Two movies from the early 1970s illuminate class and race divides in New York City – Sidney Lumet’s Sean Connery starring caper film The Anderson Tapes (1971) and Gordon Parks Jr’s hugely influential Super Fly (1972), starring Ron O’Neal with a landmark score by Curtis Mayfield.
Olive Films’ Signature edition of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) does full justice to this classic of 1950s sci-fi/horror with an excellent transfer and a rich collection of extras, which include two commentaries and a stack of featurettes about the film, director Siegel and producer Walter Wanger.
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.
Criterion have continued their efforts to restore the reputation of eclectic French filmmaker Julien Duvivier by following their Eclipse set of features from the 1930s with a stunning Blu-ray edition of his first post-war feature, Panique (1946), adapted from a very dark novel by Georges Simenon.
Recently viewed Blu-rays from Severin films include a range of Italian horrors featuring zombies, necrophilia and Lovecraftian gods, a revisionist vampire tale from the golden age of Ozploitation, and an unsettling experimental adaptation of a Lovecraft story from Sweden.
Two recent Blu-ray releases from Indicator showcase the idiosyncratic intensity of Terence Stamp’s acting. William Wyler’s The Collector (1965) is a prestigious Hollywood production, while Alan Cooke’s The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970) is a little-known low-budget Amicus feature.
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.
Two Blu-ray releases from Indicator represent shifts occurring in American filmmaking at the end of the ’60s, with Don Siegel’s near-perfect heist movie Charley Varrick (1973) quietly trashing all the rules once imposed by the Production Code and Alan Arkin’s directorial debut with Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders (1971) offering an unsettling, blackly comic dissection of the violence at the heart of American society.
Recent viewing includes a range of genre titles, high and low-end, from Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video: serial killers, Japanese vampires, sewer-dwelling mutants, zombies and a schizophrenic woman struggling to maintain a tenuous hold on reality.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Victor Erice’s second feature, El Sur (1983), presents this exquisite depiction of childhood innocence and loss in a breathtakingly rich hi-def transfer, with excellent, informative supplements.