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Case Number 18622: Small Claims Court

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Undead: The Vampire Collection

Mill Creek Entertainment // 0000 // 1643 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 29th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum sucks!

The Charge

Twenty films that either suck, are about bloodsuckers, or sometimes both.

The Case

Vampires are hot. I mean after Twilight and True Blood, is it any wonder that DVD distributors are scrambling for bloodsucking freaks to put out on the shelves? Here is a collection from Mill Creek that gathers together 20 films they label Undead: The Vampire Collection, consisting largely of films in the public domain or available to release cheap and quick. You never quite know what you're getting, so let me try and help with some short descriptions.

Disc One
Nosferatu (1922)—Arguably the only true classic vampire flick in this set; the one that started them all. Max Shreck starred in this silent F.W. Murnau feature that would define the undead for the silver screen. This isn't a pristine transfer, but it's not bad. Count Orlock is the first vampire to introduce the idea that sunlight is fatal to his kind. Beautiful, expressionistic, and still powerful almost a century later.

Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1974)—Also known as The Satanic Rites of Dracula, this Hammer horror film is the seventh feature with Christopher Lee as the Count. Peter Cushing makes an appearance as Van Helsing, and the whole thing seems more like a James Bond flick than anything else. Dracula wants to unleash a super plague that will wipe out humanity, because he thinks we suck. Blame the whole sci-fi, high-tech plot on the fact they got Doctor Who writers to script it. An okay send off for the Christopher Lee franchise, but certainly not a shining gem in the series.

Atom Age Vampire (1963)—An Italian black and white production that doesn't seem to be about vampires in the strictest of definitions. It's more about a mad scientist willing to disfigure himself to keep his stripper girlfriend from looking bad after a horrific car accident. A campy so-bad-it's-pretty-dang-good drive-in flick.

The Bloody Vampire (1962)—A crazy Mexican import that falls into the D-list category yet still entertains. Really silly special effects and bizarre dialogue about things like coffee. Perhaps an early influence for David Lynch?

Crypt of the Living Dead (1973)—A Spanish production filmed on location in Turkey. The Queen of the Vampires is freed by archeologists who have no clue what they've messed with. Features a spooky vampire island and one of the most ridiculous vampire death scenes ever.

Disc Two
Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)—Dracula and his wife somehow are living in a big house in the middle of the Arizona desert. They spend their days drinking Bloody Marys made from their victims, while horror legend John Carradine (The Monster Club) plays their butler. Things get even stranger when a hip young couple buy the property and try to throw the Draculas out. Turns out the monsters are the normal people!

Nightmare Castle (1965)—Scream queen Barbara Steele plays two roles: she cheats on her husband who kills her and her lover, as well as the sister he marries soon after. Then the wife comes back from the dead to exact revenge. Not sure about the vampire tie-in, but definitely some undead action and a great Ennio Morricone score to accompany it all.

Prime Evil (1988)—Devil-worshipping Monks sacrifice tourists in New York City to keep young and fresh. The devil even appears as a rather unimpressive red puppet. Ugh! Oh, did I mention these Monks need virgins? And they're hanging out in New York City in the '80s?! Good luck!

The Devil Bat (1940)—Bela Lugosi (Dracula) stars as a scientist who kills people with the help of aftershave lotion and a large vampire bat. It's a fun, low budget outing for Lugosi and the goofy plot actually works.

The Vampire Bat (1933)—Fay Wray (King Kong) and Dwight Frye (Frankenstein) appear in this spooky feature about a village where people are mysteriously dying. The town elders suspect it may be vampires.

Disc Three
The Last Man on Earth (1964)—An Italian feature starring Vincent Price. This is an early film adaptation of Richard Matheson's written work I Am Legend which became films starring Will Smith (I Am Legend) and Charlton Heston (The Omega Man). Very strong and a fun look back at familiar territory.

Vampire's Night Orgy (1973)—A Spanish thriller which in no way features what I would define an "orgy" outside of ghouls feasting on tourists. A busload of innocent travelers end up diverted to a town where the inhabitants like to eat people. It's silly, but some nice moments with a disembodied finger or two.

Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970)—A puzzling Italian film about a guy who strangles sexy women. Apart from the title, not much vampire action…and not very good either.

The Vampire Happening (1971)—A West German horror comedy which brings to mind The Fearless Vampire Hunters. An American actress inherits a castle without realizing a freeloading relative lives there. Oh, and the relative is a vampire.

Horror Express (1972)—A really fun British production starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, plus an appearance by Telly Savalas (Kojak). Basically everybody is stuck on a train with a prehistoric, telepathic, homicidal half-man/half-ape that can create zombies. Pretty much exactly what you want in a B-movie, but still not a vampire flick.

Disc Four
The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Women (1970)—Part of the famous Count Waldemar Daninsky franchise. Paul Naschy writes and stars as his werewolf character has to take on…well, an evil countess who happens to be a vampire.

The Witches Mountain (1972)—You remember that Disney movie where the kids wanted to Escape from Witch Mountain? Well, here's why. A couple touring the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains encounters a coven of witches. A handsome looking mess that makes little sense. All I really got from it is the witches don't like visitors, and they really aren't vampires.

Terror Creatures From the Grave (1965)—Scream queen Barbara Steele stars in this moody Italian black and white all about a haunted mansion built over the graves of some angry plague victims. They aren't vampires, but they are pissed off.

The Bat (1959)—Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched), Vincent Price, and Darla Hood (The Little Rascals) appear in what was originally a play and then a movie back in 1926. A killer named "The Bat" stalks people in a creepy mansion. It's fun!

The Bat (1926)—The silent version of the previous film, but the killer in this one wears a goofy bat outfit.

So there you have it, 20 films representing the best and the worst of the vampire genre. These films are presented with moderately acceptable full frame transfers, 2.0 mono audio, no subtitles, and no extras. It's a lot of European horror, surprisingly low budgets, some legendary actors, and terribly fake fangs. You're never sure if what you are digging up is a treasure or something you'd rather stake in the heart, but there's got to be something in here that interests you. Right? Where's Elvira when you need her to wish you "Unpleasant dreams"?

The Verdict

An orgy of vampire bites. Guilty, with some pleasure.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 1643 Minutes
Release Year: 0000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Classic
• Cult
• Horror
• Suspense
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None








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