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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Vampire > Monster > Erotic > Creature > Mummy > Supernatural > Alien > Thriller > Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Set: Lady Frankenstein/Velvet Vampire/Time Walker/Grotesque (Corman/Shout! Factory DVDs)

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-     Films: C+/B-*/C-/D



Of the 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:


Velvet Vampire



Lady Frankenstein




The best 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.


*However, 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.


In a 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.


Earlier 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.


New 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.


This 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.



The other 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.


Last and 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.


All also 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


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