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.
Style trumps substance in several recently viewed movies: from Stefano Sollima’s troubling depiction of mythic threats on the U.S. southern border in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) to Julius Avery’s disappointing exploitation of World War Two horrors for cheap thrills in Overlord (2018), from Drew Goddard’s ersatz Tarantino-like narrative play in Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) to Kenneth Branagh’s glossy rehash of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (2017).
Indicator lavish attention on four less well-known, non-Gothic Hammer Films productions in their second box set devoted to the company: Criminal Intent focuses on a range of bad behaviour from murder to bank robbery and child molestation in four films which, while not all entirely successful, illuminate the studio’s versatility.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More brief notes on recent random viewing choices; another mixed bag of classic fantasy, generic thrillers, dramas drawn form real life, spectacular martial arts and gritty war action, and a scattershot, off-the-wall satire by “the world’s worst living director”.
Brief notes on recent random viewing choices; a mixed bag of horror, fantasy, action, genre revisionism, satire and political thrillers.