Wednesday, March 30, 2011

McBastard's Cinematic Alphabets

Here's something fun I came across on the RUPERT PUPKIN SPEAKS blog yesterday. It's a Cinematic Alphabet list. The idea is to come up with a  favorite films for each letter of the alphabet. Not having any original inclinations of my own I have followed suite and put this rather stream of conscious list together during my lunch break today. Not sure this is a favorite film list but it definitely represents many films I hold near and dear to my cinematic heart. It was fun slapping it together and I would encourage any other blogs out there do do the same, it's a ton o' fun.

A is for AGGUIRE – THE WRATH OF GOD (1972)

B is for BLUE VELVET (1986)

C is for CHINATOWN (1974)

D is for DEAD AND BURIED (1981)

E is for EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN (1987)

F is for FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1971)


G is for GUMMO (1997)

H is for HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)

I is for IRON GIANT (1999)

J is for THE JERK (1979)

K is for KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

L is for LIFEFORCE (1985)

M is for MAD DOG MORGAN (1976)

N is for NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION (1983)

O is for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)

P is for THE PROWLER (1981)

Q is for Q THE WINGED SERPENT (1982)

R is for RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

S is for SPIES LIKE US (1985)

T is for TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)



















U is for USED CARS (1980)

V is for VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)

W is for WAR OF THE ROSES (1989)

X is for XTRO (1983)

Y is for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)

Z is for ZOMBI 2 (1979)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cult favorite GARGOYLES (1972) coming to DVD in May from Henstooth Video

While cruising Amazon I came across some very exciting news. The 1970's made-for-television cult favorite GARGOYLES (1972) is coming back to DVD after being out of print for quite a while. The Henstooth Video label are giving it a May 17th release. This is just outstanding news. I'm not familiar with Henstooth Video but after checking out the site here are a few awesome genre titles that caught my eye - THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984), COMMUNION (1989), ALICE SWEET ALICE (1976) and a Blu-ray of the classic murder-mystery comedy PRIVATE EYES (1980) featuring legendary funnymen Don Knots and Tim Conway. While I'm not at all familiar with the company or the quality of their releases in regard to transfers and bonus features I am very intrigued and will definitely be checking 'em out. GARGOYLES is a film I saw when I was in kindergarten and the image of Bernie Casie as the leader of the demonic gargoyle clan haunted me for weeks, it's just a fantastic film and features make-up effects from none other than Stan Winston. It's great to see these slightly obscure telefims get proper DVD releases. When VCI Classic released the made-for-television classic  THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981) last year I was ecstatic and I'm just pleased as punch at this news.

GARGOYLES (1972) DVD

LABEL: Henstooth Video
RELEASE DATE: May 17th 2011
REGION: Region 1
RATED: Not Rated
ASPECT RATIO: 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
LANGUAGE: 2.0 Mono with English Subtitles
DURATION: 74 mins
DIRECTOR: Bill L. Norton
CAST: Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Bernie Casey, Scott Glenn, Grayson Hall.
TAGLINE: They're Coming For You!

PLOT: Cornel Wilde stars as an anthropology professor who stumbles upon a clan of demon gargoyles living in the desert Southwest. Since its first airing in 1972, this low-budget gem has earned an enduring spot in the hearts of horror fans worldwide. It won the Emmy® award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for Del Armstrong, Ellis Burman Jr., and Stan Winston (Jurassic Park, Avatar). The special effects were created by Milt Rice and George Peckham. Stars Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Bernie Casey, Scott Glenn and Grayson Hall. In color, 74 Minutes, Not Rated, Original Full Screen (1.33:1) SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary by Director Bill L. Norton & Optional English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Audio Commentary by Director Bill L. Norton

Monday, March 28, 2011

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Embodiment of Evil (2008)

EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008)
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack


LABEL: Synapse Films
RELEASE DATE: March 28th 2011
REGION: Region ABC [Blu-ray] Region 0 NTSC [DVD]
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 (16x9)
AUDIO: DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Portuguese, DTS-HD Dolby Digital Stereo Portuguese
DURATION: 94 minutes
DIRECTOR: José Mojica Marins
CAST: José Mojica Marins, Jece Valadão, Adriano Stuart, Rui Resende
TAGLINE: The Master of Horror is Back.

PLOT: After serving a 40-year prison term, Coffin Joe is finally released from the Mental Heath wing of the São Paulo State Penitentiary. Back on the streets, the sadistic undertaker is set upon fulfilling the goal which sent him to jail in the first place: find a woman who can give him the perfect child. Accompanied by his faithful servant, the humpbacked Bruno, Coffin Joe leaves behind a trail of horror and is haunted by ghostly visions and the spirits of his past victims.

FILM: The Coffin Joe Trilogy is a series of films spanning four decades that began with the macabre AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) which marked the first Brazilian horror film and introduced the world to a true horror icon. Then came the sequel THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSES YOUR CORPSE (1967).  For those unfamiliar with the mythos of Ze Do Caixao aka Coffin Joe he is a murderous undertaker whom  passionately despises religion and spits in the face of morality. He is possessed by an all consuming obsession to find the perfect woman whom will bare his perfect son and thus guarantee his immortality through "the continuation of the blood". It's a sadistic and bloody quest that has left many corpses in its wake throughout the years. Ze is a truly macabre character who is attired in a signature black suit, long black cloak, a top hat and unnaturally long and gnarly fingernails.


SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE COFFIN JOE FILMS!

At the end of the second film THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSES YOUR CORPSE (1967) Ze is shot while being pursued by an angry mob. He falls into a pond and appears to die as his body sinks into the dark waters. It's a fantastically macabre ending that would seem to sound the death knell for our sadistic protagonist but then again so did the the previous film.  A whopping 4o years later the third installment of the trilogy EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) begins as Coffin Joe is released from a prison for the criminally insane. Outside the prison he's greeted by the Renfield type servant character Bruno a familiar character from THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSES YOUR CORPSE (1967) and the two immediately form a legion of followers culled from a fanatical cult that have sprung up around the legend of Coffin Joe. Once Ze is satisfied that they are of the proper calibre of insanity he sets about to continue his quest for the perfect woman and the elusive immortality through blood. Our first victim is Dr. Hilda who appropriately is a doctor of the study of selective breeding. Sounds like a perfect match, right? She probably thinks differently as she's tied down, drugged and has a crazy hallucination wherein Coffin Joe gruesomely slices of a slab of her ass and feeds it to her which she ravenously consumes. Ze begins to have nightmarish visions of his past victims which haunt him throughout the film. Marins' patented nightmarish and surreal imagery is fully intact and it's definitely where the film excels. The scenes are particularly haunting and have the effect of humanizing the sadistic Ze and giving him an emotional complexity. Spiritual apparitions aside Ze is also pursued by more physical manifestations in the form of Colonel Pontes, a police captain who was blinded in one eye by Ze and a man of the cloth Father Eugenio whose own father was murdered by Ze in THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSES YOUR CORPSE (1967). The two make a pact to destroy Ze with Captain Pontes swearing to kill Ze while the priest damns his soul to Hell for all eternity.


The film excels in the creation of nightmarish imagery and one of the film's finest involved Ze having sex with a young woman named Elena while the blood of her aunts whom he's just killed pour over them both in a deep red cascade of blood. During the carnal act Coffin Joe has a vision where he is transported to Purgatory which resembles an cavernous intestinal tract. There the eerie figure called the Mystifier guides Ze through purgatory which emerges upon an arid desert landscape where he meets Death. It's another surreal and unsettling vision that would not seem out of place in THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973) as hordes of naked figures consume each others in an orgy of cannibalism and perversion, it's a thing of grotesque beauty. Sensing his life may soon end Coffin Joe steps-up his efforts to find the perfect woman with whom to sire a child. A montage of his monstrous efforts to prove these women's worth is pretty horrific. One particular nasty bit involved pouring melted cheese over a woman's body and then placing a ravenous rat into the woman's naughty parts. Others include a woman's scalp being peeled from the back of her neck and up over her head while another is sewn into the carcass of a swine, just weird and visually awesome stuff. The special effects in the film are uniformly outstanding, the film definitely steps-up the gore and perversion that we've seen in the previous films. This flurry of sadistic activity leaves a trail of corpses and leads both Captain Pontes and Father Eugenio to Ze's hideout but too late, he's fled through the woods. In pursuit of Ze Captain Pontes catches up to him at an amusement park where Coffin Joe decapitates and impales his head on a pike. Father Eugenio fares better and faces off against Ze. The priest gains the upper hand and impales him through the heart with a spear-like crucifix. The priest is pleased with himself but finds himself haunted by the disembodied shadow of Ze who torments the priest as he flees the scene. As Coffin Joe's body lies dying Elena emerges from the shadows of the amusement park and has sex with him as he dies. The final revelation of the film shows Elena and several other female followers pregnant with Ze's offspring gathered around his grave, his quest for immortality through blood has come to fruition several time over.


I thought this was  fantastically entertaining film. Definite kudos to the Marins and co-writer Dennison Rumalho whom crafted a film that is a wonderful continuation of Coffin Joe's macabre mythos and what came before, it ups the ante and is completely enjoyable as a stand alone film. It's macabre, over-the-top grotesque a bit campy and overflowing with an excess of gorgeous Brazilian beauties - what's not to love?
 
DVD: Synapse Films presents EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) in a 1.85:1 (16x9) high-definition transfer created from the original camera negative. The film looks simply stunning with vibrant colors, deep black levels and a crisp and finely detailed image. The Portuguese language DTS-HD 5.1 surround is well utilized and enhances the viewing experience with a good amount of depth. The dialogue is always clear and the filmscore and sound effects fill out the surround quite well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- MAKING OF EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (32 mins) - when I initially watched the film I had not had the pleasure of seeing the two previous Coffin Joe films. I've since gone back and watched them but this comprehensive mini-documentary filled in of the gaps in my knowledge at the time. There are a great number of behind-the scenes clips with interviews with cast and crew. The film is obviously a labor of love and those involved and is a great watch.
- FOOTAG FROM THE FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE - a entertaining a celebratory Q+A from the Fantasia Film Festival as writer/director Jose Mojica Marins accepts a lifetime achievement award honoring his 50+ years in horror cinema. The man knows how to make an entrance, that's for sure as he was wheeled out onstage in an upright coffin to the delight of throngs of fans. Co-writer Dennison Rumalho introduces him in English and relays the question to Marins in Portuguese and then likewise translates Marins answers to English from Portuguese.
- ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER (2 mins)

VERDICT: EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) comes just after Synapse Films fantastic VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1973) and maintains the high standards set with that. It's great to finally see a Jose Mojica Marins film gets a release that truly respects the film and presents it in an optimal package. EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) is highly recommended . While your at it treat yourself to AT  MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) and it's sequel THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSES YOUR CORPSE (1967) both of which are included on the Region 0 PAL 4-disc DVD  COFFIN JOE BOX SET from Umbrella Entertainment.  I'm looking forward to Synapse next release which is the 80's slasher THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982) in a fully uncut and never seen before version. 4 outta 5

Friday, March 25, 2011

Arrow Video unleash the bloody revenge of SAVAGE STREETS (1984) this summer.


SAVAGE STREETS (1984)
Release Date: June  20th  2011

FORMAT/REGION: Region 0 PAL DVD
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
AUDIO: Mono
DURATION: 93 mins
CAST: Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, Robert Dryer
DIRECTOR: Danny Steinmann
TAGLINE: Brenda’s got a switchblade and she knows how to use it...


See Linda Blair (The Exorcist) take bloody revenge on a gang of low down dirty street punks in Savage Streets, a brutal journey into rape, violence, switchblades and bear traps.

When Brenda (Blair) and her all-girl gang of tough talking chicks, The Satins, refuse to party with a car full of local drug pushers called The Scars, the girls think nothing of it, but they didn’t reckon on the bruised ego of Jake and his feral pack of no good thugs. Targeting Brenda’s deaf sister, they invade the school and savage her, leaving her on the critical list.

Now Brenda must scour the streets in search of crossbow vengeance in a dangerous B-movie classic that’s the perfect antidote to 80s high school flicks.

SPECIAL FETURES:
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
- Double-sided fold-out poster
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on Savage Streets by Kier-la Janisse, author of ‘A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi’ and ‘House of Psychotic Women’
- Brand new transfer of the film presented in original 1.85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with stars Sal Landi, Robert Dryer and Director of Photography Stephen Posey
- Audio commentary with director Danny Steinmann
- Audio commentary with producer John Strong and stars Robert Dryer and Johnny Venocur
- Video interviews with Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, Robert Dryer and John Strong
- Original Trailer

Bill Oberst is the Devil incarnate in Aashe Aaron's horror feature 333

Super great guy/actor Bill Oberst Jr. sent us an email letting us know he's appearing in the Illusion Film Studios production 333
(formerly Tormented Souls) which is being directed by Australian  writer/producer/dissecting triple threat Aashe Aaron and produced by the master of modern day exploitation Chad Ferrin of SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE  DOOR (2009) and EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL! (2006) infamy.

The film's described as "a couple on a romantic roadtrip spend the night at an eerie honeymooner's retreat, which they soon suspect is haunted...or that it's creepy caretakers are up to something far more sinister." Sound awesomely eerie.

Oberst plays "a shadow man with goat eyes who torments the main character, Amy, and pursues her at supernaturally high speed, all the while whispering sweet nothings in her terrified ears like "You're gonna burn Amy!"" Director Aaron described Oberst's character to the actor as "He's like the devil incarnate, with a Johnny Cash style; a real David Lynch moment."" Sounds like yet another unsettling and unsavory characters that Oberst has such an uncanny knack for portraying.

333 is set to commence filming in Topanga Canyon this weekend.

Being the awesome guy that he is Oberst was kind enough to send a make-up test pic from the just-wrapped  SOMETHING WICKED DWELLS, a horrifying "Renaissance Painting In Hell" short about "shackled prisoners in an ancient dungeon waiting to be be dragged into a demon's lair. That's me before and after make-up by Veronica Rodarte of the Cinema Slaughter crew, who is an artist with the airbrush for sure."

I first caught notice of Bill Oberst in the backwoods fright flick DISMAL (2009) a gritty swampland cannibals flick. I would dare say he was the most memorable aspect of that film as the unsettling patriarch of the cannibal clan. I'm  psyched to check him out in RUN! BITCH RUN! (2006) director Joseph Guzman's next project NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS (2010) so keep an eye out for Bill Oberst Jr.. It'll be hard for genre fans to miss him in the coming months with parts in Brandon Slagle's VIVID (2011) and even in an uncredited role as an "emaciated pirate" in Rob Marshall's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (2011) and numerous other projects.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Arrow Video titles for April and May announced with specs

The UK film distributor Arrow Video have a stunning string of releases on tap for April and May beginning with three titles from their essential cinema imprint Arrow Academy which will be releasing seminal films with presentaton  rivaling that of Criterion and Kino releases with each receiving a dual format Blu-ray and DVD package enabling the flexibility to play the film and extras in either format. Up first from Arrow Academy is  BICYCLE THIEVES (1948), the Euro-stunner LES DIABOLIQUES (1955) and RIFIFI (1955).  Then there are four single title editions from the FANTASTIC FACTORY PRESENTS COLLECTION and two prime Argento titles THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) and perhaps my favorite Argento title TENEBRAE (1982) both arriving on Region 0 Blu-ray. Need more Argento? Look no further than the DARIO ARGENTO: THE NEO GIALLO COLLECTION which collects four of the Italian masters late-era titles: TERROR AT THE OPERA (1987), THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (1996), what I would consider Argento's last essential film SLEEPLESS (2001) with Max Von Sydow and THE CARD PLAYER (2004).  We also have Brian De Palma's OBSESSION (1976) set for it's own Blu-ray and DVD release in August.

Release Date: April 25th  2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region B [Blu-ray], Region 2 [DVD]
RATED: Unrated
DURATION: 89 mins [Blu-ray], 85 mins [DVD]

DIRECTOR: Vittorio De Sica
CAST: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell

SYNOPSIS: Heralded as the greatest film ever made on release, winning an Oscar in 1949 and topping the Sight and Sound film poll in 1952, De Sica’s seminal work of Italian neorealism has had an impact on cinema worldwide from release to the present day, with filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Ken Loach claiming the film as a direct influence on their own.

Bicycle Thieves tells the story of Antonio, a long unemployed man who finally finds employment putting up cinema posters for which he needs a bicycle. His wife pawns all the family linen to redeem the already pawned bicycle and for Antonio salvation has come, until the bicycle is stolen. Antonio and his son take to the streets in a desperate search to find the bicycle. Bicycle Thieves is as much about the position of Italians in post-War, post-Fascist Italy as the relationship between father and son, told through the labyrinth of the cinematic city with De Sica’s arresting visual poetry. Defining neorealism, a small period of filmmaking that focused on simple, humanist stories, Bicycle Thieves was one of the most captivating and moving. Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Brand new restored, high definition transfer on Blu-ray (1080p) and DVD
- Newly translated and more complete optional English subtitles
- Feature length audio commentary by Italian Cinema expert Robert Gordon, author of BFI Modern Classics 'Bicycle Thieves'
- ‘Cesare Zavattini’ a feature length documentary by director Carlo Lizzani on the great screenwriter, novelist, critic, long time De Sica collaborator and founder of Italian neorealism [Blu-ray only]
- ‘Timeless Cinema’, a documentary portrait of director, actor and screenwriter Vittorio De Sica
- Trailer
- Comprehensive booklet featuring a brand new essay on the film by writer and film historian Michael Brooke as well as screenwriter Cesare Zavattini’s essay 'Some Ideas on the Cinema', illustrated with original stills and Lobby Cards
- Artwork presentation packaging including three original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover
- LPCM mono audio on the Blu-ray and the DVD


Release Date: April 25th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region ABC [Blu-ray], Region 0 PAL [DVD]
RATING: 12 Certificate
DURATION 117 mins
DIRECTOR: Henri-George Clouzot
CAST: Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Véra Clouzot

Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD package includes the feature film on a DVD disc and Blu-ray disc enabling the flexibility to play the film and extras in either format.

SYNOPSIS: After the success of The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) Henri-Georges Clouzot cemented his reputation with his masterpiece, Les diaboliques.

Based on a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (who also wrote the novel on which Hitchcock’s Vertigo is based), Les diaboliques tells the story of a sadistic headmaster (Paul Meurisse) who brutalises his wife and mistress (Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret) and their plot to murder him. Superbly edited with nail-biting suspense, the two women murder the headmaster and dump the body in the swimming pool, but when the pool is drained no corpse is found. An unsettling and beautifully-paced study of betrayal, mistrust and guilt, Les diaboliques is atmospherically shot in black and white, its murky tones hauntingly echo the moral ambiguity of its principals.

An acknowledged influence on Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick among others, Les diaboliques is presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Brand new High Definition transfer of the film from a new restoration of the original negative on Blu-ray (1080p) and DVD
- Audio commentary by Susan Hayward, author of Les diaboliques (Cine-file French Film Guides)
- Filmed interview with Ginette Vincendeau, French cinema scholar, critic and author
- Original Trailer
- Brand new writing on the film by author and critic Brad Stevens and a re-printed interview with Clouzot by Paul Schrader illustrated with stills and rare original set drawings by LéonBarsacq.
- Artwork presentation packaging including original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover

Release Date: April 25th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region 0 PAL DVD
RATING: 18 Certificate
DURATION: 92 mins
DIRECTOR: Brian Yunza

CAST: Jeffrey Combs, Elsa Pataky, Tommy Dean Musset
TAGLINE: Welcome to Death Row. The Doctor will see you now…

SYNOPSIS: Trash cinema’s greatest ghoul is back! Horror legend Jeffery Combs returns as Dr. Herbert West in Beyond Re-Animator, the gory sequel to the original 80s splatter classic.

Incarcerated for the death of an innocent teenage girl at the hands of one of his resurrected corpes, Dr. West continues his insane research into the creation of life from behind bars. West makes a breakthrough with his discovery of Nano-Plasmic Energy, a substance that prevents the living dead from degenerating, but in doing so he unleashes bloody chaos in the prison as no one knows difference between the humans and the zombies.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible Sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
- Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna
- ‘All in the Head’ Brian Yuzna on the Re-Animator Chronicles (50 mins)
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet featuring ‘World of Lovecraft’ and an Interview with star Jeffrey Combs by author and critic Calum Waddell as well as an extract from H.P. Lovecraft’s original story ‘Herbert West: Renimator’
- Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Anamorphic
- Audio- English Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1


Release Date: May 2nd 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region 0 [Blu-ray], Region 0 PAL [DVD]
RATING:  18 Certificate
DURATION: 96 mins

DIRECTOR: Dario Argento
CAST: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno
TAGLINE: A stunning portrait in psycho-terror!

SYNOPSIS: Dario Argento nails the Giallo blueprint in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, a brutal thriller that packs a gory brace of terrifying murders alongside it’s genre defining mix of red herrings, leather gloved slashers and stylish decor.

When Sam, an American writer in Rome, witnesses an attempted slaying in an art gallery, he unwittingly sets the killers sights on himself and his beautiful model girlfriend. But soon, things start to unravel as it becomes clear that the identity of the unknown slayer is very much open to question. Somebody’s killing everyone, who is the evil fiend? Could it be Sam himself?

Argento’s groundbreaking shocker combines eye-popping visuals with a seamy vein of sadomasochism and a lust for violence to create a genre defining movie classic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- 4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned artwork
- Two-sided fold-out poster
- Exclusive collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Alan Jones, author of ‘Profondo Argento’
- Brand new High Definition restoration of the film from the original negative presented in Director of Photography, Vittorio Storaro’s original 2:1 Univisium aspect ratio (1080p)
- A Crystal Classic: Luigi Cozzi Remembers Dario’s Bloody Bird (1080p)
- Sergio Martino: The Genesis of the Giallo (1080p)
- The Italian Hitchcock: Dario Argento Remembers The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1080p)
- Optional Original Italian and English LPCM mono audio
- Original art by Rick Melton


Release Date May 2nd 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: PAL DVD. Region Code unknow at this time.
RATING: 18 Certificate
DURATION: 432 mins
DIRECTOR:  Dario Argento

CAST: Urbano Barberini, Asia Argento, Max Von Sydow, Liam Cunningham

Sit back, relax and prepare to be thrilled, frightened and horrified by the four latter day Dario Argento classics contained within The Neo-Giallo Collection.

Baroque excess and eyelid piercing horror spill from the screen in Opera, Argento’s gory love song to the classical stage, when a young singer is stalked by a homicidal maniac, hell bent of murdering her associates so he can claim her for himself!

A police woman on the trial of depraved and sadistic rapist is plunged into a nightmare in The Stendhal Syndrome. She’s afflicted with a mental condition that causes her to hallucinate and pass out in the presence of art. When her prey leads her to a museum packed with antiquities, she becomes trapped in a psychedelic nightmare by her psychopathic nemesis.

Argento recaptures the magic of classic Giallo once more in Sleepless, a blood splattered tale of an aging detective and a young amateur sleuth on the trail of a serial killer whose has started to slay again after laying dormant for 17 years. Can the rookie cop and his elderly mentor catch the predator and put an end to his reign of terror?

When a sick-minded murderer uses the internet to display his brutality and goad the Rome police, it’s up to a British Interpol agent and a young policewoman to capture a deranged madman who’s dubbed himself The Card Player. Soon, he’s taunting the police and challenging them to a game of video poker. The stakes? Only the life of his next victim...

NEO GIALLO COLLECTION SPECIAL FEATURES:
- 4 of Dario Argento’s late Giallo works collected in this exclusive boxset
- 9 option reversible sleeves of original and newly commissioned artworks!
- 4 double-sided fold-out posters with newly commissioned artwork for each film
- A host of extras for every film including Making ofs, trailers, booklets by Alan Jones (author of ‘Profondo Argento’) and more!

TERROR AT THE OPERA SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible sleeve
- Exclusive two-sided poster
- Exclusive collector’s booklet
- Dario Argento’s Filmography and Biography
- Terror’s Photo Album
- Opera by ‘Demonia’ music video
- The complete Dario Argento trailer gallery (18 films)
- International version with choice of original Italian 5.1/Stereo soundtrack and English audio
- US Edit Feature with choice of original track or Cannes Dub audio
- US Trailer
- International Trailer
- Top 6 Gore scenes menu

THE STENDHAL SYNDROME SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible sleeve
- Exclusive two-sided poster
- Exclusive collector's booklet
- The complete Dario Argento Trailer Gallery (18 films)
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Choice of original Italian and English Audio

SLEEPLESS SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Brand New Oil-painting Artwork with flipside original theatrical poster
- Murder, Madness and Mutilation: Sleepless and the Modern Italian Giallo
- The Making Of ‘Sleepless’
- Trailer
- Photo Gallery, Press Kit (Rom Content)
- Brand new artwork poster

THE CARD PLAYER SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible Sleeve
- Exclusive Two Sided Poster
- Exclusive collector's booklet
- The complete Dario Argento Trailer Reel (18 films)
- Original Trailer
- Making of 'The Card Player'
- 'The Card Player Promo
- Original Italian and English audio

Terror at the Opera 102 mins 5.1/Stereo Audio Language: Italian and English Subtitles: English Aspect Ratio 16x9
The Stendhal Syndrome 118 mins 5.1/Stereo Audio Language: English and Italian Subtitles: English Aspect Ratio 16x9
Sleepless 113 mins 5.1/Stereo Audio Language: English Aspect Ratio 16x9
The Card Player 99 mins Stereo Audio Language: English and Italian Subtitles: English Aspect Ratio 16x9
 

Release Date: May 9th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region 0 PAL DVD
RATING: 18 Certificate
DURATION: 97 mins
DIRECTOR: Brian Yuzna
CAST: Mark Frost, Isabel Brook, Jeffrey Combs
TAGLINE: There are some contracts you shouldn’t sign...

SYNOPSIS: Witness the terrible fate of man who sells his soul the devil for a shot at revenge in Faust, another twisted slice of raw imagination from Brian Yuzna (Society, Beyond Re-Animator).

John Jaspers was an artist and a happy man until some thugs snuffed out his girlfriend... Now he’s been driven near insane with the need for vengeance. Aid comes in form of “M”, a mysterious figure who offers him the help he needs for a price... His mortal soul. Jaspers is transformed into a horned demon whose only emotions are the need to slay and the drive to murder.  Out of control and out of his mind, the demonic Jaspers cannot be stopped until his lust for the kill is satisfied and those who wronged him have been ripped to bloody pieces...

SPECIAL FETURES:
- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork
- Audio Commentary with director Brian Yuzna - Director of the Damned: Brian Yuzna, Faust and the Fantastic Factory
- The Pain in Spain A History of Horror in Hot Weather with Angel Sala, director of the Sitges Film Festival
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet ‘Brian Yuzna: Maestro of Mayhem’ by author and critic Calum Waddell
- 1.78:1 (16x9) Anamorphic
 - English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional English subtitles
 

Release Date: May 16th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region 0 PAL DVD
RATING: 15 Certificate
DURATION: 94 mins
DIRECTOR: Paco Plaza
CAST:  Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky, John Sharian

SYNOPSIS: In 19th Century Spain, a travelling seller with a woman in every town is the keeper of an ancient secret. This handsome, charming ladykiller may also be leaving a trail of bloody murder in his wake that the locals attribute to “the Werewolf of Allariz”. Barbara lives with her sister, isolated in the deep forest. Her happiness comes when the mysterious seller comes to call, but why has he no fear of the wolves that lurk under the darkening trees and what does he keep hidden from view inside his wagon?

Based on the true facts of a real murder case, starring Horror veteran Julian Sands (Warlock, Rose Red) and directed by Paco Plaza (REC 1&2), Romasanta is a sensual, horrifying and boldly original take on the Werewolf genre.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork
- Romasanta: Lycanthropes, Lunacy and the Last Days of The Fantastic Factory
- Making Romasanta: Interviews with director Paco Plaza, stars Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky and John Sharian.
- A featurette on the S/FX design in Romasanta
- Interview with composer Mikel Salas
- Deleted Scenes with introduction and commentary by director Paco Plaza
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet ‘Sex, Sun and Sinful Celluloid’ by author and critic Calum Waddell
 - 2.35:1 (16x9) Anamorphic
- English Stereo/Spanish 5.1 with optional English subtitles


RIFIFI (1955)
Release Date: May 9th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: [Blu-ray] Region B, [DVD] Region 2
RATING: 12 Certificate
DURATION: 118 mins [Blu-ray], 113 mins [DVD]
DIRECTOR: Jules Dassin
CAST: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel

SYNOPSIS: A seminal work of crime filmmaking that lead the young critic Francois Truffaut to declare “the best Film Noir I have ever seen”, Jules Dassin’s Rififi [Du rififi chez les hommes] has influenced films as diverse as Reservoir Dogs and Ocean’s Eleven since its release.

Following, Tony le Stephanois (Jean Servais), a master thief fresh out of jail, wearing a harried look and suffering ill health he refuses to be involved with crime, until he finds his girlfriend shacked up with a rival gangster. With little reason to keep living he plans a final job. Tony sets about finding his crew and meticulously planning the job; a robbery of the jewellery store Mappin & Webb. Rififi revolves around the central heist, famed for its finite detail and incredible tension, but the drama does not end at the heist like so many other crime films. Dassin’s film is a humanist tale that hinges on the loyalty among thieves and draws on the fatalistic, doom laden lives common to crooks and thieves in pulp literature.
An instant commercial success in Paris and worldwide, the film was also very well received by the critics with Jules Dassin being awarded the best director prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Arrow Academy is proud to present Jules Dassin’s legendary film in 1080p high definition for the first time in the UK.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- High Definition transfer of the film from a brand new restoration on Blu-ray (1080p) and DVD
- Filmed introduction by Ginette Vincendeau, French cinema critic, scholar and author
- Interview with Jules Dassin
- Q+A with Jules Dassin at the BFI Southbank, London
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- A comprehensive booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by writer and filmmaker David Cairns, author Alastair Phillips (Rififi: French Film Guide), Francois Truffaut and John Trevelyan.
- Artwork presentation packaging including three original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover
- Aspect ratio 1.33:1

TENEBRAE (1982)
Release Date: May 23rd 2011

FORMAT/REGION: Blu-ray Region 0
RATING: 18 Certificate
DURATION: Unknown
CAST: Anthony Franciosa, Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon
DIRECTOR: Dario Argento

SYNOPSIS: A notorious horror classic returns in all its depraved glory. This infamous video nasty updated the classic Giallo blueprint for the gorified 80s, courting controversy and drenching the viewer in crimson arterial spray.

A razor-wielding psycho is stalking the horror writer Peter Neal, in Rome to promote his latest work, Tenebre. But the author isn’t the obsessive killer’s only target, the beautiful women who surround him are doomed as one by one, they fall victim to the murderer’s slashing blade…

Will fiction and reality blur as fear and madness take hold? Watch in terror as by turns the cast fall victim to the sadistic imagination of Dario Argento, Italy’s master of horror.

THIS AMAZING EDITION CONTAINS:
- 4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned art work
- Double-sided fold-out poster
- Exclusive collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on Tenebrae by Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento
- Brand new HD restoration of the film
- Audio Commentary with Argento experts, journalists and writers Kim Newman and Alan Jones
- Audio Commentary with Argento expert Thomas Rostock
- Introduction by Daria Nicolodi
- Screaming Queen! Daria Nicolodi remembers Tenebrae
- The Unsane World of Tenebrae: An interview with Dario Argento
- A Composition for Carnage: Claudio Simonetti on Tenebrae
- Goblin: Tenebrae and Phenomena Live from the Glasgow Arches
- Original Trailer
- Original art by Rick Melton
- In original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with LPCM mono English, Italian audio with optional English subtitles for English and Italian audio

OBSESSION (1976)
Release Date: August 30th 2011

FORMAT/REGION CODE: Region 0 [Blu], Region o PAL [DVD]
RATING: 15 Certificate
RUNTIME: 98 mins
DIRECTOR: Brian De Palma
CAST: George Litto, Cliff Roberston, John Lithgow, Sylvia Kuumba Williams 
TAGLINE: The Love Story That Will Scare The Life Out Of You


SYNOPSIS: In one of director Brian DePalma's many cinematic tributes to Hitchcock (this one borrows from VERTIGO), Cliff Robertson portrays an American businessman whose wife and child are killed in a botched kidnap rescue effort. Years later, while in Italy, the still-distraught widower begins an affair with a woman (Genevieve Bujold) whose resemblance to his late wife is rather uncanny. The script was co-written by Paul Schrader.

SPECIAL FEATURES: [the special features here are speculative and not confirmed]
- Paul Scharder's full original script with unfilmed sequences.
- Brian De Palma early short films
- Booklet by author and critic Brad Stevens

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Damned By Dawn (2010)

DAMNED BY DAWN (2010) DVD

LABEL: Momentum Pictures
REGION CODE: Region 2
BBFC RATING: 15 Certificate
DURATION: 81 mins
DIRECTOR: Brett Anstey
CAST: Renee Willner, Bridget Neval, Dawn Klingberg
TAGLINE: When the Banshee cries... the Dead will rise.

PLOT: After receiving a mysterious gift from her dying grandmother, Claire takes her new boyfriend home to meet her family who live on an isolated property in the country. The family reunion begins well but Claire soon becomes increasingly uneasy with her grandmother's medicated mumblings about a screaming banshee intent on coming for her during the night. It's not long before the family's worst fears become their reality as the banshee and her army of undead arrive to unleash blood soaked fury on them all.

FILM: For the past ten years Australia experienced an Ozploitation rebirth of sorts with a new wave of low-budgeted horror films  beginning with the Spierig Brothers alien/zombie romp UNDEAD (2003), then the  brutal serial killer film WOLF CREEK (2005), a killer croc flick ROGUE (2007) and the grindhouse revenge thriller STORM WARNING (2007). The latest entry is writer/director Brent Anstey's debut feature film DAMNED BY DAWN (2010). This micro-budgeted supernatural thriller is sure to give you a case of the goosebumps.  Claire (Renee Willner) and boyfriend Paul (Danny Alder) arrive at her family's estate in rural Australia to visit her dying grandmother Nana (Dawn Klinberg) who lives with her father Bill (Peter Stratford) and younger sister Jen (Taryn Eva). The elderly woman tells Claire that as death draws near The Banshee (Bridget Neval) will appear to guide her soul from this world to the next and that this sacred rite must not be interrupted at any cost. Claire assumes this to be the ramblings of a woman suffering late stage dementia but that same night the family are awakened by a frightful wailing sound emanating from the fog-shrouded woods. While the others enter the forest to investigate the eerie screams Claire remains with Nana and does exactly what she was warned not to when the apparition comes to claim Nana's soul. The angered spirit calls upon an army of the undead who will not rest until the they've claimed not only the departed woman's soul but those of the entire family as well. 

The family estate is set in a heavily forested area that's covered in a thick blanket of fog. It makes for a fantastically eerie location. DAMNED BY DAWN is a seriously foggy film, it's right up there with THE FOG (1980) and THE WOLF MAN (1941) and any number of Hammer films. The Banshee appears as a ghastly apparition in white, blood trickling from her eyes, it's quite spooky but the effect falters some when the films strays from it's less is more approach. Other skeletal wraith-like apparitions are not so effectively realized however and have all the fright of a WalMart  skeleton decoration. More effective are the zombie-like undead that are achieved with practical effects, particularly the undead Nana who has a decidedly Deadite appearance and actually intones "join us" at one point.  That's just one of many EVILDEAD (1981)  invocations right down to the title which smacks of  EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN (1987). While the film's short on originality it's a highly entertaining watch.

DVD: The Momentum Pictures DVD presents the film in it's original 1.85:1 (16x9) anamorphic aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The film image looks quite good. Colors are vibrant if muted by a blue-tint, the details are crisp and the film has decent black levels which is important as 95% of the film takes place in the dark of night. The 5.1 surround effectively utilizes the film score and effects, particularly the banshee's wails which about lifted me outta my seat. It's creepy stuff and my hats off to the sound design. Special Features include a spirited commentary track with many, many stories about the making of the film, technical talk and fun anecdotal stuff. The nearly hour long Making-of Featurette (55:32) covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary but is actually more entertaining and sprinkled with clips from the film as well as snippets of the Amazing Krypto Bros. earlier films which just look like pure fun. If it came down to one or the other I say just watch the making-of doc as the commentary mirrors a lot of it. For the Region 1 locked-crowd the Region 1 DVD from Image Entertainment mirrors the R2 release with the addition of a second commentary track with writer/director Brett Anstey and actors Renee Willner, Dawn Klingberg, Bridget Neval, Peter Stratford, and Taryn Eva.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Brett Anstey, producer Luke Gibson, editor Dave Redman, production designer David Jackson, and fog wrangler Darren Maxwell
- Making-of Featurette (55:32)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:30)
- Trailers: SKYLINE (2:21), LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (1:31), THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (1:11)

VERDICT: DAMNED BY DAWN (2010) offers some genuinely creepy supernatural thrills and is a notable entry in the cabin-in-the-woods sub genre. Director Brent Anstey is someone to watch for and while this film lacks bucket loads of originality it quite obvious that he loves old-school horror and has a great eye for spooky visuals and exciting camera movement. Like the Spierig Brothers who directed UNDEAD (2003) and went on to do the underrated sci-fi vamp actioner DAYBREAKERS (2009) I would very much like to see what Anstey is capable of with a more inventive script and a few dollars more. Not an blind buy but definitely worth a rental. 3 outta 5