Recent releases from the BFI, part two

Mary (Natasha Richardson) dreams herself into Henry Fuseli's 1781 painting The Nightmare in Ken Russell's Gothic (1987)

A wildly varied selection of recent releases from the BFI, with Pat Jackson’s Western Approaches (1944) transforming propaganda into art via Jack Cardiff’s Technicolor photography; Roddy McDowall’s The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970) infusing folk horror with the Hollywood glamour of Ava Gardner; and Ken Russell turning the famous 1816 house party presided over by Lord Byron on the shores of Lake Geneva into a fever dream of the Romantics’ fascination with love and death in Gothic (1987)

Winter 2024 viewing, part three: Other labels

You don't have to be crazy to do this job, but it helps: Grant Page in Brian Trenchard-Smith's Stunt Rock (1978)

More recent viewing, with excellent restorations of classic fantasies by Arrow – Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968) and John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian (1982); a pair of impressive German film school projects – Tilman Singer’s Luz (2018) and Lukas Feigelfeld’s Hagazussa (2017); a couple of entertaining Australian features which mix fiction and documentary in interesting ways – Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Stunt Rock (1978) and Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s Top Knot Detective (2017): and Shredder Orpheus (1990), a low-budget indie version of the Orpheus myth made by Seattle musicians and skateboarders.

Arrow’s Savage Guns: 4 Classic Westerns on Blu-ray

Sole survivor Stubby Preston (Fabio Testi) heads back into the wilderness in Lucio Fulci's The Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

Arrow’s third collection of spaghetti westerns, Savage Guns, brings together another four movies which display the range and flexibility of the genre, from Lucio Fulci’s elegiac and mystical The Four of the Apocalypse (1975) to Mario Camus’ veiled political criticisms of the Franco regime in Wrath of the Wind (1970) and Paolo Bianchini’s intersection of personal motives and historical events in I Want Him Dead (1968). Edoardo Mulargia’s El Puro (1969), about a drunken gunfighter forced back into action, is the most conventional of the four features.

Serendipity at the mall: disk discoveries from England and Australia

Compromised effects undermine producer George Pal's attempt to depict space travel in Byron Haskin's Conquest of Space (1955)

A recent trip to one of the last places in Winnipeg where you can actually buy movies on disk, armed with a bag full of DVDs and Blu-rays to trade, netted an interesting assortment of items, new and used, including some from the UK and Australia; it brought back the pleasures of in-store shopping and immediately being able to go home and watch what I’d just bought.

Italian Gothic horror on Blu-ray

Saint Simon (John Phillip Law) believes he's the reincarnation of Vincent Van Gogh in Sergio Bergonzelli’s Blood Delirium (1988)

Arrow’s Gothic Fantastico box set gathers together four lesser-known Italian genre movies from the mid-’60s from the period when Gothic horror flourished between Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and the rise of the giallo later in the decade, while Sergio Bergonzelli’s Blood Delirium (1988) from Vinegar Syndrome is a garish throwback long after the Gothic had faded away.

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.

Blasts from the past

A Kino Lorber miscellany

The storytelling art of Sadao Yamanaka

Watching genre, in black-and-white

Video Nasties, Part 3

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