The Christopher Lee Collection [Limited Editon] [4 Discs] [DVD]

It's time once again for one of horror's greatest icons with Blue Underground's The Christopher Lee Collection box set. Containing four of his Harry Alan Towers-produced classics from the late '60s B-film era, the set showcases three of his collaborative efforts with cult director Jess Franco (The Blood of Fu Manchu, The Castle of Fu Manchu, and The Bloody Judge), along with Circus of Fear, restored for the first time on American soil. With all of the films boasting their full European cuts and gorgeous 16 x 9 widescreen presentations (all 1.66:1, except for The Bloody Judge's 2.35:1 letterboxed picture) and crisp Dolby Digital Mono tracks, Blue Underground continues their track record of excellence with all films presented in their definitive versions. Starting with 1966's Circus of Fear disc, the film has been restored from a British color negative, finally displaying its brilliant color scheme and 22 minutes of deleted footage that the original disastrous black-and-white American print destroyed years ago. In addition, a long-lost eight-minute sequence found in a storage vault has been added in, completing director John Moxey's vision for this macabre tale, as evidenced on his commentary track with Blue Underground's David Gregory. The disc also contains four various trailers, talent bios, and the usual quality poster and stills gallery cult fanatics have come to expect from the company that caters to them with each release. Unfortunately, a small batch of the set included a faulty Circus of Fear disc, though it can be easily traded in through the company's website (www.blue-underground.com). Extras on the box continue with the story of the Fu Manchu series recounted in "The Rise of Fu Manchu" (15 min.) documentary on the Blood of Fu Manchu disc and also in "The Fall of Fu Manchu" (14 min.) on The Castle of Fu Manchu DVD. Both David Gregory-helmed features include candid interviews with the director and star, with wonderful bits thrown in from actress Tsai Chin and producer Harry Alan Towers himself. Each disc also contains their respected trailers, poster and still galleries, The Facts of Dr. Fu Manchu notes, talent bios, and in-depth liner notes on the inside of the box's sleeve from Video Watchdog's esteemed editor-in-chief Tim Lucas. Finally, exclusive to this set is The Bloody Judge, the grisly tale of 17th century witch hunts and the infamously cruel Judge George Jeffreys. Once again, director Franco and his star Lee lend their thoughts on the film and the real history behind the film's main character in the 25-minute "Bloody Jess" featurette. Not only is this the longest documentary on the disc, but the extras it includes are a joy too -- with one six-minute deleted scene taken from a video bootleg of a very rare Spanish print (picture quality isn't the best, but kudos to them for including it). In fact, various versions of the film seem to be a theme, with four additional alternate scenes from different prints around the States and Europe being included as well. The fun doesn't stop there, with three trailers and a TV spot awaiting you in the Extras menu, along with one of the most impressive poster and still galleries for a cult disc this year -- featuring separate sections on Posters, German and U.S. Lobby Cards, Publicity Stills, Behind-the-Scenes Stills, U.S. Press Book, Soundtrack Booklet, and its multiple Video Box artwork. Definitely the most packed of all of the films in the set, it's the exclusive capper for The Christopher Lee Collection and another ingenious box to go alongside Blue Underground's Spaghetti Western Collection and the controversial Mondo Cane Collection.
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Overview

Special Features

  • The Castle of Fu Manchu:
  • "The Fall of Fu Manchu": Interviews with director Jess Franco, producer Harry Alan Towers, and stars Christopher Lee and Tsai Chin
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Poster & still gallery
  • The Facts of Dr. Fu Manchu
  • Talent bios
  • Liner notes by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas
  • The Blood of Fu Manchu:
  • "The Rise of Fu Manchu": Interviews with director Jess Franco, producer Harry Alan Towers, and stars Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, and Shirley Eaton
  • International trailer
  • U.S. trailer
  • Circus of Fear:
  • Audio commentary with director John Moxey
  • Theatrical trailers
  • The Bloody Judge:
  • "Bloody Jess": Interviews with director Jess Franco and star Christopher Lee
  • Deleted scene
  • Alternative scenes
  • TV spot
  • Poster & still galleries

Synopsis

Circus of Fear
Based on an Edgar Wallace murder mystery this chiller centers on a Scotland Yard investigation of a series of puzzling deaths plaguing a traveling circus and the hunt for loot stolen from an armored car robbery. Suspects include the mask-wearing and disfigured lion tamer, a vengeful ringmaster, an insanely jealous knife-thrower, and a blackmailing dwarf called "Mr. Big." The film is also known as Circus of Fear. A German version was shot simultaneously with Psycho-Circus but used a different director. Though available in color in Great Britain, most of the American copies of the film are in black-and-white. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Bloody Judge
This erotic horror film from cult director Jesus Franco is based on the witch-hunting exploits of Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys (Christopher Lee), a real historical figure who died in prison in 1702 at the age of 54. In 1685 England, young Alicia Gray is burnt for witchcraft. Alicia's sister Mary (Maria Rohm) unwisely falls for Harry Selton (Hans Hass, Jr.), a rebel against King James II. After the rebels are defeated, Harry is captured by agents of Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys (Christopher Lee), who defends the crown by accusing its enemies of witchcraft. Also a captive, Mary tries to save her lover by surrendering herself to the cruel Judge, who takes perverse sexual pleasure in sadistic torture. The film revels in displays of whipping, sex, and chained women, but is difficult to evaluate otherwise due to the numerous different versions available, some with alternate endings. One version has Jeffreys hanged, then taken down and beheaded, while another has him watching a hanging from a window while a narrator reads his death sentence. There is also a third ending in which Jeffreys makes a confession to Harry's father, the Earl of Wessex (Leo Genn), before suffering a fatal heart attack. Franco used the character again, this time portrayed by Cihangir Gaffari (aka John Foster) in his 1972 film Les Demons. Howard Vernon, who plays the cruel executioner Jack Ketch here, took a heroic role in the sequel. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

The Castle of Fu Manchu
This extremely low-budget adventure was director Jesus Franco's second Fu Manchu film for British producer Harry Alan Towers. Christopher Lee returns as the Asian madman, who has developed a way to turn the oceans into ice as part of his plan to rule the world. Kidnapping famed Prof. Herakles (Gustavo Re), Fu forces the doctor to help him with his diabolical plan. When Herakles' health starts to fail, Fu kidnaps two more people (Guenther Stoll, Maria Perschy) for a transplant operation at his Istanbul headquarters. Fu's old rivals Dennis Nayland Smith (Richard Green) and Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford) come to Turkey to foil his evil experiments. Rosalba Neri, Jose Manuel Martin, and Werner Abrolat co-star in this poor fifth installment in the popular series. The film is so poorly conceived that -- although it was made in color -- the shipwreck caused by Fu is actually a black-and-white scene borrowed wholesale from A Night to Remember. For completists only, this disastrous entry also stars Herbert Fuchs and Tsai Chin, while Franco makes a cameo as a Turkish detective. Various versions run 92, 86, and 85 minutes. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

The Blood of Fu Manchu
The first of several collaborations between cult director Jesus Franco and British producer Harry Alan Towers, this horror-tinged adventure is full of jungle action, creative murders, and violent sexual sadism. Christopher Lee portrays the mysterious Asian madman Fu Manchu, plotting world domination from his secret headquarters underneath the Amazon rainforest. Fu has discovered a rare poison which affects only men, and uses it as lipstick for ten beautiful women, who are to deliver a kiss of death to each of 10 public officials. Carl Jansen (Gotz George) and Sir Denis Nayland Smith (Richard Greene), a pair of Scotland Yard detectives, track Fu Manchu to his underground hideout and -- with the aid of Dr. Ronald Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford) -- search for the antidote to the deadly poison. Lee's wooden performance is alleviated by an amusing turn by Ricardo Palacios as a revolutionary, and a beautiful female cast. Vicente Roca and Marcelo Arroita Jauregui also appear in this entertaining, if extremely sexist, fourth entry in the Fu Manchu series. Nude torture scenes and snake attacks are featured in some of the numerous prints, running 91, 88, 82, and 61 minutes. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Christopher Lee
    Christopher Lee - Gregor, Lion Tamer
  • Leo Genn
    Leo Genn - Inspector Elliott
  • Image coming soon
    Anthony Newlands - Barberini
  • Heinz Drache
    Heinz Drache - Carl, Ringmaster
  • Klaus Kinski
    Klaus Kinski - Manfred
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