CineSavant Column

Saturday February 2, 2019


Orson Welles trackers take note: Gary Teetzel informs us of an upcoming Region 2 disc: Network in the U.K. will be releasing the 1973-74 TV series Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries on DVD, for those of you with region-free players. Of course, this was just a chance for some quick bucks for Orson; it’s of greater interest to us because the guest stars include a number of old favorites: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, Patrick Magee, etc. Plus theme music by John Barry! They’ve posted a Trailer.

I posted a photo from Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone; now correspondent Jonathan Gluckman emails in a link to a jazz-age song from the movie, “The Yiddishe Charleston”. I thought it was an invention for the film but it’s not — The Yiddishe Charleston hails from 1927.

I do worry that the song’s origin might be anti-Semitic, and someone please correct me if the song is a known offender, as opposed to simply un-PC fun. As Johnathan points out, one of the lyrics takes a potshot at the anti-Semite Henry Ford. Perhaps more information is in order? It’s a very good recording.

“For your protection all cars sprayed with insecticide as they enter!”  Also from Gary Teetzel comes a link to a page from a 1962 issue of the trade publication Box Office, reporting on yet another clever exhibitor scheme to lure carloads of snack-munching young-uns into a monster movie show, to see Them!, The Deadly Mantis, and The Angry Red Planet.

Way to go, Tri-State Drive-in at Joplin, Missouri: The ‘Bug-O-thon’ concept proved a lucrative way to repackage films already between two and eight years old. The ad appeal even had a tie-in with a local exterminator… just bring in the biggest BUG to win a contest. The whole idea was to get warm bodies in proximity to the snack bar, it seems, where a theater or drive-in reportedly made its real money. This seems like a page out of Joe Dante’s Matinee, although that was the Saturday afternoon show for the kiddies, not the weekend night passion-pit audience. But the year is exactly right.

And finally, some really happy news from Scream Factory, mainly that on May 14 it’s going to release the second and third Hammer Quatermass thrillers to Blu-ray: the B&W Quatermass 2 (1957) and the color Quatermass and the Pit (1967). The third film already looks very good on a Region B disc, so Scream’s iteration has every hope of being outstanding. I remember showing it to my teenaged kids around 1998, and they decided it was the best “X Files” episode ever made.

Quatermass 2 is one of my very favorite favorites, one of the best thrillers of its day and a major sci-fi influence on the James Bond universe. The much older DVD was reportedly taken from a rare surviving print, and could be greatly improved- on; I’m hoping that Scream’s master comes from some fabulous pristine source. My original review from 2000 is spoiler-free, but I’m looking forward to revisiting Val Guest’s amazing movie, and investigating it more thoroughly.

And lastly, Trailers from Hell gets an approving nod from the blog John V’s Eclectic Avenue. I will now go around identifying myself as ‘indispensible.’

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson