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A PRIEST IN 1835 by Jules verne

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A Priest in 1835 by Jules Verne / Translated with an introductory essay and notes by Danièle Chatelain and George Slusser
Published by Bear Manor . 306 pages .

In both Limited Hardcover

http://www.bearmanormedia.com/a-priest-in-1835-hardcover-edition-by-jules-verne $34.95
and softcover
http://www.bearmanormedia.com/a-priest-in-1835-softcover-edition-by-jules-verne $24.95

One measure of greatness is just how good a person is at an early age.

 

The mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, as a child, (re)discovered a formula normally taught to undergraduate math students. Lebron James averaged 20 points per game as a pro right out of high school. Pablo Picasso outshined his art instructor and father in his early teens…and… caused his parent to swear off painting in amazed frustration.
With this first novel A Priest in 1835, the latest entry in the Palik Series of hitherto untranslated English editions, we learn just how talented Jules Verne was at the tender age of 19. It seems that in almost every review for the Palik Series, I find myself stressing Verne’s versatility as an author. But, the sheer boredom of repetition is once again outweighed by the increasing evidence of that fact.

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As translators Danièle Chatelain and George Slusser point out in the introduction, A Priest in 1835 is written with Gothic trappings in which the young author nonetheless puts his own stamp on that literary mode. The mystery intricately unfolds and reaches a subtle conclusion. Readers are forewarned to pay careful attention of the events to reap the tale’s full rewards.
Verne also displays a maturity in handling human complexities as this quote demonstrates concerning the main character’s career choice:
Of course, the police commissioner and two gendarmes do not come and take the young man and force him to enter the seminary; no one puts a pistol to his head. He is completely free: “Do you want to go there?” one asks in a tone of voice that suggests that he would much offend you if you didn’t go there. “So decide.” The young peasant doesn’t hesitate for a moment; he follows his generous protector. All of this is done with the greatest freedom.

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There’s little hint of Jules Verne, Father of Science fiction. Probably this passage comes closest:
Unfortunately, mankind cannot limit his contact to the things that immediately surround him. It is subjected to forces that it cannot master, to upheavals it cannot control, things that, if it is to overcome them, demand a degree of energy it cannot furnish. There are cataclysms that overthrow an entire world. Mankind is powerful when prosperous, when it wields those machines and inventions which it shapes in accordance with the forms of power it finds within himself. Then it is able to multiply this power a hundredfold.

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Ultimately, the lack of Fantasy Elements matters little to me. I entered the world of Jules Verne because I’m a vintage Science Fiction buff. I stayed because I found he’s a talented writer.

Steve Joyce

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X MARKS THE SPOT (1931)

X MARKS THE SPOT (1931) B&W. 67 Minutes. Oldies.com $7.98
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7792D.html

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Inspired by plays and films like THE FRONT PAGE (U.A.1931), X MARKS THE SPOT (Tiffany,1931) starts with peppy banter that was common in newspaper stories of the 1920’s and thirties.

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The film changes tone briefly when reporter Ted Lloyd (Wallace Ford) finds his younger sister collapsed in the street. Ted finds out he will need $5,000 to save his kid sister by sending her to this one Dr. Mueller in Germany.

He gets offers of $500 here and $600-$700 there from his friends, but says it’s not enough (hinted, if you take it and add it up, it’s closer to your goal!).

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Desperate, Ted goes to the local pool hall to meet with gangster Edward Riggs (Fred Kohler)to ask for the money. “Ha ha Ha-you don’t make five grand a year, says the gangster. Ted offers to get info on the district attorney if it helps save his sister. The gangster socks him saying he hates squealers but gives him the five grand.

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More stuff occurs in the newsroom before Ted meets with Sue(Sally Blane) for some quips and flirting before the film heads off to the Follies. Some pre-code dialogue (reporter offers to print an actress’ photo in the paper, only this time with her clothes on.).

Showgirl Vivian Parker (Mary Nolan) ends up murdered, and Ted becomes the main suspect as he was the last one to see her alive. Ted finds out that Riggs was responsible for the killing, but the gangster reminds him of how he helped with his sister’s medical bills.

How will Ted act when Riggs is put on trial?

X MARKS THE SPOT was one of the last three films made by Tiffany (along with DEATH KISS,1932 starring Bela Lugosi). The studio had been involved with a major prestige picture (JOURNEY’s END ,1930, James Whales ‘adaptation of the stage play), but like so many indie producers, they lacked proper distribution. When they folded, their films like so many independent productions, fell into public domain.

X … is a compactly made drama of the early sound era. The acting ranges from very good to stiff.

Lew Cody as editor George Howe is a strong competent performer. He had been acting in films since 1914, and had been married to actress Mabel Nomand. He died in 1934 at age 50.

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Wallace Ford is probably the best known actor from this film by today ‘s viewers, appearing a year later in MGM’s FREAKS as well as Frankie McPhillips in THE INFORMER(RKO,1935). His career last until 1965, with television making up the bulk of his later work.

Sally Blane also had a long career, usually in supporting roles in major films (CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND, FOX,1939) but here she is the female lead and makes one wish that she had larger parts in films.

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Mary Nolan as showgirl Vivian has a bit of a Midwest accent (“Git Outta heah!”) and is a bit stiff (no pun intended). Her life seemed to be one of those tales that warned of the dangers of show business. She had been a Ziegfeld showgirl who had been fired due to a scandal with a married man (who beat and abused her), but had a good career in silent films both in the U.S. and Germany. Under contract to Universal, she was loaned out to appear in the Lon Chaney MGM film WEST OF ZANZIBAR (1928) and received good reviews. She had another abusive relationship with Eddie Mannix (who also was possibly involved with the murder of George Reeves. Reeves had been having an affair with Mannix’ wife), who beat her so bad that she became addicted to morphine. This led to her contract being terminated at the major studios and thus struggled along at the indies. She died at age 45 from a Seconal overdose.

Clarence Muse made a career of playing butlers, porters, and servants, but the actor had starred and worked in theatre, as well as starring in HEARTS IN DIXIE (1929), the first all-black movie produced by Fox. Here he is trapped in embarrassing stereotype dialogue in his scenes.

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Helen Parrish also began in silent films, playing Babe Ruth’s daughter in BABE COMES HOME (1st National,1927; also released as a Vocafilm sound film, with added music and sound effects) as well as appearing in Our Gang films. Later she appeared in films starring Deanna Durbin, as well as the female lead in another film called X MARKS THE SPOT (Republic,1942), also available from OLDIES http://www.oldies.com/product-view/4748D.html . She died at only age 34 from cancer.

Fred Kohler had made a career playing baddies, most memorably in the silent John Ford THE IRON HORSE (Fox,1924).

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Director Earl C. Kenton directed over 130 films from 1916 to 1957. He is best known for ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Paramount,1932) and HOUSE OF DRACULA(Universal,1945). The camera work is very fluid at times with some dolly work showing that sound equipment was no longer holding directors to static shots that had plagued earlier sound films.

The film comes from the collection of John Carpenter and his THE MOVIE MAN’S MOVIE MATINEE https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117540858264025/ . Collectors like Carpenter have done much to save a lot of films from disappearing, as well as getting them out to the general public. The print is from a dupey 16mm, but to be fair, I would doubt a better print still exists. At one point, we see a notice about a reel change, which made me nostalgic for when the only way you could see these films was from a private collection.

While not a classic, it is an entertaining little drama, with some good 30s banter, a bit of pre code naughtiness, a shootout near the finale and a style that would later lead to film noir.

Kevin G Shinnick

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DOWN FROM THE ATTIC (book review)

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Down from the Attic: Rare Thrillers of the Silent Era through the 1950s
By John T. Soister and Henry Nicolella -(McFarland; June ,2016 )248 pages $39.95

 http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-9831-4

This wonderful follow up to UP FROM THE VAULT: RARE THRILLERS FROM THE 1920S AND 1930S (McFarland ,2010) has author John T Soister joined by Henry Nicolella to track down and view where possible twenty-four films that are ignored and unknown by the majority of genre fans.

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Some are at present lost (i.e. deteriorated nitrate negatives and thus no longer in existence) and others available in truncated forms. Yet that we have still so many of these films for viewing is in itself miraculous, as according to Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation claims that “half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.”

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Beginning with the silent era and going up to 1951, the pair of author sleuths tracked down films and prints from around the world, viewing whatever prints are still extant, and delving deeply into research about productions and reviews buried long ago in musty volumes and microfilm. Their summaries and plot synopses of the films covered makes one seek to look for many of these films, and some make you wonder why a few of them are not better known. Hopefully, their research may bring a few of these films to being found and perhaps preserved.6676769_1

What also makes this book invaluable is their willingness to seek out films that were made outside of the United States. Movies from The U.K. Germany, the Czech Republic, and South America are also explored, many perhaps for the first time in such detail outside of their borders.

THE EMPERORS BAKER

Plus, they cover the odd career of filmmaker Bud Pollard, responsible for the elusive and obscure THE HORROR (Bud Pollard Productions ,1932) as well as the first sound version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O8kbTi4WNo .

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Soister and Nicolella have done a wonderful job of finding these films and bringing them to the attention of genre fans. As they point out, not all of the films can be considered classics, but their importance cannot be denied.

UNA LUZ EN LA VENTANAa-15-00

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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-Kevin G Shinnick

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DEMENTIA 13 blu ray Film Detective

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DEMENTIA 13 (Blu Ray) Film Detective, available July 26,2016. Region Free. $14.99 /75 minutes. B&W. https://www.amazon.com/Dementia-Detective-Restored-Version-Blu-ray/dp/B01GQL7FC2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468009990&sr=8-1&keywords=dementia+13+film+detective

On the Tim Lucas extra of the recently released BLOOD BATH  Arrow Blu Ray (https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/blood-bath/), we find that  Roger Corman, as always, was looking for inexpensive projects that he could distribute through his Filmgroup company. Several of his protégés pitched ideas. One of them was a young Francis (Ford) Coppola, who, according to biographer Gene D. Phillips: “‘A man goes to a pond and takes off his clothes, picks up five dolls, ties them together, goes under the water, and dives down, where he finds the body of a seven-year-old girl with her hair floating in the current…then he gets axed to death.’ Corman responded enthusiastically, ‘Change the man to a woman, and you’ve got a picture, kid!'”*

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The other ideas were ignored (among them one offered by Jack Hill) and Corman set aside about $20,000 to make the film in Ireland.
Corman already had some actors in Europe, and he wanted them used, which is why William Campbell, Luana Anders, and Patrick Magee hopped from YOUNG RACERS (Filmgroup,1963) over to Ireland to film DEMENTIA 13 (the two male leads would then jet over Yugoslavia for the troubled but fascinating BLOOD BATH, released in various incarnations and names).ucla
UCLA grad Coppola had by this time only done some short student films, as well as work on two softcore comedies. Corman hired him and Coppola’s first job was helping edit and redub some of the Russian films Corman had acquired for U.S. distribution. He was working as a sound operator on THE YOUNG RACERS when he pitched his idea to the producer.screen-shot-2013-07-26-at-10-33-30-am
With his lead actors in place, Coppola and a small crew went to Ireland to make their Psycho inspired thriller. Luckily for them, Irish actor Patrick Magee was able to convince several members of Ireland’s Abbey Players to take small roles.

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When they arrived, Coppola did not have a finished script in hand but had a secretary with him to dictate script ideas. He also met a British producer Raymond Stross (who owned a chain of British movie theatres as well as producing films like the Freddie Francis directed THE BRAIN (Raymond Stross Productions,1962 a UK/West German co-production), inspired by Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak ). Somehow the director  convinced Stross to give him matching funds, all of which Coppola deposited into his own bank account. Corman was furious that Coppola had sold off UK rights without telling him and wanted to withdraw his share of the funding, but since it was in Coppola’s private account, there was nothing that he could do.The-brain-movie-poster
A group of UCLA film students came over, including John Vicario, camera operator and Vicario’s girlfriend Eleanor Neil. Coppola eventually married Eleanor after the film wrapped.

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When the film was finished, Corman felt that the film did not work, and so had Jack Hill brought in to film some additional (violent) scenes that were shot in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California. Hill received credit for second unit work on the picture.Dementia-13-still-4
When it was first released, Corman had a  prologue filmed for  a D-13 test, which involved an actor playing a psychiatrist ask the audience what scared them. (This prologue as well as an audio commentary by William Campbell were on ROAN’s 1996 DVD of the film .)

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The story involves a series of violent murders that take place around Castle Haloran in Ireland. They all seem to start when Louise (Luana Anders), the American wife of John Haloran (Peter Read ) tries to hide John’s death by heart attack so she won’t be cut out of the will. Since he died while they were in the middle of a lake, she dumps his body overboard (an eerie scene, for she also dumps over a small transistor radio playing some rockabilly, it’s music garbles as they both float downward.DEMENTIA13

 

This leads into the impressive title sequence animation Paul Julian, who had also worked in similar capacity for Corman on ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (A.A.1957) and THE TERROR (AIP,1963). He had been a production designer on the Oscar nominated short film THE TELL TALE HEART (UPA,1953). Julian’s eerie art is well matched by the harpsichord and horn score by another Corman regular, composer Ronald Stein.The_Tell-Tale_Heart1953
Returning to the story, Louise convinces the family that John was called away on business. There we are introduced to the matriarch of the family, Lady Haloran (Eithne Dunne ) who seems to be cut from the same cool cloth as Judith Anderson was as Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA (Selznick ,1940).

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Every year they have a ceremony that is a macabre memorial to a sister Kathleen, who drowned seven years earlier. Lady Haloran holds a strong powerful hold over her two sons, Richard (William Campbell), a sculptor (a passion that he also had in BLOOD BATH) who wishes to marry Kane (Mary Mitchel), another American woman, and younger brother Billy (Bart Patton), who still misses his little sister.

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The ceremony of the three family members ends as it does every year, with the mother collapsing at the daughter’s gravesite. This year the ceremony is observed by Louise, who gets the idea that she might drive the older woman mad so she can break the will in case John’s body is discovered. This sets off a series of violent murders by axe.
Family friend, Dr Justin Caleb (Patrick Magee) begins to suspect that the murders are a result of the death of young Kathleen. The thing is, who is the killer?

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The film is an effective gritty little who done it, with a lot of wonderful visuals and a strong cast, particularly actress Eithne Dunne. The Northern Ireland born actress had joined the Abbey Theatre in 1939 . playboy 1946  as pegeen  burgess meredith as christyShe had appeared on Broadway in 1946 with  Burgess Meredith in PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD .PWW

 

However, American actor Karl Schanzer does the worst Irish accent ever as potty game poacher Simon (Schanzer had appeared in Coppola’s nudie cutie TONIGHT FOR SURE (Premier,1962) as well as SPIDER BABY (American General,1968).
Though obviously inspired by PSYCHO(Paramount,1960), it also made me think of many of the Hammer black and white psychological thrillers, especially PARANOIAC(Hammer/Universal,1963).

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700-year-old Howth Castle near Howth Road, Dublin, Ireland adds major production value to the film, and is practically a character in the story. The castle was later used for some flashback scenes in DUCK YOU SUCKER (U.A., 1971). The locale of James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake “is Howth Castle and Environs. Legend has it that due to an affront to a guest in 1576, an extra plate is set out at every meal, a custom still honored at the castle today.castle_2_lge

Additional scenes were shot at Ardmore Studios in Ireland. The film was allocated nine filming days, but additional shooting days were required, especially for the reshoots by Jack Hill.

Though critical reviews were mixed at the time of its release, but the film was not very expensive and so easily made a profit. The film was also released in the U.K. as THE HAUNTED AND THE HUNTED. The BBFC made several cuts, ironically the footage shot by Jack Hill was among them. These cuts were later restored to British prints.dementia_13_poster_04
The Blu Ray from FILM DETECTIVE is huge improvement from previous released copies of this film that I have seen. No longer will you need to watch all those dark muddy public domain prints that have long been available. Details are sharp though at time grain seems to exist in the original negative. This is supposedly the first time that the film has been released in its proper 1:78:1 aspect ratio.dementia1307
The mono sound is clear though a bit low, a problem easily corrected by increasing your television volume.

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The only extra is clear easy to read English subtitles, that follow the dialogue and action.

While appreciative of such a lovely print, I do wish that FILM DETECTIVE had gotten someone to do a commentary track for the film,or ported over the extras from Roan’s out of print DVD (Campbell’s commentary and the D-13 prologue) .

That said, the most important thing is that this film can finally be seen in a viewable version.

Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick
*-Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola ( University Press of Kentucky )- by Gene D Phillips .Page 22

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DEMENTIA 13 (Filmgroup,1963) Blu Ray released by Film Detective
Producer: Roger Corman
Associate Producer: Marianne Wood
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola
2nd Unit Writer and Director: Jack Hill
Cinematography: Charles Hanawalt
Film Editing: Stuart O’Brien, Morton Tubor
Art Direction: Albert Locatelli
Set Decoration: Eleanor Neil (Coppola)
Sculptures: Edward Delaney
Music: Ronald Stein
Cast: William Campbell (Richard Haloran), Luana Anders (Louise Haloran), Bart Patton (Billy Haloran), Mary Mitchel (Kane), Patrick Magee (Dr. Justin Caleb), Eithne Dunne (Lady Haloran), Peter Read (John Haloran), Karl Schanzer (Simon), Ron Perry (Arthur), Barbara Dowling (Kathleen Haloran).
BW-75m.

 

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NO STOPPING THE STOVER

NO STOPPING THE STOVER – (ALPHA NEW CINEMA,2016). Color /B&W. 91 minutes. Documentary /DVD. $7.98
Available at

http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1100D.html

 

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2016 is shaping up to be the year of the Stover. Retromedia just released a limited edition of THE ALIEN FACTOR (reviewed recently https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/the-alien-factor-1978-limited-edition-blu-ray-1000-copies-only/ )

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and he has at least nine (!) films that he appears in awaiting release or currently filming, including MANOS RETURNS, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: GENESIS (which stars Judith O’Dea from the original N.O.T.L.D (Continental,1968)) and RETURN OF THE DEVIL BAT (which co-stars Lynn Lowry (THE CRAZIES, Cambist Films1973), Ruby LaRocca (FLESH FOR THE BEAST, Media Blasters,2003), and Conrad Brooks (Ed Wood star). Now for his 70th birthday, we have a documentary of the life of the Baltimore Maryland cult film actor.

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One of the nicest and modest people whom you might ever wish to meet, George was in the forefront of self-publishing genre fanzines, publishing the tiny wonder BLACK ORACLE.BLACK O                                           For ten issues, this ¼ size fanzine sold bloody hair hunksBloodyHunksRev                     as well as wonderful articles overlooked by a lot of the larger genre magazines. cinemacabre7Later he followed it up with another slicker fanzine called CINEMACABRE that published at least seven issues.

Having acted in a college school authorized production of a STAR TREK play called ‘One Cube or Two?”, wherein he played an alien in heavy makeup, Star-TrekStover continues to appear in off beat film roles. His first was in John Waters classic FEMALE TROUBLE (Saliva Films,1974) and he soon became a staple in Maryland Indie filmmaking, while supporting himself working in a regular 9 to 5 job.

He endeared himself to genre fans when he began appearing in films by fellow fanzine publisher(CINEMAGIC) Don Dohler. He appeared in Don’s first feature length film THE ALIEN FACTOR (Cinemagic Visual Effects, 1978) and appeared in all of Dohler’s films in roles of various sizes throughout.

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  (I think my favorite Stover performermance in a Dohler produced film ,STAKES ,2002 Timewarp Films)

In February,2012, George was attacked and robbed in his own home by a career criminal who rather than just leaving, shot George and left him for dead. Even though he was in hospital, he made sure that he called the director of a film that he was working on (DANGEROUS DECEPTION, Lee Doll ,2012) to apologize that he would not be on set! Hearing the actual phone message is quite chilling and yet also shows the professionalism of Stover. Luckily, George survived this real life horror, and is still with us, still sharing his joy of appearing in films.

(You can read local coverage after the event here: 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-george-stover-1128-20121127-story.html   )

 

Several filmmakers and fellow performers are interviewed to talk about working with The Stover, including director Fred Olen Ray (ATTACK OF THE SIXTY FOOT CENTERFOLD, Concorde ,1995), writer director Mark Redfield (THE DEATH OF POE (Alpha New Cinema ,2006) and many others who have had the pleasure of knowing and working with the man himself.

jj northCenterfold(  George and the charming  J.J. North on set of 60 FT CENTERFOLD )

If you’d like to have a good idea of what it is like to work in low budget films, find out why there is NO STOPPING THE STOVER.

Recommended.9848bf_2c5af2d3381a4f409d509b65ec1873e8

-Kevin G Shinnick

(Full disclosure -I have known of George since subscribing to his original fanzine Black Oracle, and have had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions.).

If you have a completed  film seeking distribution, contact BRIAN KREY at  briank@oldies.com .Alpha New Cinema has released films by cult directors such as Brett Piper  Mark Redfield to great success.

 

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HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (TWILIGHT TIME BLU RAY)

HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (TWILIGHT TIME BLU RAY)

 

TheHoundOfTheBaskervilles_BD_HighRes__42035.1463758810.1280.1280 limited edition 3,000 units- Original release Hammer/ United Artists -1959- Color – 86 minutes $29.95

      http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/hound-of-the-baskervilles-the-blu-ray/
TWILIGHT TIME has gone all out with their release of Hammer’s classic adaption of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes story  THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Issued previously on DVD by MGM, the new Blu Ray cleans up both sound and image to make this hound appear as if it was made recently.

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Peter Cushing is Sherlock Holmes. Before Jeremy Brett, Cushing was perhaps the closest to the character ever put on film. Rathbone and Bruce had gone further and further from the novels though they had been (and to many still are) the template in many people’s minds of what the Great Detective and his Boswell were like. In strong support was Andre Morell as Watson. Gone was the bumbling but lovable blustery Nigel Bruce and in his place was a man whom you felt had been a soldier, and while not as clever as Holmes, was at least an intelligent sounding board who had been a doctor.

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Hammer was riding high from their back to back hits reinventing of Dracula and Frankenstein, and so they looked around for another popular character that might fit into their technicolor blood and thunder stylish thrillers. Their choice fell onto adapting perhaps the most famous mystery of all time877083538.3.l.
First serialized in nine parts from August 1901 until April 1902 in The Strand Magazine, the complete novel was first published as THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES: ANOTHER ADVENTURE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES on March 25,1902 by George Newnes with a print run of 25,000 copies at 6 shillings each. 15,000 more copies were printed for India and the British Colonies on April 2,1902, with the American edition coming out at $1.25 on April 15th (print run of 70,000). Illustrations were done by the man most identified with drawing the Dynamic Detecting Duo, Sidney Paget.hounde by paget

 

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/publication-hound-baskervilles

HOUND has proven to be the most enduring of the Holmesian tales, which is interesting because Holmes disappears for about half the middle section of the book and Watson taking the lead. Still it’s Gothic atmosphere with dark moors, castles, curses and hell hounds still stirs the imagination of readers over 114 years later. The tale has been adapted onto radio, comics, stage and of course film adaptations.

 

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To me, the Hammer film leads the pack (see what I did there?). Casting, script, direction, music, set design, every aspect of the film from beginning to end is a treat for any longtime fan of the Great Man as well as a perfect way to introduce new fans to the tales.

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The Hammer Hound begins back in the 1700 s as the original Sir Hugo Baskerville (David Oxley ,
 who also appeared as The Doctor in Hammer’s YESTERDAY ENEMY (1959) and it is sad that he was not used in more of their films) has kidnapped a young woman for obviously unsavory pleasures during their debauched hunting party (a reference to the notorious Hellfire Club, perhaps). The poor woman escapes and the Lord glowers over a bannister and in a tight close-up says “The BITCH has escaped!” (a phrase that I am sure gave censors coronaries). They takeoff after the poor unfortunate who struggles through the deadly bog, only to be caught, and on an ancient site of sacrifice, he pulls out a dagger and stabs her to death. Moments later, a low growl is heard, and the man turns to the camera as a look of horror crosses his face.

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Jump to Baker Street and we see that we are being told the tale of the Baskerville curse by a friend of the family, Dr. Mortimer (Francis De Woolf, who had been Black Ben in CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (MGM,1958) asks,” What do you think, Mr Holmes?’ A quick cut, and we see Cushing, deep in thought, a hand across his face as he sits splayed out in an armchair, then suddenly cries “’AH!” but not to the case but a chess move he had been puzzling. This is one of the finest introductions that Holmes has ever had on screen and Cushing does not disappoint in his well studied charactization for a moment. His Holmes is intense, so even when not moving, you have a sense that he is a coiled spring, ready to set off at a moments’s notice. Balancing him superbly as Dr Watson is Andre Morell, who played Cushing’s nemesis in the controversial BBC adaptation of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR (1954) that propelled Cushing to national fame (he would later be Cushing’s antagonist in the superb CASH ON DEMAND (Hammer/Columbia ,1961 ,as well as appearing in 10 RILLINGTON PLACE, also released on Blu Ray previously reviewed here on the Street https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/10-rillington-place-twilight-time-blu-ray/).

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Christopher Lee plays an aloof Sir Henry Baskervilles, who softens when he gets to Baskervilles Hall and meets Marla Landi (and who would later meet with pirate Chris Lee in Hammer’s THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER (Columbia,1962)). Other superlative actors in the film are scene stealer Miles Malleson (who portraying a befuddled undertaker nearly cracks Peter Cushing up in HORROR OF DRACULA (Hammer/Universal,1958) as a Bishop who is also an amateur Arachnologist, John Le Mesurier (Dr Tranter in JACK THE RIPPER, Embassy 1959) a marvelous proper Barrymore the Butler, and Ewan Salon (also in JACK THE RIPPER as Sir David) is a wonderful Stapleton.High-Def-Digest-www.highdefdigest_.com-Blu-ray-Reivew-Hound-of-the-Baskervilles_3_

 

I don’t wish to go into too many details, especially if you have seen it there is no need and if you haven’t you will want to enjoy discovering the wonderful story on its own.

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Production values are top notch ,with Bernard Robinson wonderfully redressing and adding to prior set pieces from Hammer ( it is often fun to watch Hammer Films just to see how brilliantly sets were dressed and redressed to such great effect from film to film), Jack Asher’s Technicolor photography has never looked so colorful as it does in this new Blu Ray release , and James Bernard’s score once again is quite stirring .The screenplay by Peter Bryan ,while not entirely faithful to the Doyle novel , is quite faithful in tone and spirit (Bryan ,a former camera operator ,would also pen Hammer’s PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES(Hammer /Fox,1966) as well as the original story for TROG (WB,1970))and Hammer’s treasure director Terrence Fisher deftly guides his ensemble through an engrossing and entertaining 86 minutes.13533200_1608127842850264_617244119448671006_n

The sound is in crisp clear 1.0 DTS-HD, with no noticeable pops or hiss, and the hound’s first howl and growl are quite chilling with the proper speakers. Subtitles are in English and follow the dialogue almost exactly.

Extras on this Blu Ray, besides the glorious region free 1080p High Definition / 1.66:1 / Color transfer, include
-An Isolated Music and effects track, you can enjoy Bernard’s score as well as seeing which sound bites are foleyed in.800__hound_baskervilles_06_blu-ray__blu-ray_
-An audio commentary with Film Historians David Del Valle and Writer /Director Steven Peros, who have infectious respect for the film and its place in Hammer History.
-A Second Audio commentary moderated by friend of SCARLET film historian and filmmaker Paul Scrabo, Lee Pfeiffer, and Hanker Reineke, who cover both the film and where it varies from the Holmesian canon.

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-A video interview with Margaret Robinson, who discusses her involvement with the film, in particular making the mask used on the Hound. Though warned the dog might bite her, the lovely woman recalls that the dog decided that she was alright and never had a problem with it.
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A nice overview booklet on the film written by Julie Kirgo.

Ported over from the previous MGM DVD release are
-Actor’s Notebook: An interview with actor Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee reading excerpts from the original Novel.
-The Theatrical Trailer.

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Limited to only 3,000 copies, I would suggest that any fan of Holmes, Hammer, Cushing and company, or just great filmmaking should snap this film up!

HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
Kevin G Shinnick

Note: The U.K. Arrow release of this film has a lot of extras not available here, including historian Marcus Hearn commentary, commentary by Kim Newman and Mark Gatis, a documentary on Andre Morell, and a 1986 documentary called THE MANY FACES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. That it has both the Margaret Robinson interview and Lee reading Hound excerpts, it is a shame that the other wealth of extras from ARROW had not been ported over. Still, with the wealth of extras that TWILIGHT TIME has given us, this is petty nitpicking and most important, they have given us perhaps the finest presentation of this classic that we are likely to see.

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1970s, Blu Ray, cult, diy filmmaking, fantasy, genre, Horror, SCIENCE FICTION, STOP MOTION ANIMATION, t.v., tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

THE ALIEN FACTOR (1978) limited edition Blu Ray 1000 copies only

ALEINTHE ALIEN FACTOR (1978) Blu Ray Limited SIGNED Edition (Retromedia) only 1,000 (signed by actor George Stover) color 1980 80 minutes. Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen $19.99
https://www.amazon.com/ALIEN-FACTOR-Blu-Limited-SIGNED/dp/B01GW7PNRE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1467754988&sr=1-1&keywords=the+alien+factor

 

From the 1960’s through the 80s, you could actually go to the theatre and see films that were shot independently by regional moviemakers. Some could be eerie classics like CARNIVAL OF SOULS (Herts-Lion,1962) from Lawrence Kansas, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Image 10/Continental,1968) from Pittsburgh, Pa; and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Bryanston ,1974) from Round Rock, Texas. Others were not so impressive like THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (Group 1,1975) from Merrill Wisconsin or GURU THE MAD MONK (Wm Mishkin ,1970) from New York.

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A film that kind of falls in the middle ground is THE ALIEN FACTOR (Cinemagic Visual Effects 1978) from Perry Hill, Maryland. Quite ambitious (several varied extraterrestrial creatures from space terrorize a small Maryland town), the subject stretches way past it’s tiny budget. It does succeed, however, in being quite entertaining, though sometimes not in the way it expected.

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The acting, to be charitable, is often of the mumble or shout “look at me-acting “school. That is due to the bugaboo of many a low budget films, using non actors in roles. Often crew members stepped before the lens to be vanquished by one of the monsters before stepping safely back behind the camera. Plus, Don Dohler had no experience in directing (save for some Super 8 monster films) and so was unable to tamper or balance the performance. Having written the script as well, he was unable to hear the clumsy dialog often given to his performers (“Jack-stick it out” often is greeted with laughs due to its double entendre nature).

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Where the film does shine is in its special effects. From the opening title on *we are treated to both optical effects as well as stop motion, perspective miniatures, and several monster suits and a victim of progeria (though how they felt the victim, who looks like a werewolf who has gone green, suffered from a disease that causes the appearance of rapid aging is amazing to me).2zf4cqd The creatures work with various degrees of success (a basement reveal of one is an actual effective jump scare), though the longer that they are on camera the easier it is to find flaws, especially as they are often out in snow exteriors during the day.

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The film became a regular on television syndication due to the success of STAR WARS (Fox,1977). Gold Key Entertainment, anxious to cash in on the new sci fi craze, bought distribution rights to anything that might fall into that category. The package included DARK STAR (Bryanston ,1974), FANTASTIC INVASION OF PLANET EARTH (aka THE BUBBLE, Arch Oboler Productions, 1966) and many more. Here is the press video sent out to various markets to sell the package to the local tv stations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nagBkBZ2a98&feature=youtu.be .

The Alien Factor VHS

Plus, at the same time, the burgeoning video market saw the film become a staple at video stores from VCI and MEDIA (MEDIA having been found in 1978 by filmmaker Charles Band). RETROMEDIA picked up the DVD rights in 2002, and then in 2005 it was released with FIEND as a co bill. The co-bill release had an audio commentary by George Stover, as well as a blooper reel (as well as a FIEND blooper reel) and photo gallery. In 2011, Mill Creek Enertainment somehow added the film to a 50 (!) film 12-disc set called SCI-FI INVASION, with very low quality prints and no extras.alien-fiend-don-dohler-collection-george-stover-dvd-cover-art

For this new BLU RAY release, RETROMEDIA didn’t just reissue their previous release, but went all out and found an original print, cleaned it up and gave it a new 2K HD WIDESCREEN scan from the 16mm negative.

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What results is an amazingly sharp print.

Having only seen the film in boxy and grainy tv and video prints, I was astonished to see how really clean and sharp a lot of the photography is. The film was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm, which probably accounted for the grain and poor lab work the muddy colors that were previously the only ones available. However, the sharper images also reveals a few more of the flaws, such as the small openings in the eyes of the Alien Pilot (who resembles a George Pal Morlock in a track suit).alienfact16

Rather than just port over the previous commentary, George Stover recorded comments from the cast and crew who were scattered all over the country and edited them into the appropriate sequences, as well as adding his own insights and bios of those who were involved that are no longer with us.

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Other extras include a
– “Behind The Scenes “Featurette-George Stover showing some of the original props as well as the painting used for the video cover, as well as showing that an acetate of an alien was placed over a screaming woman depicted, as it was felt that she looked too cartoonish.The Alien Factor VHS

alienfactorThe Television Years Featurette (appearances and plugs on Dick Dyzel’s Count Gore De Vol series)

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– ‘Meet The Cast & Crew” Featurette -various clips shot of cast and crew talking about their experience on making the film and showing some of the props today.alienfact23

– ‘Alien Factor Reunion” -home video recording of the cast and crew at a local convention, though director Don Dohler was unable to attend. You get to see how truly funny the late actor Don Liefert was in his recollections.Cinemagic09-1

Ported over from the previous 2005 Retromedia release are

An Alternate Leemoid Sequence with Commentary Trackalienfactor7.jpgorinal lemoid

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-and the Original Retromedia “Drive-In Theatre “introduction featuring Fred Olen Ray and Kymberly Ray. fred kym

This release is limited to only 1000 copies and previous RETROMEDIA releases (like BIOHAZARD ,21st Century ;1985) that have gone out of print are now fetching at least three times the original cost, so definitely grab this title for your collection quickly.

ALIEN FACTOR has been the subject of good natured kidding by CINEMATIC TITANICposter - alien factor-sm (an off shoot of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000), as well as mentioned in various documentaries such as

BLOOD BOOBS AND BEASTS (superbly done by filmmaker
John Paul Kinhart in 2007 and released by Troma)BBBPost

And the recent DVD release NO STOPPING THE STOVER (Alpha New Cinema ,2016, to be reviewed shortly)
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1100D.htmlno stop

but I suggest that you definitely pick up this labor of love  Blu Ray release of ALIEN FACTOR from Retromedia release.alienfact23

Highly recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

*- Ernie Farino, who like others who worked with Dohler, went on to careers in major motion pictures. Farino, for example, worked on THE TERMINATOR (Hemdale,1984).alienfact26

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