Oct 20, 2009

New Spy DVDs Out This Week

This week sees the release of William Castle's 1963 technicolor foray into spy films, 13 Frightened Girls, released by Sony as part of The William Castle Film Collection. 13 Frightened Girls follows, well, thirteen teenage girls–diplomats' daughters, all from different countries–who get caught up in a web of espionage and become frightened. The Castle gimmick was a "world-wide" talent hunt to cast a teenage girl from each of thirteen countries; supposedly thirteen different beginnings were shot, each narrated by a different girl arriving from her own country. Unlike the legendary alternate ending to Castle's Mr. Sardonicus, at least four of these alternate beginnings were actually shot (probably not thirteen, though), and are included on this DVD. The British girl, spy fans will be happy to learn, is none other than the beautiful star of The Champions, Alexandra Bastedo, making her film debut! Other special features include the original British trailer (under the production title of Candy Web) and Castle's own opening and closing messages to the audience.

Also included in this set is another Castle spy film, Zotz!, in which a straight-laced college professor (Tom Poston) finds an amulet that slows people's motion. Naturally, being in possession of such a thing makes him a target for foreign agents. Rounding out the set are the Castle classics 13 Ghosts (whose title 13 Frightened Girls was clearly designed to emulate), Mr. Sardonicus, The Tingler, Homicidal, Straight-Jacket and, for the first time ever on DVD, Castle's collaboration with Hammer Films and Charles Addams (yep!), the 1963 version of The Old Dark House! Sounds like a great set, and definitely worth checking out for spy fans and Alexandra Bastedo fans for the rarely-seen 13 Frightened Girls.

Also out today is Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season. After the mostly espionage-free sixth season, McGarrett's arch-foe Wo Fat (Khigh Diegh) makes a welcome return (now as a freelance operative, having split with Red China), bringing with him his usual retinue of espionage, assassination and chaos.

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