Inspired by the international success of Dirty Harry and The French Connection in 1971, the Italian poliziotteschi quickly became a versatile genre reflecting the political paranoia and nihilism of the ’70s; three recently viewed movies show a range of approaches to the genre.
Severin Films recent Blu-ray special edition of Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s Jack the Ripper (1959) is ambitious but compromised; the atmospheric horror film is presented in three different versions, all of which have serious issues with the transfers (print damage in one case and incorrect aspect ratios in the other two). More satisfying, technically and creatively, is Severin’s Blu-ray edition of Richard Stanley’s typically idiosyncratic documentary The Otherworld (2013).
Arrow Video’s commitment to genre releases is on full display in a selection of recently viewed Blu-rays, each featuring informative supplements: the Japanese juvenile delinquent series Stray Cat Rock, Don Coscarelli’s epic Phantasm series, a pair of Gothic gialli from Emilio P. Miraglia, and Spanish director J.P. Simon’s adaptation of Brit author Shaun Hutson’s gross-out novel Slugs.
Criterion have released a gorgeous restoration of Ermanno Olmi’s 1978 masterpiece The Tree of Wooden Clogs, supplementing this immersive epic of 19th Century peasant life with several epics which explore the origins of the project and Olmi’s methods of working with his remarkable non-professional cast.