- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Here’s a look at a couple of classic movies new to Blu-ray in the U.S. and available through the Warner Archive Collection.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 107 minutes, $21.99) — A slightly ribald but effortlessly stylish 1967 horror-comedy from director Roman Polanski gets its original cut remastered from a 2K scan of the film’s interpositive and debuts on high definition for the first time in the U.S.

Imagine if Richard Lester of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “The Three Musketeers” fame had helmed a Hammer vampire film to understand the often-silly tone of the movie that follows a Van Helsing-style bumbling vampire hunter named Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his timid assistant Alfred (Mr. Polanski) in search of bloodsuckers.

Atheist group's legal threats succeed; 3rd-graders' nativity scene pulled from holiday show
White House, GOP at odds over Senate impeachment trial
EXCLUSIVE: High-level, N.K. defector implores Trump to foment coup; tells president he's been duped

During the winter, they end up in a small Transylvanian village next to Count von Krolock’s (Ferdy Mayne) castle where they are invited to spend a couple of nights with the master vampire and his minions that eventually devolves into a very enjoyable dose of terrifying slapstick mayhem.

The visuals look sharp and even the muted color palette pops from the screen especially in the elaborate ballroom scene when a small army of vampire dignitaries has a lavish party.

Eagle-eyed Hollywood stargazers will notice the appearance of actress Sharon Tate (Mr. Polanski’s future wife) who co-stars as an underclothed damsel-in-distress.

Despite the fun entertainment value while watching, older viewers may find it hard to forget the future criminal sexual abuse exploits of Mr. Polanski and also the horrific murder of his pregnant wife in 1969 at the hands of Charles Manson’s killers.

Best extras: Considering the film’s age, surprisingly, viewers still get some bonus content including a 1967 vintage 10-minute, tongue-in-cheek promotional featurette on vampire detection and extermination hosted by the fictional Professor Cecil Havelock-Montague, Ph.D., LL.D., B.A.T. (Max Wall).

It’s as goofy as it sounds as the educator espouses vampire lore, gets annoyed by a pesky bat and meets a vintage Dracula-dressed ghoul.

Also found is the original, way-too-corny animated sequence that began the film for its U.S. theatrical release and the original U.S. theatrical trailer that played up the film’s farcical elements.

Days of Wine and Roses (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 117 minutes, $21.99) — Director Blake Edwards’ Academy Award-winning 1962 drama (adapted from a 1958 “Playhouse 90” teleplay) debuts in high definition culled from a new 4K scan from the original camera negatives.

Highlighting career performances from legends Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick as hopelessly alcohol-addicted newlyweds and new parents Joe and Kirsten Clay, the story takes the pair from social drinkers to full-blown alcoholics as they destroy their lives.

Specifically, as Joe climbs the misogynistic corporate ladder, he marries the chocolate-loving, teetotaler Kirsten who he quickly hooks on Brandy Alexanders.

Their idyllic romance goes from lighthearted to a blueprint for Alcoholics Anonymous as each looks for redemption or further immersion into the boozing lifestyle.

The black-and-white, full-screen sharp, clean and stark presentation complements cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop’s occasional horror movie-style lighting choices, especially as Joe destroys a greenhouse looking for a bottle and his multiple stays in sanitariums.

Best extras: Most important is a 2004 optional commentary track by Edwards that, as one would expect, offered frank and welcomed insight into the project.

Unfortunately, he admits to not having seen the movie since he first made it. He also adds, “If I’m narrating this, who is going to pay any attention to me or the film?”

Consequently, the director is often as absorbed with the drama as the viewers, indicated by his occasional lack of commentary. Still, his stories about Lemmon and Remick are golden.

Additionally, viewers get a bizarre and vintage 5-minute interview with Lemmon. He talks on the phone on the left half side of the screen while the right remains black.

He often intently listens to unheard questions before responding. Obviously, this format was used to plug in an entertainment reporter on the right side of the screen with the predetermined questions.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide