Tuesday, April 4, 2006

HORROR OF PARTY BEACH / THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE

Dark Sky Films is rapidly becoming one of my favorite companies working in the genre of B-movies and exploitation films on DVD. Among their recent gems is the classic Del Tenney drive-in double bill of HORROR OF PARTY BEACH/THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (1963). Independently produced on a low budget (less than $70,000 combined!), the films were picked up by 20th Century Fox for distribution in order to compete with American International Pictures' teen-oriented fare, and were huge hits for the company.

HORROR OF PARTY BEACH is an amusing amalgam of rock 'n roll beach movies and sea monster schlock. While leather jacketed bikers crash the beach party, toxic waste dumped offshore creates "zombie" sea creatures with a taste for human blood – especially that of shapely females. Some fun 60's rock 'n roll by the Del Aires, surprisingly gory death scenes and some of the most ludicrous rubber-suit monsters ever committed to celluloid (ping pong ball eyes and mouths full of what appear to be hotdogs instead of teeth) make for a fun, fast-paced drive-in experience.

CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE, made the same year by the same director and crew, is a Gothic horror film set in 19th Century New England. When wealthy family patriarch Rufus Sinclair dies, his uncaring family ignores the provisions of his will. Soon, they start dying – each according to their greatest fear. Featuring a very young Roy Scheider (JAWS) in his first screen role, CURSE is an effective little chiller, that foreshadows in some ways the Italian giallo cycle, with it's black-clad killer and surprisingly gory deaths.

Dark Sky Films presents both films in damn near perfect black and white anamorphic widescreen transfers, matted at 1.78:1. Both films are presented in Dolby 2.0 Mono sound, and are clear and free of background hiss. Director Tenney provides separate commentary tracks for each film, and appears in an on-screen interview, where he shares his memories of the two films' back-to-back production and exhibition. Dark Sky fills out the already excellent package with a photo gallery, and the original theatrical trailers.

Kudos to Dark Sky Films, for bringing these two drive-in/late night staples to DVD in fine form, with the participation of the original filmmaker. Highly recommended.

BUY: The Del Tenney Double Feature