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)

The lasting pleasures of second-tier golden age Universal horror movies

Dr. Ernest Sovac (Boris Karloff) makes unethical decisions to further his research in Arthur Lubin's Black Friday (1940)

Three two-disk sets from Eureka provide an overview of Universal Studios’ horror movies from the mid-’30s to the early ’50s, in the period when the first wave of early sound horrors petered out and briefly flourished again as low-budget B-movies as the Depression gave way to World War Two. Karloff and Lugosi are joined by notable, if lesser, genre figures like Lionel Atwill and Rondo Hatton in a mix of science fiction and the supernatural, with gangsters and Gothic trappings spicing the mix.

Crime and Horror from Radiance

Cynthia (Barbara Steele) descends into the cellars in search of answers in Riccardo Freda's The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962)

A sampling of releases from new U.K. label Radiance covers a range of favourite genres from the 1960s and ’70s – from classic Japanese yakuza film Big Time Gambling Boss (Kôsaku Yamashita, 1968), to the American indie horror Messiah of Evil (Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz, 1973); from the Swedish police procedural Man on the Roof (Bo Widerberg, 1976) to a pair of Italian Gothic horrors separated by a decade, the perverse The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (Riccardo Freda, 1962) and The Night of the Devils (Giorgio Ferroni, 1972), a contemporary retelling of the final story from Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1963); topped off with a revisit to Gordon Hessler’s Scream and Scream Again (1970), which seems to get better every time I see it. All of them come with excellent presentations and a wealth of extras, including commentaries, documentaries, interviews and visual essays.

Blasts from the past

Remaking and undoing horror

Genre Viewing: Science Fiction

Project Update: Trailer

Criterion Blu-ray review: Jean Renoir’s La Chienne (1931)

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