Two excellent recent Blu-ray releases illuminate different strains of British fantasy. They Came to a City (1944), written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Basil Dearden is a Utopian political fable proposing a new Socialist society for post-war Britain, while Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1959) spins an epic tale of human evolution and our innate propensity for violence through the story of an ancient spaceship discovered buried beneath London.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s La vérité (1960) is less well-known than Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques, but it’s one of his finest features, a complex, emotionally wrenching work which gave Brigitte Bardot her greatest role. Criterion’s excellent new Blu-ray presents the film in a spectacular restoration, with substantial supplements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) uses a 4K restoration by Sony from the original three-strip Technicolor negative and the film looks absolutely ravishing.
A new digital restoration of King Hu’s epic period ghost story Legend of the Mountain (1979) from Masters of Cinema reveals this languid masterpiece in all its pictorial glory; a stunning dream of a movie.
The ambitious and very expensive early sound-era musical King of Jazz, featuring Paul Whiteman and his band, gets a spectacular restoration which makes the most of the original two-strip Technicolor process on Criterion’s extras-packed Blu-ray.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) affords this scrappy, independent production the high degree of respect it has earned not only as one of the key American films of the 1960s, but as a work which almost single-handedly redefined the horror genre.