Answering Your Movie Questions On Bomba, The Norliss Tapes And More

town-that-dreaded-sundownQ: I saw a film about a serial killer with a hood who killed people in a small town back in the late 1970s at a drive-in. Any idea what the film is and if it is on DVD or Blu-ray?

A: We believe the film you are speaking of is The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a pretty intense 1976 thriller based on a true story and filmed in documentary style. A killer, hooded by a burlap sack, terrorizes the town of Texarkana, Arkansas, and local authority Andrew Prine teams with Texas Ranger Ben Johnson to find the culprit.  The film is on its way to DVD and Blu-ray later in 2013, presented as a double feature with The Evictors, a horror outing with Vic Morrow and Jessica Harper, helmed by Sundown director Charles B. Pierce. Scream Factory will be releasing.

Q: I’m looking for the original Salem’s Lot with David Soul and the original Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren.  Aalso I’m looking for The Norliss Tapes with Roy Thinnes. Is there any way you can locate these films? Or tell me where i can buy them?? I’ve been looking for these films for a while—Movies Unlimited is about the only online company who has all kinds of movies!!

A:  We wish we could help you out but we are drawing the collar. Tobe Hooper’s original 1979 made-for TV version of Stephen King’s Salem Lot is out-of-print, although the 2004 remake with Rob Lowe and Donald Sutherland is available. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical version of Cinderella from 1966 is currently off the market as well. The Norliss Tapes, a 1973 feature-length unsold pilot with Roy Thinnes as a reporter who uncovers a group of vampires, was produced by Dan Curtis of Dark Shadows fame and is controlled by MPI Media. No word on whether it will be re-released on DVD.

Q: I’m looking for One Touch of Venus with Ava Gardner and Robert Walker on DVD. Please help.

A: It is not currently available, but the title has been licensed to Olive Films and will likely be out on DVD and Blu-ray by year’s end. The plot involves a window dresser (Walker) who kisses a statue of Venus that comes to life—and turns out to be Gardner (whose singing is dubbed)! They fall in love, but have to face insurmountable odds to make things work. It was based on a Broadway musical by S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash with music by Kurt Weill, but only a few songs remain in the 1948 film. And if it sounds a lot like the 1987 Mannequin, you’re right. They essentially have the same plot! 

Q: I keep looking for the movie Smoky starring Fess Parker and (I believe) Diana Hyland.  Sort of a semi-western set around the WW II era.  I used to see it on PBS TV every year or so and it is a wonderful movie.  Any chance of it ever showing up on DVD, or any format for that matter?  I would even settle for a VHS copy.

A: Many have asked about this 1966 saga with Parker as a man attached to his horse and going through incredible hazards to find it. You are correct that Diana Hyland was the female lead. The film is from 20th Century Fox, so it is a possibility for their archives program. It has never been on DVD or home video in any form.    

Johnny Sheffield as Bomba the Jungle Boy

Johnny Sheffield as Bomba the Jungle Boy

Q: The recent death of Tarzan’s “Boy” (Johnny Sheffield from the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan series) has got me to wondering if his Bomba the Jungle Boy series will ever get a DVD release. I know they originally came through Monogram and Allied Artists, but I believe Warner Brothers now hold the rights to both. They were great fun, matinee fodder when I was growing up and I’d love to own the whole collection if possible.

A: You are correct in terms of the Bomba films’ ownership. Right now, the only Bomba film available is The Lost Volcano, in which Sheffield’s jungle boy helps save a youngster from a live volcano. For the record, there were 10 Bomba movies released from 1950 through 1955. We understand Warners is keen to put these out, but the quality of the negatives is not great, which could be the reason for the delay. Mr. Sheffield, who played Bomba as well as “Boy” in eight Weissmuller Tarzan films, passed away on October 15, 2010 at the age of 79. Ironically, he never recovered after falling from a ladder while pruning a palm tree.