DVD Review: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics – Vampires, Mummies and Monsters

Spooky Season lasts from the first day the Piggly Wiggly stocks candy corn until your hangover and body paint fades away on November 2. Part of the fun of the this time of year is staying up late to ingest numerous horror films. Many celebrators repeat the old big studio frights that constantly rerun on various cable channels. Why must you spend every night with Freddy, Jason and Michael? Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies and Monsters packs in four titles that will keep your eyes wide open from dusk till dawn. The four films mix up the thrills with Dr. Frankenstein’s offspring, a female bloodsucker, a wrapped up visitor and Linda Blair.

Lady Frankenstein (1971 – 83 minutes) gives an unexpected erotic twist to the tale of a scientist giving life to a sewed up dead body. Dr. Frankenstein (Citizen Kane‘s Joseph Cotten) must delay his career making experiment when his daughter (Rosalba Neri) arrives from med school. He doesn’t want her following his branch of radical medicine. But she spies on his great success. Things go wrong with the monster and there’s a major industrial accident. She takes over the family business. Because she’s smarter than the old man, she’s got a better idea for the second attempt at building a better man. She’s going to take the brain of a guy she loves and stick him in the body of a stud. It seems like the perfect plan especially since the guy with the brain is excited at getting a hunky body. There’s an option to play the extended International Cut. The 96 minute version contains scenes snipped by Roger Corman. They found them on videotapes so the quality doesn’t match. The scenes are rather tame with little sex and violence. Corman probably shortened the film to save on film print costs.

The Velvet Vampire (1971 – 80 minutes) dazzles viewers with Michael Blodgett (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). Once more he’s Mr. California with his dirty blond hair, surfer looks and goofy charm. He and his wife (Sherry Miles) take in a hip art show and meet an important patron (Celeste Yarnell). He’s immediately smitten by Yarnell to the point that his wife is extra jealous. The wife nearly loses it when he accepts an invite for them to stay at Yarnell’s house. They get completely lost in the desert looking for the house. The guys at the local garage aren’t even helpful. The vacation in the remote house gets creepy quick since the hostess might be a bisexual vampire out to pounce on husband and wife. Yarnell’s ‘70s fashions make this better than Twilight.

Time Walker (1982 – 83 minutes) is best known to Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans as Being From Another Planet. This is a really low budget film. The movie supposedly opens in Egypt while Ben Murphy (Gemini Man) explores King Tut’s tomb. Instead of buying B-roll, they have a montage of vacation photos from Cairo. Murphy is in a dark space that’s tomb-like when he finds an usual sarcophagus. There’s no issue from the Egyptian authorities in shipping the relic back to California. Things quickly go wrong at his lab when exposing the mummy unleashes a toxic fungus. Student Kevin Brophy takes an X-ray of the mummy that shows what appears to be valuable rocks hidden in the sarcophagus. He swipes them not knowing that this will wake up the mummy. There’s a lot of stupid people in this film about a college.

Grotesque (1988 – 79 minutes) brings us another fright flick starring Linda Blair (The Exorcist). She brings a girlfriend to her parents’ house in the country. Her dad was a big time Hollywood make-up man that specialized in monster masks. The walls are covered with shocking faces. The big jolt comes when a pack of punks invading the home to rob the family. They’re in for a surprise when the supernatural gets involved along with Tab Hunter (Polyester). This is another unrealistic portrait of ‘80s punks that have become so entertaining over the years. The movie gets weird with a rather arty finale about cinema and reality. This isn’t so much Grotesque as Perplexed.

As dawn breaks at the end of this movie marathon, it’s an enjoyable mix of tricks, tricks and bumps in the night from Roger Corman. The mummy, monster creations, vampires and punks should enhance spooky season for those wishing frights that once lingered on video stores in the ‘80s. It’s not a complete nightmare inducing boxset. The low budget films also have quite a few unintentional laughs from shortcuts. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies and Monsters is a bound to keep your attention captured as you countdown to Halloween.

The video for the first three films is 1.78:1 anamorphic. Grotesque is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are fine for their age and low budget nature. Grotesque appears to be from a video master. The audio is mono on all the films. The levels are fine if you need those odd creaks and shrieks in the darkness of your living room.

As per usual with its treatment of Roger Corman titles, Shout! Factory delivers when it comes to offering a good selection of special features.

Lady Frankenstein TV Spot (0:58) cuts straight to the chase with showing Sarah Bay kissing Frankenstein’s monster. TV audiences got a sense of her strange desires.

Trailer (2:51) for Lady Frankenstein offers plenty of questions about the characters. The trailer is lifted off a video source.

Photo Gallery contains four international posters for Lady Frankenstein. They show the forbidden love aspect of a woman and a stitched together man.

Audio Commentary allows Celeste Yarnall to share her memories of being The Velvet Vampire. She’s still happy about the movie. She’s excited that Stephanie Rothman directed since women directors were a rarity 40 years ago. She declares Roger Corman is a perfect gentleman. She finally learns the secret of her character’s name from the moderator.

Trailer (1:57) sets up the carnal nature of The Velvet Vampire.

Photo Gallery
of The Velvet Vampire has posters and publicity stills. It was double featured with Scream of the Demon Lover.

Interview with Producer Dimitri Villard
(8:56) breaks down what it too to make Time Walker. Villard worked with Ed Pressman. He points out how Roger Corman bought the US theatrical and home video rights. He has quite a few great horror stories.

Interview with Actor Kevin Brophy (9:40) lets him remember his time in the mummy movie. He recalls it being fun to make. He enjoyed playing the freewheeling student to Ben Murphy’s serious scientist.

Trailer (2:02) makes better use of the Egypt photos then seen in Time Walker. I do want to see the film after this highly charged preview.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies and Monsters programs four horror films for your Spooky Season needs. There’s a diverse selection of undead critters out to claim the living to keep a variety of shrieks from the speaker.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies and Monsters. Starring: Joseph Cotten, Linda Blair, Ben Murphy and Michael Blodgett. Boxset Content: 4 movies on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: September 27, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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