Directed by: Franz Josef Gottlieb
Written by: Franz Josef Gottlieb and Edgar Wallace
To be honest, I never heard of Edgar Wallace when this DVD came by my desk. I did a quick search to find that Mr. Wallace was a rather prolific writer of crime in the early 1900s. In fact, Edgar Wallace wrote the first draft of the King Kong script. That really floored me. You would think movie treatments of his work would be rousing examples of 1950s Film Noir. Well, this isn’t the case. However, this movie geek has fun with cheesy late night B movies.
The Edgar Wallace Collection Volume Two: Curse of the Yellow Snake is a collection of two equally strange films: The previously mentioned Curse of the Yellow Snake and Phantom of Soho. Sadly, Wallace’s books and scripts are given a B movie treatment that is bad for the original works. If you are looking for strict adherence to his crime novels, again you will be disappointed.
The strength of these releases is their campy value. Perhaps this is why Retromedia decided to collect these late night gems. Imagine the late show from the late 70s. Now, take that late show and think of the late late late show. This is the quality cinematically. I admit, these releases are indeed low budget and rely heavily on female skin, but there is something quaint about these movies. I never even heard of them, but found myself becoming a fast fan of Edgar Wallace. While this may be literary blasphemy, the movies themselves are fun. Think of a seedier, black and white version of Our Man Flint mixed with classic film noir. The result is a fun film experience.
If you want edge of your seat crime drama, look elsewhere. However, if you want a fun early sexploitation film that wants to be more high-end entertainment, this is the DVD for you. One of my major qualms with the title is the misleading description on the back. While it clams to have monsters and mystery, these movies are mysteries. Just don’t try to trick the audience, these movies stand on their own cheesy merit.
The Phantom of Soho is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced for 16×9 televisions. The Curse of the Yellow Snake sports a 1.85:1 enhancement. The presentation of the widescreen is fine, but it seems the movies would be better suited in fullscreen in my opinion. While I love widescreen, these movies need to be as barebones as they can be. However, the remastering is wonderful with the black and whites each being crisp and clean. It seems as these movies are clearer than their original viewings. Grainy quality would be great for this release though. Think Grindhouse but the grandfather of it. I wanted pops and imperfections throughout.
The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. That’s right mono! Interestingly enough, a surround or even a stereo track was not mastered. It seems that the producers decided to up the visuals and keep the original soundtrack. For me, this is a welcome change. I want this movie to sound a little off to fit the original B movie quality. What we get is a bit of squelch and low tones that fit the atmosphere of the films. One of my favorite parts of this DVD.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The amaray case packaging is more than suitable, but the artwork is misleading. I was expecting a straight up horror movie, not a mystery. The cover is a nice painting, but is only part of the original movie poster for Curse of the Yellow Snake. The font is also misleading by suggesting horror.
There are no special features on this disc at all. This is a very bad move. I would have loved to have a featurette on the author and the making of the film, or at least a trailer.
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10
The Show 6/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10