Regional filmmakers working on limited budgets have to rely on ingenuity and imagination; Texan S.F. Brownrigg managed to turn out a number of effective horror movies in the 1970s, the two most notable – Don’t Look in the Basement (1972) and Don’t Open the Door (1974) – now available in a dual-format double-feature edition from VCI Entertainment.
Classic 3-D revivals, bloated CG action rooted in video games and recycled superhero and monster cliches, and a brooding contemplation of emotional and sexual repression in post-war England.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray release of Andrei Tarkovsky’s second feature, Andrei Rublev (1966), not only features a superb restoration of the director’s preferred 183-minute cut, but also a (much weaker) transfer of the original 205-minute version and a comprehensive selection of new and archival supplements which cover the production and meaning of this, the greatest of all historical epics.
Sometimes something authentic can shine through the incompetence of a “bad” movie; that’s the case even in something like William A. Levey’s clumsy Blackenstein (1973).
I’m a sucker for sales and recently spent a lot on-line buying stacks of Blu-rays from Arrow Films and Severin at discount prices, adding a lot of titles to my backlog. In recent weeks, I’ve started making my way through the new Arrow titles, which include an assortment of genre offerings, some completely unknown, others old favourites.
Michael Powell’s final masterpiece, Peeping Tom (1959) virtually ended his filmmaking career, but it’s rediscovery in the 1970s and ’80s restored him to the pantheon of cinematic greats. Revisiting the film on Blu-ray reinforces my appreciation of a film which was ahead of its time.
Jess Franco’s Count Dracula (1970) is a dull and unnecessary version of the story, but Pere Portabella’s “making of” Cuadecuc, Vampir (1971), included as a supplement on Severin’s Blu-ray, is a fascinating meditation on the story.
I was recently contacted by Swedish filmmaker Henrik Möller with an invitation to talk to him for his podcast Udda Ting (Other Things) about my experiences with David Lynch. That conversation is now available on-line on SoundCloud and YouTube.
Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Robert M. Young’s The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982) gives new life to a remarkable but too-little known film which takes on greater urgency in the current political climate in the U.S.
The limited 50th anniversary re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a reminder of the power of grand, ambitious filmmaking to transport an audience into complex imaginary worlds.