80 mins. In 3D and 2D. B&W.
Commentaries by Tom Weaver, Bob Furmanek, Dr. Robert J. Kiss and David Schecter. Filmed interview with female lead Veronica Hurst.
Directed by William Cameron Menzies. Screenplay by Daniel Ullman. Executive producer – Walter Mirisch. Music by Marlin Skiles, Production Design by Menzies. Special Effects by Augie Lohman.
With: Richard Carlson, Veronica Hurst, Katherine Emery, Michael Pate.
BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEW by Roy Frumkes
I’ve been waiting 65 years to catch up with this film. I used to brag that I’d seen every horror film released in the 50s in the theater. But this one eluded me. Menzies’ name attached made it even more mythological in my mind. It didn’t matter that there were no trail of good reviews to follow. I preferred to make up my own mind on the film’s quality…if I ever got to see it.
In recent years there have been great efforts made to restore our ‘50s 3D heritage, often improving the quality of the image, and even overcoming defects in the original releases. But when one would screen at MOMA, I would corral 3D Film restorationist Bob Furmanek and ask when THE MAZE was going to be given the royal treatment. I always got a vague reaction, that the studio wasn’t showing much interest, etc. And then, suddenly, here it is!
THE MAZE has been described as a modern version of James Whale’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE with a dash of Lovecraft. And it is, even down to having Lillian Bond make a guest appearance, she being a cast member from the 1932 film. But alas, not a frame of Whale’s genius can be found. In James Curtis’ biography of Menzies, ‘The Shape of Films to Come,’ a scant one page out of 400+ are devoted to THE MAZE, citing time and technical problems as the things that left the director with very few options to show off his remarkable gifts.
A Scottish castle hides a dreaded secret, one so upsetting that Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) deserts his bride-to-be (Veronica Hurst) without a syllable of explanation. Being a spunky woman, she takes off after him to find out just what’s going on (kind of like the set-up for THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE). And the ending is lots of fun, but (kind of like THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE) all too brief.
Though I can’t recommend the film, I can heartily recommend the commentary tracks. Tom Weaver is always a gas, and always does his homework. Taking turns with him are Bob Furmanek (discussing the restoration), David Schecter (analyzing the interesting score) and Dr. Robert J. Kiss (who IDs every co-feature the film had in its initial release). All four talks are wonderful to listen to and full of insights. Veronica Hurst does a filmed interview and her memories and delivery are a little faltering, but it’s still nice to have her represented.
3D TECHNICAL REVIEW by David Rosler The 3D in The Maze is uneven to be sure and not quite up to the restoration standard that one happily expects from Kino. That said, it is mostly spot-on and the foggy moors take on an ethereal quality in 3D as the atmosphere pushes the scenery back in a slow progression, as opposed to the effect one sometimes gets watching 3d, which is a series of flat cut-outs set up along the z-axis. No, here the foggy moors are deliciously delivered in 3D, which enhances the visual atmosphere greatly as one would expect. Technically, there is some crosstalk and the film falls out of the comfortable ranges on the left and right sides occasionally, but these are minor and things to be expected in a film of the era. As is always true of Kino releases, the print is blemish-free and looks as though it was mastered yesterday. 3D is always best delivered with crystal clarity and in this regard, particularly, the film does not disappoint; even cobwebs are wonderfully realized and stand far out from the backgrounds in 3D.. While Roy does not recommend the film, I must recommend the 3D experience of The Maze, because any peek into the past, which in the case of 1950's 3D is mostly being allowed to vanish, should be treasured. It is a time few of us knew and fewer remember, but restored here, in true Kino fashion, the past comes alive in a way which should be experienced, even if the film as a drama falls a bit short. . RECOMMENDED FOR 3D ENTHUSIASTS, GENRE FANS AND FILM HISTORY BUFFS.
To get it, you can order it at https://www.kinolorber.com/shop/genre/code/3d-movies