Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great Collection; Bad Disk12 Oct 2003
Robert E. Rodden II
- Published on Amazon.com
First, the presentation of these four movies by Blue-Underground is superb. All widescreen format, wonderful color, and only a slight bit of age showing though any of them. Not a problem. If you're a Christopher Lee fan, these movies are a complete joy. And for those of you who enjoy Leo Genn, you've got to check out "Circus of Fear". Leo Genn gives a wonderful performance as an incredibly humble, compassionate police detective, who genuinely cares about people. But... That brings me to the "bad disk" comment. Apparently there are problems with this first disk. I have two dvd players, and in the G.E. brand player, it kept spitting the disk back out and displaying "unplayable disk" on the digital readout. I finally got it to play by hitting the play button two or three times while it was reading the disk. But, further problems ocurred; skipping again and again, finally freeze ups. I was upset, to say the least. Then I tried it on the other player, a Panasonic DVD-RV20, and it played flawlessly. I don't know why there would be such an increadible differance between the players. However, I know others are having the same difficulty with their players. So beware. Blue-Underground has issued a statement that they believe something happened during the manufacturing of the disk, and are considering how they can replace the disk in the very near future. I hope so, because this is a great box-set, and I believe any Lee fan would give a lot to own it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent collection for an excellent actor28 Sep 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
When I was very young, I was only allowed to watch certain horror movies- mainly Vincent Price vehicles (especially the ones based on Poe's work) and Christopher Lee's Hammer films. So for most of my life I had a great admiration for this deep voiced, dignified actor. This set contains movies from his 70's B-picture work, but the quality is amazing. "Circus of Fear" is a fun little picture, and Lee raises it above your usual schlocky circus setting movie. There are also many funny moments scattered throughout. The Fu Manchu movies are a lot of fun- Lee plays the part perfectly and the makeup is amazing. About the only really "offensive" picture on this is The Bloody Judge, and not that much. Jess Franco and Lee seemed to be a great team on these latter pictures, even if at times they disagreed. Technically, Blue Underground completely gave these releases the red carpet. The transfers are near perfect- all are in widescreen, there is very little grain, colors are just the right tone and they all look superb. The sound is also very well done, I heard no pops or crackles and there are no sound fade outs. The box is very attractive, and the covers are very nice (the inserts contain the original poster art.) Extras are a bit sparse- mainly commentaries and interviews- but they are well done, interesting and informative. This is a great treat for Lee fans, especially fans of his earlier genre work. However, if you're looking for a group of scary pictures, you should look elsewhere. If you only know him from Star Wars: AoTC or the Lord of the Rings movies you may be dissapointed, but it's still worth a look to see some of what made him such a legend. This set is a must! Hopefully we'll see Blue Underground release more Christopher Lee pictures in the future.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Very Mixed Bag6 Mar 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
First, to get it out of the way, some copies of the Circus of Fear disc are bad, but Blue Underground's website has instructions on getting a free replacement disc. Overall, these aren't the best films Lee made. The common thread uniting all four is that they were produced by Harry Alan Towers. In addition, three out of four of the films are directed by Jess Franco. Circus of Fear (the only film not directed by Franco) is based on a story by German suspense writer Edgar Wallace. As is typical of his stories, the film depends not so much upon a good mystery or skilled detective work, but upon the police unravelling hundreds of red herrings designed to confuse the viewer and keep us guessing. It has great acting, including a minor role by Klaus Kinski, and a great setting (a circus), but is not a great film. Lee does not get any major screen time, and for most of that time his face is masked, but it is still a fun role. The two Fu Manchu films would have been a lot more enjoyable if they both didn't suffer from poor pacing. However, even when they're bad, Franco's films are always interesting, and here we get to see him working with budgets closer to what he deserved. Both films are pure pulp fiction adventure, with members of Scotland Yard attempting to stop the evil Fu Manchu's plans for world domination. As with pulp fiction, most of the characters are pure stereotypes, although this 1960s series made a point of occassionally noting that Fu Manchu does not represent most orientals and is wanted by eastern authorities as well. I far prefer Lee's earlier Fu Manchu films, but neither have Jess Franco as a draw. Lee gets very little screen time in both and seems to be bored with the role. The film that makes this collection worthwhile is The Bloody Judge, released for the first time in a director's cut which combines several "alternate" endings into one coherent ending. The Bloody Judge is based upon a real British witchhunter. Lee, as the titular judge, abuses his office in an attempt to win the hand of a woman by burning her innocent sister as a witch, and then threatening to burn her as well (what a romantic). Included are exploitative dungeon torture scenes Lee says he was unaware of while making this film. It isn't as good as Michael Reeve's/Vincent Price's "Witchfinder General" (whose success The Bloody Judge was trying to cash in upon), but it is still a good, antiestablishment historical film with a very well done battle scene (Franco also directed the classic battle scenes in Orson Welle's "Chimes at Midnight"). The Bloody Judge is only available as part of this set (likely to help Bill Lustig ensure he recovers the cost of restoring it). Lee gets a lot of screen time in this one and gives one of his best performances. Overall, The Bloody Judge is the main reason for getting this collection, and I would say that Franco fans will be more pleased with this collection than Lee fans. Here's hoping Blue Underground releases a second collection with the better Fu Manchu films, and Lee's best non-Hammer, non-LOTR film ever, "Blood Demon"!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Should Be Retitled.12 Sep 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Although Christopher Lee appears in every film, this collection should really be called the Harry Alan Towers collection. Towers (who just died in July at the age of 88) was a prolific low budget English producer who was responsible for all of these films and, unlike Roger Corman, was rarely able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The major difference between Corman and Towers is that Towers fancied himself a writer and wrote the scripts for most of his movies under the pen name of Peter Welbeck. In the end it didn't matter as most of his movies turned a tidy profit. Towers would sell a film based on a star performer (in this case Christopher Lee) and then shoot it in exotic locales for as little money as possible. Most of the films featured his wife, Austrian actress Maria Rohm and were directed by Spanish director Jesus (Jess) Franco. Action/horror films have traditionally had sexist elements but the amount of nudity/torture/porn in Towers' movies are excessive considering when they were made (the late 1960s) and border on undisguised misogyny. One could argue that they opened the door to the torture porn movies of today. They also represent the shift in European horror films from the fanciful to the literal.
Three of the four films included here (the two FU MANCHUS and THE BLOODY JUDGE) were directed by Jess Franco. They make excellent use of their outdoor locales and are less successful when they move indoors. It's not a question of cheap sets so much as what Franco does with them which isn't much (BLOODY JUDGE is the exception). The films are competently shot and edited and the international casts (all dubbed into English with varying degrees of success) wander through with various degrees of conviction. The women, in ongoing states of undress, are often abused in myriad ways for no other reason (it seems) than to show us their attributes and to watch them scream in pain. I'm a big fan of Christopher Lee's but these films have little to offer and reminded me of just how far the FU MANCHU series had sunk and how unlike WITCHFINDER GENERAL most of its successors were. The best of the lot is CIRCUS OF FEAR which was directed by John Moxey (HORROR HOTEL/CITY OF THE DEAD, THE NIGHT STALKER). It's actually a whodunit with Lee in a small but pivotal role. In fact none of these movies are horror films as they don't generate fear but rather indifference (with the exception of CIRCUS). The transfers are first class (typical of Blue Undergound) and there are interviews and commentary aplenty but for me it wasn't enough to justify the enterprise.
WOW!!! NOW THAT'S A COLLECTION!!!13 April 2006
A Kid's Review
- Published on Amazon.com
Hey people of the world! DC here. Being a huge Christopher Lee fan myself, I must say that finding this collection was AWESOME!!! This DVD set includes audio commentary, interviews, and much more. Now for the movies...
The Blood of Fu Manchu is a great addition to the Fu Manchu series and stars Christopher Lee as the Asian crime lord. Tsai Chin, from The Joy Luck Club, plays Fu Manchu's daughter, Lin Tang. Richard Greene is excellent as the Asian madman's nemesis, Nayland Smith. Good acting, decent effects. Bottom line, very good movie.
The Castle of Fu Manchu is perhaps not the best in the series but it makes an okay film. Christopher Lee returns for the role of Fu Manchu along with Tsai Chin and Richard Greene. Most people dislike this film but as for me, I think it is a fun film to watch.
Circus of Fear is a great film, no question there, but the DVD suffers from disk problems. It may pause or skip to another scene. It might not even load up at all. I know others are having trouble with their copies as well. Hopefully, Blue Underground will do something about it in the near future.
The Bloody Judge is... well... not excactly my favorite movie out of this collection. Don't get me wrong, Christopher Lee makes an excellent preformance as the dreaded Judge George Jeffreys but to me, the film could have been better.
Well, that just about raps things up. This DVD set is a must for any Lee fan and the extras included on these disks are what make it really worthwhile. Definitely worth your money, although I suggest that you buy this set on ebay instead, you can get it at a much lower price. Gotta go! DC out.