Another assortment of horror, fantasy, murder, madness and general mayhem from Vinegar Syndrome.
Several new (and a couple of slightly older ) releases restore a range of Italian horrors from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, including a pair of artless movies by Bruno Mattei, Hell of the Living Dead (1980) and Rats: Night of Terror (1984); one of Mario Bava’s finest (and most perverse) Gothics, The Whip and the Body (1963), as well as his final made-for-television work, La Venere d’Ille (1979), co-directed by his son Lamberto; and a 4K restoration of Lucio Fulci’s gore masterpiece City of the Living Dead (1980).
Collector’s Editions from 88 Films provide an opportunity to re-evaluate two familiar Italian horror movies. My opinion of Pupi Avati’s creepy Zeder (1983), always favourable, has been confirmed, while I now have a new appreciation of Mario Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), which I’d always seen as a minor and not entirely successful addition to his filmography.
It’s taken me a while to work through some of the many Severin box sets that have been piling up over the past year – the folk horror set All the Haunts Be Ours, House of Psychotic Women and the latest set of Italian movies Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection – along with some 4K special editions of movies by Dario Argento and Alex de la Iglesia.
Indicator start the new year with some impressive Blu-ray sets, including a massive 10-disk tribute to amateur filmmaker Michael J. Murphy whose five-decade career produced three dozen features in multiple genres; a two-disk set of the first two adventures of Mexico’s most famous masked wrestler, Santo, which includes a fascinating history of popular cinema in Mexico; and another two-disk set with three different cuts of Sergio Sollima’s first western, The Big Gundown (1967).
Arrow’s Gothic Fantastico box set gathers together four lesser-known Italian genre movies from the mid-’60s from the period when Gothic horror flourished between Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and the rise of the giallo later in the decade, while Sergio Bergonzelli’s Blood Delirium (1988) from Vinegar Syndrome is a garish throwback long after the Gothic had faded away.
Cauldron Films casts a wide net with their recent releases: Contraband (1980), a violent thriller by Lucio Fulci, is joined by Eloy de la Iglesia’s homage to A Clockwork Orange, Murder in a Blue World (1973), Jordan Graham’s mysterious folk horror Sator (2019) and Karoly Ujj Meszaros wistful Hungarian fantasy Liza the Fox Fairy (2015).