CineSavant Column

Saturday May 30, 2020



Severin Films delayed the release of their Horrors of Spider Island disc for a few weeks, but we can get a glimpse of its awesome wonder wonderful awfulness in a great, tacky original trailer from YouTube. (↑) I have to admit that the look of the monster always creeped me out.


And here’s a big thanks to overseas correspondent Stefan Anderson… I had barely gotten in contact with Stefan again, than he shot back about fifty interesting links, including sites with entire films to watch.

Stefan points us to a screenshot comparison page for Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, showing that the new 2020 disc comes in a poor second when compared to the very good 2012 Blu-ray. (↑) The huzzarah over the new version has circulated for some time now. In my older review, the terrific transfer made an un-favorite Hitchcock movie fun to watch again.


Then Stefan directs our attention to the National Film Preservation page, which features dozens of great short subjects, and some features, viewable for free. I covered many of these on DVD years ago.

The entire William S. Hart feature Hell’s Hinges (1916) is there,
but I really recommend
the funny special effects comedy The Thieving Hand (1908),
the great WW2 film The Autobiography of a Jeep (1943),
a chilling early- 1960s docu piece about the Berlin Wall, The Wall (1962),
the experimental ‘OffOn’ (1968),
the avant-garde horror item The Fall of the House of Usher (1928),
the weird Rose Hobart (1936),
the very early 2-color Technicolor The Toll of the Sea (1922),
a documentary on The Zeppelin “Hindenberg” (1936), and finally,
The Land Beyond the Sunset, a must-see emotional knockdown with a chilling ending… from 1912. (↑)

The Preservation Page’s notes on each film are very good, too.


We are directed to a trailer for a new German restoration of Paul Leni’s silent Waxworks. This one I’ll have to see again. The virtual remnant they showed us in film school didn’t impress, and every book on German silents points holds it up as a great film experience.


Finally, thanks to Stefan I finally saw a rare Mexican horror film I’d only read about in the Hardy Encyclopedia. A page called Cine en línea has a full gallery of beautifully restored, intact and viewable Mexican classics. The horror film is 1934’s Dos Monjes (Two Monks), an artsy melodrama influenced by German expressionism. (↑)

The catch: No English subtitles. But I have to say, my faulty Spanish was good enough to follow the rather stilted, carefully spoken dialogue of the early sound picture. Two other recommended movies at the Cine en Línea directory are two I’ve reviewed before, from pretty mangy DVDs, Vamonos con Pancho Villa! and El Compadre Mendoza, both really good (and brutal) movies about the Mexican Revolution. There’s quite a variety of other features at the site too, including a documentary about the Revolution years using amazing original footage, La Historia en la Mirada (History in View). It’s fantastic even without understanding the words.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson