Saturday, April 23, 2011

Upcoming DVD releases

I haven't been keeping up with DVD release news for about five weeks now, so -- wouldn't you know it? -- that's the time when there are some big announcements.
Hammer fans can now get the DVD of The Creatures the World Forgot from Sony's Screen Classics Manufactured-On-Demand series. The last of the three prehistoric epics from Hammer (including One Million Years B.C. and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth), Creatures... is notable for the near-total lack of dialogue. The story is told through the actions of the characters (no stop-motion dinosaurs, either). It was released on VHS years ago but has only been available recently as a download or streaming rental through Amazon Video on Demand.
The Warner Archive continues rolling out great films from the vault through their MOD program. One of the latest releases is the Rankin/Bass-produced film The Last Dinosaur, which has special effects by Tsuburaya Productions. From the IMDB:
Science has announced the discovery of a lost land hidden inside the warm pocket of a dormant volcano under the polar ice cap. Masten Thrust, a billionaire oil tycoon and big-game hunter, is recruited to lead a team there to study the last living dinosaurs. Upon arriving, Thrust and his team find that the hidden world is populated with both dinosaurs and prehistoric humans. While the humans give the explorers a fair bit of trouble, the real danger is the hungry tyrannosaur intent on making lunch out of the Great White Hunter and his crew.
This was originally planned as a theatrical release but was shown in the US as a TV-movie. I only remember vague mentions of this; I don't believe I ever saw it on TV.

Speaking of MOD discs, Sony has made an agreement with Warner Brothers to sell their Screen Classics on Demand from the Warner Archive web store. It makes sense -- Warner Archive has become the MOD powerhouse among the studios and (even better) Warner Archive has regular sales and coupon codes. MGM's own foray into the made-on-demand business had some false starts with Amazon, although it appears that MGM MOD discs are being made available now through Screen Archives Entertainment, the fine folks who bring us Film Score Monthly limited edition soundtrack CDs and other treasures.

Legend Films has released various movies from the Paramount back-catalog, and on May 3rd we get an excellent British horror treat: a Blu-ray double-feature of Hammer's The Man who Could Cheat Death and Amicus Productions' The Skull. Legend released these two on DVD previously. Severin Films has Amicus' The House That Dripped Blood in prep for eventual release.

Some of the out-of-print single-disc Midnite Movies from MGM appear to be back this month, albeit in a different form. Cover photos were spotted at DVDPlanet (and apparently available on Amazon). There are at least two four-movie sets. One has Morons From Outer Space/Alien From L.A./The Man From Planet X/The Angry Red Planet, the other includes The Land That Time Forgot/The People That Time Forgot/Panic In Year Zero/The Last Man On Earth (that's a steal at $10). Let's hope MGM/Fox re-packages some of the other OOP Midnite Movies titles. It appears that a few single-movie MM discs are on the way from their MOD program.

Public domain-content provider Film Chest has restored and released Roger Corman's 1963 film The Terror as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The movie was made in a matter of days using the magnificent sets left over from Corman's Poe film The Raven, and extra time left on Boris Karloff's contract. It's impressive considering the circumstances of the shoot. I have a soft spot for The Terror, as I remember it being a staple of Saturday afternoons as a kid. If one of the Corman Poe films were being shown, it was likely to be The Terror -- probably due to its public-domain status. With this high-def release it gets the restoration it deserves.
Finally, there has been some buzz about an official DVD release of Godzilla vs. Megalon. As with The Terror, Megalon has been a mainstay of public-domain releases. Nearly every PD video company put out a cheap VHS tape during the '80s and '90s. So far it appears to be speculation. I'm sure there is more to the story, and like many others I hope we see an official release soon.

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