The Tigon Collection Review

Tigon British was a relatively short-lived company that distinguished itself by making a handful of classic films in amongst quite a bit of rubbish. It developed out of a company named Compton-Tekli, run by two East End wideboys named Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser. Having just acquired the famous Windmill Theatre, they were keen to get into films and, principally, into the growing market for British exploitation movies which had been developed by Hammer. Their best and most distinguished film was Polanski’s marvellous Repulsion, after which Tenser left the company and formed Tony Tenser Films, later renamed Tigon. They made The Sorcerers with the brilliant young Michael Reeves and employed Peter Cushing in The Blood Beast Terror - which the veteran actor regarded as the worst film of his career. Alternating genius with crap, they followed Reeves’s brilliant last film Witchfinder General with the truly dire The Body Stealers. By 1970, Tigon were generally considered a rung below Amicus Productions who were themselves a rung below Hammer Films. It was perhaps Tigon’s misfortune to come to prominence during the best years of Hammer, when films like Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb and Quatermass And The Pitwere challenging the style of the studio and changing it for the better, but they certainly made some fine films.

Anchor Bay’s Tigon Collection brings together five of the films made by Tigon along with another, Virgin Witch, which they picked up for release. The quality of the films varies wildly from the sublime Witchfinder General to the utterly bloody awful The Body Stealers but the level of presentation is generally pretty good.

Witchfinder General 10/10

Witchfinder General is one of the best British horror films ever made and, like Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, a work which transcends its genre to become a serious and disturbing personal statement on the part of its director and a genuine work of art. A downbeat and horribly credible account of the hysteria over witchcraft which plagued England during the seventeenth century, Michael Reeves’ last completed film is a bracingly realistic piece of historical recreation and a powerful study of what happens when personal madness is allowed to pass into state policy.

Set in East Anglia during 1645, a strange period of stalemate during the Civil War, the film recounts some of the career of Matthew Hopkins. The decline of law in the middle of war led to power becoming concentrated in small pockets of influence and Hopkins managed to centre enough power around himself to become a self-styled warrior of God, dedicated to searching out and punishing witchcraft, idolatry and, by paranoid extension, Popery. Historical accounts of Hopkins vary but its generally accepted that he claimed to have been given the official title “Witch-Finder General” by the Puritan Parliament. Although torture had been declared illegal, Hopkins used a wide variety of techniques to extract confessions, most of which are reckoned to have been false. His career lasted from 1644 to 1646. His exact motivations are a matter for speculation but there’s little doubt that he went about his work with a will, supported by a group of petty sadists who were happy to indulge local grievances against various unfortunate individuals. There’s no doubt, however, as to his personal corruption. Although supposedly engaged on state business, Hopkins demanded personal payment for each witch burned. He also sold ‘witch boxes’, indulgences which were supposed to protect the bearer from dark forces. What isn’t known is the manner of his death. He was given a Christian burial in Essex during the summer of 1647, rendering dubious the claims that he was hanged himself by rebellious peasants

In Reeves’s film, Hopkins becomes an unforgettable monster; a sadistic misanthrope with a particular hatred for women. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, Vincent Price’s greatest single piece of acting. Famously forced by Reeves to subdue his familiar mannerisms and his renowned love of camping his part up, Price is utterly terrifying. He plays Hopkins as a blank canvas, an unfeeling tyrant whose motivations are just as mysterious as those of the real man. Barely a flicker of emotion passes over his face as he watches the results of his work. Even when facing a woman who has given herself to him in return for her father’s life, he looks completely devoid of any feeling at all. An occasional snarled piece of black humour is his only concession to humanity. If this isn’t Price’s most typical performance – that would surely be in Theatre of Blood - it’s one of the few times that he immersed himself completely into a character. He dominates the film, though not so much as to make one ignore excellent performances from Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer and Rupert Davies as the innocent pawns in Hopkins’ game.

It’s often said that Michael Reeves would have become a great director had he lived longer. Dying at 24 is a tragedy but its also great for one’s reputation and there’s a romanticism around Reeves which is hard to dispel. However, I’m not so sure it needs dispelling. Although his first film, Revenge of the Blood Beast is a bit of a mess, his other two movies - Witchfinder General and The Sorcerors - are quite remarkable, not least for their consistency in portraying a world in which cruelty and the search for the satiation of personal appetite have taken over. His use of violence in Witchfinder General is, it seems to me, completely responsible and morally justified. In showing us the depredations
of the witch-hunts in such sordid detail, he reveals them as sickening charades designed to indulge a personal delight in sadism. There’s nothing gloating about the violence here and the final bloodbath, still hard to watch after nearly forty years, leaves no impression but one of nausea at the sickening brutality to which people can sink.

Everything about Witchfinder General is impressive. Production design is remarkable, especially considering the low budget and Paul Ferris’s score adds a distinct touch of class.The cheapness of the film is barely noticeable, mostly coming out in the obvious lack of funds to film the pivotal Battle of Naseby – it’s talked about but never seen. The cinematography by John Coquillon is particularly notable. Coquillon is a DP who had a unique feel for the savage beauty of the English rural landscape, something he exploited to memorable effect in Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, another film about a world in moral chaos. The shots here are often gorgeously composed, deliberately forming a counterpoint with the savagery within the frame. The look of the film, combined with the magnificent central performance and the dark, somewhat despairing personal vision which it contains, makes Witchfinder General not only one of Tigon’s best films but also one of the best British movies of the 1960s.

The Disc

Sadly, Anchor Bay have been unable to provide a new Special Edition of this great film and the disc in the Tigon Collection is the same as the Prism budget disc which has been available for some time. It’s not a bad DVD in some respects but nor is it particularly impressive.

Two versions of the film are contained within – the UK theatrical cut, minus BBFC edits, and the ‘export version’. The latter contains some brief moments of more explicit violence and some mild nudity in the tavern sequences. These have been inserted from a very poor source – looking like NTSC video to me – and the shift in quality is very evident.

The film is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1. The best things about the transfer are the level of detail, consistently impressive, and the richness of the colours. However, there is a good deal of print damage throughout and artifacting is a constant problem. Proper restoration of this film is urgently required in my opinion. The insertions in the export version look awful but that’s to be expected and a warning about this precedes the film. The mono soundtrack presents both music and dialogue to impressive effect.

There are a few extra features. The best of these is a 25 minute documentary about Michael Reeves which was first shown in the Channel 4 ‘Eurotika’ series. This is thoroughly enjoyable and a good introduction to the director’s work for newcomers. Kim Newman’s eloquent and in-depth production notes are also very welcome. Trailers for this film and The Sorcerors are a welcome inclusion but a music video by some band called Cathedral is most unwelcome. There’s also a very extensive image gallery and filmographies for key members of the cast and crew.

Regrettably, no subtitles are included for either the film or the extra features.

It’s a shame that the best film in Anchor Bay’s Tigon Collection should look in such mediocre condition but the power of the movie still shines through.

The Body Stealers 1/10

Even if it wasn’t attempting the difficult task of following Witchfinder General in this box set, The Body Stealers would still seem like a piss-poor waste of celluloid. If the review which follows seems unnaturally brief, that’s because there really is nothing much to say beyond conveying a general impression of aching boredom. There are worse films in existence but The Body Stealers achieves a difficult combination of being both badly made and very tedious. Think of Herschell Gordon Lewis without the gore or Ed Wood without the camp and you’re somewhere near to the mark.

After eleven men disappear in mid-air during parachute manoeuvres, special agent Bob Megan (Allen) is called in by General Armstrong (Sanders) to investigate. Megan discovers that the men were all highly trained and conditioned for work in outer space and comes to an astonishing conclusion, involving sinister alien intervention, upon which his superiors are very reluctant to act.

There are a number of significant problems with the film. Firstly, instead of showing us interesting things, it relies on people talking endlessly about them. The script isn’t exactly bad but its verbose with a small plot point emerging every five minutes to mind-numbing effect. Secondly, the special effects are poor with one animated disappearing effect used several times, presumably because its the only effect that Tigon could afford. Thirdly, and most importantly, no suspense is built up at all. Despite the intriguing science fiction plot, very little seems to be at stake and the ending is utterly laughable.

The actors try their best. Patrick Allen, voice of a million commercials, isn’t overflowing with charisma but he’s a solid enough presence and George Sanders, beginning his period of slumming in low-budget films, underplays amusingly as if to show us how superior he is to the material. Maurice Evans has a small role and does just fine but barely gets a chance to make an impression. Similarly, the DP John Coquillon does a good job with the location photography and builds a certain amount of atmosphere. But Gerry Levy’s direction is hopeless. He either allows the camera to loll about, never catching the action in quite the right place, or holds static scenes until you’re almost screaming with boredom. Occasional attempts at stylistic symbolism– crashing waves to indicate intercourse - are so heavy handed as to be unintentionally funny. His pacing is also hopeless, making a ninety minute film seem twice that length. The dialogue doesn’t help, the general quality being indicated by lines such as “Things from outer space! Come Doctor, be reasonable!”

The Body Stealers was Tigon’s attempt to move into the arena of family entertainment but it didn’t signal a new direction for the company. Science Fiction was never the company’s forte – the adaptation of Doomwatch from 1972 wasn’t entirely successful either – and the ultra-low budget means that the film is, ultimately, all talk and no trousers.

The Disc

The film is given a full-frame transfer which appears to be open matte - Gerry Levy’s framing is pretty dodgy anyway so it’s hard to make a judgement on this. But there doesn’t appear to be anything vital missing. The picture quality is pretty good with a clean, crisp image and striking colours. Some aliasing is present however and the level of grain is sometimes excessive. The usual three soundtracks are present and the only one worth your time is the Dolby 2.0 track which is two-channel mono. The DTS 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are a complete mess with the music and sound effects dominating all before them.

The extras are limited to a pleasant audio commentary featuring Patrick Allen interviewed by John Hamilton, some film notes and the original trailer. None of these are top drawer but the commentary is, once again, rather more enjoyable than the film. Subtitles are included for the film but not for the extra features.

Easily the worst film in the box – beating even Virgin Witch to that honour - The Body Stealers is very poor stuff indeed. The DVD makes it look as good as it ever has done but there’s nothing here which is likely to make you want to come back for a second viewing.

The Haunted House of Horror 6/10

If the title of this movie, a kind of British giallo, sounds a little overdone then the writer/director of the film, Michael Armstrong, would agree with you. His original script called “The Dark” was a wild satire on the mores of the late 1960s which was originally intended to feature a slightly pre-“Space Oddity” David Bowie who would also have written the music. As things turned out, Armstrong was forced to drop Bowie, cast Mark Wynter and accept Frankie Avalon as the male lead. To add insult to injury, he was then fired from his own work by Louis Heyward from AIP but forced to endure the humiliation of having his name permanently fixed on a film he had disowned. Five years later, he used this experience in his excellent script for Eskimo Nell, a film which is generally considered to be one of the few British sex comedies which is genuinely worth watching.

A group of bored teenagers, led by the somewhat older Chris (Avalon) – allegedly “the epitome of Swinging London” – decide to liven up their night by visiting an old, supposedly haunted house. Unfortunately, their plans for a séance and love-in are disrupted when one of their number is brutally murdered by an unknown assailant with a machete. The surviving members of the party go into panic and leave, after its been agreed that they will not reveal what they know to anyone.

It’s fair to say that the film is a complete mess. Most films which are the product of two very different directors - Fierce Creatures, Day of the Triffids - tend to be very inconsistent and Haunted House of Horror is no different. The first half hour is largely made up of scenes shot by Gerry Levy – the director, if that’s the word I’m looking for, of The Body Stealers - and is incredibly tedious. It takes an age for the group to get to the house and the space is filled by an allegedly wild party - which is possibly the beginning of the same one as seen in Dracula A.D. 1972 - and a set of relationships which don’t make a great deal of sense. Once we get into the house, the footage shot by Armstrong comes into play for about twenty minutes and the film suddenly comes to life. The first murder, in which Mark Wynter is hacked to death, is a brilliant frenzy of blood, light and shadow and the hysterical reaction of his friends comes across very well. But then we’re back to more Levy nonsense as a police inspector, played by a bankrupt and desperate Dennis Price, investigates the disappearance very slowly and the characters change yet again from the ones we saw earlier in the house. Then there’s a sub-plot incorporating a creepy George Sewell which results in a murder which is bloodless and equally devoid of suspense. In the circumstances, one has to acknowledge that the cast – including a pleasingly subdued Frankie Avalon – is better than might be expected.

Somehow, though, this disordered film manages to spark into life and come together towards the end when its giallo roots come clearly into focus. The final confrontation with the ‘surprise’ killer, not entirely unexpected but terribly effective, is a fascinating combination of the childhood reminiscence that explains so many killers in so many giallos and one of the nastiest murder scenes in British cinema history. In scenes like this, it’s possible to see how good the film could have been. The cinematography is impressive and Hayden Pierce’s production design is sometimes quite remarkable. I also have to give a lot of credit to the editor for managing to produce something which makes at least some kind of sense. But overall, the effect is one of severe disarray with two different directors – one competent, the other hopeless - trying to do two different things

The Disc

I was staggered by the quality of the transfer for Haunted House of Horror. Having previously seen it on a VHS tape back in the 1980s, I remembered it looking muddy and scratched. On this DVD, it looks virtually brand new. The colours are fresh and vibrant, there’s loads of detail and virtually no problems with artifacting or excessive grain. Although the 1.66:1 transfer is anamorphic, the results are very impressive.

As on the other discs, there are three soundtracks. Needless to say, the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 Surround tracks are entirely superfluous and, it seemed to me, rather too loud. The music seems to dominate all before it. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack – allegedly stereo but, to my ears, two channel Mono – is better with the dialogue and music properly balanced.

The main extra feature is a fine commentary from Michael Armstrong and film writer John Hamiliton. Armstrong talks very engagingly about his intentions for the film and points out the scenes which he shot and those which he disowns, often interrupting his comments to say “I didn’t shoot this piece of sh..crap!” He also reveals a lot about his dysfunctional relationship with Louis ‘Deke’ Heyward from AIP and the way he got his revenge through the characters in Eskimo Nell - for those who’ve seen that wonderful movie, Roy Kinnear - “Who wants to watch a load of arty-farty culture when you can look at a great big pair of tits” - is basically playing Tony Tenser and the philistine producer Big Dick is meant to be Heyward. Armstrong is very honest and funny and this is one of those commentary tracks which is a more enjoyable experience than the film itself.

John Hamilton also supplies some literate and informative film notes and biographies. We also get an engagingly dated trailer and some amusing American radio spots, advertising it as “Horror House”, part of a double bill with another AIP/Tigon production The Crimson Cult.

The Beast In The Cellar 3/10

Imagine Arsenic And Old Lace played straight and you have some idea of what this rather desperate film is like. That it doesn’t work on any level is certainly not the fault of the excellent cast. The guilty men are the writers and the director, neither of whom seem to have any notable talent whatsoever.

When a squaddie is murdered in the Lancashire countryside by some strange creature, the local community believes that some kind of vicious animal has escaped from a zoo. Only two women - sisters Joyce (Robson) and Ellie (Reid) - know the truth; that the offending beast is the same creature which they thought was safely bricked up in their cellar.

And, er, that's about it. There is virtually nothing to keep you watching this film apart from a good cast and a few moments of unintentional comedy. The brief 'shock' sequences are woefully mishandled and the clumsily inserted gore seems to have strayed from a different film entirely. The revelations about the nature of the 'beast' are so incredible that its hard to credit anyone taking them seriously and the motivations of the two sisters are confused to say the least, as is the time-frame. It’s almost unbelievable that such a mediocre project should have attracted a cast of this calibre. T.P. McKenna, one of the world’s finest readers of James Joyce’s work and familiar to movie fans from his role in Straw Dogs, is completely wasted in a role which mostly requires him to listen to reams of unspeakable dialogue. Much of this comes from Beryl Reid, an actress who appeared in more than her fair share of crap during her career which suggests that she had a slightly deficient instinct for what constitutes a worthwhile project. Most baffling is the presence of Dame Flora Robson who does her best with some idiotic situations and apparently appeared in the film on the financial advice of Lord Olivier. However, Larry appears to have omitted a key point. When he appeared in trash it was usually for a generous financial package. Dame Flora, on the other hand, was working for scale, which was evidently all Tigon could afford. Both she and Reid give the film all they’ve got and this commands a certain amount of respect but it’s a shame that, if they were determined to appear in bad movies, they couldn’t have chosen something which offered a few more opportunities for hammy grandstanding. Olivier, for example, could be relied upon to appear in delectably trashy films like The Betsy in which he relishes a Deep South accent and beds virtually every woman in the cast.

As it is, the performances provide most of the distraction. Horror fans will doubtlessly be disappointed at the distinct lack of gory highlights. A few squaddies get mauled in bloody close-up but that’s about it. The film received an ‘X’ certificate back in 1971 but one can only imagine that this was a commercially-aware request from Tigon rather than a reflection of anything particularly graphic on the screen. Certainly, compared to its original double-bill partner Blood On Satan’s Claw, it’s very mild stuff indeed. Tony Tenser’s reaction on seeing the film was dismay that it was so slow and, for once, I’m inclined to agree with him. Without the gory inserts that he insisted on, it would be virtually unwatchable. James Kelly’s direction is mediocre in the extreme. He dithers about finding somewhere to put the camera and once he’s made a decision, he sticks it to the floor while the viewer is left to die of boredom. Having seen his other feature film, the atrocious Night Hair Child, I’ve come to the conclusion that he only managed to get employed because he was cheap and brought his films in on time and under-budget. One sequence in particular, in which Ellie confesses the truth about the occupant in their basement, must be a strong contender for the most tedious scene ever put on film. Beryl Reid witters on and on for about fifteen minutes while poor old T.P.McKenna is required to listen and look vaguely interested.

The Disc

The Beast In The Cellar has probably never looked as good as it does here, although that's not really saying very much. It's not a visually distinguished film, despite the presence of Harry Waxman as DP, and the only visual style comes with the sun over the opening credits. The film is presented in an anamorphically enhanced transfer framed at 1.85:1. The main flaws are a certain softness and, more seriously, a good deal of artifacting during the night exterior scenes. However, the colours are striking and the image is generally clean of print damage. The usual three soundtracks are present and, as with other films in the collection, the only one worth your time is the 2.0 mix. My comments elsewhere on the 5.1 remixes also apply here.

The main extra is a commentary track featuring the executive producer Christopher Neame and Tony Tenser, moderated by John Hamilton. It's an interesting discussion with Neame coming across as positive and enthusiastic and Tenser as somewhat taciturn. The best parts of the track are when the two men discuss the company's production methods in some detail - Tenser's concerns were clearly to do with budget and scheduling and he shows no interest whatsoever in the artistic process. As a commentary for Beast In The Cellar, it's flawed by the fact that there's virtually nothing of interest to say about the film. We also get a theatrical trailer, some radio spots and well written film notes.

Blood On Satan’s Claw 9/10

My views on the film can be found in my review of the 2004 Anchor Bay release. I think that it’s a classic of British horror and the performances of Patrick Wymark and Linda Hayden are among the best that you’ll find in the genre. In fact, I think I like it even more now than I did then.

The technical quality of the disc is broadly identical to that of the earlier stand-alone release. It remains non-anamorphic but the transfer remains surprisingly good. I still can’t fathom why Anchor Bay waste money on remixing soundtracks in the way they do but several viewings have persuaded me that the so-called 2.0 Stereo track is actually 2.0 Mono.

The extras are somewhat different however. We still have the commentary track featuring the director and writer and it’s a good, informative listen. But there’s also a second commentary added which features three out of four members of the League of Gentlemen – Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson. This track is often very funny indeed and there are some interesting insights into how this kind of British horror film influenced the content of the League’s work. However, it’s largely just three blokes laughing along with a film of which they are fond and your enjoyment of the track will depend on whether or not you find their observations amusing. I was richly entertained, especially by their references to Mr Kipling and their musings on the marriage of Frank and Betty Spencer.

Two featurettes are included but they are both new additions. The interview with Linda Hayden, “An Angel For Satan”, which is on the original release is no longer present. This is, at least, a reason for fans of the film to double-dip but it’s disappointing not to see it on this new release. What we get now is a 20 minute “making-of”, containing interviews with Haggard, Wynne-Simmons and the producer Malcolm Heyworth. Apart from the efforts to use film clips to link the interviews together, it’s interesting and honest. Accompanying this is another new documentary called “Tigon Tales Of Terror” which contains interviews with a somewhat emaciated Tony Tenser, Christopher Neame and several other participants including an alarmingly young looking Ian Ogilvy. This is fairly brief at 25 minutes but it includes plenty of interesting comments and some delightful behind the scenes stills. Also present is a 10 minute featurette about the influence of the film on the work of the League Of Gentlemen. The lack of clips from the show is a drawback but Mark Gatiss is good value and it’s interesting to hear about of the content of the upcoming League movie, some of which is apparently inspired by Blood On Satan’s Claw.

The rest of the extras are the same as on the original release. Laudably, Anchor Bay have added subtitles to the main feature, which is an improvement. Overall, it’s an excellent package and by far the best disc in the collection.

Virgin Witch 3/10

“Anyway, you mustn’t think that men have the prerogative of sexual fantasies. Most young girls have them, especially if they’ve led rather repressed lives.”

Isn’t science wonderful? How on earth would British soft-porn have managed without this sort of dodgy psychology to fall back on. For make no mistake, Virgin Witch may pretend to be a horror film but it’s really a very mild sex film that gets as much mileage as possible out of the, undeniably charming, bodies of Ann and Vicki Michelle. The obsession with breasts begins with the opening credits and continues for roughly 84 minutes, interrupted by some mildly daring shots of pubic hair and a bit of Satanic chanting and risible rituals conducted by various village worthies.

Betty and Christine answer an advert looking for models and they meet Sybil (Haines) who invites them down to a country house for an advert shoot. Christine is a sexually adventurous type while her sister Betty is a shy virgin. Christine and Peter the randy photographer engage in a bit of furtive groping in the woods – “Keep your filthy paws off her” hisses Sybil, a thin-lipped, rampant lesbian. Meanwhile, Betty is alarmed by a shotgun-toting, tweed-garbed Colonel and faints dead away. She meets Dr Gerald (Hallett) who owns the house and gradually falls for his alleged middle-aged charms. Neither girl suspects that they are merely the pawns in a deadly game of witchcraft.

This is a load of rubbish in every respect, cheaply made and about as erotic as an average episode of “The Tomorrow People”. Ann and Vicki Michelle look lovely but neither has much acting talent. The rest of the cast remember their lines and don’t bump into the furniture – but that’s about the best that can be said. There is a fair amount of dirty-old-man value in the frequent nudity however, and the script is often unintentionally amusing. When it’s suggested that Dr Gerald might not have her best interests at heart, Christine gasps, “But doctors are respectable people!”, while Sybil utters the immortal words, “Virgins are hard to come by, as you very well know Gerald” – which is probably a profound truth in the modelling business. The portrayal of the Sapphic lifestyle doesn’t extend much further than the line, “All the models have to wear armour plated pants. She’s as lez as they come.” Faith in the powers of the medical profession is a constant theme – “Witchcraft can be a great power for good. Gerald told me and if a doctor believes in it, it must be something.”

Ray Austin’s direction isn’t exactly incompetent but it lacks pace and verve. This kind of material can be done as a high-spirited piece of energetic trash but Austin appears to be taking it seriously. There’s some imaginative imagery evoked in the ritual scenes and the look of the film is generally professional but it’s basically a cheapjack sex movie without the courage of its convictions. It acquired some notoriety at the time when the BBFC decided, for some unaccountable reason, to ban it. Looked at now, it must have been quite a stretch to give it anything as restrictive as an ‘18’ certificate. Somehow, it’s all good clean fun; a relic from a time when the raincoat brigade asked for nothing more from their entertainment than some poorly simulated sex, nubile young women with nipples that could poke your eye out and some hilariously awkward lesbian scenes. It seems like a very long time ago.

The Disc

The anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer of Virgin Witch is pretty good and certainly better than I’d expected from such an obscure film. There is a small amount of scratching and other minor damage but in general the image is sharp and crisp. Artifacting is present but not over-abundant and the level of grain is satisfactory. The three soundtracks are the same as on the other discs. Here, the Dolby and DTS 5.1 remixes seem completely unbalanced with the music louder than the dialogue. The 2.0 mix is 2 channel mono and sounds fine.

Given that both Ann and Vicki Michelle have disowned Virgin Witch, the potential for a commentary seems a little limited. Ray Austin is now a successful writer living in Virginia so it’s not surprising that he isn’t present either. Consequently, the extras go no further than a trailer, two radio spots, film notes and biographies of the Michelle sisters and Mr Austin.


This is the weakest of the three Anchor Bay British Horror collections in terms of the quality of the films included. For your money you get two absolute five-star classics, one interesting misfire, two failures and an outright disaster. The presentation is generally good, although I wish Anchor Bay would stop wasting their money on remixing perfectly satisfactory mono soundtracks into simulacrums of surround sound. The extras are generally very impressive however, especially on Blood On Satan's Claw, and at least John Hamilton knows what he's talking about. I'm very pleased to report that the company has also finally begun to include English subtitles for their films, even if they still need to consider including them for the extra features as well.

The packaging is similar to that of the Norman J. Warren Collection with the coffin design reasonably sturdy and the discs held securely on solid spindles. The booklet that's included is a vast improvement on the typo-riddled mess that was issued with the Amicus Collection.

If you're a fan of horror movies then you will probably find the set worth the money although the inclusion of the same Witchfinder General disc that you can get separately for five quid is a shame, although apparently it was unavoidable. The updated Blood On Satan's Claw disc is a pleasure though and the commentaries on three of the other films are well worth a listen. All in all, a worthwhile purchase but I have to say that it looks like it will pale into insignificance if the upcoming Pete Walker Collection lives up to its specifications.

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