Cagey Films Blog

Summer grab-bag, part one

An attempted robbery becomes a bloodbath in Javier Elorrieta's Night of Rage (1985)

As usual, there’s no coherent pattern to what I spend my time watching. In the past few months, I given my overtaxed attention to quite a few movies from the ’70s and ’80s – British sex comedies and cop movies, Italian gialli, French and Spanish thrillers, Chinese martial arts movies and an Australian superhero musical – plus a pair of recent Korean action movies and two ultra-low-budget do-it-yourself movies from the ’90s.

Cauldron releases, summer 2022

Liza (Monika Balsai) and the spirit of dead Japanese pop star Tomy Tami (David Sakurai) in Karoly Ujj Meszaros' Liza the Fox Fairy (2015)

Cauldron Films casts a wide net with their recent releases: Contraband (1980), a violent thriller by Lucio Fulci, is joined by Eloy de la Iglesia’s homage to A Clockwork Orange, Murder in a Blue World (1973), Jordan Graham’s mysterious folk horror Sator (2019) and Karoly Ujj Meszaros wistful Hungarian fantasy Liza the Fox Fairy (2015).

Murder, mayhem, sex and madness from Arrow

The respectable doctor finds ecstasy in unrestrained violence in Gérard Kikoïne’s Edge of Sanity (1989)

Two new Arrow releases – and one older one – plunge into sexual confusion, insecurity, violence and romantic longing: Robert Day’s TV movie The Initiation of Sarah (1977) riffs on themes from Stephen King’s Carrie; Gérard Kikoïne’s Edge of Sanity (1989) gives Anthony Perkins a chance to unleash his inner demons in a career-topping dual performance as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and Kathleen Turner is fearless as a businesswoman who moonlights as a prostitute inspires romantic passion in one man and murderous passion in another, the latter another ferocious, jittery performance from Anthony Perkins.

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car (2021): Criterion Blu-ray review

Intimacy is unavoidable in the confined space of a car in Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car (2021)

Taking its time, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s award-winning Drive My Car (2021) begins with a sense of detached observation and gradually draws you into emotional depths as its characters come to know each other and themselves during the process of rehearsing a performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima. Criterion’s Blu-ray presentation features a beautiful image, supplemented with a making-of, an interview with Hamaguchi and a press conference from Cannes.

Zale Dalen’s Skip Tracer (1977)
& the Canadian tax shelter era

Things get dark when John Collins (David Petersen) harasses George Pettigrew (Alan Rose) past the breaking point in Zale Dalen's Skip Tracer (1977)

Writer-director Zale Dalen made one of the most distinctive Canadian features during the tax shelter years, but Skip Tracer (1977) all but disappeared with the tide of low-budget disaster movies and slasher films produced by financial support from the government between 1975 and 1982. Dalen ended up doing mostly episodic television, though he did briefly return to features in the ’90s, culminating in the absurd but entertaining sci-fi martial arts potboiler Expect No Mercy (1995).

The low-budget art of Edgar G. Ulmer

Enid Elliot (Margaret Field) has a close encounter in Edgar G. Ulmer's The Man from Planet X (1951)

A pair of recent Blu-rays from Kino Lorber bookend the career of “King of the Bs” Edgar G. Ulmer, who began his off-Hollywood career with a social issues drama about syphilis called Damaged Lives (1933) and ended it with a pair of cheap sci-fi movies, The Amazing Transparent Man and Beyond the Time Barrier (both 1960), with one of the highlights between being The Man from Planet X (1951), the latter three included in KL’s Edgar G, Ulmer Sci-Fi Collection triple-bill.

Truffles, a blood-fuelled car, zombies and a family in retreat from the modern world: recent viewing

Team members enforce their ideology off the field in Bill Milling's Wolfpack (1987)

Spanish zombies, rural American zombies, a Korean serial killer, monsters and illicit mindbending drugs, a blood-fuelled car, small-town fascism, an eccentric family in retreat from the modern world, and a man with a truffle-hunting pig – there’s no pattern here in my recent movie-watching other than a restless search for the original and the entertaining.

Andreas Marschall’s Tears of Kali (2004)

Kim (Anja Gebel) cuts off her own eyelids to see more clearly in Andreas Marschall's Tears of Kali (2004)

I had to overcome numerous unforeseen difficulties to see Tears of Kali (2004), the first feature by German director Andreas Marschall (Masks, 2011), a stylish and artful collection of three loosely connected horror stories linked to a dangerous cult; each story centres on a couple of characters caught in psychologically tense conflict with occasional eruptions of graphic physical violence.

Blasts from the past

The political cinema of Costa-Gavras

Tired ageing badmen: Criterion Blu-ray review

DVD diary: another eclectic week – part one

Recent miscellaneous viewing, part three