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Vintage Thrillers [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Black Raven
The Black Raven is one of a trio of PRC horror-melodramas starring George Zucco. The title refers to a remote country inn, presided over by the sinister Mr. Bradford (Zucco). During a dark and stormy night, the Black Raven becomes the gathering place for an escaped convict (I. Standford Jolley) with a personal vendetta against Bradford, a bank clerk (Byron Foulger) who has embezzled $50,000, and a couple of young elopers (Wanda McKay, Bob Randall). Before the night is over, greed and murder rear their ugly heads. Comedy relief is provided by Charles "Ming the Merciless" Middleton as a county sheriff and Glenn "Frankenstein" Strange as a lumbering lummox. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Death Kiss
While Tonart Studios is filming a gangster movie, one of the actors is killed in a shooting accident. After several other incidents occur, police begin to think of sabotage. Their list of suspects includes the studio chief (Alexander Carr), his manager (Bela Lugosi), the director of the film (Edward Van Sloan) and an actress (Adrienne Ames). ~ John Bush, Rovi

Fog Island
An early low-budget spin on Ten Little Indians, this cheap but entertaining PRC production features a wonderful cast of familiar B-movie faces, particularly George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. Zucco plays a man wrongfully imprisoned after being framed for his wife's murder by one of his colleagues. After his release, he joins forces with a mad inventor to carry out his long-awaited plans of revenge, inviting a group of his former associates to a remote island mansion -- which is enveloped in a thick perpetual fog and rigged with a plethora of lethal booby-traps -- in an effort to reveal and destroy the guilty party. Rather cheap-looking but boasting some remarkable special effects, this film is worth a look for its pairing of the wonderfully hammy Atwill and Zucco. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Bowery at Midnight
Bowery at Midnight casts Bela Lugosi as Professor Brenner, a psychology instructor at New York University (which looks a lot like Berkeley in the exterior shots!). When not enlightening his students -- most of them buxom Monogram starlets -- Brenner is engaged in charitable work, running a mission in the Bowery. In truth, however, the kindly professor is a fiend in human form, who uses his mission as a front for a vast criminal empire. When Judy (Wanda McKay), one of Brenner's students, stumbles onto the truth, she's targeted for extermination by the Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde prof. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bluebeard
Bluebeard casts the saturnine John Carradine as Gaston, a popular painter in 19th century Paris. Unbeknownst to the authorities, Gaston is also the serial killer of beautiful young women who they have been seeking for several months. Whenever a girl fails to come up to Gaston's standards of perfection, she is summarily strangled to death. Gaston's latest model is the gorgeous Lucille (Jean Parker), who once she learns her employer's horrible secret courageously vows to bring him to justice. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Mysterious Mr. Wong
To the world at large, Mr. Wong (Bela Lugosi) is a harmless shopkeeper in the Chinatown district (where no one seems unduly put off by his Hungarian accent) In truth, however, Wong is an eeeeevil Mandarin who'll stop at nothing to get his hands on the Twelve Coins of Confucious, which according to legend will allow him to rule over the Chinese province of Keelat. In his efforts to obtain these coins, Wong leaves a trail of corpses behind, eventually arousing the suspicions of wisecracking reporter Jason Barton (Wallace Ford). Narrowly escaping assassination in a Chinese restaurant, Barton and his sweetheart Peg (Arline Judge) take refuge in Wong's humble shop, where they stumble into a gathering of the villain's henchmen. Will our hero and heroine escape in time to thwart the sinister, seemingly all-powerful Mr. Wong? Boasting a full-blooded performance by Bela Lugosi and campy dialogue to spare (much of it astonishingly racist!), Mysterious Mr. Wong is a bad-movie buff's delight. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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