Wednesday, July 22, 2015

CLASSIC HORROR 4 MOVIE COLLECTION (1951-1961)

CLASSIC HORROR 4 MOVIE COLLECTION (1951-1961) 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 313 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen, Fullframe
Director: Arch Oboler, John Brahm, Leslie Kardos, Anthony Bushell
Cast: Vincent Price, Victor Jory, Christopher Lee, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Yvonne Monlaur

Mill Creek Entertainment have licensed four somewhat scarce movies from the Columbia Pictures catalog and released them as a 2-disc horror movie collection that's priced just right for the budget-minded collector's out there.

FIVE (1951) 
B/W - 93 Mins -  Not Rated - Fullscreen 


Starring: William Phipps, Susan Douglas, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, Earl Lee

We start off with the very strong Five (1951), a post-nuclear war tale of five survivors who come together after the bombs have fall, oddly the weapons of mass destruction don't seem to have caused much distraction at all from what we see, but this weird aspect at least allows our survivors to enjoy a somewhat romanticized version of the nuclear Holocaust, able to garden and eat the wildlife, there doesn't see to be much of any radiation, though we do get a few radiation sickness issues throughout, but the threat is very small. 

The five survivors converge on a small rural home located in the Mountains, our first survivor is a young pregnant woman who was in a lead lines x-ray room at the time of the blast, she makes her way from the city into the rural countryside to the rural home where she grew up, once she arrives she discovers a man already living there, his story is that he was in an elevator on the top of the Empire State Building . A short time later two men arrive, they were employees of a bank trapped inside the vault when the bombs dropped. The four create a somewhat idyllic life for themselves for a few week, until a day trip to the beach introduces a German who has washed-up on the beach. 

The group take him back to the mountaintop home and things seem fine, but we slowly come to realize that the new arrival is a racist and looks down upon a black member of the home. This causes disharmony among the group, some more forgiving than others, as loyalties are torn the group begins to disintegrate with disastrous consequences. 

This is a pretty great character study of a small disparate group of survivors after the bombs have dropped, though the larger world views in quite unrealistic, but as a character study this is good stuff and highly recommended. 


THE MAD MAGICIAN (1954) 
B/W - 72 Mins -  Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Starring: Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Donald Randolph, Lenita Lane

The second feature is The Mad Magician (1954) starring horror legend Vincent Price as magician Gallico the Great, a good man turned diabolical by the corruption of those around him and his desire for revenge. This quickly assembled follow-up to the huge success of House of Wax a year earlier absolutely feels like a quick cash grab but it pulls through on the hammy charm of Mr. Vincent Price. 

On the night that the magician is about to exhibit his newest creation, The Lady and the Buzz Saw, the show is called to a stop by the magicians employer who lays claim to all of his magic inventions. Adding insult to injury the employer has stolen the suffering magician's wife years earlier -- there's only so much a man can take! 

At the end of his rope Gallico murders his employer using the very same buzz saw contraption he would steal, afterward Gallico disguises himself as the murdered man through truly impressive make-up effects to carry on his career as a magician, but his former wife, played by Eva Gabor, threatens to throw a wrench into his plans. When the movie premiered in '54 it was shown in stereoscopic 3D, unfortunately we do not get to benefit from a three-dimensional presentation on this disc, but the black and white transfer is solid, sourced from a clean print with very nice contrast. 


THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE (1957) 
B/W - 71 Mins - Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Starring: Victor Jory, William Hudson, Charlotte Austin, Jean Willes, Ann Doran, Paul Cavanagh

The Man who Turned to Stone (1957) concerns young women at a reformatory school where there seems to be a high mortality rate, turns out that the keepers of the school are a group of doctors from the 1800's whom have survived the centuries by draining the life from young women through a chemical bath, if the doctors fail to revitalize themselves in a timely manner they will turn into stone and cease to exist. 

When a doctor and a social worker at the school begin to question the high mortality rate after a questionable staged suicide things begin to fall apart for the immortal doctors, compounded by a growing sense of guilt and regret from within their group.  Unfortunately this one is quite a snoozer and it put me to sleep more than once as I repeatedly endeavored to watch it, which is never a good sign. 


THE TERROR OF THE TONGS (1961) 
Color - 76 Mins -Not Rated - Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Starring: Christopher Lee, Yvonne Monlaur, Geoffrey Toone, Marne Maitland, Brian Worth, Ewen Solon

The final entry is the only color production on this two-disc set, Hammer Films production of The Terror of the Tongs (1961), an unfortunate entry which sees Hammer straying from the familiar Gothic horror to dip their toes into the Asian crime waters. It's not the first time we've seen Christopher Lee is slant-eyed prosthetics either, years later he would once again become a yellow-devil for the Eurocult pioneer Jess Franco in The Blood of Fu Manchu and The Castle of Fu Manchu. How this ended up under the category of "classic horror" is beyond me but at least the transfer is very good and there's some laugh-out loud ludicrousness to enjoy as the mostly European cast struggle or outright refuse to mask their accents. 

This is a cool collection of somewhat scarce movies from Columbia Pictures, the quality of each vary wildly but for me it is worth nine0bucjks just for the inclusion of Arch Oboler's Five (1951), having the The Mad Magician (1954) is just icing on the cake> While I didn't care for The Man Who Turned to Stone or the Fu Manch shenanigans of Hammer's The Terror of the Tongs (1961) I still give this one a minor recommend based on my enjoyment of the first half of this vintage foursome of terror and the very reasonable price point. 2.5/5

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