Category Archives: Horror
Creeping Horror | Eureka Classics presents four chillers from the Universal vaults on Blu-ray
From Eureka Entertainment comes Creeping Horror, four Universal Pictures chillers on UK Blu-ray as part of Eureka Classics range from 17 April 2023.
Murders in the Zoo (dir. A. Edward Sutherland, 1933)
Kathleen Burke, who played the panther woman in 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, encounters more horrors as Evelyn, the tormented wife of sadistic big-game hunter/zoologist Eric Gorman (Lionel Atwill) who uses his animal expertise to eliminate his rivals, and regards Evelyn as one of his caged animals, to be owned and mistreated. Just like Island of Lost Souls, Murders in the Zoo caused a bit of stir on its inital release owing to its genuinely frighening scenes: the film opens with Atwill sewing up some poor man’s mouth, while poor Burke ends up being torn to pieces after she’s thrown to alligators. Atwill delivering one of his most depraved, brutal performances, Randolph Scott is the dull as dish water hero, and loveable Charlie Ruggles provides the comic relief. I’ll be watching this one again.
Night Monster (dir. Ford Beebe, 1942)
All manner of spooky old dark house cliché’s abound in this enjoyable ‘quickie’ in which a series of murders occur after a wealthy, reclusive paraplegic (played by Ralph Morgan) invites the three doctors treating him to his gloomy home by a swamp. While top-billed, those masters of menace Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill get relegated to playing a grim humoured butler and one of the doctors (who gets bumped off in the first 20minutes), while the mix of victims and suspects is an indian mystic who conquers up a kneeling skeleton in one of the film’s most bizarre scenes, a creepy hunchback and the titluar Night Monster who is exactly who you think. Stock footage from Ghost of Frankenstein was used in the film’s Rebbeca-esque climax.
Horror Island (dir. George Waggner, 1941)
In between making The Wolf Man and Man Made Monster director George Waggner helmed this B-grade horror mystery in which The Mummy’s Hand‘s Dick Foran and Peggy Moran take a treasure cruise to an island off the coast of Florida with The Cisco Kid‘s Leo Carillo to seek out a pirate’s fortune, but a villian called ‘ The Phantom AKA Panama Pete’ is also after the booty. This noisy, messy comedy mystery wants to be another The Ghost Breakers, but fails on every level. Give it a miss!
House of Horrors (dir. Jean Yarbrough, 1946)
The one-and-only Rondo Hatton is ‘the Creeper’, a disfigured giant killer who is rescued from drowning by struggling sculptor Marcel de Lange ( Confessions of a Nazi Spy‘s Martin Kosleck) and ends up becoming his bone-crushing instrument of revenge on the critics who denigrated his work. Virginia Grey is the female reporter who cannily deduces that Lange is behind the killings, while Alan Napier plays one of the critics who gets his just desserts after dissing Lange’s work as ‘tripe’. Hatton had appeared uncredited in a host of films before landing this, the first of two starring roles (the other was The Brute), but both were released posthumously after his death from a heart attack on February 2, 1946. He has since gone on to become a cult icon and its worth getting this box-set just for this film (which I am certain had an influence on the Vincent Price-horror classics House of Wax in 1953 and even Theatre of Blood 20 years later. A highlight for me were the expressionist cubist sculptures that grace Lange’s studio.
- Limited Edition slipcase
- 1080p presentation of all four films across two Blu-ray discs
- Optional English SDH
- Audio commentary tracks on Night Monster and House of Horrors with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Audio commentary tracks on Murders in the Zoo and Horror Island with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
- Stills Galleries
- Trailers for Horror Island and Night Monster
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Jon Towlson
Bob Clark: Horror Collection | A trio of terror on limited edition Blu-ray from 101 Films
From 101 Films comes the limited edition UK Blu-ray release of the Bob Clark: Horror Collection, which brings together three of the American film-maker’s 1970s ground-breaking genre films: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972), Deathdream (AKA Dead of Night) (1974) and his slasher masterpiece Black Christmas (1974). Amongst the wealth of special features is the must-see documentary, Dreaming of Death, newly commissioned artwork, and a collector’s booklet. Available from 3 April 2023.
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)
Clark’s third directorial effort is an oddball comedic zombie horror in which a smarmy theatrical director (Alan Ormsby, who also wrote the screenplay and did most of the make-up effects) takes his troupe to an island to ‘act out’ a satanic ritual using the corpse of Orville Dunworth (Seth Sklarey). But they soon find themselves fighting for survival when the dead rise from their graves…
Despite its low budget and questionable acting, Clark’s Night of the Living Dead homage is an effective and atmospheric chiller, which benefits from a script littered with eminently quotable dialogue, colourful costumes, and cartoon-like scares (especially when the dead start to walk). The cast’s commentary about their experiences making the film (many while still in college) is a hoot – and I wish someone would do a remake from their perspective. Indeed, Clark had plans to do one before his tragic death in 2007 (in which he and his son were killed in a head-on car crash with a drunk driver).
• Commentary with Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
• Alan Ormsby Interview
• Memories of Bob Clark
• Confessions of a Grave Digger: Interview with Ken Goch
• Grindhouse Q&A
• Cemetery Mary – Music Video
• Dead Girls Don’t Say No – Music Video
• Photo Gallery
Deathdream/Dead of Night (1974)
When young American soldier Andy (Richard Backus) is shot and killed in Vietnam, his grief-stricken parents and sister refuse to accept the news. But when Andy suddenly returns, something is terribly wrong. The family suspect PTSD as Andy’s behaviour becomes erratic and then violent, but when he starts to visibly decay, it soon becomes apparent he’s one of the walking dead with an insatiable blood lust.
Posited as a critique of the Vietnam War, this is one of the most inventive and thought-provoking variations of WW Jacobs’ classic horror short story, The Monkey’s Paw, and marks Clark’s maturity as a filmmaker. Disturbing and tragic, it’s much more than just a horror film. It’s a haunting character study about the nature of man and war, thanks to Alan Ormsby’s insightful screenplay and Backus’ controlled yet menacing performance as the young man turned into it a monster because of his exposure to war. As Andy’s parents, who deal with their son’s transformation in very different ways, kudos go to John Marley and Lynn Carlin (who previously co-starred together in John Cassavetes’ Faces in 1968). The film also benefits from some gruesomely realistic make-up effects from Alan Ormsby (and, under his tutelage, Tom Savini).
• Dreaming of Death: This new feature-length documentary on the work of director Bob Clark is a must-see. In fact, it’s worth getting the box-set set just for this. Giving us the lowdown on the director’s three horror films are filmmaker/Delirium editor Chris Alexander, Black Christmas actress Lynne Griffin (who reveals all about the infamous plastic bag rocking chair scene), actor Art Hindle, composer Paul Zaza and author Simon Fitzjohn (Bob Clark: I’m Going to Kill You).
• Brand New Audio Commentary with Travis Crawford and Bill Ackerman
Black Christmas (1974)
As Christmas break begins, a group of sorority sisters, including Jess (Olivia Hussey) and Barb (Margot Kidder), begin to receive obscene phone calls that put them on edge. Initially, Barb encourages the caller but stops when he responds threateningly. Soon, Barb’s friend Claire (Lynne Griffin) goes missing, and a local girl is murdered, leading the girls to suspect a serial killer is on the loose. The police (led by John Saxon) finally act when a teenage girl is found dead in the park – setting up a wiretap to the sorority house, but no one realises just how near the killer really is!
Originally titled Silent Night, Evil Night in the US (because Black Christmas sounded like a blaxploitation title) and retitled Stranger in the House on US TV screenings (where it caused a bit of controversy), this 1974 stalk and slasher marked Clark’s first Canadian feature and the last of his genre films (although some do consider his 1979 Sherlock Holmes film, Murder by Decree as a horror) before finding fame and fortune with Porkys.
While it received mixed reviews on its release, it is now quite rightly regarded as a masterpiece of the horror genre and a key inspiration for John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween and, indeed, the whole slasher genre that followed in its wake. It has the perfect blend of chills, superb acting, strong, effective characterisations, and an evocative soundtrack – as well as one of the most chilling final shots in a horror movie moments ever – that makes it annual viewing in my household. And as for Nick Mancuso’s scary, demented phone voice? It chills me every time.
• Commentary with director Bob Clark (who provides the final word on his horror masterpiece)
• Commentary with actors John Saxon and Keir Dullea
• Commentary with actor Nick Mancuso
• Film and Furs: Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle
• Victims and Virgins: Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin
• Black Christmas Legacy
• 40th-anniversary reunion panel: Fan Expo Canada 2014
• TV and Radio Spots
• 12 Days of Black Christmas featurette
• Black Christmas Revisited featurette
• Midnight Screening Q&A with Bob Clark, John Saxon, and Carl Zittrer
The House That Screamed | At last! Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s supremely stylish gothic chiller gets the restoration it so richly deserves
I am so excited that one of my all-time favourite Euro-horrors is finally getting a proper restoration release in the UK courtesy of Arrow (released Monday, 6 March 2023).
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s 1969 gothic chiller The House That Screamed (AKA La residencia, The Finishing School) is a supremely stylish tale of frustrated passions and gruesome murder set in a 19th-century French boarding school starring Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbó, Mary Maud and John Moulder-Brown. If you have never seen it or heard of it… then now is the time to seek it out!
Thérèse (Galbó) is the latest arrival at a remote school for wayward girls run under the authoritarian eye of Mme Fourneau (Palmer). As the newcomer battles with strict routines and the whip-hand hierarchies among the girls, she learns that several students have recently vanished…
Meanwhile, tensions grow within this isolated hothouse environment as Mme Fourneau’s teenage son Luis (Moulder-Brown) ignores his mother’s strict orders not to get close to the ‘tainted’ ladies under her ward…
I first saw The House that Screamed on Australian TV in the mid-1980s while living with my university mates. Luckily we recorded it on VHS as we loved it so much (the Oedipal/Sadean themes causing much discussion) that it became our go-to Euro-horror to watch after a night out. I can still recite most of the dialogue, especially the film’s chilling final scene. A big hit in Spain (which was still in the grip of Franco’s regime), it became the country’s first international film success, with American International Pictures (AIP) heading up the film’s distribution in 1971.
For years, I’ve only had that VHS copy to return to, but a few years ago, I met Mary Maude (who plays Mme Fourneau’s ice-cold protege Irene) at a Film Fair in London and grabbed a DVD copy on sale for her to sign. Unfortunately, the quality was the same as what was then available on YouTube at the time. Then I stumbled on the German Blu-ray (Das Versteck), which was a slight improvement – but the 1:85:1 ratio was rather strange. Both were the original Spanish print – La residencia (with blue titles).
Now, finally restored to its director’s original full-length vision, The House That Screamed is ripe for rediscovery with Arrow releasing two versions – and once you have seen it (and heard Waldo de los Ríos’ gorgeously haunting score which really should have been included in this release), you may just want to put it in your Top 10 Euro horror list.
Think Ed Gein heading out for a Picnic at Hanging Rock!
ARROW LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of the 105-minute uncut version titled The Finishing School (La residencia), and the 94-minute US theatrical version titled The House That Screamed, via seamless branching
• Original lossless English mono audio on both versions and lossless Spanish audio on the uncut version
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both versions, and optional English subtitles for the Spanish audio
• Brand new audio commentary by critic Anna Bogutskaya
• This Boy’s Innocence, interview with actor John Moulder-Brown (this is by far my favourite extra on this release as Moulder-Brown has some very insightful recollections of working on the film when was just 15 years old)
• Archive interview with Mary Maude from 2012’s Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester
• All About My “Mama”, interview with Juan Tébar, author of the original story
• The Legacy of Terror, interview with the director’s son, Alejandro Ibáñez
• Screaming the House Down, interview with Spanish horror expert Dr Antonio Lázaro-Reboll, discussing the history of the film
• Alternative footage from the original Spanish theatrical version
• Original trailers, TV and radio spots
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Shelagh Rowan-Legg and a double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn | The Creeper is back!
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (which is out now on Blu-ray from 101 Films in the UK) is the fourth film in the horror franchise, which was unleashed back in 2001 by controversial writer-director Victor Salva.
After two hugely successful instalments, Salva and his demonic serial killer, The Creeper, laid dormant until 2017, when a third film got a one-night-only cinema release before heading to TV and a home entertainment release.
This ‘reboot’ removes Salva from any involvement – most probably due to the dark cloud that continues to hover over his career – but is this ‘reboot’ any good? Well, not really! Here’s why!
Taking the helm is Finnish director Timo Vuorensola, whose previous films included a huge fave of mine Iron Sky and its sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race, while Jarreau Benjamin replaces Jonathan Breck, the actor who portrayed Creeper in the original trilogy.
Tapping into the latest horror trends, the plot involves a young couple – loveable geek Chase (Imran Adams – Hollyoaks, Ghosts) and his pregnant girlfriend Laine (Sydney Craven – EastEnders, A Christmas Carol) – who win an escape room experience while attending a horror convention in Louisiana. But it’s a trap set by the satanic followers of The Creeper, who’s after Laine’s unborn child.
So why didn’t I like it? Well, a number of things. The film (which was shot primarily at the Black Hangar Studios in Hampshire here in the UK) comes off looking like a computer game. There’s lots of CGI used for the ‘escape room’ house and the birds, which play an important role. Maybe that was what the director was aiming for (just as he had done in the Iron Sky films), but it just made it less real – fake, even. It’s a shame because there’s a Devil’s Rain kind of film itching to get out here (especially with the introduction of The Creeper’s satanic followers – but they aren’t explained nor developed enough).
Also the convention crowd scenes are poorly staged, with the same dozen extras gyrating, dancing and mucking about that don’t match the final music edit (Focus on one extra instead of the main characters, and you’ll see what I mean).
The Creeper isn’t creepy at all. Jarreau Benjamin does an admiral job, but he lacks the otherworldly ‘feral-ness’ of Breck’s incarnation. And what’s greatly missed (for me) is that it’s devoid of any of the homoerotism that bubbled beneath the surface of Salva’s originals – and made The Creeper so darn creepy. Saying that the cast give their all to make their characters believable, and it was great to see some young British talent getting to strut their stuff.
The Ballad of Tam Lin | Ava Gardner casts a seductive spell in Roddy McDowall’s off-kilter British fantasy curio on Blu-ray
In her last major lead role and 44th feature, Hollywood legend Ava Gardner holds seductive sway in the rarely seen, often overlooked 1970 British fantasy, The Ballad of Tam Lin, which was also the sole directorial credit of Roddy McDowall (who ‘escaped’ the Planet of the Apes to do his pet project). It’s certainly a weird one, and that’s probably why I love it so much. Think part folk horror/part Blow-Up style Swinging Sixties critique, shot through a psychedelic lens.
Based on a folkloric Robert Burns poem, the fantasy centres all on Gardner as the Praying mantis-like Michaela Cazaret, an immortal witch/creature whose current lover/victim is London photographer Tom Lynn (Ian McShane). With her coterie of thrill-seeking hipster hangers-on (who imbue her with the energy she needs to survive), Michaela heads to her moorland estate in the Scottish Borders for some psychological fun and games. But when Tom falls for the local vicar’s daughter Janet (Stephanie Beacham), who soon falls pregnant, Tom is doomed to ritual sacrifice…
Gardner’s presence permeates the screen thanks to McDowall’s devoted direction, and she looks every inch the screen goddess thanks to cinematographer Billy Williams’ lighting and framing. McDowall pre-planned every shot, and the results are sublime. He then paired his meticulously curated images with a heady mix of musical styles, including songs by folk favourites Pentangle and an evocative score by composer supremo Stanley Myers.
Supporting the divine Gardner is a bevvy of up-and-coming British talent, including McShane and Beachman, as well as Joanna Lumley, Madeline Smith and Jenny Hanley, elder statesmen Cyril Cusack and Richard Wattis, and also a pre-Rocky Horror Peter Hinwood and pre-Withnail and I Bruce Robinson.
Of course, the big question is, why didn’t McDowall go on to direct more films? Some say that as a keen/professional photographer, he had done what he set out to do. Another theory is that he was so stung by the debacle (which is explained in the audio commentary and booklet) that caused the film to sink into obscurity (after its truncated 1972 US release at The Devil’s Widow) that he just gave up. It’s a pity, as I would have loved to see what he’d do next. Still, if he had, he may not have continued with the Apes films (particularly my favourite, 1972’s Conquest of the Planet of the Apes).
I am so pleased it has been given so much renewed love in this BFI UK release. But it is the extras that make this a must-have for any cult film collector – as it includes an insightful audio commentary by the BFI Flipside co-founders, plus interviews with cast members Ian McShane, Stephanie Beacham and Madeline Smith, and Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee. Also included are some typically offbeat extras that so fit the BFI Flipside’s quirky and obscure agenda. An Australian Blu-ray release was also put out in November 2021 by Imprint, with a mix and match of similar extras (check them out below).
- Presented in High Definition in the original aspect ratio 2.35:1 // BD50: 1080p, 24fps, PCM 2.0 mono audio (48kHz/24-bit)
- Audio commentary by BFI Flipside co-founders William Fowler and Vic Pratt (2021)
- Love You and Leave You For Dead (2021, 11 mins): Ian McShane on Tam Lin
- An Eerie Tale to Tell (2021, 10 mins): Stephanie Beacham on Tam Lin
- Ballad of a B-Movie: Revisiting Tam Lin (2021, 12 mins): an interview with Roddy McDowall biographer David Del Valle
- Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen: Ava Gardner (1998, 18 mins): Roddy McDowall remembers Ava Gardner and The Ballad of Tam Lin in this adoring archive introduction
- Adventures Along the Way (2022, 32 mins): an interview with Madeline Smith
- Listening In (2022, 27 mins): Jacqui McShee, the lead singer of the seminal British folk group Pentangle, recalls the writing and recording of the film’s cult soundtrack
- Hans Zimmer on Stanley Myers (2021, 20 mins, audio only): the much-loved composer discusses the work of Stanley Myers
- Red Red? Red (Jim Weiss, Chris Maudson, John Phillips, 1971, 34 mins): an impressionistic study of a commune in Devon where people dress up, play instruments, make love and take part in strange revolutionary games
- Border Country (26 mins): rare short films from the BFI National Archive reveal rural lifestyles at Scotland’s edge
- Theatrical trailer
- Booklet with a new essay on the film by the BFI’s William Fowler, essays by Sam Dunn and Corinna Reicher, a contemporary review by Tom Milne from Monthly Film Bulletin and notes on the special features and credits
ORDER from the BFI Shop: https://shop.bfi.org.uk/the-ballad-of-tam-lin-blu-ray.html
THE US IMPRINT EXTRAS NOT PORTED OVER
• Audio Commentary from author and journalist Dr Adam Scovell
• Interview with Cinematographer Billy Williams;
• Interview with Actress Delia Lindsay
• Interview with Actor Kiffer Weisselberg
• Interview with Assistant First Director Peter Boyle
• Tam Lin & the representations of the witch in film Visual Essay from author Kat Ellinger
Karloff in Maniacal Mayhem | Three creepy classics from the Universal vaults head to Blu-ray
From Eureka Entertainment comes Maniacal Mayhem – the two-disc Blu-ray boxset featuring three tales of terror from the Universal archives starring Boris Karloff: The Invisible Ray (1936), Black Friday (1940) and The Strange Door (1951). Available from 17 October 2022.
Each film is presented in 1080p from 2K scans of the original film elements with optional English SDH. Also included is a limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on all three films by film writers Andrew Graves, Rich Johnson, and Craig Ian Mann.
While The Invisible Ray and Black Friday were previously included in the first volume of Scream! Factory’s Universal Horror Collection in the US, this is the first Blu-ray outing for The Strange Door.
THE INVISIBLE RAY (dir. Lambert Hillyer, 1936)
This vintage sci-fi sees Karloff playing the first of his many sympathetic scientist-turned-society menace roles and is a direct follow-up to his first pairing with Bela Lugosi, 1935’s The Raven. He plays astronomer Dr Janos Rukh (Karloff), who is contaminated by a super-powerful element he dubs Radium X. Lugosi is Dr Benet, a fellow scientist who devises a temporary antidote. But when Benet presents the discovery as his own, Rukh becomes consumed by revenge and goes on a killing spree.
Featuring effective luminescent special effects from John P Fulton, some great sets (borrowed from Flash Gordon and Frankenstein), excellent performances from Karloff and Lugosi, and a thrilling climax in which Violet Kemble Cooper (playing Karloff’s mother) saves the day, The Invisible Ray is a sci-fi classic that still stands up today. Footage later turned up in the 1939 Lugosi serial, The Phantom Creeps.
• Audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author/critic Kim Newman
• Stills galleries – production stills, artwork and ephemera
BLACK FRIDAY (dir. Arthur Lubin, 1940)
Karloff and Lugosi are at it again in this bizarre gangster/horror film penned by Curt Siodmak. Karloff plays amoral surgeon Dr Sovac, who transplants part of a mobster’s brain into the body of his dying college professor friend George (Stanley Ridges), creating a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure who starts murdering his former criminal associates.
This was the last of the Karloff-Lugosi Universal pairings. Unfortunately, they have no scenes together. Originally, Karloff was to play the professor and Lugosi the doctor. Still, Karloff didn’t want to do another dual role (he’d already down that in 1935’s The Black Room), so Lugosi got short shrift by the director and handed a minor role instead – which is a shame because this is quite a thrilling little gem, which plays more like a crime film than outright horror. Ridges, however, does an excellent job playing the two roles. Writer Siodmak later revisited the brain transplant idea in his 1942 sci-fi novel Donovan’s Brain and its subsequent 1953 film adaptation.
• Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
• Stills galleries – production stills, artwork and ephemera
THE STRANGE DOOR (dir. Joseph Pevney, 1951)
Charles Laughton takes centre stage as the wicked 18th-century French nobleman Sire Alain de Maletroit, who has imprisoned his brother Edmond (Paul Cavanagh) in a dungeon for 20 years. Now he wants to ruin the life of his niece Blanche (Sally Forrest) by forcing her to marry the roguish Denis de Beaulieu (Richard Stapley). But his plan is upset when Denis attempts to rescue the girl, aided by Karloff’s abused servant, Voltan.
Coming out a year before The Black Castle, this costume shocker based loosely on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson boasts an incredibly OTT performance from Laughton, who outshines everyone else in the cast – including Karloff, who stays in the shadows for most of the film.
In his biography, Charles Laughton – A Difficult Actor, Simon Callow wrote of his performance, ‘he messes sloppily around, pulling faces, slobbering, leering, chuckling, wheezing, a nightmarish display of an acting machine out of control’. He’s so spot on – and that’s what makes this so much fun to watch.
You also get some wonderfully evocative Gothic sets and dressing, including a creepy cemetery and castle backdrop that’s pure classic horror Universal-style. Indeed this was the last of the studio’s period chillers before it headed into science fiction territory. Also appearing are Batman‘s Alan Napier and a fave of mine, Australian actor Michael Pate.
• Audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author/critic Kim Newman
• Three radio adaptations of The Sire de Maletroit’s Door (Escape – 4 August 1947, Theatre Royal – 1 November 1953, CBS Radio Mystery Theatre – 6 February 1975)
• Stills galleries – production stills, artwork and ephemera
The Mummy and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell | The Hammer horror classics get a Limited Edition Blu-ray release
From Second Sight Films comes the Hammer Horror classics The Mummy (1958) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) on Blu-ray in a Limited Edition set on 29 August 2022. But are they worth double-dipping? Well, you do get some new commentaries and featurettes, plus some super art cards and gorgeous new artwork by Graham Humphreys. But you will have to make up your own mind. Here are my comparisons.
THE MUMMY – SPECIAL FEATURES
• Main feature presented in original UK theatrical aspect ratio 1.66:1 and alternative full frame 1.37:1: These are the same as the 2012 Icon Home Entertainment release.
• New audio commentary by film academic Kelly Robinson:
• Audio commentary by Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby: Ported over from the Icon release.
• An Appreciation of The Mummy by David Huckvale: This is new, and David is always of great value.
• The Music of The Mummy: Ditto, and David really is the go-to guy for all things musical.
• Unwrapping The Mummy (28:40): Ported over from the Icon release.
• The House of Horror – Memories of Bray (46:40): Also ported over, thankfully, as it includes interviews with many Hammer alumni who are no longer with us, such as Barbara Shelley and Renee Glynne.
• The Hammer Rep Company (14:20): Johnathan Rigby’s insightful featurette has been ported over too.
• Original Promo Reel (5:31): Also on the Icon release.
• Stills Gallery (6:58): Ported over too.
• New artwork by Graham Humphreys: Simply divine illustration work, of course.
• Collector’s book with new essays by Kat Ellinger, Lindsay Hallam and Kevin Lyons plus production stills
• Five art cards
WHAT’S MISSING: The 2012 Icon Home Entertainment Blu-ray also included an episode of The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars Peter Cushing and a bonus feature directed by Terence Fisher, Stolen Face (1952)
FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL – SPECIAL FEATURES
• Main feature presented in original UK theatrical aspect ratio 1.66:1 and alternative full frame 1.37:1: These are the same as the 2014 Icon Home Entertainment release and are the full uncut version of the film (unlike the Shout!/Scream Factory 2020 Blu-ray release, which is the censored US theatrical version that loses a couple of minutes of extra gore footage.
• New audio commentary by film academic Kat Ellinger
• Archive audio commentary by Shane Briant, Madeline Smith and Marcus Hearn: This has been ported over from the Icon release and is most welcomed here, considering Shane’s passing in 2021.
• An Appreciation of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell by David Huckvale: This is new, and as I’ve said before, David’s contributions are always entertaining.
• The Music of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell: David is back again tinkling the ivories and discussing James Bernard’s score.
• Taking Over the Asylum: This has been ported over from the 2014 release and includes Denis Meikle and Shane Briant, who have since passed away.
• Charming Evil: Terence Fisher at Hammer: Likewise, this was on the 2014 Blu-ray.
• Stills Gallery: Ported over too.
• New artwork by Graham Humphreys: Great work, as usual from Graham.
• Soft cover book with new essays by Kevin Lyons, Kelly Robinson and Emma Westwood plus production stills
• Five collectors’ art cards
The Curious Dr. Humpp | The Argentine sexploitation cult horror on Blu-ray
The Curious Dr. Humpp is one of the most bizarre sexploitation films ever made – but so worthy of its cult status. And now you see it for yourself in this new Blu-ray release from 101 Films (available from 18 July 2022).
‘Permit your libidos to soar!’
A weird robot-like monster abducts seemingly random victims that are taken to the estate of morose mad scientist Dr Humpp (Aldo Barbero), who gives them an aphrodisiac formula ‘that turns humans into veritable screwing machines’.
With the aid of his former mentor, now a living, breathing, talking disembodied brain in a jar, the good doctor drains blood from the copulating couples (‘Let the lesbians share one room; I want to observe them’) that keeps him eternally young. ‘Sex dominates the world and now I dominate sex!’.
But when news reporter George (Ricardo Bauleo) is captured too, it’s up to Inspector Benedict (Héctor Biuchet) to find Humpp’s hideout before George is drained.
Shot with an artful eye to the Euro horrors of Mario Bava, Ricardo Frieda and their ilk, The Curious Dr. Humpp is a weird fusion of gothic horror, adventure serials and nudie movies, directed by Emilio Vieyra, atmospherically shot in black and white by Aníbal González Paz, and featuring an evocative score from Víctor Buchino. Add in that talking brain, the hideous guitar-playing monster, and some young ladies in sheer nighties, then stir in lots of dry ice, and you have one hell of a wicked brew.
Alas, the film also includes some 18-minutes of ‘sexy’ inserts – basically couples fondling each other in close-up. This was not of Vieyra’s making, but the producer’s. As such, this ‘Adult’s Only’ cut of the film was poorly received both in the US in 1970 (where it was given an English dub) and in Argentina in 1971. It was only when it was released on VHS by Something Weird Video in the 1990s as part of Frank Henenlotter’s Sexy Shockers From the Vaults series, that it found its proper audience.
‘Wow. How come this went unnoticed when it was released here in 1970?
Didn’t audiences go berserk when they saw it? An amazing out-of-control, instant cult classic,
quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. The world needs more movies like this‘. Frank Henenlotter
Thankfully, this 101 Films x AGFA + Something Weird Blu-ray release gives today’s cult film fans a chance to see the film at its best – as it includes both edits of the film in brand-new restorations. Plus, there’s a must-listen commentary from legendary Basket Case director Henenlotter, who gives the full lowdown on not only the film’s production but also its lasting legacy thanks to the work of Something Weird Video’s Mike Vraney.
• Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm internegative
• Commentary track with Frank Henenlotter
• La Venganza del Sexo: the 2K restoration of the original cut of The Curious Dr. Humpp from a 35mm fine-grain lab print. Presented in Spanish, with English subtitles (just remember to switch them on, unlike what I did, duh?)
• Shorts and trailers
• Reversible cover artwork
• English subtitles
The Appointment | The rarely-seen 1980’s Brit horror starring Edward Woodward gets a BFI Flipside release
Courtesy of the BFI, comes the 44th Flipside release, The Appointment, the rarely-seen British horror directed by Lindsay Vickers, on Blu-ray (11 July) and on iTunes and Amazon Prime (25 July).
Edward Woodward and Jane Merrow star as suburban parents Ian and Dianna, who finds themselves troubled by prophetic nightmares when Ian is unable to attend his daughter’s violin recital. Are dark forces about to be unleashed upon their comfortable life? And what has it to do with the mysterious disappearance of a local schoolgirl many years ago?
The Appointment was the only feature film directed by British filmmaker Lindsey Vickers. After honing his skills as a third and second assistant director on a host of 1970s Hammer films, including Taste the Blood of Dracula and Vampire Circus, and the Amicus horror, And Now the Screaming Starts, Vickers helmed a short film, The Lake.
In this 33-minute creeper, a young couple (played by Gene Foad and Julie Peasgood) and their loveable rottweiler (courtesy of Joan Woodgate, who supplied the dogs for The Omen) are beset by evil spirits at a lake beside a country house where a series of brutal murders took place. This was Vickers’ calling card to the British film industry. But no offers came, so he took up the difficult challenge (financially) to make his own feature, The Appointment.
Drawing on similar spooky themes he explored in The Lake, Vickers’ crafted a slow-burning chiller that culminates in a WTF ‘edge-of-your-seat’ ending. The director remarks in the extras that he felt the film was too slow, but watching the BFI’s new Blu-ray release, it only makes it all the more unsettling.
Before the shock ending (which features some adrenaline-pumping stunt work on location in Snowdonia), you are led into a false sense of security as you watch a normal family domestic drama play out. Woodward’s character, Ian, is miffed that he has been called away on business, and this doesn’t bode well with his musically-gifted teenage daughter, Joanne (Samantha Weysom). She may or may not be a conduit to the evil powers at play, and it’s never fully explained – as is a car mechanic’s gruesome demise. But, again, it’s what makes the film so bewitching and unique.
Oh, and watch out for the scene involving a telephone box – it’s a masterclass in creating suspense through careful editing. Also making a return appearance are Joan Woodgate’s rottweilers (although much more menacing this time around).
Following its British television airing, The Appointment, quickly faded into obscurity and, when the directing offers failed to materialise, Vickers turned his hand to commercials for the rest of his career. Thankfully, the BFI’s Flipside team have resurrected Vickers’ film for a new generation of film fans to appreciate, alongside some great extras (my favourite being an interview with Lindsay and his wife Jan – their memories of watching the film’s TV debut are a hoot).
- Presented on Blu-ray in Standard Definition
- Newly recorded audio commentary by director Lindsey Vickers
- Vickers on Vickers (2021, 41 mins): the director looks back on his life and career
- Another Outing (2021, 16 mins): Jane Merrow recalls co-starring in The Appointment
- Appointments Shared (2022, 7 mins): Lindsey and Jan Vickers remember the making of the ‘haunted film’
- Framing The Appointment (2022, 19 mins): Lindsey Vickers recalls making the film
- Remembering The Appointment (2022, 10 mins): assistant director Gregory Dark shares his recollections of the film
- The Lake (1978, 33 mins): Lindsey Vickers’ eerie short finds two young lovers choosing to picnic at a spot haunted by echoes of a violent event
- Newly recorded audio commentary on The Lake by Lindsey Vickers
- Splashing Around (2020, 18 mins): actor Julie Peasgood on making The Lake
- Galleries featuring annotated scripts, storyboards, images and production materials
- Newly commissioned sleeve art by Matt Needle
- Illustrated booklet with new writing by Lindsey Vickers including a message about this release, Vic Pratt and William Fowler; biographies of Edward Woodward and Jane Merrow by Jon Dear, notes on the special features and credits
Edge of Sanity (1989) | The lurid Anthony Perkins Jekyll and Hyde meets Jack the Ripper horror on Blu-ray
When his experiments into a new anaesthetic using cocaine go awry, respected London physician Dr Jekyll (Anthony Perkins) takes off into the night in pursuit of sensual pleasures under the guise of Mr Jack Hyde. As his wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber) continues her charity work with Whitechapel’s fallen women, Jekyll’s growing addiction draws him into an escalating cycle of lust and murder as the seemingly unstoppable Hyde. Can he be saved? Does he want to be saved?
Produced by the legend that is Harry Alan Towers (AKA the king of the co-production deal), this 1989 independent horror is an intoxicating fusion of Robert Louis Stephenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Jack the Ripper’s real-life reign of terror over Victorian London – but with an interesting (contemporary) spin that incorporates the power of drugs to unleash the unconscious mind.
From an idea by Towers (under his Peter Welbeck pseudonym) and helmed with a surreal, lurid eye by French erotica director Gérard Kikoïne, Edge of Sanity afforded Perkins one of the best performances in his final years before his death in 1992. Sporting just a bit of red eyeliner and red lipstick, a pallid complexion, and greased down bangs, he brings his bisexual drug fiend Hyde to savage, livid life (and chews the scenery in the best possible way), and effectively counterpoints this with a gentlemanly, staid Jekyll, who is the embodiment of Victorian values.
The film also boasts hugely atmospheric lighting and camerawork, and evocative Budapest location work. Indeed just some set-up shots were filmed in London, but you’d never guess – except for one scene that takes place at Budapest’s famed Art Nouveau Gellért Thermal Bath. Kikoïne also makes excellent use of the red and pink-tinged brothel set for the film’s kinky hallucinogenic scenes that border on Ken Russell-styled excess.
Thanks to this new 2k restoration, this is the best the film has ever looked. Indeed I had only ever seen it before in a muddy VHS print, so this has been a revelation – as have been the extras, which add a new dimension to the horror slasher.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative by Arrow Films
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original uncompressed stereo audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Audio commentary by writer David Flint and author/filmmaker Sean Hogan
• French Love: an interview with director Gérard Kikoïne (French with subtitles)
• Staying Sane: Gérard Kikoïne discusses Edge of Sanity (French with subtitles)
• Edward’s Edge: an interview with Edward Simons
• Over the Edge: Stephen Thrower on Edge of Sanity (ED: loved Stephen’s analysis of the film’s anachronisms which places Hyde into a late-1980s post-punk, goth and alt clubbing context and compares them with the visual style of Derek Jarman)
• Jack, Jekyll and Other Screen Psychos: an interview with Jack the Ripper in Film and Culture author Dr Clare Smith
• Theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jon Towlson