we have a set of six films presented by Anchor Bay in the
same coffin-shape box format as last year's Norman
J Warren Collection. It is nicely packaged,
with an accompanying booklet, but the films themselves range
from inspired to awful. Tony Tenser moved from independent
film making, forming Tigon because at that time he saw only
two types of films making money: horror and sex. After The
Sorcerers, for which there is a theatrical trailer on
the first disc, he hired Peter Cushing in a failed attempt
to out-Hammer Hammer Films with The Blood Beast Terror.
The film that was to make his name though was Witchfinder
General (1968) stars Vincent Price in, arguably, his most
serious role. In a time of civil unrest between the King's
Royalist Cavaliers and Cromwell's Roundheads, Witchfinder
General Matthew Hopkins wreaks his own twisted trials and
executions, being paid silver for each hanging. Richard Marshall,
a young Roundhead soldier, returns on temporary leave to the
village where he is shortly to be wed to a priest's daughter,
Sara. After he has gone, Hopkins declares the priest a subject
of Satan. Sara agrees him favours of the flesh in return for
the priest's life, but the priest is killed anyway. The Roundhead
returns with natural thoughts of retribution.
As a result of mutual contacts, Ian Ogilvy appears in a handful
of films directed by Michael Reeves. Here he plays Richard
Marshall. Aside from Price, there are roles by Tony Selby,
Godfrey James, and Steptoe himself Wilfred Brambell. Sadly,
Reeves died shortly after making this film had secured him
a new three-picture deal with Tigon. This movie is obviously
seen to be the strongest offering in the set, but as a certain
chapter in the Star Wars saga revealed, "No, there
is another." Extras on this disc include Blood Beast: The
Films of Michael Reeves documentary, Production Notes
by Kim Newman, an Export Version of the film, and a music
video of Cathedral playing their song about the subject (I
like Metal, but this is a terrible display of musicians trying
to be Ozzy and Black Sabbath).
Body Stealers is Tigon's attempt at science fiction; a
sort of cross between James Bond and Quatermass. A number
of military parachutists are literally disappearing in mid-air.
A confused and embarrassed Ministry call in an independent
expert who discovers that all of the missing men had undergone
astronaut training. The recovered parachutes are radioactive,
but are stolen before they can be properly tested. A chance
encounter with a mysterious woman on a beach at night seems
completely coincidental; however, when he decides on a parachute
jump himself, the expert uncovers a link between the woman
and the missing men which extends beyond the stars.
unconvincing springs to mind here. The James Bond-like expert
isn't athletic or handsome and yet every woman he comes into
contact with practically swoons at his feet. There's even
the Captain Kirk-type kiss the alien babe scene. The booklet
explains that this film was aimed at the kiddie matinee market,
but I think they should have credited the kids with more intelligence.
This movie is a vehicle which depreciates the moment it leaves
the showroom. It looks extremely dated, even for the 1970s,
and has bad 1950's science fiction concepts. "Our world is
dying." Oh, please. How are a few third-rate actors in parachutes
going to prevent that? I would have called the movie The
Woolly Jumpers. One thing worth watching is film of a
Red Arrows airshow near the beginning; still the greatest
aircraft display team in the world. Extras on this disc and
the others are minimal trailers and radio spots.
The Haunted House of Horror, a group of young party
revellers leave a swinging sixties party to spend a night
in an empty, supposedly haunted house. One of the women has
recently broken off a relationship with an older man who is
now stalking her. A short while after she leaves the house
alone, one of the young men inside is viscously knifed to
death by an unknown assailant. The others, realising it could
only be one of them, decide to cover it up. The event plays
on their minds until they make the decision to return to the
house in an attempt to uncover what happened.
nice to see the likes of Richard O'Sullivan and George Sewell,
faces which became more recognisable throughout the seventies.
This isn't a bad movie; there's a lot more activity in this
one than The Beast in the Cellar for example, but the
premise is far too simple and you'd have to be pathologically
slow not to guess who the killer is before the end. To tighten
the conclusion the characters are reduced down with no more
reason than "I'm going home." "Oh, can you give me a lift
my opinion, Blood on Satan's Claw is the real strength
in this set. A young nobleman returns home to introduce his
betrothed. Unfortunately, his mother and the local judge do
not approve of his dalliance with a commoner (pretty and polite
as she is). The mother puts her up in the barely habitable
attic for the night and locks the door. The young woman receives
a demonic visitation in the night and is so hysterical that
she is carted-off to the sanatorium the next day. This turns
out to be the beginning of an evil uprising. Satan needs to
be physically whole before existing on the earth. A number
of people are developing hairy patches of skin on various
limbs and succumbing to a growing cult. Only the judge and
the young nobleman stand in its way, and the latter has developed
his own growth.
I like this story a lot; it's well-paced and doesn't try to
be too clever. Added to that, it's the only film in this set
that has creepy moments. The balance is also good; it knows
when to be light-hearted or jaunty, or even tongue-in-cheek.
There's a handful of recognisable faces in this one too. Patrick
Wymark, Michele Dotrice (Betty in Some Mothers...),
and Doctor Who followers might recognise Anthony Ainley,
Simon Williams, and Wendy Padbury (who comes to a very violent
The Beast in the Cellar, two elderly spinsters live
in a large house not far from an army base. When a private
is found ripped to pieces the police begin a search for a
large animal - possibly an escaped leopard. However, a second
slaying confirms that the perpetrator is human but animalistic.
The two women harbour a dark secret; a creature walled-up
in their cellar for 30 years has escaped. But what is the
link between the spinsters and the creature?
best thing about this film is Beryl Reid who is very good
in her straight role as the weaker sister. The Beast in
the Cellar has an undeserved decent reputation, but the
truth is it's nothing more than endless conversations between
the two sisters and lingering shots taking in perpetual wanderings
around the house and grounds. The entire story hinges on the
creature who looks like a cross between a b-movie budget werewolf
and the man who says, "And now for something completely different..."
in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
In Virgin Witch, two young women run away to London
seeking fame and fortune. When one of them sees a magazine
spread for an advertising agency she turns up and, against
all the odds, secures a modelling job at a large house in
the country. The two women go together, but soon discover
they have been set up by a witches' coven.
This film is rubbish but you can't help laughing. It's a thinly
disguised mild blue- or exploitation-movie. For fear of sounding
like a prude, this is any excuse to show the female form,
which wouldn't be so bad if you felt that they had something
important to say with the film apart from, "sex sells." I
know we live in enlightened times, but even back when this
was made it must have been unusual to immediately trust and
fall for someone who's just picked them up at the side of
the road after seeing a bit of leg. In this film it's the
company that turns out to be untrustworthy and dangerous,
and the lecherous driver the hero.
nicely presented package from Anchor Bay, who seem to care
about their horror products more than most. However, only
two of the six films are really worth watching, the rest being
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