A frustrating evening

Michael (Hywel Bennett) can't avoid the distrust, even contempt, of Ellie (Hayley Mills)'s relatives in Sidney Gilliat's Endless Night (1972)

When my friend Howard came over for an evening of movie-watching recently, we ended up with a highly idiosyncratic double-bill of problematic features, one representing self-conscious art, the other polished commercial craft – neither entirely satisfying: Josej Von Sternberg’s The Saga of Anatahan (1953) and Sidney Gilliat’s Endless Night (1972).

“Folk Horror”

A chilling image of religious belief in Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973)

“Folk horror” is one of those categories which is hard to define – but you know it when you see it, like film noir.Two very different features and two dubious documentaries seem to fit the category – Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973), Erik Blomberg’s The White Reindeer (1953), Malcolm Leigh’s Legend of the Witches (1970) and Derek Ford’s Secret Rites (1971) – all available in excellent Blu-ray editions.

Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World (1991):
Criterion Blu-ray review

Claire discovers hidden memories through her recorded dreams in Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World (1991)

Wim Wenders’ most ambitious film, Until the End of the World (1991) was a huge commercial failure when released in 1991 in a severely truncated version; the almost five-hour director’s cut gets a stunning restoration on Criterion’s two-disk Blu-ray release – visually gorgeous, fascinating and frustrating, this sci-fi epic now looks prescient in its depiction of our solipsistic attachment to out personal electronic devices.

Classic Howard Hawks on Blu-ray

Walter Burks (Cary Grant) tries to railroad ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) into staying with the newspaper in Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday (1940) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939), two of Howard Hawks’ most critically acclaimed movies, have received excellent treatment from Criterion on Blu-ray, along with a restored transfer of Lewis Milestone’s pre-code adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play The Front Page (1931), the source of Hawks’ cynical 1940 romantic comedy.

Mining a shrinking vein: The Vincent Price Collection III

Vincent Price as Captain Robur, builder of the airship Albatross in William Whitney's Master of the World (1961)

The 3rd volume of Shout! Factory’s Vincent Price Collection, anchored by William Whitney’s severely under-budgeted Master of the World (1961), seems more threadbare than the previous volumes, although there are still points of interest. Roger Corman’s Tower of London (1962) seems ripe for reevaluation, and set allows viewers to compare Gordon Hessler’s original cut of Cry of the Banshee (1970) with the producer’s cut, released theatrically. The high point is Price’s one-man TV show An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970).

The resurrection of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed (1990/2014)

Clive Barker’s second feature as a director was taken over by studio people who didn’t like the film he was making and ended up a crippled box office failure; Shout Factory has now released a “director’s cut”, more or less restored to Barker’s original intentions, which goes some way – though not all the way – towards making it an interesting horror fantasy.