If you love old B-movies, you can’t miss Shout Factory’s line of “Roger Corman’s Cult Classics” DVD collections. Horror, fantasy, science fiction, grindhouse- all are represented in these neat 3- and 4-film multi-packs.
The Vampires, Mummies, and Monsters collection is kind of a B-movie potluck. The four films on two discs created over a span of 17 years have incredibly different looks, tones, and yes, monsters.
The Velvet Vampire (1971), the story of a modern vampire seducing a young married couple, is definitely a product of its time. It is at once a surprisingly sympathetic look at a monster- vampire Diane describes her condition as a disease- and a sexy, psychedelic mindtrip as Diane invades her targets’ dreams. Includes a commentary tantamount to a feature-length interview with star Celeste Yarnell.
Lady Frankenstein (1972) is a retelling of the classic story with the addition of the doctor’s daughter Tania who shares her father’s skills and obsession and adds a creepy sexual element to her mad science. For the completist, there is an extended edition of the film which includes scenes captured from late night television airings, complete with channel logo and Scandinavian subtitles.
Time Walker (1982) only gets a chance to hint at the epic it intends. When a team of archaeology students delves into King Tut’s tomb, they find another sarcophagus; only this one isn’t human. Naturally, the mummy rises and stalks the campus, but the slow-paced film barely scratches the surface of its extraterrestrial origins before it ends with a “To Be Continued” title. Includes crew interviews.
Grotesque (1988) is a confused mash-up of comedy and horror. A makeup effects artist and his family are terrorized by criminal “punks”, a staple of 80s horror, forcing a dark family secret to light. It plays rather like a Tales from the Crypt episode stretched out by 40 minutes. Halfway through, there is a Law & Order-style narrative shift, followed by literally the silliest ending I have ever seen.
All of these films are worth seeing if you like a good B-movie, especially with a party of friends who share your affinity. All of them are slow and silly enough to give the MST3K treatment. As the collection’s DVD marquee suggests, it would make a great “all-night marathon”.