Bright Lights Film Journal

The Halloween Wish List DVD Set: Roger Corman

In this drab time when new classic title DVD releases are almost nonexistent, one has to wonder, are the studio DVD people just asleep at the wheel, or–more likely–do they just know nothing about movies made before 1985 that aren’t Singing in the Rain or Casablanca? Well, I’m here to shout into the wind: Release these three long lost Roger Corman classics! Originally put out on Allied Artists (?) a forerunner of AIP, the following three gems may be lost in some copyright limbo (as opposed to their AA brethren BUCKET OF BLOOD and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, which are in the public domain, so are too available) but wouldn’t it be worth it for some intrepid young go-getter to untangle them from the vaults and make some money?

Corman was a fast and cheap director but he was smart enough to get good screenwriters and hip bay area beatnik actors and he kept his films moving with thrills, sex and wit. The following three are classic examples, worth hunting on the gray market if the suits that be insist on letting other people win their dollars (and check out the super sexy posters!):
THE UNDEAD (1957) – A perfect Halloween treat, this has a great old witch with a putty nose and chin (Dorothy Neumann, superb), a super sexy witch (Allison 50 Foot Woman Hayes, super hot) with an imp (Billy Barty, mugging worse than he did in Gold Diggers of 1933)and Pamela Duncan as a streetwalker whose hypnotized into reliving her previous life as a wrongly condemned witch in the Middle Ages! The coolest aspect is how her hypnotist travels back in time to save her and meets the devil! In sum, this movie has everything, including modern jazz ghost dancing chicks from beyond the grave! And most importantly, lots of black fog.

IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956) – Peter (A&E; Biography!) Graves finds an alien intelligence living in a cave who possesses his buddy Lee Van Cleef via giant weird looking rubber bats (or is it the other way around?) I haven’t seen this in awhile thanks to the “ahem” powers that be; all I remember is, it’s awesome. Best scene is when the alien waddles out of its cave to fight the military and when it dies, it falls over like a kicked trash can. Despite the low budget humor, it’s great sexy scary fun.

NOT OF THIS EARTH (1956) – I’ve never seen this, but I hear it’s great. It’s never even been shown on cable, as far as I know (though the Traci Lords remake is always around, but something like this demands black and white). You can find gray market copies here and there, and since the suits are snoozing, I may do just that!!!!

So there you have it. I don’t know if there’s a way to start a petition, but if anyone reads this, remember, as the DA once said in SCARFACE (1931): “You! You’re the government!” These films would all be great together on a single DVD set: each is little over an hour long and they all use many of the same actors and props (including a nifty rubber devil bat). Man, Halloween, you will never be complete without them!