Monsters And Madmen

 

Launching us from a grave past to a space-age future, these two thrilling double features, from producers Richard and Alex Gordon, spin classic tales of hair-raising homicidal mania and intrepid, death-defying exploration. Featuring Boris Karloff in two of his most horrifying roles (The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood), and two classic sci-fi treats from the atomic age.

 

The Haunted Strangler  (1958)      Corridors of Blood   (1958)

 

The Atomic Submarine (1959)       First Man into Space (1959)


Titles

 


 

The Haunted Strangler  (1958)     

Stars Boris Karloff, Jean Kent, Elizabeth Allan, Anthony Dawson and Vera Day
Directors: Robert Day
Theatrical Release Date: July 3rd, 1958
Synopsis - 19th-century English author James Rankin (Boris Karloff) believes that the wrong man was hanged twenty years earlier for a series of murders, but his investigations lead him to a horrible, and, for him, gruesomely inescapable secret.

 

Corridors of Blood   (1958)

Stars Boris Karloff, Betta St. John, Finlay Currie, Francis Matthews and Adrienne Corri
Directors: Robert Day
Theatrical Release Date: December, 1958
Synopsis - In 1840s London, Dr. Thomas Bolton (Boris Karloff) dares to dream the unthinkable: to operate on patients without causing pain. Unfortunately, the road to general anesthesia is blocked by a ruthless killer (Christopher Lee), as well as Bolton’s devastating addiction to his own chemical experiments.

 

The Atomic Submarine (1959)      

Stars Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey, Paul Dubov, Bob Steele and Victor Varconi
Directors: Spencer Gordon Bennet 
Theatrical Release Date: November 29th, 1959
Synopsis - When a nuclear-powered submarine, the Tiger Shark, sets out to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances near the Arctic Circle, its fearless crew finds itself besieged by electrical storms, an Unidentified Floating Saucer, and lots of hairy tentacles.

First Man into Space (1959)
Stars Marshall Thompson, Marla Landi, Bill Edwards and Robert Ayres
Directors: Robert Day
Theatrical Release Date: August 14th, 1959
Synopsis - In this interstellar cautionary tale, brash U.S. Navy test pilot Dan Prescott, hungry for fame, rockets himself beyond Earth’s atmosphere, only to become encrusted with cosmic dust and return a blood-drinking monster.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: Various from 1958 - 1959

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection spines # 364 (#365-368) - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: approx. 5:20:00 hrs. total of features on four discs
Bitrate:

The Haunted Strangle

Bitrate:

Corridors of Blood

Bitrate:

The Atomic Submarine

Bitrate:

First Man into Space

Audio English (original mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

DISC ONE AND TWO:
The Haunted Strangler
Corridors of Blood
Audio commentaries by Richard Gordon and Weaver on both films, with additional comments from Alex Gordon on The Haunted Strangler
Video interviews with Day and costars Francis Matthews and Yvonne Romain (Corridors of Blood) and Day, screenwriter Jan Read, and costars Jean Kent and Vera Day (Strangler)
Censor cuts
Original theatrical trailers and radio spots
Stills galleries featuring production and publicity photographs
Liner notes booklet featuring Fangoria’s 1984 interview with producer John Croydon about Karloff, and a new essay by Maitland McDonagh

DISC THREE AND FOUR:
The Atomic Submarine
First Man into Space
Audio commentaries by producer Alex Gordon and writer Tom Weaver (The Atomic Submarine) and producer Richard Gordon and Weaver (First Man into Space)
Video interviews with actor Brett Halsey (Submarine) and director Robert Day and costar Marla Landi (Space)
Original theatrical trailers and radio spots
Stills galleries featuring production and publicity photographs
Liner notes booklet featuring new essays by Bruce Eder and Michael Lennic
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DVD Release Date: January 23rd, 2007

3 transparent Keep Cases with overlapping spindle-holders (see image above)
Chapters: various

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 4 main features of this boxset are on dual-layered discs although only one exceeds a 4.7 Gig size so the dual layering seems mostly superfluous. They are housed in two individual transparent keep cases (see image above) - discs overlapping on dual spindles. The covers are on opposing sides of the case. They are not sold separately at this time and can only be obtained in Criterion's Monsters and Madmen Boxset. They have been transferred in the NTSC standard, coded for Region 1.

Those who know me and have read some of my comparable genre reviews on this site may recognize that I am a big sucker for 1950's modest production sci-fi and horror features. I find them the perfect diversion from the often heavy art films that are my first love and that the DVDBeaver site is better known for. So, I am thankful that, perhaps, someone at Criterion feels that same way - hence this unique package.

Image: All four are progressively transferred and in their original screen ratio (1.33:1). Criterion have done their digital restoration magic (boosting black levels at times to bring up sharpness), but there were obvious limitations on how much effort that wanted to put in and the, probable, weak condition of the sources. For the most part they look very good, perhaps even better than the screen captures will indicate. At times they can look exceptional and other times acceptably average. The Haunted Strangler, Corridors of Blood and The Atomic Submarine are fairly even but First Man into Space is a bit weaker with some dirt and digital noise showing through. For films of this ilk these look as good as they ever will on digital disc.

NOTE: All four, to my knowledge, have been released previously on DVD (by Image Entertainment in region 1) - and if history is any judge they are most probably in very frugal transfers with bare-bones extras and no subtitles.

Audio - Decent with very minimal audible hiss and overall dialogue remains consistent and clear. It is expected that there is some dynamic weakness considering the age of the films but it is easily good enough for standard viewing. The mono tracks sound very consistent and discernable.

All 4 features have optional white (black border) subtitles in English at Criterion's usual level of completeness.

Extras - the package is stacked with a commentary for each film by the principles (producers Alex and Richard Gordon and writer Tom Weaver). They are kind of fun for the most part but if you are expecting a Tony Rayns level of film analysis or critique you will no doubt be disappointed. Some of the anecdotes of production may give you a chuckle though. On top of the commentaries are trailers and interviews - with Day and costars Francis Matthews and Yvonne Romain (Corridors of Blood) and Day, screenwriter Jan Read, and costars Jean Kent and Vera Day (Strangler) actor Brett Halsey (Submarine) and director Robert Day and costar Marla Landi (Space). I found the 'Censors cuts' interesting - what was and was not allowed, so as to adhere to code - and why. Plus there are some fairly extensive little liner notes booklets included (2) that show some care went into their production (perhaps more so than in any of the creation of the films themselves).

Like much of what Criterion does - this is not going after the biggest slice of the pie. These particular films are downright bad, by any standard, and most people will not really get into the enjoyable 'popcorn' feel that this package aims towards. Personally, I had a ball and will re-watch The Atomic Submarine with friends sometime soon. If you ever get in the mood they make nostalgic and fun double features. As long as you know what you are in for - we warmly ecommend!    

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus


Extras: See listed above.


 

Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

The Haunted Strangler (1958)
 
19th-century English author James Rankin (Boris Karloff) believes that the wrong man was hanged twenty years earlier for a series of murders, but his investigations lead him to a horrible, and, for him, gruesomely inescapable secret.
 
Screen Captures
 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Corridors of Blood (1958)

In 1840s London, Dr. Thomas Bolton (Boris Karloff) dares to dream the unthinkable: to operate on patients without causing pain. Unfortunately, the road to general anesthesia is blocked by a ruthless killer (Christopher Lee), as well as Bolton’s devastating addiction to his own chemical experiment
 
Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

The Atomic Submarine (1959)

When a nuclear-powered submarine, the Tiger Shark, sets out to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances near the Arctic Circle, its fearless crew finds itself besieged by electrical storms, an Unidentified Floating Saucer, and lots of hairy tentacles.
 
Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

First Man into Space (1959)

In this interstellar cautionary tale, brash U.S. Navy test pilot Dan Prescott, hungry for fame, rockets himself beyond Earth’s atmosphere, only to become encrusted with cosmic dust and return a blood-drinking monster.
 
Screen Captures

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection spines # 364 (#365-368) - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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