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January 5, 2014

Movie Review: Die Monster Die (Blu-ray, 1965)

When Boris Karloff took on the iconic role of Frankenstein's Monster in James Whale's classic Frankenstein  he became one of genre's elite actors in the 1930's. As his career progressed, Karloff would become a fixture on the proverbial Mount Rushmore of horror (along with people like Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr.). Amazingly, this break in Whale's film came because Dracula star Bela Lugosi felt the character was a little weak because of the lack of lines. Karloff thankfully seized this opportunity and followed Frankenstein with many memorable performances until his passing in 1969. His work in the 1950's and 1960's with Roger Corman and AIP became the capper to what was really an awesome career. Daniel Haller's Die Monster Die (aka Monster of Terror) was one of Karloff's later performances and even though he was up in years, and in bad health, he still had it. After knocking The Vincent Price Collection out of the park, Scream Factory has tackled more AIP goodness in this release for the Blu-ray format.

Based on H.P Lovecraft's From the Color Out of Space and penned by screenwriter Jerry Sohl (Twilight Zone, Frankenstein Conquers the World), Die Monster Die is the story about Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff), a scientist despised by everyone in the town around his manor. Why do they hate him? Witley's daughter, much to his dismay invites her boyfriend, Stephen (Nick Adams, Rebel Without a Cause, and Pillow Talk) for a stay at the mysterious Witley Mansion. It's just a matter of time before Stephen starts to discover some macabre stuff. This of course peaks his curiosity to a point where the young fellow begins to follow the cranky wheelchair-bound Witley around the castle. Apparently the grounds are cursed from a fallen meteorite causing all kinds of havoc.

Even as a low-budget horror film I felt the FX were still on par or better than most genre films from that era. You get to see some giant, live man-eating plants, a transformation by one of the characters that might bring on flashbacks of a past Blue Man Group show and surprisingly, in one scene a generous splattering of gore. Science-fiction and horror come together in very amusing fashion to say the least.

The supplements are fairly sparse as compared to what you may have come to expect from previous Scream Factory releases as we just get the original movie trailer. Scream Factory more than makes up for that with this gorgeous HD restoration of the film. It really is very pretty to look at considering the age of the film. The  high concentration of colors used throughout the picture look absolutely vibrant. The film element looks very nice and exhibits very minor ware. The English track is very audible and crisp so no worries in the audio department.

Die Monster Die is one of the more enjoyable later AIP outings and is represented very nicely with this stellar transfer. This an essential purchase for Karloff and anyone who appreciates the films from AIP. Here's hoping that fans can get even more AIP films in the future from Scream Factory.  Highly Recommended

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