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Dr. Terror's House of Horrors [DVD] [1965]
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors [DVD] [1965]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A new era, 25 Jan. 2015
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This first portmanteau movie for soon-to-be specialist Amicus Studios is a solid entry in the horror genre of the mid-sixties: not as lush as the Hammer productions of the 1957-1962 era nor the beautiful Corman-Poe efforts of 1960-1965, this film presents two qualities:
First, an absolurtely amazing cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland, Michael Gough, Bernard Lee, Jennifer Jayne...it doesn't get any better than this and the film is pleasurable just for their presence on screen.
Second, there are some amazing stories in this movie making it, at times, truly remarkable: the opening where all the six principals get to meet, the first, fourth and fifth segments and the finale: all these aspects are really good - and if not exactly scary, there are enough plot twists in these stories to make your day.
The problems (explaining why the rating is only Four Stars) is that there are tunnels of boredom in this movie - partly explained by the absolutely appalling special effects. Building a story around invading vines - why not - but the two-three plants taking over the house in the second segment are not credible. Same in the last segment where the mock bat makes the final scene of "Kiss of Vampire" looks like CGI. Not to mention the invisible werewolf in the first segment....it seems all the budget was reserved for the actors.
The main problem is the third segment though. Essentially musical in nature, it is not helped by the inept acting of Roy Castle and it drags along. Another problem is the soundtrack: in 1.0 mono, the whole jazz section (segment 3) becomes noisy and broadly inaudible...
Overall though, this is a very solid first effort that is not as good as its reputation, but which signals, with talent, the beginning of a new era for British horror. As such, as per its importance, it is not dissimilar to what Hammer's "Curse of Frankenstein" did for the genre in 1957.


Die Die My Darling [DVD] [2006]
Die Die My Darling [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Tallulah Bankhead

5.0 out of 5 stars Totally demented and fun, 25 Jan. 2015
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This totally demented effort is quite important because it is one of Hammer's very first "modern" looking film. It seems that with this flick gone were the sumptuous colors, gone were the elaborated sets and gone were Jack Asher's painfully put-together shots..
Here we have an average looking film but which is fully redeemed by an absolutely fantastic script and a no-less fantastic cast.
As far as the script is concerned, Richard Matheson wrote a screenplay that is slightly tongue in cheek, even campy at times, but also very scary: fear is never far out and the viewer is being kept on his toes throughout.
I must also say that all the characters are extremely well-written, in particular the victim of Mrs Trefoyle's madness. The usual "defenseless" prisoner will not stop trying to escape for 90 minutes and will show resilience and stamina. With a script like this, mostly-TV-director Silvio Narizzano has little to do , and indeed, little does he.
Indeed, the cast is top notch, from lead roles to bit parts. As the evil Mrs Trefoyle, Tallulah Bankhead is just sublime, OTT and seriously deranged: a performance to cherish. 22-years-old Stefanie Powers gets in Bankhead's face with aplomb, assurance, and a lack of fear which is absolutely brilliant. Around them, the actors are phenomenal. Sutherland makes the most of a (virtually) non-speaking part, Peter Vaughan (now a regular in "Game of Thrones") is appropriately sadistic and sex-obsessed, while Yootha Jones as the torn maid, is beautiful and hurt by her husband's behaviour - a great performance, that is.
A lot of scenes will get you out of your seats and overall this is a great movie, shot in Elstree (and not at Bray), which was a very encouraging sign for the new "Hammer".
Heartily recommended!!!!


The Tomb Of Ligeia [DVD]
The Tomb Of Ligeia [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The last of the Corman-Poe films..., 25 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Tomb Of Ligeia [DVD] (DVD)
In a way, it is a shame that the Poe-Corman cycle, which gave Hammer a run for its money between 1960 and 1965, did not end with "Mask of the red death". That title was scary, unsettling, well-written and beautifully cast..
Don't get me wrong, "Ligeia" is a really commendable film, beautifully shot by the Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk, England but it simply does not top "Red Death" - and it probably came with too many expectations following the success of "..Death".
The reasons for this? I can see three:
First, the story, even if very scary and mysterious, is quite convoluted, and does not resist thorough analysis (I won't go into details here to avoid posting spoilers).
Second, the whole story evolves around a cat, and after "Tales of Terror", it is becoming a bit redundant to see a cat in Corman-Poe movies...
Third, and most important, the cast does not really do it for me. Price remains as towering as always, but Elisabeth Shepherd, who is carrying the film on her shoulders, does not have the necessary charisma and is no match for Hazel Court and Jane Asher in "Masque". The lesser said about John Westbrook, the better. As a result, Vincent Price is alone on screen most of the times.
Don't get me wrong though, we have a very good film here, with some very efficient scary scenes (in the cemetary in particular and towards the end), but it is shadowed by the success of its predecessor and the fact that it is clearly, slightly less good. But it remains within the average quality for this series of films, i.e. very high standards indeed.


The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) DVD Reg 2
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) DVD Reg 2
Dvd ~ Willard Parker
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Has not aged well, 25 Jan. 2015
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This 1964 Terence Fisher effort has not aged well. The credit sequence is indeed impressive, but after that the film gets sloppy and the life of these very mediocre people trying to survive is not very interesting.
Add to this the fact that Fisher does not manage to get rid of his usual pacing problems and you have a movie which, despite lasting barely more than an hour, can feel quite long at times.
Slightly overrated IMHO...


The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb [DVD] [2006]
The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Terence Morgan
Price: £6.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the original, 12 Jan. 2015
This film, a companion piece to "The Gorgon", is usually dismissed as unworthy of its predecessor.
I couldn't disagree more. While the initial "The Mummy" was a lavish, but very slow effort that wasn't really taking off, "Curse" features an excellent script, more action - and much more gore (the obsession of the movie with severed hands would make for an interesting study).
Michael Carreras directs all this with flair and pace - I view him as an underrated director in light of good efforts such as "Steel Bayonnet" or "Maniac".
The only problem is the cast, absolutely misguided and very bland overall. But the script, the direction and the overall set designs make for a very good effort, worthy of the superior "The Gorgon", with which "Curse" was released.


The Gorgon [DVD]  [2010]
The Gorgon [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £4.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Three giants are back together, for the last time, 12 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Gorgon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
They hadn't worked together since "The Mummy" (1959) and they wouldn't work together again after "The Gorgon" (1964).
Terry Fisher, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee would reunite under the Hammer banner for the last time, and one has to say that it was to produce a really excellent film, almost at par with the prior period classics.
It was a return to grace for Terence Fisher, who had been unceremoniously dismissed by the company following the failure of "Phantom of the opera" (1962).
With "Gorgon", he is back to what he does best: a somber, gothic atmosphere, a well-managed sense of understated terror, helped by a very good script, some striking scenes, and (as one could imagine) a fantastic cast. Lee and Cushing are of course phenomenal but both Barbara Shelley and Richard Pasco are great additions to the ensemble. The sets of Bernard Robinson are a star of their own, and even if it is clear that parts of "Evil of Frankenstein" have been recycled (the matte painting just after the credits in particular), "The Gorgon" is a much better gothic horror than "Evil": a question of script and a question of direction as well: Terence Fisher brings class and suspense where Freddie Francis was just mundane and perfunctory.
A great return to form for Fisher and overall a very good film.


London [CD 2]
London [CD 2]

5.0 out of 5 stars A proper farewell to "Release", 3 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: London [CD 2] (Audio CD)
The second CD single of "London" would put an end to the short-lived "Release" period of the Pet Shop Boys.
At least, this period finished with a bang: the Boys were very careful with the remixers of London and all the efforts on this CD are extremely good:
WestBam and Klaus Jankuhn enable the song to maintain its Berlin roots, even through its remixes: the WestBam in Berlin mix is an efficient, pounding, bass-heavy, electric guitar extravaganza. Very original, quite far out from the original song, but still very respectful: extremely good music indeed.

The "Radikal Blaklite mix" is barely more traditional even if more "dancey" and more "trancy": it is still a superb effort from Felix da Housecat, much better than what the same team had done on "I don't know what you want..." a couple of years earlier. A good "dub" under a similar musical style completes the CD.
Highly recommended.


London [CD 1]
London [CD 1]
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and precious, 2 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: London [CD 1] (Audio CD)
"London" is probably one of the best tracks on "Release" (and "Release" is full of great tracks).
As a result, the decision of Parlophone not to release this single in the UK (because of the "let's do it, let's break the law" lyric) is as stupid as it is incomprehensible.
"London" was therefore only released in Germany and in selected European countries.
Chris Zippel, a German producer who had a lot of responsibilities on the writing and the production of the original song, mildly changes the production of the track to design the "Berlin Radio mix", a really good version of the song (and quite close to the album version).
But as another reviewer said, the prize of this CD is the extraordinarily moving "Genuine piano mix" of the title song. The Steinway Grand of Robert Matt and the beautiful voice of Neil Tennant (re-recorded for the occasion I believe) make for a magnificent version of the song, fully complementing the Berlin Radio Mix.
An nth release of "Positive Role Model" (not a high point of "Closer to Heaven") is not enough to waste the utter pleasure at the celebration of this great Pet Shop Boys song: "London"...let's do it!


I Get Along [DVD]
I Get Along [DVD]
Dvd ~ Pet Shop Boys

5.0 out of 5 stars well-conceived, 2 Jan. 2015
This review is from: I Get Along [DVD] (Audio CD)
The third (and last) product in the series of "I get along" singles is this DVD.
I was quite concerned initially as the "Home and Dry" DVD had proven to be of very poor sound quality.
Not so here, and it seems that every effort was made to cater for the quality of each and every track.

To start with, it is great to have a DVD version of Bruce Weber's video of "I get along". The film is filled with energy, enthusiasm, and the additional presence of the Boys in Little Bear Studio in NYC adds to the pleasure one has in watching this "mini documentary". Please note that there is one more minute of footage at the end of the video proper, with the soundtrack from "email", one of PSB's "Release" songs.
The other two audio tracks are well known and well-chosen: "Friendly Fire" and the Blank & Jones remix of "Home & Dry" are appropriately different and contrasting, but they could be found together in the "Release - bonus disc" reserved for the US market.
Overall, this is not an extremely original product, but at least it is well conceived, and it offers a longer version of the "I get along" video.


I Get Along
I Get Along
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £23.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Live tracks, 2 Jan. 2015
This review is from: I Get Along (Audio CD)
With age, it seems the Boys were more keen to share their "live concert" experience than before: following a first set of three live songs in one of the "You only tell me you love me when you're drunk" CDs, the Pet Shop Boys offer us three live titles from a concert taped at the BBC Theatre, a couple of days before "Release" was out - at the end of March 2002.
The concert has been available as a bootleg for a while now but the excerpts gathered here are in the best possible sound - featuring two guitarists and the percussionist that played on most of Release's tracks.
The musical result is extremely good: the arrangements are pleasant, Neil Tennant is in great voice and overall this is a good CD.
"I get along" appears indeed in a version close to the album version but then it is in this instrumentation that the song was composed - not as a mad dance romp.
"Red letter day" is one of my favourite PSB's songs, all the more so it went through a lot of changes and it hadn't been sang live by the Boys before. This more "rocky" version is very pleasant, very different from its previous incarnations, and would deserve on its own the acquisition of this CD.
"Love comes quickly" resists less well the "Release" treatment and performing this track with guitars does not really work IMHO.
Overall though, a very pleasant release.


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