Wednesday, March 2, 2016

THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III (1961-1970)

    THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III (1961-1970) 
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated, R
Audio: English DTS-HD with optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen, Standard Definition Full Screen 
Director: William Witney, Roger Corman,  Reginald Le Borg, Ken Johnson, George Hessler
Cast: Henry Hull, David Frankham, Vincent Price, Mary Webster, Charles Bronson, Elaine Devry, Chris Warfield, Ian Wolfe, Nancy Kovack,  Elizabeth Bergner, Hugh Griffith, Essy Persson, Patrick Mower

Scream Factory have come through with a third volume of The Vincent Price Collection, once again spotlighting the iconic talents of horror chameleon Vincent Price. Now that we're three volumes into his repertoire I am seeing all of the films on this set for the very first time, which is awesome. As with the three previous volumes Scream Factory have gone above and beyond to present each of the movies with a brand new high-definition transfers, offering up some great bonus content, including audio commentaries on four of the five movies, numerous interviews with cast and crew, and two versions of Cry of the Banshee, the American International Pictures cut and the longer director's cut. 

MASTER OF THE WORLD (1961)

Duration:  102 Minutes 

Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: William Witney 
Cast: Henry Hull, David Frankham, Vincent Price, Mary Webster, Charles Bronson, Joan Freeman, Michael Pate, Robert Brown

This Jules Verne adaptation penned by science-fiction legend Richard Matheson stars Vincent Price as sky captain Robur who pilots an enormous flying machine, Robur  is on one-man crusade to disarm the world before it destroys itself. The story bares more than a passing resemblance to Vernes own classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, as does protagonist Robur to Captain Nemo, who takes aboard his flying ship a group of   adventurers who were exploring a volcanic crater in their own low-tech flying machine. Among them we have pro-war arms manufacturer Prudent (Henry Hull), his lovely daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster), her fiance Evans (David Frankham), and government agent Strock, notably played by Charles Bronson (10 After Midnight). This was a fun 19th century adventure movie, along the lines of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or War Gods of the Deep, which also stars Price in a similar role


Price is in fine form as the slightly mad genius bent on disarming the world, some of his abductees don't necessarily disagree with his beliefs, but they are opposed to his destructive methods. This is fun stuff if you are into vintage science-fiction adventure movies, or enjoy a good Jules Verne story. The American International Pictures production seems a bit cash-poor at times but they do seem to have put all the money into the optical effects of the movie, which are certainly dated but wonderful and charming just the same. I love these vintage steam-punk fueled sci-fi romps, and this one delivers the goods if that is something you enjoy. 

Scream Factory offer up a brand new HD Master from the Interpositive film element, though there are numerous instances of print damage throughout by way of small scratches, none of which detracted from my viewing, just don't expect a pristine HD image. The colors are vibrant, with reds and blues looking particularly great. Audio options are represented by both English DTS-HD MA Mono and Stereo tracks, the dialogue and Les Baxter score sound crisp and clean, optional subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras for Master of the world we have a new commentary with Actor David Frankham moderated by Jonathan David Dixon, plus an extended cut of the Richard Matheson: Storyteller interview. There's also a theatrical trailer for the film and two image galleries. 


Special Features: 
- NEW High-Definition Master From The Interpositive Film Element
- NEW Stereo Soundtrack Created From The Original 4-Track Mag
- NEW Audio Commentary With Actor David Frankham moderated by Jonathan David Dixon
- NEW Richard Matheson: Storyteller – Extended Cut (72 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins)
- Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (2 Mins) HD
- Photo Gallery Of Images From David Frankham’s Personal Collection (2 Mins) HD 


TOWER OF LONDON (1962) 


Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: B/W 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Roger Corman
Cast: Vincent Price,Joan Freeman, Michael Pate, Robert Brown

Roger Corman's Tower of London is a real fine slice of diabolical cinema, a remake of the 1939 movie shot in black and white with Price starring as the hunched-back Richard III, the Duke of Gloucester. Richard is conniving and desperately hungry for the power of the Monarch, so much so that he is willing to kill his own brother to have the crown. A demented tale of Victorian corruption and madness, this one goes dark rather fast. Fans of Price's wicked turn in Witchfinder General should revel in his diabolical portrayal, a man who not murders his brother moments after their father's death, but places the blame on the family of the widowed queen, murders her young children, and torture a hand maiden on the brutal and bone-breaking rack, price is such a villainous character here.

This Roger Corman/Vincent Price team-up is one of the few not to draw from the works of
Edgar Allen Poe, but it is no less haunting or awesome, rarely has something so Shakespearean kept me rapt. Price is at his best as the maddened Richard III, haunted by the spectres of his victims, losing his grip on reality before succumbing to his own foretold fate on the battlefield. This one is stuffed with fine performances, including Joan Camden as Richards’ equally duplicitous and ill-fated wife, and Richard Hale as Tyrus the physician, a voice of reason ignored by Richard III.

Price is at his most deliciously villainous in Tower of London, with maniacal monologues and a host of diabolical deeds, a scene of man in an iron mask and a rat comes immediately to mind, vicious stuff. The movie looks great, a true Gothic horror accented by rich black and white cinematography, which looks sweet in 1080p high-definition. The English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 sounds crisp and clean, dialogue and Michael Andersen's score come through nicely.

Special features for Tower of London include an interview with director Roger Corman, in addition to a second interview  with producer Gene Corman. Scream Factory also offer up two episodes of the TV show Science Fiction Theatre, both of which star Vincent Price, which I have not watched yet. We also get an image gallery with Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery.

Special Features: 
- NEW High-Definition Master From A Fine Grain Film Print
- NEW Interview With Director Roger Corman (7 Mins) HD
- Producing Tower Of London – An Interview With Producer Gene Corman (14 Mins)
- Two Episodes Of Science Fiction Theatre (1956): "One Thousand Eyes" (26 Mins) And "Operation Flypaper" (26 Mins) Both Starring Vincent Price (In Standard Definition)
- Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (5 Mins) HD 


DIARY OF A MADMAN (1963) 


Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Reginald Le Borg 
Cast: Elaine Devry, Chris Warfield, Ian Wolfe, Nancy Kovack, Vincent Price

In Diary of a Madman Vincent Price stars Simon Cordier (Vincent Price), a French magistrate and amateur sculptor of clay, at the top of the story he is already dead, what plays out is a story as read from his diary after his death. Cordier becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit known as the Horla, which forces the magistrate to commit awful murders, including that of his new love, Odette Mallotte DuClasse (Nancy Kovak). The murders have a certain ripper type feel about them, Price is great in the role, perfectly menacing as the possessed killer, his performance is all in his glowing eyes. 

This amounts to a dual role for Price, who as the magistrate is a sympathetic character, a lonely man who was widowed years earlier under tragic circumstances, who has now found love in his life yet again, but the Horla will not allow this happiness to last long. The murders are not gruesome, but there are some gruesome touches throughout, including one that sort of felt like nod to Price's House of Wax, wherein the decapitated head of his lover is glimpsed through the clay sculpture of her face, this is good stuff. 

The performances are quite good, especially from Price, who plays tormented very well. His co-star Nancy Kovak also does well as Odette, the woman he loves, but who doesn't come off all that sympathetic in my eyes, sort of a money-hungry bitch, and there's maybe a tad too much melodrama for the movies own good, but I did enjoy it. I like the structure of the movie and how it plays out, and Price is always a gem, even when in something a bit on the rough side. 

Scream Factory present Diary of a Madman  with a new High-Definition Master From The Interpositive Film Element and looking quite nice all the way around in HD, a pleasing amount of fine detail, with nicely saturated colors. Dialogie and the Richard LaSalle score are well represented by the English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles.

Extras on the disc include a new commentary with Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman, which is a wealth of information, but I find his commentaries a little on the dry side. The disc is rounded off with a theatrical trailer for the movie and an image gallery. 

Special Features: 
- NEW High-Definition Master From The Interpositive Film Element
- NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman
- Theatrical Trailer (3 Mins) 

- Poster And Lobby Card Gallery (2 Mins) HD

AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLAN POE (1970) 

Duration: 53 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: Standard Definition Full Screen (1.33:1)
Director: Ken Johnson 
Cast: Vincent Price 

An evening with Edgar Allen Poe is a one-man tribute to Poe starring - - who else -- Vincent Price, who runs through Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Pit and the Pendulum.  A true testament to Price's acting prowess, a captivating and intimate feature with Price acting the Hell out of these Poe stories. Whether you're a fan of Edgar Allen Poe or Vincent Price this is a win-win for both camps, like chocolate and peanut butter, two awesome things that are simply great together. The stories are one-man shows as mentioned, but the production and keen but simple editing, along with such a fervent telling by Price, keep things from becoming redundant. 


Scream Factory present this one straight from the 2" master tapes, as it was a standard definition source it is presented as such, and appears very much like watching a vintage VHS tape. Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles.


Extras include another commentary from Steve Haberman, plus an interview With Writer/Producer/Director Kenneth Johnson who goes into the origins of the production and how it was assembled, plus there is a gallery of behind-the-scenes images. 

Special Features:
- NEW Master Created From The Original 2" Tape Masters
- NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman
- NEW Interview With Writer/Producer/Director Kenneth Johnson (22 Mins) HD
- Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (2 Mins)


CRY OF THE BANSHEE (1970) 

Duration: 87 Minutes (AIP Cut)/91 Minutes (Director's Cut)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: George Hessler 
Cast: Elizabeth Bergner, Hugh Griffith, Vincent Price, Essy Persson, Patrick Mower

Vincent Price once again plays a magistrate on this set, this time he is Lord Edward Whitman (Vincent Price) who is not too far removed from Price's portrayal of Richard III in Tower of London, in fact he is just as wicked as Matthew Hopkins from Witchfinder General. Lord Whitman sentences a young woman to be branded and whipped for the crime of witchcraft, during dinner at his palace he forces the young children of the witch to entertain his gathering of cronies, but things turn awry when he kills both the young children when they prove rebellious. 


Further wishing to stamp out witchcraft in his jurisdiction he and a cadre of his henchmen
ride into the countryside and find exactly what they're looking for, a coven of witches lead by the hag Oona (Elizabeth Bergner). They slay many of the coven, angering Oona, who calls upon  a demonic beast which she unleashes against the Whitman clan. 

I found Cry of the Banshee to be a good watch, but not great, though I felt it should have been great. Price turns in a memorable wicked performance, and there's a lot of wickedness around him, for instance his son Sean (Stephan Chase) lusts after his father's young wife Lady Patricia (Essy Persson), it seems the true evil in the land may not be with the witches, but with the corrupt and immoral aristocrats, which is nothing new under the sun. 



The end has a nice amount of comeuppance to it, when it seems that Whitman's may have won against the forces of evil there's a good twist with a stinging finale as Whitman visits a cemetery to verify the death of the demon summoned to kill his clan, you might find yourself a bit bored at times by this one, truly i has some pacing problems, but just hang in there for the finale, which saves this one on the last leg. 

The new HD transfer of the director's cut comes from the Interpositive film element and looks pleasing all the way around, nice warm colors, an abundant of fine detail and texture, and superior to the theatrical AIP version, which is also included. The AIP cut was sourced from the only surviving element of the film, a color reversal intermediate. and there are a few more scratches and speckling evident on that version of the movie. Audio is handled by an English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 track with Optional English Subtitles, nice and clean, dialogue and the Les Baxter score sound crisp and clean. 


Bonus content for Cry of the banshee includes the four-minute longer director's cut of the film with a new commentary from Author Steve Haberman. There's a damn good interview with Director Gordon Hessler who speaks about working for Hitchcock in his early days, the movie  Like the first two volume of the Vincent Price Collection the set comes housed inside a slipcover, plus a 12-page booklet with rare photos, but unlike the previous volumes does not contain an accompanying essay from author David Del Valle, just photos and artwork. 

Special Features:
- NEW High-Definition Master Of The Director’s Cut From The Interpositive Film Element
- NEW High-Definition Master Of The American International Pictures Cut From The Only Surviving Element, A Color Reversal Intermediate
- NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman (Director's Cut)
- A Devilish Tale Of Poe – An Interview With Director Gordon Hessler (18 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Min)
- TV Spot (1 Mins)
- Radio Spot (1 Mins)
- Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (4 Mins) HD 
- 12-Page Book With Rare Photos and Artwork 

Volume three of the series might not have Vincent Price heavy-hitters like The Abominable Dr. Phibes or The Last Man on Earth of previous volumes but what it does have are four more movie Vincent Price movies in sweet 1080p HD with a wonderful assortment of bonus content, and that alone is worth laying down the hard earned scratch for. Volume II has gone out of print and is fetching ridiculous prices on eBay, don't pass this one up only to regret it later, highly recommended. Hoping we see a fourth installment, would love to see Theater of Blood, The Fly, The Tingler, Tales of Terror, The Comedy of Terrors and Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs come to Blu-ray from Scream Factory. 4/5


No comments:

Post a Comment