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The Val Lewton Horror Collection (1942-1946)  

Number: 657

cover The Val Lewton Horror Collection

IMDB Rating: star star star star star star star star star star

Country: USA, 733 minutes

Spoken Languages:

Genre(s): Horror

Director: Multiple

Cast: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Frances Dee, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

Medium: Original DVD

Plot Outline:
Cat People (1942) / The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
Cat People is Val Lewton's horror classic of a young bride convinced an ancient curse will turn her into a killer panther if she dares show love. Stark lighting and the need in the '40s to play down the plot's sexual overtones combine to make a subtly terrifying gem. Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Tom Conway star; Jacques Tourneur directs. Then, in the haunting sequel, "The Curse of the Cat People," a lonely young girl is befriended by the spirit of her father's first wife, who died believing she was descended from a race of "cat people." Smith and Simon return; with Jane Randolph, Ann Carter; co-directed by Robert Wise. 143 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; audio commentary; interview; theatrical trailers.

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) / The Body Snatcher (1945)
Double bill of classic chillers from producer Val Lewton opens with the moody, dreamlike "I Walked with a Zombie," in which the nurse to a West Indies sugar baron's comatose wife is drawn into a native voodoo cult. Frances Dee, James Ellison, Tom Conway star. Then, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi supply the menace in "The Body Snatcher," an atmospheric tale set in 19th-century England about a grave robber who supplies corpses to medical researchers. Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater also star; based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story. 146 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; audio commentary; theatrical trailers.

Isle of the Dead (1945) / Bedlam (1946)
The most celebrated star in the history of screen horror headlines these two atmospheric works filled with producer Val Lewton's trademark mix of mood, madness and premeditated dread. Boris Karloff shares a quarantined house with other strangers on a plague-infested - perhaps spirit-haunted Isle of the Dead. St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum in 1761 London is the setting for Bedlam. Karloff gives an uncanny performance as the doomed overseer who fawns on high-society benefactors while ruling the mentally disturbed inmates with an iron fist. Mark Robson, who edited three films for Lewton and directed five, guides both films.

The Leopard Man (1943) / The Ghost Ship (1943)
The Leopard Man (1943, 66 min.)- Adapted from the Cornell Woolrich novel Black Alibi, The Leopard Man is a lesser but still fascinating psychological-horror effort from producer Val Lewton. Someone has been killing off the citizens of a small New Mexico town, and the most likely suspect is a huge leopard, purchased for a local nightclub act by press agent Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe). Neither Manning nor his star Clo-Clo (Margo) are totally convinced that the big cat is responsible, and as it turns out they're right. The haunting finale takes place during the annual "Dance of the Dead" festivities, during which the genuine predator is revealed. The opening sequence of Leopard Man, atmospherically detailing the last few moments of murder victim Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry), is so powerful that the rest of the film seems anticlimactic. Long available only in its 59-minute reissue form, the film was restored to its original 65-minute running time in the mid-1980s.

The Ghost Ship (1943, 69 min.)- RKO horror producer Val Lewton dished up seven reels of brooding psychological terror with The Ghost Ship. Richard Dix stars as the ship's captain, a tortured soul who teeters on the verge of madness. Seaman Russell Wade notices the captain's deterioration, but his warnings are dismissed by the crew. Captain Dix completely goes over the edge, sadistically playing a game of cat and mouse with the luckless Wade--and endangering the lives of everyone on board. While the viewer may notice that Ghost Ship closely resembles the Jack London tale The Sea Wolf, playwrights Samuel R. Golding and Norbert Faulkner felt that the film was too close for comfort to an unproduced play of their own. The writers sued RKO, forcing the studio to withdraw Ghost Ship from theatres and prohibiting future TV showings.

The Seventh Victim (1943) / Shadows in the Dark (Documentary)
The Seventh Victim (1943, 71)- Producer Val Lewton once more utilized leftover Magnificent Ambersons sets for his psychological horror piece The Seventh Victim. Kim Hunter arrives in New York's Greenwich Village in search of her errant sister Jean Brooks. Gradually, the naive Hunter is drawn into a strange netherworld of Satan worshippers. The story is a bit too complex for its own good (especially with only a 71-minute running time to play with), but editor-turned-director Mark Robson and screenwriters Dewitt Bodeen and Charles O'Neal keep the thrills and shudders coming at a satisfying pace. Lewton regular Tom Conway offers his usual polished performance, while veteran character actresses Isabel Jewell and Evelyn Brent look appropriately gaunt and possessed in the "cult" sequences.

Val Lewton Documentary - Shadows in the Dark

Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton - The Man in the Shadows
Originally airing on Turner Classic Movies, this documentary narrated and produced by Martin Scorsese examines the fascinating career of filmmaker and author Val Lewton. Along with riveting anecdotes about Lewton's life and contributions to the horror genre, the film includes clips from such classics as 1942's "Cat People," "I Walked with a Zombie," "Isle of the Dead," and more. 87 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English, French.

Comments: Warner Brothers;UPC085391156727;;6-Disc Box Set;

Loaned: No

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