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Blu-ray Review The Vincent Price Collection II Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Richard Gallagher

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The Vincent Price Collection II Blu-ray Review

Just in time for Halloween, Scream Factory follows up its excellent and entertaining box set The Vincent Price Collection with a box set of seven more films starring the horror film icon, appropriately titled The Vincent Price Collection II. As the second such collection it is fitting that two of the films included in this set are themselves sequels, and this highly entertaining collection is good enough that fans of Price will be left eagerly clamoring for a release of The Vincent Price Collection III.

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Studio: Scream Factory

Distributed By: Shout! Factory

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

Subtitles: English

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 9 Hr. 48 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, Other

Blu-ray Flipper Case in Slipcase

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 10/21/2014

MSRP: $79.97




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

THE RAVENQuoth the Raven " Nevermore" - Edgar Allan PoeThe first film in this Blu-ray set is The Raven (1963), produced and directed by Roger Corman for American International Pictures. Scripted by Richard Matheson, it is actually a comedy-horror film with more emphasis on humor than one might expect. The script is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's immortal poem and borrows a few elements from it, but it is mostly an original effort by Matheson.Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is a retired sorcerer living in a typically (for a Corman film) cavernous, dark, and cobweb-filled castle with his daughter, Estelle (Olive Sturgess), sometime in the 15th Century. Craven still mourns the death of his wife, Lenore (Hazel Court), whose body lies in a coffin in the castle. Lenore's body is not alone, because the body of Craven's father, who also was a sorcerer, is at rest - sort of - in a dusty coffin in the basement. Craven's melancholy is interrupted by the appearance of a talking raven, who actually is Dr. Aldolphus Bello, a magician with too much love for wine. Bello has taken the form of a raven thanks to a spell cast upon him by Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff), who for years was the rival of Craven's father. A very young Jack Nicholson has a strong supporting role as Bello's son, Rexford. All of the actors appear to be having a great time and director Corman conjures up some excellent special effects, all of which leads to a climactic duel between Dr. Craven and Dr. Scarabus. In an introduction Price mentions that he and Lorre ad-libbed much of their dialogue, to the consternation of co-star Karloff, who believed in sticking to the script.THE COMEDY OF TERRORSMany people apparently believe that The Comedy of Terrors (1964) is a Corman film, but in fact he had nothing to do with it. The film was produced by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff for AIP and was directed by Jacques Tourneur (this was to be Tourneur's penultimate feature film). Due to the casting it would be easy to mistake this for a sequel to The Raven, and in fact it actually places even more emphasis on comedy (even including some slapstick) than the Corman film.Waldo Trumbull (Vincent Price) is a funeral director for whom business has been very, very slow. So slow, in fact, that he is seriously behind in the rent owed to his landlord, Mr. Black (Basil Rathbone). Trumbull forces Gille (Peter Lorre) to drum up some business by killing people. Boris Karloff reunites with Price and Lorre to play the elderly and decrepit Amos Hinchley, Trumbull's father-in-law, who is given to reciting Shakespeare. Joyce Jameson plays Amaryllis, Trumbull's opera-singing wife, and Joe E. Brown provides some comic relief as a cemetery keeper. One of the scams which Trumbull and Gille run is to re-use coffins; at the cemetery, when the loved ones have left, they dump the body from the coffin into the grave, fill in the grave, and then dust off the coffin to be used for their next victim.THE TOMB OF LIGEIAPoe writes the first reel or the last, and Roger Corman does the rest. - James H. Nicholson, American International PicturesThe Tomb of Ligeia (1964) is a Roger Corman film which he produced and directed for AIP (although AIP is not listed in the credits, presumably because it was filmed in England with a British crew). Based upon the Edgar Allan Poe short story "Ligeia," it is the last of Corman's adaptations of Poe's works. Verdon Fell (Vincent Price) is a 19th Century nobleman who has a new bride but is obsessed with his first wife, who cast a hypnotic spell over him at the moment of her demise. Elizabeth Shepherd plays the dual roles of the deceased Lady Ligeia and Fell's new wife, Rowena. The script was written by Robert Towne (Chinatown).Corman's final Poe film was a departure from the others because the exteriors were shot on location in England rather than in a studio, and the cinematography by Arthur Grant gives it a striking appearance. The somewhat convoluted plot involves the spirit of Lady Ligeia inhabiting the body of Rowena (not to mention that of a cat), leaving Fell caught in the middle. The Tomb of Ligeia is an effective chiller which also works as a love story. The opening scene brilliantly sets the stage for what is to come.THE LAST MAN ON EARTHThe Last Man on Earth (1964) was filmed in Italy and was distributed by American International Pictures in the United States. It was produced by Robert L. Lippert, who is known for such sci-fi films as Rocketship X-M and The Lost Continent. It is based upon Richard Matheson's novel "I Am Legend," but Matheson had no hand in writing the script and reportedly he was unhappy with this adaptation. Ubaldo B. Ragona directed the Italian version, and director Sydney Salkow has been credited with the English version.Vincent Price starts as Dr. Robert Morgan, who apparently is the only human survivor of an apocalyptic plague which occurred three years earlier. He is not the only living being, however. A horde of zombies/vampires are roaming the countryside, searching for victims who can quench their thirst for blood. Dr. Morgan spends his days burning corpses in a massive landfill and driving stakes through the hearts of the would-be nocturnal bloodsuckers. He has a habit of playing old records on his phonograph to drown out the shrieks of the creatures that bang on his house at night, and he uses mirrors and garlic to ward them off. His situation becomes precarious when he learns that there are other humans who have stayed alive by injecting themselves with chemicals, and they are none too happy about the fact that Dr. Morgan has killed some of their comrades. Much of the film is shown in flashback, giving viewers the opportunity to see the spread of the plague and the futile efforts by scientists such as Dr. Morgan to find a cure.While The Last Man on Earth may sound like a gruesome film, it really is not. It does, however, manage to be quite terrifying even without a lot of blood and guts. The film has ironically taken on some timeliness in view of the current fears about Ebola.DR. PHIBES RISES AGAINVincent Price returns as Dr. Phibes in this 1972 sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes (which is included in the first Vincent Price Collection). This time we find Dr. Phibes in Egypt, where he hopes to find an Elixir of Life with which he can resurrect his dead wife, Victoria (Caroline Munro). However, he has a competitor in Darrus Biederbeck (Robert Quarry), who doggedly follows Dr. Phibes throughout Egypt.As is the case with The Abominable Dr. Phibes, this film has a decidedly campy aspect to it with numerous fatalities, some of which are horrific and others which are very humorous. Familiar faces in the cast include Peter Cushing as a sea captain and Hugh Griffith and Terry-Thomas in supporting roles. It is an AIP production, directed and co-written with flair by Robert Fuest, who also directed The Abominable Dr. Phibes.RETURN OF THE FLY Suppose he does come here. What if Philippe does not have the mind of a human, but the murderous brain of a fly?I was surprised to see a 20th Century Fox title included in this collection, but here is Return of the Fly (1959), the sequel to the unforgettable The Fly (1958). Vincent Price reprises the role of Francois Delambre, and the film opens during the burial of his late scientist brother, Andre, who unfortunately was turned into a fly in the original film. Andre's son Philippe (Brett Halsey) fires up his father's matter transmitter and manages to turn himself into a human fly. We get to see more of the fly in this sequel - and in more ways than one, because this time it has an enormous head. There is a great scene where a man and a guinea pig are in the machine together, with unforgettable results.Return of the Fly is not quite up to the standard set by the original, which was directed by Kurt Neumann (who had done several Tarzan films) and had a screenplay by James Clavell. The sequel was given to Edward Bernds, who directed and wrote the screenplay. Bernds is probably best-known for directing a number of Three Stooges shorts, as well as two Stooges feature films from the early sixties. The sequel has neither the flair nor the originality of The Fly, but Price is quite good, Brett Halsey does a respectable job as his unlucky nephew, and the film has its share of fun moments.Although the Blu-ray case and slip cover show the title of this film as The Return of the Fly, the disc itself correctly identifies it as Return of the Fly. When such inconsistencies show up, my rule is to go by the title which appears in the opening credits. Incidentally, The Fly is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray from Fox.HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILLHouse on Haunted Hill (1959) is an Allied Artists release from schlockmeister William Castle. Castle, who never missed an opportunity to develop a gimmick to promote his films, dreamed up the "Emergo" process for this film, which he claimed was "more startling than 3-D." In fact, "Emergo" was just a skeleton which lit up in the dark as a pulley was used to move it back and forth over the audience. Theater patrons reportedly were fond of throwing candy and popcorn boxes at the skeleton.The story revolves around Frederick Loring (Vincent Price), who gets his kicks by offering groups of people $10,000 if they will spend a night in his haunted mansion, and he then delights in scaring the daylights out of them. Upon arrival each guest is presented with a tiny coffin which contains a loaded gun. The film is a lot of fun, as is the case with most Castle productions, and features such familiar faces as Richard Long and Elisha Cook. Jr. Keep an eye out for Julie Mitchum, the older sister (by three years) of Robert Mitchum.


Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

The video quality of these films is somewhat variable, and they are not quite pristine, but overall they are very pleasant to watch. The Last Man on Earth, Return of the Fly and House on Haunted Hill are in black & white, while the rest are in color. The aspect ratios are as follows:The Raven: 2.35:1The Comedy of Terrors: 2.35:1The Tomb of Ligeia: 2.35:1The Last Man on Earth: 2.35:1Dr. Phibes Rises Again: 1.85:1Return of the Fly: 2.35:1House on Haunted Hill: 1.78:1Robert A. Harris has already rendered his opinion on the picture quality of each film in this set, so I refer readers to his expert analysis for the particulars:A few words about...™ The Vincent Price Collection II -- in Blu-ray



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The audio for each of the seven films is DTS HD-MA mono, and the quality ranges from very good to excellent. The dialogue is clear and understandable, and the music comes across very well in each film. Les Baxter composed playful musical soundtracks for The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors. The music for The Tomb of Ligeia was scored by Kenneth V. Jones, who was a prolific film composer in the U.K. in the fifties and sixties. Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter wrote the scores for both The Last Man on Earth and Return of the Fly. The music for House on Haunted Hill was composed by Von Dexter, who worked on several William Castle films, including The Tingler. Dr. Phibes Rises Again is one of only two films which were scored by John Gale.English subtitles are available for each film in this set.


Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

The Vincent Price Collection II includes an impressive array of extras.The extras on The Raven are:*Introduction and Parting Words by Vincent Price*Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Raven*Corman's Comedy of Poe*Promotional Record (an audio recording accompanied by still photos)*Original Theatrical Trailer*A Still GalleryThe bonus materials on The Comedy of Terrors are:*Introduction and Parting Words by Vincent Price*Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Comedy of Terrors*Original Theatrical Trailer*A Still GalleryThe special features on The Tomb of Ligeia are:*Introduction and Parting Words by Vincent Price*Audio commentary by Roger Corman*A new audio commentary by Elizabeth Shepherd*Original Theatrical Trailer*A Still GalleryThe extras on The Last Man on Earth are:*Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Last Man on Earth*Still Gallery*Audio commentary by authors David Del Valle and Derek BotelhoThe only extras for Dr. Phibes Rise Again are:*The theatrical trailer*Still GalleryThe special features for Return of the Fly are:*Audio commentary by Brett Halsey and David Del Valle*The theatrical trailer and a TV spot for Return of the Fly and The Alligator People*Still GalleryThe bonus materials for House on Haunted Hill are:*Audio commentary by film historian Steve Haberman*The theatrical trailer*A featurette, "Vincent Price: Renaissance Man"*A featurette, "The Art of Fear"*A featurette, "Working With Vincent Price"Also enclosed is a thirty-page illustrated booklet with an informative essay by David Del Valle.This is a four-disc set. There are two films on each of the first three discs, while the fourth disc contains House on Haunted Hill and three featurettes. The packaging is identical to the packaging for The Vincent Price Collection, so if you have that set you know exactly what to expect.


Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The Vincent Price Collection II is a must-have for fans of the famous actor, fans of Roger Corman, and fans of horror films in general. It includes seven very entertaining films and a plethora of extras which are sure to delight. Now we can begin to speculate about which titles will be included in The Vincent Price Collection III. Certainly it will include Tales of Terror, the only Edgar Allan Poe adaptation by Corman which has not yet made it to Blu-ray. I put together a list of candidates from which the other titles are likely to be chosen:The Tingler The BatTwice-Told TalesTower of LondonThe Oblong BoxDiary of a MadmanScream and Scream AgainMadhousePlease feel free to add you own suggestions. Pleasant dreams and Happy Halloween!


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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classicmovieguy

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I wonder if Shout! will eventually release single editions of these titles (plus those from the first volume). I just really want a good copy of "House on Haunted Hill"; sadly don't really care enough for the others.
 

Russell G

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Right, bump the Tingler for Theatre of Blood and let's get that volume three set going. Nice work Richard!

Note: I'm only bumping The Tingler so that it can appear in an updated William Castle bluray set that would include insurance policies, barf bags and ghost viewers. :P
 

HenryDuBrow

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Some of those audio commentaries are new, so this box-set is extra interesting for those alone and overall it sounds like an upgrade is well worth it for us fans with the old releases. I welcome this great looking set.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Russell G said:
Right, bump the Tingler for Theatre of Blood and let's get that volume three set going. Nice work Richard!

Note: I'm only bumping The Tingler so that it can appear in an updated William Castle bluray set that would include insurance policies, barf bags and ghost viewers. :P
It would be nice if Sony reissued The William Castle Film Collection on Blu-ray.
 

classicmovieguy

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Richard Gallagher said:
It would be nice if Sony reissued The William Castle Film Collection on Blu-ray.
Or even back on DVD... I foolishly waited too long and now that set is OOP. Maybe Mill Creek will reissue it later down the track.
 

classicmovieguy

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Richard Gallagher said:
It would be nice if Sony reissued The William Castle Film Collection on Blu-ray.
Or even back on DVD... I foolishly waited too long and now that set is OOP. Maybe Mill Creek will reissue it later down the track.
 

JeffT.

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71confessions_head.jpg


While I love Vincent Price I am (definitely) not enamoured with his uninspired latter work which is quite (dramatically) lame and/or tastelessly revolting being pretty much reflective of the (dreary) times that they were made. So far Scream Factory has been limiting its choices (thankfully) focusing on Mr. Price's late 1950s and early 1960s work which is appreciated by this fan.

What will be selected in the next collection (if attempted) will entirely depend upon just what is available to Scream Factory. Would Columbia-Tristar Home Entertainment lease out THE MAD MAGICIAN (1954) and THE TINGLER (1959)? Who knows? They are both certainly welcomed choices.

Remember while both HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) and THE TINGLER (1959) were produced-directed by William Castle they were released by two entirely different film companies.

I (personally) would like to see the following in the next collection:

MASTER OF THE WORLD (1961) this is my first choice!

CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER (1962) if Scream Factory can lease one film from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment then why not two?

TALES OF TERROR (1962)

TWICE-TOLD TALES (1963)

DIARY OF A MADMAN (1963)

WAR GODS OF THE DEEP (1965)

and if seven are offered again DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965).

If the selection is increased to eight (which may not be likely) then including THE BAT (1959). If obtainable that is!

But this is a highly "idealistic" selection (or flight-of-fancy) reflecting my own taste and preferences. I fully realize that some of this latter produced grue will be slipped in. None-of-which I watch and just ignore in these sets. I'm sorry if I offend anyone but I just don't dig this stuff.

Anyway there is still some gold that can be further mined. It will be interesting to see what's featured next time.



Jeff T.

:D
 

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