October 14th, 2006

Works of Genius

It seems like one of the big names in the Dollar DVD fad of 2004, Genius Entertainment, hasn't released any new dollar DVDs in some time. Could it be that the market has dried up? Anyway, they are now turning to licensed product I guess. At one of my nearby Wal-Mart stores I found a display of Halloween related titles. Since this is CHEAP DVDs, I will focus only on the titles I picked up at the low low price of $3.88 each. All were released by Genius Entertainment.

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INCUBUS (1965) starring the mighty William Shatner, is a must own, especially at $3.88. This film is VERY weird, which means I like it a load. I'll try to describe it: an allegorical horror fable shot entirely in the "universal language" of Esperanto. Huh? You heard me. English and French subtitles are included, so don't be afraid. This movie is like a Bergman or Kurosawa art film of the period, mixed with a satanic horror film, something out of ancient mythology and a Brothers Grimm fairy tale all in one. There's a creepy out-of-time, out-of-place feel that adds to the unique qualities of this film. It's all about a female demon trying to tempt a "good man" (Shatner) into hell and failing miserably, thus prompting revenge. Plus, there's two commentary tracks, one with SHAT all alone. He doesn't say things every second due to his penchant for dramatic...............pauses. But what is there is pure gold.

TERROR IS A MAN (1959) is a Filipino horror film with American actors, out of the stable of Sam Sherman's Independent International Pictures. For a low budget effort, this is very effectively scary, with good music, atmospheric locations, an effective building sense of doom, and excellent black-and-white photography. The acting is even pretty good from most of the cast. Plotwise, this flick is a total rip off of The Island of Dr. Moreau, but does that matter? This film is the first installment in the "Blood Island" series which had at least four sequels through 1972 -- this is probably the best of them. A better no-budget film, and worth the price easily.

and finally TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1976). This is not from Hammer Studios, but fans of that outfit will be at home here, with a similar look and atmosphere. This Swedish-Irish co-production (I've reading about movies for decades and I've NEVER come across that particular phrase) has atmospheric European locations, a decent budget and rather good acting. This is a very faithful adapation of the Mary Shelley novel, including even the prolog about Frankenstein chasing the monster across the frozen wastes to the North Pole, which most films omit. Another film from Sam Sherman's slush pile. Also a worthwhile purchase.

As I have admitted, I usually (but not always) like older films, but there were some newer horror/gore titles also on sale for $3.88 including some Chupacabras movie (I think it was this) which I almost picked up. So there's probably some other stuff available there for fans of more recent Halloween frolics.