PCR past banners
Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #355  (Vol. 8, No. 2) This edition is for the week of January 8--14, 2007.

"Alpha Dog"  by Mike Smith
DVD Grindhouse: Horror Classics - 50 Movie Pack DVD Collection (Part 2)  by Andy Lalino
Happy Birthday....Hall Of Fame News....Passing On....Movie News....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 2: Barry Miller  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

DVD Grindhouse: Horror Classics - 50 Movie Pack DVD Collection (Part 2)

"Bringing closure" to last month's column on the entertaining Horror Classics DVD pack, here is the remainder of the capsule reviews:

"The Little Shop of Horrors" - Corman's classic. I've seen it before, and chose to move on to other films.
"Tormented" - A good, substantial ghost story by the great Bert I. Gordon, and starring his cute daughter Susan. Sci-fi fave Richard Carlson plays a famous jazz pianist who declined to save his girlfriend when she dangled helplessly atop a tall lighthouse. In a breathless instant, she falls to her death below on the rocks. Carlson, who has another love in mind to marry, is haunted by the spirit of his betrayed lover. Over the course of the story, he grows increasingly mad and dangerous, until the finale which brings us back to the looming lighthouse. Carlson is great as usual, and "Tormented" remains an intriguing, solid story of the supernatural. Well worth watching.
"The Monster Walks" - A strange, seldom-mentioned horror film from 1932. A woman returns to her home upon hearing about the death of her father. Besides humans, the manor is inhabited by a large chimpanzee who doesn't exactly have an affinity for our heroine. A common "inheritance plot" story with a surprise ending. Features a spooky butler, and of course, the ape. I love the title, but it doesn't exactly suit the subject matter.
"Monster from a Prehistoric Planet" - This is what AIP re-titled "Gappa the Triphibian Monster" when they sold it to TV syndication. It's a good "Rodan meets Gorgo" story: adventurers bring back to Japan a baby "Gappa" (a dinosaur-like winged creature) from a remote South Pacific island (which resembles Mothra's ), to the utter displeasure of his irate parents, who proceed to Japan to wreak havoc upon the cities and countryside until baby Gappa is returned. I liked it quite a bit; the lost baby angle has innate charm, and the picture is dark and somber. There's even a little Japanese kid in greasepaint made up as one of the islanders and a greedy villain. Kids will like the baby Gappa, who doesn't come off as too cute. The best scene is when the army tries to get the Gappa 'rents from out of a deep lake near Mount Fuji using sound waves.
"The Gorilla" - '30s and '40s audiences sure loved their primates. This one's actually pretty good, if you get past the fact the Ritz Brothers are in it. Typical-for-the-time murder mystery involving a gorilla, and complicated by three bumbling "detectives" (The Ritz Brothers). Bela Lugosi plays yet another butler, and steals the show. Great production design, decent cinematography, a loud-mouthed maid, and delicious secret passages make this a cut above other "old dark house" comedies. In their waning years, two of the Ritz Brothers showed up in Al Adamson's beautifully photographed "Blazing Stewardesses" (also with Yvonne DeCarlo and Regina Carrol), and were as rubbery-faced as ever.
"A Shriek in the Night" - Sorry, believing that Ginger Rogers starred in a "horror film" is of equal fantasy as Katherine Hepburn appearing in one. Didn't watch. I love the title, though.
"Bloodlust" - This one appeared on TV's precious "Off Beat Cinema". It's a take-off on the classic, overdone "Most Dangerous Game" plot, and stars a young Robert Reed - Mr. Brady! While on vacation, four youths find themselves trapped on a tropical island with a madman who prefers hunting humans to game. The hunter's minions are a small army of surly sailor-thugs. There are some interesting subterranean sequences where his human prizes are gruesomely prepared by the scurrilous seamen, and the mad hunter's cavernous hall of corpse trophies. Better than I thought, considering that throughout my life I've seen my share of MDG knockoffs, and highly entertaining.
"The Amazing Mr. X" - No, it's not related to the "Dr. X" series. This one's a bona-fide curiosity, and deals with phony(?) spirits/mediums, no doubt a hot topic in the post-Houdini era. I was genuinely shocked by the innovate, artsy cinematography that seemed way ahead of its time. If anything, the movie's damaged by it's ambiguous classification; it's not quite a horror film, and not entirely a crime/mystery thriller. Fanboys, however, will enjoy the seance scenes, Mr. X's eccentric abode (he lives with a free-flying raven), and the classy dames. At times Poe-esue (the setting, like "Tormented" and many other films of the time, is a house on a rocky sea) with nods to magic and spook shows, this one is not quite a classic, but recommended. Richard Carlson's in this one too, playing against type as a bland regular guy in love with our bewitched heroine.
"The Last Woman on Earth" - I'd seen this before, so I skipped it. Directed by Corman and starring screenwriter Robert Towne, who's good.
"The Bat" - Yet another creature feature I've seen previously, but I was in the mood to see this decent murder/mystery again. Writer Agnes Moorehead ("Bewitched") rents a house in a small town and is entangled in a crime spree by The Bat, a notorious murderer. He seeks a fortune in the old house, and keeps breaking in and causing havoc to try and find the booty. He's no match for Moorehead, however! Also stars Vincent Price as a corrupt doctor. One interesting thing about this movie is observing Moorehead's behavior during her performance. I've heard she was a lesbian, and it's fun to see if you can pick out signs of it with the other female cast members - especially her "maid" who she touches a lot and sleeps with (okay, in separate beds). Do you think she ever hit on Elizabeth Montgomery?
"The House on Haunted Hill" - Again, with Price and directed by William Castle. The only edition of Creature Feature with Dr. Paul Bearer I have features THOHH. Also features Elisha Cook, Jr., a familiar face in the world of syndicated horror films on TV.
"Dementia 13" - I have this on DVD. Stars '60s fave William Campbell.
"Phantom from 10,000 Leagues" - Yup, seen this one previously too - and it's fun, so I watched it again. A grotesque mutant fish-monster haunts the surf of a rocky California coastal community. The local marine biologist has something to hide. The plot's complicated by a sub-surface beam of atomic energy, and a Russian plot to steal secrets. There's also a cool landlubber death by spear gun.

That wraps up the big 50! For only about $20, I highly recommend this set. The transfers are very decent, and it's a great experiencing the old Monogram and PRC releases that you might ordinarily never see. Thanks to my co-worker who lent me this edition.

"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.