- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We can think of no better way to spend an old-school Halloween weekend than by settling down with the choice 1930s chillers assembled in the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection (six-disc, $39.98), new from Warner Home Video. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week Our fave among the horrific half-dozen is director Karl Freund’s brilliant 1935 Peter Lorre showcase Mad Love, based on Maurice Bernard’s oft-filmed “The Hands of Orlac.” Mr. Lorre gives a bravura turn as Dr. Gogol, an alternately abject and arrogant surgical genius whose unrequited love for stage actress Frances Drake leads to terror and tragedy in a streamlined 68-minute masterpiece tinged with surreal touches and eerie makeup effects.

Boris Karloff likewise commands audience attention as the eponymous archvillain in Charles Brabin’s 1932 The Mask of Fu Manchu, drawn from “Yellow Peril” specialist Sax Rohmer’s pulp novels. Highlights include Myrna Loy’s lusty pre-Code performance as Fu’s diabolical daughter, the infamous “Torture of the Bells” sequence and an utterly over-the-top climax.

Also onboard are Michael Curtiz’s inventive 1932 two-strip Technicolor sci-fi-horror hybrid Doctor X, with a sinister Lionel Atwill, a screaming Fay Wray, ultraelaborate laboratory sets, and the long-elusive 1939 sequel-in-name-only B movie The Return of Dr. X. The latter features the extremely odd casting of Humphrey Bogart as pasty-faced modern medical vampire Dr. Xavier.

Two Tod Browning titles complete the set. Mark of the Vampire from 1935 finds Bela Lugosi in fine form as a faux vampire, while the authentically bizarre Lionel Barrymore vehicle The Devil-Doll (1936) casts the noted thesp as the vengeful creator of a crew of criminal dolls.

All except the last-mentioned come equipped with film-historian audio commentaries to further enhance the home-horror marathon experience.

Tele-video

Comedies top a busy TV-on-DVD week. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment leads the way with a pair of vintage sitcom collections, Bewitched: The Complete Fourth Season (four-disc, $39.95) and The Facts of Life: Third Season (three-disc, $29.95), while MGM Home Entertainment celebrates the scare season with the original The Addams Family: Volume One (two-disc, $29.98), and Paramount Home Entertainment revisits the more recent cathode comedy past with Wings: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $42.99).

Parody rules in two additional assemblages, Shout! Factory’s Greg the Bunny: Best of the Film Parodies (two-disc, $24.98) and Universal Studios’ The Best of Saturday Night Live: Saturday TV Funhouse ($19.98).

Warner Home Video puts the emphasis on teen satire in the sly The OC: The Complete Third Season (seven-disc, $69.98), with select commentaries, featurettes and gag reel.

Elsewhere, action reigns in MacGyver: The Complete Final Season (Paramount, four-disc, $39.99) and the aqueous sci-fi adventure Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Season 2, Vol. 1 (20th Century Fox, three-disc, $29.98).

Paramount proffers the controversial drama The L Word: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $69.99), while Warner slakes Stephen King fans’ blood thirst via The Nightmares & Dreamscapes Collection (three-disc, $39.92).

Collector’s corner: Halloween division

Speaking of scares, Warner also assembles the six-disc set The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology ($42.98), offering the original “The Exorcist” and the extended remix “The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen,” plus the sequels “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” “The Exorcist III,” “Exorcist: The Beginning” and “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist,” along with a raft of demonic extras.

Elsewhere on the vintage Halloween front, Cassandra Peterson returns in a trio of double-feature discs via Shout! Factory’s Elvira’s Movie Macabre line ($14.98 each): Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks and Count Dracula’s Great Love; Legacy of Blood and The Devil’s Wedding Night; the 1967 cosmic campfest The Doomsday Machine and the 1973 political send-up The Werewolf of Washington. The discs arrive with Elvira’s original intros and wraparounds.

Universal Studios targets sci-fi fans with a new edition of the 1955 space odyssey This Island Earth ($14.98), while Warner Home Video doubles up 1953’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and 1954’s Them! on a single scary disc ($14.97).

The ‘A’ list

Fright titles likewise dominate the week’s recent theatrical slate. Lionsgate Home Entertainment debuts An American Haunting ($28.98), starring Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek, while Universal Studios welcomes James Gunn’s alien horror-satire combo Slither ($29.98), with Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks, and Sony Pictures presents the lighter-toned animated romp Monster House ($28.95).

All of the above come complete with copious extras, from commentaries to featurettes, as do the week’s other high-profile releases, the Jack Black Mexican wrestling romp Nacho Libre (Paramount, $29.99) and Edward Burns’ Looking For Kitty (ThinkFilm, $29.99).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Can’t find the original anthology movie Tales From the Crypt.

Kenneth Einstein, via e-mail

Though it’s yet to join the digital ranks, VHS “Crypt” copies are available for mail-order rental via Video Library (vlibrary.com).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at [email protected]aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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