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Cold War Creatures: 4 Films From Sam Katzman Blu-ray Review

“Cold War Creatures: 4 Films From Sam Katzman” delivers B-movie fun.

“Cold War Creatures” is a collection of 4 entertaining, schlocky, atomic age sci-fi B-movies from producer Sam Katzman. The titles include “Creature With The Atom Brain,’ “The Werewolf,” “Zombies Of Mora Tau,” and “The Giant Claw.” 

1955’s “Creature With The Atomic Brain” is the best of the lot for me personally. The story finds a gangster (Frank) teaming up with an ex-Nazi scientist (Wilhelm) to reanimate and control the dead to do his bidding and get revenge against those wh wronged him. Hot on the case is Police Doctor (Chet Walker) who wants to get to the bottom of things. 

What makes ‘Creature’ so compelling is its mixture of genres. It’s a mad scientist movie, a zombie movie and a gangster movie rolled into one. It’s also quite a unique take on the zombie genre. The notion of a gangster having his own lackeys be zombies is a great high concept.

1956’s “The Werewolf” revolves around an amnesiac man (Duncan) who winds up in the small town of Mountaincrest. He’s no ordinary man, however, as he can change into a werewolf. The local Sheriff and company are trying to hunt him down, but Duncan soon discovers his past may be linked to Doctors and an experiment gone awry.

“The Werewolf” certainly owes a lot to “The Wolf Man,” but this low-budget horror flick offers up a nice twist on the werewolf mythos mixed with some sci-fi Cold War concepts. The small town vibe and atmosphere are also notable here.

1957’s “Zombies Of Mora Tau” revolves around a wealthy man (George) seeking diamonds in a sunken ship. What he and his associates don’t know is that the ship is cursed and protected by the dead crew who are zombies.

On paper, this zombie flick has the best premise. Unfortunately, it never lives up to its potential. Despite some “The Fog” esque vibes here, the cheap production values and lack of atmosphere keep it from being an effective horror thriller.

1957’s “The Giant Claw” is the most well known of the 4 films. This is the movie in which an alien bird wreaks havoc on Earth. The giant monster movie has become a camp classic over the years and it’s not hard to see why. Sure, it’s a bit of a slog when the bird isn’t on screen, but when it is it’s a hoot. How can you not crack up at a  big screeching, goofy looking, wobbly necked turkey?   

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p for ‘Claw’ and ‘Zombies and 1.85:1 1080p for ‘Creature and ‘Werewolf.’ How do they look? All 4 B&W films look superb in hi-def. It’s always great to see older films getting high quality transfers no matter the quality of the movie itself. 

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How do they sound? All 4 films contain nice, clean audio tracks.

Extras:
* Image gallery and theatrical trailer for all 4 films
* Intros to all 4 films by film critic/film historian Kim Newman.
* Edited Super 8mm version of “The Giant Claw,” “The Werewolf,” and “Creature With The Atom Brain.”
* An art book featuring lobby cards, posters, stills and written introductory pieces for all 4 films.
* A booklet with credits and essays by Laura Drazin Boyes, Neil Mitchell, Barry Forshaw, Jon Towlson and Jackson cooper.
* 2 double-sided posters (one for each film)
* Commentary on “Creature With The Atom Brain” by Russell Dyball, commentary on “The Giant Claw” by Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard, commentary on “Zombies Of Mora Tau” by Kat Ellinger, and commentary on “The Werewolf” by Lee Gambin.
* “Sam Katzman: Before And Beyond The Cold War Creatures”- Film historian/critic Stephen R. Bissette narrates this 73 minute overview of Katzman’s life and filmography.
* 3 art cards each for all 4 films.
* “Family Endangered”- A video essay by film critic Mike White about Cold War paranoia themes of Sam Katzman’s monster films.
* “Atomic Terror: Genre In Transformation”- Film critic Josh Hurtado’s visual essay about the blend of horror, monsters and science in Sam Katzman’s productions.
* “Beyond Window Dressing- Film critic/author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas narrates this visual essay about the women in Sam Katzman’s films.

November 30, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , ,

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