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Monsters and Madmen (The Haunted Strangler / Corridors of Blood / The Atomic Submarine / First Man into Space) (The Criterion Collection)

Criterion Collection

DVD | Box Set

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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. The Haunted Strangler: 19th-century English author James Rankin (Boris Karloff) believes that the wrong man was hanged twenty years earlier for a series of murders, yet in his investigations discovers a secret all-too-horrible and, for him, gruesomely inescapable. Corridors of Blood: 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 local killer (Christopher Lee), as well as Bolton's devastating addiction to his own chemical experiments. The Atomic Submarine: When 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: In this interstellar cautionary tale, brash U.S. Navy test pilot Dan Prescott, hungry for fame, jettisons himself beyond Earth's atmosphere, only to come in contact with a hideously mutating extraterrestrial virus. (Image Entertainment)

Amazon.com

For sheer entertainment value, Monsters and Madmen is a more-than-welcome addition to the prestigious Criterion Collection. Proving that well-made exploitation films deserve as much scholarly appreciation as classics of world cinema, this four-disc set lives up to its name with four enjoyable features (two horror, two science fiction, all above average) that showcase the consistent quality achieved by British producers Richard and Alex Gordon. Taking their cue from American International Pictures (AIP, which Alex co-founded in the mid-1950s) and Roger Corman's low-budget approach to profitable production, the Gordons were passionate film buffs who moved into filmmaking when Boris Karloff brought them a story property called "Stranglehold," which was eventually produced as The Haunted Strangler (1958), giving 69-year-old Karloff a much-needed respite from the forgettable programmers that plagued his later career. Directed by Robert Day, it's a superbly crafted thriller in which Karloff plays 19th-century English author James Rankin, determined to prove the innocence of a man wrongfully executed 20 years earlier. His quest turns horrifically tragic when Rankin is overtaken by the dead man's spirit, and the killer's strangulation spree continues. As part of a double-feature package, The Haunted Strangler was immediately followed by Corridors of Blood (1959), another fine vehicle for Karloff, who plays a doomed physician in 1840s London obsessed with pioneering experiments in anesthesia. It's a grim graverobber's tale, with an early role for Christopher Lee as a macabre character named "Resurrection Joe."

Gaining momentum, the Gordons also produced First Man into Space and The Atomic Submarine (see previous DVD releases for detailed reviews), a pair of 1959 releases that took timely advantage of Cold War headlines, the space race, and advances in nuclear-sub exploration of the polar ice caps. The former involves a cocky test pilot's ill-fated exposure to a strange alien substance which turns him into a blood-sucking predator; the latter is a sci-fi adventure that culminates in an encounter with an ill-tempered alien beneath the ice of the Arctic Circle. All four films guarantee a welcome trip down memory lane for long-time genre buffs, and DVD collectors of all ages will enjoy the enthusiastic expertise of Tom Weaver, whose delightfully reverent commentaries with Richard and Alex Gordon--along with video interviews with primary cast and crew members from all four films--serve as detailed testament (owing to Richard Gordon's wonderfully vivid recollections) to the lasting appeal of these "B-movie" relics. Theatrical trailers, radio spots, and exploitative print advertising place the films in proper historical context, and accompanying booklets offer appreciative essays by producer John Croydon and critic/historians Maitland McDonagh, Bruce Eder, and Michael Lennick. Anyone with a passion for '50s sci-fi and horror will quickly accept Monsters and Madmen as a crucial addition to their DVD collections, well in keeping with the expansive Criterion legacy. --Jeff Shannon


Special features

  • Commentaries by producers Alex and Richard Gordon and writer Tom Weaver
  • New interviews with actors, directors, and screenwriters who worked on the films
  • Original trailers, radio spots, stills galleries, and publicity and production photos
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Booklets featuring Fangoria's 1984 interview with producer John Croydon about Boris Karloff, and new essays by Bruce Eder, Michael Lennick, and Maitland McDonagh

Product details

  • Actors: Marshall Thompson, Marla Landi, Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Boris Karloff
  • Directors: Robert Day, Spencer Gordon Bennet
  • Writers: Charles F. Vetter, Irving Block, Jack Rabin, Jan Read, Jean Scott Rogers
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: January 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 315 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000K0YM18
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,709 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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