Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Val Lewton Horror Collection |
Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark
Actors: Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Frances Dee, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi
Directors: Gunther von Fritsch, Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson, Robert Wise
Genres: Classics, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Val Lewton, a famous RKO Radio Pictures producer, redefined the horror genre with low-budget, high-box office films. Now available are nine of these horror classics on DVD in the all new Val Lewton Horror Collection. Exclu... more »
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Classy Classic for the horror connoisseur
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 07/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, Wow! I just was doing a happy dance over Hammer's release of their films I have long wanted and now here is the ultimate Val Lewton Horror Collection. Jacques Tourneur and Lewton created very special horror films. They were thinking man's horror film. Film in glorious black and white where shadows were long and dark (never achieved in colour films because of the bright lights needed), these films are moody, sinister, dark tales that whisper from the shadows instead of screaming boo!
"The Cat People" is more familiar to most people. This deals with a female who is a marmaluke (in Scotland we call them Greymalkins or Cait Sidhe), a female who can turn into a cat. The sequel "Curse of the Cat People" was slightly oddball. A sequel and yet some of it seems off. In the first film, Kent Smith who plays Oliver Reed (joke there!!) falls for Simone Simon is Irena who is a marmaluke. Later, as her nature reveals itself Smith turns to Jane Randolf (Alice), sending Simone in to a rage. In Curse of the Cat People, Oliver and Jane have married and now have a daughter. She is a little odd and lonely and suddenly starts seeing Irena's ghost. Then an old lady and her daughter come into her life, both recognizing the child as a "cat person" EXCUSE ME? did something get left on the cutting room floor. Irena died. The child is Alice's so WHY is the child touched by the Cat People. This is never explained well. Still, it's a very moody film and is enjoyable.
One of my Fav films of all times is the silly titled "I Walked With a Zombie" This is Tourneur and Lewton adapting Bronte's tale into a modern day version of Jane Eyre! It dark, moody and simply a classic.
The great Karloff turns up in another Lewton adaptation - this time Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher", though not directed by Tourneur but another director I really respect Robert Wise. A young doctor needs a body for his medical experiment and Karloff is more than willing to get the - one way or another!
The Leopard Man was again the teaming of Lewton and Tourneur and shows horror can be set in many places. This is in the desert resort town in Mexico. For a publicity stunt, an agent gets his talented star to make an entrance with a leopard on a leash. A jealousy rival scares the cat and it flees. Later a girl is killed. Then another. But it's it the cat or something more sinister?
The Ghost Ship has the mysterious captain who may not have both oars in the water. Not Lewton's best effort, but still very enjoyable.
Karloff is back in "Isle of the Dead" and "Bedlam". In the first, Karloff plays Greek general traveling with others. Soon the plague is following them so Karloff quarantines the house. If that is not enough worries. Karloff becomes convinced one girl is a vampire. St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum in 1761 London is the setting for Bedlam. Karloff gives a super performance as the head doctor who controls all.
The Seventh Victim is another great film that is often overlooked. A devil cult is thriving in Greenwich Village. Six people vowed to secrecy. The six are now dead. And now a new member the seventh of the group is missing. A young Kim Hunter comes asearching for her sister the seventh missing member.
Movies for cold, dark nights when the wind howls!
Robert H. Garcia | la | 01/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am still the proud owner of the Val Lewton box set on Laser. And I approached the DVD release of same with great optimism. Wow-what a let down. Suffice it to say that whatever/whichever was the source for this dvd release--it was/is bizarre. The prints of all these Lewton releases are incredibly inferior to the laser versions. Full of speckles, static, fadings and the like--this is a set that sets a new low for digital re mastering. If any. These are allegedly classic repros from the originals. But they are not. One only has to match the dvd versions against the LASER DISC versions--and the proof is in the pudding. Technically the source material seems to be Grade Z. As if the production team went to the vhs versions of these films. What happened? At any rate--one is supposed to say that WOW how great to have these Lewton films on DVD. Nope. I am waiting for the real digital versions. Anyone who wants to invest in this early set--You are welcome. But be warned. Your memory of Lewton will be destroyed by these prints."
The must-have release of the year for any true horror film f
Eric | Columbus, OH | 10/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whereas in the 30s, low-budget studio Universal could only establish any success (with rare exception) with horror films, it was the 1940s when the brilliant producer Val Lewton re-invented the genre with a series of nine modestly budgeted films, most of which remain among the most highly-regarded in the genre.
I was fortunate enough to find an early copy of this boxed set today, and was bowled over by what I've seen so far. The transfers are the best I've ever seen, with wonderful commentaries (the best coming from Greg Mank and Tom Weaver) and
a terrific bonus documentary created especially for this collection.
Not just talking heads and clips, the Lewton documentary is expertly crafted.
DO NOT PASS THIS COLLECTION UP! I'm glad I didn't."
Great films, poor-quality DVDs
Steven K | Portland OR | 01/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love the atmospheric work done by Lewton, Robson, Tourneur, Wise, et al. But I'm disappointed in these DVDs.
Worst of all, I cannot even watch 'The Body Snatcher' beyond the first 15 minutes because a defect in the disc prevents it from being played. This has happened on multiple drives, and the disc was never mishandled. Yet fine scratches and pits are visible on this disc, and to a lesser extent on other discs in the set. Plus, all these DVD discs are surprisingly flimsy (like the very cheapest of CD-R discs).
So far I have viewed 3 full movies using these DVDs, and during each one, the drive has "stuck" at least once during playback -- though no intervention was necessary to continue playback. (I'm not counting 'The Body Snatcher' which required that the disc be ejected.)
Aside from the physical defects, I am also disappointed in the quality of the "restoration" -- but I do not believe that all the imaging is of equally poor quality across the discs. As I recall, 'Seventh Victim' and 'Walked with a Zombie' looked quite good. But 'Bedlam' looked and sounded awful, and what little I experienced of the 'Body Snatcher' was also very disappointing in both appearance and sound. In fact, the VHS I viewed years ago might have looked better than this DVD (at least the VHS was playable all the way through).
The trailers look even worse. Perhaps the trailers were damaged because they were circulated and screened more than the actual feature films. Or maybe the feature films were slightly restored -- but I doubt that.
I also doubt if the manufacturer bothered to contact all the possible sources to find the cleanest prints of these films.