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Horror Classics 1 [2 Discs] [DVD]

SKU:14307957
Release Date:04/05/2005
Rating:
$5.99

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    Overview

    Special Features


    • Digitally mastered
    • Interactive menus
    • Chapter selections
    • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

    Synopsis


    The Ape Man
    Whatever poor Bela Lugosi may have done in a past life, the man did not deserve The Ape Man, arguably the worst of his Monogram horror clunkers. Viewed today, it seems that screenwriter Barney Sarecky and infamous director William Beaudine (whose nickname "One Shot" was earned helming movies like this) were out to humiliate the proud Hungarian actor at every opportunity. They had the man, who once turned down the Frankenstein monster because he found the role demeaning, walk about the entire film in a manner that was supposed to appear simian but ended up looking merely foolish. They gave him an Anglo-Saxon name, Dr. James Brewster, without bothering to explain that familiar Middle European accent. And they provided him with a spiritualist sister (Minerva Urecal), whose character name, Agatha, Lugosi of course was incapable of pronouncing. To compound matters, they wrote in a mysterious character named Zippo (Ralph Littlefield), who, in a silly porkpie hat, drifted in and out of the narrative being annoyingly mysterious, only to reveal himself in the end as "the author of the story." "Screwy idea, wasn't it?" he says blithely putting the final nail in Lugosi's coffin. Lugosi's Dr. Brewster had experimented with a spinal serum derived from the fluids of a gorilla. The dedicated medico naturally tested the serum on himself and now appears incapable of walking upright, in dire need of a shave. Needless to say, the only antidote is human spinal fluid (which Lugosi pronounces "fluit"). Accompanied by screaming headlines such as "Ape man killer still on the loose!" Dr. Brewster and his gorilla henchman (Emil VanHorn, whose simian suit paid his rent for years) stalk the dark streets for human prey. A couple of wisecracking reporters (Wallace Ford and Louise Currie, both surprisingly tolerable) briefly wander into harm's way, knocking each other over the head with prop vases. Happily, for unexplained reasons, the gorilla suddenly turns on his master and breaks his neck, ending the nightmare for all concerned, including, one would imagine, Lugosi himself. Typical for cheap Monogram, Lugosi stayed in his ape-like makeup throughout, the expected transformation scene never materializing. The critics were understandably severe -- "Monogram's writer didn't have to wipe the dust from Bela Lugosi's Ape Man, he had to take the mold off," chuckled the Daily News -- but as horror-film historian Tom Weaver so succinctly put it: "Despite their ruinous effects on Lugosi's career, had these Monogram pictures been made without him, they would not merit discussion today." ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    The Devil Bat
    This campy, entertaining cheapie from PRC Pictures features Bela Lugosi as a chemist who plots an elaborate revenge scheme on his business partners, whom he feels have cheated him out of his share. To this end he develops a mutant breed of vicious, oversized bats and trains several of this breed to home in on a special chemical which he then blends with shaving lotion. Presenting gifts of the lotion to his partners as a peace offering (and browbeating them into splashing it on themselves while in his presence), he subsequently unleashes his monstrous pets to tear them to pieces. Believe it or not, this was one of PRC's more successful horror programmers, spawning a the sequel Devil Bat's Daughter. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

    White Zombie
    In this haunting low-budgeter, Bela Lugosi stars as Murder Legendre, a shadowy character who exercises supernatural powers over the natives in his Haitian domain. Coveting Madge Bellamy as his bride, wealthy Robert Frazier enters into an unholy agreement with Lugosi, whereby Madge will die, then be resurrected as a zombie. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

    The Gorilla
    When Fox bought the rights to Ralph Spence's warhorse stage mystery-comedy The Gorilla for the Ritz Brothers, they walked out en masse, refusing to work on the picture until their contracts were renegotiated and the script heavily rewritten. The finished product features an escaped circus gorilla apparently perpetrating a series of murders. Imperiled lawyer Walter Stevens (Lionel Atwill) may well be the next victim, so he summons detectives Garrity, Harrigan and Mullivan (Jimmy, Harry and Al Ritz) to provide protection. It turns out that (a) the murderer is human rather than simian, (b) Stevens is hardly a paragon of virtue, and (c) the person really in danger is young heiress Norma Denby (Anita Louise). Long unavailable for reappraisal, The Gorilla resurfaced on the public-domain market in 1976. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Human Monster
    In this horror movie, a freaky physician bilks insurance money from blind patients by offing them in gruesome, but creative ways. The film is also titled "Human Monster." ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

    Chamber of Horrors
    A blood-and-thunder horror yarn from the pen of Edgar Wallace, The Door With Seven Locks stars Leslie Banks as a mass murderer with a penchant for puzzles. He lures several heirs to a fortune to their deaths in his mazelike mansion, which is festooned with cryptic clues leading to the location of a valuable treasure. Banks goes too far when he abducts the lovely Lilli Palmer, whose handsome boyfriend invades the mystery house, rescues the girl, and puts an end to Banks' perfidy. Door with Seven Locks was released in the US as Chamber of Horrors. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Carnival of Souls
    A drag race turns to tragedy when one car, with three young women inside, topples over a bridge and into the muddy river below. The authorities drag the river, but the search is fruitless and the girls are presumed dead until a single survivor stumbles out of the water with no recollection of how she escaped. Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) decides to forget her strange experience and carry on with her plan to move to Utah to accept a job as a church organist. She rejects the notion that because her profession leads her to work in the church, she is obligated to worship as part of the congregation, and this cold approach to her work unnerves many around her. While driving to the new city, she experiences weird visions of a ghoulish man who stares at her through the windshield, and passes an abandonded carnival on a desolate stretch of highway outside of town to which she feels strangely drawn. Mary tries to live her life in private, ignoring invitations to worship by the minister of her church and the leering propositions of a neighbor in her rooming house. Soon the ghostly apparition from the highway is appearing more often, and she experiences eerie spells in which she becomes invisible to people on the street. A doctor tries to help, but he too is rejected, and eventually Mary realizes that the deserted carnival holds the secret to her destiny. ~ Fred Beldin, Rovi

    The Last Man on Earth
    In a post-epidemic nightmare world, scientist Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the only man immune to the plague which has transformed the entire population of the Earth into vampire-like creatures. He becomes the monster slayer that vampire-society fears. Curing one of them, Ruth (Franca Bettoja), with a transfusion of his blood gives him hope for the future. It is a short future, however, since the other vampires quickly find and kill him. This dark tale, based on Richard Matheson's even darker novel "I Am Legend," was later remade as The Omega Man with Charlton Heston in the Vincent Price role. ~ Lucinda Ramsey, Rovi

    The Invisible Ghost
    Invisible Ghost is far from the best of Bela Lugosi's Monogram vehicles (if indeed there is such a thing), but with Joseph H. Lewis at the controls it is far and away the best directed. Lugosi is cast as Kessler, an otherwise normal gentleman who goes balmy whenever he thinks about his late wife (Betty Compson). It gets worse when Kessler is transformed via hypnosis into an unwitting murderer, apparently at the behest of his wife's ghost. An innocent man (John McGuire) is executed for Kessler's first murder, but the victim's twin brother (also John McGuire) teams with Kessler's daughter (Polly Ann Young) to determine the identity of the true killer. Though cheaply made, The Invisible Ghost maintains an appropriately spooky atmosphere throughout, with Lugosi delivering a full-blooded performance as a basically decent man controlled by homicidal impulses beyond his ken. Best of all is the non-stereotypical performance by african-american actor Clarence Muse as Lugosi's articulate, take-charge butler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi




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