Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Set: Lady
Frankenstein/Velvet Vampire/Time Walker/Grotesque (Corman/Shout! Factory DVDs)
Picture: C+/C/C+/C Sound: C+ (Grotesque: C) Extras: B-
many Shout! Factory/Roger Corman DVD film collections, Vampires, Mummies & Monsters features some of the more obscure
and interesting titles, two of which we actually covered before. You can read about them as follows:
of the four films is Stephanie Rothman’s underrated Velvet Vampire (1971) which produced more interesting results than
an exploitation film (especially one produced by Corman, who it turns out was
involved) and may be the most underrated film he ever made.
this is presented here in what is almost a better transfer except that someone
botched the framing when they did the 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced
transfer. Color, depth and detail are
all improved, but some slight side information (especially the left hand side)
is missing. Part of this might be in
that the film might have been framed 1.66 X 1, but I suspect something else and
that is discomfort in the sexual context.
By zooming in too much, the narrative and sexual context (in a vampire
film!!!) is somewhat lost. In the case
of the women, it takes away from their allure, sexuality and overall
attractiveness and for all involved, denies the true cinematic space intended
for them to inhabit, cutting back the terror and suspense factor. Then there are two shots involving male lead
Michael Blodgett, which you can also see on the older DVD we previously covered
with its weak but more revealing 1.33 X 1 frame.
dream sequence that repeats a few time, our villainess takes him away from
girlfriend Sherry Miles and he is totally nude as she is, though she remains
under their bed covers (the bed is in the middle of the desert and said
villainess is taking him away after walking out of a mirror) and in a longer
version later, she spins him around as part of the continued seduction. In the new zoomed-in copy, he seems to stay
nude, but in the older 1.33 X 1 copy, her dress has run around the bottom of
his body and he suddenly has shorts on that covers him up. Blodgett was actually covering up his frontal
nudity at all times, but what we do not know is if the covers are makeshift by
him or something she has put on him to further possess him sexually.
on, Miles’ character is taking a bubble bath and is not speaking to him, which
has him deciding to push her buttons by disrobing (leaving the character nude
again) and sitting in the bathtub with her.
Here, it is more routine and looks awkward, but you can clearly see on
the older DVD an explicit suggestion of sexual bravado cut off here that
changes the whole scene and therefore, the whole tone of the film. From this point, the film does not have
Rothman’s intended edge and we will hopefully get clarification on what was
really going on at some point in the future, but this new framing negates the
film more than it should. I did like
seeing how good the color was and how good some of the locations really were.
extras include a terrific feature length audio commentary with lead Celeste
Yarnall, plus original theatrical trailers, though none for the double feature
of Lady Frankenstein and Velvet Vampire that actually did happen
and should have been on this set.
version of Lady Frankenstein (1972) is
dubbed the “longer international cut”, but is as bad as the previous edition
from a flat, dull print and the new footage is in even worse shape with
burned-in subtitles, awful condition footage and is a 1.33 X 1 frame badly
stretched (making it look worse) to go with the widescreen anamorphic 1.78 X 1
transfer here. It should have been
pillarboxed. I like the added scene, but
it does not make the film any better. I
would like to see a better print, but you can see that this print is off of a
cable TV print by a color logo that sometimes appears in the upper left hand
corner! I guess we can consider this a
somewhat lost film until a better copy turns up. A theatrical trailer is the only extra and
these films share one DVD.
DVD is shared by two lesser films from the 1980s. Tom Kennedy’s Time Walker (1982) wants to combine a mummy story with science,
mysticism and even science fiction in this odd hybrid B-movie that owes
something to the look and feel of Phantasm
(if lightly so) and even has some good ideas, but they never gel and the results
are a would-be franchise that does not work.
Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod, Kevin Brophy (Lucan) and Shari Bellefonte Harper co-star in a film with some odd,
interesting casting. Too bad this did
not work, because this could have been very interesting if it had. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is
not awful, but the source shows its age.
Extras include the theatrical trailer and separate on-camera interviews
with Brophy and Producer Dimitri Villard.
least is the Linda Blair vehicle Grotesque
(1988), directed by Joe Tornatore in which Blair witnesses a massacre by a
group of young killers, only for all of them to be surprised by a deadlier
killing force. This is too jokey and
formulaic to even watch, but Blair does try to make this work with energetic
effort, but to no avail. There are no
extras and the 1.33 X 1 image is from a poor print, meaning the newest film
looks as bad as Lady Frankenstein.
sport Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound, but Lady
Frankenstein is obviously the poorest and the fact that Italian productions
dubbed all their sound in post production makes this look all the worse. Still, this is a DVD set worth your time
because it is just not another collection of silly B-movies. Each one tried to be different and succeeded
in some way, just not all the time.
- Nicholas Sheffo