The films of Eloy de la Iglesia

El Jaro (Jose Luis Manzano) turns to petty crime and drugs in Eloy de la Iglesia's Navajeros (1980)

Severin introduces the work of Eloy de la Iglesia, a little-known Basque filmmaker with three releases spanning the period from the end of the Franco regime to the transition to democracy in Spain. Two thrillers with a satirical edge made in the early ’70s give way to a trilogy of violent, neo-realist depictions of youth crime and drug addiction in the early ’80s. Dynamic and visceral, these films are deeply empathetic to members of the underclass – workers and dispossessed adolescents – and unflinching in their treatment of addiction and homosexuality in a repressive society.

Cauldron Films, round three

Altair (Diana Bovio) stands in the midst of a bird storm in Victor Dryere's 1974: La posesión de Altair (2016)

The latest releases from Cauldron Films are a pair of little-known found-footage horror movies which both have their moments, but suffer from the genre’s frequent shortcomings. Mike Costanza’s The Collingswood Story (2002) was the first movie to use on-line video chat as a storytelling medium, while Victor Dryere’s 1974: La posesión de Altair (2016) goes back to pre-video times, using super-8 home movies to show a young married couple under supernatural attack in rural Mexico.

Vinegar Syndrome Partners

Mr. Sunshine (Anthony Dawson) isn't interested in sharing the loot from a bank robbery in Roland Klick's Deadlock (1970)
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Vinegar Syndrome distributes a number of smaller labels which offer a wide range of genre releases, from the ultra-low-budget Wakaliwood productions of Nabawana I.G.G. in Uganda to the impressively polished small-budget sci-fi of Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl’s Prospect (2018), from the gritty ’80s exploitation of Norbert Meisel’s Walking the Edge (1983) to the mythic spaghetti western-noir of Roland Klick’s Deadlock (1970).

Recent Arrow box sets

Three recent box sets from Arrow will satisfy a wide range of genre appetites with five thrillers from Italy in the ’70s, four spaghetti westerns from the ’60s, and Daiei’s 1966 trilogy of period fantasies featuring a statue which comes to life to punish various cruel warlords who oppress local peasants.

Not exactly back to normal

Surgeon Charles (Rufus Sewell) loses his tenuous grip on reality in M. Night Shyamalan's Old (2021)

Wanting to see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, I braced myself and went to a theatre for the first time in more than a year-and-a-half. The movie was effectively creepy, but the theatre was scarier – almost deserted, with a haunting air of the End Times about it. A staff person checked my vaccine status, but no one even bothered to look at my ticket and after the show I got an email from the theatre chain thanking me for going and pleading with me to come again soon.

Karloff at Columbia on Eureka Blu-ray

Dr. John Garth (Boris Karloff) is distracted by a murderer's impulses in Nick Grinde's Before I Hang (1940)

Eureka’s new two-disk Blu-ray release Karloff at Columbia is a real treat for fans of the iconic actor. Although it begins with Roy William Neill’s atmospheric period Gothic The Black Room (1935), the bulk of the set is devoted to what became known as the Mad Doctor Cycle, five extremely low-budget sci-fi tinged horrors in which Karloff plays scientists dabbling in research which the establishment frowns on; the authorities’ resistance tends to push him over into madness and murder and mayhem ensue. Long held in low esteem, these cheap movies are all entertaining and Karloff delivers sincere performances no matter how silly the trappings occasionally become.