One classic and three you have to be in the mood to enjoy
calvinnme | 06/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This two disc collection contains the long-awaited "Walking Dead" and three other rather minor horror films.
The following is the press release for this set:
The Walking Dead (1936)
The Walking Dead is a unique blend of cinematic horror and the classic Warner Bros. gangster stylings. This long-admired cult favorite stars Boris Karloff, who gives an outstanding performance as John Ellman, an ex-con framed for murder who's sentenced to the electric chair. When Ellman is brought back to life through the miracles of science, his only task is to seek revenge against those responsible for his death. Michael Curtiz directs.
Commentary by historian Greg Mank
Nearly twenty years after his final appearance as the Frankenstein monster in Son of Frankenstein, Boris Karloff returned to the screen in a new film derived from the Mary Shelley story that first catapulted him to stardom. In this 1958 horror classic, Karloff appears in the role of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a descendent of the original doctor, whose depleted fortune forces him to grant a film crew access to the family castle to shoot a horror film. It's not all bad, though, since he now has a supply of fresh body parts ready for harvesting.
Commentary by historians Charlotte Austin and Tom Weaver
You'll Find Out (1940)
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre poke fun at their horror-genre personas in this 1940 RKO mix of music, murder and mirth. The plot finds the trio of horror legends leaving a trail of terror and laughs along the way, as they plan a murder in order to nab a young heiress' inheritance in a spooky, spoofy haunted house tale. The film was one of several hits of the era featuring the music and merriment of the then popular Kay Kyser and his band. The film's original song, "I'd Know You Anywhere" was Oscar nominated.
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
The emphasis is equally spread between horror and humor in this RKO production that has endeared itself to generations of die-hard Lugosi fans. Here, Bela Lugosi stars as mad scientist Dr. Paul Renault who ends up with more than he bargained for when he encounters two inept Broadway press agents (Alan Carney and Wally Brown) looking for a real-life zombie to use for a publicity stunt in promoting a new nightclub.
End of press release.
The Walking Dead is a true horror classic. I was surprised to discover it was a Warner product because it is made in the Universal horror style of the Laemmle era of that studio. The other three films are full of great memories from my childhood and Sunday matinees of horror films that ran on local TV. Most of the fun of the other three films consist of the combination of camp and horror. Plus it is good to see Warner finally getting some of those old RKO properties cleaned up and put out for general release."
THIS SET IS TOTALLY WORTH IT! AND FRANKENSTEIN 1970 IS IN WI
Maxwell Starr | Waycroft, VA | 07/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"10/10/09 FOLLOW UP
The dvd set is now available and it is definitely worth buying!! You can read my commentaries of the four films below. This is just a follow up to say that all four features are excellent transfers with high quality image and sound - and most happy is the news that FRANKENSTEIN 1970 is in the WideScreen format!! Karloff and Lugosi fans should have no complaints and, indeed, rejoice in having such a fine dvd set to add to their collection.
The following are commentaries on the films included in the set. These are four worthwhile K&L movies and are presented in a pristine and proper condition, they're a must for all K&L fans and movie buffs everywhere.
THE WALKING DEAD - This is a fine thriller from the thirties. It's a fusion of crime drama and the supernatural. Karloff is a musician set up by mobsters for a crime he didn't commit and is sent to the electric chair. Scientist Edmund Gwenn resurrects him from the dead and Karloff seeks reprisal against those who wronged him - and finds a few moments to resume his music. A well done film from director Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA) with lots of atmosphere. It plays like a story from the thirties publication, WEIRD TALES. Film historian Greg Mank adds an informative commentary track.
FRANKENSTEIN 1970 - Warner DVD got it right! It is a CinemaScope picture and its in its proper widescreen format and not in a full screen distortion (like Warner's disappointing VHS release several years ago). Dr. Frankenstein (Karloff) accepts a lucrative payment for allowing a TV crew into his ancestral castle to do a documentary about his famous great great granddad. With his loot, Dr. F sets up an atomic lab beneath the castle's crypt to carry on with experiments of life and death. The TV crew are an annoyance to Dr. F but prove to be a good source for harvesting organs. This is an underrated and wrongly maligned film. It's certainly not the best Frankenstein film made but it's far from being the worse and actually has good points that make it enjoyable (photography, sets, some gruesome moments and some shocks). Karloff is in fine form as a latter day Frankenstein disfigured and apparently rendered impotent by Nazi experiments. He does NOT give a 'hammy' or 'phoned in' performance as several knotheaded reviewers have said in the past. This film was originally double billed with THE ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (a vastly inferior film - in spite of its cult status). F70 is NOT a 'Bomb' but rather it is a fun film and a guilty pleasure.
YOU'LL FIND OUT - Here is another film underrated by more knotheaded reviewers down through the years. Often it is stated that the talents of the three stellar bogeymen in the film are wasted. NOT TRUE! Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Bela Lugosi are all splendid in their parts. Spooky comedies were popular in the forties and this film is one of the better ones. When I was a kid, this movie showed up on a local TV station several times in a year and I watched it as often as possible. I've seen it recently and it holds up well. A young heiress to a fortune is targeted for murder by the three villains. The story takes place in an isolated mansion near the sea. The heiress has invited her friends to spend a weekend there to celebrate her 21st birthday. She also invites a popular band (Kay Kayser and his College of Musical Knowledge) to play for the occasion. A furious thunderstorm ensues and the bridge to the property blows up stranding everyone in the house where the weirdness increases. The film contains everything one would want in a spooky mystery comedy - intrigue, danger, rooms filled with mysterious and odd artifacts, secret passageways, creepy seances, funny setups and good pacing. Kay Kyser, Dennis O'Keefe and Ish Kabbible give good comedic performances. And Karloff, Lorre and Lugosi are properly menacing and are excellent straightmen to the comedy. The big band music is fine, too. It's an all around fun romp.
ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY - This is another forties spooky comedy - and a good one. A Broadway gangster (Sheldon Leonard) plans to open a zombie themed night club and hires two PR men to promote it. When their PR hype promises a real zombie for opening night the mob boss sends them to the Carribbean to bring one back and make good their promise. On a jungle island they meet Dr. Renault (Lugosi) who's creating zombies via a formula (pronounced 'formoo-lah' by Lugosi) injected into the blood. Wally Brown and Alan Carney are the two PR men and, Abbott and Costello comparisons aside, they are funny and work well together. Lugosi shines in his mad doctor role and exhibits a flair for comedy (the scene of him chasing a lab monkey is very amusing). Plus a young and beautiful Anne Jeffreys (Marion Kirby on TV's TOPPER) joins in the shenannigans. It's a fast paced film with fine performances from everyone. This film was made three years before Abbott and Costello ever thought of meeting Frankenstein and it holds up to this day as a terrific horror comedy.
So, Karloff and Lugosi fans rejoice! This IS a great dvd set to add to your collection (Warners came through with a WideScreen transfer of Frankenstein 1970). So settle back and enjoy some old fashion fright fun with this quartet of K&L goodies."
Anything Karloff is welcome but...
pestcomics | Long Island, New York USA | 06/26/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am happy to see a new major studio release of some Boris Karloff titles I am a little surprised that Warner didn't just release a full Karloff box set. I was hoping that they would take "The Walking Dead" and add "West of Shanghai" (Warners 1937), "The Invisible Menace" (Warners 1938), "British Intelligence" (Warners 1940), "Devil's Island" (Warners 1940), "You'll Find Out" (RKO 1940) and maybe even "The Lost Patrol" to create a complete Karloff tribute set. I am guessing that they didn't want to mix horror and non-horror titles and dilute what is obviously a Halloween themed set.
The one true gem in this collection is 1936's "The Walking Dead." This Michael Curtiz directed film is a strange combination of Warner gangster picture and Universal horror film. These two genres mix together to create a strange but entertaining hybrid. Karloff, at the height of his fame, gives a wonderful performance. "The Walking Dead" is an example of a quality big studio horror picture created in an era when this kind of entertainment hadn't been relegated to B movies. This film alone is well worth the purchase price.
The other films in this set are another story. "You'll Find Out" and "Zombies on Broadway" dating from 1940 and 1945, respectively, are comedies in which Karloff and Lugosi lend their horror personas as mere props for the likes of big bandleader Kay Kyser and a second rate Abbott & Costello team to play off of. Sadly, both actors are hugely wasted in these films. The last film in the set is 1958s "Frankenstein 1970." This one is another B horror film entry that probably played many a drive-in during it's original release. Karloff, as always, still manages to give a dignified performance.
If you are a Karloff fan you will probably want to add this set to your collection if only for "The Walking Dead.""
Buy it for "The Walking Dead"!
T. Casey | Boston MA USA | 09/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with everyone regarding this classic 1936 horror film. The other two comedies are actually enjoyable and kind of funny, but definitely grade-B movies. I never saw "Frankenstein 1970", and even when I buy this disc, I may never see it. It just doesn't interest me.
But "The Walking Dead"...
Excellent horror / sci-fi / gangster / courtroom drama. Sounds like a lot to pack into 72 minutes, but it works. And Karloff actually looks a lot like the classic 1931 Frankenstein monster in a lot of the scenes, especially from a distance when lit from underneath. One of William K. Everson's "Classics Of The Horror Film" (look the book up on Amazon and buy it!), which made me search the title out in the first place.
The laserdisc transfer was excellent, so this should look as good or better."