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.