Film Masters to Bow 1961 Drive-in Classic ‘The Devil’s Partner’ on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 16

Vintage film restoration and distribution company Film Masters continues its tribute to the pope of pop cinema Roger Corman with the third installment of The Filmgroup series, The Devil’s Partner (1961), due on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 16. The release includes a bonus film, Creature From the Haunted Sea.

Corman and his brother Gene founded The Filmgroup to distribute their own films. While the company did produce the majority of its films, including the cult classic Creature From the Haunted Sea, it also occasionally acquired projects by other filmmakers, as is the case with The Devil’s Partner. During the summer and fall of 1961, the two films were often paired as a double feature.

Director/actor Edgar Buchanan (best known as Uncle Joe on “Petticoat Junction”) appears in the supernatural thriller The Devil’s Partner, about an old codger trying to reclaim his youth, employing black magic to lure a woman away from his rival. The film also stars Jean Allison, Richard Crane and Ed Nelson. The independent feature has been hailed as a pioneering film in the devil worshiping subgenre made popular in the ’70s. Made in 1958, it languished with no release date until it was picked up and distributed by The Filmgroup, becoming a steady presence on the drive-in circuit, often appearing in tandem with Creature From Haunted Sea, another Corman classic from the golden age of drive-in schlock.

Creature From Haunted Sea is a spoof of spy/gangsters/monster movies starring Anthony Carbone as a gangster and smuggler who decides to kill members of the ship’s bungling crew and blame their deaths on a legendary sea creature. What he doesn’t know is that the creature is actually out there. It also stars Betsy Jones-Moreland and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) under the pseudonym Edward Wain. The film was conceived when Corman finished shooting The Last Woman on Earth in Puerto Rico and discovered he had enough film left over to make another film. He enlisted long-time associate Charles B. Griffith, who — legend goes — had six days to write the script. Ever the pragmatist when it came to budget, Corman recruited locals to appear in this film as extras.

Special features include commentary for The Devil’s Partner by Larry Strothe, James Gonis, Shawn Sheridan and Matt Weinhold of the “Monster Party” podcast and commentary for Creature From the Haunted Sea by Tom Weaver, with contributions from Roger Corman, Kinta Zertuche and Larry Blamire. Weaver also provides the liner notes for Creature From the Haunted Sea. Ballyhoo Motion Pictures contributes Hollywood Intruders: The Filmgroup Story with Part III of the story, as well as a new interview with Roger Corman on the formation of The Filmgroup; recut trailers, based on the original theatrical trailers; the original Creature From the Haunted Sea theatrical trailer (from 16mm archival elements scanned in 4K); and a full essay for The Devil’s Partner by author Mark McGee.

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Both films are presented with a theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, as well as in a 1.37:1 television format. The televised version of Creature From the Haunted Sea includes an additional 15 minutes of footage shot years later to extend the film for a sale to Allied Artists. Discs are region free and include English SDH.  Audio is DTS-HD/Dolby AC3s. 

Roger Corman Double Feature ‘The Terror’/’Little Shop of Horrors’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 12

A Roger Corman double feature of the spooky gothic tale The Terror (1963) — marking the 60th anniversary of its release this year — and the comedic horror flick The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) are being released in a special-edition, two-disc collector’s set on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 12 from Film Masters.

In The Terror — with an all-new HD restoration from 35mm archival elements — an 18th century French Lieutenant in Napoleon’s army encounters the ghostly apparition of a young woman (Sandra Knight). Curiosity leads Lt. Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) to the castle of Baron Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), where he notices a painting of the Baron’s late wife Ilsa, who looks identical to the ghostly woman. Determined to unravel the castle’s mystery, Duvalier learns that the Baron has many terrifying secrets. Though officially credited to Corman, The Terror had a total of five collaborative directors, including Nicholson, Monte Hellman and Francis Ford Coppola.

The Terror has languished in the public domain for decades,” Film Masters president Phil Hopkins said in a statement. “We’re delighted to have put together a celebratory and thought-provoking version with an award-winning team of contributors. Fans of the film will appreciate the editorial bonus features, which take a much-needed deep dive into this infamous Corman classic.”

In a newly restored HD version, The Little Shop of Horrors is the story of Seymour (Jonathan Haze), a lonely florist, and his hungry plant Audrey, for whom he goes to great lengths to ensure that his green friend is fed and happy. With a cast that also includes Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles and a very young Jack Nicholson as a scene-stealing dental patient with a high threshold for pain, Corman and screenwriter Charles Griffith give us a comic horror masterpiece that inspired a Broadway musical, which led to a remake of the film that was nominated for two Oscars.

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Special features include a commentary track on The Terror with C. Courtney Joyner and Dr. Steve Haberman; a commentary track on Little Shop of Horrors with author Justin Humphreys and the film’s star Jonathan Haze; an essay by Joyner on the Karloff/Poe connection; liner notes from Mark McGee for The Little Shop of Horrors; Ballyhoo Motion Pictures’ part two of the featurette “Hollywood Intruders: The Filmgroup Story”; a featurette by Howard S. Berger, “Ghosts in the Machine: Art & Artifice in Roger Corman’s Celluloid Castle,” on The Terror; and recut trailers, based on the original theatrical trailers.

Both films are presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Discs are region free and include English SDH.  Audio is DTS-HD/Dolby AC3s.

Film Masters to Bow Blu-ray of Roger Corman’s ‘Beast From Haunted Cave’

Roger Corman’s cult classic Beast From Haunted Cave — newly restored from a 4K scan of 35mm archival materials — will be released as a special collector’s edition on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 24 from Film Masters.

Acclaimed as the king of low-budget cult movies, Corman produced dozens of films that were both hilarious and thrilling. Among the best of his early output was 1959’s Beast From Haunted Cave, which was directed by legendary director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter), launching a 15-year collaboration between the duo. The film stars Michael Forest, Sheila Noonan and Frank Wolff.

In Beast From Haunted Cave, cutthroat gangsters hatch a plan to rob a bank in Deadwood, S.D., but when one of the henchmen sets off an explosion in a nearby gold mine to act as a diversion for the heist, he awakens a blood-sucking, spider-like creature that isn’t happy about the intrusion. When a violent snowstorm delays the gang’s escape, things rapidly progress from bad to blood-curdling worse.

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The released includes the bonus feature Ski Troop Attack (1960). Upon wrapping Beast From Haunted Cave, Corman economically directed this World War II drama using the same location and much of the same cast and crew.

Beast From Haunted Cave is presented in its original theatrical 1.85:1, 65-minute format and extended, 72-minute 4×3 TV version. Ski Troop Attack is presented as a newly restored HD print in 4×3 aspect ratio.

Special features include Hollywood Intruders: The Filmgroup Story: Part One, a Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary; a full-color booklet with essays by authors C. Courtney Joyner and Tom Weaver with the man behind the beast, Chris Robinson; commentary for Beast From Haunted Cave by author and film historian Tom Weaver and filmmaker Larry Blamire; commentary for Ski Troop Attack by author C. Courtney Joyner and filmmaker Howard S. Berger; a gallery of rare stills from camera negatives taken during the filming of Beast From Haunted Cave, courtesy of Tom Weaver; the original, 35mm-restored theatrical trailer for Beast From Haunted Cave and new, recut trailers for both films using restored film elements; and an Easter egg, a special interview with the original beast.

The Dunwich Horror

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/10/23;
Arrow Video;
Horror;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some sexuality/nudity.
Stars Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee, Ed Begley, Lloyd Bochner, Sam Jaffe, Talia Shire.

Hold the fright and pass the psilocybin. When 2001: A Space Odyssey’s ballyhoo promised ticket-holders a seat on “The Ultimate Trip,” they weren’t just referring to space travel. All of a sudden, films were endowed with their own psychedelic variations on Kubrick’s Stargate sequence. Even Disney responded by re-releasing Fantasia as a “head” picture meant to lure acid-soaked hippies to view Mickey through the windowpane. What accounts for The Dunwich Horror’s ‘M’-rated sex scenes shot through a dishtowel is anybody’s guess.

If what I read is correct, fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, upon which this was loosely based, despised the American International Picture’s adaptation. The studio had been kicking around an adaptation for almost a decade, first with Mario Bava as director and later with Peter Fonda in the lead. Released hot on the heels of Roger Corman’s acclaimed Poe Cycle and directed by his protege, Daniel Haller, the King of the B’s was looking to spark a successful formula on a new gothic theme. It’s handsomely designed — prior to this, Haller worked as an art director on dozens of films, many of which were signed by Corman. Alas, the shocks are pretty childish; the Vincent Price predecessors never relied on blue-skinned bugaboos to do the horrific heavy lifting.

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The set-up promised a weird blend of horror and psychedelia that it couldn’t keep. With the only copy of the Necromicon aka the Book of the Dead in his possession, student of the occult Dean Stockwell, glassy-eyed, never blinking, hypnotizes career virgin/college student Sandra Dee into playing sacrificial lamb in his mind games. Stockwell looked the part, but his character fails to mesmerize or incite dread. Hollywood old-schoolers Ed Begley and Sam Jaffee were both the victims of haunted hairdos. Begley’s toupee outperforms him at every turn, while Jaffe appears to have colored his beard and Isro (a Yiddish Afro) with a black Sharpie® for the flashback sequences. After a three-year absence from movies, this was to be Dee’s comeback film, her first since parting ways with Universal Studios. Wikipedia notes that Dee, “referred to her past 25 films with Universal as ‘all rotten.’” If Douglas Sirk’s monumental remake of Imitation of Life is rotten, then Sandra Dee is her generation’s answer to Dame Judi Dench.

After a brisk first half-hour, the film kicked the crutch of logic from beneath its underpinnings, setting it limping down a path to hocus-pocus-dominocus. Having missed seeing it on its original release in 1970, it’s taken a lifetime to prove that I could have lived without The Dunwich Horror. Arrow’s Special Edition 2K Blu-ray contains a new commentary track by Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict, scads of interview material, an image gallery, collector’s booklet, and a trailer that’s so bad it’s good.

Roger Corman-Produced ‘Virtually Heroes’ Due Digitally From Screen Media for 10th Anniversary

The Roger Corman-produced Virtually Heroes will be released digitally Jan. 17 from Screen Media for the 10th anniversary of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

In the film, two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-inspired video game battle endless enemies and their own existential crises when Sgt. Books seeks help from a straight-talking Monk who teaches him the cheat codes of life. With that help, he can finally break free from the game’s endless battles, take a break from saving the girls at the end of each level, and convince his fellow warrior Lt. Nova that not everything in this game world is as awesome as it seems.

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The film stars Robert Baker (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Out of Time), Brent Chase (ShamelessI Am the Night), Katie Savoy (“How I Met Your Mother,” “NCIS: New Orleans”) and Mark Hamill (Star Wars).

Screen Media is a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company.

 

Season One of ‘Eli Roth’s History of Horror’ Coming to Disc Oct. 6 From RLJ Films

AMC Networks’ RLJE Films will release season one of the documentary-horror series “Eli Roth’s History of Horror” Oct. 6 on DVD and Blu-ray.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The documentary is directed by award-winning horror filmmaker Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, The Green Inferno) and written by Kurt Sayenga (“Breakthrough,” “Origins: The Journey of Humankind”). Roth brings together the masters of horror — the storytellers and stars who define the genre — to explore its biggest themes and reveal the inspirations and struggles behind its past and present. Each one-hour episode takes viewers on an exploration of how horror has evolved through the years and examines the genre’s impact on society as well as delving into how horror maintains its fan base and why audiences are addicted to fear.

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The series features interviews with author Stephen King (“Creepshow,” The Shining), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, “Kill Bill” franchise), Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead,” “Watchmen”), Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Elijah Wood (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) and David Arquette (“Scream” franchise).

Bonus features include five featurettes and extended interviews with Stephen King, Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, Roger Corman, John Landis and Joe Dante.

Shout! Factory Releasing ‘Rock N Roll High School’ Steelbook Nov. 19

Shout! Factory will release Rock ‘N’ Roll High School: 40th Anniversary Edition Steelbook Blu-ray Nov. 19.

Based on director/story writer Allan Arkush’s own high school fantasy, the 1979 cult film takes place at Vince Lombardi High School — the wildest, most rockin’ high school around until the principal tries to implement totalitarian order. With the help of the Ramones, the students of Vince Lombardi battle to take back their school.

Executive produced by Roger Corman, Rock ’N’ Roll High School boasts performances by the Ramones and stars P.J. Soles, Vince Van Patten, Clint Howard, Dey Young, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller and Paul Bartel.

The disc will include a new 4K scan from the original camera negative, and a new feature-length documentary titled “Class Of ’79: 40 Years of Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” featuring Interviews with Arkush, co-director/story writer Joe Dante, actress P.J. Soles, screenwriter Richard Whitley, screenwriter Russ Dvonch, cinematographer Dean Cundey, editor Larry Bock, and more.

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The Ramones, who were personally selected by Arkush as the film’s musical heroes because he felt they epitomized pure rock ’n’ roll, wrote two songs for the film: “I Want You Around” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School.”

Additional extras include four audio commentaries with the filmmakers and stars; the featurettes “Back to School: A Retrospective” and “Staying After Class”; a Leonard Maltin interview of Roger Corman; an interview with Arkush featuring a look at rare set photos; audio outtakes from a marathon Ramones performance staged by the production at the Roxy Theatre; and the film’s original trailer, radio ads and TV spots.

Shout! Studios Releasing ‘Abduction’ June 7

Shout! Studios will release the sci-fi thriller Abduction digitally, on demand and in theaters June 7.

From executive producer Roger Corman and directed by Ernie Barbarash, the film pits two strangers against a nefarious alien force, with the future of mankind hanging in the balance.

The cast includes Scott Adkins, Andy On and Truong Ngoc.

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Shout! Factory Announces Original Roger Corman Documentary Series

Shout! Factory Dec. 17 announced that its filmed entertainment distribution and production arm, Shout! Studios, has partnered with China’s Ace Film HK Company and Friendship Films to produce “Corman’s Hollywood,” a new multi-part documentary series about the life and works of pop cinema director Roger Corman and his wife and business partner, Julie Corman.

Created, written, and co-produced by Ashley Sidaway and Robert Sidaway from Friendship Films, the 13-episode series explores the career odysseys of the Cormans, uncovers inside backstories on many popular Corman movies, and provides a candid portrait of a trailblazing indie filmmaking duo.

The series follows Shout! Factory and Ace Film HK Co.’s March acquisition of Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. Titles include Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids from the Deep, among others.

Filmed over four months in Los Angeles, “Corman’s Hollywood” draws on a filmography spanning seven decades. The series offers viewers access inside the Cormans’ cinematic universe and features extensive in-depth interviews.

Corman and his wife share stories and defining moments from their movies, recall talent and young filmmakers they mentored, as well as provide behind-the-scenes perspectives for the films they produced.

Corman, recipient of an honorary Oscar in 2009, produced more than 350 films and directed 60 others. He influenced a generation of Hollywood filmmakers and screen talent, including Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Harry Dean Stanton, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

Julie Corman worked with Demme, John Sayles, Catherine Hardwicke, Robert King, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Peter Billingsley, Jon Lovitz, and Mario Van Peebles, among others.  She was chair of the graduate film department at NYU.

“It has been a rewarding and emotional experience to share some of the great moments and memories from so many of our films over seven decades,” Roger and Julie Corman said in a statement. “We have been privileged to work as independents in Hollywood that in a way has allowed us to bring our stories to the screen for audiences around the world. Our hope is that audiences get as much pleasure and fun from this series as we had making these films.” 

Calling Corman one of the most “prolific” producers and directors in Hollywood, Shout’s founders and co-CEOs Bob Emmer and Garson Foos say his and Julie’s ingenuity and independent spirit resonate far beyond the silver screen and today’s entertainment industry.

“It’s important that their insights and stories continue for generations to come,” Emmer and Foos said.

Shout! Studios will distribute the series in North America across multiple formats. Red Sea Media is handling international sales, excluding Asia where Ace Film will handle distribution.

Shout! Factory Buys Roger Corman Library with Chinese Co.

Indie distributor Shout! Factory and China’s Ace Film HK Co. have acquired Roger “The Pope of Pop Cinema” Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. No financial details were disclosed.

The deal grants Shout! rights to North America, Europe, Australia and Russia. Ace has rights for China, Asia, Africa and South America.

Titles include Rock‘N’Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids From The Deep, among others.

The 91-year-old Corman received an honorary Oscar in 2009, and reportedly helped foster the careers of Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Paul Bartel, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme and Gale Anne Hurd, among others.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Shout! has distributed select Corman titles on branded packaged media box sets and digital since 2010. It plans to support the catalog with a “long-term growth strategy” that includes new content development, remakes, merchandise licensing programs, digital media initiatives, and content syndication.

The company bowed ad-supported Shout! Factory TV in 2015.