Once again, we find ourselves nearing the end of another month. For all accounts and purposes, August has little to offer. Fortunately, Alpha Video is doing their best to rectify that situation with another line-up of new releases.
We begin with one of my all-time favorite genres: horror. More specifically, cheaply-made B-grade exploitation horror from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Alpha’s sole post-1950s release for August is a Horror Double Feature beginning with Night Train To Terror (1985), a cut-and-paste “anthology” job that uses footage from Scream Your Head Off, Cataclysm (aka The Nightmare Never Ends), the vastly underrated Death Wish Club, and features cheesy wraparound segments with God (Ferdy Mayne) and Satan (Tony Giorgio) on a train discussing the fates of the people from the other footage. Some of the few notable actors include Richard Moll, Cameron Mitchell, and Marc Lawrence. The second half of the Horror Double Feature is The Thirsty Dead from 1974, the story of four doomed lassies who are abducted by a blood-drinking cult. Featuring the talents of John Considine and the great Vic Diaz.
OK, so enough of the good ol’ bloody stuff — let’s dive into the nearly forgotten classic B-Movie gems that makes Alpha so unique. First off is The World Accuses (1934), the tragic tale of a woman (Vivian Tobin, one of the many Mrs. Errols in Leon Errol’s two-reelers) who loses custody of her son (Dickie Moore). Quite an odd subject matter when you consider how many mothers in the ‘30s simply left their kids on trains in suitcases. More custodial madness ensues in The Zero Hour (1939), with Otto Krueger and Frieda Inescort, when a stranger enters the home of a newlywed couple claiming their adopted child is his.
Now, with a name like White Legion (1936), you’d expect either a giddy exploitation quickie about the undocumented effects of cocaine use, or a disturbing look into a white supremacist group. Instead, White Legion is about doctors searching for a cure for Yellow Fever. You figure it out. Ian Keith, Suzanne Kaaren, Teru Shimada, Don Barclay, “Snub” Pollard and Jason Robards, Sr. are all featured in this one — with a then-unknown Ralph Byrd making an uncredited appearance. Then, from 1935 comes Mutiny Ahead, the story of a rich playboy who gets involved with a group of gangsters looking for hidden treasure. Batman’s own Commission Gordon, Neil Hamilton, stars.