Boris Karloff Collection – Dance of Death, Torture Zone, Alien Terror, Cult of the Dead – (MVD Visual DVD)

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A woman has been found with her eyes torn out, and in his mansion, Mathias Murteval is shocked. “Somewhere in our garden, father,” he declares to a portrait of his dad, “the evil weed has sprung up again.” It must be a very small weed in a very small garden because Mathias Murteval’s mansion is a cardboard cut-out. No, really.

So begins Dance Of Death (aka House Of Evil), the first of four films in this newly-released Boris Karloff Collection … the last four films he would ever make, in fact. His scenes for this along with Torture Zone (aka Fear Chamber), Cult Of The Dead (aka Isle Of The Snake People) and Alien Terror (no aka, presumably because Alien Terror delivered what was needed to be said on the tin) were shot together in Los Angeles, while the rest of the films were completed in Mexico, and released after his death. Mostly written by Jack Hill and mostly co-starring south-of-the-border siren and songstress Julissa, they are not Karloff’s finest hour. But they are, however, strangely endearing.

I shan’t bore you with plot details, because Jack Hill didn’t. Suffice to say what starts out as a stalk-and-slash turns into a whodunnit before ending for some reason in a room with a water-wheel and an organ. Of the diddle-ah, diddle-iddle-dee-dummm variety, I mean, not like somebody’s cock or anything. No, that’s reserved for Torture Zone, an everyday tale of the discovery beneath a volcano of a crystalline entity made of rubber that feeds on blood, or rather blood flooded by a fear hormone it finds particularly nomnom. Cue the Beneficent Foundation (For The) Foreign Employment Of Young Women, whose interviews consist of having to strip naked for a ‘physical’ before being pretend-killed by satanists/doctors while people stare at them through air vents (don’t ask). It’s all so stimulating that the crystalline entity grows its own feeding tube, or at least that’s what they call it.

But now I’ve done what I said I wouldn’t and given you details. Any more would be far too exciting, so I’ll let you discover the wonders of Cult Of The Dead and Alien Terror for yourselves. Kudos to Karloff, bless him, who gives his respective roles all that he has, but less so to MVD Visual, whose 2-disc set boasts prints with no cleaning, no remastering and bugger all in the way of extras. But then, perhaps, that’s the way these films need to be seen.

“Can you tell me something about my mother?” asks Julissa.

“Certainly, my dear, I’d love to,” replies Karloff in his mellifluous tones. “She died in a loooonatic asylum.” Mike Wild

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