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Man Made Monster | Universal’s 1941 mad scientist shocker ignites on Blu-ray

Lon Chaney Jr makes his horror debut alongside Hollywood’s most exquisite villain of the 1930s and 1940s, Lionel Atwill, in Universal’s 1941 horror Man Made Monster, which makes its UK Blu-ray debut in Eureka Entertainment’s two-disc Three Monster Tales of Sci-fi Terror box-set (due out 11 April 2022).

THE TOUCH OF DEATH!
When carny Dan McCormick AKA Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man (Chaney Jr) miraculously survives a bus crash into a power line, electrophysiologist Dr John Lawrence (Samuel S Hinds) invites him to stay at his medical facility, The Moors, so he can study him and his seemingly natural immunity. But the kindly doctor’s assistant, Dr Paul Rigas (Atwill), has other plans.

In secret, Dr Rigas pumps Dan with increasingly higher doses of electricity so he can prove his theory that he can create a race of electrically-charged super slaves. Soon poor Dan becomes a ghostly glowing killing machine and nothing can stop him – not even the electric chair.

Man-Made Monster (the hyphen was added for the film poster) was originally planned to be a vehicle for Bela Lugosi when it was first mooted back in 1936 under the title The Electric Man. But it was shelved as being too similar to the same year’s The Invisible Ray.

In his first leading role, Chaney Jr gives an endearing turn as the gentle pooch-loving everyman in the film’s first half. But once he’s drugged up on Atwill’s electrical fixes, he turns into a mute, slow-moving monster. Luckily, we have John P Fulton’s effective special effects, some moody lighting and a great lab set to enjoy as well as Atwill’s feverish performance. This is possibly his most OTT mad scientist role and he milks the ripe dialogue to the hilt – most significantly his big speech when questioned about challenging the forces of Creation:

‘Bah! You know as well as I do that more than half the people of the world are doomed to a life of mediocrity – born to be nonentities, millstones around the neck of progress, men who have to be fed, watched, looked over, and taken care of by a superior intelligence.’

Atwill also gets some choice lines when revealing his insane idea to an elegant Vera West-styled Anne Nagel, who plays the film’s plucky heroine, June: ‘I’ve always found that the female of the species was more sensitive to electrical impulse than the male. Shall I show you how it was done?‘.

Shot in three weeks on one of Universal’s cheapest budgets, Man-Made Monster proved a modest winner at the box office when released in March 1941, and earned Chaney Jr a contract with the studio. It also kick-started his horror career which would be cemented when he reteamed with director George Waggner for The Wolf Man nine months later. Atwill, meanwhile, was facing a personal crisis. Just a few months after his character, Dr Rigas, commits perjury in the film’s big courtroom scene, Atwill was given a five-year probation sentence (and blacklisted) for the same offence over the 1941 alleged occurrence of a sex orgy at his home.

Be prepared for a tearful ending featuring Hollywood canine Corky (he’s so darn cute).

The Eureka Classics box-set, Three Monster Tales of Sci-fi Terror also includes 1957’s The Monolith Monsters and 1958’s Monster on the Campus. You can read my reviews on those films by clicking on the titles. Also included in the box set are brand new audio commentaries on each film, photo galleries and a limited edition collector’s booklet.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• 1080p presentations on Blu-ray
• Disc One – Man-Made Monster and The Monolith Monsters 
• Disc Two – Monster on the Campus (available in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios)
Man-Made Monster – Audio commentary with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
The Monolith Monsters – Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
Monster on the Campus –  Audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
• Optional SDH subtitles on each film
• Collector’s booklet written by film scholar Craig Ian Man

Order from the Eureka Store: https://eurekavideo.co.uk/movie/three-monster-tales-of-sci-fi-terror/

Inner Sanctum Mysteries | Universal’s Lon Chaney Jr showcase on Blu-ray

There is nothing more satisfying than settling down to a classic Universal horror when it comes to a cold, wet wintery day. I have quite a few on various formats, but when I see a new Blu-ray version coming out, I get as excited as I did when I first saw them as a kid on the big screen (as re-releases, of course!). So thank you Eureka Entertainment for adding another 1940s classic to my collection: the Inner Sanctum Mysteries starring Lon Chaney Jr. And what a treat they are.

These six features were based on a US radio show of the same name which ran from 1941 to 1952, whose creaking door opening became legendary. Universal bought the rights as a vehicle for Chaney, who wanted to showcase his talents by starring in each film. Having watched them all and the extras on the Eureka Blu-ray, I now have renewed fondness for Chaney. Filmed before the sad downturn in his career, Chaney is in his prime here. looking ever so suave; while his internal monologues give him the chance to stretch himself as an actor.

But the revelation here is the top-class production design and camerawork, which sparkles in this restoration and reveals ‘a full palette of monochrome’ (a great observation from Peter Atkins in his audio commentary). Also noteworthy is the fantastic supporting cast that graces each chilling mystery (there’s a quite a few fan favourites on show) and the wonderfully atmospheric Paul Sawtell scores. It’s an amazing achievement, especially considering each film was shot in under 12 days.

Here’s a breakdown of Eureka’s two-disc must-have.

DISC ONE

Calling Dr Death (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1943)
After a floating head in a crystal ball introduces us to the first story, Chaney (sporting a pencil-thin moustache) takes the lead as a neurologist who uses hypnotism to discover whether or not he killed his wife. House of Frankenstein‘s J Carrol Naish is the inspector in charge of the case, The Mad Ghoul‘s David Bruce is the man accused of the murder, and Faye Helm (the first victim of Chaney’s Wolfman) also features.

• Audio commentary: Film historian C Courtney Joyner and Regina Le Borg explore the film and TV career of Regina’s director father and how he enjoyed working Chaney. The best bit of trivia: Le Borg was up to direct Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein.
• Trailer

Weird Woman (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944)
Adapted from Fritz Leiber Jr’s Conjure Wife, this mystery finds Chaney cast as a university professor who marries an exotic young woman (Anne Gwynne) who uses witchcraft to further his career – but she comes up against some other practitioners with their own agendas. If you are familiar with Leiber’s book, then you’ll know it was also adapted for the screen in 1962 as Night of the Eagle (AKA Burn! Witch, Burn!). Handsomely mounted, this a faithful take, with a Scream Queen vibe. The Wolf Man‘s Evelyn Ankers and Cat People‘s Elisabeth Russell steal the show. The best bit of trivia: Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen (Phil Brown) features.

• Audio commentary: Justin Humphreys (The Dr Phibes Companion) and Del Howison (Dark Delicacies: Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre) have great fun while unearthing lots of trivia. Justin’s Les Baxter connection really made me smile.
• Trailer

Dead Man’s Eyes (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944)
Exotic beauty Acquanetta, who is best known for her starring roles in Captive Wild Woman, Jungle Woman and Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, plays the jealous Tanya who blinds Chaney’s artist with acid over his love for Jean Parker (The Ghost Goes West). Offered an operation to restore his sight, Chaney’s Dave but must wait until the donor dies. And when he prematurely conks it, Dave’s in the frame for murder.

  • Trailer
  • Kim Newman on The Inner Sanctum Mysteries – New interview
  • This is the Inner Sanctum: Making a Universal Mystery Series [55 mins] Watch this after you have viewed the films on the second disc, as there are lots of spoilers
  • Radio Episodes: The Amazing Death of Mrs Putnam; The Black Seagull and The Skull That Walked

DISC TWO

The Frozen Ghost (dir. Harold Young, 1945)
In this fourth mystery, Chaney’s a stage mentalist caught up in some weird goings-on in a wax museum. He’s quit his act believing his hypnotism caused an audience member’s death, then becomes the prime suspect when his new employer, a wax museum owner, disappears. Evelyn Ankers plays his heartbroken fiancé and Martin Kosleck (The Mummy’s Curse) is the weird plastic surgeon/sculptor who may or may not behind the shenanigans (see his extra below). This one has shades of Universal’s The Black Cat weaved into the plot.
• Trailer

Strange Confession (dir. John Hoffman, 1945)
Now here’s a tale that’s ripe for a Covid-19-themed update. Chaney’s a dedicated scientist working on an influenza vaccine. J Carrol Naish is the tycoon who cares more for profits and safety [remind you of anybody?]. He steals the formula and has Chaney blacklisted. But when he releases it before all the proper tests are done, it results in the tragic death of Chaney’s son. Loosely based on Jean Bart’s Man Who Reclaimed His Head, this features a young Lloyd Bridges and Mary Gordon (AKA Mrs Hudson from the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films).

• Audio commentary: C Courtney Joyner and (via Zoom) Hellraiser II, III, & IV screenwriter Peter Atkins impart lots of trivia about the film’s production. It’s a great listen, though their audio becomes out of sync with the film which is rather annoying.

Pillow of Death (dir. Wallace Fox, 1945)
The title sounds like a Monty Python sketch, and this final instalment does indeed feature some comic moments. Dispensing with the disembodied head in a crystal ball in the intro, it finds Chaney cast as another murder suspect. This time suffocation is the modus operandi, and the victim is Chaney’s wife. He walks free due to a lack of evidence, then more ‘pillow murders’ take place. But everything is not is what it seems. Along for the ride is Brenda Joyce (AKA Jane from the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies).

  • The Creaking Door: Inside The Inner Sanctum [15 mins] History of the radio series with author/radio historian Martin Grams Jr.
  • Mind Over Matter: Archival interview (20-min) with The Frozen Ghost actor Martin Kosleck, who looks back at his Hollywood career after fleeing Germany where he was targeted by the Nazi’s propaganda minister Josef Goebbels. A fascinating interview with an incredibly fascinating character, watch out for the expression on his face as he describes Chaney as the most dreadful, old, rude drunk he had ever seen in his life.
  • Radio Episodes: Skeleton Bay, The Man Who Couldn’t Die and Death of a Doll

Your Guide to Universal’s Mummy Films of the 1940s

The Mummy's Ghost

Recently, I got a hold of Universal’s The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection on Blu-ray, which gave me a chance to revisit not only the Karloff original, but also the 1940’s Kharis Mummy movies, which I had not seen since I was a kid.

Now released in HD for the first time, they sure look great, but – boy! – aren’t they a perfect example of the law of diminishing returns? Here’s a look back at the shuffling mis-adventures of Kharis, the ancient Egyptian avenger…

The Mummy's Hand

The Mummy’s Hand, 1940
Starring Dick Foran, George Zucco, Cecil Kellaway.
Director: Christy Cabanne.

Eight years after Boris Karloff donned bandages for Karl Freund’s The Mummy, Universal resuscitated the movie monster (now called Kharis, as Karloff’s Im-Ho-Tep had crumbled to dust) for four new adventures. Cowboy star Tom Tyler is the black-eyed Egyptian avenger restored to life (with the fluid from a handful of Tana leaves) by Andoheb, George Zucco’s-newly appointed High Priest of Karnak, to wreak revenge on the archaeological team who are trying to locate the tomb of the Princess Ananka (whom Kharis tried to raise from the dead back in 1472 BC, but ended getting buried alive with his tongue cut out).

Dick Foran is the archaeologist, Steve Banning, and Wallace Ford is his wisecracking sidekick, Babe Jenson; while Cecil Kellaway is the travelling magician who funds their doomed trip, and Peggy Moran is his daughter who gets carried away by Kharis (literally) when Zucco’s Andoheb decides to make her immortal – much to Kharis’ annoyance.

To save on the budget, Kharis’ back-story incorporates Karloff’s incarceration from the 1932 film, while the temple from Universal’s 1940 adventure Green Hell is also re-used as Zucco’s secret lair in the Hill of the Seven Jackals. Looking at it today, the film is a bit of a joke as there’s no real horror on display, suspense or drama (although Tyler’s weird black eyes still disturb). It plays more like a comical adventure serial, and nobody bothered to double-check the hieroglyphics (which are meaningless), the Arabic (misspelled), or doing any historical research (Zucco’s temple is more Mayan than Egyptian, and his character mistakes the Incas as coming from Mexico).

Except for the odd flash of inventiveness that recall Universal’s 1930s glory days when German expressionism informed its production design, it’s a poor start to the Kharis series. Thankfully, Hammer would put their own macabre stamp on the iconic creature when they used this film and its sequel, The Mummy’s Tomb, as the basis for their 1957 Technicolor version.

The Mummy's Tomb

The Mummy’s Tomb, 1942
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, Dick Foran, Turhan Bey.
Director: Harold Young.

30 years after the Banning Expedition desecrated Princess Ananka’s tomb in The Mummy’s Hand, Kharis (who survived his blazing demise) is transported to a cemetery in Mapleton, Massachusetts by Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey, aka the Turkish Delight), under the orders of George Zucco’s expiring Andoheb (who somehow survived being shot multiple times in the previous entry) to hunt down and kill the remaining members of the dig and their descendants.

Purists have often wondered whether it really is Lon Chaney Jr all the time under Jack Pierce’s make-up and bandages (as there are three stunt people also credited, including Eddie Parker); and whether playing a role in which he neither speaks nor is recognisable was a wise career choice. His shuffling Kharis is pretty poor. Moving at a snail’s pace with one lame arm, it’s incredible that any of his victims don’t just run away – instead they stay put (as though frozen in fear), or pretend to be cornered so that he can lunge at them with his one powerful arm (he was supposedly restored partially paralysed in the first film because of a lack of Tana leaf juice) and strangle them to death.

To keep the budget small and to fill out the running time, extensive flashbacks from The Mummy’s Hand are used before we get a repeat of the previous film’s revenge plot – only minus the wise cracks and pratfalls. The film does have some atmospheric cinematography and lighting effects, courtesy of George Robinson (Son of Frankenstein, Tower of London), especially the scenes set in the American gothic-styled cemetery. And it all looks a treat in this HD Blu-ray presentation, although it does show up the rubber mask on the Mummy as well.

Like the first film, it ends with a frightened lovely (Elyse Knox) dressed in another stunning Vera West gown being carted off by Kharis, so that the infatuated High Priest can make her his immortal bride. And, once again, the villain is shot while Kharis goes up in flames…

The Mummy's Ghost

The Mummy’s Ghost, 1944
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, George Zucco.
Director: Reginald LeBorg

My favourite of the Kharis mummy series, this one starts off just the last two, with George Zucco again playing the withered old High Priest (who seems to have more lives than a cat) who tasks another acolyte, this time a youthful John Carradine (as Youssef Bey) with bringing Ananka and Kharis back home to Egypt.

Bizarrely, Ananka’s protectors aren’t the High Priests of Karnak now, but Arkam. However, those Tana leaves are still lurking about – but with added mythology. Just as wolfbane can cure lyncathropy if prepared during a full moon, the fluid taken from the Tana leaves during the same lunar cycle can usher forth Kharis’ ghost (hence the title).

While the film is basically the same plot as the previous two, director Reginald LeBorg does stir things up by having the Princess reincarnated in the shapely form of former pin-up Ramsay Ames. She plays Amina Mensori, a student of Egyptology who is based in the very same town that Kharis shuffled amok years beforehand. LeBorg brings much flair to the proceedings, and there’s a real effort to make Chaney’s Mummy more menacing looking (BTW: his appearance ended up being used as the template for Aurora’s classic glow in the dark model kit that I have had since I was a kid).

In a clever nod to The Bride of Frankenstein, Ames gets a white streak in her perfectly-coiffured bonnet, which turns pure white as Ananka’s soul takes over (causing her to age rapidly) when Kharis ends up carrying her down into the murky depths of a nearby swamp in the film’s climax.

The Mummy's Ghost

The Mummy's Curse

The Mummy’s Curse, 1944
Starring Lon Chaney Jr, Virginia Christine, Martin Kosleck.
Director: Leslie Goodwins.

Five months after the release of The Mummy’s Ghost, Universal rushed out this final sequel for a Christmas release, thus completing Lon Chaney Jr’s trio of turns as the shuffling undead Kharis (although he did spoof the character in an episode of Route 66 in 1962’s Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing). And – except for one sequence – this is the worst of the lot.

Unlike today, Universal had little care for their franchise and totally stuffs up the continuity and mythology by setting this follow-up in Louisiana instead of New England. When the swamp where Kharis and Ananka drowned is planned to be drained the Scripps Museum sends two representatives, Dr James Halsey (Dennis Moore) and an Egyptian colleague Zandaab (Peter Cobb), to retrieve their bodies. Of course, Zanbaab is secretly a high priest of the Arkam set, and he has help in construction worker Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), who has Kharis’ body interred at an old abandoned monastery.

Meanwhile, Princess Ananka emerges from a muddy coffin and ends up a Jane Doe in the care of Halsey and his girl Betty (Kay Harding). Of course, its not long before Kharis arrives on the scene and whisks her away for the final showdown at the monastery… which ends badly for one and all, especially poor Ananka.

This was a rare horror entry from British-born director Leslie Goodwins, who was better at low-budget comedies, and also marked the feature debut of Virginia Christine, who’d go onto light character roles. It’s quite poor, and reeks of racial stereotyping, especially the Cajun Joe character. Chaney only gets one good scene, at the end, as the monastery collapses on him (watch him keep his composure as a heavy brick smashes into his face); and the day-for-night shots are infuriating. But it does have one scene which still haunts, and that’s when Christine’s Ananka emerges from her resting place in the swamp. It’s a striking scene, especially in the way in which Christine plays it.

The Mummy's Curse

Of course, Universal couldn’t keep their Mummy down for too long. In 1955, Abbott and Costello got their chance to have a date with Klaris (a pun on Kharis) for their 28th and final film comedy, with Eddie Parker wearing what looks like a onesie decorated with a bandage motif. Except to fans of the comic duo and their verbal gymnastics, this was a poor end to their feature film careers.

Abott and Costello Meet the Mummy

Ninjas vs Monsters (2013) | Universal’s classic monsters have nothing to fear from these amateurs

Ninjas Vs Monsters (2013)

The world’s greatest monsters have just met their match…
Hot on the heels of taking down a nest of vampires, a group of suburban American Ninja heroes take on Dracula, the Werewolf, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and a coven of witches using their newly acquired supernatural powers. Let the games begin…

Ninjas Vs Monsters (2013)

‘It’s a joke and you’re the punchline’
Remember that scene in Disney’s Bambi where Mrs Rabbit asks Thumper what his father said about being impolite and Thumper replies: ‘If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all’? Well that’s how I feel about Ninjas vs Monsters.

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I’m sorry, but this really is just a ‘home’ movie featuring a bunch of friends larking about like 10-year-olds play-acting an episode of Power Rangers. How and why Eduardo Sanchez, the director of the DIY cult hit The Blair Witch Project and the excellent Lovely Molly, put his name to this amateurish effort is anyone’s guest. And did you know it’s the final film in a ‘trilogy’ that began with something called Zombie Contagion (aka Ninjas vs Zombies)?

Ninjas Vs Monsters (2013)

I’m afraid to admit, but I turned off after 20minutes. I just couldn’t handle the overacting, the terrible dialogue and the poor sound (though the makeup and sfx are actually better than you’d expect). Then I got to thinking about all the other films that have attempted to bring Universal’s classic monsters together. And looking down the list, they’re all pretty hit and miss. For me, you can’t beat House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and (yes!) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). But what do you think?

Assignment Terror (1970)Assignment Terror (1970). Paul Naschy’s werewolf defeats an alien plot to use a vampire, a mummy and Frankenstein’s monster to take over the world. Michael Rennie’s also in this weird Euro trip, which I loved as a kid.

 

 

Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971). J Carrol Naish’s mad scientist revives his ancestor’s creation with the help of his mute assistant (the original Wolfman, Lon Chaney Jr), Dracula – and Forest J Ackerman!

 

The Monster SquadThe Monster Squad (1987). A group of monster kids save their hometown from Dracula and his army of monsters that include The Mummy, The Gill-Man, The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster (all re-imagined by Stan Winston). Now this cult classic showed its worth when Lionsgate’s 2009 Blu-ray sold out in no time. There’s even a remake in the works. Nuff said!

 

House of Frankenstein (1997)House of Frankenstein (1997). Adrian Pasdar’s LA detective battles Greg Wise’s vampire and the Frankenstein monster while trying to save his werewolf girlfriend (Teri Polo) in this so-so TV movie.

 

Van HelsingVan Helsing (2004) Hugh Jackman’s vigilante monster hunter joins forces with Kate Beckinsale to take down Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Stephen Sommers’ tongue-in-cheek blockbuster which filmgoers loved, but critics hated. I so wanted this to work out!

 

House of the Wolf Man

 

House of the Wolf Man (2009) Five strangers discover Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster and Lon Chaney Jr’s grandson (Ron Chaney) hiding out in an old castle that they’re in line to inherit.

THE LEFT FILMS RELEASE
The UK Blu-ray of Ninjas vs Monsters includes 2010’s Ninjas Vs Vampires, the second film in the trilogy (urgh!). Left Film’s Blu-ray and DVD releases also include commentaries with director Justin Timpane and co-producer Michael Dougherty, and comedy Trekoff commentary; auditions, deleted scenes, funny (its not, actually) alternative ending, a tribute to Brian Anderson (who did the visual effects), trailers and the Until We Drop Down Dead music video.

Check out the official website: NinjasVs.com

Spider Baby (1964) | Is this the best release ever of Jack Hill’s weird, wild horror comedy

Spider Baby from Arrow Video

COME INTO MY PARLOR, SAID THE SPIDER TO THE…
Horror legend Lon Chaney Jr stars in this once lost 1960s black comedy as Bruno, a loyal chauffeur entrusted with the care of three orphan siblings, Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Ralph (Sid Haig) – the last generation of the inbred Merrye family, who have inherited a disease that causes them to regress into murderous savages. When distant relatives Emily (The House on Haunted Hills Carol Omhart) and Peter (Quinn Redeker) arrive with their lawyer to make a claim on the Merrye fortune, Bruno is forced to take drastic steps to protect the children.

Jack Hill's Spider Baby

THE MADDEST STORY EVER TOLD
Like a demented take on TV’s The Addams Family, this weird, wild monochrome cult classic from writer-director Jack Hill (who Quentin Tarantino called ‘the Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking’) has a bit of a history behind it and certainly lives up to its alternate title ‘the maddest story ever told’.

Filmed in just 12 days in 1964, Spider Baby was not released until 1968 due to a legal dispute, and for many years afterwards, the only way to see Hill’s Californian gothic was on poor quality pirate VHS tapes. It wasn’t until the director finally got his hands on the original negative – with the help of trash film historian Johnny Legend, Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein – that audiences would be able to see the film as it was meant to be.

Spider Baby may be comical, but it also has some genuinely creepy moments, and that’s down to the masterful cinematography, lighting and art direction. It also has real heart that shines through the performances. Lon Chaney Jr gives a melancholy turn (even crying real tears in one scene) as the empathic custodian who tries to keep the mad Merrye kids from going over to the dark side with his homespun philosophy: ‘Just because something isn’t good doesn’t mean it’s bad’. But the film’s real stars are Jill Banner as the spider-loving Virginia and Sid Haig as the Harpo Marx-like Ralph. Banner, who was Marlon Brando’s lover at the time, tragically died, aged 35, in a car crash in 1982. Haig, meanwhile, has become a cult hero in horror and exploitation circles.

Director Hill only made 19 films, but he certainly put a unique spin on the grindhouse and exploitation genre, and Spider Baby is his shining example of how a small movie can outlive some rather big ones. Dare you embrace the Spider again?

Lon Chaney Jr in Spider Baby

THE UK RELEASE
The Arrow Video release, one of three of Hill’s cult films that have now been lovingly restored, contains a director’s cut (on both Blu-ray and DVD), transferred from the original 35mm negative under the supervision of Jack Hill. It’s also loaded with bonus material, including Hill’s 1960 short The Host, starring Sid Haig. Other extras include audio commentary with Hill and Haig, a 2012 cast panel discussion, a retrospective with Joe Dante, a profile on composer Ronald Stein, and a visit to the Merrye House location in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Plus, there’s an alternate opening sequence, extended scenes, original trailer, behind-the-scenes imagery, collector’s booklet, and a reversible sleeve featuring the original 1968 artwork and a new design by Graham Humphreys.

COMING NEXT… Arrow Video’s Foxy Brown (Wednesday) and Pit Stop (Thursday)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFMvPRvxV1Y%5D

 

Lon Chaney Jr

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO LON CHANEY JR?
Spider Baby was one of the last films of Lon Chaney Jr, who was suffering with numerous health problems, including throat cancer, gout and cataracts, throughout the 1960s. The actor, who died of heart failure aged 67 on 12 July 1973, was a haunted man, both personally and professionally. Not only did he have the legacy of his famous father, Lon Chaney (the original Phantom of the Opera), stalking him throughout his life, he also had the ghosts of Lennie Small and Larry Talbot, the characters he played in 1939’s Of Mice and Men and 1941’s The Wolf Man, to contend with. Throughout his career, Chaney found himself typecast as either a simple-minded brute or sad derelict. As such, there is, in all of his films, a sense of pathos running through the characters he played. Chaney’s final film before his death was the Z-grade monstrosity Dracula vs Frankenstein in which he does little more than grunt, but its in Spider Baby that he gets a proper curtain call. For more about the legendary actor, check out this Facebook Fan Group.

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