The usual year-end round-up – not necessarily the best movies or disks, but some of the ones I most enjoyed, from high art to entertaining trash. The sheer range of what’s available should lay to rest any lingering rumours about the demise of physical media.
Among recently viewed Arrow Blu-rays are a classic Italian political satire, a scrappy independent from Dayton, Ohio, a dark children’s fantasy, an end-of-the-world romance, and a violently stylish Japanese series of women-in-prison movies.
From trash to art, boxed sets enhance the viewing experience by providing a broader context for individual movies – here, four more features from William Castle, The Trilogy of Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and a grab bag of five horrors from poverty row distributor Hemisphere.
Horror, westerns science fiction, crime, magic, demons, vampires, zombies, witches, a one-legged detective, people trapped in a deadly house, a damsel in distress and a film editor driven mad by cheap exploitation movies …
Another eclectic week – Italian gore from Joe D’Amato, regional American exploitation, a pair of Amicus horrors from director Roy Ward Baker, a documentary about Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, and a glorious restoration of the Russian folk-horror Viy.
Some more brief comments on recent viewing: classic horror, Italian crime action from Umberto Lenzi, gender-bending art from France and exploitation from Australia, the U.S. and the Philippines.
More Italian genre movies from the 1970s – horror, giallo and poliziotteschi – along with a gritty American exploitation movie which owes something to the giallo.
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).
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.
Recently viewed Blu-rays from Severin films include a range of Italian horrors featuring zombies, necrophilia and Lovecraftian gods, a revisionist vampire tale from the golden age of Ozploitation, and an unsettling experimental adaptation of a Lovecraft story from Sweden.