Of The Dead (1960 aka
Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
B-/B-/B Sound: C+/C+/B- Extras: B/B/C- Films: B/B-/C
so long ago, audiences expected much more from their feature films
and from a golden time where the budgets were not as ludicrous as
they are today. Three such films, two horror and one from the
psychedelic counterculture drug trip cycle, make their Blu-ray debuts
in worthy editions that are now the definitive ways to see them
outside of a high quality film print...
Of The Dead
(1960) was the beginning of what became the underrated Amicus horror
studio in the U.K. and VCI has been hugely instrumental in getting it
out of cut up lousy copies and reintroducing the film the way it was
meant to be seen. They began with this great DVD we reviewed years
continue to argue it is a forerunner of Polanski's Rosemary's
(1968, now out on Blu-ray from Criterion) and with both its
underrated director Moxey and legendary Christopher Lee sadly no
longer with us, it should have a whole new generation ready to
rediscover the remarkable horror thriller it is. A horror highlight
of Lee outside of the Hammer Studios much like his Franco Dracula
(see both on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) that are classic key
works of his that tend to go beyond mere genre films.
repeated form the DVD include running commentaries by both Lee and
Moxey, photo galleries, on-camera interviews with Lee, Stevenson &
Moxey and Original Theatrical Trailer, plus new extras include a 2001
Lee interview, new 2015 feature length audio commentary track by film
scholar Bruce G. Hallenbeck and the U.S. release version of the film
in standard definition. Needless to say that makes this the
definitive must-have version of the film now.
Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
(1972) has also only become more important and valuable with age as
well, the first spoof of Romero's original Night
Of The Living Dead
(1968, see all our coverage elsewhere on this site) that may be silly
and goofy, but is now more than ever, one of the most important
zombie films and
horror spoofs ever made, flaws and all. Another highly enthusiastic
review for the DVD version can be found here...
should say that some might find star Alan Ormsby a bit much and that
has some validity as a critique, yet that is his character here.
It's also a film bound to have new unintended laughs in the face of
all the new zombie film and TV shows since, plus changes in
production (improved make-up, digital shooting and digital visual
effects for better and more often for worse) making its endurance
that much more remarkable.
DVD only had an Original Theatrical Trailer, but this new Blu-ray
keeps that and adds a reversible cover, illustrated color paper
pullout with liner notes, two videos, a Photo Gallery, the complete
alternate U.K. version, Grindhouse Q&A, Memories of Bob Clark
tribute clip, Radio Spots with Ormsby, Freak 11 tribute video,
of a Grave Digger
interview with Ken Goch and a feature
length audio commentary track by Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin.
Fans and newcomers will be very pleased.
but not least is Roger Corman's The
(1967) an ambitious-for-its-time attempt to explore the drug culture
and the 'kids' who got involved with it. A very young Bruce Dern and
Peter Fonda (getting wilder than sister Jane cinematically and early)
playing a TV commercials director who decides to try out LSD! With
Jack Nicholson scripting and Susan Strasberg (also of a prominent
acting family) and Dennis Hopper turning up as the most skied-out of
them all, it is a period piece that is trying to work. It may not
always succeed, but makes for quite the time capsule, especially
considering all the up and coming talent involved and Easy Rider was
only months away (which American International, who released this
film, made the mistake of turning down).
runs 82 minutes and is a little long, but was shocking for its time,
taking a European writerly approach to portraying the experiences.
It may seem tame by todays visual effects, digital and
violence-driven films now, but it makes for an interesting
sit-through. Even when it does not work, it is great seeing all this
Original Theatrical Trailer is sadly the only extra.
1080p 1.66 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on City
is a nice upgrade from the then highly welcome, improved DVD from
years ago, with more detail, depth and a better gray scale with
better overall back and white throughout, but there are more than a
few moments of motion blur and some softness that holds back the
transfer of what looks like a fresh new 35mm print. Nonetheless, the
atmosphere is captured so much better here and makes it all chilling
all over again like never having seen it before.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Things
from a new 2K scan can show the age of the materials used, but this
is superior to the previous DVD with color and color range especially
improved in ways I thought would be possible, but I am proven very
correct with that color looking a bit like the original Dawn Of
The Dead six years before its arrival. The print flaws are
minor, but part of it comes from the low budget, so one can only do
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Trip
can also show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior
a transfer to all previous releases of the film and just edges out
the other Blu-rays as the best presentation here with its own fine
color range (though I think Things goes further in the color
department) and just barely has the cleanest print here. Nice
presentations all around.
are theatrical monophonic releases, so City
get lossless PCM 2.0 Mono presentations that are better than their
lossy old Dolby Digital mixes, but also show some new sonic limits to
the productions and their age. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Momo
lossless mix on Trip
is a little better, a little cleaner, but also simply shows its age.
In all three cases, I think they've been cleaned up nicely enough and
will not disappoint too much.