Warner Archive Final Report

WB Archive Instant

The Warner Instant Archive FREE trial is a great deal. Despite some technical issues, there is a lot to like here if you like movies from the 20s-80s (fans of more modern fare need not apply). The Roku setup is simple though you must follow the instructions on Warner’s website to add the private channel.

Roku

Sadly this does not mean the channel itself is a good deal. Unless you are a devout cinephile, you can probably blow through all the content you want to see on Warner Archive during the trial. Price after that is $9.99 a month. I can imagine revisiting this in a year as Warner has an extensive back catalog that is much larger than their Warner Instant Archive.

Man from UNCLE

They do have a number of television shows available that I did not sample. The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Cheyenne, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Hawaiian eye, Jericho (1966), 77 Sunset Strip, and The Adventures of Superman are all on tap here. Their currently most popular movies are (strangely in alphabetic order) Attack of the 50 ft. Woman, Bachelor in Paradise, The Carey Treatment, Give a Girl a Break, Harper, Kansas City Bomber, Keeper of the Flame, Lone Star, Madame Satan, The Mayor of Hell, The Prize, The Racket, A Slight Case of Murder, Strange Cargo, What’s Up, Doc?.

If you do try Warner Instant Archive, do watch Time After Time, a very entertaining story of H.G. Wells tracking Jack the Ripper.

The Mummy

The Mummy (1959) – “In the 1890s a team of British archaeologists discover the untouched tomb of Princess Ananka but accidentally bring the mummified body of her High Priest back to life. Three years later back in England a follower of the same Egyptian religion unleashes the mummy to exact grisly revenge on the despoilers of the sacred past.

I own this Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee classic on DVD but Warner Archive has it in HD. I watched it and, if you have the bandwidth, it does look much prettier. They also have Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula in HD.

Warner Archive Part Deux

Some more of the films I caught during my FREE trial of Warner Archive Instant.

The Black Scorpion

The Black Scorpion (1957) – “Volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth who wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City.

There are nice stop-motion special effects in this but also some pretty laughable ones (see poster).

Moon Zero Two

Moon Zero Two (1969) – “A space salvage expert and his partner become involved with a group of criminals intent on hijacking a small asteroid made of sapphire and crashing it into the moon for later recovery. The only place that they can bring the asteroid down without drawing attention to themselves is a far side mining claim. But first they must dispose of the miner. Little known to them, however, is the fact that the miners sister has hired the same salvage team to help her locate her missing brother.

One of the few Hammer movies I’ve never seen. Sadly it is not very good.

The Ultimate Warrior (1975) – “Atomic holocaust is not the only plague that threatens our future. New York City, 2012 A.D.: In a devastated world, one tired man finds a reason to fight.

Yul Brynner poses and stabs people – repeat until end of movie in this cheesy, very low-budget post-apocalyptic movie.

World Without End

World Without End (1956) – “Astronauts returning from a voyage to mars are caught in a time warp and are propelled into a post-Apocalyptic Earth populated by mutants.”

Some interesting concepts (the more civilized we become, the less able we are to handle violence) combined with really bad make-up (the mutants) make for a campy 50s sci-fi outing.

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) – “Adventurers return to the overturned ship, seeking a fortune.

The Poseidon Adventure is a classic disaster movie. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure is a classic disaster of a movie. Sally Field’s spunky personality is misused here, creating a character you want to see drowned.

This was supposed to be a tale of the passengers who headed the other way (briefly glimpsed in the original). They then add a crew of salvors who happen to come across the Poseidon after the rescue team has left but before it sinks. Apparently that wasn’t enough so there is also another team that also happens to arrive at the same time that is searching for cargo on the ship. Another movie Michael Caine and the others would like erased from their resumes.

Flood! (1976) – “After several weeks of heavy rainfall, the dam above Brownsville is short from running over. However the mayor refuses to open it’s gates, because he fears for the fishes in the lake… and paves the way for disaster.”

This is a terrible disaster movie from Irwin Allen. He assembled a nice set of B-list celebrities (Roddy McDowall, Robert Culp, Martin Milner, Barbara Hershey, Carol Lynley, etc.) but nothing was spent on production. The effects are terrible and the story is ripped straight from Jaws, replacing Bruce with a seldom-glimpsed dam.

He Knows You’re Alone! (1980) – “A young bride-to-be is being stalked upon by a serial killer. She gets help from a former lover, but will they manage to escape?”

AKA Tom Hanks big break. As expected this isn’t very good and Tom Hanks is not in much of the movie so there isn’t much to recommend it.

 

Warner Archive

WB Archive Instant

I finished my two-week FREE trial of Warner Archive. It was a lot of fun – they have a very limited selection of movies but, unlike Netflix/Instant Redbox/Amazon Prime, there is not a lot of overlap. I spent most of my time on horror and science fiction ‘classics’ that I had either missed entirely or not seen in decades.

The service is buggy. If you pause a movie for more than a few minutes, you may have to back all the way out of Warner Archive and go back in again to resume. Not on all movies but on many, service would hiccup and tell me the movie wasn’t available. I would have to back all the way out and go back in. Loading screens are quite a bit longer than Netflix. Adding the channel to Roku requires using the instructions on the website but is not difficult.

Green Slime

The Green Slime (1968) – “A giant asteroid is heading toward Earth so some astronauts disembark from a nearby space station to blow it up. The mission is successful, and they return to the station unknowingly bringing back a gooey green substance that mutates into one-eyed tentacled monsters that feed off electricity. Soon the station is crawling with them, and people are being zapped left and right!

Groovy, psychedelic, trashy science fiction with a bizarre theme song.

The Hand (1981) – “Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Poor Michael Caine! I guess when you star in over 150 productions, not all of them can be winners. The Hand is silly, boring, and stupid.

 

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) – “Englishmen race to find the tomb of Ghengis Khan. They have to get there fast, as the evil genius Dr. Fu Manchu is also searching, and if he gets the mysteriously powerful relics, he and his diabolical daughter will enslave the world!”

I love Boris Karloff but wow is this film racist. To be fair, Sax Rohmer’s books are exceedingly racist and xenophobic so it is in the source material but Christopher Lee’s version tones it down quite a bit.

Salem's Lot

Salem’s Lot (1979) – “Vampires are invading a small New England town. It’s up to a novelist and a young horror fan to save it.”

The 1979 miniseries with James Mason is a little goofy but still fun.

Razorback (1984) – “A vicious wild boar terrorizes the Australian outback. The first victim is a small child who is killed. The child’s granddad is brought to trial for killing the child but acquitted. The next victim is an American TV-journalist. Her husband Carl gets there and starts to search for the truth. The local inhabitants won’t really help him, but he is joined by a hunter and a female farmer to find the beast.

Russell Mulcahy’s debut was not as entertaining as I had hoped.

The Valley of Gwangi (1969) – “Cowboy James Franciscus seeks fame and fortune by capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.

It was nice to catch one of the few Harryhausen movies I don’t own.

 

 

WB Archive Instant – FREE Trial

I’ve mentioned it before but it bears repeating – if you are looking for that rare movie you watched as a child that you can’t find anywhere in stores, there is a good chance you can find it in a print on demand DVD from the studio’s archive. Most of the major studios have these archives available for titles that are desirable but not mainstream enough for a big release. The WB archive is particularly rich. These DVDs are mostly no-frills and because they are not mass-produced, you rarely find a decent sale.

WB Archive InstantWarner Brothers has now finished their beta of their Warner Archive Instant service. You can sign up for a 2-week trial for FREE. After that it is $9.99 a month. Currently you can only watch it on your computer or on the TV via Roku (I’d expect Xbox 360 and PS3 support soon).

They don’t really have enough films for a service (only 30 horror movies, 26 science fiction movies, etc.) but some of the titles are gems that have been sitting in the vault. I plan to use my two-week trial to the utmost watching ‘classics’ not available on the other services such as Captain Nemo and the Underwater City and Razorback and even some films I’ve never seen like The Black Scorpion and Moon Zero Two.

Time After Time

If you watch one film from this trial, watch Time After Time. “H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper through 19th-century London to modern-day San Francisco when the serial murderer uses the future writer’s time machine to escape his time period.” This is probably the best work from both Malcolm McDowell and David Warner.