A decidedly mixed bag of recent viewing; a pair of young adult zombie stories — the Maze Runner Trilogy (2014-18) and the small-scale The Girl with All the Gifts (2016); a taut ’50s prison escape noir (Crashout, 1955) and a polished new crime noir (Dragged Across Concrete, 2018); a minor, dull thriller (All the Devil’s Men, 2018); and a bloated, enervatingly pretentious remake of a genre classic (Suspiria, 2018).
A pair of recent Blu-rays from Shout! Factory bookend ’70s horror with John Hayes’ Grave of the Vampire (1972), a too-little-known cheap exploitation feature which revitalizes vampire mythology and William Girdler’s The Manitou (1978), a low-budget studio movie with a better-than-average cast which plays a variation on demonic possession but fails to find an effective tone.
Two excellent recent Blu-ray releases illuminate different strains of British fantasy. They Came to a City (1944), written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Basil Dearden is a Utopian political fable proposing a new Socialist society for post-war Britain, while Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1959) spins an epic tale of human evolution and our innate propensity for violence through the story of an ancient spaceship discovered buried beneath London.
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.
More brief notes on recent random viewing choices; another mixed bag of classic fantasy, generic thrillers, dramas drawn form real life, spectacular martial arts and gritty war action, and a scattershot, off-the-wall satire by “the world’s worst living director”.
Brief notes on recent random viewing choices; a mixed bag of horror, fantasy, action, genre revisionism, satire and political thrillers.
Sometimes the best movie experiences depend on knowing as little as possible about what you’re watching. This was certainly true recently when I discovered the work of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in Arrow Video’s excellent two disk set of Resolution (2012) and The Endless (2017).
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) uses a 4K restoration by Sony from the original three-strip Technicolor negative and the film looks absolutely ravishing.
Indicator’s Blu-ray finally does justice to The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), Dr. Seuss’ nightmarish musical plunge into childhood anxieties.
Recent theatrical viewing has included some very dark comedies and fantasies, but the real horrors were supplied by the faceless corporate types who have transformed movie going into an unpleasant ordeal.