Three very different features – Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), John Guillermin’s Town on Trial (1957) and Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned (1960) – illuminate the varied pleasures offered by genre in the hands of seriously committed filmmakers.
Clive Barker’s distinctive prose style, while it creates vivid and highly visual stories, is difficult to transform into movies because the themes and meanings of the stories are strangely abstract. While Barker himself has been his own most successful adapter, there have been many attempts to capture his vision on film – some better than others. George Pavlou’s Rawhead Rex (1986) misses the mark, but Bernard Rose’s Candyman almost succeeds but is diverted by moving the story from Liverpool to Chicago.
A brief survey of recent viewing ranging from classics to contemporary, from class to cheese: thrillers, sci-fi and horror featuring black magic, killer robots, demons, evil stepdads and retro-’50s rock-n-roll biker gangs.
MVD Entertainment Group’s Blu-ray release of Ryan Schifrin’s ’80s horror homage Abominable (2005/2018) offers an exemplary treatment of a niche title, with excellent technical treatment and stacked with extras which honour the filmmaker’s respect for the genre.
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.
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.
Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin ended their world tour with a dynamic show at Winnipeg’s Park Theatre on December 10, 2018, playing the entire score of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) live, followed by more than an hour of Goblin’s greatest horror themes.
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.