Roger Corman's Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies & Monsters

Roger Corman's Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies & Monsters
Just in time for Halloween, Shout! Factory unleashes another helping of sleaze-tacular grindhouse fodder from Roger Corman's New World Pictures. First up is Mel Welles' Lady Frankenstein, starring Joseph Cotton as Baron Frankenstein and dusky beauty Rosalba Neri (credited here as Sara Bay) as his daughter, Tania. Welles (regrettably not Orson's lesser-known brother). It sticks to the Frankenstein myth pretty closely for most of the film until the instantly violent creature goes on a murderous rampage, beginning with the Baron himself. Deciding not to heed this portent, Tania sets about placing the brain of her father's cuckolded assistant into the body of the mentally retarded stable boy, creating her very own Frankenhunk. Needless to say, bad stuff happens. The DVD includes the option to watch an extended version, which choppily inserts footage into the extant print – go for the original. Time Walker, from director Tom Kennedy, is a mild, low-budget sci-fi piece that combines mummies with Animal House-style hijinks. It can be safely skipped. Flashing forward to the futuristic '80s, Joe Tornatore's Grotesque finds baby faced Linda Blair and her gal-pal heading up to the woods for a winter weekend getaway with her mother and Hollywood special effects guru father. Things go awry when they run afoul of a gang of marauding "punkers" who break into the family's quaint cabin and wreak havoc, unwittingly unleashing the mutant in the basement. One of a number of notable "punxploitation" flicks of the '80s, Grotesque is at its best during its extended chase scenes, punctuated with random violence and extreme punk extroversion. The most fun film of the four (albeit with a ridiculous ending), Grotesque is a goofball slice of vintage '80s trash. Lastly, the pick of the litter is definitely 1971's The Velvet Vampire, an amazingly stylish, creepy and surprisingly well acted film from director Stephanie Rothman. Rothman creates a dreamlike atmosphere of desert psychedelia for this tale of a stunning lady vampire (Celeste Yarnall), who seduces a young couple into a life of walking death. Similar to the early Ingrid Pitt lesbian vampire films of the time, The Velvet Vampire is less a horror story and more a heady tale of sexual awakening. The disc includes a commentary track with Yarnall. (Shout! Factory)