Shout Factory’s mul­ti-film col­lec­tions of Roger Corman pro­duc­tions have become an excel­lent val­ue for cult movie his­to­ri­ans.  The trans­fers are usu­al­ly quite good, the bundling of titles height­ens the val­ue of the release and they often include a few bonus fea­tures. The Vampires Mummies & Monsters Collection is the lat­est entry in this series, just in time for Halloween.  It con­sists of four films — Lady Frankenstein, The Velvet Vampire, Time Walker and Grotesque — and offers the view­er an inter­est­ing glimpse into the lesser-known hor­ror titles in Corman’s back-cat­a­log.

Lady Frankenstein is pre­sent­ed in two ver­sions, the the­atri­cal cut that is known to most view­ers and a length­ier cut that adds about ten min­utes worth of footage that Corman cut for the film’s U.S. release. The the­atri­cal cut is a fresh anamor­phic trans­fer tak­en from decent-look­ing film ele­ments (a first for this title) and this is eas­i­ly the best it has ever looked on home video.

The extend­ed cut adds in the extra footage to the the­atri­cal cut via seam­less branch­ing and is tak­en from two dif­fer­ent video sources.  As a result, it looks much rougher than the the­atri­cal cut footage but com­pletists will be glad to see this mate­ri­al.  The one prob­lem with the extend­ed cut is the branch­ing used to add in the extra footage can cause brief paus­es in the film, depend­ing on what type of DVD play­er you are using.  Given that the footage comes in a vari­ety of brief snips through­out the film, the paus­es can get annoy­ing.

The the­atri­cal cut of Lady Frankenstein doesn’t have this issue and, since the edit­ed footage doesn’t add that much to the sto­ry, it is the bet­ter of the two view­ing choic­es.  Audio in both ver­sions sticks to the mono mix and the result sounds fine.

The Velvet Vampire is pre­sent­ed in a col­or­ful, anamor­phic trans­fer that does jus­tice to Daniel Lacambre’s arid pho­tog­ra­phy of the most­ly desert-set action.  The mono audio mix is used here and the ele­ment suf­fers from a low but notice­able amount of hiss and crunchy-sound­ing ele­ment defects around a few reel changes.  That said, the son­ic imper­fec­tions aren’t too dis­tract­ing and the result is easy to watch.

Time Walker prob­a­bly fares the best is in this set: the anamor­phic trans­fer looks col­or­ful and sharp in its details and the mono audio is nice and clear.  Grotesque is its part­ner on the sec­ond disc and is pre­sent­ed in a full-frame trans­fer tak­en from a video source.  While it is unfor­tu­nate that the pro­duc­ers couldn’t get a film ele­ment for the trans­fer, the video qual­i­ty is good for a non-dig­i­tal source and the fram­ing doesn’t seem to be cropped on the sides.  The audio is sim­i­lar­ly decent.

This set is round­ed out by a few extras: there are trail­ers for Lady Frankenstein, The Velvet Vampire and Time Walker.  They all seem to come from video sources and are win­dow­boxed for 16X9 view­ing setups.  It is worth not­ing that the trail­er for The Velvet Vampire is a full-length trail­er, not the famil­iar dou­ble-bill trail­er that paired with a spot for its the­atri­cal release part­ner, Scream Of The Demon Lover.

There are also image gal­leries for The Velvet Vampire and Lady Frankenstein.  The first includes a nice lit­tle col­lec­tion of col­or and black and white stills while the lat­ter is brief, just offer­ing a few vari­a­tions of poster art.

However, the most momen­tous extras come in the form of a com­men­tary track and two inter­view fea­turettes.  The com­men­tary is on The Velvet Vampire and pairs star Celeste Yarnall with mod­er­a­tor and Mondo Digital scribe Nathaniel Thompson.  The result is a breezy, pleas­ant lis­ten: Yarnall is an enthu­si­as­tic inter­view sub­ject, Thompson gives her room to talk but keeps her primed with intel­li­gent ques­tions and the two share a nice rap­port that keeps the com­ments flow­ing freely.  The most inter­est­ing mate­ri­al comes when Yarnall dis­cuss­es the chal­lenges of film­ing the nude sce­nes and how she almost end­ed up in a Corman wom­en-in-pris­on epic.

The two inter­view pieces pop up in con­nec­tion with Time Walker: the first is a chat with pro­duc­er Dimitri Villard and the sec­ond fea­tures actor Kevin Brophy.  Both are just under ten min­utes. Villard’s chat reveals some inter­est­ing details about the film’s financ­ing as well as his mem­o­ries of Corman while Brophy’s dis­cus­sion main­ly focus­es on his impres­sions of his cast­mates (all of them diplo­mat­i­cal­ly favor­able).  Neither piece has the time to get in-depth but both men are agree­able inter­view sub­jects.

To sum The Vampires Mummies & Monsters Collection is like a more evolved and prop­er­ly-licensed ver­sion of the mul­ti-film packs put out by grey-mar­ket com­pa­nies: it’s a fun grab-bag that offers plen­ti­ful val­ue for a mod­est invest­ment and a good way for cult movie buffs catch up on their Corman hor­ror his­to­ry.

For Schlockmania’s film review of Lady Frankenstein, click here.

For Schlockmania’s film review of The Velvet Vampire, click here.

For Schlockmania’s film review of Time Walker, click here.

For Schlockmania’s film review of Grotesque, click here.

Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Collection [4-Film Feature]

Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Collection [4-Film Feature]

Vampires, Mummies & Monsters Collection [4-Film Feature]      In The Velvet Vampire, a cou­ple accepts an invi­ta­tion from the mys­te­ri­ous Diane LeFanu (Celeste Yarnall, The Mechanic) to vis­it her in her seclud­ed desert estate. Unaware that Diane is actu­al­ly a cen­turies-old vam­pire, the cou­ple soon real­ize that they are both the objects of her seduc­tion and cravings…When Baron Frankenstein is killed by his cre­ation, his daugh­ter Tania (Rosalba Neri, aka Sarah Bay) cre­ates her own crea­ture using the bril­liant mind of her assis­tant and the body of her dimwit­ted ser­vant in Lady Frankenstein. She not only ends up with the per­fect lover, but one that can destroy her father’s killer. Also star­ring Joseph Cotten (The Third Man) as Baron Frankenstein.Lisa (Linda Blair, The Exorcist) was look­ing for­ward to a nice, relax­ing vaca­tion at the fam­i­ly cab­in, but instead she bears wit­ness to the bru­tal death of her friends and fam­i­ly at the hands of a group of mind­less punks in Grotesque. As the thugs close in on Lisa, they don’t real­ize they are about to come face to face with some­thing far more hor­ri­fy­ing than themselves.From deep with­in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, Professor Douglas McCadden ships the coffin of Ankh-Vanharis to the California Institute of Sciences, where X-rays reveal five dia­mond­like crys­tals hid­den with­in the coffin. Technician Peter Sharpe steals the crys­tals, but he doesn’t notice that the pow­er­ful X-ray has revived a green fun­gus. When the coffin is opened at a uni­ver­si­ty press con­fer­ence, the reporters uncov­er more than they bar­gained for. The mum­my has dis­ap­peared … the Time Walker is alive again!