brought only their "B" game to the proceedings.
   Like most Hammer productions it's interminably set bound, but missing the usual opulent set production that helped elevate their other films in spite of the somewhat meager budgets. Lacking any sort of sympathetic character it's oddly rather flat and lifeless and is hampered by a talky middle portion that slows the plot down.
   With all that being said, it is a Terence Fisher Hammer Gothic with Christopher Lee and Hazel Court making it a worthy viewing experience with some excellent lighting effects (the green tinged lighting in certain sequences bring to mind Mario Bava's later work) and gruesome dead skin make-up effects, but there's a certain aura of "what if" hanging over the project - especially in the case of the lead.  
     Citing exhaustion Peter Cushing had dropped out of the film shortly before shooting was to commence and in his place the studio brought in German character actor Anton Diffring (CIRCUS OF HORRORS). An excellent actor with a cold aristocratic presence who specialized in evilly icy villains and Nazis, here he plays Dr. Georges Bonnet who is able to prolong his life indefinably (now at 104) by means of gland transplant taken from a living female "donor" every 10 years and by periodic sips from a green elixir he keeps hidden in a safe.




     Living in Paris, he's also a talented sculptor and has reconnected with previous lover Janine Du Bois (the luminous Hazel Court from THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN) after unveiling an older sculpture of her which puts him into conflict with her current suitor Dr. Pierre Gerrard (Christopher Lee). Coming up on the due date for his new operation Bonnet awaits the arrival of his longtime surgeon & friend Dr. Ludwig Weiss (Arnold Marle THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN). However upon arriving Weiss confesses that he's to old and infirm to conduct the surgery which necessitates Bonnett looking for a new surgeon in the form of Christopher Lee's character and perhaps having his past history of a trail of murdered women uncovered.
      In the lead role Diffring brings the right amount of evilness boarding on madness to the role but lakes the pathos that perhaps Cushing would have brought to the character. There's a great deal talk about the ramifications of immortality and outliving your peers and although Diffring plays his role superbly he does can't bring a touch of humanity to it and although Lee and Court do their best (ably assisted by the wonderful Francis De Wolff as a police inspector) but their roles are both cold with Court in particular dealing with a what his a bitchy type character in what should be the sympathetic heroine. 
     Co-produced by Paramount it was based upon their 1945 film THE MAN IN HALF MOON STREET (which in turn was based up on a play by Barre Lyndon) and the script by Jimmy Sangster could have used some more Hammer atmosphere about it which in turn may have inspired Terence Fisher a bit more. The 1975 TV film THE NIGHT STRANGLER uses some of the same plot points. 
     The new blu-ray by Kino is a fine looking presentation of the film with a 1.66 transfer and after the murky looking opening credits the disc has strong colors and sharp details through the remainder. It also includes a commentary by film historian Troy Howarth and interviews with Hammer scholars Kim Newman and Jonathan Rigby. 
     Hazel Court filmed a topless scene for the "continental" market which has yet to appear on home video (although stills have surfaced) and Diffring appeared in an unsold TV pilot titled TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1958 which was to be an ongoing series based upon the Frankenstein legends wan was to be co-produced by Hammer and Columbia Studios.








Friday, March 3, 2017

The Wonders Of "CineMagic" in HD !! THE ANGRY RED PLANET Is Coming



     On June 24 Shout Factory is releasing the wonders of Sid Pink's THE ANGRY RED PLANET on Blu-Ray so that we may behold the wonders of CineMagic in glorious HD. Conceived by producer Pink and producer/director (and comic book artist) Norman Mauer its combination of animated backgrounds, solarisation of a B&W negative and a red tinting was suppose to create a 3D type effect but the process did quite work out with the end result being one the most bizarre and unique looking films in sci-fi history.
    Directed by Ib Melchior (THE TIME TRAVELERS) the plot follows a budget impoverished journey to the red planet led by hairy chested lounge lizard Gerald Mohr (TERROR IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE) along with the serious pipe smoking older scientist (Les Tremayne THE MONOLITH MONSTERS), comedy relief and second banana Jack Kruschen (THE WAR OF THE WORLDS) and love interest Nora Hayden (HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL)- who seems to spend the entire movie getting pawed by Mahler and fielding his cheesy pick-up lines.
   Part of the inspiration for Larry Weiss's sequence in AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON it boasts some of the most mind boggling bizarre alien creatures ever devised including a three eye martian, a huge crawling amoeba with a rotating eyeball and best of all that huge rat bat spider thing.
   The 1.66 Eastman color should look gorgeous in HD and it would be nice if Shout could spring for some extras as this practically cries out for a Tom weaver commentary.





Friday, February 10, 2017

Happy Birthday Remembrance For Hazel Court

  
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      A very special birthday remembrance needs to go out today for actress Hazel Court. Most famous for her roles in 1950's and 60's British horror films, she seemed particularly well suited to Gothic period pieces such as Hammer's CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) and THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH (1959) where she would always bring a touch of class (along with a heaving bosom) to her roles.
     My personal favorite Hazel role is Juliana in Roger Corman's MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964). Playing the wife to to Vincent Price's Prince Prospero), she wonderfully projects an air of sexual evilness that comes to the fore in a satanic ritual that one of the highlights of the A.I.P. "Poe" series.  
     After meeting actor Don Taylor (BATTLEGROUND) on an episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS in 1961 they were married and she retired from acting in 1964. Moving to California she later appeared in a couple of TV shows in the 70's and had a small role in OMEN III in 1981. Hazel passed away in 2008 and will always be a vital (and very lovely) icon from the golden age of British horror.  


Roger, Hazel and Jane Asher on the set of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

EXTERMINATOR 2 From Shout Factory

      
     In a sort of surprising announcement Shout Factory is going to release this 1984 sequel to director James Glickenhaus' 1980 urban revenge classic on Blu-ray. Directed and produced by the original films producer Mark Buntzman, its while admittedly not as entertaining as the first, it is on the other hand not as bad as its reputation would warrant.
    It features some solid work by the always reliable Ginty (whose even more stoic here then in the first one) and he does get to break out the flamethrower and helmet attire that was featured on the 1980 poster art - but never in the actual movie
   Returning as Vietnam vet John Eastman (seemingly free & clear of the CIA plot from the previous film), Ginty fires up the flamethrower to help out a soldier buddy who has a run in with a gang led by Mario Van Pebbles. A troubled production, Cannon was unhappy with Buntzman's initial cut and re-shot a good chuck of the movie in Los Angeles with William Sachs directing the new footage. The budget ballooned to $3,000,000 as a NYC garbage truck had to be brought in to match existing footage and the studio began a protracted job of editing everything together with the initial cut garnering an "X" rating before the violence was toned down a bit for an "R".  
    As to be expected the finished product has a definite "Frankenseined" feel to it, but is helped by the presence of Ginty and the violence while trimmed still packs a wallop.
    Shout had previously released this as part of their DVD "4 Packs" and will drop this new Blu-ray on  April 25. Aside from a p[previously released commentary by Buntzman and Van Peebles, no word yet on any more on extras or restored footage. The trailer makes extensive use of footage that does not appear in the released version.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. On Blu-Ray

     



     Watching Hammer's 1,000,000 YEARS BC for the first as a child (for me at least) was one of those movie touchstone events that forever turned me into a movie geek. I saw it at the drive-in with my father probably in 1967 on a forgotten double bill that of which I most likely fell asleep during the second feature. Watching it on the big screen (and even later on TV) was an awe inspiring spectacle as the film had a truly epic majestic look to it, as if we were watching the Lawrence of Arabia of prehistoric caveman/dinosaur movies.
     Billed as Hammers "100th Production" (it wasn't) and fueled by the double shot of Raquel Welch in her fur bikini and Ray Harryhausen's stop motion prehistoric beasts, it arrived on a wave of publicity in 1966 and was both Hammer's most expensive (£422,000) and the highest grossing production as it raked up $8,000,000 in the U.S. alone. Directed by Don Chaffey (JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS), it was shot on location in the Canary Islands (with interior stuff at Elstree) and has a wide open spacious look to it unlike the set bound Gothic horrors that Hammer was known for. Producer (and writer) Michael Carreras smartly hired both a director and cinematographer (Wilke Cooper) who had both worked with Harryhausen before.




      Anybody whose reading this is hopefully familiar with the basic plot as Tumak (John Richardson BLACK SUNDAY) is banished from his violent tribe of "rock people" and upon wondering through a barren landscape comes across Luna (Raquel Welch FANTASTIC VOYAGE) along with her proto-hippie "shell people" who show him a gentler way of life. Welch who was under contract to Fox at the time was about to loaned out to MGM for the role of Domino in THUNDERBALL when Fox changed their mind, casting her in FANTASTIC VOYAGE and then setting her off to London for a role and look that would pass into mid 60's cultural history. How many adolescent boys ordered that poster out of Famous Monsters and had it hanging in their bedroom ?
     Originally clocking in at 100 minutes Fox cut it down to 91 minute for U.S. release losing some blood, violence, hints of cannibalism along with a bit of wild cave woman dancing by Martine Beswick (most likely it was also probably cut a bit for better double feature compatibility). In a really bizarre move Fox edited some of Harryhausen's stop-motion animation work including bits of the Allosaurus attack which is one of his greatest creations.




     Often unfairly labeled and mocked (sure its popcorn, but its GREAT popcorn),it was obviously taken seriously by all involved and watching the film today its pretty amazing how dark and grim it is through the first sequence with Tumak's rock people and how other worldly the film looks in terms of scenery. Shot entirely without dialogue (just some grunts & a few verbal commands from the shell folk), it's  Mario Nascimbene's (he's credited with "music and special music sound effects") score that carries the film's audio side which combines sound effects, wind and sometimes even the mixing of two different pieces of soundtrack music along with choral passages to create a score that alternates between disjointed primitive soundscapes along with sweeping grandeur.
    Kino Lorber's spectacular new blu ray shares the same 4k restoration that Studio Canel released last year of the longer British cut while adding a second disc with the same restoration of the 91 minute U.S. version.  Extras include interviews with Martine and Raquel (who at 75 looks like she could still climb into that fur bikini with no problem), a vintage interview with Ray Harryhausen, still gallery & trailers and a full length fact packed commentary by Tim Lucas on the long cut.




  


All above screen Caps Are From The Kino Lorber Blu-Ray





No better way to watch a Hammer dbl. feature then if your "scientifically cool" !