It was revealed this past week that the Film Detective will be returning to the DVD market place with 25 new film restorations on Oct. 20.
Since it is coming up on the Halloween promotional season it comes as no surprise that included in this mix are the likes of the 1959 Roger and Gene Corman production of Attack of the Giant Leeches.
The Brothers Corman recruited prolific episodic television director Bernard L. Kowalski to handle the behind-the-camera work for a four-film series beginning in 1958 that included Night of the Blood Beast, Hot Rod Girl, our classic giant leech movie and the World War II action flick, Blood and Steel. All profitable and clearly done.
Kowalski then went back to the world of television series direction that lasted well into the 1990s … of note, he did make a triumphant return to the theatrical market in 1973 with the Strother Martin/Dirk Benedict sci-fi/horror treat, Sssssss!
Another horror classic — which was also release in 1973 (nice segue) — is director S.F. Brownrigg’s insane asylum masterpiece, Don’t Look in the Basement (aka: The Forgotten). Yes nurse Charlotte (Rosie Holotik — Encounter with the Unknown, Horror High), the inmates are running the Stephens Sanitarium and you could be their next victim!!!
For Western fans, we have dueling cowboys, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers in six films (three each, although Roy makes a guest appearance in one of Autry’s selections) that will be heading home on Oct. 20 from the Film Detective.
Roy Rogers stars in three films directed by Joe Kane in back-to-back-to-back years, beginning with the 1938 film release of Billy the Kid Returns. Here we find that Roy is a dead ringer for the legendary Billy the Kid, who has already been sent to cowboy heaven by Pat Garrett (played here by veteran character actor Wade Boteler). Smiley Burnette is Roy’s sidekick, Frog Millhouse, and Lynne Roberts provides the love-interest.
Rogers reteams with Lynne Roberts in 1939 film release of Rough Riders Round-Up and is joined by Raymond Hatton and Eddie Acuff — all are Spanish-American War vets — who join the Border Patrol only to see one of their members gun down in a saloon shootout.
Roy Rogers returns in the 1940 Western, The Carson City Kid, which finds Roy adopting the persona of the Carson City Kid — an outlaw!!! — as a way to track down the murderer of his brother. Gabby Hayes is his faithful sidekick, Pauline Moore serves as the love-interest, with screen veterans Francis McDonald, Noah Berry, Jr. and Bob Steele rounding out an excellent cast for Republic Pictures production.
Gene Autry fans will be able to select from director B. Reeves Eason’s 1936 Western, Man of the Frontier (aka: Red River Valley), which finds Autry teamed with sidekick Smiley Burnette and hot on the trail of land swindlers who look to blow the dam and run the farmers out. Frances Grant is the frontier gal that Autry has a hankering for.
It’s a modern Western for Gene and Smiley in director Joe Kane’s 1937 film release of Public Cowboy No. 1. Rustlers have gone hi-tech with an airplane and shortwave radios to steal cattle. Ann Rutherford is his co-star.
It’s a reunion of sorts with the 1938 film release of The Old Barn Dance. Joe Kane handles the direction, Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette star and Roy Rogers does a cameo as a singer … the plot about tractors replacing horses is all secondary to the singing performances.
There are also a pair of Westerns starring Tex Ritter on the release schedule — The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen (1937, Iris Meredith co-stars) and Sing, Cowboy, Sing (also 1937, Louise Stanley and Al St. John are Ritter’s co-stars).
Other films included in this 25-strong film restoration package include writer/director O'Dale Ireland’s 1960 high school drama, High School Caesar, starring John Ashley as a the big man on campus who is nothing more than a shakedown artist in the making, Keye Luke takes over for Boris Karloff as the venerable Detective Wong in director Phil Rosen 1940 mystery, Phantom of Chinatown and Lionel Atwill stars in the 1933 whodunit, The Sphinx.
For a complete listing for the Film Detective’s Oct. 20 DVD product offerings please see page 8 in this week’s edition of the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report.