Savant Column

Saturday December 2, 2017


Gary Teetzel steers us toward a Vimeo link to some quick videos from the fantasy film past:

“A gentleman who was given boxes of films and negatives from the estate of special effects legend Wah Chang has posted online some of what he has discovered, at The Films of Wah Ming Chang. Webster Colcord is managing this Vimeo account with the intention of keeping Wah’s memory and work alive and available to his fans. Included is an uninterrupted outtake of the ‘lava destroys London’ shot from The Time Machine, filmed in 16mm.

A second selection is a 16mm clip of the stop motion/replacement animation done for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. I’m guessing that Cinerama dailies were probably out of the question, so he likely used the 16mm as a way of quickly checking his animation. At around the fifty-second mark, the camera angle reveals some off- set area to the right. It looks like a person is writing in a large ledger, perhaps keeping some sort of animation record? A person is briefly glimpsed at 1:46 holding one of the puppets. It’s definitely not Wah Chang, and doesn’t look like Jim Danforth or Gene Warren. I’m guessing that it’s David Pal, George’s son, who did some uncredited animation work on the film.

A third clip is a nine second puppet test, perhaps for a TV spot? A fourth clip Projects Monsters is a quick portrait reel of creatures fabricated by Project Unlimited for the TV show The Outer Limits. Some of the shots appear to be from makeup/costume tests; others look more like outtakes. The word on the site is that more Wah Chang films will be uploaded as they are transferred.” — Gary

Disc news, just a couple of days old: The UK company Indicator has announced another multi-title box for February 19. A collection called Hammer Volume 2: Criminal Intent will feature the Blu-ray premieres of four crime-related titles: the murder thrillers The Snorkel and The Full Treatment (aka Stop Me Before I Kill), the serious, underrated social problem picture Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, and an excellent suspense show with fine performances from André Morell and Peter Cushing, Cash on Demand. The full list of specs and extras is up at the Indicator page. A nice touch for this collection will be featurettes concentrating on lesser-known Hammer actresses. And for one item, favorite Janina Faye (Horror of Dracula, Day of the Triffids) will be interviewed on camera.

This is encouraging — if the series continues Indicator ought soon to get around to some former Hammer obscurities that represent the company’s most controversial work: Val Guest’s war movie Yesterday’s Enemy, Terence Fisher’s colonial horror show The Stranglers of Bombay and Joseph Losey’s (These Are) The Damned, one of the best science fiction movies ever made.

It seems there’s always something great to look forward to. Before the end of the year, we’re expecting domestic Blu-rays of Letter from an Unknown Woman and A New Leaf (Olive Signature), The Hospital, Forever Amber, The L-Shaped Room and Alice (Twilight Time), General Idi Amin Dada, The Complete Monterey Pop Festival and 100 Year of Olympic Films (Criterion).

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson