Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Collection (2011, Shout! Factory)

Just in time for Halloween comes Vampires, Mummies & Monsters, a 2 disc collection from Shout! Factory's Roger Corman's Cult Classics line.  Included are (as the title states) four obscure gems that run the gamut of the horror genre.  I get excited every time a new Corman Classic release comes out and this set is no exception.
The Velvet Vampire is a modern day (well, modern for 1971 when it was released) vampire story about a couple (Michael Blodgett and Sherry Miles) who are invited to stay the weekend at a mysterious woman's lavish home in the middle of the desert.  After arriving, their host Diane (Celeste Yarnall) starts invading their dreams and tries to seduce them.  The longer they stay, they realize that their host is much older than they first thought...like centuries older.  Oh, and she's a vampire
Lady Frankenstein takes the classic story and adds a new element to it - Dr. Frankenstein's daughter.  After her father (Joseph Cotton) fails at his experiments and dies, his equally mad daughter (the beautiful Italian actress Rosalba Neri, billed here as Sara Bay) takes over her father's lab.  She employs her father's assistant Dr. Charles Marshall (Paul Muller) who is in love with her and will do anything she wants.  Unfortunately he's a little too old for her so Lady Frankenstein decides to take their mentally retarded but physically perfect handyman's body and put Marshall's brain into it.
Grotesque (1988) stars Linda Blair as Lisa, a young woman who is going for the weekend to stay at her parent's vacation home with her friend Kathy (Donna Wilkes from Jaws 2).  Lisa's father (Guy Stockwell) does makeup effects for horror movies so he loves to scare the girls with his masks.  After a gang of punks break into the house and start terrorizing the family, they find something much more terrifying than masks hiding in the house.
Time Walker (1982) follows a college professor (Ben Murphy) who is about to open a Mummy's coffin found in King Tut's tomb.  After noticing something hidden in the coffin after X-raying the mummy, one of the students breaks in to steal the treasure, which turns out to be 5 mysterious gems.  What he doesn't realize is that the radiation from the X-rays reanimated the mummy, sending it on a deadly rampage to recover the stolen gems.  

What I like best about this collection is how varied it is.  Other than the Roger Corman connection, there isn't much these films have in common besides the fact they are all low budget horror films.  We have a 70s vampire film, a Hammer-esque gothic horror film, Sci-Fi horror and a good old 80s slasher.  To be honest, none of these were necessarily great films and individually wouldn't be something I'd probably seek out but together here, they are well worth the price.  Grotesque was quite cheesy and I had some problems with it but there were also many elements I really liked about the film (Linda Blair being the main one).  Time Walker too was a little cheesy but the far out story saves it and it actually turned out to be pretty original and interesting.  The Velvet Vampire and Lady Frankenstein were both actually quite good films that had good acting, scenery and gore.  The transfers from all 4 films look amazing, especially considering the budgets and age and the set is full of special features (trailers, interviews, commentaries and two different cuts of Lady Frankenstein).  So don't go in expecting a bunch of classic horror films but I would still highly recommend this set to horror/exploitation fans for its sheer scope of the genre, the obscurity of the films included and the wealth of bonus features.
RATING:  8/10

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