Entertainment knows no bounds in terms of style or quality: recent viewing ranges from Walter Hill’s gripping Vietnam allegory Southern Comfort (1981) to Kinji Fukusaku’s pulp sci-fi The Green Slime (1968), from Richard Franklin’s Ozploitation horror Patrick (1978) to Robert Amram’s perplexing End Times “documentary” The Late Great Planet Earth (1979).
Two excellent recent Blu-ray releases illuminate different strains of British fantasy. They Came to a City (1944), written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Basil Dearden is a Utopian political fable proposing a new Socialist society for post-war Britain, while Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1959) spins an epic tale of human evolution and our innate propensity for violence through the story of an ancient spaceship discovered buried beneath London.
Three very different features – Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), John Guillermin’s Town on Trial (1957) and Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned (1960) – illuminate the varied pleasures offered by genre in the hands of seriously committed filmmakers.
A brief survey of recent viewing ranging from classics to contemporary, from class to cheese: thrillers, sci-fi and horror featuring black magic, killer robots, demons, evil stepdads and retro-’50s rock-n-roll biker gangs.
Olive Films’ Signature edition of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) does full justice to this classic of 1950s sci-fi/horror with an excellent transfer and a rich collection of extras, which include two commentaries and a stack of featurettes about the film, director Siegel and producer Walter Wanger.
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.
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.
Winnipeg filmmaker and author Caelum Vatnsdal spent several years researching the life of everyone’s favourite ubiquitous supporting actor Dick Miller and the resulting biography is every bit as entertaining as the roles Miller has played through six decades in the movie business.
I’ve recently sampled a broad range of movies from Arrow Video, from Japanese classics to obscure gialli, recent horror and an original and disturbing Mexican movie which combines marital drama, dark eroticism and a very disturbing alien.
Brief notes on recent random viewing choices; a mixed bag of horror, fantasy, action, genre revisionism, satire and political thrillers.