Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Killer > Psychopath > Mystery > Murder > Comedy > Camp > B Movie > Satire > Beatniks > Counte > The Bat (1959)/A Bucket Of Blood (1959/Corman/Allied Artists/Film Detective Blu-rays)/Disembodied (1957/Allied Artists/Warner Archive DVD)/The Mad Genius (1931/Warner Archive DVD)/Sherlock Holmes (191

The Bat (1959)/A Bucket Of Blood (1959/Corman/Allied Artists/Film Detective Blu-rays)/Disembodied (1957/Allied Artists/Warner Archive DVD)/The Mad Genius (1931/Warner Archive DVD)/Sherlock Holmes (1916/Essanay/Flicker Alley Blu-ray/DVD set)

Picture: B/C+/C/C/B & C+ Sound: C/C/C/C/B & C+ Extras: D/D/D/C-/B Films: C+/C/C/C+/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Disembodied and Mad Genius DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

Mystery, murder, suspense, voodoo, the supernatural, madness and brilliance are here in a set of B-movies, followed by two early, ambitious genre works...

Crane Wilbur's The Bat (1959) is a campy, amusing Agnes Moorehead/Vincent Price film we previously reviewed n a restored DVD at this link:


A curio, now we have the first Blu-ray, which has a nice improvement in picture, but the sound is no improvement (even if it is lossless; see more below) and we get zero extras. This is the best version of the film available now, but someone's got to have a better copy of the soundtrack and want to add some extras. Otherwise, the improved clarity makes this a better watch with more fun.

Roger Corman's A Bucket Of Blood (1959) was released by Allied Artists the same year and has a sort of House Of Wax plot set at both a beatnik bar and the home of a young waiter there (an amusing Dick Miller) who is sick of being belittled by almost everyone and wants to be a sculptor. When he starts to kill, the solution is plaster the dead with modeling clay and pass it off as counterculture art!

Bert Convy, who later became a TV staple as both a character actor and guesting on TV game shows like Match Game in the 1970s (which led to him hosting the amusing Tattletales) has an amusing turn here in what is supposed to be a horror comedy, but the unintentional laughs get mixed with intended ones that don't always work. At 65 minutes long, it actually takes a while to start, but it still could have done more as Corman was more in a rush to save money than think things through. Only worth seeing once if your wide awake to get the few good moments out of it.

There are no extras.

Walter Grauman's Disembodied (1957) is also from Allied Artists, at the same length, from a few years before and just as uneven and wacky as a young woman (Allison Hayes from the original Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman) lives with her husband in 'the jungle' where he does his work, but it turns out that not only is she a seductress, not only secretly practices voodoo with voodoo dolls, but is a dancing voodoo queen into human sacrifices that she can fit into rhythmic dance numbers!

Yes, the film is pretty silly and also with unintentional laughs, but it has little suspense, too much downtime and is yet another curio worth a single look if that. Zombie fans will not find any zombies, but those under voodoo spells do walk around zombified briefly for those wondering.

There are no extras.

Michael Curtiz's The Mad Genius (1931) has John Barrymore as a control freak who builds a winning ballet troop, but this is not a backstage musical. His prized lead male dancer gets involved with a romance he wants to destroy as not to interfere with his ballet program, but this is not a mere melodrama or 'woman's film' (read soap opera) because this is a star vehicle for Barrymore (pre Hollywood Code era) to simply be demented and dark for most of its 80 minutes, handing out illicit drugs in the shadows to a dope addict director who works for him, abusing all around him, comparing himself to horror monsters if the time literally and showing us how good an actor he was.

Though never landing an iconic character to make his own, Barrymore proved back in the silent era he could bring major characters to life, as he did in the remarkable 1922 Sherlock Holmes (see the Blu-ray restoration elsewhere on this site) and his title character here might have been sold as potentially iconic, but was never going to stick. Still, you have a great director, great actor, solid cast and enough unexpectedly interesting moments that this one is definitely worth a look.

A Vintage Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Last but not least is yet another lost film missing for decades that has finally been found and restored, Arthur Berthelet's Sherlock Holmes (1916) that has been the stuff of legend like Barrymore's 1922 film. Made for the Essanay Studios, it is in four parts, four different stories derived from the original stage play with actor William Gillette as Holmes that he co-created and made legendary his stage performances. With only hardcore Holmes fans and scholars telling us how great and influential the film was or how it captured the Holmes that would be the guide for every actor from Barrymore and Basil Rathbone, to Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Cushing and the rest to the point the the film shows Gillette built the total foundation for every portrayal of the master detective in his wake. Yes, his work really is that significant.

Saved from a French print that miraculously survived, this Flicker Alley Blu-ray/DVD set offers that version, an English version and a visual restoration that is one of the most amazing I have ever seen for a silent film. Arriving only a year after Griffith's controversial Birth Of A Nation (see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), its narrative sense is very strong, consistent and does a stunning job of capturing the spirit and fun of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books. Fans will be thrilled and everyone who sees it will be pretty shocked at how well made this is. With Gillette's legacy reconfirmed, Sherlock Holmes (1916) is a must-see all serious film, mystery and Holmes fans should go way out of there way to see. Then this Flicker Alley set has even more rare, must-see films, making it one of the most important Blu-ray releases of the year!

Those great extras include the DVD set version of the film, a high quality booklet featuring images from the film and information about the restoration project, then the discs add Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900, courtesy of The Library of Congress and presented in HD) is the earliest known film to feature the character of Sherlock Holmes, A Canine Sherlock (1912) from the EYE Film Institute, the film stars Spot the Dog as the titular character, Piu forte che Sherlock Holmes (1913) (also from the EYE Film Institute) a nice Italian trick-film owes as much to Melies as it does Doyle, HD transfers from the Fox Movietone Collection: the only known sound film interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and outtakes from a 1930 broadcast with William Gillette showing off his amateur railroad (University of South Carolina), plus a PDF manuscript of the 1899 Sherlock Holmes play by William Gillette and a PDF of the original contract between William Gillette and the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on The Bat looks really good for its age and is a nice upgrade from al the poor copies and decent Film Vault DVD we previously reviewed, but the same on Blood not only has all kinds of ghosting and alignment issues, but motion blur is increased due to the unusual use of DVNR (Digital Video Noise Reduction) that has been obsolete since HD arrived. This was usually used as a bad shortcut on transfers to get rid of scratches and print flaws, but actually ruined details and causes all kinds of unnatural shimmering. Too bad, since other shots are not as bad.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black & white image on Disembodied comes from a nice new print, but the transfer tends to somehow still be too soft, which is also the case with the much older 1.33 X 1 black & white image on Genius, but that is a shoot that tends to and seems to use more than one kind of diffusion lens for style. It needs HD clarification.

That leaves the remarkable 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Holmes 1916 that obviously can show the age of the materials used, but the print is in insanely good shape for being lost for so many decades and being nearly 100 years old! It is a monochromatic film, but several colors of tinting are used throughout that only minimally interferes with its definition, detail and depth. The 1.33 X 1 DVD standard definition version is OK, but no match for the amazing Blu-ray transfer which happened out of hard work and a bit of luck, resulting in as good looking an entry as any on the list.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Holmes 1916 is well mixed, recorded and presented, sounding great being a new recording. On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mixes on Bat and Blood have sources that are just too compressed, so they do not sound so good, even outdone by the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Holmes 1916 DVD, which is not bad.

That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Disembodied and Genius weak and as bad as Bat and Blood, meaning they all need some serious sound restoration, though Genius has early audio issues from being an early sound film that might not be totally fixable.

To order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com