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.
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.