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FESTIVAL OF FRIGHT
The Monster Club/Synergy Entertainment

As you probably already know, we here at DVD Drive-In love vintage trailers! The Website TheMonsterClub.com has just released a disc entitled “Festival of Fright” which contains an assortment of classic monster movies trailers from the 1950s and 1960s (and one entry from the 1970s) which is sure to delight all you monster kids. The trailers range from gothic horror to atomic age sci-fi to European-made favorites to no-budget shockers. While watching this collection, it’s amusing to see which films are available on DVD and which ones are still MIA. Here are the trailers on the disc in the order in which they are presented:

TALES OF TERROR: Another handsome Edgar Allan Poe screen adaptation from director Roger Corman, unveiled as a trilogy with some great comic moments between Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget and “abundantly blessed” Joyce Jameson also star. Currently available on DVD from MGM with TWICE-TOLD TALES.

REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN: Great trailer for Hammer’s second Frankie entry which has star Peter Cushing talking onscreen in character, explaining how he escaped death by the guillotine. This trailer is somewhat common, but it’s not even included on Sony’s DVD release!

THE UNEARTHLY: Irresistible trash that has John Carradine as a mad scientist up to the usual crazed experiments in a mansion which houses a basement full of freaks. The legendary Tor Johnson is his brutish assistant Lobo, Myron Healy is the hero, and bombshells Allison Hayes and Sally Todd are sooooo easy on the eyes. What more could you want? Available on DVD with a beautiful transfer from Image Entertainment.

THE CYCLOPS: Director Bert I. Gordon’s follow-up to his “Colossal Man” films has James Craig, Gloria Talbott and a very worried-looking Lon Chaney adventuring to a remote land where a giant mutated one-eyed bald guy terrorizes them. Lots of real lizards substituting as mammoth dinosaurs are also abound in this “nature gone bad” favorite. This an Allied Artists release lingering in the vaults of Warner, not yet on DVD.

DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL: The original co-feature of THE CYCLOPS has Gloria Talbott again as the daughter of the famous scientist who has bad dreams about being a monster. Arthur Shields overacts and hero John Agar sports a ridiculous striped jacket which makes him look like a popcorn/peanuts salesman. Directed by Edgar J. Ulmer! Allday Entertainment released a widescreen special edition which contains onscreen interviews with Ulmer’s daughter and the late Agar.

TO HELL IT CAME: “And to Hell it can go!” Silly and cheap monster fave that features a walking tree monster which looks like it walked off the set of "H.R. Pufnstuf." An Allied Artists release now in the hands of Warner. No DVD yet.

SHE DEMONS: A campfest from cult director Richard Cunha which has a mad scientist turning bikini-clad beauties into “horrible creatures of another world.” Gene Roth’s husky, torturing Nazi and the low budget native shenanigans makes this sometimes feel like a Joe Besser-era “Three Stooges” short. Bleach-blonde Irish McCalla gets hit on a lot. It’s on DVD from Image Entertainment/Wade Williams, but doesn’t look nearly as good as their other Cunha titles.

BRIDE AND THE BEAST: Mind-numbing ineptitude from the pen of Ed Wood. A sleepwalking Lance Fuller has just married lovely Charlotte Austin, who may have once existed as a gorilla! There’s a guy in a gorilla suit (with blonde sideburns), an unbelievable amount of stock jungle footage and an exotic score by Les Baxter! Retromedia released a decent DVD of this quickie.

THE COSMIC MAN: Rather dull and talky sci-fi starring John Carradine as an alien visitor (seen mostly as a silhouette) arriving to earth via an oversized golf ball. Former Hollywood Tarzan Bruce Bennett also stars in this THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL rip-off. Paul Frees narrates this trailer. Available on DVD from Image/Wade Williams.

THE FIENDISH GHOULS: Exploitive trailer for the British horror classic also known as THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and MANIA. Peter Cushing is superb as Dr. Knox, while George Rose and Donald Pleasance are disturbingly chilling as the unscrupulous graverobbers Burke and Hare. Billie Whitelaw is also great as a loudmouthed tavern whore. The Image Entertainment widescreen DVD, which contains two versions of the film, is highly recommended.

THE RAVEN: Roger Corman directed this comical take on the Poe poem, wonderfully scripted by Richard Matheson, which has become one of the all-time greats. Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, “luscious” Hazel Court and a very young Jack Nicholson star. MGM released it on DVD as a “Midnite Movie” appropriately paired with COMEDY OF TERRORS.

QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE: Zza Zza Gabor, “the most talked about women in the world knows what she wants on Venus too!” A crew of astronauts, lead by Eric Fleming, arrive on Venus only to find a planet populated by leggy dames, governed by the wicked Queen of the title. Colorful, sci-fi hilarity (the obvious inspiration for the spoof in AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON) is very popular for a number of reasons, but Warner still has not granted us a DVD release.

CARNIVAL OF SOULS: Herk Harvey’s low budget haunting chiller is a somewhat crude but inventive and enduring cult film nonetheless. Candace Hilligoss stars, and has sort of become a horror movie icon for her performance. The trailer ballyhoos that the management of theater states,“POSITVELY NO REFUNDS.” A public domain title which has had numerous DVD releases, the one to go for is the special two-disc edition from Criterion.

TARANTULA: Giant insect horrors directed by Jack Arnold and starring John Agar, Mara Corday and Leo G. Carroll. Good special effects for the time, and some memorable make-ups by Bud Westmore. Now available on DVD as part of the “Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection,” a Best Buy store exclusive.

BLACK SUNDAY: Maestro Mario Bava’s gothic tale of vampire witches is one of the greatest horror films ever and it made the alluring Barbara Steele a Euro cult superstar. This is the awesome trailer for the AIP version of the film (“CAN YOU STAND SUCH SHEER SHOCKING TERROR!”), as the version released on DVD by Image has different music and dubbing. It’s out of print, but Anchor Bay is reportedly working on a re-release.

BLACK SABBATH: Rarely seen trailer for Bava’s essential anthology film, as released by AIP and hosted by Boris Karloff (who also stars in one segment as a vampire). Image released the Italian version of the film on DVD, which now seems to be out of print. MGM was going to release the U.S. cut as a “Midnite Movie,” but Sony took a nap during the brief period they had control of their library, and thus, no DVD. Now it’s up to Fox who are currently distributing MGM’s DVD releases. Once they get past their expected obsessions with Bond and Rocky, we can only hope they’ll release it.

THE MOLE PEOPLE: “THEY CLAWED THEIR WAY TO STRIKE, TO KILL IN FRENZY.” Another 1950s Universal sci-fi favorite starring John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Nestor Paiva, Alan Napier and Beaver Cleaver’s pop, Hugh Beaumont. Also available on DVD as part of the “Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection,” a Best Buy store exclusive.

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH: Terrific, dead serious Poe horrors from director Roger Corman featuring Vincent Price in one of his most evil roles. Shot in England by Nicholas Roeg, the film looks 20 times better than its actual budget. Available on DVD from MGM as a “Midnite Movie” double feature with THE PREMATURE BURIAL.

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED: Well-made, intelligent British sci-fi programmer concerning the town of Midwich, threatened by a bunch of Arian-looking kids all born on the same day during a mass blackout. “COULD ANY FORCE ON EARTH STOP THEIR SUPERNATURAL FURY??” George Sanders, Barbara Shelley and young Martin Stephens all give excellent performances. Warner released it on DVD with its sequel, CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED.

MACABRE: William Castle’s first foray into horror is also his first “gimmick” film. This wonderful trailer tells audiences that their lives will be insured by Lloyds of London for $1,000 against “death by fright,” that is unless they have a known heart condition or commit suicide in the theater! Also, no one will be seated during the last 10 minutes of the screening. Those were the days! An Allied Artists film now controlled by Warner, and there’s no DVD release in sight.

DR. CADMAN’S SECRET: Better known as THE BLACK SLEEP, this a classic horror fan’s dream as it features Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, John Carradine and Tor Johnson together on one screen. Johnson is not mentioned in the trailer, but non-horror star Akim Tamiroff is. This is just crying for a DVD release: MGM had it on the schedule at one time, but Sony (during their short, zero productive reign over the MGM catalog) took it off, and we’re still waiting for it. Now it’s up to MGM/Fox. Come on already!!!

CALTIKI THE IMMORTAL MONSTER: Italian-made imitation of THE BLOB directed by Riccardo Freda and photographed by Mario Bava, who also directed parts and did the special effects. Why this sucker is not on DVD is anyone’s guess, but it was originally released in The States by Allied Artists, so it may still sit with Warner.

And it doesn’t end there. The trailers to follow are FRANKENSTEIN 1970, BLACK PIT OF DR. M, MONSTROSITY (aka THE ATOMIC BRAIN), DAUGHTER OF HORROR (aka DEMENTIA), THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, DIARY OF A MADMAN, THE PROJECTED MAN, THE MUMMY (1959), THE HAUNTED PALACE, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, 13 GHOSTS, MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS, DEMANTIA 13, THE CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN and THE TINGLER.

The entire program runs 1 hour and 15 minutes. Most of the trailers are full screen, while some of the Scope-lensed titles are presented in hard-matted widescreen. The overall video presentation is very good. A really cool feature here is that there’s an optional track of scary music and sounds effects, making for a great party score. The disc is available for purchase for $14.95 at TheMonsterClub.com. (George R. Reis)

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