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William Castle Film Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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5 used from £74.11
Region 1 encoding. (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the UK [Region 2]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024FAG3U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,962 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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William Castle was the Phineas Taylor Barnum of the cinema - a director, producer and master showman who was just as famous for his promotional gimmicks as he was for his actual films. In some ways it was a shame that some of his gimmicks often overshadowed the films themselves because, more often than not, his films were rather good.

Although William Castle made movies in different genres he is probably best remembered for his horror films and most of the films in this great collection fall into this category. This set features 8 films that were made in Castle's heyday between 1959 and 1963.

Here is a brief summary of the films:

DISC ONE
13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS (1963)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Colour
Starring Murray Hamilton, Joyce Taylor, Hugh Marlowe, Khigh Dhiegh, Kathy Dunn, Lynne Sue Moon, The Teenage Diplomats

This is just your everyday story of Candy, a sixteen year-old daughter of an American diplomat, who becomes involved in the world of espionage! 13 Frightened Girls is probably not the best film to kick off with as it see-saws between comedy and suspense (and not always successfully) with several deaths thrown in for good measure. This film is a kind of St. Trinians meets James Bond and is a bit silly at times but it is still quite enjoyable with a cast that includes Murray Hamilton (who went on to play Mr. Robinson in The Graduate and The Mayor in Jaws and Jaws 2), Khigh Dhiegh (from The Manchurian Candidate) and a young Alexandra Bastedo (who went on to star in the classic tv series The Champions and the cult horror film The Blood Spattered Bride). For this movie, cinema-goers were issued with 'Danger Cards' and they could claim a prize if the word Danger appeared on their card when it was dampened.
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William Castle was without doubt one of the best directors to come out of Hollywood, and this collection showcases his Columbia output of horror and fantasy movies from the early 60's. The set includes three films new to DVD and the old DVD releases of the classics, The Tingler, etc have ALL been re-mastered. There is an exclusive feature called Spinetingler - The William Castle Story, complete with audio commentary. I would have loved a Castle still gallery and maybe some gimmick repro's, but this is a superb set and a must for any Castle or Horror fan! Maybe Sony will release some of his western films in their Icon's series of DVD's, who wouldn't want a copy of Fort Ti in 3D? Maybe soon hopefully! Recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b86a804) out of 5 stars 48 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c8244ec) out of 5 stars Sony releases some of the 60's horror in their catalog. 25 May 2009
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Some of my favorite 60's horror films show up in this boxed set due out this fall. William Castle always had a gimmick with his films. Sometimes these had him appearing onscreen himself such as in Mr. Sardonicus, and sometimes it involved theatre tricks such as wiring the seats to deliver a mild shock during the Tingler or issuing life insurance policies during Macabre. Eight of the films Castle made for the then Columbia Pictures are included here.

Homicidal (1961), begins with a woman paying a hotel bellhop to marry her and murdering the justice of the peace who performs the ceremony. She sucessfully flees the scene. She also just happens to work in a large mysterious house where there seem to be a multitude of family secrets, dominated by the late owner's obsession with obtaining a male heir.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961) is the tale of a 19th-century villager who obtained a fortune by retrieving a lottery ticket from the pocket of his dead father's vest pocket. Problem is, dad had been dead for some time and the sight of him shocked Sardonicus into having the same death grin himself. Now he'll stop at nothing to retrieve his normal facial expression.

Zotz! (1962) - A mild-mannered college professor finds an ancient amulet that can make people move in slow motion, and when enemy spies learn about it, a hilarious chase ensues.

The Old Dark House (1963), is Castle's version of the J.B. Priestley novel. It follows an American car salesman to a spooky old Welsh estate where the members of an eccentric family begin to get picked off one by one.

The Tingler has Vincent Price as a scientist looking for a live creature that he thinks is the basis for all fright and also has the power to frighten people to death.

13 Ghosts (1960) - Has a penniless man inheriting a mansion from his late uncle. It turn out that it is inhabited by 12 ghosts which special glasses enable the family to see. It also turns out that Uncle Cyrus left his fortune somewhere in the house.

13 Frightened Girls! (1963) - A bunch of priveleged teenagers at a boarding school intersect with a tale of espionage. Silly but fun stuff.

Strait-Jacket (1964) - Twenty years ago Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) found her husband with another woman and did them both in with an ax. After being locked up for twenty years she is now free and supposedly sane. However, strange occurances begin that make it look like Lucy has gone over the edge again. Joan gives a great performance here. Well, let's face it, she never gave a bad one regardless of the movie itself.

Several of these films have been on DVD before, and when they were released several came with featurettes, so I'm hoping at least that much gets carried over into the new boxed set. Specifically there were short featurettes on the original Sardonicus, Homicidal, 13 Ghosts, Tingler, and Strait-Jacket.

Now if only whoever it was who owned the rights to the 1958 Castle film Macabre would issue a DVD release.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c824714) out of 5 stars VISIT A CASTLE FOR HALLOWEEN 28 Oct. 2009
By Mark Turner - Published on Amazon.com
William Castle wasn't simply a film maker. William Castle was a showman. So much so that going to the opening of one of his films was an event as opposed to going to a movie. Special stunts were what Castle was noted for and several of these films featured those. While audiences can't appreciate the shows he put on in theaters these days, they can find enjoyment in his films on DVD with the release of THE WILLIAM CASTLE FILM COLLECTION from Sony.

This collection may not include all of his films but it does include a number of his better pictures as well as several never before released to DVD. And those that have already been released are given a well deserved treatment here by including them in this collection. So what's in it? Eight movies for young and old.

First off is 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS. The catch here was Castle's search for girls from around the world to portray the members of an all girl boarding school who get involved in spy shenanigans. Light on scares and big on chuckles, the film is a low dose of Castle.

13 GHOSTS tells the story of down on his luck father who inherits a house from a rich uncle, only if he stays there. Too bad that this same uncle made a habit of collecting ghosts, 12 of which can be found there now. And the 13th? Watch to find out. The trick here was a set of glasses with blue and red lenses, one to allow you to see the ghosts, the other to block them out.

HOMICIDAL was Castle's answer to Hitchcock's PSYCHO. The film opens with a brutal murder of a justice of the peace by a young woman who returns home to care for an invalid woman. Hateful to her employer's sister as well as the woman she watches over, what is the secret that is revealed only in the last minutes of the film? For those too afraid to find out we have the countdown clock that permitted patrons to leave the theater and retreat to the coward's corner in the lobby.

STRAIGHT JACKET features an aging Joan Crawford as a woman sent to prison 20 years earlier for the axe murder of her husband and his lover. Now free, some strange goings on are affecting her life and those of the people around her. Has she gone insane?

THE OLD DARK HOUSE is a remake of a classic Universal horror film, here played for laughs. Tom Posten is the flat mate of a man now deceased, invited to spend the weekend at the family retreat. Too bad this family is far from normal and one after the other gets bumped off as the night progresses.

MR. SARDONICUS, my favorite, tells the story of a doctor who receives a note from his ex-fiancé. Now married to a cruel landowner, she requests he come to her husband's aide in a cure for what it the most terrifying case of paralysis ever seen. If he succeeds, she is free to leave. If not? The face of Mr. Sardonicus gave me nightmares for years!

THE TINGLER features Vincent Price in a role that gives him a chance to make even some of the lamest dialogue sound Shakespearean. As a scientists who discovers that fear gives birth to a creature that literally squeezes your spine unless you release that fear by screaming, Price is fantastic. The great gimmick here was in select theaters that had certain seats with vibrating mechanisms placed under chairs. At one point in the film, in a theater, the screen goes black and Price calls out that the Tingler is lose in the theater you are in! If you feel it you should scream, scream for your life! Of course this was when the mechanisms would buzz, scaring theater patrons.

Lastly is ZOTZ! again starring Tom Posten. This time around Posten is a language professor whose niece receives a medallion from her boyfriend on an archeological dig. An ancient language is found on the medallion and Posten deciphers it to discover that by pointing at someone he can cause internal pain, by saying zotz he can make them move slowly and by doing the two together he can cause death! When the government doesn't pay attention to him the Russians do and attempt a kidnapping.

Included in this collection are several episodes of Castle produced TV shows, behind the scenes featurettes on the movies and a great documentary about Castle himself. The master showman took to appearing in most of his films and getting a kick out of the fans reactions to them all. Many fans have gone on to become star film directors in their own right.

This collection might be a bit pricy, but to purchase each film on its own would cost more. If you love good old fashioned scare films, if you have fond memories of these titles, then you'll want to add this boxed set to your collection. And what better time to give these movies a viewing than now at Halloween? Anyone up for a good scare?
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c8247f8) out of 5 stars 5 stars for films 2 for packaging 4 Dec. 2009
By Trewthe - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Retro rules! Well, most of the time, but not when it comes to cheap packaging!This review is not for the films as William Castle is a genius , this is for the packaging.Gave the packaging 2 stars because at least they aren't flippers, yippeeeee! But for the money i shelled out on this set,,,they could have at least been in thin cases! Don't even care that they slapped on 2 movies to a disc,,,but this gatefold cheap plastic glued to backing for a case ,is a retro( normally Warner Bros dvds ) style that must go,,,anyone who owns these knows that unless you are lucky,,,the glue comes undone over the years and then where do you put the dvds? In another case that's where, when it would be so much nicer for them to just DO IT RIGHT!Then they do that crap i really hate where they put one dvd overlapping the other , i mean if this was a $[...] dollar set that would be understandable,,,but this was no bargain.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c824cb4) out of 5 stars Special features are excellent 21 Nov. 2009
By Professor - Published on Amazon.com
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Castle freaks will want to have this collection for obvious reasons, but the best thing about it is the special features, which include a fifth bonus disk with an excellent full-length documentary about Castle's career.

The documentary features interviews with Castle's daughter, as well as Leonard Maltin, John Waters, John Landis, and others who provide intelligent commentary and insight.
It's not surprising to learn that Castle admired Hitchcock, and there was a bit of professional jealousy on Hitchcock's part as Castle became increasingly famous and was ultimately proclaimed the "master" of horror.
It's also interesting learn about the making of _Rosemary's Baby_.

On the other disks, aside from the films, there are documentaries about the making of _The Tingler_ and _Straight Jacket_. There are also a couple episodes of _Ghost Story_, a TV series which Castle produced in the early 70's. One, featuring John Astin as a security guard at a horror movie studio, has a great cameo by Castle as--what else?--a horror film producer. There was always something so great about seeing Csatle himself on the screen. He had such a presence.

I can find only two flaws in this collection. The first--unavoidable, I suppose--is that the films are only the ones made for Columbia. _House on Haunted Hill_ and _Macabre_ are conspicuously missing.

The second flaw is a bit of a soundtrack synchronization problem at the beginning of _Homicidal_. But it only lasts for a couple of minutes.

One thing I realized when watching these films again is that Castle was technically an excellent director. His use of light and shadow, framing of scenes, and camera work is really good--not "B" at all. And Von Dexter's music is perfect--I guess he was Castle's Bernard Hermann.

Overall, this is a must-have for fans of the man who "scared the pants off America."
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c824ee8) out of 5 stars Where's the ghost viewer? 6 Feb. 2011
By Boz - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If you bought 13 Ghosts on DVD don't get rid of it.The DVD came with a ghost viewer ( like paper 3-D glasses).This great set does NOT.You'd think for the cost they would have included it.
Again the folks at Columbia (Sony) are asleep at the wheel.Buyer beware....otherwise this set DOES have movies that were NOT available.Also check out Warner Archive as they have a few earlier William Castle movies!
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