Winter viewing 2: Vinegar Syndrome partners

Misanthropic scientist Herbert Von Krantz (Daniel Emilfork) invents an anti-nuclear device in Jean-Louis Roy's The Unknown Man of Shandigor (1967)

Recent releases from various Vinegar Syndrome partner labels offer a wide range of styles, from low-budget direct-to-video horror (Ronnie Sortor’s Sinistre [1995], Charles Pinion’s Red Spirit Lake [1993] and We Await [1996]) to a rediscovered slice of Cold War sci-fi/espionage from Switzerland (Jean-Louis Roy’s The Unknown Man of Shandigor [1967]).

Gerry O’Hara’s The Brute (1977)

Diane (Sarah Douglas) is on edge the morning after a vicious beating from her husband in Gerry O'Hara's The Brute (1977)

Filmmaker Gerry O’Hara tackled the difficult subject of marital violence in the mid-’70s, at a time when such things weren’t discussed in polite company. His use of exploitation tropes offended critics at the time for “trivializing” a serious subject which almost no one else was examining in popular media. Actually, O’Hara’s treatment is quite intelligent and well-crafted.

Year End 2021

The Count (Udo Kier) is worried about his blood supply in Paul Morrissey's Blood for Dracula (1974)

It’s been a good year for movies on disk, with a remarkable range of releases from many companies which are devoting considerable resources to rediscovering, restoring and preserving movies in numerous genres. Ranging across nationalities and spanning cinema history, there was plenty to divert attention from a real world which has become so depressing and exhausting.

Euro Pulp

Delphine Seyrig conveys elegant ennui as the Countess Elizabeth Bathory in Harry Kümel's Daughters of Darkness (1971)

A selection of European genre movies from the 1970s and ’80s ranges from sadistic killers to cannibals to elegant vampires, from bad fashions and electro-pop music to old families sinking into decadence, from masters of exploitation like Sergio Martino, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi and Ruggero Deodato to the artful Harry Kümel.

Winter viewing: Vinegar Syndrome

Evil magician Avery Lauter (J.P. Luebsen) comes back from the dead in Kevin Tenney's Witchtrap (1989)

Bingeing has been my default viewing mode for some time, but it’s only more recently that it’s come to encompass indulging in multiple releases by a particular company – which in turn is a result of those company’s offering regular sales and discount packages of monthly releases. The most prominent examples of this are Vinegar Syndrome and Severin Films, both of which specialize in genre and exploitation titles, pulling me into deep, often sordid, black holes.

Blasts from the past

Old horrors, newly packaged

The enigmatic Albert Finney

Tripping, shopping and the airborne multiplex

The “good German” in war movies

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