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DEATH LINE from Blue Underground Blu Ray/DVD combo

DEATH LINE (aka RAW MEAT)Blue Underground Blu Ray/DVD combo (DEATH LINE ,K.L. Productions/released by Rank (U.K.)1972; A.I.P,1973 as RAW MEAT ). color. 87 minutes. Region Free. $39.98 https://www.amazon.com/Death-Line-Limited-Combo-Blu-ray/dp/B06ZZZN1TS/

“MINDDADOORS!”

The 1970s was a time when horror films were changing. Hammer Films biggest hits were their t.v. based comedies,while their final pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee was the barely released THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA . Traditional horror was on it’s way out ,as major studios would soon be pouring millions into the type of films that smaller studios used to make .,among them THE EXORCIST (W.B.). Still ,there were still several intelligent and interesting British horrors made although they too got minimal releases outside of the U.K.,such as THE WICKER MAN (British Lion)and DEATHLINE (K.L.Productions,released by J.Arthur Rank in the U.K. ,aka RAW MEAT via A.I.P. in the U.S.).

 

When people start vanishing in the London subway system ,the police ,led by Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence ,seemingly having a grand time in the role) is put in charge of the investigation. What he discovers involves a cave in from the late 19th century and cannibalism.

The film was writer /director Gary Sherman’s debut feature (he had made a short film in 1966 called THE LEGEND OF BO DIDDLEY). Sherman had the original story idea which was expanded by Ceri Jones into the screenplay. Producer Paul Maslansky had previously backed Michael Reeves debut features (CASTLE OF THE LVING DEAD (1964 Italy,released by Tigon in the U.K. and Woollner Brothers in the U.S. IN 1965;and SHE BEAST (1966 Italy,released by Europix in the U.S. in 1967)as well as John Hough’s debut SUDDEN TERROR(1970,MGM- EMI,NATIONAL GENERAL in the U.S. 1971),so he was a producer willing to take a chance on a creative novice.

 


J.Arthur Rank Film distributed the film in the U.K. where it had some success as a co-bill to the Mark Lester starrer NIGHT HAIR CHILD . However, in the U.S., it was re-titled as RAW MEAT in 1973,with a misleading poster that made it seemed that the underground was swarming with a group of near naked zombies,and the film did sluggish business.

When it was released to television in the early 1980s ,it was in dark murky prints and edited for broadcast. It seemed to have been completely over looked in the U.S. VHS release marketplace, only getting a bare bones (get it?) DVD release by MGM in 2003.

                                                                      BARE BONES-get it?

 

Now ,BLUE UNDERGROUND has done horror fandom a great resurrection, restoring the film and releasing it in a BLU RAY/DVD All Region combo pack.

 

The film has been cleaned up and given a new 1080p transfer from a 2k master,restoring it to a Wide-screen 1.85:1 / 16×9 ratio . The film has some grain,due to it’s low budget but the miracle that the lighting crew did on lighting vast areas of the subway with little lighting equipment is addressed in the commentary track.

Indeed, the commentary track is one of the most fun and informative that I have heard in some time. It involves director Sherman, producer Maslansky, and a.d. Lewis More O’Ferrall discussing the genesis of the film ,its cast, shooting and distribution. There recollections are quite vivid for a project that they worked on some 46 years years ago,and you can sense the affection that they have for the project.

One interesting bit was the cameo by Christopher Lee . It was hard to shoot a dialogue scene between he and Pleasence due to their height difference and so the director used it to his advantage ,for they shot the men in separate takes, and the camera edged higher on Pleasence to show that he was being diminished by his bowler hatted superior, Stratton-Villiers, MI5 (Lee).

Donald Pleasence is credited for a lot of the humor that the character he portrayed displayed in the film.The actor seemed to have been universally revered and respected.

 

Also discussed is Norman Rossington (best known to American viewers for his role as The Beatles ‘ manager Norm in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT(U.A.,1964) but in the U.K. he was a very well regarded and well known performer.

Actor Hugh Armstrong is  rightfully given credit for his exceptional sympathy that can switch to savagery quickly in the role of “The Man”. I doubt he ever forgot his dialogue, as his lines consisted of the one phrase :”Minddadoors” (Mind The Doors,which was often shouted as the doors on the railway carriages closed) .That he can put so many different feelings and emphasis on that one phrase is a credit to his acting skill.

The film script had to be submitted to the London Underground for approval ,and so a false script was provided and given approval. The film’s U.K. release poster also caused some stir with the London Underground as well.

Vic Flair’s original Transparency Art

Interestingly, Marlon Brando was attached to the production but dropped out when his son Christian became ill.

Back to the BLUE UNDERGROUND release. The sound DTS-HD Mono / Dolby Digital Mono .It is perfectly adequate and quite clear,with no need to play around with shifting speakers.

 

Tales From The Tube – is a short video Interview with Co-Writer/Director Gary Sherman and Executive Producers Jay Kanter & Alan Ladd Jr.

From The Depths – another short video Interview with Star David Ladd (grandson of the legendary Alan) and Producer Paul Maslansky.

Mind The Doors -An Interview With Hugh Armstrong. The charming gentleman talks about how he became an actor and his role in DEATH LINE, which involved a lot of improvisation.

Also included are original RAW MEAT TV and radio spots ,both U.K. and U.S. movie trailers,and a posters and still gallery.

If that isn’t enough for you ,there is a marvelous bonus collectible booklet written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria as well as author Christopher Gallo (THE FILMS OF DONALD PLEASENCE http://www.bearmanormedia.com/the-films-of-donald-pleasence-softcover-edition-by-christopher-gullo).

The DVD cover can be reversed ,as one side is for DEATHLINE and the other is the RAW MEAT poster.

The sound DTS-HD Mono / Dolby Digital Mono .It is perfectly adequate and quite clear,with no need to play around with shifting speakers.No Head Splitting Sound…

DEATH LINE was screened at Lincoln Center as part of their Horror Series in 2002, and director Guillermo Del Toro declared it to be one of his all time favorites. That is a pretty major endorsement for the film.

I think that if you pick up this BLUE UNDERGROUND release of DEATH LINE, that it may become one of your favorites as well.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNVVjYhketY

Highly Recommended !

Kevin G Shinnick

 

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ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (Olive Films Blu Ray)

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ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING ( Olive Films) -Blu Ray-b&w.1942. 103 Mins. $29.95 http://store.olivefilms.com/War.67/Olive_Films.38/One_Of_Our_Aircraft_Is_Missing__Blu-Ray_.6319.html also available on DVD

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (British National Films/U.A. (U.S.)) is a classic WWII war films is a must see for anyone who is an history buff, classic cinema, British Cinema, war films- heck anyone who enjoys a superlative film.

This was the inaugural film by The Archers, the producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The two men would share directing credits on several films, including on another WWII drama, THE 49TH PARALLEL (General Films, Columbia ,1941) THE RED SHOES (General Films,1948), and BLACK NARCISSUS (General Films, U.I. ,1947) dissolving the partnership with one more WW II film, PURSUIT OF THE GRAF SPEE (J Arthur Rank,1956).

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Made as a propaganda film with full approval of the Ministry of Information, the film stands as an engrossing drama of courage of various types, with many exciting set pieces that are balanced by marvelous human moments. Done in a documentary style, the film has a marvelous sense of realism that is lacking in many other films of the period, even going so far as to shun a film score.

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It is hard to believe that the film went into production before a fully finished script was in hand, but Powell kept rewriting the film when the military consultants would mention new innovations. Powell would then work these ideas into the film. That the film seems seamless is a credit to all involved, editor David Lean (who had co directed parts of MAJOR BARBARA (General Films,1941) uncredited the year before).

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Also, major kudos to the effects team under Douglas Woolsey, who contributed realistic battle effects to several British films like CONVOY (Ealing,1940). The effects wizards could construct an amazing large scale replica of Stuttgart thanks to art director David Rawnsley who covered the entire studio floor with his miniatures. Effects Cameraman Freddie Ford filmed the sequence by laying on his stomach from the studio rafters floor ten hours a day to get some of the shots. So, convincing is it that it is easily blended with actual flying footage. That the film cost only £700,000 is a miracle.

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When the film was first released by United Artists in the United States, they edited out 20 minutes of footage, which, while probably allowing for more showings per day, probably robbed the film of much of its power. Still, the film is so well crafted, that it received two Academy Award nominations. Oddly, this was Michael Powell’s only Oscar nomination. Due to its critical as well as financial success J Arthur Rank offered Powell and Pressburger a film by film deal to choose any subject they wanted.one-of-our-aircraft-is-missing-movie-poster-1942-1020198733

 

The movie opens with a title letting the viewer know that the film was made with the full cooperation of the Royal Air Force, the Air Ministry, and the Royal Netherland Government in exile at that time in England. It is then followed by a telegram informing us that five farmers in the Netherlands were executed by the Nazis for helping several downed British Airmen escape the country. We then jump to an airfield in England where we see that a British bombing squadron is returning, all save one. The Vickers Wellington bomber designated “B for Bertie” has not returned.
We then see the plane flying over the ocean, but that it is completely empty of crew. Finally flying over land, the ghost plane crashes into some power lines and explodes.vlcsnap-00409
This opening is an exciting tease for the tale that unfolds as we jump back in time and are introduced to the brave crew of “B for Bertie”. The flight crew is made up of
– Sir George Corbett (Godfrey Tearle, memorable from Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS (Gaumont-British,1935)) the old man of the group, going on one last mission as the tail gunner,
-former pro soccer player tuned radio operator Bob Ashley (Emrys Jones in his film debut, who later did a lot of British television and stage work),
-pilot John Haggard (Hugh Burden, who years later appeared in the film ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING (Disney,1975), a title that references this film),
-farmer turned second pilot Tom Eanshaw (Eric Portman, who a year earlier was a fleeing Nazi in THE 49TH PARALLEL for the same production team. ONE …. is a variant of that film. In 49th, a Nazi U-Boat squad must try to evade capture in Canada when their vessel is destroyed, and flee to the then neutral United States. One of his earliest film roles Portman had appeared in a Tod Slaughter production (MARIA MARTEN, or THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN (George King Productions,1936)),
-Cockney front gunner Geof Hickman (Bernard Miles, later the second actor after Lawrence Olivier to be given a peerage)
-and former actor turned navigator Frank Shelley (Hugh Williams, who later with his wife Margaret Vyner wrote the stage play and later screenplay for THE GRASS IS GREENER), who is obsessed with his wife’s upcoming BBC radio performance.

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The squadron takes off, and soon they are over their target. The bombing mission is a mixture of actual flight footage mixed in seamlessly with effects sequences. After dumping their payload, “B for Bertie” is struck by anti-aircraft fire, and the crew is forced to bail out over occupied Holland. As we had seen earlier, the plane did not crash until it had reached England.

 

Five of the crew regroup, but find that Bob is missing. Trying to decide what to do next, they come across some Dutch children. Not sure if they will turn them in or help, the children explain that they support the British, and can be identified by the safety pins that they wear, a sign against oppressors and to keep together. Currently, this symbol is once again popular, first in England due to those who opposed Brexit (feeling that everyone was stronger together) and now in the United States as a symbol against oppression perceived in the Trump administration.

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The children bring the airmen to meet teacher Else Meertens (Pamela Brown, in her film debut. A successful stage actress, she would live with director Michael Powell until her death in 1975). She questions the airmen to see if they are not disguised infiltrators. Satisfied that they are who they say they are, the Dutch disguise them and try and slip them by the Nazis via bicycle. A brief stop at a church has them nearly caught when the Nazis stop there after they discover one of the parachutes. Look for a young Peter Ustinov (later to star in ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING) in his film debut as the priest. The organist Alec Clunes had given Ustinov his first stage acting break, and is perhaps best known for having played Hastings in Olivier’s RICHARD III (London Films,1955).

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Stopping at the home of the local Burgomaster (Hay Petrie, famous for playing many of Shakespearean clowns on stage during the 1920s,he had a long and varied film career, hoping from comedy to drama with ease),they are confronted by Dutch collaborator De Jong (ballet dancer/actor Robert Helpmann, perhaps best known for portraying a choreographer in the film THE RED SHOES (General Films/J Arthur Rank,1948)and who in 1978 broke his back while filming the Australian horror film PATRICK (Australian Int./Filmways)!)but who has the tables turned on him.swedish_one_of_our_aircraft_is_missing_r_ja00169_l                                                                                      (Polish  film poster)

Back on the road they see a football match being played, and among the players is their missing crewman Bob! Once again, the Nazis appear, and say that there are too many people at the gathering and 50 people must leave. The Burgomaster says that then they will all disperse, to annoy the Nazis sense of control and order. The Nazis allow them all to stay. The brilliance of this simple and courageous act of defiance is truly quietly moving.

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They are escorted out in some supply trucks, but when the Nazis wish to search them, they are confronted by Jo De Vries (Googie Withers, probably best known for appearing the haunted mirror segment of DEAD OF NIGHT (Ealing,1945) who with quiet authority gets the trucks safely through a check point. It should be pointed out that the women in this film have strength, intelligence and courage, and are in positions of authority. De Vries hides the airmen in her own home, letting the fliers know that she is thought to be pro German since she lets it be known that her husband was “killed” in a British raid, but she knows him to be safe in England working as a Voice of Freedom for Radio Orange). This is even more dangerous as the Nazis are garrisoned on her property.

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They are awaiting an air raid, when the German Soldiers are ordered into their bunkers and De Vries can slip them into the cellar unseen where there is a secret inlet that leads to the river and a boat awaits them. While they wait, there is some magnificent dialogue where courage, loyalty, and bravery are discussed.

Finally, the raid occurs, and the escape attempt begins in earnest. Will the brave air men get back home to England?

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The Blu Ray does not have any extras, but the film is so superior, it is worth the purchase price, as I feel it will be a film you would watch over and over. The movie has been out on the home video format since VHS, but the quality was always of a very washed out print. The Olive Films is the complete 103 British print from the best elements possible.   This release very sharp black and white images that complement the cinematography of Ronald Neame (later to become a producer with David Lean on such classics as BRIEF ENCOUNTER (Eagle Lion, Universal,1945) before becoming a director in his own right (POSEIDON ADVENTURE, Fox ,1972). The mono sound is clear and hiss free. Optional English subtitles are clean, easy to read and follow the action and dialogue.one-of-our-aircraft-is-missing-united-artists-1942-title-lobby-card

Highest Recommendation.
-Kevin G Shinnick4696633_l6

Thanks to John F Colaresi for catching some errors.

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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).
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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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Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s

Front Cover only-1Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s by Wayne Kinsey .
256 pages. Limited run 500 copies . ORDER NOW Only £32 + p&p
http://peverilpublishing.co.uk/fantastic-films-of-the-decades-the-30s/

Following is one person’s take on The Good, The Bad and, uh, The Neutral of Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s by Wayne Kinsey.

First comes a mainly here-nor-there random observation. Readers of Volume I will feel comfortable with the first portion of Volume II. The early 30s are full of films that redid characters and themes from the silent era. To wit, right off the bat we have Alraune (1930), The Bat Whispers (1930), The Cat Creeps (1930) and The Gorilla (1930) not to mention a couple of Fu Manchu movies, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Dracula (US and Spanish versions from 1931 and both essentially Nosferatu redone) and, of course, Frankenstein (1931).

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Actually, rather than log that item as a neutral, maybe it should be entered slightly to the Credit Side of the Ledger insofar as the reader can pick out trends like this; these volumes are well organized.

That leads us to the rest of the “Good” of Volume II. A genre fan can certainly learn a lot from it. For instance, I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of the all-but-lost Gorilla film called Ingagi (1931 and one of the few early 30s pictures not redoing material) and read the full page write-up eagerly. A number of pages later is a fine ½ page bio of Gorilla impersonator extraordinaire Charles Gemora (yes, he played in Ingagi) which was equally illuminating. The author has definite a knack for giving appropriate coverage; the more key the topic or individual, the more words are spent. Boredom is minimized.

Some other items among many that rate as personal highlights: the coverage of production starts and stops of The Invisible Man (1933), The “Did you know?” tidbits of The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), the lowdown on changing censor ship guidelines in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 30s, the recycled props of the Flash Gordon serial and on and on.

Another aspect that I enjoyed is that if the film under discussion was an adaption of a book or play or was later done in film and other media, it’s noted.

Like the previous Volume, this one is generously illustrated with some fine color.

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Now, on to the “not so good”. When I think of the term “fantastic” in regards to moving pictures, I think of three sub-genres: Horror, Sci Fi and Fantasy. Despite the fact that the 30s experienced a famed cycle of horror films, Volume II seems even more unbalanced in its coverage than Volume I when it comes to the non-horror entries.

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As a glaring example, I – as a sci fi geek – was left wondering after reading Volume I whether the well-known futuristic 1929 film High Treason might be covered in Volume II (since it was both a sound and silent film). It was not and even director Maurice Elvey’s Volume II mini-biography compounded the oversight with “Despite his long CV, his genre films were few; The Lodger [1932] and The Clairvoyant (1934)”. It seems that if “Gold” is of the “Haunted” variety as in Haunted Gold (1932) coverage is warranted but the well-known dual-language science fiction based Gold (1934) with Genre Queen Brigitte Helm is neglected. A quick glance at a recent Sinister Cinema Catalog in the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” section indicates other obvious omissions: La Fin Du monde / The End of the World (1931), F.P. 1 Doesn’t Answer (1931 in French, German and English), Der Herr der Welt a.k.a. The Master of the World (1934) featuring an enormous electric robot, yet another Maurice Elvey (!) s.f. work called Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) and its earlier German parallel Der Tunnel (1933), Gibel Sensatsii a.k.a. The Robots of Ripley (1935) and Bílá nemoc a.k.a. The White Plague (1937 based on famed a work by S.F. author Karel Capek). That’s quite a lot of heavy hitters to be excluded. Perhaps if the basically superfluous 10 full pages devoted to News Headlines of the Year had been jettisoned, room for these items may have been available.

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When someone has a passion and possesses an affinity for a topic, it’s always refreshing. It seems clear that the author possesses same toward the horror genre but it seems equally clear that his interest in the other genres is only in passing. Whether this book is right for you depends on where your interests lie as well.

Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2 is limited to only 500 copies and only available direct from http://www.peverilpublishing.co.uk

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The Girl From Rio (1969) / The Million Eyes Of Sumuru (1967) (Blue Underground) color. Blu ray

91ARmVGtRTL._SL1500_ The Girl From Rio (1969) / The Million Eyes Of Sumuru (1967) (Blue Underground) color. Blu ray- release date April 26,2016. $29.98
http://www.amazon.com/Million-Eyes-Sumuru-Girl-Blu-ray/dp/B01AKUNOAW/

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I have to admit that I had often heard about but never seen THE MILLION EYES OF SUMURU (A.I.P.). Maybe because it had very little television air play, or that I had trouble with the idea of
Frankie Avalon of Beach Party film fame as an action hero, bedding women and tossing hand grenades at gun totting female assassins (both of which he does in the film).

 

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However, it does have a great cast that includes Wilfred Hyde White (TEN LITTLE INDIANS, WB/1964), Klaus Kinski (NOSFERATU, Fox/1979), George Nader (ROBOT MONSTER Astor/1953) and of course, Shirley Eaton (the golden girl of GOLDFINGER, U.A./1964) as the title villainess, Sumuru.

 

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Producer Harry Alan Towers had at the time been having great success with his series of Fu Manchu films starring Christopher Lee, and so turned to another Sax Rohmer character. The character first appeared in “Shadow of Sumuru “for the BBC radio in 1945 in eight half hour episodes. Rohmer turned the episodes into a novel in 1950 called “The Sins of Sumuru”, though the title was changed to a more exploitive “Nude In Mink” for its American publication.

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Towers, jumping from country to country since jumping bail in NYC in 1961 (he was accused of running a vice ring!), amazingly was able to set up various multinational productions while still staying one step ahead of authorities (the charges were dropped in 1980). MILLION EYES was one of five films he produced in 1967, including THE VENGEANCE OF FU MANCHU (WB)and many other A.I.P. releases.

 

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Director Lindsay Shonteff (best known for DEVIL DOLL, Gordon Films/1964) does a serviceable job of directing this tale of crazed world domination. Intoning lines that echo Fu Manchu (“For I am Sumuru!”) , the female arch villain plans on a world ruled by women, and will kill for world peace! Sumuru (Eaton in a dark wig) rules remotely, letting her female assassins do all the actual work.

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Opposing her plans are Colonel Sir Arthur Baisbrook (Wilfred Hyde-White), CIA agent Nick West (George Nader) and rich playboy Tommy Carter (Avalon). Both West and Carter seduce Helga (producer Towers wife Maria Rohm) to help them in battling the distaff megalomaniac.

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The film plays out at about 79 relatively painless minutes, resembling an average television spy thriller of the period, but with some actual foreign locales rather than back lot work. Still, there is not much else to differentiate this theatrical release from similar tv fodder of the time. Sadly, Sumuru is missing from a great deal of the story, letting her bikini clad henchwomen drown a traitor (no not Avalon!), or strangle someone to death with their thighs. Nader seems more in line with the Euro Spy Dramas of the period rather than a man from UNCLE or a License to Kill, but he acquits himself well in the role (so well he ended up in a similar role in another Tower film that year, HOUSE OF A 1000 DOLLS, AIP/1967). Some of the temples used seem similar to those used in the Fu Manchu films, but the sets seem much smaller, especially the cave tunnels where a major part of the final action scenes take place. Keep an eye out for Klaus Kinski in black face as President Boong !

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For a film of the period, it looks pretty good. Having checked out a clip on YouTube, it looks like BLUE UNDERGROUND found a fairly clean print for their BLU RAY. The only extra on this title is the original trailer.

Two years later, Towers had begun his relationship with Jess (sure I can shoot two movies for you by Tuesday) Franco. Obviously having funds frozen in Brazil, the two cranked out three films, THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU (1968), 99 WOMEN (1969), and THE GIRL FROM RIO/RIO 70(1969).

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Jeff Sutton (Richard Wyler, star of the 1958/59 British lensed T.V. series THE MAN FROM INTERPOL), a poor man’s international playboy and thief, is in Brazil due to their lack of extradition laws. Almost immediately, he is putting the moves on Leslye (Maria Rohm again) Leslie, it seems is in the employ of Sunanda (Shirley Eaton, clad in a ridiculous green outfit with a large S emblazoned on the front ,playing Sumuru in all but name ).

Also after Sutton’s fortune is master criminal Sir Masius (George Sanders), who is also hoping to relieve Sunanda of her wealth as well.

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The film has an intentional high camp value to it, with a production design along the lines of a DANGER DIABOLIK (1968, Paramount) or BARBARELLA (1968, Paramount) with a great deal more nudity. I have to admit that I while I am not a big fan of Franco’s oeuvre, I thought that this was one of his more entertaining films.

 

The print is quite sharp with great 60s colors that pop and probably has not looked this good since it was first run through a projector during its original theatrical run

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Extras for this movie include interviews with Shirley Eaton (who had wanted to retire from filmmaking, the sex scene of her character using a body double confirmed her decision), Jess Franco (with subtitles) describing his comic book film, and even producer Harry Alan Towers on how the film came to be. Also included is a poster and still gallery.

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Both films are presented in 1080p HD.

Now while not the type of film I might have sought out, I have to admit that the co bill Blu Ray was an entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon, especially with all the lovely ladies in various stage of undress in Franco’s film.

Entertaining mindless fun. Thanks to the fine folks at Blue Underground.

By the way, Towers was not finished with Sumuru. In 2003, Towers produced SUMURU (no official U.S. release ,2003) as well as contributing to the script (under his Peter Welbeck pseudonym). This version had less to do with Rohmer and more to do with John Norman’s “Gor “novels (of which Towers had produced two films for Cannon in the 1980s). The South African lensed SUMURU is set in a far flung future ruled by women where men do all the grunt work.

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Kevin G Shinnick

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