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Val Lewton Horror Collection [5 Discs] (Gift Set) (DVD) (Black & White) (Eng)

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    Special Features

    • A great new career documentary
    • Expert commentaries on 7 movies
    • Closed Captioned

    Synopsis

    Includes:
  • Cat People (1942)
  • I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
  • The Leopard Man (1943)
  • The Seventh Victim (1943), MPAA Rating: NR
  • The Ghost Ship (1943)
  • The Curse of the Cat People (1944), MPAA Rating: NR
  • Isle of the Dead (1945)
  • Bedlam (1945)
  • The Body Snatcher (1945), MPAA Rating: NR

    Cat People
    Handed the exploitive title Cat People, RKO producer Val Lewton opted for a thinking man's thriller--a psychological mood piece, more reliant on suspense and suggestion than overt "scare stuff". Simone Simon plays an enigmatic young fashion artist who is curiously affected by the panther cage at the central park zoo. She falls in love with handsome Kent Smith, but loses him to Jane Randolph. After a chance confrontation with a bizarre stranger at a restaurant, Simon becomes obsessed with the notion that she's a Cat Woman--a member of an ancient Serbian tribe that metamorphoses into panthers whenever aroused by jealousy. She begins stalking her rival Randolph, terrifying the latter in the film's most memorable scene, set in an indoor swimming pool at midnight. Psychiatrist Tom Conway scoffs at the Cat Woman legend--until he recoils in horror after kissing Simon. If the film's main set looks familiar, it is because it was built for Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (Lewton later used the same set for his The Seventh Victim). Cat People was remade by director Paul Schrader in 1982. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    I Walked with a Zombie
    RKO producer Val Lewton seemed to thrive upon taking the most lurid film titles and coming up with pocket-edition works of art. Saddled with the studio-dictated title I Walked With a Zombie, Lewton, together with scripters Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray, concocted a West Indies variation on Jane Eyre. Trained nurse (Frances Dee) travels to the tropics to care for Christine Gordon, the wife of seemingly abusive Tom Conway. At first, Dee merely believes her patient to be comatose. But as the drums throb and the natives behave restlessly, Dee tries to bring her patient back to life by jungle magic. Conway is racked with guilt, believing himself responsible for his wife's condition; his guilt is stoked by Conway's drunken brother James Ellison, who has always loved Gordon. Utilizing very limited sets and only a handful of extras, director Jacques Tourneur manages to evoke an impression of an expansive tropical island populated at every turn by voodoo worshippers. Many of the sequences, notably Frances Dee's first languid stroll into the midst of the native ceremonies, have an eerie dream-like quality that pervades even the most worn-out, badly processed TV prints of I Walked With Zombie. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Leopard Man
    Adapted from the Cornell Woolrich novel Black Alibi, The Leopard Man is a lesser but still fascinating psychological-horror effort from producer Val Lewton. Someone has been killing off the citizens of a small New Mexico town, and the most likely suspect is a huge leopard, purchased for a local nightclub act by press agent Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe), which has escaped from its cage. Neither Manning nor his star Clo-Clo (Margo) are totally convinced that the big cat is responsible.The haunting finale takes place during the annual "Day of the Dead" festivities. The opening sequence of Leopard Man, atmospherically detailing the last few moments of murder victim Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry), is so powerful that the rest of the film seems anticlimactic. Long available only in its 59-minute reissue form, the film was restored to its original 65-minute running time in the mid-1980s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Seventh Victim
    Producer Val Lewton once more utilized leftover Magnificent Ambersons sets for his psychological horror piece The Seventh Victim. Kim Hunter arrives in New York's Greenwich Village in search of her errant sister Jean Brooks. Gradually, the naive Hunter is drawn into a strange netherworld of Satan worshippers. The story is a bit too complex for its own good (especially with only a 71-minute running time to play with), but editor-turned-director Mark Robson and screenwriters Dewitt Bodeen and Charles O'Neal keep the thrills and shudders coming at a satisfying pace. Lewton regular Tom Conway offers his usual polished performance, while veteran character actresses Isabel Jewell and Evelyn Brent look appropriately gaunt and possessed in the "cult" sequences. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Ghost Ship
    RKO horror producer Val Lewton dished up seven reels of brooding psychological terror with The Ghost Ship. Richard Dix stars as the ship's captain, a tortured soul who teeters on the verge of madness. Seaman Russell Wade notices the captain's deterioration, but his warnings are dismissed by the crew. Captain Dix completely goes over the edge, sadistically playing a game of cat and mouse with the luckless Wade--and endangering the lives of everyone on board. While the viewer may notice that Ghost Ship closely resembles the Jack London tale The Sea Wolf, playwrights Samuel R. Golding and Norbert Faulkner felt that the film was too close for comfort to an unproduced play of their own. The writers sued RKO, forcing the studio to withdraw Ghost Ship from theatres and prohibiting future TV showings. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Curse of the Cat People
    Officially a sequel to Val Lewton's psychological-horror classic Cat People (1942), Curse of the Cat People is in fact an engrossing and oftimes charming fantasy, told from a child's point of view. Six-year-old Ann Carter plays Amy Reed, the lonely daughter of eternally preoccupied Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). Amy's vivid imagination and inability to get along with her schoolmates leads Oliver to worry that the girl will start exhibiting the psychopathic tendencies of his long-deceased first wife Irena (Simone Simon), the obsessive "Cat Woman" in the earlier film. Oliver's second wife Alice (Jane Randolph) and Amy's sympathetic schoolteacher (Eve March) try to help, but Amy prefers the company of elderly Julia Farren (Julia Dean), a harmlessly crazy ex-actress who lives in a forbidding mansion with her neurotic daughter Barbara (Elizabeth Russell). Insanely jealous of Amy, Barbara ultimately tries to do the girl harm, but she is thwarted in this effort by the ghost of Irena, Amy's self-appointed guardian angel. Advertised as a horror picture, Curse of the Cat People has only one genuine "shock" scene; otherwise, the most frightening moment in the film is Julia Farren's spirited rendition of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." Saddled with a lurid title, producer Lewton and screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen chose to offer a fascinating glimpse into the wonderfully boundless realm of a child's imagination, and in this respect the film is an unqualified success. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Isle of the Dead
    Inspired by Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin's famous painting, this seminal horror film marked the first of three collaborations between RKO producer Val Lewton and British genre star Boris Karloff. Set during the 1912 Balkan Wars, Isle of the Death featured Karloff as Greek general Pherides who, along with an American journalist (Marc Cramer), visits the gravesite of his late wife on a deserted island. They find the grave desecrated and a group of travelers held hostage by the superstitious beliefs of Kyra (Helene Thimig). One by one, the inhabitants of the island are felled by what Dr. Drossos (Ernest Dorian aka Ernst Deutsch) terms the plague, but what Kyra insists is the work of Thea (Ellen Drew), a young nurse she believes to be a "varvoloka," an ancient Greek vampire. Thea's patient, Mrs. St. Aubun (Katherine Emery), suffers from death-like trances and, sure enough, during one of her spells, she is pronounced dead by Swiss archeologist Albrecht (Jason Robards Sr. and is interred alive. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Bedlam
    Bedlam is one of the costlier psychological-horror efforts from RKO producer Val (Curse of the Cat People) Lewton. Boris Karloff stars as the supervisor of the notorious 18th century British insane asylum St. Mary's of Bethlehem, better known as "Bedlam." Anna Lee, who co-stars as the feisty mistress of a fatuous government official, is appalled by the miserable treatment afforded the Bedlam inmates and insists that reforms be initiated. The crafty, politically connected Karloff responds by having Lee herself incarcerated in the institution: she is a "willful woman", and therefore must be insane. With the help of a few of the more rational patients, Lee stages a mutiny, capturing Karloff and giving him a mock trial. Though they don't truly intend to harm Karloff, he is seriously injured by one of his tormented patients. Assuming that Karloff is dead, the other inmates wall up his body in the cellar--and as the last brick is put in place, we see Karloff's eyes suddenly open! Though it has it moments of genuine terror, Bedlam is as historically accurate as possible, right down to the archaic dialogue passages. For the most part, the film is an indictment against political corruption, with Karloff (in a terrific, multi-faceted performance) alternately bullying and wheedling to save his own behind. Val Lewton (writing under the pseudonym Carlos Keith) based his film on one of the illustrations in Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress," glimpses of which are seen throughout the film as transitional devices. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Body Snatcher
    Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were given top billing in the Val Lewton-produced The Body Snatcher, but the film's protagonist is played by Henry Daniell. A brilliant 18th century London surgeon, Daniell can only make his humanitarian medical advances by experimenting on cadavers, which is strictly illegal. Karloff plays a Uriah Heep-type cabman who is secretly a grave robber, providing corpses for Daniell's research. The low-born Karloff enjoys blackmailing the aristocratic Daniell into silence; the two actors' cat-and-mouse scenes are among the film's highlights. Eventually, Karloff turns to murder to supply fresh bodies to Daniell. The doctor can stand no more of this, and kills Karloff. But though Daniell may be able to escape the law, he cannot escape his conscience, which manifests itself in the voice of the dead Karloff, whose repeated mantra "NEVER get rid of me! NEVER get rid of me!" drives Daniell to his death. Though billed second, Lugosi has an embarrassingly small part, though the scene he shares with Karloff is one of his best-ever screen moments. The Body Snatcher was based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, which in turn was inspired by the homicidal career of notorious grave-robbers Burke and Hare. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Cast & Crew

    • Boris Karloff
      Boris Karloff - Gen. Nikolas Pherides
    • Ellen Drew
      Ellen Drew - Thea
    • Image coming soon
      Marc Cramer - Oliver Davis
    • Alan Napier
      Alan Napier - Mr. St. Aubyn
    • Image coming soon
      Katherine Emery - Mrs. St. Aubyn
    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.