Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced this past week a wave of film catalog releases that will be headed to the home entertainment marketplace during the month of July as an eclectic assortment of DVD and Blu-ray product offerings.
At the top of the list — at least for genre fans — is the July 31 Blu-ray debut of writer/director Wolf Rilla’s 1960 creep-out, Village of the Damned. This very-British tale about an alien invasion set on the shelf at MGM for nearly two years — probably for good reason — as the late 50s produced (perhaps, “over-produced” is a better description) a flood of sci-fi and horror films that seemed to arrive almost weekly at theatres nationwide (baby boom at its height).
The truly eerie opening sequence, with the entire village of Widwich “falling asleep,” sets the rest of the film up perfectly. The military arrives and all attempts to penetrate the circle of influence prove to be fruitless. And then suddenly, everyone is awake again — except for that poor chap flying the plane — and the “time out” is over.
A sense of dread follows during the weeks after the event, which is capped off by the discovery that all of the women — young and old alike — are all pregnant. The local scientist, Gordon Zellaby (played by George Sanders) discovers that his wife, Anthea (Barbara Shelley — Blood of the Vampire, The Gorgon, Five Million Years to Earth, etc.), is to be counted among them.
Twelve in all, which come to term very quickly … and all, both boys and girls, are very similar in appearance, despite having different mothers. They are creepy little kids, who grow very fast and Gordon soon discovers that if one learns something, they all suddenly know the same thing.
The ending is brilliant as Gordon deduces that the ever-growing brood (both physically and mentally) can read and manipulate the minds of us mere humans. He uses that power to create a mental image in his mind that masks his true intensions to rid the world of these creatures!!
Also on the film catalog Blu-ray release front from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is the July 10 debut of actor/director Peter Ustinov’s 1962 film adaptation of the Herman Melville novel, Billy Budd, with Terence Stamp (nominated Best Supporting Actor for his performances the title character), Peter Ustinov, John Neville, David McCallum and Robert Ryan as the sinister (evil) Master of Arms, John Claggart.
July 17 brings to market the Blu-ray release of director John Huston’s 1972 anti-Western, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, starring Paul Newman as the “law west of the Pecos.”
On the DVD release front, there is a flurry of TV-on-DVD releases on July 10 — Alice: The Complete Seventh Season (a three-disc set), Bill Engvall Show: The Complete First Season and La Femme Nikita: The Complete First Season (a six-disc collection).
On the feature film front, Fay Wray stars with Victor Varconi in the early sound film release (Christmas of 1930) of Captain Thunder and director Fred Zinnemann’s 1951 war-bride tale, Teresa, teaming Pier Angeli with John Ericson and Patricia Collinge, both make their DVD debuts on July 17.
Being “unpacked” on July 24 from previous collection-only sets — and now flying solo — are Edge of Darkness (1943, Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan), Northern Pursuit (also 1943, Errol Flynn, Julie Bishop and Helmut Dantine), Uncertain Glory (1944, Errol Flynn) and Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959, teaming Gary Cooper with Charlton Heston).