Spring 2024 viewing, part two

A strange young woman disrupts a middle-class home in Go Yeong-nam's Suddenly in the Dark (1981)

Continuing my survey of what I’ve been watching this Spring… Mondo Macabro Mondo Macabro is a label I haven’t mentioned much here, though they specialize in genre movies from around the world and I’ve discovered some real oddities through them – like H. Tjut Djalil’s Mystics in Bali (1981) and Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s Alucarda (1975). […]

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.

Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio/Executioners (1993): Criterion Blu-ray review

Flights of martial arts fantasy in Johnnie To & Ching Siu-Tung's Executioners (1993)

Before attaining international critical success with a series of cool, formally precise thrillers, Johnnie To made a pair of wildly inventive superhero movies fraught with anxiety about the approaching hand over of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997. The Heroic Trio and Executioners (both 1993) mix fantasy, science fiction, traditional martial arts and modern action into a potent dystopian stew centred on three of Hong Kong’s biggest female stars – Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung. Criterion’s three-disk dual-formal edition showcases stunning restorations by L’Immagine Ritrovata.

Monsters, killers and existential dread on Blu-ray

Fatma (Fatma Oussaifi) herself is drawn towards the flames in Youssef Chebbi’s Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation (2022)

Recent releases cover a range of horrors, from a 4K restoration of the classic Canadian working class slasher My Bloody Valentine (1981) to a 4K restoration of Stephen King’s mad dog tale Cujo (1983) to a pair of low-budget ’70s monsters – Creature From Black Lake (1976) and Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) to Ashkal (2022), a haunting Tunisian police procedural with supernatural overtones, and World of Giants (1959), an obscure, short-lived TV series about a six-inch tall secret agent.

Fall 2023 viewing: Arrow Video

Cloistermouth (Nicholas Hoye) panics when he realizes his privileged position is threatened in John Mackenzie's Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971)

A selection of new and slightly older Arrow releases range from ’70s Japanese gangster movies by Kinji Fukasaku to David Cronenberg’s icy adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1996), from an early feature by John Mackenzie combining a satire of class with psychological suspense to a sampler of sci-fi and horror movies produced in the ’80s by Charles Band’s Empire International Pictures.

Fall 2023 viewing, part one

Detective Luigi Mackeroni (Udo Samel) and his cross-dressing partner Babette (Leonard Lansink) face an unusual foe in Martin Walz's Killer Condom (1996)

As always, writing falls behind viewing and I’ve missed mentioning some disks that deserved at least a comment – so here are some quick notes on recent releases from Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome and some smaller labels covering a wide range of genres from spaghetti westerns to East European animation, from low-budget sci-fi to documentary, from comedy to horror to exploitation.

Blasts from the past

Thinking About Genre, part 2

Year End 2014

Steamy Screen: The Melodramas of Gainsborough Pictures

Columbia Noir 4 from Indicator

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