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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III (SCREAM FACTORY BLU-RAY) - The Chills are in the Details

And now comes the third time I will be examining a Scream Factory Vincent Price set. This time the 5 Chilling Movies are truly unique entries into the Price filmography, and though I can say that I’m happy to see HD transfers of each of these video presentations, I found myself shaking my head a few times regarding the selection. Now it’s fairly common knowledge that Scream Factory was pulling many of its recent Price titles from the old MGM catalog. That, however, became more difficult to do as Kino Lorber began releasing popular MGM Price titles on a single serving basis, tapping into the glut of popular goodies provide by the groovie ghoul.

Basically the pickens are thin. It’s important to release and preserve all of these titles, but perhaps a better collection could have been drawn from a pool unharvested by Kino. What started off as a solid series ends up feeling more like the cult classic leftover bin of Price’s collection and the advertising that boasts how “chilling” these tales are, may want to revisit Master of the World. That’s not to say that this collection isn’t important or without merit, but it may be somewhat different for some Price’s more popular works to take. The name recognition is much lower here. There’s no hook or anchor movie, but the special features really seem to stand out. Let’s go through each title and get a feel for the set.

MASTER OF THE WORLD

So we start off the “5 Chilling Tales” with a movie that isn’t scary at all. It does not contain chills unless you include deep thoughts on the nature of war and armies as chilling. Master of the World finds Vincent Price in a war-air ship, destroying armies around the world while attempting to prove the moral high ground by ending civilizations need to battle. With some hokey effects, steam punk design and a facial-hairless Charles Bronson running around, you can get used to laughing at this one much more than you can being scared.

Vincent Price is actually great and some of the scenes are very colorful. The transfer looks great, but some of the original film itself was shot with visual techniques that wouldn’t let you know just how pretty the release is. It’s a strange way to start off a “Horror” set as well as it is disc 1. A movie like this is much better paired with other Jules Verne adaptations or even Price’s foray into Sci-Fi Comedy with the Dr. Goldfoot movies (though those were picked up by Kino).



TOWER OF LONDON

This is a shining star of the set. What a fantastic movie. As obscure as it is and almost not Horror, Tower of London is pretty damn creepy, Price’s performance is on point (perhaps one of the best of his career) and the supernatural elements make it a historical ghost story. This was my first viewing of Tower of London and it wowed me.

This particular movie won’t stand out quite as much in title as Diary of a Madman, but it really is the true anchor of the set.



DIARY OF A MADMAN

I had seen this years back when my interest in all things Ozzy Osbourne piqued. Diary of a Madman has a strong name, but really comes off as a well shot supernatural picture that doesn’t have much in the way of substance when it comes to story. Yes, you get to watch Price have some insane moments, but the supernatural element is ordinary and the story doesn’t have enough meat to keep you entertained.

I was particularly taken with the transfer especially the color saturation with this release. It looks great even though I’m not particularly fond of the movie itself.


AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLAN POE

This is a series of spoken word stories, told by Price (and Price alone) from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The stories are all popular, the best rendition being the opening story of The Tell Tale Heart. Hell, Price even uses some props in this one, but the rest of the stories start to dry out in terms of a visual experience. This is the kind of experience that could be better appreciated via an old LP or radio program.

It’s taken from 2” tape which was the only available source for transfer. It has that 1970’s tele-theater, TV feel which I actually loved… until Price couldn’t stop saying Amontillado over and over. That sound of his voice, in character saying that word drove me mad for 20 minutes.

I’m glad that a piece of true Horror was included on this set, but don’t expect the Roger Corman/AIP experience.


CRY OF THE BANSHEE

I laugh at Cry of the Banshee because it is trying soooo hard to be Witchfinder General. There’s no two ways about it. I also feel strange about watching Price movies with boobies in them. It’s as if I’m not prepared for them. None of the other releases on this set are that risqué which was honestly a bit off-putting. The movie itself plays out with a good sense of black humor and meanness that would be appropriate of fans of the Conqueror Worm/Witchfinder, but it isn’t as well done, it isn’t as dark and it isn’t as believable. It’s the poor witches Witchfinder.


The extras on this set are the absolute treat that you’ve been waiting for and if my review of each movie hasn’t exactly enticed you to pick up the release, I hope that my commentary on the additional features will save that and get you to pick up volume 3. The 72 minute interview with Richard Matheson was simply wonderful. He discusses every aspect of his career and writing as well as some of the films featured on this and other Scream Factory sets. There are Roger Corman and Gene Corman interviews on the Tower of London disc, the Gene Corman interview discusses making that awesome movie. The shining star for me was the Science Fiction Theater inclusion on that same disc. Two episodes of the classis Science/Science Fiction show. I was going through Price’s filmography and thought to myself I would never get a chance to enjoy those… lo and behold a miracle. This is pre Twilight Zone stuff and I like to think that George McFly was really referencing this show when he told Marty that he’d have to watch Science Fiction Theater. One Thousand Eyes is fantastic.



You can order your copy now from Scream Factory:

From Scream Factory:

Get ready for five chilling tales of terror starring the master of horror Vincent Price!

MASTER OF THE WORLD
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0/1961/Color/Not Rated/102 minutes

TOWER OF LONDON
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.66:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/1962/B&W/Not Rated/80 minutes

DIARY OF A MADMAN
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.66:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/1963/Color/Not Rated/96 minutes
AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
Standard Definition (1.33:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/1970/Color/Not Rated/53 minutes

CRY OF THE BANSHEE
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/1970/Color/87 minutes (Theatrical Cut, Rated R)/91 minutes (Director's Cut, Not Rated)
Also Includes 12-Page Book With Rare Photos
Bonus Features

MASTER OF THE WORLD
NEW High-Definition Master From The Interpositive Film Element
NEW Stereo Soundtrack Created From The Original 4-Track Mag
NEW Audio Commentary With Actor David Frankham
NEW Richard Matheson: Storyteller – Extended Cut (72 Minutes)
Theatrical Trailer
Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery Of Images From David Frankham’s Personal Collection

TOWER OF LONDON
NEW High-Definition Master From A Fine Grain Film Print
NEW Interview With Director Roger Corman
Producing Tower Of London – An Interview With Producer Gene Corman
Two Episodes Of Science Fiction Theatre (1956): "One Thousand Eyes" And "Operation Flypaper" Both Starring Vincent Price (In Standard Definition)
Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery

DIARY OF A MADMAN
NEW High-Definition Master From The Interpositive Film Element
NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman
Theatrical Trailer
Poster And Lobby Card Gallery

AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
NEW Master Created From The Original 2" Tape Masters
NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman
NEW Interview With Writer/Producer/Director Kenneth Johnson
Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery

CRY OF THE BANSHEE
NEW High-Definition Master Of The Director’s Cut From The Interpositive Film Element
NEW High-Definition Master Of The American International Pictures Cut From The Only Surviving Element, A Color Reversal Intermediate
NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian And Author Steve Haberman (Director's Cut)
A Devilish Tale Of Poe – An Interview With Director Gordon Hessler
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot
Radio Spot

Posters, Lobby Cards And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery

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