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.

Fall 2023 viewing: Arrow Video

Cloistermouth (Nicholas Hoye) panics when he realizes his privileged position is threatened in John Mackenzie's Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971)

A selection of new and slightly older Arrow releases range from ’70s Japanese gangster movies by Kinji Fukasaku to David Cronenberg’s icy adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1996), from an early feature by John Mackenzie combining a satire of class with psychological suspense to a sampler of sci-fi and horror movies produced in the ’80s by Charles Band’s Empire International Pictures.

Two Godzilla novellas by Shigeru Kayama

A star is born: Big G, woken by an A-bomb test, is very angry in Ishiro Honda's Gojira (1954)

The publication of a pair of novellas aimed at young adults, first published in 1955 and now translated for the first time into English, adds an interesting footnote to the history of Godzilla and restores writer Shigeru Kayama to his key place as the creator of the original story which was adapted by Ishiro Honda and Takeo Murata into the classic Gojira (1954).

Fall 2023 viewing, part one

Detective Luigi Mackeroni (Udo Samel) and his cross-dressing partner Babette (Leonard Lansink) face an unusual foe in Martin Walz's Killer Condom (1996)

As always, writing falls behind viewing and I’ve missed mentioning some disks that deserved at least a comment – so here are some quick notes on recent releases from Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome and some smaller labels covering a wide range of genres from spaghetti westerns to East European animation, from low-budget sci-fi to documentary, from comedy to horror to exploitation.

Recent Asian releases from Eureka

Disillusioned Christians Shiro Amakusa (Kenji Sawada) and Hosokawa Gracia (Akiko Kana) return from the dead to seek revenge in Kenji Fukasaku's Samurai Reincarnation (1981)

Eureka, and their specialty label Masters of Cinema, continue to release a range of Asian films, from pulp action to classical tragedy. Among recent releases are a two-disk set of four sequels to Rickay Lau’s Mr. Vampire (1985), Cynthia Rothrock’s first lead role in Mang Hoi & Corey Yuen’s Lady Reporter (1989), and a pair of very different samurai epics: Tadashi Imai’s bleak dissection of the Bushido code in Revenge (1964) and Kenji Fukasaku’s mix of history and supernatural horror in Samurao Reincarnation (1981).

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car (2021): Criterion Blu-ray review

Intimacy is unavoidable in the confined space of a car in Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car (2021)

Taking its time, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s award-winning Drive My Car (2021) begins with a sense of detached observation and gradually draws you into emotional depths as its characters come to know each other and themselves during the process of rehearsing a performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima. Criterion’s Blu-ray presentation features a beautiful image, supplemented with a making-of, an interview with Hamaguchi and a press conference from Cannes.

Blasts from the past

Video Nasties Revisted

The limits of list-making

Not exactly back to normal

A 3D New Year

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