Drive-In Discs, Vol. 1 (Part 2)
Continued from previous post…
The second feature, The Screaming Skull, is a ’50s horror update of Gaslight. It has it’s suspenseful moments, but also quite a few silly ones, but moves along quickly enough that you may not notice the extreme low budget. The entire film was shot on one location, and there are only five actors in the cast – and director Alex Nicol steps in to play the mentally challenged gardener himself. John Hudson plays the all-too-obvious Bluebeard, with Peggy Webber (The Space Children) running around in a nightgown as the frightened bride. The print includes the “Fright Insurance” prologue, guaranteeing free burial to any viewer who dies of fright, which is usually trimmed from TV copies.
There are a couple of cartoons on the program as well. Betty Boop shows up in Betty in Blunderland (1938), in which Betty dreams of going through the looking glass like Alice and having odd adventures. The cartoon has some scratches, but otherwise looks as good or better than those released in the laserdisc box sets from a few years ago, which were stupidly put through a digital “cleaning” process that erased parts of the artwork along with dust and scratches. There is also a Popeye cartoon from the Paramount period, Private Eye Popeye. Both cartoons are presented in an overdone windowbox, while the main features are shown letterboxed.
Though the feature transfers are the best I’ve seen so far for these titles, the prints still contain a lot of scratches, audio drops, splices, and other signs of wear. This is surprising on a disc from Elite, the folks that made their reputation with their meticulous restoration of Night of the Living Dead.