The Phantom Speaks

A few recent discs we mightily enjoyed include VCI's new six-film, three-disc British Cinema Classic B Film Collection, Vol. 1 (especially the '50s crime thrillers Tread Softly Stranger and The Frightened Man), Indican Pictures' campus-set supernatural suspenser Little Erin Merryweather, Dark Sky Films' psychedelic flashback Simon, King of the Witches, Kino Video's 1929 Indian silent A Throw of Dice, and Something Weird Video's 1964 Florida-set jaw-dropper Love Goddesses of Blood Island. And speaking of the Sunshine State, look for BCI's new special edition of swamp auteur William Grefe's killer-snake chiller Stanley.

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KIDS: One of Summer '08's highlights was a time-capsule vacation spent in the Bowery of yore via Alpha Video's 10-disc The East Side Kids: 10 Bowery Classics, assembling the Leo Gorcey-led escapades (1940-1943) of those irrepressible overage urchins from Poverty Row; highlights include Clancy Street Boys (with Huntz Hall in extended drag scenes), Kid Dynamite, Mr. Wise Guy, Smart Alecks and the faux chiller chestnut Spooks Run Wild, with guest star Bela Lugosi. From there, we scoped out Leonard Getz's definitive new tome From Broadway to the Bowery: A History and Filmography of the Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids and Bowery Boys Films, with Cast Biographies (McFarland & Co., $55)–highly recommended for fans of the kids in their various incarnations. Other new McFarland books well worth a look include Christopher Wayne Curry's Film Alchemy: The Independent Cinema of Ted V. Mikels ($49.95) and Robert Michael "Bobb" Cotter's The Great Monster Magazines: A Critical Study of the Black and White Publications ($45). And don't forget to scope out our own Calum Waddell's Taboo Breakers: 18 Independent Films that Courted Controversy and Created a Legend, From Blood Feast to Hostel (Telos Publishing, $25.95).

OBIT ORBIT: Among the too many genre celebs to fall victim to the Grim Reaper's relentless scythe in recent days, we'll especially miss Isaac Hayes, 65, whose career ran the gamut from Oscar-winning soul composer (Shaft) to blaxploitation star (Truck Turner) to character thesp (William Lustig's Uncle Sam) to voice-over actor (South Park's Chef); pioneering maverick critic Manny (Negative Space) Farber, 91, whose eclectic appreciation helped gain respect for such theretofore ignored fare as B movies and cartoons; starlet Julie Ege, 64, whose pulchritudinous presence graced such films as Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and Creatures the World Forgot; swim star Diane Webber, immortalized in The Mermaids of Tiburon (VS #66); and voice-over king Don LaFontaine, 68, who lent his sonorous baritone to literally thousands of movie trailers. They will be missed.

MONDO RADIO: In broadcast news, once and future Psychotronic Man Michael Weldon is on the air with his Psychotronic Radio Show, broadcasting Friday nights, 8 to midnight, from Chincoteague Island, VA. The show can also be heard live via Be there or be square!

Elsewhere, congrats go to the inventive folks at Zeitgeist Video on the occasion of that indie label's 20th anniversary. Look for their 12/09 remastered edition of Olivier Assayas' Irma Vep (an anagram for vampire, but you already figured that out), starring Maggie Cheung, and, due early 2009, a remastered edition of Manitoba madman Guy Maddin's cult classic Careful.

In the meantime, don't forget to…

Keep watching the screens!
~ The Phantom