“The Giant Behemoth” (1959, Warner Archives Collection) Atomic tests once again rouse an enormous monster, this time a dinosaur with the ability to project both electricity and radiation, which it uses to lay waste to London. Enjoyable American-British monster rampage – essentially a carbon of director Eugene Lourie‘s first creature feature, “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” (1954) – is highlighted by visual effects by pioneers Willis O’Brien (“King Kong”) and Pete Peterson (“Mighty Joe Young”); though hampered by a threadbare budget, their Behemoth manages to wreck London Bridge and other UK landmarks with a gusto that should satisfy most vintage monster movie fans. Warner Archives’ widescreen Blu-ray includes commentary by special effects artists Dennis Muren (“Jurassic Park”) and Phil Tippett (“RoboCop”), who don’t seem to think much of the film or its effects.
“The Witches” (1966, Shout! Factory) Driven from her missionary work in Africa by voodoo worshipers, a shell-shocked Joan Fontaine takes a seemingly more peaceful job at a private school in the English countryside, only to find that occult practices have taken root there as well. Scripter Nigel Kneale of “Quatermass” fame gives Fontaine plenty of dramatic fare to chew on as a woman pushed repeatedly to the brink of sanity, and adds some agreeable oddball touches –Alec McCowan as a failed priest who likes to dress in pastor drag – to suggest corruption beneath the school’s innocent veneer, all of which are blunted by a pat and silly ending. Still, Hammer/UK horror fans will appreciate a Shout’s Blu-ray release for this rarely seen title, which includes commentary by director Ted Newsom, trailers and an episode of the “World of Hammer” series devoted to the studio’s female stars.
“Color Me Blood Red” (1965, Arrow Video) It’s not talent or vision that attracts critics to the work of artist Adam Sorg (Don Joseph/Gordon Oas-Heim), but rather a particular shade of red, made by blood spilled on the blank canvas, and which prompts Sorg to seek out donors – willing or otherwise – to suffer for his art. Final entry in Herschell Gordon Lewis‘s unofficial “Blood Trilogy” has its gruesome moments, but plays more like satire than its splatter-soaked predecessors (“Blood Feast“). Hardcore gorehounds might not appreciate the humor (and there’s a paddleboat sequence to contend with), but those amused by Lewis’s gleefully anarchic perspective might also enjoy his attempt to deliver more than just bloody setpieces. Arrow’s Blu-ray includes Lewis’s weirdo ESP/witchcraft thriller “Something Weird” (1966) as well as trailers, outtakes and vintage commentary tracks with Lewis, “Blood Red” producer David Friedman and Something Weird chief Mike Vraney; there’s also a video essay on mad artists in horror films and Lewis discussing his kids’ musical, “Jimmy the Boy Wonder,” which might be the most bizarre item on the entire disc.
“All the Colors of the Dark” (1972, Severin Films) Reeling from a car accident that claimed the life of her unborn child, Londoner Edwige Fenech can find no comfort from her busy husband (George Hilton) or doctor (George Rigaud), and instead turns to neighbor Marina Malfatti, who suggests that a session with a local Satanic coven is just the thing for her. Disorienting giallo/horror hybrid from director Sergio Martino and co-scripter Ernesto Gastaldi, who borrow whole swathes from “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Gaslight” and add a torrent of alarming psychedelic imagery to suggest Fenech’s turbulent ping-ponging between nightmares and an even more unpleasant reality; an unbridled score by Bruno Nicolai and the presence of Satan-faced Ivan Rassimov, also add considerable lysergic atmosphere. Severin’s Blu-ray includes a shorter English-language version released as “They’re Coming to Get You,” as well as interviews with Martino, Hilton and Gastaldi, and a CD of Nicolai’s score. You also might want to save your ducats for Severin’s “All the Colors of Giallo” set, which includes a feature-length documentary on gialli, as well as a four-hour comp of giallo trailers, another 90-minute comp of the German thrillers known as krimi, and a CD of giallo themes by Ennio Morricone and others.
“Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” (2018, Well Go USA) A gaggle of social media personalities make the unfortunate decision to record their 24-hour stay at an abandoned sanitarium used to conduct human experimentation during World War II. Your appreciation of this German supernatural thriller, produced by 20th Century Fox’s international division, rests entirely on whether you consider the “found footage” approach frightening (which it can be) or played out (ditto), though your feelings about internet celebrities and online challenges may also be factors in your decision. Well Go’s Blu-ray includes the original theatrical trailer.
“Rampant” (2018, Well Go USA) Returning home to his father’s kingdom after a stint as a prisoner of war, Korean prince Hyun Bin finds the dynasty threatened by a military coup, as well as a rapidly multiplying horde of zombies. Oddball mix of period court intrigue, martial arts and horror from South Korea’s Next Entertainment World, which scored a global hit with another undead outbreak film, “Train to Busan“; while it’s unlikely that ardent fans of those respective genres will be drawn to “Rampant,” and horror devotees in particular may grow impatient with the long breaks between mayhem, director Kim Sung-hoon serves up those sequences with an emphasis on abundant gore and impressive swordplay. Well Go’s Blu-ray includes making-of featurettes and Korean and U.S trailers.