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Case Number 09376

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Forgotten Terrors

The Phantom
1931 // 62 Minutes // Not Rated
Tangled Destinies
1932 // 56 Minutes // Not Rated
The Intruder
1933 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Dead Men Walk
1943 // 64 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Image Entertainment
Reviewed by Judge Steve Evans (Retired) // June 2nd, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Steve Evans considers this collection of low-budget tinglers a criminal use of the DVD-10.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Intruder: Special Edition (published October 5th, 2007) and The Phantom (Blu-Ray) (published February 12th, 2010) are also available.

The Charge

A quartet of public-domain terror flicks from the cheapest studios in the business.

Opening Statement

This double-sided disc contains four itchy and scratchy films, two to a side, from 1930s "poverty row" studios. Production houses like PRC could take an idea, turn it into a shooting script, film the project, and get the reels in theaters in a matter of weeks. This is not a compliment. Image and sound are nothing to get all tingly about, either.

Facts of the Case

Side 1
The Phantom

The titular phantom is a master criminal who escapes Death Row and teams up with a creature called "The Thing" (no relation to a certain Marvel Comics character). Together, they continue a killing spree, with the Phantom vowing to kill the daughter of the district attorney out to catch him. The daughter and a crusading newspaper reporter track the Phantom to an insane asylum for a climactic showdown.

Tangled Destinies

A plane bound for Los Angeles makes an emergency landing in the desert. Passengers and crew find refuge in a convenient and apparently deserted (but fully furnished) farmhouse. When the lights go out, the film turns into an "old, dark house" mystery, featuring murder and a fortune in stolen diamonds hidden somewhere on the premises.

Side 2
• Dead Men Walk

The film is a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the novelty of vampirism thrown in for good measure. George Zucco (who appeared in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame) stars in a dual role as the Clayton brothers. Lloyd is a respected New England doctor; evil twin Elwyn rises from the dead as a bloodsucking Nosferatu. Elwyn and his hunchbacked servant Zolarr (Yes! Bug-eyed Dwight Frye! Frankenstein) go on a killing spree. Only the kindly Dr. Clayton can stop these fiends. Golly.

• The Intruder

When a guest is murdered aboard the S.S. Intruder, the ship capsizes before the onboard detective can crack the case. The survivors guide their lifeboats to an uncharted island where they are attacked by a killer gorilla and a wild man roaming the jungle. The shipwrecked gals in this little party find a cozy place to sleep, but wake up to discover they're snoozing in a cave full of skeletons. Meanwhile, the murderer is still on the loose. Starring the improbably named Monte Blue, who made more than 277 films, starting as a stuntman in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation.

The Evidence

Public domain titles are films on which the copyright has long expired, meaning anyone with recording and duplication equipment, and access to the prints, can make copies and sell 'em at whatever price the market will bear.

Each feature runs about an hour, so there's no big time commitment if you seek a quick fix of low-budget chills and thrills. But be forewarned: this is low-rent stuff. The writing on occasion isn't half-bad (check out The Intruder, which is the best of the four flicks on this DVD), but for every tight line of dialogue, there's a sloppy scene setup, a guy in a flea-bitten gorilla suit, or obvious model ships crashing around miniature waves. With the few exceptions noted above, the actors in these films are people you've never heard of. Forgotten Terrors is indeed an apt title for the disc.

Video and audio are atrocious; as bad as you can imagine. About the best that can be said is the image is visible and the dialogue is (usually) intelligible. The video transfers appear as though someone used a digital camera to record the films while screening each picture in a semi-darkened theater. There are chapter stops for each film, but these can be accessed only while the picture is running, e.g., skipping from one chapter to the next in succession. There is no separate menu to skip directly to a chapter, which is annoying. There are no extras.

Closing Statement

For collectors of creaky old horror films this disc might be worth a looky—but the package is criminally overpriced at a suggested retail of $20. I could go $10—tops—if I really had to have these low-rent films, but $5-$6 would be perfectly reasonable for this particular disc, given the poor quality of the recordings and the lack of extra content or basic conveniences like a chapter menu.

The Verdict

"Guilty," he said, holding his nose.

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Genres

• Bad
• Classic
• Crime
• Cult
• Exploitation
• Horror
• Thriller

Scales of Justice, The Phantom

Video: 30
Audio: 25
Extras: 0
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 31

Perp Profile, The Phantom

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 62 Minutes
Release Year: 1931
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Phantom

• None

Scales of Justice, Tangled Destinies

Video: 30
Audio: 25
Extras: 0
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 31

Perp Profile, Tangled Destinies

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 56 Minutes
Release Year: 1932
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Tangled Destinies

• None

Scales of Justice, The Intruder

Video: 30
Audio: 25
Extras: 0
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 31

Perp Profile, The Intruder

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 1933
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Intruder

• None

Scales of Justice, Dead Men Walk

Video: 30
Audio: 25
Extras: 0
Acting: 50
Story: 50
Judgment: 31

Perp Profile, Dead Men Walk

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 64 Minutes
Release Year: 1943
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Dead Men Walk

• None








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