• Scream Theater Volume 7: Swamp Of The Ravens/Zombie



    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: September 11, 2012.
    Director: Michael Cannon/Del Tenny
    Cast: Raymond Oliver, Marcia Bichette, Fernando Sancho/William Joyce, Heather Hewitt, Walter Coy
    Year: 1974/1964
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS:

    The first movie on the disc was directed by Manuel Cano (as Michael Cannon) and it’s a pretty great Spanish mad doctor movie with loads of completely bizarre atmosphere. The story follows one Doctor Frosta (Raymond Oliver), a scientist who has been conducting some rather unorthodox experiments on the dead in an attempt to resurrect some corpses in hopes of controlling their reanimated minds. Unfortunately, his experiments aren’t going all that well and he’s experiencing failure after failure, the results of which wind up dumped in a nearby swamp.

    With so many rancid corpses in the swamp, it only makes sense that it would turn into a cesspool of death and soon strange things start happening there. Meanwhile, Frosta’s girlfriend Simone (Marcia Bichette) decides enough is enough and she splits to find comfort in the arms of her former flame, a wacky lounge singer with a strange involving mannequins. Frosta is none too pleased with this turn of events and in need of corpses sets his sights on her – thankfully there’s a cop around (Fernando Sancho) who is hot on Frosta’s tail, but will he be able to save Simone’s sweet ass before the corpses in the swamp rise from the dead and make trouble for everybody?

    Basically a retelling of Frankenstein, The Swamp Of The Ravens nevertheless manages to carve out its own strange niche in the overplayed ‘mad scientist reanimates the dead genre.’ The film has a distinctly European feel to it and makes great use of some interesting gothic interiors and the weird, skuzzy swamp of its title (which for reasons never explained contains dead babies in jars and caged animals in addition to, you guessed it, some ravens!). A good cast makes the most of the script and do fine with the material, with Oliver doing a fine job in the lead and making an enjoyably malicious and off kilter mad doctor.

    The movie goes at a very good pace, never overstaying its welcome and offering up heaping helpings of screwy horror all set to a great (and notably seventies) score. This one is a lot of fun, it’s weird enough to stay interesting despite its predictability and it’s well shot and well edited.

    ZOMBIE (I EAT YOUR SKIN):

    A low budget cheapie from the early sixties, this film notoriously sat on a shelf in a film lab for a few years after it was finished until exploitation distributor extraordinaire Jerry Gross double billed it with the killer hippy movie, I Drink Your Blood, at which point it did quite well for him. The movie itself is pretty goofy, however. Better known as I Eat Your Skin, the film is presented here with the Zombie title card.

    The movie tells the tale of one Tom Harris (William Joyce), a hunky young man who makes his living as a writer and who is talked into taking a trip to Voodoo Island where he figures he can get in some quality time behind the typewriter and hammer out his next best seller. He and a few other travelers arrive and are promptly greeted by a machete wielding zombie, though none of them know why. Eventually it comes to pass that the zombies need a virgin, and since there’s one in their midst in the form of sexy Jeannie Biladeau (Heather Hewitt), they’re basically going to be a pain in the vacationers’ collective asses for the duration of the trip.

    Directed by Del Tenney, this film, as clunky and goofy as it is, does feature some pretty cool zombie make up effects pieces and actually does manage to occasionally conjure up some eerie atmosphere. The black and white cinematography does a moderately good job of capturing the warm, swampy locations and it has its own quirky charm. Most of this is completely undone by characters who do things for no reason, a hero who won’t bother to keep his shirt on, and some distinctly non-frightening zombie attacks.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Swamp Of The Ravens looks pretty solid here in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors look nice and natural and black levels are decent enough. The source material used was in pretty good shape, there’s only mild print damage here. Zombie is also in good shape here, better than a lot of the public domain versions of the movie that have made the rounds over the years. The black and white image is presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen and it is sharp and nicely detailed. Like the first feature, it shows only minor print damage.

    The Dolby Digital Mono tracks are clear and listenable most of the time, but there are a few instances during the films where dialogue is a bit muffled. For the most part though, everything is easy enough to follow despite the hiss and noise evident at times in the background. These are older low budget films, and keeping that in mind they sound fine. Both movies are presented in English without any optional dubbed tracks or subtitles.
    Extras are non-existent, limited to some static menus movie selection.

    The Final Word:

    A pretty odd double feature, but it works. The Swamp Of The Ravens is the highlight here and it looks pretty good, but I Eat Your Skin can be fun if you’re in the right (or wrong) frame of mind for it. VCI’s presentation is slim in regards to extras but it looks and sounds pretty good, trumping competing versions in the audio and video department.









































    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      Would you say SWAMP is enough of an upgrade to the SWV version to warrant shelf space? The Tenney nerd within beckons re: ZOMBIE.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Given that you can get this new for under $5 on Amazon, yeah, I'd say it's worth it if you like the movie.
    1. Clive Smith's Avatar
      Clive Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Miller View Post
      Would you say SWAMP is enough of an upgrade to the SWV version to warrant shelf space? The Tenney nerd within beckons re: ZOMBIE.
      Yeah, I got both and the new one's a big improvement. Go for it.
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      Thanks, fellas!
    1. Roderick's Avatar
      Roderick -
      I have the same double feature that VCI put out in 2010.

      Attachment 4930

      That menu screen shot looks the same so I assume other than an uglier cover it's the same disc.