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.

Stanley Kwan’s Rouge (1987):
Criterion Blu-ray review

Chan (Leslie Cheung) immerses himself in theatricality in Stanley Kwan's Rouge (1987)

Rouge (1987), Stanley Kwan’s meditation on romance, the passage of time and the imminent return of Hong Kong to China after almost two centuries of British colonial rule, gets a luminous restoration for Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition, which also includes an interview with Kwan and two documentaries by the director which explore issues of gender in Chinese cinema and his own identity as one of the first openly gay Chinese directors.

The future crimes of David Cronenberg

Artist Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) rests after a surgical performance in David Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future (2022)

David Cronenberg returns to his roots with a new movie which borrows its title and major themes from his early experimental feature Crimes of the Future (1970); once again nature responds to destructive human activity by accelerating the mutability of the body. This time Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) transforms his continually mutating body into an object of performance art, infusing the body horror with a powerful note of black comedy in the director’s best film since Crash (1986).

Miscellaneous May 2022 viewing

Would-be actress Stella (Susan Ermich) enrols in a prestige acting school in Andreas Marschall's Masks (2011)

Bertrand Tavernier’s epic eight-part documentary Journeys Through French Cinema (2017) offers a personal and idiosyncratic history rooted in the filmmakers personal passions; Enzo G. Castellari’s The Big Racket (1976) and The Heroin Busters (1977) showcase the cynical, violent action of Italian genre movies of the ’70s; Andreas Marschall turns homage into effective horror in the retro-giallo Masks (2011); and Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch Miller’s documentary Other Music (2019) captures an experience all-but-lost today with their account of the final days of a great independent record store in New York City.

Alien sex and the comedy of self-destruction: two documentaries

David Huggins remembers the pleasures of sex with aliens in Brad Abrahams' Love and Saucers (2017)

A pair of eccentric characters – a man who creates an alter-ego who performs dangerous stunts for a local cable access show, and a man who claims a lifetime of alien encounters (including intense sexual experiences) – are given sympathetic consideration in two strange and entertaining documentaries: Jay Cheel’s Beauty Day (2011) and Brad Abrahams’ Love and Saucers (2017)

Winter 2022 Arrow viewing, part two

Gunfighter Manuel (director Robert Hossein) reluctantly comes out of retirement in Cemetery Without Crosses (1969)

More genre viewing from Arrow, including a bleak French Western, a silent film noir which recapitulates the history of Japanese cinema, a pair of low-budget ’80s slasher movies, a mash-up of anime and low-budget live-action post-apocalypse, and two box sets: Kenji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale and Battle Royale II and the Children of the Corn trilogy.

Blasts from the past

An evening with Jonathan Rosenbaum

World Cinema Project 2: Criterion Blu-ray review

D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus’ Town Bloody Hall (1979):
Criterion Blu-ray review

DVD of the week: The Four Feathers (1939)

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