Friday, 27 June 2014

Distinctive Dummies unveil their Vincent Price as Paul Toombes in Madhouse Megostyle Action Figure

From Distinctive Dummies comes their third action figure in their Vincent Price collection: it's Paul Toombes from Madhouse (1974). Limited to just 50, this really is a covetable item. The sculpt is by Steve Thompson sculpt, while the artwork is by Robert Aragon.

Full details, shipping and pricing info at

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Vincent Price and the Theatre of Blood: The Kensal Green Cemetery Connection

 Join Spooky Isles on a tour of Kensal Green Cemetery to learn about its connection with Vincent Price and Theatre of Blood!

Ever fancied visiting the real-life London locations used Vincent Price’s 1973 black comedy horror Theatre of Blood? Well, here’s your chance, as long-time Price fan and award-winning film blogger Peter Fuller takes you on the first of a series of free walking tours tracing the iconic actor’s life-long love affair with London.

For his inaugural Vincent Price’s London walking tour, Peter Fuller will visit the magnificent Victorian Kensal Green Cemetery in London NW10 during its annual Open Day on Saturday 5 July 2014, the setting of a key scene in the cult film and the only one in which the entire cast was in attendance.

This free tour, which will run for around 30-40 minutes, will start at 11.30am at the Sievier monument, and retrace the route of the film’s key scene down Centre Avenue, before moving on to the Dissenters’ Chapel, where this year’s Open Day will be held.

You can book for Peter’s Vincent Price Tour by joining Spooky London for free.

The scenes that Peter will cover in his talk will be the burial of murdered critic George Maxwell (Michael Hordern), Edwina Lionheart (Diana Rigg) visiting her supposedly dead father’s tombstone (which actually belongs to Sievier family), and the gruesome discovery of Hector Snipe (Dennis Price), whose lifeless body is dragged by horse and witnessed by the critics attending Maxwell’s funeral.

Following the tour, you will have free time to take advantage of the Open Day tours on offer (see below), visit an (empty) coffin in Catacomb Z beneath the Dissenters’ Chapel, where a selection of funerary artifacts will also be on display, and check out a motorcade of classic hearses from the Classic Hearse Register.

Time and weather permitting, Peter will also be available to take interested parties on a 1.5hr walk from Harrods in Knightsbridge to Tate Britain in Pimlico to view two other Theatre of Blood locations: the sites of Chloe Moon’s hairdresser (now replaced by a modern building) and Peregrine Devlin’s Thames-side apartment. Along the way, he will pass Vincent Price and Coral Browne’s love nest in Belgravia and the final residence of Dracula writer Bram Stoker. Let Peter know you are interested on the day.

The Open Day Tours

  • Cemetery tours with an introduction to the history of Kensal Green, its notable personalities and monuments
  • Specialist tours including The Great and the Good, and Ne’er-Do-Wells
  • Tour tickets are sold on the day at the Dissenters’ Chapel. They cost £4 and last about an hour.
Visitors are reminded that Kensal Green is a working cemetery which still conducts funerals daily, and that the bereaved may be visiting the graves of family or friends during Open Day: as such you are requested to dress and behave with respect and consideration for all those who may be in the cemetery on the day.

Listen to Peter Fuller talk about Vincent Price on The Spooky Isles Podcast

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Complete Dr Phibes | Arrow's Blu-ray box-set is a must-have for Phibes phans

I've lost count the amount of times I have seen Robert Fuest's two Phibes films, both on the big and small screens, or the many occasions where I have wept over bad prints, terrible transfers or the travesty that was in hearing a synth score replacing Price singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the sequel.  So, in this age of all things shiny and HD, I'm pretty stoked with Arrow's The Complete Dr Phibes Blu-ray box-set, which I spent last weekend devouring. Phibes Phans take note, this release is a must-have. Here' s my take on this covetable collection.  

• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I’m no techie, but I found this to be a massive improvement on my old VHS and DVD versions and the MGM HD version that I recorded off Sky last year (which is where this remastered HD transfer is taken from). To find out more about the transfer’s finer points, check out DVD Beaver.

Commentary on The Abominable Dr Phibes with director Robert Fuest, moderated by Marcus Hearn. Besides the two super HD transfers, this is the main reason to get your hands on Arrow’s box set. Fuest left this mortal coil, aged 84, in 2012, so this is especially poignant. While the director does sound frail and struggles with his memory, he provides some hugely entertaining anecdotal detail about the shoot and the film’s origins. He also gives an intimate account of working with Vincent Price (on his fine comic flair), Joseph Cotton (who was consummate in every way) and Hugh Griffith (something of a good luck charm, despite his heavy drinking). The big reveals (for me) were Fuest's dislike of Basil Kirchin’s score (he preferred library music) and that it was Brian Clemens (his cohort on TV's The Avengers) who came up with the film’s fantastic ending. Fuest also discusses the highs and lows of the sequel, Dr Phibes Rises Again, which really could have turned into another full commentary. Sadly, this is his final word on these two highlights of Fuest's remarkable career. This commentary first appeared in the first volume of Scream Factory’s Vincent Price Blu-ray collection, and deservedly won a gong at this year’s Rondo Classic Horror Awards. Historic stuff indeed!

Commentary on The Abominable Dr Phibes by author/creator William Goldstein, moderated by his son Damon. While giving a running commentary on the film, the Goldstein’s discuss their efforts to resurrect Phibes in two new novelisations and a film project idea (head over to their Forever Phibes YouTube channel for a preview). Self promotion aside, listening to the American dad and son duo debate the colour of Vulnavia’s dress (is it burnt orange or persimmon) and waxing lyrical about England’s ‘greenbelt’ is quite amusing.

Dr Phibes and the Gentlemen Steve Pemberton, Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith recall their memories of the two films. Shot in an audio booth with the gang squished around a table, this featurette has its moments, with the funniest description coming from Gatiss: ‘Phantom of the Opera meets Mr Potato Head’. But it comes up short in light the boys excellent Theatre of Blood audio commentary.

Theatrical trailer. Vinnie does the voiceover on the original trailer, which looks like its been given a bit of a restoration here, and benefits from some Terry Gilliam-styled animation.

• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of Dr Phibes Rises Again. Again, this is another lovely transfer based on the MGM HD elements delivered by Hollywood Classics.

Commentary on Dr Phibes Rises Again Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas returns with another ripping commentary (he also did Arrow’s Pit and the Pendulum release), mixing his own insights with little-known facts and trivia (some courtesy of the excellent Little Shoppe of Horrors Definitive Dr Phibes issue), while paying tribute to director Robert Fuest who, in the 1970s, was seen as ‘the genre’s new hope’ and a great stylist’, but who ended up disillusioned by the film business. Lucas also takes time out to give voice to Valli Kemp who took over the role of Phibes’ mute assistant Vulnavia in the sequel. Valli, a former Miss World model, hit it off straight away with Price over their mutual love of art, and ended up carving herself a career as an art teacher in Sydney. Like Lucas, she’s also one of my Facebook friends. You rock Valli!

Daughter of Phibes Following her interview on Arrow’s Theatre of Blood Blu-ray release, Victoria Price gives another insightful look into her father’s career; this time revealing how, as teenager, she judged her dad for not being serious enough as an actor until she saw his poignant performance of Oscar Wilde in Diversions & Delights. She also pays tribute to those horror fans that continue to keep Vinnie’s legacy alive. Thanks Victoria!

The Doctor Will See You Now It’s always a pleasure to hear film reviewer and long-time Price fan David Del Valle talk about Vinnie, and he doesn’t disappoint here, coming up with more tasty after-dinner tidbits.

Theatrical Trailer This vintage un-restored US trailer seriously lacks Price’s mellifluous tones that you get on the Abominable Dr Phibes trailer.

The 100-page collector's booklet is packed with some great stuff for Phibes Phans old and new. Julian Upton, author of Offbeat: British Cinema’s Curiosities, Obscurities and Forgotten Gems, pens two excellent features, one on the history of the Phibes films, the other about American International Pictures; Beddabled! editor Martin Jones comes up with a great primer on Fuest’s life and career, Arrow regular Calum Waddell interviews former AIP ad man Milton Moritz about the company’s cinematic legacy, while music hound Jonny Trunk gives us the lowdown on the genius of composer Basil Kirchin. Two articles that originally appeared in the Little Shoppe of Horrors Dr Phibes issue are reprinted here (if you don’t have this already then you should) and there’s also an old 2005 Cinema Retro article about Caroline Munro (aka Mrs Phibes) that could have done with an update from the lady herself. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Complete Dr Phibes | Arrow's diabolical double-bill Blu-ray out today!

Packed with some fantastic extras and boasting two gorgeous HD transfers, Arrow's The Complete Dr Phibes is out today in the UK. Here's The Arrow Video Story trailer to whet your appetites. My review coming soon?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Time Express (1979) | A look back at the US mini-series that was Fantasy Island on wheels!

Time Express (1979)

The 1979 CBS four-part mini-series, Time Express, was broadcast from 26 April to 17 May in the US, from 27 November to 18 December in the UK, and between July and August of 1980 in Australia (the same time that Vincent Price toured the country with his one-man show, Diversions & Delights).

The Time Express was like a modern ghost train, filled with 100 dead souls reincarnated to operate the service after their own train, The New Guinea Flyer, crashed into a river in 1886. Like eccentric millionaire John Beresford Tipton on The Millionaire (CBS, 1955-1960), who chose people at random to receive a million tax-free dollars, there was also a mysterious benefactor on board the Time Express. This unseen Head of the Line would choose people who have the greatest need to relive a particular moment from their past. The passengers, once back in the past, see that people will change, as well as themselves, making them all better people. Based at the Los Angeles Union Station, the Time Express departed from Gate Y Track 13. On board, host and hostess Jason and Margaret Winters supervised each passenger's trip as they moved through the misty corridors of time.

Time Express (1979)  

THE CAST Vincent Price as Jason Winters; Coral Browne as Margaret Winters; James Reynold as the Conductor, Robert Jefferson Walker; William Edward Phipps as the Engineer, Patrick Callahan; Woodrow Parfey as the Ticket Clerk 

Executive Producers: Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, 
Producer: Leonard Kaufman
Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
Written by Steven Cander, Richard Boell, Pat Fielder
Director: Michael Caffey
Music: Richard Hazard
Casting: Tom Stockingfish
Make-Up: Fred Williams
Set Director: Ed Bauer 

REVIEW This train runs in reverse. Like a blend of Fantasy Island and Supertrain is Time Express. Passengers on the Time Express get the chance to go back and change one incident in their past. The wish becomes reality for the lucky few that receive ticket invitations to ride the Time Express as it travels through another dimension. From the moment they arrive at the station, an otherworldly crew puts passengers at their ease. A droll crew reassures the skeptics, while the debonair champagne-sipping host and hostess answer questions and lend their moral support. As the train moves backwards into their past, the travellers have the opportunity to learn more, try harder and make up for past errors. (Peter Fuller, The West Australian, 1980)

Telecast: 26 April 1979 (US)
James McArthur as Dr Mark Tolen
Jerry Stiller as Edward Chernoff
Pamela Toll as Olivia Tolen
John de Lancie as John Clayton
Anne Meare as Gloria
Writer: Gerald Sanford
Director: Arnold Laven

A man (Jerry Stiller) goes back to 1969 Cleveland to return $2 million he found; and a physician (James MacArthur) hopes to find his wife's brother who is needed for a life-saving transplant.

Telecast: 3 May 1979 (US)/Screened last in Australia
Richard Masur as Sam Loring
Lyle Waggoner as David Blaine
Lee Meriwether as Vanessa
Francois-Marie Bernard as Paul Venard
Terri Nunn as Jill Martin
Morgan Fairchild as Michelle Bradford Fleming
Writer: Stephen Kandel, Richard Bluebell, Pat Fielder
Director: Michael Caffey

A copywriter (Richard Masur) and a figure skater (Terri Nunn) get second chances at romances that failed because of broken rendezvous (in Paris, 1978 and on St Valentine's Day in Montreal, 1977).

Telecast: 10 May 1979 (US)
John Beck as Roy Culper
Marcia Strassman as Sara Mason
Robert Hooks as John Slocum
Vic Tayback as Charlie Enright
Anne-Marie Martin
Writer: A Hayes
Director: Alan J Levy

A rodeo rider in Montana returns to the fateful day in May 1977 when he was thrown from a horse; and an LA cop goes back to June 1973 to the scene where he was shot by a suspect.

Telecast: 17 May 1979 (US)/Screened first in Australia
Steve Kanaly as Michael Bennett
Paul Sylvan as Tony Marcello
Jaime Lyn Bauer as Elizabeth Stone
Linda Scruggs Bogart as Lisa Marcello
Writer: Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts
Director: Alan J Levy

A man (Steve Kanaly) returns to July 1976 when his girlfriend was killed in a plane crash; and a boxer (Paul Sylvan) revisits the championship fight that he threw in New York in May 1969.

And so, the Time Express swishes off into TV heaven…

Friday, 6 June 2014

Dr Phibes Rises Again | Check out this quirky Coffin Lobby Card

With Arrow's Blu-ray of The Complete Dr Phibes now pushed back until 16 June, here's a little something to brighten your day, an unsual advert for Dr Phibes Rises Again. This coffin shaped advert folds out to reveal a montage of scenes from the film. Now this is one that I'd love to have in my collection (hint, hint).

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Dr Phibes Rises Again | National Screen Services Press Campaign Booklet

Following my post yesterday, here's the the original National Screen Services Press Campaign Booklet for Dr Phibes Rises Again, also from my personal collection.

Arrow's UK Blu-ray of The Complete Dr Phibes is released on 9 June.