94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

Discuss Blu-rays released by Indicator and the films on them.

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HitchcockLang
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#51 Post by HitchcockLang » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:12 pm

I posted this over at the Blu-Ray.com forums and I apologize for posting the same info here but I know not everyone frequents both forums and this seemed like the kind of thing worth sharing. Apologies if I'm wrong.

I tried my hand at crafting my own ghost viewer for 13 Ghosts by printing a reasonably high resolution scan of an original onto cardstock, cutting out the windows, and using Scotch tape to affix strips I cut from old theater light gels that the school where I teach let me have. It bows a bit from the tape and so I may try a few more iterations with thicker cardstock, but the effect works beautifully and it feels more fun than just resorting to anaglyph glasses. Here's the result:

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MichaelB
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#52 Post by MichaelB » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:27 am

Final specs for vol 2:

Zotz!

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13 Frightened Girls

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The Old Dark House

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Strait-Jacket

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Drucker
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#53 Post by Drucker » Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:17 am

Worked my way through this set over the weekend and enjoyed it a great deal. All of the films were new to me and The Tingler is an obvious stand-out, 13 Ghosts. I think I may have even preferred the latter, and was especially enthralled with just how interactive these films were and how essential they (clearly) a re to be seen in a theater, with an active audience. No matter, maybe I'm just a novice to the genre but both films genuinely go in unexpected directions with unexpected bad guys. Though the villain in the second one becomes pretty apparent earlier than in the other films, the treatment is still effective.

Homicidal was the least of the films here, in my opinion. Despite an incredibly strong opening, and Castle's continued decision to let several plot lines and relationships unfold, they don't really come together in a satisfactory way here as they do in the first two films. They do indeed come back together, but it feels a bit rushed and there's too much we don't know about these relationships. Mr. Sardonicus fared better and felt the most traditionally filmy and not "Castle-y". It was fine, but I do feel that had the set been four films like this I would have been underwhelmed.

I assume part of the ploy to release films by the same directors, in succession or in box sets (as MOC used to), is you get a handle on the stylistic and thematic overlap of the films. The Boetticher set had a ton of that, and it's here too. My particular favorite thing about the films in this set is each one, at various points, goes into some sort of totally made up scientific explanation for what is happening.

Indicator continues to be an incredibly interesting label. Are the films in the second set more like the silly first two films here, or are they a bit (relatively) more serious?

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gcgiles1dollarbin
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#54 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:01 pm

Zotz! is about as silly as it gets, and in that, it has its charms. It feels like a '60s television sitcom with a magical premise (underscored by the presence of TV regular Tom Poston), and who knows, maybe Castle was attempting a de facto pilot, albeit theatrically, although this half-baked theory is undermined by the pain-and-death powers of the embossed coin (which looks like the lost symbol of a roadie from the Led Zeppelin IV tour), not something that would fly well on television. Between I Dream of Jeannie, Mr. Ed, My Mother the Car, Bewitched, etc., Castle was definitely picking up the zeitgeist, though, perhaps even forecasting it, given that it was released in 1962.

I love Strait-Jacket--one of my favorite psycho-biddy films--but it's played like an overwrought melodrama and is consequently far less intentionally silly than Zotz! or 13 Ghosts, which isn't to say that it doesn't have its ripe moments. Middle-aged, axe-wielding, severely-eyebrowed Crawford is an iconic image, one that always leered at me terrifyingly from the video boxes of our local rental store when I was a kid.

Can't speak for the other two, but I would guess Strait-Jacket is the most sober of the bunch. I hope others chime in re Old Dark House and 13 Frightened Girls. It's interesting that Castle capitalized on the reputation and mystique of the Whale original, given that it was considered a lost film at that time. Among all the monster kid broadcasts of Universal horror films and allusions to the original within fan magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland (there was a cover story in the June 1970 issue, but by then a print had been discovered), I'm guessing the title alone had its allure at the time. I'm actually surprised he didn't do the same with London at Midnight, following the future credo of Guy Maddin: If you can't see a lost film, make it yourself.

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domino harvey
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#55 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:06 pm

Not that crazy a trajectory for Zotz! as it seems, since I Dream of Jeannie was first the Brass Bottle

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knives
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#56 Post by knives » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:21 pm

Castle also had quite the tendency with television casting in his later films of the era. The Spirit is Willing stars Sid Caesar and John Astin for example.

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Florinaldo
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#57 Post by Florinaldo » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:55 am

13 Ghosts is the only title I have watched so far from the Vol. 1 box set because I had never seen it before (Homicidal is next). I found it a bit silly and not really a fright or horror film, and I think Castle and the rest of the production team may not have taken it very seriously either. At least based on details like the cardboard-cutout moustache worn by the ghost of the cook or more importantly the often exaggerated acting from the lead actor, with his various cartoonish reactions and double-takes, although he does an interesting job during the séance when channelling the spirit of the dead uncle. As has been mentioned by @Drucker, these movies were designed to be seen in a social context where one can laugh and have interactions with the rest of the audience. Especially at the ludicrous moments (like the control device in House on Haunted Hill that has no real functional relationship with the skeleton) or the shock moments that are forgotten about in the plot once they have done their job (like the old crone gliding out of the closet in the same film or the odd guy who pops in and out strangely to deliver the fateful telegram at the beginning of 13 Ghosts). When one watches those movies alone, there is a tendency to be more critical and not gloss over those moments.

The main problem however are to me the ghosts themselves. They are not all very well realised and the tinting calls attention to the fact that they are all gimmicky overlays on the image. A bit paradoxically, they are more effective in the black and white version because they then appear to be an integral part of the visual world of the film, and not artificial appliqués like in the tinted versions. I found the workarounds as to how to switch to these, either the angle button or through the pop-up menu, to be simple and ingenious.

There is one curious thing about Vol. 2. It is scheduled to come out on the 17th and the Powewerhouse site still identifies it as forthcoming. However, the amazon.co.uk site has it already in stock and is apparently shipping them out; they had more than 20 copies in stock yesterday but it has now dwindled down to 3 copies as I write this and may well sell out soon. I do not know if they received their copies a few days in advance and put them up for sale prematurely or if it is a listing mistake; I hope customers do not receive the wrong title if it's the latter case. Berserk! is also listed as being in stock in advance of its December 17th release date.

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MichaelB
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Re: 94-101 William Castle at Columbia Volumes 1 and 2

#58 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:00 pm

CineOutsider on Volume 2.

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