Category Archives: Might-See

Cujo | The 1980s rabid dog horror from the pen of Stephen King gets a limited edition UK Blu-ray release

Evil bites when a drooling rabid dog lays siege to the frightened occupants of a broken-down car in this 1983 horror from director Lewis Teague (Alligator, The Jewel of the Nile), based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name.

While Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic Trenton (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) struggle to save their rocky marriage, their son Tad (Danny Pintauro) befriends the St Bernard who belongs to their mechanic. But what they don’t realise is that a bat bite is transforming Cujo into a vicious killer. With Vic away on business, Donna and Tad’s car trouble pushes them into a living nightmare…

Alongside Maximum Overdrive and Cat’s Eye, this is one of the weakest Stephen King adaptations, but it did do modest business at the box-office back in 1983 when hit became the fourth-highest grossing horror of the year. The simple premise is of a car breaking down, but in order to flesh out the film’s running time, it does so several times.

Dee Wallace and Who’s the Boss’ Danny Pintauro handle their roles pretty well, and Lewis does his best in the director’s chair which was originally occupied by Peter Medak (who left the project two days into filming). But Moe, the St Bernard, who plays Cujo is just too darn loveable looking, even with all that slobber coated over him, to make a convincing hell hound. And valiantly trying to generate suspense with his mobile camera is cinematographer Jan de Bont, who went on to direct Speed.

Eureka Classics’ Limited Edition 2-disc Blu-ray edition is available to order from Amazon

Check out the full specs below.

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION [4000 UNITS] CONTAINS
• Hardbound Slipcase, featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Justin Osbourn and original poster artwork
• 60-page Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author Scott Harrison, and Craig Ian Mann; illustrated with archival imagery from the film’s production.

DISC ONE
• 1080p presentation of the film, on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK
• Uncompressed LPCM mono soundtrack
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo
• New interviews with Dee Wallace [40 mins], composer Charles Bernstein [35 mins], stunt people Gary Morgan [25 mins] and Jean Coulter [21 mins], casting director Marcia Ross. [20 mins], visual effects artist Kathie Lawrence [13 mins], special effects designer Robert Clark [12 mins] and dog trainer Teresa Miller [28 mins]
Dog Days: The Making of Cujo – archival documentary on the film’s production [42 mins]

DISC TWO [Limited Edition Only]
• Q&A with Dee Wallace from Cinemaniacs & Monster Fest 2015 [96 mins]
• New interview with critic and author Kim Newman [25 mins]

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The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (1971) | Riccardo Freda’s luridly over-the-top giallo

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Talky and torturous, with a totally nonsensical plot, Riccardo Freda’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (aka L’iguana dalla lingua di fuoco) is one of several ‘animal-in-the-title’ giallo cash-ins released in the wake of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and now heads to Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video.

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Set in Dublin, it opens with an acid-throwing, razor-wielding maniac viciously slaying a young woman. When the victim’s butchered corpse is discovered in a limo owned by Ambassador Sobiesky (Anton Diffring), a police investigation is launched.

It turns out the murdered woman was the Ambassador’s lover, but Sobiesky refuses to cooperate with the police, claiming diplomatic immunity.

Troubled ex-cop, John Norton (Luigi Pistilli), is then brought in to assist, but as he starts up an affair with the Ambassador’s step-daughter, Helen (Dagmar Lassander), his own family are soon placed in danger as the maniac continues their killing spree…

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Now I’m not sure whether director Riccardo Freda was just having an off-day when he was making this or whether he decided to say ‘to hell with it’, let’s play fast and furious with giallo convention and spoof the genre, but Iguana is a confusing mess of a film.

Shot with a tourists eye on Dublin’s iconic O’Connell Street and around the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare (acrophobiacs beware), and featuring overblown (vocal) performances from the likes of Valentina Cortese (who plays Sobiesky’s glamourous wife as if she were Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond), plus a rousing score by Stelvio Cipriani, Freda’s luridly over-the-top murder mystery is, bizarrely, also quite mesmerising.

I just got carried away by the visuals, the score and the rather disturbing death scenes. I particularly loved how Cipriani introduced crashing instrumental sounds every time there was a close-up of a pair of glasses or a cigarette lighter. Intentional or not, it’s quite hilarious in a Garth Marenghi kind of way – as is the explanation as to the film’s title (you have to hear it to believe it during a scene between Norton and a shrink).

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Now, you can experience Iguana yourself with Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray release, which features some excellent extras. My personal favourite was Lovely Jon’s featurette on Cipriani, which has spurred me in tracking down the composer’s other scores (there’s quite a few) iincluding this film’s score which Arrow are releasing on purple vinyl; while I had to laugh that even academic Richard Dyer found the film as messed up as I did.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
• Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles  for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary by giallo connoisseurs Adrian J Smith and David Flint
Of Chameleons and Iguanas: video appreciation by the cultural critic Richard Dyer
Considering Cipriani: appreciation of composer Stelvio Cipriani by DJ and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon
The Cutting Game: new interview with Iguana’s assistant editor Bruno Micheli
The Red Queen of Hearts: interview with the actress Dagmar Lassander
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector’s booklet (First pressing only)

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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) | The horror hostess’ big screen debut busts out on Blu-ray

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great-aunt Morgana Talbot’s estate. Arriving in the small New England town of Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim her inheritance (which include a mansion, a recipe book and a poodle called Algonquin), Elvira receives a less than enthusiastic reception from the conservative locals – amongst them, her sinister great uncle (W. Morgan Sheppard), who unbeknownst to Elvira, is a warlock who secretly schemes to lay his hands on the old family spell book for his own nefarious ends…

Campy, quirky and stuffed to the brim with double entendres, 1988’s Elvira: Mistress of the Dark helped solidify the horror hostess (Cassandra Peterson) as a major pop culture icon, and she owns every inch of the screen here with her quick wit, sass, and of course, cleavage-enhancing gown!

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Arrow Video’s Special Edition (out on 10 December 2018) features a brand-new restoration from a 4K scan of the original interpositive, high definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation and original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles and the following special extras…

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Introduction to the film by director James Signorelli
• 2017 audio commentary with director James Signorelli and Fangoria Editor Emeritus Tony Timpone
• 2017 audio commentary with Patterson Lundquist
• Archival audio commentary with actors Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg and writer John Paragon
• Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – newly-revised 2018 version of the making-of documentary including never-before-seen archival material
• Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster – newly-revised 2018 version of this featurette on the concept and design of the pot monster, as well as the other SFX of the movie
• Original Storyboards
• Original US Theatrical and Teaser Trailers
• Newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patterson Lundquist and a short note on the 2012 audio commentary by Sam Irvin

Here’s the unrestored teaser trailer…

Iwrin Allen’s 1960s sci-fi show The Time Tunnel on HD Blu-ray in the UK

The Time Tunnel

From the golden age of TV sci-fi comes Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel, starring James Darren and Robert Colbert in sparkling HD

Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America’s greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time…

The control of time is potentially the most valuable treasure that man will ever find. Or so believe the scientists of Project Tic-Toc. Located deep beneath the Arizona desert, the 10-year project’s focus is the feasibility of time travel.

But when the government reconsiders the project, the scientists, led by Lt General Heywood Kirk (Whit Bissell), have only 24 hours to prove their untested Time Tunnel will actually work. Determined to save the project, Dr Tony Newman (James Darren) and Dr Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) go through the tunnel – and quickly find themselves catapulted from one historical event to another (from the sinking of the Titantic to the attack on Pearl Habor), barely escaping with their lives as their colleagues race to figure out a way to bring them back home in one piece…

The Time Tunnel

The BBC only showed 13 episodes of Irwin Allen’s third sci-fi series in 1968 as broadcasts were stopped to make way of the Olympics (held between 12-27 October 1968), and the show never returned to the BBC. Some ITV regions picked up the series in subsequent years, but other areas only got to see the full series when it was broadcast in the early 1990’s on ITV.

This new release, which features all 30 episodes presented in the original broadcast order, is produced from HD digital restoration masters created from the original negatives to ensure the best visual experience available. The seven-disc collector’s Blu-ray edition comes packed with special features and a brand new 5.1 surround sound mix, alongside the original mono audio.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Original Unaired Pilot Episode (HD Version)
• 2002 Unaired TV Pilot
• Time Travelers TV Movie
• Cast Interviews
• Irwin Allen’s Behind-The-Scenes Home Movies – UK Edit (No Audio)
• Promotional TV & Radio Spots
• Visual Effects
• Camera Test (No Audio)
• Stills Galleries
• New 5.1 surround sound mix and original mono audio

Koch Media/Revelation Films presents The Time Tunnel on seven-disc Blu-ray from 5 November
ORDER HERE: https://amzn.to/2vv8CoV

Troll: The Complete Collection | The 1980s fantasy franchise gets a Eureka Classics Limited Edition Blu-ray release

Troll (1986)

Long before a certain young wizard called Harry Potter waged a magical war against the dreaded Lord Voldemort, another youngster, also called Harry Potter, found himself battling a pint-sized dark wizard in the 1986 fantasy comedy Troll.

Troll (1986)

While critically-panned at the time, Troll has become something of a cult curiosity ever since it scored big on the home video business, where it even overtook The Goonies in rentals. Noah Hathaway from Never Ending Story fame plays the spunky hero, Harry Potter Jr, who comes under the tutelage of a white witch called Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart of Lost in Space fame) when his sister Wendy is possessed by Torok (Phil Fondacaro) – a powerful fairy (and Eunice’s former lover) who was turned into a troll after starting a war between fairies and humans.

Troll (1986)

Small, smart, dripping with saliva, and with teeth that would keep a dentist in bridgework for life, Torok wants to transform the human world back into the grand, magical kingdom that existed many centuries ago… With just 72 hours to complete his mission, Torok creates his fairy world inside a San Francisco apartment block and starts turning its tenants, including Sonny Bono, a pre-Seinfield Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Phil Fondacaro (who also plays a friendly neighbour), into goblins, nymphs and elves. Armed with Eunice’s magical staff, Harry then heads into the alternate world to save the day…

Troll (1986)

Troll was the brainchild of two protégés from Roger Corman’s New World quickies, screenwriter and former Fangoria-editor Ed Naha and director/sfx artist John Carl Buechler. It was originally planned to be a blood-drenched R-rated horror flick set in a sleazy motel called Goblin for Corman, but got transformed into a PG-13 fantasy in the Ghoulies and Gremlins mold when it was greenlit by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures.

While it has its faults, Troll boasts some neat practical effects, but is also packed with some delightfully odd moments, including a bizarre elfin-led musical number, June Lockhart turning into her real-life daughter Anne – not to mention Moriarty’s hyperactive turn as Harry’s 1960’s music-jiving dad (also called Harry Potter) and the film within the film called Pod People from the Planet Mars which plays on a TV set during all the mischief and mayhem.

Troll 2 (1990)

In the unrelated 1990 sequel, Troll 2, produced by prolific Italian film-maker Joe D’Amato, young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) makes a connection between the local residents of a town called Nilbog (try writing it backwards?) and a fairytale he was told by his grandfather (Robert Ormsby). Realising that the townsfolk are all goblins, he tries to prevent his family from eating any food before they are turned into vegetable matter…

My word, this is really bad – and not in a good way! In fact, its downright painful to sit through such bad acting, dialogue and makeup effects. This is only for cult film masochists or Joe D’Amato completists. In 2009, Stephenson, directed a documentary about the film’s production and subsequent popularity, humorously titled Best Worst Movie, which is also included in the Blu-ray box-set, as part of the Eureka Classics series, along with the following special features…

The Making of Troll: featuring director John Carl Buechler, producer Charles Band, Writer Ed Naha, composer Richard Band and more
• Audio commentary on Troll 2 with actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed
Best Worst Movie: deleted scenes and interview footage
• Interview with Deborah Reed
• Screenwriting Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Michael Stephenson and George Hardy
• Fan contributions
• Monstrous – Music Video by ECOMOG
• Booklet featuring rare archival material
• Limited Edition O Card slipcase featuring artwork by Devon Whitehead

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The Night Walker (1964) | William Castle’s twisty thriller moves to a haunting Vic Mizzy beat

The Night Walker (1964)From Final Cut Entertainment comes the first-time UK DVD release of William Castle’s 1964 thriller The Night Walker.

In her last feature film before heading to TV land, Barbara Stanwyck reunited with her former husband Robert Taylor for this mystery-suspense from legendary showman Castle, who casts aside his usual gimmicks and instead relies on the reputation of Psycho author Robert Bloch, who wrote the screenplay under the original title, The Dream Killer.

The Night Walker (1964)

Stanwyck plays Irene Trent, a former beauty-parlour owner who is plagued by dreams of a fantasy lover. When her blind, possessive inventor husband Howard (Hayden Rorke) is killed in an explosion in the upstairs lab of their mansion home, Irene inherits his fortune…

But fact and fantasy get all messed up when Irene’s lover (Lloyd Bochner) appears before her and whisks her off to be married. Unsure whether it was a dream or not, Irene enlists the help of her husband’s attorney, Barry Moreland (Robert Taylor), to uncover the truth… But all is not what it seems as The Night Walker makes his nightmarish return…

The Night Walker (1964)

Aside from the twists, turns and red-herrings, there’s some genuinely creepy moments to be found in the monochrome chiller, including a frightening image of a hand clutching an eyeball, which jumps out at you in the opening sequence as Paul Frees narrates a prologue on the subject of nightmares.

When I first saw this film as a youngster, I was deeply shocked by Hayden Rorke’s cane-tapping entrance from out of the shadows, which slowly revealed his horribly burned face. But it wasn’t his disfigurement or the idea that he might be an undead ghoul that disturbed me – it was seeing I Dream of Jeannie‘s Dr Bellows playing it mean and despicable. But I have to admit his make-up was pretty cool.

While light on the camp hysterics of the same-year’s Strait-Jacket (starring Joan Crawford), Castle’s woman in peril follow-up is a surreal, entertaining treat that will have you guessing till the very end. Stanwyck plays it with serious intent, and earns our sympathy (and respect) as a result, while Vic Mizzy’s harpsichord-fused score deftly underpins the film’s funereal tone (now: is it just me, or does the main theme sound like Food, Glorious Food from Lionel Bart’s Oliver). The exteriors were all shot at the Higgins-Verbeck-Hirsch mansion in LA, which would become home to Elsa Lanchester and an army of rats in 1971’s Willard, while Mizzy’s catchy soundtrack got a Percepto Records CD release in 2002 (which now fetches ridiculous prices).

The Night Walker (1964)

There’s also a collectable paperback tie-in, written by Sidney Stuart and based on Bloch’s screenplay, which was published in 1964 by Awards Books. This features the same imagery as the poster art, which was a variant of Henry Fuseli’s influential 1781 painting The Nightmare – of a demonic creature crouching over a sleeping woman. In the poster art, this incubus is painted as a horned devil, which does not appear in the film. However, it does have a curious link to Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Night Walker (1964)

On the audio commentary of Optimum Home Entertainment’s 2006 Blu-ray release, del Toro revealed his inspiration for the Pale Man (the ogre who inserts a pair of eyes into the palms of his hands) was based on an image from a film poster that he once saw as a youngster. While he doesn’t mention the name of the film, he was most probably referring to The Night Walker, because of that eyeball in the hand that appears in the opening sequence and on the poster art (which Final Cut have reproduced here for their release). By the way, I have to credit film historian Tim Lucas for being the first to muse over this connection. But I think he’s hit the mark.

The Night Walker (1964)

Final Cut Entertainment’s UK DVD release features a lovely print of the film, but is lacking in bonus content – like the audio commentary that was included on the Shout Factory Blu-ray release in the US (whose trailer I have included below). Still, if you are a collector of William Castle’s films, and don’t have a multi-region player, then you should consider adding this to your collection.

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The Gate (1987) | The cult horror favourite restored, remastered and still lots of fun!

The Gate (1987)

From Lionsgate UK comes 1987’s The Gate, as part of their ongoing Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

While their parents are away for a long weekend, break 16-year-old Al (Christa Denton) and 12-year-old Glen (Stephen Dorff) have free reign of their suburban home. But it soon turns into a supernatural battleground when Glen and his best friend Terry (Louis Tripp) unwittingly unleash demonic forces from a large hole in the backyard…

Though not much happens in the first half hour of this Poltergeist meets Home Alone offering, things really liven up when an army of pint-size trolls begin to start crawling out from ‘the other side’.

What The Gate lacks in originality, it certainly makes up for it with its ‘wink and a smile’ fan-boy approach that plays fast and furious with some classic horror tropes like the ‘monster in the closet’ and the ‘thing under the bed’, while also chucking in a great gag involving the lyrics of heavy metal records being linked to black magic and satanism.

The practical special effects may have some rough edges, but they still look terrific: especially the ankle-sized demons (a winning combination of forced perspective and people in full rubber suits), and the climactic sequence in which Glen, armed with a toy rocket, takes on the film’s gigantic HP Lovecraft-inspired serpentine demon.

So sit back and prepare to channel your 12-year-old self once again with this gleefully ghoulish fun-ride.

The Gate (1987)

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Tibor Takacs, writer Michael Nankin, and sfx designer/supervisor Randall William Cook
• Audio commentary with the sfx crew, including Randall William Cook, Craig Reardon, Frank Carere and Bill Taylor
• Isolated Score and audio interview with composers Michael Hoenig and J Peter Robinson
• Eight new and archival behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and crew
• Trailers & TV Spot
• Galleries

WATCH IT ON THE BIG SCREEN: Lionsgate UK’s free screenings at the Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London finish tonight (26 March) with The Gate. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/178367812773304/

The Gate copyright: Programme Content and Photography: ©1986 The Gate Film Productions Inc. all Rights Reserved. Package Design: © 2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Wishmaster (1997) | The demonic djinn escapes again onto Blu-ray

Wishmaster (1997)

From Lionsgate UK comes 1997’s Wishmaster, as part of the Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

In 1127 Persia, a demonic genie (Andrew Divoff) is trapped inside a fire opal by a quick-thinking sorcerer before he can unleash his evil on the land. In present day America, the opal finds its way into the hands of an antique appraiser, Alex (Tammy Lauren), who has strange visions while handling the gem.

Seeking answers, Alex hands it over to her best friend Josh (Tony Crane) to analyse. But when the gem explodes, the evil djinn is released and tricks Josh into wishing for a ‘fatal’ end to his pain. Taking on human form, the djinn begins granting wishes in exchange for souls, while seeking out Alex who becomes the instrument of his evil plans…

Wishmaster

Presented by horror maestro Wes Craven and produced by Pierre David (Scanners), Wishmaster was one of those 1990’s titles that I missed first time round. But now that it’s undergone a re-master, I thought it high time to check it out. And it’s not as bad as I expected.

Peter Atkins, the screenwriter of the first two Hellraiser sequels, crafts a pleasing slice of horror hokum with the genuinely engaging Lauren (The Young and the Restless) in the hot seat as the fearless female protagonist. Atkins also provides some delicious dialogue for Divoff’s camp Pinhead meets Freddy Krueger creation to hiss under the mountain of prosthetics (to me, he looks slightly reminiscent of Tim Curry’s Lord of Darkness in Legend).

Wishmaster (1997)

Fantasy fiction fans will have a field day recognising the surnames of some of the characters (including ‘Charles’ Beaumont and ‘August’ Derleth), while the cameos from some icons of the horror genre are the real reason to check this title out. Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Tony Todd (Candyman) and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) all get the tables turned on them with some inventive death scenes; Phantasm’s Reggie Bannister pops up as a pharmacist, while Angus Scrimm narrates; and there are also turns from Ted Raimi (Evil Dead), John Carpenter favourite George ‘Buck’ Flower as a drunken bum (of course), Verne Toyer (as a mini djinn), sfx guru Tom Savini and the film’s director Robert Kurtzman.

Wishmaster (1997)

Wishmaster did reasonable business on its release, despite some critical drubbing, and the character rose again for three sequels – but they turned out to be a textbook case of ‘the law of diminishing returns’. Even the versatile Divoff ditched the character after the first sequel (though he did end up playing a similar role in 2000, playing Mephistopheles in Brian Yuzna’s Faust: Love of the Damned). But do check this one out – especially as there’s a drinking game just waiting to happen with that hit list of horror cameos.

Order from Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
• Audio commentary with actors Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren and Robert Kurtzman
• Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Harry Manfredini
Out of the Bottle: Interviews with Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
The Magic Words: Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
The Djinn and Alexandra: Interviews with Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
Captured Visions: Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
Wish List: Interviews with Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Ted Raimi
• Trailers, TV & Radio Spots
• Archive ‘Making Of’ featurette & EPK
• Behind-the-scenes footage compilation
• Galleries

SEE THE FILM ON THE BIG SCREE: Throughout March, Lionsgate UK are taking over the weekly, free entry Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London, with Wishmaster being screened on Monday 19 March. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633296950113773/

Wishmaster copyright: Programme Content and Photography: © 1997 Artisan Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design: ©2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

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The Lair of the White Worm (1988) | Ken Russell’s wild take on Bram Stoker’s novel uncoils on Blu-ray

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

From Lionsgate UK comes The Lair of the White Worm, as part of their ongoing Vestron Collector’s Series, restored and remastered on Blu-ray.

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) unearths an unusual animal skull while digging in the garden of a Derbyshire B&B run by his girlfriend Mary (Sammi Davis) and her sister Eve (Catherine Oxenberg).

Could it be linked to the local legend of a worm-like dragon (the Lambton Worm), which was said to have been slain by a distant relative of the current Lord of the Manor, James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant)? Could it have something to do with the disappearance of the girls parents many years beforehand? And why does the strangely alluring Lady (Amanda Donohoe) steal it?

As our our Scooby gang investigate, they unwittingly uncoil a centuries old mystery involving a pagan cult and human sacrifice…

Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Mercurial director Ken Russell treads a fine line between titillation and terror in this, his wildly OTT tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1911 gothic novel. Amanda Donohoe camps it up big time as the very wicked Lady Silvia Marsh, a country-house aristocrat who enjoys worshipping a snake God and fanging the locals while wearing next to nothing. A shaggy-haired Peter Capaldi (who has since earned himself iconic status playing a certain Time Lord) gets an hilarious scene warding off a bloodsucking copper with a pair of bagpipes, while a fit looking Hugh Grant (fresh off the Edwardian gay love story Maurice) plays it typically posh and daft.

Russell’s schoolboy humour might be a tad lame, but his shocking visual asides at Catholicism (nuns and dildos) are wonderfully irreverent, and the practical special effects are an inventive highlight. Donohoe’s tight-fitting costumes are also a seductive treat and the chilly location shoots that include the Peak District and Manifold Valley in Staffordshire are gorgeously lensed. Stoker purists, however, will probably be greatly offended.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentaries with director Ken Russell and Lisi Russell
Worm Food: Special effects artists Geoffrey Portass, Neil Gorton and Paul Jones (who were all 18 or 19 at the time) talk about their experiences working on the film
Cutting for Ken: interview with editor Peter Davies
Trailers From Hell featuring producer Dan Ireland
Mary, Mary: interview with actress Sammi Davis
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery

NEWS JUST IN: Throughout March, Lionsgate UK are taking over the weekly, free entry Monday Film Club at The Alibi in Dalston, East London, with The Lair of the White Worm being screened on Monday 12 March. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/802548666603104/

Lair of the White Worm copyright: Programme Content and Photography: © 1988 Vestron Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. Package Design: © 2018 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK. All Rights Reserved.

 

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The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) | Hammer’s ancient avenger stalks Victorian London in HD

I’m finally dipping into Indicator/Powerhouse’s fantastic box-set Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning, in which a quartet of classic chillers get their first-ever HD restorations (region free) with a host of exclusive extra features. Here’s my look back at 1964’s The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

In 1900 Egypt, a team of archaeologists, including John Bray (Ronald Howard) and his Egyptology expert fiancée, Annette (Jeanne Roland), unearth the tomb of the Ra-Antef.

When Annette’s father is murdered, the expedition’s main backer, Alexander King (Fred Clark), hatches a plan to have the treasure and sarcophagus shipped back to England for a luridly sensational tour. But when the seals are cut during the exhibition’s opening night – the coffin is found to be empty.

Soon the beat of cloth-wrapped feet begin to sound in foggy Victorian London as the ancient avenger (Dickie Owen) pursues all those who defiled its tomb…

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

What happens next is entirely predictable: the mummy goes on the rampage as Annette gets herself involved in a love triangle with her wimpy fiancé John and charismatic arts patron Adam (Terence Morgan), before ending up in the sewer system with the lumbering bandaged evil.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

This 1964 horror sequel is a far cry from Hammer’s original 1959 classic; with pretty lame sets (especially the desert scenes) and suffers from some middle of the road casting (and sadly lacking Hammer favourites Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee), but US import Fred Clark certainly makes up for it as Alexander King, a PT Barnum meets William Castle showman with a heart of gold. A great comic actor, Clark would go onto co-star alongside Frankie Avalon in the Vincent Price spy spoof Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine the following year.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

Burmese-born actress Jeanne Roland tries her best to present her educated Annette as an independent, modern (Victorian) woman, but ends up being little more than an alluring decoration.

This was Roland’s only starring vehicle for Hammer (she also suffered the same fate as many a Hammer scream queen – being dubbed), and later popped up in You Only Live Twice as Bond’s masseuse.

Hammer stalwarts George Pastell and Michael Ripper also appear – albeit too briefly, and future Virgin Witch director Ray Austin gets into a punch-up with Morgan’s Adam.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

With its scenes of head crushing and severed hands, it’s surprisingly violent, and there’s a neat twist in the final act. Originally released in the UK and the US on a double-bill with The Gorgon, it actually proved a big success for Hammer despite its flaws.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Blood and Bandages: Inside The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (very informative and illuminating anecdotes)
• An appreciation of Jeanne Roland by Diabolique editor-in-chief Kat Ellinger
• Interview with Michael McStay (2017): the British film and TV actor looks back at his time working for Hammer (his deaf person’s story is a hoot)
• Interview with composer Carlo Martelli on the use of sourced music for the film
• Super 8 Version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Trailer and Image Gallery

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