Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monsters Inc.

Now shored up by Fox Home Video, MGH Home Video has relaunched its dormant, but beloved, Midnite Movies line--beloved by me, anyway, and audiences who enjoy a good old-fashioned monster movie. The titles are packaged as double feature sets (some with two movies on one disc, others with separate platters) and range from black-and-white chestnuts like The Vampire and The Return of Dracula, from the late Fifties (to think they were only maybe 15 years old when I first saw them on TV's Chiller Theater) to the British-produced EC Comics adaptations Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, with their unexpectedly tony casts (Ralph Richardson, etc.)

Others, like the very good Witchfinder General (Vincent Price, minus horror ham in a grim historical tale of witchburnings), get their own dedicated discs and a few extras besides. Star spotters will get a kick out of the 1981 slasher picture The Burning, a prehistoric credit for the just-founded Miramax featuring Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and the debuting Holly Hunter, who it is safe to assume does not provide a commentary. I've always wanted to see a good-quality version of 1976's nature-run-wild picture Food of the Gods ("for a taste of hell!," said the ads) and I don't think 1974's Chosen Survivors, a film I know only from its grim TV spots, has ever made the rounds on cable, broadcast, or home video. Thanks to Midnite Movies, I can scratch those particular itches.

But there's more. Fox has released The Fly Collection, featuring the 1958 classic, its 1959 sequel, Return of the Fly, and a DVD debutante, the lurid, and as I recall fly-less, 1965 offshoot Curse of the Fly. (The later Eighties versions are buzzing around on their own.) And Universal has once again taken to Best Buy for its store-exclusive second helping of Forties and Fifties sci-fi, with a modestly budgeted "classics" set that includes the hugely entertaining Dr. Cyclops and a favorite dinosaur picture, 1957's The Land Unknown, in its original widescreen format. I sort of wish Halloween had come early on a different date but the monsters are hereby unleashed, with more to arrive over the next few weeks.

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