CineSavant Column

Tuesday July 6, 2021



Arrow Video is showing off what to us looks like exemplary packaging and artwork for their disc collection Cold War Creatures: Four Films from Sam Katzman. I know the pictures are supposed to be bad but I have a real soft spot for most of them. Bill Warren described Creature with the Atom Brain as a formative experience, with its general trashy attitude and early gore effects. Zombies of Mora Tau is just too pared-down and flimsy not to like — it’s got Allison Hayes and Autumn Russell, and dry-for wet sea-bottom zombies too outrageous not to love.

For some reason the joy has drained out of The Giant Claw for me, but I’ll give it another go. On the other hand, Fred F. Sears’ filmed-on-location The Werewolf is looking better than ever. I’ll be looking forward to the commentaries and featurettes … keying Katzman’s quickie/cheapie and sometimes dreadful attractions into serious Cold War culture can’t be an easy task, academically speaking.

I really like the newly-generated art for this release. There must be some business obstruction to disc boutiques marketing posters made from the original art — I’d think that rolled-up quality reproductions would sell well.


 And Viavision [Imprint] has been busy — and I’m keenly interested in two items on their calendar for September. I think that Basil Dearden’s The Assassination Bureau is new to Blu-ray; it once had a camp following, which might still be exploitable thanks to its star cast of Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas. It’s a duel of assassins in Victorian times, done in the semi-comic ‘tongue in cheek’ style once associated with super-spy films. In other words, will it now seem devilishly clever, or will it suffer from a bad case of the ‘Cutes?’

 This second package is an even bigger surprise: all three of the Michael Caine-Harry Palmer movies bundled in one set, The Harry Palmer Collection. I’ve often used the three to illustrate the business reasons why certain movie series can’t be bundled together — as separate releases, each Harry Palmer Blu-ray was from a different rights holder — MGM, Studiocanal, Paramount — but now Viavision [Imprint] licenses from all of them.

It’s my idea of a fine gift set, especially for anyone still unaware of the film series. In some ways the adventures of Harry Palmer have weathered the distance of time better than the James Bond films. I see that each title has an Isolated music & effects track, which is a plus for me — a 90-minute soundtrack background while I write.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson