SUNSHINE(1973) Blu Ray

Sunshine_BD__21916.1540398344.500.750_750Sunshine(1973) [Signature Release]-Twilight Time  Blu Ray .Color .124 mins. Region Free.




Back in the 1970s, made for T.V. movies were big ratings getters.


Thanks to THE HOMECOMING: A CHRISTMAS STORY (WB/CBS ; December 1971)America was introduced to The Waltons , who soon garnered their own tv series. BRIAN’S SONG (ABC,1971)made a star out of James Caan and an earworm of a title theme that you couldn’t escape https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w26pW2Uz2-Y .   DUEL (Universal/ABC,1971). introduced the majority of Americans to a newcomer named STEVEN SPIELBERG.


Into this popular creative mix came SUNSHINE (Universal/CBS,1973).  The inspired by a true story tear jerker was directed by Joseph Sargent (many popular episodes of STAR TREK ,Paramount /Desilu/NBC,1966-1969;as well as the theatrical movie COLOSSUS:THE FORBIN PROJECT (Universal,1970)which ironically BEGAN as a T.V. film ) with skill, finesse ,and a light touch which never made the story heavy handed nor pushed the tears as many other post LOVE STORY (Paramount,1970)films did. The emotions were natural and the reactions from the audiences were thus even more powerful(not that it affected me. No I’m not crying . The air in here is just dry.).


Airing on CBS, it became at the time the most watched TV film in history.


Making it more noteworthy was that the soundtrack was written by balladeer John Denver. “Sunshine on My Shoulders”, from which the film takes its title, was John Denver’s first number one hit (it went unnoticed on the album “Poems Prayers & Promises” in 1971, but became a hit single in 1973).


The film had a sequel in 1977, A SUNSHINE CHRISTMAS (Universal, NBC) that had less of an impact, as well as a short lived tv series in 1975, so it is odd that with all of the films that get pretty consistent exposure on revival television channels that SUNSHINE has not been aired .


People have fond memories of the film and bootlegs have been very popular.


Now, Redwind Productions, who prior to this released the documentary TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: KA SHEN’s JOURNEY (2010,about actress Nancy Kwan) and the Blu Ray release/restoration of HOLIDAY IN SPAIN /SCENT OF MYSTERY, now have gone all out to make this forgotten gem look even better than it did when first broadcast. Twilight Time is handling the Blu Ray release.

heltonJacquelyn M. ‘Lyn” Helton


The original film elements were used and given a 4K DPX scan (1080p Hi Definition),and restored the film’s original aspect ratios (1.33.1). The mono sound has also been cleaned up with a 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix.  No multi-channel mixes, but none needed for this human tale, and the sound is hiss free, while the John Denver numbers are quite easy to listen to. To make it easier to find favorite bits of dialogue or music, one of the   features on this Blu Ray is special chapter stops to go right to your favorite bits.


There are also optional English SDH subtitles, that are quite easy to read and follow the action (that is, if you can read them through teary eyes. I’m not crying, you’re crying. Shut up.).


The result is a beautiful looking print that you can watch with your entire family, either to revisit it with those who experienced it, or watch with your younger family members.


Did I mention to keep tissues nearby (not for me, for you, I am not crying. It’s my allergies.)?


SUNSHINE was based upon the true life story of Jacquelyn M. ‘Lyn” Helton, who, at 18, after giving birth to her daughter Jennifer, was discovered to have bone cancer. She began to leave journals and audio tapes for her baby and her husband, Tom, with the goal of reminding them of how important they were, as well as inspiring people dealing with major illnesses.


Someone stole her tape recorder in 1971, which outraged people and after national coverage, she was gifted with a new recording device.



She died November 7,1971, with her story carried by national press.


Lawrence Schiller acquired the rights to her story, and thus two years and two days later (November 9,1973) her story was aired as SUNSHINE.


Names were changed for the tv story (opening credits say that it was “suggested by” Helton’s life) but it seems to follow the sad though inspiring tale (no I’m not crying. I think I have a cold starting. Stop it.).



Christina Raines , in her film debut, plays Kate Hayden. Kate is a young pregnant divorcee who falls in love with struggling musician Sam (Cliff DeYoung). Sam loves Kate so much that when the baby Jill is born, they both accept it as their own child. Kate finds out she has bone cancer, and the aggressive chemo she gets leaves her basically unable to go about her daily activities.


Frustrated, she decides she would rather live a short life as a functioning mother and wife than continue to be what she perceives as a burden. Kate continues to keep in touch with medical researchers as she begins to document her feelings and illnesses as she fights the terrible disease (I’m not crying. I think my eyes are tired. Shut up).



Someone steals her tape recorder, depressing her about the loss.


However, her story gets national attention, and her story inspires many to send gifts, including a new machine so she can continue journaling until…


(sniff… what? No! You are .Shut up.)


The film, while making the characters likeable, does not make them dull saints, and it deals with the stress of being the patient as well as its effect on those around them.



Ms. Raines has since retired from acting, but she now is a nurse who works with patients undergoing kidney dialysis. One wonders how much her role inspired her decision on this life choice. Before she stopped performing, she had a good career, appearing in films like THE SENTINEL (Universal,1977) and THE DUELLISTS(Paramount,1977).


Cliff DeYoung began as a musician who had performed with the likes of The Doors before became an actor, appearing in the original 1969 Broadway production of HAIR.  After four years in NYC, he returned to California , landing his role in SUNSHINE. He continues to be an active actor.


Also in the film are Meg Foster, Brenda Vaccaro, and Billy Mumy.


The screenplay was by Carol Sobieski, who also wrote the adaptations for ANNIE (Columbia ,1982) and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES(Universal,1991), the latter earning a posthumous Oscar nomination for the writer.


For the John Denver fans,

songs in the film are

“My Sweet Lady”, “Day Dreams” “Goodbye Again”, “Poems, Prayers & Promises”, all with words and music by Denver alone, and “Sunshine On My Shoulders”, ’Take Me Home, Country Roads, and ‘Winter” which are Denver in collaboration with others. ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand” by Gene MacLellan is also featured.


The film seems to have gotten some sort of theatrical release, though I could only find a movie poster for this.


As an extra on the disc, however, there is also an original theatrical trailer.


Another bonus is a small booklet that really adds nothing though it has some great photos of the film as well as an overseas and American poster.

Recommended for those who enjoy a superior family drama, and don’t mind a few tears (not that I’m crying, mind you. I just need to go wipe my eyes. I’ll be fine).


Kudos to Redwind/Twilight Time for their effort to bring this well-loved story back to an appreciative audience who remember it fondly as well as a new group of viewers.



(warning tissues NOT included).

Kevin G. Shinnick  



Blu Ray Contest THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES : RE AWAKENING(update12.10.18.contest over.winners contacted)

(update12.10.18.contest over.winners contacted.CONTRST IS NOW CLOSED.Congrats to TOM SHUMAKER  and RON OLIVER.   Oddly ,both picked BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) as their favorite Xmas Horror Film.  Other choices mentioned were GREMLINS, TALES FROM THE CRYPT (Xmas segment), SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT,BETTER WATCH OUT(our contest last year) ,and ELVES,among others. Thanks to WELL GO USA.  Tom & Ron’s Blu Rays will be sent asap.  Thank you all for taking part! -Kevin 




Enter for a chance to win one of two Region 1 Blu Ray copies (courtesy of Well Go USA ; http://www.wellgousa.com ) of THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES : RE AWAKENING .

The House That Never Dies: Reawakening


The sequel to the 2014 hit filmThe House That Never Diesand based on true events that took place at the spookiest of Beijing’s Four Oriental Haunted Houses, The House That Never Dies: Reawakening debuts on digital and DVD December 4 from Well Go USA Entertainment.Blu Ray is Region One.

   Now here is your chance to win one of two Region 1  blu ray copies .(UPDATE CONTEST NOW OVER & CLOSED. NO MORE ENTRIES-12.10.18)


THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES REAWAKENING Stars Joan Chen (The Last Emperor, Judge Dredd), Julian Cheung (The Grandmaster), Mei Ting (Blind Massage) and Gillian Chung (Ip Man: The Final Fight).  98 Min.Color. Original Language Mandarin.Dubbed Language : Cantonese  .  SUBTITLE LANGUAGE : ENGLISH



To enter to win:

              Send an email to : SCARLETTHEFILMMAG@yahoo.com   .

In the heading put The House That Never Dies: Reawakening Contest . 

                     Then , in the body of the letter please put

                                    your name and mailing address ,

                                          and answer this question :

 What is your favorite Christmas ghost, horror, or thriller film for the holidays?

                              That’s all . Contest open until  DECEMBER 9,2018  .




One entry per person please.  Contest open to residents of the continental United States.


  Ghoul Luck!

             Thanks once again to Well GO USA .

http://www.wellgousa.com Check out their collection of films .



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SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST (Twilight Time Blu Ray) Hammer /Columbia 1960 Megascope. Color 80 mins. $29.95 Region Free.    https://www.twilighttimemovies.com/sword-of-sherwood-forest-blu-ray/


While Hammer Films was reigning supreme as the creators of high-quality horror cinema, they continued to make movies in other genres as well. In the 1950s, Hammer tried their hand at a story of Robin Hood.

The legendary hero had been the subject of motion pictures since 1908 with the British made ROBIN HOOD & HIS MERRY MEN (Clarendon). Sadly, the cast is not currently known.

ROBIN HOOD & HIS MERRY MEN (1908)robn 1908


American Eclair did a version simply called ROBIN HOOD that starred Robert Frazier,later to star in WHITE ZOMBIE (Halperin,1932)

robin hood 19121912 ,Friar Tuck officiates.

In 1913, a kinemacolor silent British film was shot in and around Nottingham called IN THE DAYS OF ROBIN HOOD, starring Harry Agar Lyons. That same year, Thanhouser in the U.S. made their own version, with William Russell in the title role, Maid Marian as portrayed by Gerda Holmes, and a sneering John Dillon as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

in the days of robin hood 1913 In The Days of Robin Hood (1913)

douglas                                                                                                                                                              The most famous of the silent Robin Hood pictures was the exciting ROBIN HOOD (U.A. ,1922), starring Douglas Fairbanks in a role he was born to play.

He was so definitive that no one dared try the part until W.B. in 1938 created their Technicolor masterpiece, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, starring Errol Flynn as Robin, Olivia DeHavilland as Marian, Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy, Claude Rains as Prince John, and a wealth of familiar character actors. The film is how most people see Robin today, a laughing cavalier with a huge caring heart, quick with his sword or arrows to disperse justice and right wrongs.flynnn gif


Columbia  waited ten years before attempting two films on the subject: BANDIT OF SHERWOOD FOREST in Technicolor with Cornel Wilde as Robin’s son. Sam Katzman re- used the sets and costumes that same year in the cheaper Cinecolor process to create THE PRINCE OF THIEVES starring Jon Hall, inspired by an Alexandre Dumas novel.


Two years later Columbia went back to Sherwood, or at least the Corriganville Movie Ranch to create ROGUES OF SHERWOOD FOREST.  This tale was about ANOTHER son of Robin Hood (insert Maid Marian jokes here) in the person of John Derek, as well as a return to Technicolor with costumes from the 1938 film as well as actor Alan Hale Senior .Hale had played Little John in 1922, 1938 and here in again in his final screen role.

children-in-battersea-park-watch-patrick-troughton-act-the-part-of-robin-hood1.jpgTelevision discovered the legends and put them to good use in 1953 for the BBC’s ROBIN HOOD, starring future Doctor Who Patrick Troughton. The show was broadcast live from a small television studio .


Hammer got into the tights and swordplay with THE MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST (Hammer/Exclusive,1954, released by Astor in the U.S. in 1956) in Eastmancolor, their first color feature. American actor (and future director) Don Taylor worked on his British accent but seemed to have been instructed by director Val Guest that Robin laughs at everything. Seriously Robin, some of the things just weren’t that funny.  Still, the movie is an enjoyable romp and a warm up for what Hammer would soon follow with.

From 1955 to 1959 , ITV created 143 half hour black and white television episodes for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, with a deal with Officials Films to distribute the film within the United States in syndication  .Richard Greene superbly played the hero of Sherwood , filming at the small Nettlefold Studios as well as locations that had standing medieval buildings ,as well as a great drawbridge  and castle exterior  constructed  and also made use of for THE ADVENTURES OF SIR LANCELOT(ITV,1956-7).robin hood tvadrh7 1957greene-mcnally

20TH Century Fox gave us the DeLuxe Cinemascope SON OF ROBIN HOOD in 1959, which in fact was about Robin Hood’s DAUGHTER! It starred David Hedison and June Laverick.




Hammer returned to the shire, with a string of successes behind them since 1957’s CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Hammer/WB) and a guaranteed distribution deal with Columbia Pictures. At this point, Hammer was a smooth running machine able to put out high quality entertainment on a budget with superb production values and top-notch performers. One of their sterling entertainment’s was SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST.


Hammer went to it’s main go to director Terence Fisher (who had directed several episodes of the Richard Greene series) and its biggest star Peter Cushing to play a villain to let fans know that this was indeed a Hammer Film.  Richard Greene was the only performer from the popular series who was brought over.



 Ardmore Studios 

To show off their wide screen process MegaScope , Hammer went to Ireland and made use of the recently opened (1958) Ardmore Studios , as well as the green countryside surrounding in County Wicklow.   Cinematographer Ken Hodges was no stranger to period dramas, having manned the camera on ITC’s THE BUCCANEER (1956), THE ADVENTURES OF SIR LANCELOT (1956-7), SWORD OF FREEDOM (1957-9) and of course ,13 episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, all for television. He makes great use of the lush colors that the natural locations provided.


Music was provided by composer Alun Hoddinott, of which this was his first of only four film scores. His music was marked by a strong Celtic air, and he was later awarded a CBE. Works like this made him a perfect choice for the film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A–QSwlq-94    Composer Stanley Black wrote (uncredited) some of the ballads used within the film  .



Filming took place between May 23 through July 8,1960. The film was edited scored, given its ‘U’ certificate (suitable for all audiences) uncut and released on Boxing Day, December 26,1960 in the U.K., with an Irish and American release following in January ,1961.


After the titles, the film begins with a wounded fugitive (an uncredited Desmond Llewelyn, 3 years before FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE ,U.A. 1963, as Boothroyd, before being properly named ‘Q’ in GOLDFINGER the following year) toppling off his horse, shot in the back by an arrow*.

Two of Robin’s men find the man and start going through his belongings. Robin Hood (Richard Greene) shows up and finds that the pair are in error, and that the man is not dead.  Robin insists they bring him back to their camp where he can get treated.

They hear a sound and Robin draws his bow, telling whomever is hiding to come out. It is a quickly dressing Maid Marian (Sarah Branch who had appeared in Hammer’s 1959 HELL IS A CITY), who had been bathing au naturel but emerges with a very modern hair style, when she happened to catch sight of the man’s fall.  She thinks the trio are the culprits, but Robin shows that the arrow used is not one of theirs, but from a crossbow.


Marian tries to set up a meeting with the Sheriff (Peter Cushing, looking as always born into whatever period he finds the films set within), but Robin is suspicious of the Sheriff’s motives.  He was wise to be, as the Sheriff is up to his expected tricks, with one of Robin’s men killed in an attack                                    4039-18834

Robin, disguised, enters an archery contest and catches the eye of the Earl of Newark (Richard Pasco, later to appear in Hammer’s THE GORGON, Columbia ,1964).  Robin plays along and discovers a plot to murder Archbishop Hubert Walter (Jack Gwillim, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB, Hammer/Columbia,1964)                   .Richard Pasco Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)


800px-Hubert_Walter_statue,_Canterbury_Cathedral_(cropped)By the way, there really was an Archbishop Hubert Walter, who had accompanied Richard 1st on the Crusades, helped raise the ransom for Richard when he was held captive in Germany, and as a reward was appointed Archbishop in 1193.

Back to the movie : The Earl has also a psychotic assistant in Lord Melton (a rising star, Oliver Reed, soon to top bill in several Hammer films before going on to international fame) who does something quite unexpected ¾ of the way into the film, which gets him chastised by the Earl, rather than the expected praise .                             Oliver Reed Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)

By the movie’s end, Robin, Marian, and the Merry Men emerge victorious, with the baddies all slain.                                                   Sword-of-Sherwood-Forest-Hammer-original-lobby-card

The production is first rate and moves at a rapid pace. Besides the performers already mentioned, there is also able support from Dennis Lotis (singer actor, known for CITY OF THE DEAD/HORROR HOTEL, Vulcan 1960. Lotis, at age 93, is still alive at the time of this writing ,living in Stiffkey in Norfolk England )as Alan A ‘Dale ; 6’ 4” Nigel Green(later to portray Hercules in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS, Columbia,1963)as Little John ,and  Irish born  actor Niall MacGinnis (forever to be remembered as Karswell  from the classic NIGHT(CURSE)OF THE DEMON, Columbia,1957) .


Hammer returned twice more to Sherwood, with 1967’s A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD (7 Arts) as well as Hammer releasing WOLFSHEAD: THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD in 1973. SWORD OF SHERWOOD, however, is perhaps the best of all their tellings of the legend.


Columbia released their Robin Hood films (Bandit, Sword, Rogues) to DVD in 2010 in no frill versions. Now TWILIGHT TIME has once again licensed one of the Hammer/Columbia releases, and given the film a proper sprucing up for Blu Ray release.

images (1)

Limited as always to only 3,000 copies, the film is released in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which was the proper 4 perf 35mm aspect ratio of Megascope (some Hammer films used Hammerscope, which was basically the same process). Some Megascope films were shot in the regular Academy frame and then printed on 4 perf 35mm anamorphic ( -source : http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/glossary.htm ).

Title Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)

The 1080p HD is a beautiful transfer, which superb details and colors. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 also does justice to the original sound mix, with dialogue and effects tracks being noise and pop free.


Extras include

A separate isolated audio track of both Hoddinott’s score as well as sound effects.

Optional English subtitles which are clear, easy to read and follow the action and dialogue accurately.

The original theatrical trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rJQ5ZTc90M

There is the always welcome Julie Kirgo booklet enclosed as well as a reversible cover for the blu ray. One wishes that they had gone for a more dynamic cover, even if from one of the oversea releases.


Still the cover is an incredibly minor quibble on what is once again a wonderful release of an entertaining action adventure film.

With the recent release of the $100 million plus dud from LIONSGATE this year, may I suggest that you rush out and buy this Blu Ray to see how to tell the tale properly and on a sensible budget, when filmmakers did not rely on outlandish CGI, but had talented craftsman telling a well written story.




-Kevin G Shinnick



PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/pirates-of-blood-river-twilight-time-blu-ray/

Other TWILIGHT TIME titles : https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/?s=TWILIGHT+TIME

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*-Hammer’s MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST also began with a rider shot with an arrow to get the story going.





Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956,Allied Artists) Blu-ray (Olive Signature ) 81 min  N/R.   $29.95 limited to 5,000 units  https://olivefilms.com/product/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-olive-signature-blu-ray/  

“They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next”  This chilling phrase, ranted desperately by actor Kevin McCarthy at the original ending of the classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS still sends chills through audiences experience the film 62 years after it was released.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)_001

A 1950s classic science fiction film that reflected the paranoia of the period to “The Other “ , that is people who look and sound like us , but are soulless monsters.  What is interesting is that both sides of the political arena claim that the film supports their world view ideals, whereas the filmmakers seemed to have merely been trying to create a more intelligent and adult thriller in the genre.


For the few who have yet to see this gem, an hysterical man is brought to a hospital ,and as he begins to explain how he got there , we flashback to see .

In small town Santa Mira Dr Mile Bennell (Kevin McCarthy , in his iconic film role)and his former girl friend Becky (Dana Wynter)are finding more and more people are saying that friends and relations are no longer who they say they are, but have been replaced by imposters.


 They learn to their horror that people are indeed being replaced by pod people, that is to say ,huge seeds that ,when placed near a sleeping person, open up and assume the visage and persona of the sleeper, save without emotions.


Fleeing for their lives, the couple  hide within a cave. Benell goes to explore and finds that the pods are being grown and distributed.  Returning to the cave, he finds that Becky has fallen asleep and is now a pod person.

In shock , he races away from persuers into major traffic, screaming a warning to those within their vehicles.9434cb8f54fdb45da6276f25c79e2c96

Returning back to the hospital, the attending physicians feel that Bennell is delusional, until an accident victim is brought in, having had an accident with a truck carrying unusual oversized seed pods.  The doctors rush to warn the police ,as Bennell slumps down, exhausted but hopeful that the invasion will be stopped.


Based upon a serialization that appeared in Collier’s Magazine as “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney , producer Walter Wanger saw something unique in the story and purchased screen rights before the serialization was completed .


Wanger had been a busy producer ,active in theatre and film since prior to the U.S. entry into WW I.  Some of the classic films that he produced were STAGECOACH (U.A/Walter Wanger Productions,1939) and Hitchcock’s FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (U.A./Walter Wanger Productions 1940). In 1951, after a series of expensive failures ,Wanger was involved with a scandal wherein he shot his wife’s agent when Wanger suspected the pair were having an affair (Wanger’s wife was actress Joan Bennett).After a short prison stay,Wanger was anxious to jump start his career.  His first effort was the successful RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 ( A.A.,1954). Due to the success of that film, A.A. greenlit ‘Body Snatchers “(which went through various titles, including “Sleep No More”,a title also considered for the 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD(Walter Reade/Continental).

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 poster 12

INVASION OF THE was added to the title (to differentiate it from the RKO THE  BODY SNATCHER (1945, Val Lewton’s classic ,starring Karloff,Lugosi,Henry Daniell,directed by Robert Wise) and production was greenlit.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956

An agreed upon budget of $454,864 and a 24 day film shoot was agreed to, before it was slashed by the studio to 20 days ,and a budget of $350,000.  That precluded a name star, but worked perhaps in the film’s favor, as not following known stars kept us focused on the reality of the story .

The cast chosen was also first rate, and brought real life to the characters who they portrayed. Don Siegel (who directed two Academy Award winning  shorts in 1945, was a slick ,efficient, no nonsense director who knew how to build suspense.


The finished film was considered too bleak for the A.A. execs, who sent the film back for additional filming. The opening and closing scenes, set within a hospital, have the exhausted Dr Bennell tell his story, then at the end  barely avoids being committed when it is reported that an accident spills pods across the road, having the doctors begin to call to help perhaps stop the invasion.


The final film was still considered somewhat cerebral, and many read political commentary into it’s story .Filmed during the height of the McCarthy /HUAC hearings, both side of the issue interpreted the film to represent THEIR point of view.


Though well reviewed, the film was treated as nothing more than a science fiction programmer. It was paired with the British thriller TIMESLIP (1955,Anglo Amalgamated, released in the U.S.  by A.A. as THE ATOMIC MAN ) or the Lon Chaney Jr . starrer  reworking of MAN MADE MONSTER (1941,Universal) called THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (1956,A.A.).


The film started being reappraised due to it’s many television airings in the 1960s ,with many people catching this creepy film just before they went to bed, making it even more frightening.

It has been remade several times (1978 UA  ,BODY SNATCHERS ,1993,WB, THE INVASION ,2007 WB)with various degrees of success and failure ,as well as many other spoofs, rip offs and parodies .  The term “pod people “ has entered our common vernacular ,so that even people who have not seen the film know it refers to an unemotional person ,and or imposter .

download (3)

The film has been released on VHS as well as DVD from studios like Republic and NTA, as well as on DVD .s-l640

Olive Films released a previous DVD and Blu Ray of the film in 2012 without any extras, but now the movie has gotten the OLIVE SIGNATURE special edition treatment, and it is indeed transformative.

Licensing the film from Paramount ,OLIVE FILMS had previously cleaned up the film and presented it in the 2:1 SUPERSCOPE process forced upon the producers by the studio. The film was filmed and framed as 185, but the studio stretched out the image for the process.

Basically, previous versions were cropped . Olive Films presented the film as it was seen back in 1956.


The image on this Olive Films Signature Release is 1080 p  with beautiful dark blacks and clean whites without being washed out, and subtle gray scales in between . The audio is a rich 24 bit DTS-HD mono sound

OLIVE FILMS initial release was extra free . The new SIGNATURE release makes up for that.


First off is the new informative but never dry running  commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith. Smith has so much information that one suspects he got into a time machine to visit the set and report on every event in the preparation, production and release of the film. That , or he is just a brilliant researcher, who delivers his audio comments in a clear calm(but never dull ) manner .


An older commentary that  is lifted from a previous release of the film which features stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter , hosted by superfan and filmmaker Joe Dante.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 poster 15

 “The Stranger in Your Lover’s Eyes” – A two-part visual essay with actor and son of director Don Siegel, Kristoffer Tabori, reading from his father’s book A Siegel Film (Faber & Faber (October 1, 1996)).

‘The Fear is Real “ Filmmakers and superfans Larry Cohen and Joe Dante discuss how the film has affected both our culture as well as many films that followed.

‘I No Longer Belong The Rise and Fall of Walter Wagner” film scholar Matthew Bernstein discusses how Wagner went from Broadway to film, and how shooting your wife’s suspected lover in the groin can be pretty detrimental to your career.


‘Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited” McCarthy  & Wynter appear on camera to share memories on the film ,with additional comments by superfans and filmmakers John Landis, Mick Garris, and Stuart Gordon .



“The Fear & The Fiction : The Body Snatchers Phenomenon” -McCarthy,Wynter, Landis,Garris,and Gordon discuss the importance and influence  of the film in cinema history.

McCarthy in a 1985 tv interviewing talking on a local  California cable  talk show .McCarthy is quiet and humble in his interview , and mentions his one man stage show “Give “Em Hell, Harry” ,in which he toured on and off for 20 years.

“Return To Santa Mira” -What remains and what is gone at the location since the filming (hint don’t look for the train station!).


‘What’s In a Name?” The various titles bandied about for the film during production and continuing until it’s release.

A collection of rare production documents, including the originally planned opening narration which producer Wagner wished to have read by Orson Welles  (which seems inspired by H,G, Wells opening of the novel WAR OF THE WORLD ).

An 8 page booklet essay examination of the film by author film programmer Kier-La Janisse

The original Theatrical Trailer.

This is a Must have Must get Blu Ray of this classic film.

Don’t be a pod!


-Kevin G Shinnick




THE QUIET MAN  (reviewed  https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/the-quiet-man-olive-films-signature-blu-ray/ )

BOUND (reviewed https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/bound-olive-signature-blu-ray/ )


Other Olive Film Releases include

THE VAMPIRE’S GHOST             https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/the-vampires-ghost-republic-1945blu-ray-dvd-from-olive-films/

SABOTAGE  https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/sabotage-1939/

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING  https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/one-of-our-aircraft-is-missing-olive-films-blu-ray/

MACBETH (1948/1950 Republic)   https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/orson-welles-macbetholive-films-blu-ray/

RETURN OF DRACULA   https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/return-of-dracula-blu-ray-olive-films/


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2018, Blu Ray, crime drama, David Tennant, Dean Devlin, dvd, Electric Entertainment, film, Horror, https://www.facebook.com/scarletthefilmmagazine/, independent, Mystery, review, SCARLETTHEFILMMAGAZINE.WORDPRESS.COM, Serial Killer, streaming, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized


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BAD SAMARITAN is a superior example of the serial killer thriller genre.

Opening in 2000 theatres in May 2018, the film did not do well in its three week run ( making only $3,435,047 ) . It’s distributor , Electric Entertainment, who produced several television  and theatrical  co productions) has released three motion pictures ,all of which had high profile stars (BLACKWAY starring Anthony Hopkins in 2016; LBJ directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson in the title role in 2017; and now this film) but have not registered a blip on the radar financially.  The real shame is that two of them films(I have not seen BLACKWAY to honestly comment) are superb motion pictures.



Back to BAD SAMARITAN . Directed by Dean Devlin (INDEPENDENCE DAY) with  true style , and a clever screenplay by actor writer Brandon Boyce ( his skill as a thriller writer were in full view in  his adaptation of Stephen King‘s APT PUPIL ,Columbia,1998), the film, set in present day Portland Oregon ,makes full use of modern technology .


Bad-Samaritan-Robert-SheehanAmateur photographer Sean Falco      (Irish  actor Robert Sheehan , who appeared in Devlin‘s noisy but empty  GEOSTORM ,WB/Electric ,2017)  also  works with his best friend Derek (Carlito Olivero , who began in show biz  as a lead singer in a revamped Menudo ) parking cars at an upper class restaurant. This job also allows them to pilfer the homes of those in the eatery, since it is obvious that they are not home, often using the victim’s own cars to drive to and from the burglary! Sean takes mostly items that won’t be noticed ,such as photographing a gift card’s info and number, as  the card itself isn’t needed to purchase items online.




One day a rich self centered Cale Erendreich  (an absolutely terrific David Tennant, making one forget his DR WHO persona for BBC TV from 2005-2010) drives up in a $200,000 Maserati ,and his attitude spurs  Sean to go to Cale’s home and rob it.  However, when he breaks in, he finds a woman bound and gagged (Irish actress Kerry Condon ,from AMC tv‘s BETTER CALL SAUL ,2015-present). He ungags her but she points out that the house is wired to be control and surveilled remotely by Cale from his phone . In a moment, Sean gets fearful and yells I’m sorry to the imprisoned woman ,and flees.


         Ah, the glamorous life of a film actress. 

Getting the car back to a waiting Cale, a guilt ridden Sean contacts the police, which brings him to the attention of Cale . Cale decides that Sean needs correcting ,and thus begins to systematically destroy everything that the young man cherishes , while the police find Sean’s stories less than credible, especially when they check out Cale’s home and discover nothing. Bad-Samaritan


The tale becomes then one where not only must Sean try and save the unknown woman, but he must also try and hang onto his own existence. Bad-Samaritan-movie


Interestingly, three of the main leads are from the U.K., with Tennant and Condon  mastering American accents, while Sheehan is allowed to use his natural Irish accent).


Cinematography by David Connell (who had worked with Devlin on the tv series, THE LIBRARIANS( Electric , 2014-8) is sharp ,and makes marvelous use of cold blues as well as sterile clean white rooms . The music by Joshua LoDuca   ( tv’s ASH VS THE EVIL DEAD  , Renaissance/Starz,2015-18)is quite superb at underlining  and supporting the suspense ,with several well placed stings to accentuate jump moments.



 Is he more creepy dead eyed and emotionless? 


or more creepy smirking ?


91ycMi9TkHL._SX385_The film is definitely worth seeking out, and has been released on DVD and Blu Ray from Sony Home Entertainment.  The Blu Ray is Region A ,and features a running audio commentary by Devlin and Boyce, as well as deleted scenes as well as optional subtitles.


It can also be rented/ purchased on AMAZON PRIME (available for free viewing to Amazon Prime Subscribers.  https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritan-David-Tennant/dp/B07F1P5L19/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


Seek out the BAD SAMARITAN, and pray that he does not seek YOU out.



Kevin  G Shinnick




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A quick overview /tribute.

November 1934; 83 years ago,
In November 1934 comedian William Hinds, founded Hammer Productions Ltd. at Imperial House, Regent Street, London. The company name came from Hinds‘ stage name, Will Hammer, which he had taken from the area of London in which he lived, Hammersmith.
Will Hammer
Their first film was THE PUBLIC LIFE OF HENRY THE NINTH (released in 1935). The title references the hugely popular Alexander Korda film THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII (1934).  Sadly this 60 minute quota quickie ,is a lost film .
In May ,1935 Enrique Carreras and Hinds co founded Exclusive Films Distributors , moving offices to Wardour Street. This would allow them to handle distribution of their own films and that of others.
                                                           Enrique Carreras
Hammer then took it’s first step into the genre that it would be best known for.
 Bela Lugosi With His Wife On Board Ship
THE MYSTERY OF THE MARY CELESTE (aka PHANTOM SHIP in the U.S.) starred Bela Lugosi .Inspired by an actual mystery from 1872, Lugosi plays a character who goes mad (naturally). The American print is 18 minutes shorter , but is thought to be the only version still extant .

Hammer also made SONG OF FREEDOM (1936), starring the great Paul Robeson , but these two films, with which Hammer hoped to enter the lucrative U.S. market ,were more expensive ,and so the studio  went back to program quickies like the caper film THE BANK MESSENGER MYSTERY (1936) and the musical comedy SPORTING LOVE (1937,based upon a 1934 stage show of the same name that ran 300 performances in 1934).


In late 1937, Hammer Films  declared bankruptcy ,but Exclusive continued distribution of other filmmakers’ product .
death in high heels
After WWII, Hammer resumed production again with more second features  like DEATH IN HIGH HEELS, 1947.t26069
They licensed popular radio dramas and turned them into popular features ,such as The Adventures of PC 49 and Dick Barton.


In 1951, they made a deal with American distributor Lippert, who distributed the films in the U.S. ,while supplying an American star . This was both an inexpensive way for Lippert to get product, while giving the British studio exposure in the U.S. and a star name to differentiate their product from other British B films.
In 1955, they made a deal to adapt the  hugely popular television serial THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT ( first aired in 1953). To emphasis the “x” rating , Hammer dropped the “e” ,releasing the film as THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT. 2qdq649
The film was a huge hit, and led Hammer to start making more films in the science fiction/horror genre . The studio had no love for the market, and indeed ,had they discovered they could make successful musicals, they would have produced them. room to let
                               ROOM TO LET (1950)- not a musical.

Realizing that Frankenstein was in the public domain , they hired popular tv actor Peter Cushing, plus a tall relatively unknown jobbing actor named Christopher Lee (when popular Bernard Bresslaw asked for too much money) ,and lighting struck, bringing to life the monster we now know as Hammer Films to an international market with their signature film, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN ( 1957).

Their place in cinema history was sealed the following year when they paired the Cushing with Lee ,giving the latter the title role in DRACULA /HORROR OF DRACULA(1958).
Throughout the 1960s, Hammer was the studio for horror.  Though making films in other genres ,including mysteries and swashbucklers, the staple was supplying new thrills to audiences .
In the 1970s, tastes began to change , and Hammer tried to keep up, while still trying to produce the type of film that had made them popular.  It was a near impossible task, but Hammer had some successes ,and indeed , produced some of their finest films during this period.
With British film production going through one of it’s periodic dry periods, as well as losing their American distribution deals, Hammer had a harder time producing films. They turned to television once again ,producing comedies that turned out to be some of the biggest hits in the U.K. that the studio had ever  produced. However, they didn’t travel well to overseas markets.

The studio tried co productions with The Shaw Brothers, who were producing the very popular martial arts films of the period.  What the British filmmakers discovered was was how primitive the conditions were for their style of film making ( it was difficult to record live sound,due to studios with tin roofs!) ,and after two films , the very disappointing SHATTER  as well as the interesting LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES ,they once again looked to other sources of finance (both filmed in 1974 , but given very spotty releases).


Hammer made another big budget film thanks to German investors and EMI ,adapting Dennis Wheatley‘s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976) . Once again ,bringing in a major Hollywood actor(Richard Widmark,who was not happy with the production), it is an ugly looking production , the most notable exception being it  introducing the world to Nastassja Kinski (who had , though ,already a career in modeling as well as appearing prior in Wm Wenders’ THE WRONG MOVE ,1975). The  ending  of this film  leaves most people confused and /or angry.


A lot of other productions were announced but never made ( Kali: The Devil Bride of Dracula ; Nessie ),until the 1979 remake of the 1938 Hitchcock film, THE LADY VANISHES.


Once again, some major Hollywood stars were brought in (Elliot Gould,Cybil Shepherd) as well as Angela Lansbury and Herbert Lom .  The film , a costly £2.5 million ( raised thanks to a deal with Rank ) , the film was given mixed reviews, but did decently at the box office. However, it was not enough to save the studio . and it ceased theatrical film production ,being taken over by Roy  Skeggs & Brian Lawrence.
Hammer ‘s name still had viability, and ,in conjunction with ITC (as well as Skeggs/Lawrence‘s own Cinema Arts),  HAMMER’S HOUSE OF HORRORS produced 13  53 minute episodes for television in 1980.  This was not Hammer‘s first attempt at television, having produced a failed tv pilot for Columbia in 1958, TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN , as well as the 1968 17 episodes series JOURNEY TO THE UNKNOWN .
The follow up , HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY & SUSPENSE in 1984   ,were longer (70 minutes ) but only 13 episodes were made, and time slots shifted so audiences who would have enjoyed them had a hard time finding it, and so it was considered a failure.  
It seemed Hammer only existed now in licensing productions for television airings, as well as leasing to the growing cable television market as well as home video.
Over the next few decades, rumors kept surfacing that Hammer was returning in some form or another, to produce direct to video product or medium budget theatrical or
cable films.
Finally , Big Brother creator John De Mol acquired the assets of Hammer, including the name ,and re-launched the studio under CEO Simon Oakes in 2007.
Their initial production got a lot of press , as it premiered as a multi part series on Myspace .  Called BEYOND THE RAVE (oddly referencing rival  Amicus ‘ studios final anthology horror film, FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, 1973), this 2008 production was released in twenty four minute installments. The production ,however, was trashed by many fans of the studio, who found the characters poorly written ,with many only introduced just to be killed off by the vampires of the tale.
BEYOND THE RAVE was released to DVD ,with extras including an excised scene featuring Ingrid Pitt (who had starred in Hammer‘s VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) and COUNTESS DRACULA (1971).
In 2008 ,  Hammer took part in a Swedish -Irish-UK co-production called
WAKE WOOD. The film is a gruesome and dark supernatural thriller that often recalls THE WICKER MAN(1973) . Indeed , it would have been a worthier sequel to that classic than the very disappointing THE WICKER TREE (2011).
Sadly,  WAKE WOOD  sat for three years ,getting only a token release in four theatres before being dumped onto DVD.   It is a superlative horror film that deserves to be better known.

In 2009 ,Hammer tried a return to the psychological thrillers that they had made in the 1960s, filming THE RESIDENT in New York City and New Mexico. Starring Hillary Swank, it also was Christopher Lee‘s first Hammer film since TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER 36 years earlier.  The film was a slick production, but sat on a shelf for two years, again getting a token theatrical release before it’s DVD release.

let the right one in book coverHammer’s next film, however, showed that the studio was back on track . Låt den rätte komma in “ by John Ajvide Linqvist was a very dark but original vampire novel about  12 year old Oskar meets a centuries old vampire Eli,who looks like a child . Set in the early 1980s, the novel explores loneliness,pedophilia,mutilation, divorce ,all while dealing with some really nasty murders.  Translated into several languages, the book was first adapted into a Swedish film in 2008,directed with great economy and skill by  Tomas Alfredson (who later directed the 2011 British film TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY).
Hammer based their screenplay more along the Swedish film adaptation, calling it LET ME IN . They had acquired the English language rights before the Swedish film had even seen release ,and even offered it’s director the chance to do the English language  version. When he declined, Hammer signed on writer director Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD,2008). 
The setting was moved to New Mexico , and a few more changes were made to the adaptation ( I will let you debate which version is better). Filmed in late 2009, the final budget was $20 million (the shrieks from the grave you may be hearing is probably Sir Michael Carreras,  who produced most of his films for relatively low budgets).

Released in 2010 to praise (though some did complain it either followed the Swedish film either too much or too little!),it earned $12 million in the U.S. and Canada alone, accruing $24 million world wide. (Oddly,

It was listed as one of the ten biggest bombs of 2010!). Blu Ray ,DVD, and cable sales in 2011 pushed the film into a modest profit.

Finally, in 2012, Hammer had a well deserved hit in their 2012 adaptation of Susan Hill’s classic ghost story , THE WOMAN IN BLACK.  The 1983 novel was adapted into a stage play in 1987, and is the second longest running West End Play in history (right after THE MOUSETRAP).
Nigel Kneale did a superlative adaptation  for  ITV television in 1989 ,and there have been at least two radio adaptations.
Screenwriter Jane Goldman did a superior adaptation of the story ,with star Daniel Radcliffe supported by a top notch team both in front of and off camera, making this one of the most satisfying cinematic ghost stories in quite some time. Wisely, they made the film in the U.K.,the true home of Hammer.
Originally conceived as a 3-D film, this idea was wisely scrapped (the dark cinematography would have made this a difficult problem), it was shot in 2010 on a modest budget of $15 million.
During it’s opening weekend in the US. , it earned $20 million ,making it the highest U.S. grossing opening in Hammer‘s history(released in the U.S. by CBS Films).  The film, which garnered exceptionally positive reviews, eventually earned $127 Million world wide. DVD & Blu Ray sales later that year added to the coffers.
Ghosts seemed good for their coffers, so Hammer two years later produced THE QUIET ONES.  Produced on a low budget ,again in the U.K., the film got mixed reviews but made $8 million in the U.S. ,with a world wide gross of $17 million for distributor Lionsgate.
THE WOMEN IN BLACK II: ANGEL OF DEATH (2015) was a major disappointment when it was released .While costing about the same amount ( $15 million) ,it took in  a third of the box office that the original had made ,perhaps due to  it being  only a pale ghost to the original film.
This time, the story is set in 1941(35 years after events of the first film), and uses the actual historical event of evacuating children from London into the farther reaches of the country to avoid German bombings. Unfortunately, the village and in particular the home this first group of children are housed is the home haunted by the title character.
Whereas the scares built naturally and suspensefully in the 2012 film, the remake seems to just drag out the references from the first films (toys springing to activity in the presence of the spirit) but without any attempt at making it emotionally involving.  Indeed, they should have studied THE INNOCENTS (1961) or the studio’s own  LET ME IN  to see how to work children and loss into an horror film.  Several jump scares seemed to have been added later to try and make it more frightening, but they seem at odds with the film itself.
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In the meantime, TURN OF THE SCREW AT THE ALMEIDA LONDON  Hammer has expanded to include  live  stage productions, starting  in 2012 with a well reviewed production of Henry James‘ TURN OF THE SCREW as well as  Hallowe’en events like Hammer House of Horror Live : The Soulless Ones  in 2017 .
Hammer is still a viable production company with hopefully many more frights to come.
I end this quick overview ,though , with a mystery, that perhaps P.C. 49 might be able to solve
In 2012 Hammer Films /Exclusive Media, acquired the rights to make a film about the Winchester Mystery House.  ImaginationDesign Works & Nine/8 Entertainment were co- producers. The film got a big boost when Helen Mirren signed on to appear as Sarah Winchester. Sarah Winchester believed that she was haunted by the spirits of those that died from the firearms manufactured by her family firm ,and so ,from 1884 until she died in 1922, work continued  on the strange house built for spirits.
Originally announced to be shot in the U.S., the majority of the film was filmed in Australia . The directors ,the Spierig Brothers,makers of the cult 2003 Australian horror film UNDEAD , had been attached to the project since 2014. https://variety.com/2014/film/news/winchester-mystery-house-movie-attracts-spierig-brothers-1201268393/
However, when the $3.5 million dollar film WINCHESTER  was finally released in 2018 to reviews that were mostly bad, Hammer‘s name is no where on the publicity material.  Did it vanish like a ghost or did the studio simply step away? The film still managed to scare up over 11 times its production cost, so you would think they would want their name on it.
                  Mysteries still  come from the House of Hammer.
Hopefully, the next film that goes into production with the Hammer Banner wears it proudly and is embraced by fans and the general public alike .
-Kevin G Shinnick
                                            ”  How’s that grab ya ? “
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BORIS KARLOFF COLLECTION (VCI,2 discs, DVD) Released September 2018. Color.  $14.99


Many years ago, when the late great Boris Karloff passed away in February 2,1969, Jim Warren’s and Forrest J Ackerman’s FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND provided two fitting tributes.

One, was issue #56 of FMOF with a beautiful  Basil Gogos cover of Karloff as his most famous role.


The other was a paperback by FJA called THE FRANKENSCIENCE MONSTER (Ace,1969, a cover not by Gogos but paperback cover artist Verne Tossey.). At the time,before the ability to google, this was the source for any monster news. Many of us though that Karloff’s final film was a classic of modern cinema, Peter Bogdanovich’s   TARGETS  (August 1968,Paramount).


However, thanks to Uncle Forry , we found out that 80 plus year old Karloff had signed with producer Luis Enrique Vergara and Azteca Films of Mexico (who in turn had a distribution agreement with Columbia Pictures) for a four-picture deal at a salary of $400,000. The actor could have said no to the projects and easily retired, having a comfortable sum saved up over the years. No one could have blamed him, either, as his lungs were barely functional (due to years of smoking as well as damage from pneumonia he contracted in Italy filming BLACK SABBATH,1963,AIP , leaving him dependent on oxygen tanks to aid his breathing) as well as crippling arthritis that made walking difficult.


Still, as he often said, he wanted to die with his boots on, doing the job he loved if audiences wanted to see him. An example was when he filmed an episode of THE RED SKELTON SHOW (“He Who Steals My Robot Steals Trash” aired September 24,1968, CBS), rather than do the show before the live audience in a wheel chair as rehearsed, he willed himself to walk with the aid of a cane rather than have the people see him so confined.

Thus, the quartet of Mexican horror films were jobs that he readily accepted, feeling fortunate that audiences still wished to see him.


Difficulties for the productions arose when it was discovered that Karloff’s health would not permit him to film in Mexico, and his sequences were shot in a small studio in Santa Monica, California in April/May 1968, while the rest of the films were completed in Mexico, often with a double for the star.


The four films were to be made over a 5-week period, so this extra expense of two crews, duplicating sets, and flying up some of the Mexican cast to work with Karloff must have frayed the already low budgets.  Juan Ibáñez directed the Mexican main unit, while cult director Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY,1967, American General) handled the American Karloff unit, as well as contributing to the screenplays.


Hill it seems was hampered because the producer wanted to use an early form of video playback by tying a primitive video camera to the top of the 35mm Mitchells used to film the movie. Jerry Lewis had pioneered the idea and it is now the common practice, but Hill felt that it slowed down his process.



With all these problems somehow the four films were filmed and completed. Karloff did not live to see the release of these films, which seemed to have been held back until 1971 for their limited distributions (Cannon also got around to distribute Karloff’s 1967 Spanish lensed CAULDRON OF BLOOD the same year, which got a wider release in the U.S. than the four Mexican thrillers).


Over the years, the films have been released on various video labels, including MPI and United American budget label, as well as several of the titles getting a DVD release by Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia label.


VCI has now for the first time put all four films together in an affordable (less than the cost of some single DVD releases) two-disc collection.


The four titles in the collection are


(Disc One)


TORTURE ZONE (edited version of FEAR CHAMBER)


(Disc Two)

ALIEN TERROR (filmed as THE INCREDIBLE INVASION, Invasión siniestra)

CULT OF THE DEAD (edited version of ISLE OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE, La muerte vivente)


The discs seem to be sourced from the old MPI videos, with the same video generated titles (©1987 by the Parasol Group). The prints of the four movies are a bit dark and sometimes the color is a bit off.  The copy  of TORTURE ZONE seemed in the worst condition, with several visible splices.



It is a shame that they did not seek out the Retromedia or Elite release of FEAR CHAMBER, as both of those are in the original aspect ratio with sharp picture and color quality, as well as extras such as an audio commentary by Jack Hill and a deleted scene.MPI’s TORTURE ZONE is an edited version of this film ,so all of the nudity Is eliminated .

Fear Chamber 14

Only TORTURE ZONE was set in present day, with the rest set at around the turn of the 20th Century. ALIEN TERROR was supposedly the last one filmed, and the only one NOT starring Julissa, giving actress German actress Christa Linder a chance.

images (1)

The 2.0 Dolby Digital sound for the films is clear with no noticeable loss in quality of dialogue or the sound effects.

There are no extras to the discs, but again, to get these four films together at such a low price, one should not expect any special edition treatment.

While we would all like to get the best possible and most complete versions, certain films have limited audiences and the profitability is to say the least, narrow.


One wonders, for example, if VCI had gone out of their way to get new prints, cleaned up and loaded with extras, would fans shell out $29.95 for each of these films?


DANCE OF DEATH -this film is perhaps the most traditional horror film, with obvious influences of the Roger Corman Poe films. The film even claims to be based upon a Poe story, though none that I am familiar with.hoise of evil                                                  original Spanish language credit


Wealthy toymaker Matthais Morteval (Karloff) summons his family to his mansion to discuss how his estate will be divided. Recent murders in the nearby hills has a macabre touch, wherein the victims have had their eyes removed makes Matthais suspect that a member of his family is the killer.


Karloff has an ancestral portrait that looks exactly like him (these old families have strong genes), and Karloff gets to play huge pipe organ. Matthais supposedly suffers a fatal heart attack half way into the film, and shortly thereafter, one by one his greedy relations die. Keeping with the Corman Poe- like feel, the film ends with a huge fire, as Matthais, obviously not dead, plays his final concerto as the walls burn around him. It is quite amazing that the octogenarian actor is working so close to such huge plumes of flames, controlled or not  .



Karloff perhaps passed away before being able to loop dialogue, or the final lines were an afterthought , but they are not his voice.

People who dismiss the Karloff Mexican quartet of films have obviously not seen them, as DANCE OF DEATH was quite entertaining.


TORTURE ZONE – (which in the original titles also claimed to be Poe inspired, though I would say more Lovecraft, like Karloff’s own DIE, MONSTER DIE! 1965 ,A.I.P. ). This one is a bit of a mess, no two ways about it. Psychedelic zooms & colors, and jump cut edits do not make this film any more interesting, and indeed, show how little sense the plot has.  A living rock is discovered within the depths of the earth. Scientist Karl Mantell (Karloff), who spends much of this film either sitting behind his office desk or behind a lab computer table, discovers that the creature feeds on the blood of young women, particularly those who are frightened. Naturally, our loveable scientist and his staff create a fear chamber to terrorize young women who come seeking employment. The rock (no, no that one) starts to grow tentacles, and only then does Mantell seek to stop it.


Mantell is supposed to be a kindly scientist, but his actions here are in opposition to that appearance. Still, at least, Karloff gets to survive to the end credits. The topless scenes that are edited out of this print were probably shot later, added to try and keep audience attention. Probably one of Karloff’s worst movies, though, as always, he is worth watching.                                                                              .firrreee

Karloff tries to blow up all prints of FEAR CHAMBER .


ALIEN TERROR– Another period piece, this one is another science fiction/horror hybrid. In an 1890s European country, Professor John Mayer (Karloff) is working on a new power source, when a lab accident sends a pulse off into space, attracting the attention of an alien spaceship passing by. The alien comes across a Jack the Ripper style killer and takes over his body. More killings continue as the alien tries to get to the professor’s invention and destroy it. Mayer uses his invention to defeat the killer, and later, when the alien hops into his niece, he uses the machine again to drive it from her. Mayer lets the machine destroy itself and, in the process, burns down his home.c3f80e4ebb33139abba0d67198ef960c


The final shot of the surviving cast members watching the house burn has an obvious Karloff stand in facing away from the camera with hair that looks like it was streaked with shoe polish.

A confusing picture, as if two different scripts were dropped into a blender, yet it held one’s interest and it tried to be original. As mentioned, this was Karloff’s last work in a motion picture.karloff_at_03_dvd

An alien Spaceship, lit and designed to look like a Dario Argento sequence !

snakepeopel mexi

CULT OF THE DEAD – On the island of Korbai, Carl Van Molder (Karloff) is a major plantation owner. A police captain comes to Korbai to try and bring order when it is discovered that voodoo is rampant. This is a much more entertaining film than Karloff’s earlier film VOODOO ISLAND (1957, U.A.), which was one of the only roles I felt the great actor seemed to walk through.


In this film, Karloff seems fully invested in the part and brings his great screen presence to each scene.  The voodoo scenes are well staged, though once again at the end of the film, a voice not Karloff’s is used for the line: “I’m dying! “followed by some sputtering coughs. The picture ends with a big explosion as the hero and heroine escape with their lives. This too was an entertaining piece of cinema fluff and does not deserve all the scorn heaped upon it.



To sum up, two of the films (DANCE OF DEATH and CULT OF THE DEAD) I would say are quite entertaining, a third (ALIEN TERROR) is just odd enough to hold your interest with a feeling of “WTF?” throughout and only one (TORTURE ZONE) is close to a complete disaster. Karloff is always giving his all in each work, and for that alone these are well worth seeing.



Are the prints the best? No.  However, unless some deep pocket cinema collector seeks out original negatives, gives them a 2 K scan and restores them, and licenses the Elite and Retromedia commentaries, this VCI set will be the best way of getting affordable copies of these final films by the Master of Horror, Boris Karloff.



Recommended for – Karloff completists. Fans of Mexican Horror. Cult films lovers.


-Kevin G Shinnick


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