Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Barbara Steele, John Carradine, Agnes Moorehead, Mark Damon, Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye, Joanna Lumley
Written by: Richard Matheson, etc.
Directed by: F.W. Murnau, Roland West, Freddie Francis, Al Adamson, Roberta Findlay, etc.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: -99
Date: 03/18/2013

Undead: The Vampire Collection (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Grave Matters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Mill Creek Entertainment released this four-disc, twenty-movie DVD collection. They're all public domain movies, and of course, not all of them are vampire movies, though they're all at least horror movies involving vampires, bats, or creatures returning from the dead. The quality is variable, while not nearly as atrocious as I had imagined. A couple of the movies are even enhanced for widescreen TVs. Overall, they range from horribly wonderful to wonderfully horrible, as well as a few genuinely good items.

On the good side, we have F.W. Murnau's masterpiece Nosferatu (1922), which is much better seen on Kino's recently restored DVD special edition. Then we have Roland West's silent film The Bat (1926) -- sadly one of the worst prints -- as well as its 1959 remake with Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. Bela Lugosi stars in The Devil Bat (1941) as a mad scientist who invents a shaving lotion that attracts a giant killer bat. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star in Horror Express (1972), and Vincent Price returns in The Last Man on Earth (1960), from a novel by Richard Matheson.

The Devil Bat (1933) is an ultra-cheap B-movie from PRC designed to evoke the popular Universal horror films of the same era. It has a great cast, including Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas and Dwight Frye (more or less reprising his role in Dracula). Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973, a.k.a. The Satanic Rites of Dracula) is a lesser Hammer horror film, with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Joanna Lumley. Cinematographer-turned-director Freddie Francis provides the silly, quasi-hip Vampire Happening (1971). And sexy cult starlet Barbara Steele turns up in two movies, the not-bad Nightmare Castle (1965) and Terror Creatures from the Grave (1965).

On the fairly rotten side, we have several numbers from Spain and Mexico, badly dubbed into English and sometimes with a handful of cavorting naked girls: The Bloody Vampire (1962), Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970), The Witches Mountain (1972), Vampire's Night Orgy (1973) and Crypt of the Living Dead (1973).

After that, we have the truly dreadful Atom Age Vampire (1960) in its most truncated form, 65 minutes, cut down from the original 105 minutes. The notorious Al Adamson co-directed Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969), which advertised John Carradine as its star, but drive-in audiences were nonplussed to discover that he plays a butler rather than Dracula. Director Roberta Findlay returns with the set's most recent movie, Prime Evil (1988), containing devil worshipers and a bevy of cute, sometimes naked girls. Last and probably least is The Werewolf vs. Vampire Women (1971), which was apparently a huge hit in Europe. Each movie comes with a few chapter stops. It retails for about $15, which is 75 cents per movie. Enjoy!

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