Buzzing Thru the Pylon: Halloween Free-For-All, Pt. 7: Return of the Best Buy Exclusives!

Once more, a trip to Best Buy caused me to happen upon new discs which I had not seen discussed elsewhere. Warner has released a pair of discs exclusively to Best Buy stores, and one of them (featured below) was a no-brainer purchase for me. Some would contend, such as my girlfriend, that I would have to possess little in the way of gray matter to purchase such a thing in the first place, and this would not be a statement based solely on its content… the deeper truth is that we have little or no more room for such items in our relatively cramped abode, and my predilection for purchasing books, music and movies constantly has her making the odd comment here and there about the situation.

But she should put down the knife -- at least, she can after Halloween -- since I actually did show a small measure of restraint, as I did not purchase the twin disc to this set, a double feature of the Lovecraft feature The Shuttered Room and a Roddy McDowall golem flick called, simply, It! Since I have never seen the former before and it is actually being shown on TCM on Halloween, I decided to delay its possible addition to the collection for the time being. (Shuttered’s potential is the only thing in discussion over such a buy, since It! is really not very good at all.) But if I miss out on buying it, I miss it. That’s the choice I made, and Jen should be momentarily proud over it. Here are the discs:

Warner Horror Double Feature // Best Buy Exclusive

Chamber of Horrors
Director: Hy Averback
Warner Bros., 1:39, color
Cinema 4 Rating: waiting to watch this over again, some 25-30 years later

The Brides of Fu Manchu
Director: Don Sharp
Hallam/Anglo-Amalgamated/Seven Arts, 1:34, color
Cinema 4 Rating: waiting to watch this over again, some 20 years later

Two more British horror flicks from the ‘60s that somehow my mind – and I am sure that I am not the only one out there – automatically triggers on as belonging to the long and bloody line of Hammer horror films, even though they, in actuality, are not. I know that somewhere far back in my past I saw Chamber of Horrors, a gimmick-laden (and how!) revenge festival with Patrick O’Neal as a one-armed madman with a variety of stump accessories, a couple of times. But, it was so long ago, I scarcely remember it past O’Neal’s image, being one of the few times I actually watched him act. The second of Harry Allan Towers’ Fu Manchu series I recall a tad bit better, having seen it slightly more recently, though still long enough ago where reading the film’s synopsis on IMDB has me now confusing with the later films in the series that I have caught in the past couple years.

Am I suggesting that all Fu Manchu flicks look alike? Hardly, that would be mildly racist, even when I am merely attempting to be ironic. But when all five films star the great Christopher Lee in the lead role, and all five basically have the same plot – the abduction of hot girls; forcing scientists to bend to his evil whims; trying to take over the world (the same thing he tries to do every night, Pinky…) – then you can understand the confusion. Fu’s megalomania is quizzical, since he can barely control a dozen people in one room – how is he going to control everyone in the world? He’d get no rest at all, and one would certainly beg for some extra leisure time with all the hot girls around. Maybe he should shoot for a smaller goal. Like taking over a movie studio and forcing them to make a halfway decent film. While Lee’s presence, and the attendant gore and torture that follows in his notorious character’s wake, could serve as the sole reasons why the connection to the Hammer series looms so large in my mind, perhaps it is also because these were shown side by side with the Hammer Frankenstein and Dracula films in my teen years, and so that made the true connection for me. Regardless, Hammer or not, The Brides of Fu Manchu will now rest side by side on my DVD shelf with those same films, if only for Mr. Lee.

Paul Naschy Double Feature // Best Buy Exclusive

Curse of the Devil [El Retorno de Walpurgis] (1973)
Director: Carlos Aured
Spanish, 1:24, color
Cinema 4 Rating: haven’t seen yet in a real version

Werewolf Shadow [La Noche de Walpurgis] (1971)
Director: León Klimovsky
Spanish, 1:35, color
Cinema 4 Rating: haven’t seen yet at all

Trick or treat? I really won’t know which until I – and I will consider the opportunity a treat until I learn otherwise – dig into one or both of these Spanish horror films this Halloween weekend and discover the truth for myself. Most people outside of horror circles are probably not all that aware of Paul Naschy, who has as large a legacy in horror films in many countries in the world as Karloff, Lee, Cushing and Lee have in the English-speaking world. If they are aware, they may not know him by name, but possibly have crossed paths with him on Spanish-language channels here and there, generally in very censored and misshapen prints of his films, or even occasionally in badly dubbed versions of a couple of his films, such as Fury of the Wolfman, on UHF and cable access channels. In addition to his appearances in scads of films over his nearly fifty-year career, Naschy has knocked out a dozen films featuring his Hombre Lobo character, a wolfman named Waldemar Daninsky, even appearing as Daninsky as recently as four years ago. I only own copies of two of his films on videotape, both dubbed and truly atrocious in recording quality to view. I was aware that several of his films, including the two released on this combo disc (which I have read elsewhere can only be found at Best Buy), had been released to DVD. I figured now was as good a time as any, with my interest in world cinema, to become truly acquainted with Mr. Naschy (nee Jacinto Molina), and to let my own opinion take over in my mind all of the comments I have read – from disparate sources, mostly negative but coddling, as though they were films proposed by filmmakers with the talents of mere preschoolers, making films for the even more infantile. I doubt this is the truth, and there has to be some level of professionalism involved for such a series to have lasted so long and so popularly.

But then I think about Police Academy, and I worry…


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