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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

New Releases From the Warner Archives

Just in time for Halloween, Dracula returns with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. And classic actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Ralph Morgan, Eleanor Parker and Janis Paige are featured in classics now on DVD.

DRACULA AD 1972 is presented in a new, 1080p HD Master. This is Hammer Studios's penultimate Dracula fright-fest with the always entertaining Christopher Lee. In this version of the blood sucking monster, we see the count making a leap from the 19th century to the 20th Century. Peter Cushing (playing Dr. Van Helsing) is back for the first time since 1960's Brides of Dracula. He battles Dracula to the finish on top a stagecoach in England of 1872. One hundred years later Satanic hippies resurrect the lord of the undead. Dracula sets about his deeds in his quest for vengeance against the descendants of his nemesis. Full of crimson-and-mod swinging Seventies glory, this crisp and colorful 1080p Blu-ray presentation also stars Stephanie Beacham and Caroline Munro.

New to DVD is the 1952 adventure, Gold Fever. The film is set in the aftermath of the Californian gold rush where two men meet in a mining town. John Bonar ( (John Calvert) is in a quest for vengeance. Nugget Jack (Ralph Morgan, Frank Morgan's brother) is in search of something more precious than gold. After John rescues Nugget Jack from the local boss and his thugs, an assassin is sent to follow their trail. Ultimately, in a refreshing turn of events, it's a women who saves them. This is definitely a western worthy of a good look.

The Last Ride, features some society swells, who meet their end thanks to a fatal combination of drunken joy-riding and counterfeit tires (an example of 1944 war-time attempts at persuading citizens to avoid the black markets). Thanks to war-time rationing, a new car is more rare than bacon, butter and sugar. Unsavory racketeers dream up a "tire insurance" scheme. Idealist, young cop, Pat Harrigan (Richard Travis) is tasked with bringing the crooks to justice. Unfortunately, his fast-living sibling Mike (Charles Lang) is one of the bad guys. As the two brothers begin to circle one another, a secret threatens them both. Complicating it all is Kitty Kelly (an on the cusp of stardom, Eleanor Parker), whom both men love. This is some nice mellow-drama to distract the folks on the home front from the war raging in Europe.

And then there's Wall Flower (also new to DVD). Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige play frenemy step-sisters in this romantic comedy adapted from a Broadway hit. In their household, the boys come calling on Paige, while Reynolds tends to her studies while parents (Barbara Brown and Edward Arnold) fret about their respective child (sounds a lot like My Sister Eileen with the twist of parent/step-parents). When old acquaintance Warren James (Robert Hutton), Reynolds is overjoyed when Warren first falls for her. But, as expected, her romantic dreams fly out the window once Warren gets gob-smocked by the sight of Paige in a swimsuit (which Paige fills very nicely). But Reynolds fights fire with fire and not so surprisingly undergoes a makeover. As frivolous as it seems, this is an amusing little light-hearted comedy.

Criterion offers another fun and eclectic set of films. A true Criterion fan will want to add these little gems to their collection. And others will still be satisfied with these examples of fringe cinema.

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