Although a very prolific director (of mostly television) from the 1950s to the ’90s, Paul Wendkos isn’t a well-known name today, though at his best he had a real flair for unsettling visuals which suited the burgeoning paranoia of the ’70s. That style is well showcased in The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970) and The Mephisto Waltz (1971).
Indicator’s first box set of Hammer films on Blu-ray is an uneven selection of the studio’s mid-’60s output, including two of their best along with two of their weakest releases. Alongside Michael Carreras’ mediocre Maniac (1963) and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), we get The Gorgon (1964), on of Terence Fisher’s finest Gothic horrors along with Silvio Narizzano’s debut feature, Fanatic (1965, aka Die! Die! My Darling!), the best of Hammer’s psychological horrors, all sporting excellent transfers and informative special features.
The discovery of a previously unknown documentary, Robert Kaylor’s Derby (1971), plus a Blu-ray edition of Stephanie Rothman’s Terminal Island (1973), a rough-and-ready exploitation B-movie, are of much greater interest than Jack Cardiff’s Holiday in Spain (1960), a bloated mainstream Cinerama showcase which dresses its travelogue in a tissue-thin “mystery” plot.
Recent viewing runs the horror gamut from the low-budget exploitation of David Cronenberg’s debut, Shivers, to George Romero’s bid for studio respectability with a pair of adaptations in the late ’80s and early ’90s, to a really creepy Australian first feature, Jennifer Kent’s remarkably assured The Babadook.
Genre, of course, is not limited to the fantastic — science fiction, fantasy, horror. Contemporary and historical dramas can also fall within genre boundaries. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve) Denis Villeneuve’s thriller was much-praised by critics and audiences alike, and yet it struck me as a genre movie desperate to convince its viewers that it was actually […] Read More
Basil Dearden’s The Bells Go Down, which I wrote about last week, is just one of a number of disks I recently received from England. Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia, but the past few years I’ve been digging back into British film – partly seeking out titles I have memories of from long ago, […] Read More