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” 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’ 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.
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.
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).
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.