Brief notes on recent random viewing choices; a mixed bag of horror, fantasy, action, genre revisionism, satire and political thrillers.
Three new movies and one classic make the most of ghosts, monsters and demons.
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.
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.
Recent viewing includes Mel Gibson as an angry father, Chinese marines fighting in Africa, cops tracking drug dealers and violent bank robbers, and a couple of American International horrors.
Sometimes the best movie experiences depend on knowing as little as possible about what you’re watching. This was certainly true recently when I discovered the work of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in Arrow Video’s excellent two disk set of Resolution (2012) and The Endless (2017).