Bloody Terror: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J Warren (1976-1987) | Indicator’s frightfully fantastic box-set dedicated to the British cult horror auteur

One of British genre cinema’s most distinctive independent filmmakers, Norman J Warren made a series of horror films that were at the forefront of a new wave in British horror during the 1970s. Reflecting a period of permissiveness and fearlessness, Warren’s distinctive stylings are far removed from the Gothic conventions of Hammer Films, deliberately upped the ante in terms of sex, violence and gore to create a new breed of horror that was designed to shock for shock’s sake.

Now, five of Norman J Warren’s cult chillers are presented in new restorations on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK, along with a wealth of new and archival extras, in a strictly limited edition box-set from Indicator (out 29 July 2019).

My review is coming soon, but here’s what’s lurking inside…

SATAN’S SLAVE (1976) – UK Blu-ray premiere
• 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
• Original mono audio
• Two presentations of the film: the director’s cut (89 mins); and the export version (90 mins)
• Audio commentary with Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray (2004)
• Audio commentary with Warren and composer John Scott (2019)
• Before the Blood (2019, 29 mins): Warren recalls his earliest experiences in the film industry
• All You Need Is Blood (1976, 13 mins): vintage ‘making of’ documentary, presented in High Definition for the first time
• All You Need Is Blood Outtakes (1976, 33 mins): rare and previously unseen footage shot on location
• Creating Satan (2004, 30 mins): archival documentary featuring interviews with Warren, McGillivray, actor Martin Potter, and others
• Devilish Music (2004, 13 mins): archival interview with John Scott
• Two deleted scenes with commentary by Warren
• Censoring ‘Satan’s Slave’ (2019, 16 mins): video demonstration of the cuts imposed by the British Board of Film Censors in 1976
• Original ‘U’ certificate theatrical trailer
• Original ‘R’-rated theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles

PREY (1977) – UK Blu-ray premiere
• 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with Warren and film historian Jonathan Rigby (2004)
• The BEHP Interview with Norman J Warren – Part One (2018, 60 mins): archival video recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring Warren in conversation with Martin Sheffield
• Keep on Running (2004, 28 mins): archival documentary on the making of Prey, featuring interviews with Warren, actor Sally Faulkner, producer Terry Marcel, and others
• On-set Footage (1977, 3 mins): rare behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Warren
• The Bridge (1955–57, 7 mins): rare footage from Warren’s ambitious early film project about a pilot on a mission to locate a bridge in Germany during World War II, with optional director’s commentary
• Making ‘The Bridge’ (1957, 2 mins): rare and previously unseen footage with commentary by Warren
Carol (1962, 3 mins): mute test footage from Warren’s unrealised feature about teenage pregnancy and backstreet abortion, featuring Georgina Hale and Michael Craze, with optional director’s commentary
• Drinkin Time (1963, 3 mins): silent comedy short directed by Warren
• ‘Drinkin Time’ Introduction by Norman J Warren (2019, 4 mins)
• Whipper Snappers (c1977, 1 min): toy advertisement directed by Warren
• ‘Whipper Snappers’ Introduction by Norman J Warren (2019, 4 mins)
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles

TERROR (1978) – UK Blu-ray premiere
• 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray (2004)
• The Early Years (2019, 17 mins): Warren recalls his first films as director
Bloody Good Fun (2004, 41 mins): archival documentary on the making of Terror featuring interviews with Warren, McGillivray, actors Carolyn Courage, Mary Maude, James Aubrey and Elaine Ives-Cameron, and others
• Tales of Terror (2019, 13 mins): actor John Nolan reflects on Terror’s production
• Norman J Warren: A Sort of Autobiography (2004, 28 mins): archival interview with the director
• Four extended scenes, with introductions by Warren
• Norman J Warren Presents Horrorshow (2008, 33 mins): anthology film of five horror tales, hosted by Warren
• Daddy Cross (2011, 2 mins): trailer for a 1978 ‘lost film’, with voice-over by Warren
• Original theatrical trailer
• French theatrical trailer
• TV spot
• Radio spot
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles

INSEMINOID (1981) – World Blu-ray premiere
• 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with Warren and assistant director Gary White (2004)
• The BEHP Interview with Norman J Warren – Part Two (2018, 67 mins): archival video recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring Warren in conversation with Martin Sheffield
• Norman J Warren at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films (2011, 62 mins): archival video recording of the director in conversation with horror author John Llewellyn Probert
• Subterranean Universe (2004, 45 mins): archival documentary on the making of Inseminoid, featuring interviews with Warren, actors Stephanie Beacham, David Baxt and Barry Houghton, and others
• Alien Encounter (2019, 6 mins): actor Trevor Thomas recalls playing the part of Mitch
• Electronic Approach (2004, 13 mins): archival interview with composer John Scott
• Original theatrical trailers
• Horror Planet teaser trailer
• TV spot
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles

BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987) – UK Blu-ray premiere
• 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with Warren and film historian Jo Botting (2019)
• Norman’s Wisdom (2019, 29 mins): Warren discusses some of the lesser-known areas of his career, including his work in television and documentaries
• New Blood (2019, 16 mins): actor Catherine Roman warmly remembers her first film role
• The Art of Blood (2019, 15 mins): screenwriter and set dresser Frazer Pearce relates the production history of Bloody New Year
• Fights, Camera, Action! (2019, 11 mins): actor and stuntman Steve Emerson recalls his work with Warren on Terror and Bloody New Year
• Working with Warren (2019, 10 mins): interview with filmmaker and Warren collaborator Yixi Sun
• Turn Off Your Bloody Phone: Norman J Warren and the Ghost (2013, 1 min): short produced for FrightFest, starring Warren, Sun, and David McGillivray
• Original trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles

Advertisements

Scum | Alan Clarke’s brutal borstal drama still shocks 40 years on!

After the banning of their original 1977 BBC TV version, director Alan Clarke (The Firm) and writer Roy Minton (Funny Farm) set out to remake their drama, Scum. The resulting film, released now in a special UK Blu-ray edition to mark its 40th anniversary, was an even more vitriolic portrait of a corrupt and violent institution which stunned cinema audiences and caused outrage…

Scum (1979)

IN BORSTAL SURVIVAL RULES!
Young offenders Carlin (Ray Winstone), Angel (Alrick Riley) and Davis (Julian Firth) are sent to a tough British borstal in the country where they are brutalised by inmates and governors alike. After being singled out by Banks (John Blundell), the existing ‘Daddy’ on his wing, Carlin fights back, rising to the top of the prisoner heap. But for Angel and Davis life behind bars is much harder to take, especially so for Davis who takes his own life after a terrifying gang rape…

Scum (1979)

I’M THE F***ING DADDY NOW!
Roy Minton‘s script lays bare the brutal reality of British borstals, which were intended to reform young offenders, but ended up becoming breeding grounds for the next generation of hardened criminals. From the fire and brimstone governor (Peter Howell), sadistic wing head Mr Sands (John Judd) and his thuggish officers to ineffectual house master Goodyear (John Grillo) and an uncaring matron (Jo Kendall), there is not one sympathetic character amongst the staff in charge of the boys, who are so desperately in need of guidance, understanding and discipline, but end up being treated with brutal force and intimidation.

Set essentially in a boarding school with bars, Clarke’s film evokes the rebellious ‘two-fingers up at the establishment’ spirit of Lindsay Anderson’s If… (1968), and this is perfect captured in the film’s (improvised) riot scene in which the inmates vent their anger in response to Davis’ suicide. There are also shades of A Clockwork Orange in there, especially in Grillo’s greasy house master, who reminded me of Anthony Sharp’s sleazy Minister of the Interior in Kubrick’s film. Cinematically, the film is shot with a documentary flair, while its wintery exterior scenes are reminiscent of the paintings of LS Lowry.

Scum (1979)

Grim and overwhelming in its squalid sense of reality, the film is a fist in the face in terms of its foul language, racial and religious taunts (politically incorrect by today’s standards), graphic violence and male rape scene, while the acting from the young cast, including future famous faces like Mick Ford, Phil Daniels and Ray Burdis, is uniformly excellent. 40 years on, Scum still resonates (the snooker ball in a sock scene is iconic). But how much has really changed with regards to how we treat our young offenders?

The Indicator Limited Edition Blu-ray release includes the following special features…

• 2K restoration from the original negative, newly re-graded and approved by director of photography Phil Méheux
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with actor Ray Winstone and film critic Nigel Floyd (2006)
No Luxuries (2019, 20 mins): actor Mick Ford looks at his character of Archer
An Outbreak of Acting (2019, 16 mins): actor Ray Burdis on returning to the role of Eckersley for the feature film
Smashing Windows (2019, 12 mins): actor Perry Benson recalls the daily experiences of being on set
Continuous Tension (2019, 18 mins): director of photography Phil Méheux analyses the documentary approach of his cinematography
Criminal Record (2019, 10 mins): associate producer Martin Campbell on remaking the banned teleplay for the big screen
Back to Borstal (2019, 32 mins): executive producer Don Boyd reflects on his efforts to reinvigorate British cinema in the late 1970s
Concealing the Art (2019, 30 mins): veteran editor Michael Bradsell recalls collaborating with Alan Clarke
That Kind of Casting (2019, 22 mins): casting director Esta Charkham on the influence the Anna Scher Theatre had on production
• Interview with Roy Minton and Clive Parsons (1999, 16 mins)
• Interview with Roy Minton (2005, 20 mins)
• Interview with Davina Belling and Clive Parsons (2005, 9 mins)
• Interview with Don Boyd (2005, 13 mins)
• Cast Memories (2005, 17 mins): archive interviews with Phil Daniels, Julian Firth, Mick Ford and David Threlfall
• Original ‘U’ and ‘X’ certificate theatrical trailers
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles
• Limited edition collector’s book
• Limited edition exclusive double-sided poster

Def-Con 4 | This 1980s post-apocalyptic sci-fi hasn’t aged well

Two months after the planet is ravaged by nuclear war, three astronauts stationed aboard a defence satellite – Howe (Babylon 5‘s Tim Choate), Jordan (Meatball‘s Kate Lynch) and Walker (John Walsch) – are forced to return to Earth when a hostile computer programme takes over their system.

On the ground, they encounter a lawless world where cannibalistic marauders roam and a young military despot (Kevin King) wants control of the last remaining fallout shelters. The gang’s only hope in survival lies in making an unlikely alliance with an eccentric survivalist (Nero Wolfe‘s Maury Chaykin)…

This 1985 Canadian sci-fi adventure from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures joined the wave of low-budget post-apocalyptic Mad Max 2 copycats that came out during the decade.

It’s a right bargain bin affair, with cheap production design, poor performances, a ham-fisted script and little in the way of action, excitement or anything else for that matter. And there’s nothing in the movie that suggests the atmospheric film poster bearing the skeletal remains of an astronaut in a desolate landscape ( a la Planet of the Apes).

The only redeeming feature is that the sci-fi romp features an early score from Christopher Young (who has composed of host of film genre titles from Hellraiser to the Pet Sematary reboot). Director Paul Donovan, meanwhile, went on to produce, write and direct a much more superior sci-fi, the TV series Lexx.

I’m sure it has its fans, but Def-Con 4 gets a big no from me and doesn’t really deserve a restoration. Nice packaging and artwork though.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• New 2K restoration from the original 35mm interpositive
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original lossless mono soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles
Brave New World: interview with editor Michael Spence
Nemesis Descending: interview with composer Christopher Young
• Interview with author Chris Poggiali on New World Pictures
• Theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Gary Pullin
• Illustrated collector’s booklet

The Holy Mountain | The German silent that launched Leni Riefenstahl’s career on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes The Holy Mountain, the greatest of the German ‘mountain films’ and the film that launched the career of Leni Riefenstahl , digitally restored in 2K and presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK as a part of The Masters of Cinemas Series.

German filmmaker Arnold Fanck made this beautifully photographed Bergfilm, or ‘mountain film’, in 1926. Written in three days and nights – especially for Riefenstahl, who would go on to direct the Nazi propaganda films, Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933), Triumph of the Will (1935), and Tag der Freiheit (1935) – The Holy Mountain (aka Der Heilige Berg) took over a year to film at the Atelier Staaken studio in Berlin and on mountain locations in Switzerland, with an entourage of expert skiers and climbers.

Ostensibly a tragic love triangle romance – between Riefenstahl’s young dancer and two mountain climbers, Vigo (Ernst Petersen) and his older friend (Luis Trenker) – Fanck relishes the glorious Alpine landscape by filming death-defying climbing, avalanche dodging, and frenetic downhill ski racing.

Digitally restored in 2K, The Holy Mountain is a visual feast – and a fascinating look at the origin of a genre.

Order via the Eureka Store or Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a 2014 2K digital restoration
• Score by Aljoscha Zimmerman, available in both LPCM 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1
• Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993, 180 mins) – Ray Müller’s Emmy award-winning documentary on Leni Reifenstahl. In German, with subtitles.
• Audio commentary by film historian Travis Crawford
• Collector’s booklet

Two classic Amicus horror anthologies, The House That Dripped Blood & Asylum, get a limited edition UK Blu-ray release

On 29 July 2019, Second Sight Films will release Limited Edition UK Blu-ray releases of the Amicus horror anthologies – The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum. Each release will be presented in a stunning box set featuring original artwork from Graham Humphreys alongside a host of special features, including essays from horror aficionados and a collector’s booklet.

Written by Robert Bloch, 1971’s The House That Dripped Blood sees Denholm Elliott, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt taking centre stage in four tales of terror that unfold as a Scotland Yard’s Inspector Holloway investigates a mysterious mansion with a ghoulish history and a chilling fate for its occupants…

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Peter Duffell and author Jonathan Rigby
• Audio commentary with film historian and author Troy Howarth
• Interview with Second Assistant director Mike Higgins
A Rated Horror Film: Vintage featurette featuring interviews with director Peter Duffell and 
actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt and Chloe Franks
• Theatrical Trailers
• Radio Spots
• Stills Gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys and original artwork

PRE-ORDER NOW FROM AMAZON

Directed by Roy Ward Baker from another scare-tastic screenplay from Robert Bloch, 1972’s Asylum sees Robert Powell playing a young doctor attending a job interview at a secluded asylum for the incurably insane, where he hears the macabre stories of four inmates to determine which is the former head of the asylum. The all-star cast includes Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Barbara Parkins and Patrick Magee.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker and camera operator Neil Binney
Two’s a Company: 1972 On-set BBC report featuring interviews with producer Milton 
Subotsky, director Roy Ward Baker, actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, 
Art Director Tony Curtis and production manager Teresa Bolland
• Screenwriter David J Schow on Robert Bloch
• Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton
Inside The Fear Factory: Featurette with directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and 
producer Max J Rosenberg
• Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys and original artwork

PRE-ORDER NOW FROM AMAZON

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS FOR EACH RELEASE
• Rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys
• 40 page booklet with new essays by Allan Bryce, Jon Towlson and Kat Ellinger
• Reversible poster featuring new and original artwork

 

Track 29 | Nicolas Roeg and Dennis Potter’s bizarre psycho-drama gets a world Blu-ray premiere release

Freely adapted from Dennis Potter’s 1974 BBC TV play Schmoedipus, this weird psycho-drama sees director Nicolas Roeg toying with his audience as he describes the hallucinations of a mind going off the rails.

Theresa Russell (making her fourth of six films with her director husband) is Linda, the unhappy wife to Dr Henry Henry (Christopher Lloyd) who is more interested in his model trains than her. As Linda contemplates suicide, demons torment her, chiefly the vision of a strange English hitch-hiker Martin (Gary Oldman) who says he’s her long-lost son…

Oldman (doing a satanic variation on Norman Wisdom) is the dynamo that galvanises this bizarre black comedy into life. Overloaded with arthouse conceits bordering on the pretentious, this is Roeg at his most Roegish, and probably the weirdest ever film to be produced by George Harrison’s Hand Made Films. Look out for some suitably surreal supporting turns from Sandra Bernhard and Colleen Camp.

The Indicator limited edition world premiere Blu-ray release includes the following features…

• High Definition remaster
• Original stereo audio
• The NFT Interview with Nicolas Roeg (1994, 68min): archival audio recording
• Audio commentary with filmmaker and historian Jim Hemphill
Postcards from Cape Fear (2019, 18min): actor Colleen Camp on working with Nicolas Roeg
On the Right Track (2019, 10min): interview with editor Tony Lawson
An Air of Mystery (2019, 6min): interview with costume designer Shuna Harwood
Buzz and Gossip (2019, 15min): interview with sound mixer David Stephenson
• Isolated music & effects track
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles
• Exclusive booklet with a new essays, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits

Little Did You Know: The Confessions of David McGillivray | Sanitary wipes at the ready! You won’t be able to put down this unbridled tell-all!

Described by Jonathan Ross as ‘a comedy legend’ and journalist Matthew Sweet as ‘the Truffaut of smut’, David McGillivray is best known to cult film fans as the writer behind Pete Walker and Norman J Warren’s exploitation classics Satan’s Slaves and Frightmare amongst others, but this outrageously funny man also had his ‘sticky’ hand in writing a host of British sex comedies in the 1970s, and for providing his best mate Julian Clary with some of his most salacious gags.

And to quote Clary, it’s time to ‘break out the sanitary wipes’ as McGillivray reveals how his anti-establishment lifestyle stretches back to his teenage years and journeys six decades, taking us through the cocaine-lined world of London’s media industry, the tragic heights of the AIDS epidemic, and the sinful celluloid backstreets of Soho.

The grandson of an acrobat, McGillivray (born 7 September 1947) knew from the age of four and a half that he wanted to get into the movies. His wish was granted virtually from the day he was expelled from school – except that, instead of starring in films, he packed them. Briefly the UK’s youngest film critic, McGillivray wrote his first film – a travelogue about Yugoslavia – when he was 23, then moved onto a succession of cheap shockers and skin flicks. After Margaret Thatcher dealt killer blows to the UK’s independent film industry, McGillivray found alternative employment in radio, TV and theatre, becoming Clary’s long-serving scriptwriter.

Around the year 2000, he put these careers temporarily on hold as he began hosting wild drug-fuelled parties at his home in London’s King’s Cross district. They were attended by some of the biggest names of stage, screen, music and fashion. The revelations of what went on under the figurative noses of law enforcement agencies and the literal noses of McG and his high-flying guests are not for the faint-hearted…

You’ll be shocked and amused in equal measures at what this ‘bossy, annally retentive gay drug dealer with a penchant for pornography’ (McGillivray’s own description of himself) reveals between the pages of his unbridled autobiography, one that you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve read every single witty word and wildly adventurous anecdote. I can’t wait for the film adaptation!

Little Did You Know: The Confessions of David McGillivray is available from 1 June (online) and hits the high streets on 1 August.

Order now direct from FAB PRESS

Killer Party | It’s the event to die for!

When teenage thieves Caspar (Sam Strike), Iris (Virginia Gardner) and Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall) infiltrate a mansion dinner party, they have plans for pulling off an easy heist. Little do they know that the dinner party is actually being hosted by for a group of recovering serial killers. Once the mansion owners realise they are about to be robbed, all hell breaks loose…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each of our would-be thieves have their reasons for attempting one last heist to ensure a better life, but not even the best of intentions will save them from the party’s killer line-up. John Wick regular Lance Reddick carries a remarkable gravitas as the ‘recovering’ murderers’ de facto leader, YouTuber-turned-actor Kian Lawley’s cranks up a disturbing turn as the sleazy son, and Charmed‘s Julian McMahon has a whole lot of scenery-chewing fun as the family patriarch.

From the energetic camerawork and music to some imaginative feats of bloody ultra violence and the lashings of black humour, Killer Party is an event to die for!

Out on DVD and Blu-ray 27 May 2019 from Altitude Film Entertainment

Demonlover | Olivier Assayas’ neo-noir/cyber thriller unleashed on Blu-ray

Twenty years after David Cronenberg prophesied the dark side of the Internet age in Videodrome, acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep) updated it for the New Millennium in his startlingly prescient 2002 thriller Demonlover, a chilling exploration of the nexus between sex and violence available at the click of a button.

Up-and-coming executive Diane (Connie Nielsen) lets nothing stand in her way when it comes to landing the lucrative Tokyo Anime contract for the Volf Corporation, guaranteeing worldwide exclusive rights to the latest in cutting-edge hentai.

Despised by her assistant (Chloë Sevigny) and engaged in a risky game of corporate espionage, her ruthless ambition meets its match in Elaine (Gina Gershon), the charismatic representative of an American Internet porn company called Demonlover.

However, the company is only the front for an online portal to the Hellfire Club, which gives its users control over the next big thing in interactive extreme pornography: real women, tortured according to subscribers’ whims, in real time.

Diane wants a piece of the action, and will stop at nothing to get it; but as she delves deeper into the twisted world of the Hellfire Club, reality slips away and the stakes of the game are raised to the point of no return.

Armed with a pounding score by Sonic Youth, Assayas’ neo-noir/cyber horror is finally unleashed for the first time on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy, with revealing extras and a new director-approved restoration.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of the 121-minute director’s cut, approved by Olivier Assayas
• High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentation
• Original 5.1 DTS-HD master audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Audio commentary by writer/director Olivier Assayas
• New visual essay written and narrated by critic Jonathan Romney
Peripherie de Demonlover: Behind-the-scenes documentary directed by Yorick Le Saux
• Archive interviews with Olivier Assayas, Connie Nielsen, Chloë Sevigny and Charles Berling
SY NYC 12/12/01: The Demonlover Sessions: a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the recording of the music score by Sonic Youth
• Q&A with Olivier Assayas filmed at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2003
• Extended version of the Hellfire Club sequence
• Original theatrical trailers
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson

The Damned | Book Review

Andy Ellis reviews The Damned by Nick Riddle.

I’ve just finished this excellent book on Hammer’s sci-fi gem (which was originally released in the UK on 20 May 1963) – highly recommended for fans of Hammer, Joseph Losey, British sci-fi, and quality film criticism. It’s the latest in the Constellations series published by Auteur, who also do the terrific Devil’s Advocates series. This one is up there with that series’ books on Frenzy and Witchfinder General (both by Ian Cooper), Suspiria (by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas), Texas Chain Saw Massacre (by James Rose) and Dead of Night (by Jez Connolly & David Owain Bates).

It covers the historical context of the film, its links to preceding and following genre works, and to other of Losey’s films, and themes of what the author describes as a ‘genre-hopping story that explores the links between youth culture, authority and nuclear terror’. Intelligent, but accessible writing – like a greatly extended version of those incisive paragraphs in one of Jonathan Rigby’s books on a key film [please do a book-length in-depth study of one film, Mr Rigby !]. Fascinating observations on aspects like the use of Elisabeth Frink’s sculpture, the musical score, the performances, and the camera work – I especially enjoyed his in-depth analysis of 2 or 3 key sequences.

Riddle is not afraid to discuss the films flaws, especially some plot points and Shirley Anne Field’s acting, although some of these contribute to the film’s overall impact. Like all the Auteur books, it suffers slightly from having very few illustrations, but the descriptions of scenes is very good. The book really makes me want to watch the film again – I learnt so much that I’d not spotted or thought about before. I’ve always liked The Damned, but I now rate it as one of Hammer’s greatest achievements. All together now, “Black leather, black leather, rock, rock, rock…”

%d bloggers like this: