The Black Imp (film #7 on The Movies Begin, Volume Four: The Magic of Melies (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Back in the bad old days before hotel sanitation laws, you could never be sure that the room you just checked into wasn't infested by a black imp who could and would make objects appear and disappear at will for its own amusement. Needless to say, a good night's sleep is well nigh impossible under such circumstances. Georges Melies has a grand old time playing around with stop motion. The restored print of this film is absolutely stunning. A 1905 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Grandpa's Monster Movies (Amvest Video, 1988). [Category: Commercial]Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster hosts this compilation of trailers from classic horror films. Grandpa makes the weakest of hosts for this sort of tape. His jokes are lame and he overplays them shamelessly. And there's way too much of him––he appears between almost every trailer. He does have one of the more interesting "Igors", though––one that is almost as swishy as Locar. The trailers are mostly from classic Universal horror films of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. If you're a fan of those great old films, then you might find this tape at least a bit interesting––the film quality is quite good considering their age. Unfortunately, the trailers in and of themselves are not very interesting––they're pretty straightforward and dull. The tape gets 5 extra points for listing the trailers in order on the package, but gets docked 5 points for having Grandpa announce at the beginning of the tape that they're going to be showing "bad" movies––these old Universal horrors are classics!
- The typefaces in many of these trailers are great––especially the ones in Dracula's Daughter, Dracula, and Black Friday.
- Most of the trailers are from a Screen Gems rerelease and they end with an utterly plain title card with the movie title in block letters sans articles, i.e. "FRANKENSTEIN MEETS WOLFMAN". This is ever-so-slightly strange.
- House of Dracula features a hunchbacked nurse! Now that's scary!
- Gimmick Alert! The trailer for Black Friday claims Bela Lugosi was hypnotized in order to give a more realistic performance!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular extras (Something Weird, 2001). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]When I first saw the spook show trailers on the Hey Folks! It's Intermission Time tapes, I said to myself, "Somebody should write a book about the history of those spook shows. I'd buy it!" Well, leave it up to Something Weird to go one better than that. This DVD, in addition to containing Monsters Crash the Pajama Party and all the other items I've reviewed seperately, also contains a ton of extras, including a gallery of spook show ads and stills with a soundtrack containing spook show radio spots, illustrated essays on how to do various spook show effects, lots of silly/strange movie clips, a short film of a spook house ride, a booklet containing memories of a spook show promoter, and even the full-length feature Tormented. It's all controlled with spooky animated menus designed to give you lots of surprises (Hint: If those menus frustrate you, or you just want to make sure you find everything, try using the numbers on your DVD remote). Altogether, it makes possibly the best ephemera DVD ever made, and certainly one of the best uses of the technology to cover a particular topic. Until the definitive history of spook shows comes out, this DVD is the resource on the subject.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.
Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...
Autumn on the Farm . Farm kids Joan and Jerry have fun exploring the farm during the autumn in this 1940s EB film. They pick apples, grapes...
Beginning at Plymouth Colony. From the title, this 50s film sounds like it will be a dry historical film about the settlers at Plymouth Co...
Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...