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6 Degrees Entertainment

Cold War Creatures: Four Films from Sam Katzman
(Harry Lauter, Morris Ankrum, Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, Allison Hayes, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2021) / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Zombies! Werewolves! Atomic Mutation! Intergalactic Avians! Let this quartet of classic terrors take you back to the golden age of B-Movie Monsters!

A mob boss hires an ex-Nazi scientist to reanimate his dead thugs in Creature with the Atom Brain. An auto-accident survivor is used as an experimental subject to create a vaccine for nuclear fall-out with hair-raising side-effects in The Werewolf.

Treasure hunters get more than they bargained for in the search for a cargo of diamonds that went down with a sunken ship when they discover the zombified crew members are guarding the loot in Zombies of Mora Tau. Meanwhile, an enormous bird from outer-space descends to chow down on the people of planet Earth in The Giant Claw!

Four fantastic feature presentations from prolific producer Sam Katzman with a bounty of brand new extras and a raft of new writing by a range of respected raconteurs.

Blu-ray Verdict: In Creature With The Atom Brain (1955), an ex-Nazi mad scientist uses radio-controlled atomic-powered zombies in his quest to help an exiled American gangster return to power.

Evil mob boss Frank Buchanan (a perfectly nasty Michael Granger) has ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (a nice turn by Gregory Gaye) reanimate the bodies of recently deceased criminals so Buchanan can get revenge on his enemies.

Shrewd, hard-boiled police investigator Dr. Chet Walker (an excellent and engaging performance by Richard Denning) becomes determined to stop Buchanan.

Capably directed by Edward L. Cahn, with a clever and compelling script by Curt Siodmak, a brisk pace, sharp, moody black and white cinematography by Fred Jackman, Jr., genuinely creepy zombies, a spooky, rousing score by Mischa Bakaleinikoff, a tight 69 minute running time, and a thrilling conclusion, this nifty little quickie provides an inspired and entertaining blend of snappy straightforward horror and gritty film noirish crime thriller.

Next up is The Werewolf (1956) where in Mountaincrest, a stranger without memory arrives in a bar to have a drink. When he leaves the bar, a local tries to rob him but he turns into an animal and kills the attacker. Deputy Ben Clovey hunts down the animal but is wounded by it. Sheriff Jack Haines organizes a party to find the beast.

This is quite a good low budget film with a new twist to the werewolf story. There is nothing supernatural here so forget the wolfbane and the silver bullets.

Steven Ritch has the lead role and does a splendid job, making the monster even more sympathetic than the long suffering Larry Talbot of the Universal Wolfman flicks.

His character, Duncan Marsh, appears in a mountain town having no memory of who he is or how he got there. Leaving a tavern, he is followed by a man who intends to rob him.

The man pulls him into an alley and the werewolf claims his first victim. The story plays well the rest of the way. We find out that Duncan Marsh’s condition is brought on by two doctors who use him as a test subject while treating him for injuries sustained in a car accident.

Then we get Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) where zombie-like, dead crewmen of a sunken ship have always prevented salvagers from claiming the wreck’s legendary box of diamonds, but will a new group of treasure hunters succeed?

One of the sillier 1950s fright night flicks, and directed with little imagination. An unlikable search party arrives at a small African plantation with hopes of retrieving a cargo of diamonds from the bowels of a ship that was sunk some 60 years earlier.

The only problem is that the treasure’s being guarded by a small band of sleepwalking-style zombies (the original sailors who went down with the ship when it sank) and they’ve done a fine job so far of killing every other search party that has intervened over the decades!

The elderly wife of the zombified captain is still alive and wants the diamonds too, but only to destroy them so she may give rest to her husband’s wandering soul.

Lastly we encounter The Giant Claw (1957) where a global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture.

Have an open mind and you’ll love this movie. I wasn’t even close to being alive in the 50’s or even 60’s so I’m not sure of what kind of technology they had to make movies, but I think this movie did a good job with it.

Yes it’s a stick puppet, but did they have anything better? At least they made it look good when it was going to eat someone, using the screen and then the guy in the front, then switching so it looks like he’s actually getting eaten from afar. Yes the acting isn’t the best, but it does the job.

And the science explanation for the bird, I loved that, it made sense if you don’t know much about science and it works out. Possibly my favorite part of the movie!

Anyway, I personally enjoyed this movie, and so if you have an open mind it should definitely be given a chance. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with this slew of Special Features:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all 4 films
Original uncompressed mono audio for all films
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Fully illustrated 60-page collector’s book featuring extensive new writing by Laura Drazin Boyes, Neil Mitchell, Barry Forshaw, Jon Towlson and Jackson Cooper
80-page collector’s art book featuring reproduction stills and artwork from each film and new writing by historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette
2 double-sided posters featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork for each film by Matt Griffin

Brand-new introduction by historian and critic Kim Newman
Brand-new audio commentary by critic Russell Dyball
Sam Katzman: Before and Beyond the Cold War Creatures, a brand-new feature-length illustrated presentation on the life, career and films of Sam Katzman by historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette
Condensed Super 8mm version of Creature with the Atom Brain, produced for home cinema viewing
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery

Brand-new introduction by critic Kim Newman
Brand-new audio commentary by critic Lee Gambin
Beyond Window Dressing, a brand-new visual essay exploring the oft-overlooked role of women in the films of Sam Katzman by historian and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Condensed Super 8mm version of The Werewolf, produced for home cinema viewing
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery

Brand-new introduction by critic Kim Newman
Brand-new audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger
Atomic Terror: Genre in Transformation, a brand-new visual essay exploring the intersection of mythical horror creatures and the rational world of science in the films of Sam Katzman by critic Josh Hurtado
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery

Brand-new introduction by critic Kim Newman
Brand-new audio commentary by critics Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard
Family Endangered!, a brand-new visual essay examining the theme of Cold War paranoia in Sam Katzman monster movies, by critic Mike White
Condensed Super 8mm version of The Giant Claw, produced for home cinema viewing
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery

Official Purchase Link