Included in the set
are two films I’ve seen twice before, and two films I had never heard of: 1972’s “Lady Frankenstein,” 1982’s “Time Walker,” 1971’s “The Velvet Vampire” and 1988’s “Grotesque.”
“Lady Frankenstein” has been available on many a public-domain disc before, but Shout! Factory has included an international cut that’s 12 minutes longer. Just don’t expect that extra footage to be pristine; like the monster, it must be pieced together from several sources, given a “3 sat” logo in the corner of one scene and the foreign subtitles in another, all in varying visual quality.
While not a great film — none of these are, I should make clear — this “Lady” is a spicy one, a female character brought to the forefront as Tania Frankenstein (Rosalba Neri) continues in her father’s mad-scientist footsteps in a creepy castle. The only thing weirder than seeing Joseph Cotten as far away from his work with Orson Welles is to see the monster specializing in coitus interruptus, over and over. I had forgotten how much of a cock-blocker this creature is.
“Time Walker” is a miserable mummy movie that rightly became a hilarious episode in the early seasons of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” It’s weird to see it stripped of the robot riffing, which transforms the viewing experience completely. I actually appreciated its sci-fi take on Tutankhamun tumult this time round more than I expected. Oh, it’s still goofy, but it’s fun, and Ben Murphy makes for a genial lead as always.
Certainly “The Velvet Vampire” is the only picture in history where talk of driving a dune buggy is utilized as foreplay. Right? This trippy obscurity pits a dimwitted hippie couple against the seductive Diane LeFanu, whose last name would’ve given them a clue that she’s a vampire, if only they were well-read. The guy assures his girl that he’s not into LeFanu: “Diane doesn’t turn me on. She’s a desert freak! I’m a Suzi freak!” After all the clues that something is amiss, they still don’t know a red flag when they see one: “Diane, there’s something I don’t get: The headstone says your husband died in 1875.”
Last, but no way least, there’s “Grotesque,” another Linda Blair-in-peril film that becomes one of the crazier things I’ve seen all year. I will not spoil it, but it’s like “The Last House on the Left” meets … ah, I can’t tell you without ruining it! Don’t miss the exciting Burger King drive-thru sequence — I can tell you that much.
More, Mr. Corman, more! —Rod Lott