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Jeremy W. Newbould (Spain)

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

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schloss Horror, 15 July 2010
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.

13 GHOSTS (1960)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp, Donald Woods

Cyrus Zorba, a man who is on his uppers, inherits a big old house from his strange, rich uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba, who has recently died. As most of their furniture has just been repossessed, Cyrus and his family are keen to move into their new abode which is fully furnished and even comes complete with a creepy house keeper (played by Margaret Hamilton who was The Wicked Witch in The Wizard Of Oz). Unfortunately the house is haunted by various vengeful ghosts and it is not long before they start appearing to Cyrus and his family but are the ghosts actually real?

This is more like it - a good old haunted house movie featuring a gimmick called Illusion-O which involved members of the cinema audience using a special 'Ghost Viewer' which they were urged to look through at certain times during the film. Anyone who believed in ghosts was supposed to look through the red filter of the viewer and anyone who did not believe in ghosts was supposed to look through the blue filter. Of course this was another clever piece of trickery which no doubt helped to sell cinema tickets. By the way, in one scene there is a four-poster bed with a descending canopy that could crush anyone lying on the bed. This idea was also used in the 1974 Vincent Price film, Madhouse.

DISC TWO
HOMICIDAL (1961)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce, James Westerfield, Jean Arless

A blonde woman checks into a hotel on the 5th of September and offers Jim, one of the hotel porters, $2000 if he will marry her on the 6th of September. She tells Jim that after the ceremony the marriage will immediately be annulled. Jim agrees to the deal and after midnight they travel to the home of a Justice of the Peace called Alfred S. Adrims. As soon as Adrims has performed the ceremony, the woman pulls out a knife and repeatedly stabs the JP. The woman then flees the house and speeds off in Jim's car.

Thus the scene is set for this intriguing, if a bit too talky, psycho-drama that owes more than a little to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. This film contains quite a few surprising twists and turns and features the famous "Fright Break" that gave cinema-goers the opportunity to leave if they thought that they couldn't cope with the shocks and suspense of the final reel. I guess Dario Argento must have been impressed with Homicidal because there are certain plot elements from this film that crop up in his films Four Flies On Grey Velvet and Phenomena.

STRAIT-JACKET (1963)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, Howard St. John, John Anthony Hayes, Rochelle Hudson

A jealous woman carries out her revenge on her unfaithful husband and his bit of crumpet by chopping them up with a handy axe (I guess she misinterpreted the term 'burying the hatchet'). The woman is then sent off to an asylum (well she axed for it, I suppose). Twenty years later she is released but, shortly after this, more brutal axe murders occur. Are these events purely coincidental, is the woman still crazy or is someone else trying to frame her?

This occasionally-violent thriller features a great performance by Joan Crawford who proves that she could scream just as good as anybody and look out for a young(ish) George Kennedy as a farmhand. Strait-Jacket also holds the unique distinction of being probably the only half-decent film that Lee Majors has appeared in! This film's influence can be felt in other horror movies such as Pete Walker's Schizo and Romano Scavolini's Nightmares In A Damaged Brain and some scenes from Strait-Jacket turn up in the comedy/horror film Serial Mom.

DISC THREE
THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1962)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Colour
Starring Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott, Joyce Grenfell

An American man called Tom Penderel visits Femm Hall, the ancestral home of his friend Caspar Femm. When Tom arrives he discovers that Caspar has met with an unfortunate death and is lying in a coffin. Tom then meets Caspar's very strange relatives and a series of bizarre events are set in motion.

This movie was a collaboration between William Castle and Britain's Hammer Studios and is a sort of cross between a Hammer Horror film and an Ealing Comedy but it is not particularly scary or very funny. It does have its moments though and it features a fine cast of character actors and an animated title sequence by Charles Addams but it is definitely not as good as James Whale's 1932 version.

MR. SARDONICUS (1961)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Oscar Homolka, Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe

This fiendishly twisted tale involves an eminent London doctor called Sir Robert Cargrave who receives a letter from his old flame, Maude, and travels to Central Europe to visit her. Maude is now married to the mysterious Baron Sardonicus, who must be the unluckiest lottery winner ever, and there is an ulterior motive behind why she has asked Sir Robert to visit them.

This movie contains many ingredients that will appeal to fans of gothic horror movies including a creepy castle complete with torture chamber, a sadistic, one-eyed servant, a bit of grave robbing and some leeches! The story features certain elements from The Phantom Of The Opera, Beauty And The Beast, Eyes Without A Face and The Man Who Could Cheat Death and the tone is quite nasty at times. There is an introduction by William Castle and he also appears towards the end of the movie to give viewers the chance to vote on the fate of the title character (known as The Punishment Poll) but, of course, they only ever showed one ending!

DISC FOUR
THE TINGLER (1959)
Running Time 81 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts

The King of Horror, Vincent Price, plays a coroner who discovers a weird creature that grows on people's spines when they experience extreme fear. The only way to stop the creature is by screaming very loudly but if this action is not taken then the creature can snap a person's spine and kill them. Out of all of William Castle's horror movies The Tingler is probably my favourite and it features some interesting and surprising plot twists. Let's be honest, any film that contains a scene where Vincent Price injects himself with acid (of the trippy kind) and another scene where he is trying to catch the lobster-like creature in a cinema has got to be worth watching. When this film was first released, Castle used a gimmick called Percepto which consisted of certain seats in the cinema being wired-up so that some members of the audience received a tingling sensation at certain points in the film when the tingler creature was on the loose!

ZOTZ! (1962)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Black & White
Starring Tom Poston, Julia Meade, Jim Backus, Fred Clark, Cecil Kellaway

Professor Jonathan Jones is an expert on the subject of ancient eastern languages and when his niece receives a charm bracelet as a gift he notices that the charm is actually a coin which bears some ancient inscriptions. The Professor translates the inscriptions and discovers that whoever possesses the coin has the power to immobilise or destroy anyone or anything.

This is quite a strange film that definitely chooses to take the comedy route over the horror one. Try to imagine a cross between Bruce Almighty, Lucio Fulci's Possessed (a.k.a. Manhattan Baby) and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and you may get some idea of what Zotz! is like. William Castle is certainly having fun here and the movie contains a couple of in-jokes - when The Professor's niece goes out on a date to a drive-in movie the film that is showing is Homicidal and there is a sinister character called Mr. Bates which is probably a reference to Hitchcock's Psycho. Zotz! is quite amusing if you catch it in the right frame of mind and Tom Poston (who was also in Castle's The Old Dark House) puts in a fine comedy performance as Professor Jones. The films also features Fred Clark (who played a William Castle-type character in Hammer's The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb) as a US Army General. I wonder if Dario Argento was influenced by the scene where a bullet is fired from a gun in extreme slow-motion because Argento used a similar effect in three of his films - Four Flies On Grey Velvet, Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome....

All the films in this collection have been remastered and are presented in a screen ratio of 1.85:1 and they all look fabulous. It virtually goes without saying that this collection is absolutely essential for any fan of classic horror films especially since it also features a host of extras including featurettes, trailers, two episodes of Ghost Story (a 1970s' tv series produced by William Castle) and a bonus disc containing Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story. Please note though that some of the special features reveal certain important plot elements (such as the endings) from some of the films so it is perhaps advisable to watch the films first.


Hammer House of Horror : Behind the Screams
Hammer House of Horror : Behind the Screams
by Howard Maxford
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, 4 July 2010
This book by Howard Maxford is okay as a reference source for anyone wanting to check out Hammer's film and television output and it does contain some splendid photographs. I do, however, have a few problems with this particular publication.

First of all, in the version I have, there are quite a few printing errors. For instance, did Peter Cushing really appear in a film called "Star Stars" (Page 144)? Also, some of the information in my copy of this book is incorrect or incomplete. On Pages 64 and 65 it says that in the film "Paranoiac" (incorrectly spelt as "Paranoic" here) it is Oliver Reed who plays the man claiming to be Janette Scott's dead brother but it is actually Alexander Davion who plays this character. One debatable piece of information stated in the book is that Peter Cushing was the narrator for the film "The Mummy's Shroud" but I believe that this is actually a common myth. I have this rare film on video and it certainly does not sound like Peter Cushing's voice to me. On the Internet Movie Database this information is unconfirmed.

Oliver Reed's list of Hammer credits (Page 152) does not include "Sword Of Sherwood Forest" and Patrick Troughton's list of Hammer credits (Page 155) does not include "The Phantom Of The Opera", "The Gorgon" or "Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell". There are other mistakes and inaccuracies but I won't bore you by listing them all.

Another thing I did not like much was the author's obvious disdain for some of the films mentioned in this book and certain films such as "The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb" and "Dracula A.D. 1972" (and quite a few others) receive, in my opinion, some unfair criticism.

Over the years there have been many books published about Hammer Films as well as various magazines and fanzines but unfortunately this book is unexceptional and does not really stand out from the crowd.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2010 3:09 AM BST


Sam Whiskey [Region 2] [import]
Sam Whiskey [Region 2] [import]
Dvd ~ Burt Reynolds

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Going for gold, 23 Jun. 2010
Burt Reynolds plays the title character in this 1969 western/caper movie that also stars Clint Walker, Ossie Davis and the gorgeous Angie Dickinson.

Sam is a sort of Jack-of-all-trades who will try his hand at anything if there's money in it. When he is offered a job by a beautiful widow that involves salvaging a stack of gold bars and secretly returning them to the mint where the woman's late husband stole them from, he is reluctant at first but then decides to accept the job and, along with his accomplices, O. W. Bandy and Jed Hooker, sets out to recover the gold....

This is a far-fetched but enjoyable comedy western with enough action and comical moments to keep it interesting. The main stars are all good in their respective roles - especially Burt, who is ideally cast as the likeable rogue, and Angie, who looks absolutely stunning whenever she is on the screen.

This Spanish DVD presents the film in full screen format (it was originally filmed in a ratio of 1.85:1) and has the options of English or Spanish language.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2013 1:29 PM GMT


Spaceways [DVD] [1953]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Spaceways [DVD] [1953] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bella Bartok, 15 Jun. 2010
A rocket scientist called Dr. Steve Mitchell (played by Flamingo Road's Howard Duff), who is working on a special project, discovers that his wife, Vanessa (Cecile Chevreau), is having an affair with one of his colleagues, Dr. Philip Crenshaw (Andrew Osborn).

When a rocket launch does not go to plan and Mrs. Mitchell and Dr. Crenshaw mysteriously disappear, Steve is suspected of killing them and stuffing their bodies inside the rocket, thus ensuring that they would be launched into space and remain up there for a very long time.

In order to prove his innocence, Steve proposes that they launch another rocket with him on board so that he can attempt to retrieve the first rocket, even though there are great risks involved in doing this. Things become even more complicated when one of his female colleagues, Dr. Lisa Frank (played by Blood And Black Lace's Eva Bartok), who is in love with Steve, makes plans of her own to be on board the rocket with him.

On the whole, this 1952 Hammer sci-fi movie is a bit dull mainly because it becomes weighed down by too much talk and too much technical stuff. It really could have done with some more action and excitement injecting into it. Even the climax turns out to be a bit silly and pointless.

"Spaceways" is still worth watching though for two main reasons. Firstly, it was directed by Terence Fisher who went on to become Hammer's most successful and important director and he was responsible for helming some of their greatest horror films, including "The Curse Of Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Mummy", "The Brides Of Dracula" and "The Devil Rides Out", to name just a few. Secondly, Eva Bartok possesses a striking beauty and screen presence that I would liken to that of Barbara Steele and she is always interesting to watch when she appears on screen.

This DVD presents this black and white film in its original ratio of 1.37:1 (which is virtually full screen) and the film itself looks pretty good for an old, low-budget sci-fi movie. The only extras are scene selection (15 chapters) and a trailer. If you are a Hammer/Terence Fisher fan, or you love old sci-fi movies, then you may wish to seek out this film.


Coming Home
Coming Home
by Penny Jordan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, 11 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Coming Home (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading "Coming Home" and found it interesting because it related to people who had unhappy pasts but then found love and happiness and contentment again with their families.


Poisoned Petals
Poisoned Petals
by Andy Crabb
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Cuentos de España, 10 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Poisoned Petals (Paperback)
"Poisoned Petals" is an interesting anthology of Spanish-themed short stories. As it states on the back cover, there's something for everyone in this collection. Some stories are amusing and some are tinged with sadness and even tragedy. Others are emotional and/or thought-provoking and a variety of subjects and situations are covered in this book.

Sometimes I enjoy short stories better than novels and I found this book to be an enthralling read. The stories are well-written and I am sure they will appeal to residents and non-residents of Spain.


Hammer Film Music Collection Vol.2
Hammer Film Music Collection Vol.2
Offered by Captain Blood2
Price: £29.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Fabulous Hammer Film Music, 9 Jun. 2010
Rather like Volume 1, this is another superb CD featuring original themes and music from 25 Hammer Films.

My favourite tracks on this CD are John Cacavas's intriguing main theme from "The Satanic Rites Of Dracula", Gary Hughes's sprightly theme from "The Pirates Of Blood River", Michael Vickers' groovy theme tune from "Dracula A.D. 1972" and Mario Nascimbene's loud and percussive finale and end credits music from "One Million Years B.C."

The CD includes an informative collectors' booklet which contains some wonderful photos from Hammer movies. The front cover features a photo of Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein and a photo of Christopher Lee as Count Dracula - two Hammer legends of course.

The music on this CD provides more essential listening for Hammer fans and for lovers of fine film music in general.


Hammer Film Music Collection Vol.1
Hammer Film Music Collection Vol.1

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential listening for Hammer fans, 9 Jun. 2010
This is a marvellous collection of film music featuring the main themes from 25 Hammer movies.

All of the music on this CD is quite brilliant in its own right and covers a variety of musical moods and timbres ranging from the wonderfully-cheesey 1960s' pop of "Moon Zero Two" to James Bernard's dramatic and menacing themes from films such as "Dracula", "The Curse Of Frankenstein" and "The Devil Rides Out".

My favourite tracks are Harry Robinson's rousing, western movie-style theme from "Twins Of Evil", Laurie Johnson's gallant, galloping theme from "Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter", Christopher Gunning's lovely theme from "Hands Of The Ripper", David Whitaker's bright, waltzing theme from "Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde" and James Bernard's sad but beautiful theme from "Taste The Blood Of Dracula".

There is an information booklet, beautifully illustrated with still photographs from Hammer films, and two horror film icons adorn the front cover - Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla Karnstein and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

This CD is a must-have item for Hammer enthusiasts and for fans of great film music.


Otis Lee Crenshaw and the Black Liars: London Not Tennessee [DVD] [2001]
Otis Lee Crenshaw and the Black Liars: London Not Tennessee [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Rich Hall
Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.71

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music & Laughter, 8 Jun. 2010
On this fabulous DVD, recorded live at London's Comedy Store, comedian Rich Hall is at his finest and funniest as his alter-ego - the country singer/songwriter, Otis Lee Crenshaw.

With his band, The Black Liars, Otis perform some great songs that have memorable tunes and very humorous lyrics. Otis also throws in some superb one-liners and makes some amusing observations about country music and life in general.

My favourite songs on here are "Drunk", "Trailerland" (featuring the lovely Catherine Porter) and "He Almost Looks Like You" but, to be honest, all the songs are wonderful and will induce huge bouts of laughter. I loved his hilarious dissection of the lyrics to the Elvis song "Jailhouse Rock".

This show really is a laugh-a-minute from start to finish and Otis even raises a few laughs at the expense of some members of the audience. Also included is a CD that contains the songs "Uncle Muncie", "Trailerland" and "Women Call It Stalking".

I think that lots of people will enjoy this DVD and appreciate the songs and the humour regardless of whether they normally like country music or not.


Hammer Presents Dracula
Hammer Presents Dracula

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fangtastic Collector's Item, 7 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Hammer Presents Dracula (Audio CD)
This 1994 CD re-issue of a rare 1974 LP is an essential item for Hammer fans or anyone who is interested in vampires. It features a vampire story superbly read by the brilliant Christopher Lee, complete with eerie music and sound effects. In addition to this the CD also includes some music from four Hammer films - "Fear In The Night", "She", "The Vampire Lovers" and "Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde".

There's a neat little gatefold cover featuring Christopher Lee and Caroline Munro on the front, in a still photo from the film "Dracula A.D. 1972", and inside there are notes about Vlad The Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory, Dracula movies and this recording with a picture of Vlad and a still photo from "The Satanic Rites Of Dracula".

I'm not sure how much the original vinyl LP is worth now but, judging by the prices on here, it looks like this CD version is also something of a collector's item now.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2013 10:43 PM GMT


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