‘Mommy’ Horror Films, Mexican Classics on Disc From MVD and VCI

Two horror films and three Mexican classics are coming on disc from MVD Entertainment Group and VCI Entertainment.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD is the Mommy and Mommy 2 25th anniversary special edition double feature. The release includes the two horror films from the 1990s for the first time in high definition. Mommy is pretty, perfect, June Cleaver with a cleaver, and you don’t want to deny her — or her precious daughter — anything. Patty McCormack (Academy Award-nominated for her classic portrayal of The Bad Seed) stars in this thriller from the best-selling novel. The film also stars Jason Miller (The Exorcist), Majel Barrett, Mickey Spillane and “scream queen” Brinke Stevens. Special features include Leonard Martin on Mommy; the original trailer; bloopers; a PBS documentary; “Mommy’s Day,” Patty McCormack Interviewed by Max Allan Collins; and “The Making of Mommy.”

Coming Feb. 25 on Blu-ray are four Mexican classics.

In 1949’s A Family Like Many Others (Una Familia de Tantas), Rodrigo Cataño (Fernando Soler) runs his household like his own private kingdom, demanding obedience and respect from his submissive wife Doña Gracia (Eugenia Galindo) and their five children. This strictly maintained state of affairs is disturbed with the arrival of charming travelling salesman Roberto (David Silva), who convinces the initially resistant Rodrigo to purchase his newfangled household wares (first a vacuum cleaner, then a fridge) and enchants the family’s 15-year-old daughter Maru (Martha Roth). When Maru declares that she intends to marry Roberto, she defies not only her domineering father, but also the entire patriarchal order he represents. Long considered one of the key films of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Alejandro Galindo’s family drama depicts the tension between tradition and modernity that was gripping Mexican society at the time. The film is No. 36 on The 100 Best Movies of Mexican Cinema (Somos magazine) and was the Silver and Gold Ariel Award Winner, Mexican Cinema.

Available for the first time on Blu-ray produced from a new 4K restoration, 1946’s La Barraca is No. 21 on the List of The 100 Best Movies of Mexican Cinema (Somos). In rural Spain, a new family arrives in town to work a parcel (barraca), the townsfolk are very hostile to the idea of another working the land that once belonged to one of them. Though set in Spain and adaptated from an 1895 novel by the popular Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibánez (Blood and Sand), this story of an immigrant family’s struggles to establish their own small farm was close enough to the concerns of Mexico’s tradition of rural melodramas to become an immediate popular and critical success. In recent years, as part of a collaborative project, the Film Library of the UNAM and the AMACC (Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences) have joined forces to restore and preserve Mexico’s national film collection. La Barraca is one of five films restored so far. The film won nine Silver Ariel Awards and one Gold Ariel Award, including Best Director, Male Actor, Female Actor, Screenplay and Cinematography.

For the first time on Blu-ray comes 1960’s The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales (El Esqueleto de la señora Morales), a 1960 Mexican black comedy film adapted from horror master Arthur Machen’s 1927 story “The Islington Mystery” by screenwriter Luis Alcoriza, a frequent collaborator of Luis Buñuel. The film is ranked No. 19 on the list of the 100 Best Films of Mexican Cinema (Somos). It tells the tale of quiet taxidermist Pablo Morales (former matinee idol Arturo de Córdova) who suffers the demands of his prudish and hypochondriac wife Gloria (Amparo Rivelles). After 20 years of a hellish marriage, he decides to murder her. Over the top performances and an ironic, final twist make this film by Rogelio A. González a timeless satire of weepy melodramas.

The 1968 horror film Even the Wind Is Afraid (Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo) is a tale about a group of college students, led by Claudia, a young girl who decides to investigate a creepy tower at her all girl boarding school that has figured prominently in disturbing reoccurring dreams Claudia has been having. The dream also consists of a hanged woman’s body. They are suspended from the school for the antics, but Claudia learns from one of the female staff members that the person in the dream is a student who killed herself years before, and that the school principal knows more about the situation than she’s willing to admit. The tormented and restless spirit is hell-bent on enacting her revenge. The film was remade in 2007.

Bela Lugosi Classic ‘The Human Monster’ Among Titles on VCI October 2019 Disc Slate From MVD

The classic 1975 documentary Brother Can You Spare a Dime?, the Kung Fu film The Leg Fighters and the Bela Lugosi classic The Human Monster are on the eclectic October disc slate from VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?, available now on Blu-ray Disc, is writer-director Philippe Mora’s chronicle of the Great Depression, in both its bleak lows and its artistic highs. Featuring the grim reality that many Americans faced during the era, largely in the form of newsreel clips, the film also depicts how Hollywood dealt with this period of widespread poverty and unemployment. Much of the movie footage showcases glamour and extravagance, providing lively moments of escapism that contrast starkly with day-to-day life during the 1930s. The film features clips with Hollywood stars including John Wayne, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Clarke Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Katharine Hepburn and Fred Astaire. It was a 1976 Golden Globe Award nominee for Best Documentary Film.

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Also available now is The Leg Fighters on Blu-ray plus DVD combo pack. The Kung Fu film follows Phoenix, a rebellious young student in martial arts. When her father brings in a new Kung Fu instructor, she has to shape up quickly as a deadly master approaches looking for him to avenge his brother’s death. With action scenes from Sun Jung-Chi Sun and Kang Peng, the fights set new standards in kicking choreography under the knowledgeable action eye of Tso Nam Lee (The Hot, the Cool and the Vicious). The disc includes audio commentary by filmmaker, actor and Kung Fu film fan Michael Worth, who also visits with director Lee Tso Nam in the extras. The box includes an original illustration commissioned from popular genre artist Ian McEwan.

The 1939 classic The Human Monster: Collector’s Edition is due Oct. 29 on Blu-ray. Bela Lugosi gives one of his finest portraits of evil in this adaptation of Edgar Wallace’s terror-thriller-mystery The Dark Eyes of London. A series of drownings have Scotland Yard baffled. One common denominator; the dead men were heavily insured through a particular brokerage firm and all the policies were paid off. Larry Hold, a Scotland Yard detective, and a visiting American cop from Chicago get on the trail and, with the help of the daughter of one of the dead men, discover a horrifying cause to the so-called accidents/suicides. Behind it all is a human monster, a doctor who is using a home for blind men as a front for his nightmarish activities. His main tool is a gargoyle-like brute who eventually becomes the madman’s downfall. Filmed in England, The Human Monster features Lugosi as a fiend more diabolical than any criminal the encountered by Scotland Yard. Extras include a commentary track by noted film historian, author and Lugosi expert Gary Don Rhodes; a commentary track by film historian David del Valle and author, screenwriter and “monster kid” Phoef Sutton; liner notes written by film historian Patrick McCabe; the archival video “Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi”; a poster and photo gallery; and the original U.S. re-issue theatrical trailer.

Classic Cliffhanger ‘The Vanishing Shadow’ Available on DVD and Blu-ray From MVD and VCI

The Vanishing Shadow, a classic 1930s cliffhanger from Universal Pictures, which has never had an official video release on any format, is now available for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and VCI Entertainment.

Produced from the original studio film elements, the 12-episode Universal serial follows a son who avenges the death of his father at the hands of corrupt politicians. He develops a wide variety of complex devices in his crusade — ray guns, robots and a “vanishing belt.”

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The serial features what is believed to be the first appearance of a handheld ray gun in film.

Classic TV Shows, Rare TV Pilots Among Titles Coming From VCI and MVD This Fall

A collection of rare and “lost” programs from the early days of television are being released this fall on disc by VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Produced by Jeff Joseph (SabuCat Productions), film archivist, historian, author and producer, the shows have been restored in high definition from the best archival film elements available. Some of the programs have not been seen since they were originally broadcast.

Due Sept .11 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume One – John Cassavetes on DVD and Blu-ray, which features two dramatic programs starring the actor. Episode one is “Crime in the Streets,” which is from The Elgin Hour (Elgin watches) and was broadcast live on ABC March 8, 1955. Written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet, it stars Robert Preston and a very young Cassavetes. Episode two is “No Right to Kill,” with Cassavetes, Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris. It was part of the Climax! series and was presented by the Chrysler Corp. Broadcast on CBS Aug. 9, 1956, it is based on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Original commercial messages are included in the episode, as well as a bonus blooper reel from the “Defenders” and “The Nurses” series.

Coming Oct. 9 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume Two – Rare ‘Pilots’ with four episodes on DVD and Blu-ray. “Case of the Sure Thing” stars Reed Hadley, Louise Currie and Milburn Stone and introduced the series “Racket Squad,” which lasted for three seasons and was nominated for two Primetime Emmys. The program reportedly may have inspired parts of the Hollywood hit The Sting. First broadcast on CBS June 7, 1951, the pilot contains original network commercials as originally broadcast. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, “Cool and Lam” stars Billy Pearson, Benay Venuta, Alison Hayes and Sheila Bromley in a light-hearted, detective yarn featuring characters first created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Bertha Cool runs a detective agency and Donald Lam is her junior partner, hence “Cool and Lam.” “The Life of Riley” features Lon Chaney Jr., Rosemary DeCamp and John Brown. It stars Chaney as Chester Riley and was produced in 1948, but by the time the first season went into full production in 1949, Chaney had been replaced by Jackie Gleason. “Nero Wolfe” stars Kurt Kasznar, William Shatner and Alexander Scourby in another one-off production based on characters created by Rex Stout. Also included on the disc is a bonus CBS blooper reel hosted by James Arness.

Additional volumes are planned with the third in the series already in production for release in late 2018.

Also on tap Oct. 9 on DVD is I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol. 4, with 10 episodes. The show, featuring physical humor in the vein of “I Love Lucy,” centers on Joan, a scatterbrained housewife, and her husband, Bradley Stevens, who was a staid and settled domestic court judge. Beverly Wills, Joan Davis’ real-life daughter, also co-starred on the show playing the part of her sister.

Streeting Sept. 11 is the “Boris Karloff Collection” on two DVDs, a compilation of four rare films featuring the horror legend. Films in the collection include Alien Terror, Cult of the Dead, Dance of Death and Torture Zone. In addition to Karloff, the films star Andres Garcia, Carlos East, Enrique Guzman and Christa Linder.

Finally, due Oct. 23 on Blu-ray and DVD is Blood and Black Lace, director Mario Bava’s film about an unscrupulous business operating under the guise of a top fashion house with exotic models running sexual favors, cocaine dealings and blackmail. Bonus features include 2018 commentary by Kat Ellinger, editor-in-chief and author, Diabolique Magazine; 2018 commentary by film historian David Del Valle and director/writer C. Courtney Joyner; a video Interview with Mary Dawne Arden; an archival video interview with star Cameron Mitchell, with Del Valle; an original American theatrical trailer, plus Italian, German and French trailers; bonus trailers of other Bava films; a photo gallery; alternate original Italian or original U.S. theatrical main titles; bonus music tracks by composer Carlo Rustichelli; video comparison of American and European cuts; and a two-sided cover wrap with alternate cover art.