Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Blu-ray Roundup - BURN WITCH BURN, THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD and WAR GODS OF THE DEEP ""

Monday, August 31, 2015

Kino Lorber Blu-ray Roundup - BURN WITCH BURN, THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD and WAR GODS OF THE DEEP

BURN WITCH BURN (1962; Sidney Hayers)
This films opens perfectly on total blackness and with the immortal voice of Paul Frees (you'll recognize it instantly as the voice from the Haunted Mansion at Disney) speaking warningly about witches and casting a protective spell over the audience. It's all very William Castle-esque and it's great. It's even better than Castle. This is actually one of the best AIP movies I think I've ever seen. Not surprisingly, the script was written by two of my favorites in Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. Both men were responsible for some of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes ever made and this movie has the slight feel of a solid, longer episode of the show. Peter Wyngarde plays a skeptic college professor who must confront his belief or non-belief in witchcraft head on when things start to go very wrong for him. The movie is right up there with things like CURSE OF THE DEMON in terms of the tension and creepy atmosphere that it maintains throughout. Highly recommended.

This disc has a couple nice supplements in a new on-camera interview with Wyngarde himself (25 mins) and a feature-length audio commentary with Richard Matheson. Both great.
The Blu-ray can be purchased here:
http://amzn.to/1MY38Fg




THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD (1957; Arnold Laven)
An aging Tim Holt stars as a Navy investigator working on the mystery of some sailors who disappeared during routine maneuvers on the Salton Sea. These monsters are kinda like giant snails and they manage to devour a bunch of people whilst the navy team is trying to figure out how where their nest is located. There's also a baby one in a giant egg in a lab just waiting to hatch and cause trouble. Though the movie itself is somewhat light on monster appearances throughout, there's still this sort of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON vibe happening as there are a few underwater diving sequences. Additional cast includes Hans Conreid (voice of Captain Hook in PETER PAN) and a guy who played one of Molly Ringwald's uncles in SIXTEEN CANDLES. I took some pleasure in watching the expression on Tim Holt's face in a few key scenes near the end. In my head, I heard him saying to himself, "I was once directed by Orson Welles and now I'm fighting a giant monster in a labratory". That may or may not have happened. This movie is also one of the earlier incarnations (that I can think of) of the "underwater earthquake unleashes an unspeakable beast" plotline.

The transfer on this movie looks quite nice, better than I would have expected. Very sharp.
Also included is a nice commentary track from stalwart genre expert Tom Weaver (who actually did commentaries for CREATURE and THE WOLFMAN a while back).
The Blu-ray can be purchased here:
http://amzn.to/1NSGjnb




WAR GODS OF THE DEEP (1965; Jacques Tourneur)
Based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe and directed by the great Jacques Tourneur (CAT PEOPLE, OUT OF THE PAST), this tale of mystery and an underwater city sports an exciting cast including Vincent Price, Tab Hunter, David Tomlinson and Susan Hart. It opens, as all films should, with a Vincent Price voiceover. Fans of AT THE EARTH'S CORE, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and Scooby-Doo will be fans of this I would think. Despite it being based on Poe, there is a very Jules Verne-iness about the proceedings that makes it feel like one of those movies to me. It was especially pleasant to see David Tomlinson in a role outside of a Disney movie. I've always loved him in those films, but this one is a bit darker than anything that Disney would have made at the time so it gave a whole new vibe for Tomlinson to play off of. One of my favorite bits of the movie features our main characters in some neat stylized diving suits (pictured in the alternate poster on the left) and Tomlinson shares his suit with his pet chicken. Oh yes, I forgot to mention Tomlinson's pet chicken. Very amusing and reminiscent of RETURN TO OZ (without the talking). This movie is really all about the last twenty minutes though - diving suits, mer-men, and crossbows!

The widescreen transfer here looks pretty good. Colors quite good.
As for special features, this disc includes an Interview with actor Tab Hunter (11 mins) wherein he discusses his career prior to AIP and working with Vincent Price and others on this movie.

The Blu-ray can be purchased here:
http://amzn.to/1MY2RCl


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