Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cynthia Myers 1950 - 2011

   Playboy playmate and actress Cynthia Myers passed away on Nov. 4.  She appeared in the Dec. 1968 issue of Playboy and her centerfold was featured in the movie Hamburger Hill. Perhaps best known for her role in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as Casey Anderson, the bass player of the all girl rock band The Carrie Nations.  She also appeared in Molly and Lawless John (1972),  had an uncredited part in They Shoot Horses, Don't They ? and of course made several appearances on Playboy After Dark.

Criterion does Godzilla


   Although they've been dropping hints about this for awhile it's was still a nice surprise that Criterion has announced a DVD and BD of Godzilla (Gojira 1954) for Jan. 24 2012. Along with the original Japanese version it will also have Terry Morse's 1956 American version Godzilla King Of Monsters with Raymond Burr and a bunch of great extras. A 35mm fine grain of the U.S. version recently turned up , so this will be a nice bonus.
  For anyone who hasn't seen the original Japanese version , it has a totally different feel to it and is long way from what Godzilla would become in later films. Featuring  a monster spawned of atomic radiation and made only nine years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan , it is a very dark and poignant film.  Directed by the great Ishiro Honda this is already my favorite release of next year.
  That cover art sure doesn't do much for me. With all the wonderful Godzilla/Gojira promotional art out there, it seems like they could have come up with something pretty cool. Oh well, I guess it what's inside that matters.

More Hammer on Blu-Ray

 Synapse has announced a further three Hammer titles on BD, following up on their excellent Vampire Circus issued earlier this year. Twins of Evil is scheduled for early 2012 and the rest to follow.  All three are great examples of later period Hammer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Edwige Fenech in High Def

 Just announced from Blue Underground on Blu-ray for March 2012 is Andrea Bianchi's 1975 weird, sexy, sleazy giallo Strip Nude For Your KIller (Nude per l'assassino). Worth it alone to see the always  reliable (and beautiful) Edwige Fenech on Blu-Ray.


   With Shout ! Factory picking up the ball with the color run of Dragnet after Universal quit after the first season (Dragnet 1967), an unexpected bonus turned up in season two set - the 1966 pilot movie. When Webb revived the series in 1966 he hoped to get Ben Alexander back in the role of Frank Smith, but he was busy with a new ABC series Felony Squad. Webb then cast Harry Morgan in the role of Bill Gannon. In the pilot (not aired until 1969), Gannon is on his last day before retirement and Friday's rank is Lt. - not the familiar Sgt.  Perhaps Webb still hoped to get Ben Alexander back and just used Morgan as a fill in for the pilot, once the series was sold hopefully Frank Smith would be back.  The series was picked up and Harry Morgan was cast as Bill Gannon and Friday was back to a Sgt. The movie itself is based upon the real life case of serial killer Harvey Glatman ("The Lonely Hearts Killer") and some of Glatman's own statements to the police were used in script. 
    Although I grew up with the color Dragnet the original B&W series is really where it's at. Warner thru its MOD DVDr program on Amazon has released the original 1954 movie in all it's Warnercolor glory. A fascinating pre- Miranda rights procedural police movie, with Jack Webb's entire "stock company" from the TV series (many of whom would also appear later in the color Dragnet) including Virginia Gregg, Stacy Harris and Vic Perrin.  Also on board are Richard Boone, Ann Robinson and Dub Taylor (who gets blown away with a shotgun in opening scene).  Based upon the actual L.A. Police Intelligence Bureau who during the 1950's were responsible for fighting the war on organized crime in Los Angeles.
   The original B&W TV series still seems to be ignored by Universal - there are bunches of public domain DVD's out there with the same handful of shows.  I've bought a bunch of them and this one seems to be the best, with the most episodes and decent quality.

"Shotgun, extreme close range, double-O. Starkey was hit four times, first two cut him in half. "

"The second two turned him into a crowd."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rosalba Neri News # 2

  Finally got a chance to check out the Shout ! Factory release of Lady Frankenstein on DVD the other night. A nice surprise is that along with the New World cut of 84 min. the uncut version is also represented by "seamless branching". which adds about 12 minutes to the running time. The added footage is from different sources (including the German TV broadcast mentioned in an earlier post), but it's nice to see Shout Factory going the extra mile. The two disc set titled Vampires, Mummies and Monsters Collection also includes The Velvet Vampire (which I always found pretty boring), Grotesque (starring Linda Blair and Tab Hunter !) and Time Walker.
    Also Shout ! Factory just announced the Lethal Ladies  # 2 DVD set for Jan , including The Arena with Rosalba and Pam Grier- and how can you go wrong with that combination.

Happy Birthday Russell Johnson

 Born on this day in 1924. Best known as the Professor on Gilligan's Island he also appeared in the classic sci fi movies This Island Earth and It Came From Outer Space.  Hope he's enjoying a nice coconut cream pie today.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dr. Blood's Coffin

   Recently released on MGM via their MOD program, in a nice looking 16 : 9 transfer, this somewhat talky/slow moving Hammer wanna-be has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.  Some fairly graphic surgery footage , the Cornwall setting of England (also used in Hammer's The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies) and the always reliable Kieron Moore (Crack in the World & Day of the Triffids) help. Plus, no one fills out a nurses uniform quite like Hazel Court. Director Sidney J. Furie had a pretty amazing career directing everything from The Ipcress File to Little Fauss & Big Halsy (We really need a DVD/BD release on this one) and Iron Eagle !

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Criterion in October

  This October looks to be a great month for Criterion releases. First up is Island of Lost Souls. OOP on home video since the laser disc days , this looks to be awesome. With commentary by horror film expert Gregory Mank,plus an interview with Devo founding members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh.. Anybody who grew up in 1960's reading Famous Monsters remembers the stills they used to run from this. A truly unsettling, creepy film.  Also on the slate is the 1939 Four Feathers(one of my favorites), plus the classic Japanese horror film Kuroneko (I saw part of this as a kid once on PBS and it scared the heck out of me). Good stuff. Also don't forgot now B & N is now running their twice yearly 50% Criterion sale.

Roberts Blossom 1924-2011

    Actor Roberts Blossom passed away at the age of 87 on July 8. NY Times Obit here. Wonderful character actor, his credits include Escape From Alcatraz, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Christine and most likely his most recognizable role - the kindly elderly neighbor in Home Alone. A rare starring role for him was Deranged (1973), loosely based upon the story of the Ed Gein "the butcher of Plainfield".

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rosalba Neri News # 1

   Thanks to some recent European TV broadcasts, two of Rosalba Neri's movies have turned up in excellent quality. First up the German satellite channel 3sat ran a seemingly uncut version (90 minutes PAL) of Lady Frankenstein (1971). Nicely letterboxed at 1.90:1 , the broadcast also featured a 42 minute documentary about the making of the movie complete with interviews of director Mel Wells and Rosalba. Both doc & movie are in German naturally, but some enterprising person has synced up the TV broadcast to the English audio track and made it available "out there".  Long a staple of shoddy public domain video in the U.S., Lady Frankenstein  is going to get a major upgrade DVD-wise this fall thanks to Shout Factory . They've announced as part of their Roger Corman New World releases a quadruple feature DVD containing Lady Frankenstein for release in Sept.

   Next up the Italian station Duel recently broadcast The Devils Wedding Night  (1973 Il plenilunio delle vergini). One of Rosalba's last horror roles this has been available on DVD as part of "Elvira's Movie Macbre" series. Although uncut and letterboxed the DVD's 35mm print looked like it had been dragged across a gravel parking lot. Duel's broadcast was beautiful and although in Italian , once again an unsung hero has subtitled it in English and once again its available "out there"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Drive-in Monster Super Rama

 This looks to be really cool.  Mario Bava , Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing etc in 35mm. - at a Drive-In !!  I really envy everybody who can go to this.  More info here

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Horror Express Blu-Ray

Here's the the specs:

Severin Films releases the disc Nov. 29, with a hi-def 1.66:1 transfer from the original negative. Horror legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star as scientists who board the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1906 China for a trip to Russia—one that gets interrupted when an excavated frozen humanoid creature defrosts and begins stalking the passengers. The special features are:

• “Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express”: new interview with director Eugenio Martín
• “Notes from the Blacklist”: Producer Bernard Gordon discusses the McCarthy era
• The Guardian 1973 audio interview with Cushing
• “Telly and Me”: New interview With composer John Cacavas
• Introduction by Fango editor Chris Alexander
• Theatrical trailer
• Easter egg

  I love this movie. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee together on the Trans- Siberian express along with Telly Savalas  as a Cossack plus a missing link fossil that sucks your brain out leaving you a zombie. A English/Spanish co-production, it was thought that the train model was the one used in Nicholas and Alexandra that producer Bernard Gordon obtained and then commissioned a script to use it. According to an interview here , Gordon says it was left over from his production of Pancho Villa (which also stared Telly Savalas). The movie does feature a mad Rasputin type monk though, so you do have a tie-in to Nicholas and Alexandra train or not.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vera Cruz

     Finally got a chance to sit down and and enjoy MGM's recent Blu-Ray of Robert Aldrich's 1954 western Vera Cruz. This one was one of the releases that nudged me toward Blu-Ray. Man, I love this movie. Shot in Superscope ( a rather short-lived cheaper alternative to CinemaScope), the lens could be used with standard equipment cameras and no fees to Fox - who owned the CinemaScope process.
    The interesting thing to me about this movie was that it seemed to be looking forward about 10 years to the "spaghetti western" genre. The shifting alliances of the main characters, the influx of modern weaponry (like the the machine gun) into the traditional western, the setting of the post American Civil War Mexico with the French occupation and Emperor Maximilian were all staples of the Italian westerns of the 60's. Sam Peckinpah would also explore some of these same things in his westerns such as Major Dundee and The Wild Bunch (Burt would again too, in Richard Brooks 1966 western The Professionals).
     Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper work great together. It's fun watching Burt's typical bigger then life performance with his huge smile, compared to Copper's stoic man of few words.
    The disc itself looks fine - colors vary a bit and is pretty much a bare bones release, just the trailer and the original mono sound (which is fine by me).

Here's Gary and Burt with leading ladies Sara Montiel and Denise Darcel.

Looks to be director Aldrich in the middle

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Killer Is Loose DVD

  MGM just annouced some more MOD DVD's thru Screen Archives , among them is The KIller Is Loose from 1956 directed by Budd Boetticher and shot by Lucien Ballard. Boetticher was just starting to get rolling - his next three movies were Seven Men From Now, The Tall T and Decision At Sundown (need I say more). A great film noir with a really unsettling preformance by Wendell Corey. Also with Joesph Cotton and Rhonda Fleming. 

Peter Falk 1927-2011

 Peter Falk, best known as Columbo on the long running TV series has passed away.  Also stared in many movies among them It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Brink's Job, Murder Inc. and one of my favorites The In-Laws. A close friend of John Cassavetes he also appeared in several of his films.

"Serpentine Shel, Serpentine !"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

William Lustig Presents

   Bill Lustig's annual film festival "William Lustig Presents" starts this July 15th at the Anthology Film Archives in NYC. As usual he's got some great stuff lined up such as Navajo Joe, The Brinks Job and best of all The Super Cops - Gordon Parks almost forgotten follow up to the Shaft movies (Where's this on DVD ??). Wish I could be there ! Plus it's all shown in 35mm.

Mr. Lustig is also the guy behind Blue Underground , who release bunches of great stuff on DVD/BD.

Dark of the Sun on DVD !

  A new release from Warner's MOD program and one of my favorites. I think this is Rod Taylor's best performance, plus a cast that includes Jim Brown, Kenneth Moore and Yvette Mimieux. Directed by Jack Cardiff and featuring a fight with a chainsaw, plus Rod driving the hell out of a Land Rover. Sweaty, brutal and pretty much non-stop action.