Classic television horror, geriatric action and an off-the-wall Canadian horror from Kino Lorber and Severin; five recent disks present thrills, chills, strained comedy and some problematic post-colonial politics.
Winnipeg filmmaker and author Caelum Vatnsdal spent several years researching the life of everyone’s favourite ubiquitous supporting actor Dick Miller and the resulting biography is every bit as entertaining as the roles Miller has played through six decades in the movie business.
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).
The discovery of a previously unknown documentary, Robert Kaylor’s Derby (1971), plus a Blu-ray edition of Stephanie Rothman’s Terminal Island (1973), a rough-and-ready exploitation B-movie, are of much greater interest than Jack Cardiff’s Holiday in Spain (1960), a bloated mainstream Cinerama showcase which dresses its travelogue in a tissue-thin “mystery” plot.
An eclectic assortment of recent viewing, including an obscure short feature from England, a couple of westerns old and new, and a pair of Elmore Leonard adaptations.
Arrow Video’s commitment to genre releases is on full display in a selection of recently viewed Blu-rays, each featuring informative supplements: the Japanese juvenile delinquent series Stray Cat Rock, Don Coscarelli’s epic Phantasm series, a pair of Gothic gialli from Emilio P. Miraglia, and Spanish director J.P. Simon’s adaptation of Brit author Shaun Hutson’s gross-out novel Slugs.
2016 was an impressive year for movies on disk, with a wide variety of new and classic releases, prestige productions and exploitation, and some interesting rediscoveries … too many to pick just a handful of “bests”.
Sex runs through the history of the movies as both spectacle and disrupter of narrative; Russ Meyer reveled in it, while Charlie Kaufman finds in sex poignant emotional depths.
After a two year hiatus, the BFI has revived the Flipside series with three notable releases: Val Guest’s musical satire Expresso Bongo, Edmond T. Greville’s juvenile delinquent exploitation movie Beat Girl, and Jose Ramon Larraz’s “lost” horror film Symptoms.
Artsploitation Films is a distributor with a taste for offbeat horror as represented in two recent Blu-ray releases, the German Der Samurai and the French (though shot in English) Horsehead, both visually stylized and more interested in metaphor and atmosphere than crude shocks.