Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Metal Holidays with Christopher Lee!

What better way to wish you a Happy Holiday and New Year than to the new shreddin' sonic assault from Christopher Lee!  Available now at itunes!  As you may know, Sir Christopher is currently on the big screen in THE HOBBIT!  No signs of slowing down at age 90!  And no, this isn't his first heavy metal album.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Johnny Sokko & His Flying Robot are coming to DVD for the first time!

The wacky 70's Japanese sci-fi series about a boy and his giant robot is finally its makes its DVD debut after years of eBay bootlegs and a handful of legit VHS releases from Orion back in the day.  Will there be a legit VOYAGE INTO SPACE release (the feature length compilation) soon?  I do have the old Ken Films' Super 8mm Color Sound 8 minute edition and a bootleg dvd-r.

For more details go to:  You can pre-order at:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970): To Love And Suck In HD!

Coming to blu-ray in 2013 from Shout Factory!  This is the first overtly erotic Hammer horror that started what is known as the Karnstein trilogy (followed by LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL).  I consider TWINS the best of the three.  Based on the story by J. Sheridan LeFanu, CARMILLA, this 1970 film was a co-production between Hammer and American International and was slightly censored for its U.S. theatrical release (since restored by MGM on DVD).  It is strange that Shout Factory has decided to go with the very schlocky A.I.P. style drive-in art.  It could have easily been marketed to the dark romance TWILIGHT crowd.  More Hammer and Peter Cushing on blu-ray is always a good thing.

LeFanu's tale also inspired such non-Hammer efforts as BLOOD & ROSES (1960), Dreyer's VAMPYR (1932) and DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1972).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Welles Rarity On DVD For First Time In U.S.!

Henstooth Video releases the sadly neglected BLACK MAGIC starring Orson Welles (see the recent Sept. 2012 VC review)!  This stylized film would look stunning on blu-ray!  I'm not sure if this title is PD or not (anybody know?) but hopefully the source print will be as good as the European DVD.  Despite the so-so reviews the film has been plagued with over the decades, this is a solid, visually rich film but then again, I'm pretty much obsessed with the real-life Cagliostro and his true historical exploits.  Contrary to popular belief, Welles' career did not rise and fall with CITIZEN KANE.  If you're a Welles fan, this film is a must-see.

You can purchase this sucker right here:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bruce & Jackie on BD!

According to the awesome Asian Cult Cinema folks, Shout Factory will be releasing the cream of the crop of the Golden Harvest/Media Asia Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan library.  Stay tuned for details and like ACC on facebook!

Monday, November 19, 2012

J.C. Is Ready To Kick Ass 12/12/12

HPL For Your Coffee Table!

Renowned Lovecraftian scholar S.T. Joshi has expertly authored H.P. LOVECRAFT: NIGHTMARE COUNTRIES (Metro Books) a lavish large format hardback HPL biography.  Despite the awkward title, the book is beautifully designed and lavishly illustrated and Joshi presents a clear and well-researched look into the unusual life and strange world of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.  You won't be able to put this one down!  The books should be stacked in the  bargain bins at your local Barnes & Noble for the paltry sum of $19.99!  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hi Double Def Jackie!

From Shout Factory comes two new Chan titles to blu-ray!

Hi Def Hammer DRACULA Announced!

Finally, there is a U.K. blu-ray release date set for the restored Hammer DRACULA (1958/U.S. title: HORROR OF DRACULA).  Hopefully a North American distributor will be announced soon for the new batch of Hammer horror blu-rays.  Stay tuned...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Arnold Goes Back to the Barbarian!

Crazy but seemingly true.  Though I'm not a huge fan of Arnold's Conan (especially his second stab at the role!) at least it gives Robert E. Howard's character another shot at a bigger budget adventure after the recent weak Lionsgate 3D effort.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Big Screen Classic Horror!

Last night, I caught TCM's one-shot digital theatrical double-feature presentation of the restored FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  It was a powerful experience and both films have never looked so good!  The detail and sharpness, especially in Jack Pearce's make up, was astounding.  Beforehand there was a previously taped interview with Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff and make up wizard Rick Baker conducted by TCM's Robert Osborne.  Now it's onto the Universal horror blu-ray collection which I've held off on until this screening.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Peter Cushing Books!

The always Hammer obsessed folks at Titan Books have some cool Cushing offerings in the works for early 2013!  David Miller's out-of-print PETER CUSHING COMPANION gets a face-lift as PETER CUSHING: A LIFE IN FILMS and Cushing's own dual autobiographies will be combined to become THE PETER CUSHING MEMOIRS!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gordon Liu Update!

Shaw Bros. kung fu superstar Gordon Liu (36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN) is making slow but steady recovery from a stroke he suffered last year.  Read more...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dark Shadows Movies Creep to Blu-Ray!

October 30th!
I saw both films upon their initial theatrical releases.  I remember the cinema during HOUSE was packed with a screaming audience.  They completely lost it when the shriveled up old-age Barnabas appeared!  It was my first time really being aware of make up maestro Dick Smith's work before he really hit it big time with THE GODFATHER (1972).  In contrast, I was in a mostly empty theater for NIGHT and felt it was a total let down.  I'm anxious to re-examine it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Exorcist Soundtrack on CD!

A classic, unnerving score from various composers is budget priced and limited!
I grew up on the original vinyl soundtrack LP upon the film's initial release (it was my second R-rated film after seeing THE GODFATHER the previous year).  While Tubular Bells was a top 40 radio hit, this album introduced me to works of Penderecki!

R.I.P. Sylvia "Emmanuelle" Kristel (1952-2012)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hammer Defends CURSE Blu-Ray!

There's a heated discussion going on all over the Hammer and BD blogosphere concerning the new CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN DVD and blu-ray release in the U.K.  Here's how Hammer defends their creative/technical decisions and explains the entire process.  Very interesting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Arrived Just In Time For Halloween!

This is the limited edition U.K. all-region blu-ray collection of 8 iconic Universal monster movies featuring all their classic characters- Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, The Phantom, and The Creature.  The set actually contains 9 movies if you count the Spanish language DRACULA included as a bonus!  I'll be re-experiencing, commenting and reviewing these discs in the weeks and months ahead.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rare Godzilla Finally Stomps to DVD & BD!

GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989), one of the most elusive Big G releases in North America (along with GODZILLA 1985 aka RETURN OF GODZILLA and the recently released GODZILLA VS. MEGALON), will finally see a bare bones release from Echo Bridge who issue a lot of Miramax library titles at budget prices.  The street date is December 4th and it should sell for under ten bucks!  I still have the old laser disc and privately screened a 35mm print before its U.S. acquisition and initial VHS release.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vintage 007 On The Big Screen!

This past weekend I caught a double bill of DR. NO and GOLDFINGER at the historic Landmark Loews Jersey City movie palace.  Both films are classic Connery Bond adventures with DR. NO being the first, setting the stage for the series to follow.  GOLDFINGER definitively crystallized the franchise with the format and style that pretty much all the subsequent films adopted to varying degrees.
I know most nostalgia and hardcore cinephiles don't want to hear this bit of sacrilege but-  good riddance to 35mm projection!  With blu-ray at home and 4K digital theatrical projection, it can be a chore to sit through the unspooling of older 35mm prints.  What's worse is that the viewer is a virtual slave to the projectionist's skills or lack thereof.  Both 007 features were constantly plagued with focus adjustments and framing errors where heads were routinely cut off!  Also, reel changes and the variances of projection bulb luminosity have now become an assault on the senses and definitely distract from the total viewing experience.  How this was tolerated and accepted as 'normal' in the good ol' days I'll never know! Those scratchy head and tails are pretty hideous too.  Anyway, 35mm projection can still be pleasant and hipster-nostalgic if the projectionist is good and the 35mm print is pristine or so rare that you just don't care.  Having the Bond blu-rays at home it was the communal big screen experience that counted.  What also enhanced the weekend's presentation was the cool lobby display of 007 memorabilia and the excellent and highly knowledgeable onstage introductions by CinemaRetro magazine editor Lee Pfieffer.   Be on the lookout for their upcoming Bond special issue! 
For Halloween, the Loews is going all out with a Friday and Saturday horror marathon:  William Castle's HOMOCIDAL, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, DRACULA, HORROR OF DRACULA and THE SENTINEL!  Sadly, all of these screenings compete with the local Chiller Theatre Expo!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bruce Lee Statue in Hong Kong

I didn't know this even existed!  Sadly, there is no major monument or memorial for Bruce in San Francisco, his birthplace, or Seattle where he went to college and set up his first gung fu school.  There should also have been a U.S. Bruce Lee postage stamp by now!

New Warner Bros. Archive Releases!

Although I disapprove of the whole DVD-R releases, it's good to see Warner dig into their vaults.  Hopefully, this will someday be available for on-demand, streaming and download.  DVD-R's for $20-plus sucks!  Michael Reeve's classic THE SORCERERS and the Christopher Lee Fu Manchu titles have previously been released on DVD in the U.K.  Warner U.S.A. previously released BRIDES OF FU MANCHU and the two Jess Franco entries are available from Blue Underground.

Herbert Lom, 95, dies

The great Herbert Lom has died but he will always be remembered for his gallery of memorable characters!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dracula in HD! First Review!

The eager folks over at DVD Beaver have posted a review of Universal's soon-to-be released DRACULA  blu-ray with comparison frame-grabs from the previous SD incarnations.  Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi never looked so good!  This might be the first ever Dwight Frye blu-ray?

NEWS FLASH!  There are now reviews (with frame grabs!) posted for FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE INVISIBLE MAN and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (simply astounding!).  I'm sure the rest are soon to follow.

Monday, September 10, 2012


BLACK MAGIC (1949- U.S./Italy)

D: Gregory Ratoff.  Orson Welles is Count Cagliostro, the infamous magician and freemason in this lush, stylized historical tale of intrigue.  Welles is great and suitably over-the-top as the historical Cagliostro, supposedly the real life Giuseppe Basalmo (though nobody knows for sure) - a charlatan, con man, alchemist, mentalist and hypnotist.  Although highly fictionalized, the story moves at a swift pace and the black and white imagery is often times stellar enough to be mistaken for Wellsian cinema.  The usual rumors persist that Welles did, in fact, direct most of the film.

The film opens with novelist Alexandre Dumas sitting down with paper and pen about to spin the tale of Cagliostro in the presence of his inquisitive son, Alexandre Jr. (Raymond Burr).  Dumas penned the thousand-plus-page Cagliostro epic Joseph Basalmo (1846-8) and the character appeared in several of his novels.

Dumas picks up when Cagliostro’s gypsy mom is executed as a witch by an evil viscount (Stephen Bekassy).  Young Alessandro inherits his mom’s svengali-like gift and proceeds to profit off it and seek revenge. Years later, the suave Count Cagliostro gets sucked into the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace involving Marie Antoinette and a look-a-like (both played by Nancy Guild of ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN) by the very man he has been hunting, the slimy viscount who executed his mother!

Unlike the film’s heroic, swashbuckling ending, the real Cagliostro (1743-1795) was sentenced to death (later amended to life) for the charge of freemasonry and languished and died in a Vatican jail.
The film’s fictionalized plot fuses elements from Dumas' THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK and du Maurier's TRILBY as well as dishing up court room drama, doomed romance, revenge, royal intrigue and premature burial; all served up in grand style and visualized with stunning expressionistic photography, hundreds of extras and elaborate costumes and sets.
Shot in studios and locations around Rome with a mostly Italian tech crew, the film glosses over Cagliostro’s controversial link to Freemasonry and his creation of the Egyptian Rites (the subject of a recent book) but Welles does sport the cryptic square and compass symbol in one or two scenes.
 A stand-out supporting player is Welles’ favorite Akim Tamiroff as Cagliostro’s trollish henchman.  Of course, Tamiroff was wildly memorable in Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL, THE TRIAL (1962 and DON QUIXOTE (1958).  Tamiroff also worked with Welles collaborator Jess Franco in JUSTINE (aka DEADLY SANCTUARY/1969).
 Actor/Director Ratoff directed around 30 films including THE CORSICAN BROTHERS (1941).  Supposedly, veteran cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli (worked with Fellini, Leone & others!) was an uncredited camera operator.
 Boris Karloff was originally announced to play the Count in a never realized Universal Picture in the 30’s that supposedly morphed into 1932’s THE MUMMY. Other actors to play the role include Jean Marais, Howard Vernon, Henry Daniell, Nicol Williamson and Christopher Walken, to name a few!
A fascinating, truly multi-faceted man of mystery, Cagliostro has always been and remains the subject of non-fictional/fictional books, plays, music, movies, comic books, etc.  Cagliostro would have been a fitting character for inclusion in Welles’ mind-bending F IS FOR FAKE (1975), a twisted tribute to cons and con men, .  Welles was a serious magician in real life and as in 'F,' he gets to show off some of his sleight of hand skills here including the classic "Miser's Dream."

A difficult film to track down, BLACK MAGIC was originally available on Beta and VHS tape on the Nostalgia Merchant and Midnight Video labels.  It can sometimes be snagged during one of its rare airings on Turner Classic Movies.  Without question, BLACK MAGIC deserves a legit U.S.  DVD/BD release.  It is available on DVD as CAGLIOSTRO in Spain and Italy.

The real life Count Cagliostro!

(Reviewed from a nice bittorrent download, as evidenced from the frame grabs, from an unknown video source.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


With Al Adamson's monster mash being prepared for a remastered DVD and Blu-Ray release, it's time to look back... maybe not?
I remember Forry Ackerman hyping the hell out of this movie and it set my expectations sky high.  Upon first experiencing the film on TV, my jaw dropped...

The astounding Gray Morrow painting!