'Classic Horror 4 Movie Pack'
(William Phipps, Vincent price, Victor Jory, Christopher Lee / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Classic Horror 4 Movie Pack: Five, The Mad Magician, Man Who Turned to Stone, Terror of the Tongs.
DVD Verdict: In 'Five' (1951, Black and White), starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, and Earl Lee, when a nuclear bomb destroys the world, only five survivors remain. A pregnant woman, a philosopher, a black man, a banker and an explorer seek shelter in an abandoned house. As the last living human beings, they must work together. However, their clashing visions of the future could lead to their destruction.
Post-nuclear-war dramas centering on a small group of survivors now constitute an entire genre in science-fiction films. All of them, in some way or another, can be traced back to this seminal film from 1951 in which five people deal with the possibility they are the only human beings left alive on the planet. While most of the later movies exploited this possibility for B-movie thrills, 'Five' adopts a quiet, contemplative tone which some may find dull but which thoughtful viewers are more likely to find, for want of a better word, haunting. There is something about this movie which gets under the skin and which lurks in the corners of the mind long after it's over.
In 'The Mad Magician' (1954, Black and White) starring Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor, John Emery, Donald Randolph, and Lenita Lane
Gallico the Great, a magician and master of disguise, turns into a homicidal maniac when his manager closes his show and gives his tricks to a rival magician. No one is safe as he begins to take out his victims with the same methods he used to create his illusions.
The plot is basic, and had been done before re: a Magician uses elaborate props from his magic act to dole out revenge on those who have wronged him in his professional life. First is a disloyal partner. Next, a rival magician. Price later impersonates them, by using elaborate masks, keeping them "alive," and effectively leading a double life, to keep suspecting eyes away from him and his crimes. 'House of Wax,' anybody?!
In 'The Man Who Turned To Stone' (1957, Black and White) starring Victor Jory, William Hudson, Charlotte Austin, Jean Willes, Ann Doran, and Paul Cavanagh, when a new psychiatrist is hired at a women's prison, he and a social worker begin to puzzle over some recent suspicious deaths among the young inmates. The prison warden and doctor seem to be behind a centuries-old evil plot to steal the life force of young women to extend their own unnaturally immortal lives.
This takes place at the LaSalle Detention Home for Girls. Quite a few healthy girls there seem to die suddenly of heart attacks. It seems the head of the school Dr. Murdock (Victor Jory) and associates are hundreds of years old and need to siphon the energy from young girls to stay alive. If not they petrify and turn to stone. Staff member Carol Adams (Charlotte Austin) and Dr. Rogers (William Hudson) try to find out what's going on.
Pretty laughable. The detention home for "girls" is full of actresses who are obviously in their 20s and 30s and are all so cheerful and happy. The plot itself is pretty stupid and the dialogue is pretty hysterical. Still the cast plays this blessedly straight and nobody is really bad--Jory and pro Ann Doran give out the best performances. Also the makeup on people turning to stone is pretty effective. Not good but fun in a strange sort of way.
The last film in this new collection is 'The Terror of the Tongs' (1961, Color) starring Christopher Lee, Yvonne Monlaur, Geoffrey Toone, Marne Maitland, Brian Worth, and Ewen Solon, a British sea captain seeks revenge from a gang of Hong Kong drug and slave traders, known as the Red Dragon Tong, for the death of his daughter. With the help of a former slave, they incite a riot to destroy the group.
The film actually isn't a lot like what I've come to expect from Hammer, as it's all played out rather seriously and there's not a hint of anything even resembling supernatural activity. The film doesn't reflect particularly well on the Chinese people - as despite being set in Hong Kong, there's hardly any natives on the cast list and the Chinese characters don't get to much that has any bearing on the plot. The atmosphere is nothing to write home about, although director Anthony Bushell manages to create just about enough tension to keep things ticking over. The acting is generally below average, with only Christopher Lee coming out of the film with any credibility - which is amazing considering the nature of his role! These are all either Full Screen or Widescreen Presentations (1:33.1 to 1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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