Horror Classics, Vol. 2 [2 Discs] [DVD]
- SKU: 14307458
- Release Date: 04/05/2005
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- Digitally mastered
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- Digitally enhanced audio 5.1
Lt. Dick Chasen (Casey Adams) narrates the strange story of Charles "Butcher" Benton (Lon Chaney, Jr.), a condemned man who came back for revenge. In prison, Butcher refuses to reveal to his crooked lawyer Lowe (Ross Elliott) where he hid $600,000 from a bank robbery. Even though he's due to be executed, Butcher vows revenge on Lowe and his partners, Squeamy (Marvin Ellis) and Joe (Ken Terrell). Lowe visits stripper Eva (Marion Carr), to whom Butcher has sent a map of the spot in the Los Angeles sewer system where he hid the loot, but Lowe opens the letter first, and secretly takes the map. After the execution, Butcher's body is taken to San Francisco scientist Prof. Bradshaw (Robert Shayne) who's trying for a cure for cancer, but instead his experiments bring Butcher back to life. His cellular structure has been increased to the point where he's nearly indestructible, and he is incredibly strong. He kills the scientist and his assistant, and heads for Los Angeles. When stripper Eva turns out to be very different from the person he was expecting, Dick becomes attracted to her. Butcher, who can no longer speak, arrives and learns she doesn't have the map. Aware of Butcher's vow, he tries to inform Squeamy, but Butcher kills both Squeamy and Joe. The panic-stricken Lowe punches a cop and gets tossed in jail as a way of hiding from Butcher; when the cops threaten to release him, he talks and reveals the map. Butcher overhears Dick and the others planning to take care of him with flamethrowers, but just as he finds the loot, he's hit with a bazooka and blasted with the flamethrowers. Hideously burned, he leaves the sewers and climbs to the top of a big crane, which runs into high tension wires, and Butcher is disintegrated. And in the end, Dick and Eva get together. ~ Bill Warren, Rovi
The Wasp Woman
This goofy but entertaining horror cheapie from producer-director Roger Corman and company involves the efforts of a questionable scientist working for cosmetics magnate Susan Cabot, who is developing a new rejuvenating beauty cream derived from an enzyme secreted by wasps, intended to make women look eternally youthful. A vain woman obsessed with restoring her lost beauty, Cabot insists on being the first test subject. The solution proves remarkably effective at first, transforming her into a sultry raven-haired vixen...until she begins to take on the predatory traits of a giant female wasp, setting out on a nocturnal killing spree. Originally double-billed with The Beast from Haunted Cave, this cheesy monster mash inspired the less-amusing Leech Woman and was later remade for 1980s audiences (i.e., with a higher sex-and-gore quotient) as Evil Spawn. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
A Bucket of Blood
A fine example -- perhaps the best available -- of "B"-movie overlord Roger Corman's "Weekend Wonders" from the producer/director's early career (see also the original Little Shop of Horrors), this horror-comedy was also the first of beloved actor Dick Miller's dozen-odd portrayals of the character Walter Paisley. A geeky waiter and busboy at a happening Beatnik café, Walter is intensely jealous of the swinging social lives of the artistic types who hang there. A bizarre twist of fate changes everything; when Paisley accidentally kills his landlady's cat, his frantic attempts to hide the body lead him to encase it in a layer of clay, creating a morbid sculpture -- which is eventually discovered and hailed as an artistic triumph by the unwitting Bohemian art crowd. (When asked what he's named the piece, the befuddled Walter stammers, "Uhh... Dead Cat?") Beset by numerous requests for similar "truthful" works, the moronic Paisley is forced to find inspiration -- a matter which is readily solved when a nosy undercover cop tries to slap a heroin-possession charge on him and finds himself on the business end of a cast-iron skillet. Before long, the creative urge prods Walter to narrow the competition by whacking his peers with various blunt or sharp implements, and the demand for more sculptures just keeps growing. Miller's tour-de-force performance, writer Charles B. Griffith's hilarious "Daddy-O" dialogue, and Corman's emphasis on the story's more lurid aspects raise this bargain-basement production (ultra-cheap even by Corman's standards) to classic status. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
A young Francis Coppola was given the job of directing this moody low-budget chiller after begging producer Roger Corman for the opportunity to reuse the sets for another film which Corman was shooting in Ireland. The story centers on the dysfunctional Haloran family, who live in a state of perpetual sorrow in a spooky Irish castle. Still mourning the death of her young daughter Kathleen -- who drowned in the lake seven years ago -- Lady Haloran (Ethne Dunn) tortures herself regularly by visiting the girl's grave (when she's not shrieking and collapsing in anguish every five minutes). When daughter-in-law Louise Haloran (Luana Anders) loses her husband to a heart attack, she manages to conceal the body for fear of being cut out of Lady Haloran's will. To further complicate matters, a mysterious interloper begins prowling the grounds with an axe to grind... a very big axe. This enjoyable, quirky psycho-thriller is enlivened by Coppola's inventive camera setups, atmospheric locations and Patrick Magee's over-the-top performance as the leering family doctor. Despite some ragged editing (probably not Coppola's doing), this has relatively high production values for a spare-change Corman project. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
I Bury the Living
Unjustly ignored by many books on the horror film, I Bury the Living is a bone-chilling little mood piece, almost completed dominated by Richard Boone. Expertly avoiding the obvious throughout the film, Boone gives a thoroughly credible performance of a troubled man who labors under the misapprehension that he is God. Boone plays the new chairman of a large cemetery; in his office is a map of the grounds, with black pins representing the occupied plots, and white pins representing plots that have been purchased but not yet filled. When Boone inadvertently mixes up the black and white pins, several of the plot owners suffer untimely deaths. Inevitably, Boone becomes convinced that he has the power of life and death--a conviction that doesn't completely dissipate once the secret behind the sudden deaths is revealed. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
George Baxt scripted this extraordinarily good chiller from a story by Milton Subotsky, who also co-produced. A college student (Venetia Stevenson) with an interest in witchcraft goes to the Massachusetts town of Whitewood. It's a foggy, spooky town which gets even scarier when Stevenson discovers that the owner of the Raven's Inn, Mrs. Newlis (Patricia Jessel) is in fact a 268-year old witch. Jessel sold her soul to the Devil to regain her life after being burned at the stake. The whole town is her coven, including Stevenson's kindly history professor (Christopher Lee). Stevenson's boyfriend and brother arrive to look for her and discover human sacrifices and all sorts of evil goings-on. One of the few horror films of the period which still has the power to frighten, Horror Hotel is required viewing for genre fans. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi
This painfully-bad Monogram feature wastes the talents of two of horrordom's finest -- star Boris Karloff and co-writer Curt Siodmak (who would write the horror classic The Wolf Man for Universal the same year). The goofy plot involves the efforts of one Dr. Adrian (Karloff) to procure human spinal fluid for his polio-vaccine research by donning the pelt of a slain circus ape and slaughtering innocent people. The fact that he's snapping spines in the interest of medicine doesn't really help to clear the moral waters (he never does find a cure, anyway). Filmed during a particularly grueling year for Karloff, this marks the end of his lengthy stir with Monogram (after a tedious string of Mr. Wong potboilers). Without Karloff to kick around, the studio concentrated their humiliating efforts on Bela Lugosi, who appeared in a virtual remake, The Ape Man, three years later. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
The Devil's Hand
A mystery woman leads an ordinary man down an evil path in this intriguing horror story. Rick Turner (Robert Alda) is a man haunted by a recurring dream in which a beautiful woman in a flowing white gown dances for him. The dream is robbing Rick of his sleep and driving a wedge between him and his fiancée Donna (Ariadna Welter), so he's startled when one day he passes a shop window and sees a doll that looks just like the woman in his dreams. The owner of the shop, Frank Lamont (Neil Hamilton), informs Rick that the doll was custom-made for a client, and Rick arranges to deliver it to her himself. Rick arrives at the luxurious apartment of Bianca (Linda Christian) to discover she is the very image of the woman in his dream, and she appears to know him already. Rick learns that both Bianca and Frank are members of a mysterious satanic cult that uses the dolls as part of their ceremonies; Rick becomes a regular visitor to their meetings and becomes deeply involved with Bianca after Donna is suddenly bedridden. But does Bianca have a plan for Rick that he doesn't yet suspect? The Devil's Hand was also released under the title Live To Love. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi