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Dark Sky Films presents
Curse of the Living Corpse/The Horror of Party Beach (1964/1962)

"It's still alive!"
- Elaine (Alice Lyon)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 29, 2006

Stars: John Scott, Alice Lyon, Allan Laurel, Helen Warren, Roy Scheider, Margot Hartman, Robert Milli, Candace Hilligoss
Other Stars: Eulabelle Moore, Marilyn Clarke, Agustin Mayor, Damon Kebroyd, The Del-Aires, Hugh Franklin, Linda Donovan, J.Frank Lucas, William Blood
Director: Del Tenney

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity, mild gore/violence)
Run Time: 02h:41m:58s
Release Date: March 28, 2006
UPC: 030306773193
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-B+B B

DVD Review

Del Tenney wasn't the most prolific director of the early 1960s, with only three titles to his catalog, all of them released between 1962 and 1964, at least until his return in 2003 as co-director on the Poe-inspired thriller Descendant. He could add a couple more to that list as producer (most notably Psychomania, aka Violent Midnight), but even with Tenney's rather limited oeuvre, he truly made his mark with this pair of horror titles that Dark Sky has packaged as a double bill. The prints have been remastered and issued in anamorphic widescreen, and finally Tenney's work is getting the genre-worthy attention it deserves.

The Horror of Party Beach
01h:18m:02s

The jewel of the set is really Tenney's opus, this blender full of genres that serves up a combo platter of elements from beach, monster and biker movies. It doesn't matter that the rubber-suited monsters rank up there as some of the worst every seen onscreen (what are those things in its mouth?) or that a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste and a human skull were the birth parents, because Tenney piles on frequent victims, including an entire hip-shaking college girl slumber party, complete with pillow fight.

For no real reason other than his first girlfriend was eaten by one, old-looking 20-something good guy Hank (John Scott) teams up with the equally good Dr. Gavin (Allan Laurel) and his brainy daughter Elaine (Alice Lyon) to put an end to the "giant protozoa" problem. Along the way there's fisticuffs with a biker gang, frequent dancing to the beach music of The Del-Aires, and enough expendable victims to keep the action going at a nice clip. Everything about this one comes together in sometimes illogical leaps, sewn in a low-budget-that-makes-no-sense-but-I-don't-care kind of way, but it works.

The Curse of the Living Corpse
01h:23m:56s

Less campy and frothy is this greedy family period piece, set in 1892 New England. When the curmudgeonly patriarch of the Sinclair family finally dies, his will stipulates that before any of his vast fortune can be dispersed, his relatives must abide by some crazy demands for a year or the old man will come back from the grave and kill them in the manner they fear most. You've got your flames, disfigurement, smothering, drowning, etc. Call me crazy, but if anyone returned from the grave, it wouldn't matter how they threatened to killed me, because pretty much ALL manner of death is the one I fear most.

There's more than a bit of And Then There Were None in the storytelling, as the various family members start meeting the aforementioned grisly deaths, all at the hands of some mysterious cloaked figure. Tenney spices this one up with some bathtub nudity from Margot Hartman (aka Mrs. Tenney), in a cast that includes the first feature film role by Roy Scheider and the last for Carnival of Soul's Candace Hilligoss. A few quality kills (one severed head on a tray, coming right up) and a general Gothic tone make this an interesting compliment to the hippy-hippy-shake of The Horror of Party Beach.

Dark Sky's admirable work with minor 1960s genre titles continues with this fine double bill of Del Tenney's work. The two films couldn't be more opposite, but both have their own unique merits, especially for fans of low-budget 1960s horror.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This will probably shock you as much as did me, but both Tenney titles are issued here in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Shocking, yes, but certainly welcome. The prints are in surprisingly good shape and have been remastered, though The Curse of the Living Corpse did have some minor specking and grain in a few spots. Of the two, The Horror of Party Beach looks the best overall, sporting excellent contrast levels and deep blacks, with only a few sequences not looking as sharp as the rest of the film.

For a pair of early 1960s cheapies, Dark Sky has done 'em proud.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio for both films are presented in 2.0 English mono. Voice quality is clear, with no negligible hiss, and it would seem that these tracks went through a clean-up process at some point. Things perk up noticeably, in terms of richness, during The Horror of Party Beach when the frequent surf music (courtesy of the Del-Aires) is used.

Solid.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Del Tenney, Shade Rupe
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: As with nearly all Dark Sky titles, the case is clear plastic, so that when opened there is additional artwork visible on the inside, in this case a shot of some screaming girls, chapter info and a "fright release" that "absolves the management of the is theater of all responsibility of "death by fright." Right on.

There are a pair of commentary tracks—one per film—both featuring Del Tenney and Dark Sky's Shade Rupe, who acts as the informal moderator. Neither track is as standalone good as Tenney's Violent Midnight talk, and even if some of his recollections seem a little vague or contradictory, both are worth a casual listen for the fragments of info on making early 1960s indie horror/thrillers.

Also included is An Interview with Del Tenney in which we get his life history in less than ten minutes, and a snazzy photo gallery of poster art. Each film is cut into 12 chapters, and features optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

It's hard to beat a double feature, especially when one is as full of cornball horror goodness as The Horror of Party Beach. But there's more here, with the costume drama The Curse of the Living Corpse, a tad more serious and gruesome, but just as much rich with pulpy entertainment.

Toss in some beach music (The Horror of Party Beach), Carnival of Soul's Candace Hilligoss (The Curse of the Living Corpse) and a pair of Del Tenney commentaries and life is good.

Recommended.

 


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