Just in time for Halloween, we have four vintage horror movies of very different stripes debuting on Blu-ray this week.
“The Old Dark House” (Cohen, 1932, b/w audio commentaries, featurettes, trailer; 12-page booklet). In the 1930s, movie directors went from one assignment to another, often helming two or three films a year, as when James Whale directed six films between “Frankenstein” (1931) and “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935), recycling sets and reusing cast members. Among the six were “The Invisible Man” (1933) and "The Old Dark House," a very entertaining, atmospheric gothic horror tale laced with dark comedy and boasting a first-rate cast.
Boris Karloff, top-billed as simply “Karloff,” plays a hulking, disfigured butler to the wildly eccentric Femm family (led by Ernest Thesiger), whose remote, gloomy mansion provides shelter for several travelers. But they quickly realize the rainstorm might have been less foreboding. The film stars Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey and Gloria Stuart (who gained fame at age 86 as the 101-year-old Rose in 1997’s “Titanic”).
“The Hidden” (Warner Archive, 1987; R for violence, language, partial nudity; audio commentary, featurette, trailer). This witty, fast-paced monster movie is funny, violent and scary, as an alien creature hops from human to human (and, at one point, a dog) to make its way up the food chain, aiming toward political prominence in an effort to take over the planet. But an alien cop, posing as an FBI agent (deadpan Kyle MacLachlan), is on his trail, aided by an incredulous Los Angeles homicide detective (Michael Nouri). (Blu-ray debut available at wbshop.com)
“The Green Slime” (Warner Archive, 1968, trailer). Fans of bad movies know "The Green Slime" — a silly, campy sci-fi tale of astronauts trying to stop an asteroid from colliding with Earth. They do, but when they return to the space station, one of them unwittingly tracks in the title goo, which gestates into a bunch of floppy rubber monsters. There’s even a pop song title tune over the credits. (Blu-ray debut available at wbshop.com)
“Summer of Fear” (aka “Stranger in Our House,” Doppelganger, 1978, audio commentary, featurette, trailer). This early TV movie by horrormeister Wes Craven (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) is about a young teenager (post-“Exorcist” Linda Blair) who suspects her cousin (Lee Purcell) is practicing witchcraft to manipulate the family. Look for Fran Drescher (15 years before “The Nanny”) in a small role.