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The Vincent Price Collection II - Blu-ray Review

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Vincent Price Collection II - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

At long last.

Every icon deserves a sequel.  Scream Factory’s excellent treatment of the horror films of Vincent Price is continued in another 7-film second serving.  The films in this treasured collection - The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Last Man On Earth, Dr. Phibes Rises Again!, Return of the Fly, and House on Haunted Hill – are classics of the genre.  As a bonus, none of these films have ever been given a Blu-ray upgrade until now.

This year is the 21st anniversary of Price’s passing and his absence in the genre in STILL felt.  While these sets celebrate the legacy of the Price, they still are collected and presented in a haphazard fashion.  I’m not sure why the films are chosen and included in the sets they are but I’d rather have them than not have them.  It’s a minor criticism - very minor – because the strength of the collection speaks for itself. 

The set opens with the camp and physical humor of Corman’s loosely adapted The Raven, a film that expertly shows off the comedic range of its several aged actors.  Dr. Erasmus Craven (Price), a magician in mourning, is visited by a talking raven.  The raven is more annoying than it is terrifying.  This strange bird is let into his room and Erasmus discovers the bird is really the transformed Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre).  After several humorous situations, the two magicians wind up getting into a battle against the wicked Dr. Scarabus (Karloff). The film is a comedy classic; self-aware camp performed with upmost care.  This is followed by The Comedy of Terrors, another Richard Matheson script played for laughs by the same cast with Basil Rathbone cast as the man who won’t die.

The Tomb of Ligeia, another loose Poe adaptation, kicks off the second disc.  This title is notable for its location use and for its reputation for being the final installment of the AIP Poe-Corman series.  Robert Towne (Chinatown) wrote the script and it shows as it is the most complicated of the 8 Poe films in the Corman series.  The Last Man on Earth, being the first of several adaptations of Matheson’s I Am Legend, is next.  Predating George A. Romero’s take on the zombie epidemic, Matheson’s movie is coy about the vampires that plague earth’s last known survivor.  They could pass as zombies and, as a rabid devourer of The Walking Dead, there are a lot of scenes that feel straight out of that cold world.  This is a classic film and should not be missed.

The third disc is for the sequels and features Dr. Phibes Rises Again! and The Return of the Fly.  Neither of these films lives up to its predecessors but the over-the-top performances from Price and his co-stars make them worth watching.  The bizarreness of the Dr. Phibes movies are so unique that they really do have to be seen to be believed and appreciated.  There probably will never be another horror series as deliriously crazy, macabre mod, and outlandish as Price as Dr. Phibes.  Return of the Fly takes viewers on a voyage back to the era of the Universal Monster and nothing more for this lo-fi flick.

The fourth and final disc is explicitly reserved for William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill.  It is perhaps the most well known of the Price features in the set and it shows.  Great care has been taken with its restoration.  Elisha Cook Jr. and Price are seriously genius together as film noir gets an honest update inside a supposedly haunted house.  Stay the night and stay alive for a chance to win $10,000.  That’s all you need to know about this gorgeously shot horror gem.

Two more Roger Corman-helmed Edgar Allan Poe classics, a third Poe-inspired flick, two more sequels to successful films, and two more Richard Matheson-penned classics of the horror genre; that’s the breakdown of this set.  Very little gets better than what is contained inside this gorgeous set.  You simply cannot beat the restoration efforts accomplished for this collection by the gracious gorehounds rolling through the bottles and the bones of the night down at Scream Factory.  

With results like this, all I can say is long live Scream Factory!

Vincent Price Collection II - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 21, 2014
Screen Formats: various
Subtitles
: various
Audio:
various
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (4 BDs)
Region Encoding: Locked to region A

Each of the movies packaged in The Vincent Price Collection II is presented in 1080p High-Definition with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.  Quit digging through the bargain bins at Target and Wal-Mart for these titles.  None of these movies have ever looked or sounded as good as they do here.  Colors are warm and vibrant and black levels are thick.  Audiences will be pleased with the overall production of the set.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Audio commentaries are provided by several people including Roger Corman, Actor Elizabeth Shepherd, and Authors David Del Valle and Derek Botelho.

Special Features:

Scream Factory loads up every disc of The Vincent Price Collection II with great special features.  Introductions and parting words are delivered by Price for the Poe films and The Comedy of Terrors.  These sessions were recorded for Iowa’s public television airings and are rich with Price’s comments.  The discs also contain featurettes, sill galleries, trailers, TV spots, and a promotional record. As a super-slick bonus, there’s a 32-page booklet with an essay by Author David Del Valle that includes rare photos included in the set.

Disc One

  • The Raven:
  • Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Raven (7 min)
  • Corman's Comedy of Poe (8 min)
  • Promotional Record (6 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery (6 min)
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary by Film Historian Steve Haberman
  • Comedy of Terrors:
  • Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Comedy of Terrors (9 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery (3 min)

Disc Two

  • The Tomb of Ligeia:
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery (2 min)
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Roger Corman
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary with Elizabeth Shepherd
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary with Film Historian Constantine Nasr
  • The Last Man on Earth:
  • Richard Matheson Storyteller: The Last Man on Earth (6 min)
  • Still Gallery (5 min)
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle and Author Derek Botelho

Disc Three

  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again!:
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
  • Still Gallery (6 min)
  • Return of the Fly:
  • Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot (3 min)
  • Still Gallery (2 min)
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary with Actor Brett Halsey and Film Historian David Del Valle 

Disc 4

  • House on Haunted Hill:
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
  • Vincent Price: Renaissance Man (27 min)
  • The Art of Fear (12 min)
  • Working with Vincent Price (15 min)
  • Introductory Price (13 min)
  • Still Gallery (2 min)
  • Vincent Price Trailer Collection (19 min)
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary with Author/Historian Steve Haberman

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