The William Castle Film Collection: (13 Frightened Girls / 13 Ghosts / Homicidal / Strait-Jacket / The Old Dark House / and more)
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Iconic horror director WILLIAM CASTLE created a simple, but winning formula for his films: a little comedy, a lot of scares, a preposterous gimmick, and a clear sense that fright films should be fun. This even meant Castle would, like Hitchcock, appear in his trailers and even the movies themselves. Though his career spanned 35 years and included everything from westerns to crime thrillers, he'll always be remembered for his horror films from the late 50s to the mid-60s. And now Sony presents all eight of his Columbia features - three making their DVD debut, the rest newly-remastered - in one "spook-tac-ular" collection. And as a bonus, it includes the award-winning feature-length documentary, SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY.
"Eight tales of tongue-in-cheek terror from one of the movies' masters of ballyhoo await classic horror fans in the lavish William Castle Film Collection. The five-disc set represents some of the high points of the producer-director's career at Columbia Pictures, after he'd established himself as a maverick with a taste for eye-popping promotional gimmicks with the Allied Artists hits Macabre (1958) and House on Haunted Hill (1959), neither of which is included here. The set kicks off with the obscure 13 Frightened Girls (1963), a lightweight thriller about espionage at a girls' school, but soon launches into high gear with 13 Ghosts (1960), a terrifically fun chillfest about a family that inherits a haunted mansion and the title gaggle of spooks, which can only be seen (by characters and audience alike) via a special ""Ghost Viewer."" Castle's homages to Psycho--the grisly Homicidal and Strait-Jacket, which stars an unrestrained Joan Crawford in a tale of ax murders penned by Psycho scribe Robert Bloch--are partnered on a second disc, while a third features Castle's team-up with England's Hammer Films for a darkly comic remake of the Boris Karloff classic The Old Dark House (1963) and an adaptation of Ray Russell's grisly Gothic chiller, Mr. Sardonicus (1961). The final double feature pairs one of Castle's most offbeat titles--the fantasy-comedy Zotz! (1962), which, like Old Dark House, stars Tom Poston as a nebbish who discovers a magical coin--with one of his best loved and most outrageous efforts, The Tingler (1959), with Vincent Price as a scientist who discovers a creature that feeds on human fear. While by no means a complete collection of Castle's film output--he continued to direct and produce well into the late '60s and '70s, most notably Rosemary's Baby (1968)--the Film Collection is a fine presentation of some of his most memorable projects, with a few enjoyable oddities thrown in for good measure.
Were the Film Collection simply the movies themselves, it would be a solid addition to any cult collector's treasure vault, but what makes the set truly special is the wealth of extras that accompany the features. Brand-new making-of documentaries are offered for each of the films save Zotz, 13 Frightened Girls, and The Old Dark House; each discusses Castle's elaborate promotional gimmicks in detail, from The Tingler's ""Percepto"" (electrically wired seats) to Sardonicus's ""Punishment Poll"" (cards given to audience members to decide the fate of the title villain). Extensive news clips, photographs, and comments from a host of fans and critics, including David Del Valle, David Skal, Bob Burns, Castle's daughter Terry, Strait-Jacket star Diane Baker, and The Tingler's Darryl Hickman (who seems bemused by the film's favored status), make these featurettes invaluable to Castle completists. The gimmick in 13 Frightened Girls is given plenty of coverage in its extras--its cast of schoolgirls was culled from an international contest, and each was featured in a special intro shot for their respective country--while Strait-Jacket offers Crawford's costume screen test as well as a trial run at lopping off costar George Kennedy's head (!), plus an amusing promo clip in which Castle, Bloch, and their star plot out the perfect murder. There are also two episodes from the Castle-produced supernatural TV anthology Ghost Story (one under its retitle, Circle of Fear), both of which feature the man himself in typically grandiose cameos, as well as original U.S. and some international trailers for each title. And if that's not enough, there's also a fifth disc devoted entirely to the 2007 documentary Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, which details his life and career of making people scream, via archival footage and a who's who of horror and science fiction, including Joe Dante, John Landis, Roger Corman, Fred Olen Ray, the late Forrest J. Ackerman, and countless others, each weighing in on the joys and thrills of William Castle's feature films. --Paul Gaita"
Showing 1-3 of 47 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The packaging has 7 discs in a fold out case. Some reviewers noted this as a negative and wanted each disc in a slim-line case however as a person with several thousand DVDs I am glad the package is not bigger than it is and it also cuts down on postage which is important for overseas purchasers like myself.
The transfer quality was fine for a DVD with no noticable glitches. Resolution was not the best but still OK. The original 1.85:1 aspect ratio has been reproduced for each movie.
All the movies were true to the original run-time give or take a minute so no serious cutting has been done. Interestingly none of the movies had end credits - whether they were cut or never existed I don't know. I was also a bit confused with 13 Ghosts - this was apparently produced as a colour and B/W version of differing run times (IMDB) yet the version on this DVD release was B/W with the intro and other small parts in colour so it seems to be a mixture of both movies. The Old Dark House was also produced in B/W and colour so perhaps Columbia should have released both movies and let the viewer decide.
All movies have closed captions and there is a disc with extras.
All in all this is quite a nice package however the $70 dollar price tag is too much. As a rule I don't pay more than $7-8 for a new DVD movie and when buying a bundle I expect to pay $4-5 per movie so the asking price of $70 for 8 movies is excessive. I notice that many sellers have reduced the price of this package to $40-50 which is closer to what it's worth.
In ZOTZ! (1962), ancient language college professor Tom Poston translates the inscription on a 5,000-year-old coin, and learns how to use its magical powers.
This silver dollar-sized disc gives the possessor three different powers:
1.) Point at anyone or thing and it causes exquisite pain.
2.) Look at any living thing, say "Zotz!" and it goes into slow motion.
3.) Point and say "Zotz!" and the target instantly dies.
Poston's rival for the retiring Dean's position is Jim Backus, a real weasel who kowtows to his superior and openly lobbies for the promotion while tearing Poston down. The Dean is played by Cecil Kellaway, and his wife is the perfectly cast Maggie Dumont.
Louis Nye, Poston's associate on Steve Allen's Tonight show, cameos in the Pentagon scene. (Even if I remembered this moment from the first viewing, I never would've made the Allen connection as an 8-year-old.)
The two meet as Poston is leaving General Fred Clark's office after he gets the brush-off as a kook. Poston offers the talisman as a way of disabling or destroying opposing armies "as far as the eye can see" and naturally the general thinks him quite mad and won't watch a demonstration of the power of Zotz!
This is a potentially powerful weapon. While Gen. Clark putts golf balls during Poston's causing a small plane to temporarily nose dive from the sky, a foreign spy disguised as a window washer catches it all. He and his crew (including Mike Mazurki) pursue Poston back to California, and the professor is kidnapped from the Dean's farewell dinner party. With Poston's niece and girlfriend also held captive, it looks like he'll have to turn the talisman over to the forces of evil....
The documentary features interviews with Castle's daughter, as well as Leonard Maltin, John Waters, John Landis, and others who provide intelligent commentary and insight.
It's not surprising to learn that Castle admired Hitchcock, and there was a bit of professional jealousy on Hitchcock's part as Castle became increasingly famous and was ultimately proclaimed the "master" of horror.
It's also interesting learn about the making of _Rosemary's Baby_.
On the other disks, aside from the films, there are documentaries about the making of _The Tingler_ and _Straight Jacket_. There are also a couple episodes of _Ghost Story_, a TV series which Castle produced in the early 70's. One, featuring John Astin as a security guard at a horror movie studio, has a great cameo by Castle as--what else?--a horror film producer. There was always something so great about seeing Csatle himself on the screen. He had such a presence.
I can find only two flaws in this collection. The first--unavoidable, I suppose--is that the films are only the ones made for Columbia. _House on Haunted Hill_ and _Macabre_ are conspicuously missing.
The second flaw is a bit of a soundtrack synchronization problem at the beginning of _Homicidal_. But it only lasts for a couple of minutes.
One thing I realized when watching these films again is that Castle was technically an excellent director. His use of light and shadow, framing of scenes, and camera work is really good--not "B" at all. And Von Dexter's music is perfect--I guess he was Castle's Bernard Hermann.
Overall, this is a must-have for fans of the man who "scared the pants off America."