“THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
While Scream Factory pours their heart and soul into any box set they release, the boutique distributor’s pride and joy would be their series of VINCENT PRICE COLLECTIONS. Having already brought such classic films such as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, WITCHFINDER GENERAL and more to high definition via these sets, the VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION series have been a fitting tribute to the performer’s esteemed oeuvre with enough unique special features to impress even the most ardent collector. Now, Scream Factory is back with their third VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION, although with many of Price’s classics already on the HD market, this selection is going deeper into his filmography with more obscure titles and extras to boot.
In fact, the first title in the set, MASTER OF THE WORLD, falls much closer to STARLOG territory than the more horror-centric titles in previous collections. The AIP picture is an adaptation of a Jules Verne novel about a man with a Zeppelin-esque flying machine who hopes to eradicate war via intimidation tactics from above; written by Richard Matheson and co-starring Charles Bronson, the villain is played with grand showmanship by Price, but the film is a sci-fi adventure film pulled from a somewhat damaged interpositive. Nevertheless, the film’s picture quality and sound is rather fantastic, and extras on the disc include RICHARD MATHESON: STORYTELLER (a fascinating feature-length documentary on Matheson covering his career, including MASTER) as well as a new commentary featuring actor David Frankham.
The second title on the set veers closer to horror, but despite its many murders and apparitions, TOWER OF LONDON (the Corman version, not the Basil Rathbone production that also featured Price) veers closer to the historical fiction of Shakespeare’s RICHARD III than Corman’s Poe films. Here, Price gives his most diverse performance of the set as the murderous, power-hungry Richard III, presented in a clear, beautiful HD transfer pulled from a fine grain film print. And this disc features some phenomenal extras as well: not only is there a new, supremely engaging interview with Roger Corman on the set, but ported over features include an archive chat with Gene Corman and two Price-starring episodes of SCIENCE FICTION THEATER (presented in SD, but rather fantastic watches in their own right).
The third disc pulls double duty with two Price features, the first of which is the interesting and twisted horror film DIARY OF A MADMAN, which follows a powerful magistrate as he is haunted, tormented and possessed by a nomadic murderous spirit. While the film sports a solid HD transfer and is quite entertaining from start to finish, the only significant extra for DIARY OF A MADMAN is a new commentary track from film historian Steve Haberman. However, the true wonder of the disc comes with the second feature, AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLAN POE. Despite being shot on video, Scream Factory created a new master from the original tapes, so while the film is in standard definition, there’s a certain nostalgic appeal to the visuals. But this feature is genuinely riveting, showing Price’s incredible fortitude as a performer as he jumps from Poe tale to Poe tale effortlessly and with great passion. And this feature sports more extras as well, including a new Haberman commentary and a fascinating new interview with writer/producer/director Kenneth Johnson.
Lastly, the set comes with a two-pack of CRY OF THE BANSHEE, including both the Director’s Cut and the AIP Cut of the mean, macabre film. Definitely in the vein of WITCHFINDER GENERAL, CRY OF THE BANSHEE includes Price at his most sadistic, and even sports a few moments that are genuinely creepy in nature. While the director’s cut is in much better shape than the AIP cut due to the sparse existing elements of the latter, the disc also sports another excellent Haberman commentary as well as an engaging ported over interview with the late, great Gordon Hessler.
Overall, while it might not offer any bona fide classics among the bunch, THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III is a simply great assembly of vintage fright titles that will leave any self-respecting Price fan satisfied. With a solid array of special features, largely great new transfers and a true respect for the films on display, THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION III is another win for Scream Factory and a box set worthy of the standard set before it by previous VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION releases.