Author Archives: Peter Fuller

Vampyr | The uncanny 1932 German horror returns to the big screen with an all-new 2k restoration for its 90th anniversary

“★★★★★ A vampire film like no other… a waking nightmare of eerie, ethereal horror” – Total Film

“As close as you get to a poem on film” – Guillermo del Toro 

Courtesy of Eureka Entertainment comes the release of the 2K restoration of director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s enduring 1932 Germany horror Vampyr, in cinemas (UK & Ireland from 20 May) and on Blu-ray as a part of The Masters of Cinema Series (also 20 May).

The first foray into sound filmmaking by one of cinema’s pivotal artists, Vampyr remains a cornerstone work of the horror genre. The dreamlike tale of an occult-obsessed student’s visit to the small French village of Courtempierre, as he is drawn into the unsettling mystery around a stricken family’s struggle with malevolent forces, remains an unparalleled evocation of the uncanny.

Adapting Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 story, In a Glass Darkly, Dreyer’s ceaseless innovation delivers a tour-de-force of supernatural phantasmagoria and creeping unease, via audacious camera work and sound design, as well as a mesmerising performance from the film’s producer, aristocrat Nicolas de Gunzburg (credited as Julian West), in the central role of occult student, Julian West.

Presented from an all-new 2K restoration by the Danish Film Institute (completed in 2020), and taking more than a decade to complete, this is regarded as the most definitive incarnation of Vampyr possible.

LIMITED-EDITION BLU-RAY (3000 COPIES) FEATURES
• Hardbound Slipcase
• All-new 2K digital restoration of the German version, with an uncompressed mono soundtrack
• Optional unrestored audio track
• Audio commentaries from critic and programmer Tony Rayns and Vampyr fan Guillermo del Toro
• Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer’s Vampyr influences
• Interview with Kim Newman on Vampyr‘s place within vampire cinema
• Two interviews with music historian David Huckvale
Carl Th. Dreyer (1966) – a documentary by Jörgen Roos
• Two deleted scenes, removed by the German censor in 1932
The Baron: short MoC documentary about Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg
• Optional English subtitles
• Collector’s booklet featuring rare production ephemera, a 1964 interview with Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg, and essays by Tom Milne, Jean and Dale Drum, and film restorer Martin Koerber

VAMPYR Limited Edition Blu-ray available to order from the Eureka Store https://eurekavideo.co.uk/movie/vampyr-limited-edition-box-set-3000-copies/

VAMPYR 90th Anniversary Screenings www.vampyr90.co.uk

Demonia (1990) | Lucio Fulci’s satanic sisters shocker gets a UK 4k release

From Arrow Video comes the UK release of the 4K restoration of Lucio Fulci’s 1990 Sicily-set supernatural shocker, Demonia, alongside a stunning array of special extras – including the 2021 documentary Fulci Talks, in which the maverick Italian director spills all about his oeuvre.

While excavating an ancient Greek amphitheatre in southern Sicily, Canadian archaeologist Professor Paul Evans (Brett Halsey) and his team set up camp near a medieval monastery where, in 1486, five heretic nuns were crucified for worshipping the Devil. Evans’ protégé, Liza Harris (Meg Register), has been having visions of the nuns, and when she finds their skeletons in the crypt, she awakens the vengeful spirit of the Abbess. Let the killing begin!

Demonia is by no means one of Fulci’s best films, but it’s not his worst either. In fact, despite its myriad of flaws (like the faulty gauze camera effect) and its serious lack of a decent budget (which Stephen Thrower elucidates on his in his excellent commentary), there’s a lot to like.

First up is Brett Halsey, one of Fulci’s favourite actors. He brings much gravitas to an otherwise lacklustre supporting cast (although his character is a mean-spirited misogynist bastard).

Next are the film’s stunning Sicilian settings, including the Antiquarium di Eraclea Minoa near Agrigento and the monastery of San Pellegrino in Caltabellotta, just an hour’s drive from Palermo (I’m so visiting when I next return to Sicily). Also featured is a deconsecrated church crypt in the town of Sciacca containing real-life corpses (I do hope I can get access, too).

Then there are a couple of disturbing Fulci-esque set pieces, including a baby being burned alive, Lino Salemme’s butcher having his tongue nailed down after being attacked by a carcass of meat, and a young boy watching his father’s intestines spilling out as he is quartered in a trap unwittingly set by the soon-to-be blood-splattered child. Oh, and the award for the most hilarious of Fulci’s eyeball gouging set-ups goes to the cat attack on Carla Cassola’s medium (using obviously stuffed kitties).

To make up the film’s running time, Fulci plays Inspector Carter, who is investigating the murders, and his beloved boat (not the Mornin Lady II) also makes a cameo. Demonia never got a theatrical release, and it wasn’t until 1998 that it made its way to VHS (in Japan) and then DVD in 2001. But now it’s heading to Blu-ray; it’s ripe for a reappraisal.

Demonia is presented here in a brand-new restoration, and unlike the pics I’ve used in this post, it looks terrific (though that gauze effect becomes more noticeable, as do the lame prosthetics). This is the same print that’s used in the Severin Films release in the US, with the same extras ported over. However, Arrow has done UK fans a favour by including the documentary Fulci Talks – surely the last word(s) from the great man himself. Check them out below. Arrow’s release is out on 6 June.

2-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Deluxe crucifix-style packaging featuring original artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kat Ellinger

DISC 1: DEMONIA
• 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• Restored original lossless mono English and Italian soundtracks
• Optional English subtitles
• English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Audio commentary by Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci author Stephen Thrower
Holy Demons: interview (via Skype) with co-writer/assistant director Antonio Tentori
Of Skulls and Bones: an interview with camera operator Sandro Grossi
Fulci Lives!!!: camcorder footage of a visit to the Demonia set, including an interview with Lucio Fulci
• Original trailer

DISC 2: FULCI TALKS
Fulci Talks, a feature-length 2021 documentary based on an in-depth video interview from 1993 in which the director talks about sin, sailing, anarchic cinema, and reevaluation. This is the last word in all things Fulci – who is much more than the Godfather of Gore – and will certainly make you want to track down his earlier work.
• Original lossless mono Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles

Revolver | Sergio Sollima’s radical 1970s crime Italian thriller starring Oliver Reed fires up on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes director Sergio Sollima’s hard-hitting 1970s poliziottesco, Revolver, starring Oliver Reed and Fabio Testi, on Blu-ray from a brand-new 4K restoration as part of the Eureka Classics range. Available from 16 May 2022.

Milan prison warden Vito Cipriani (Reed) finds himself in a moral maze when kidnappers snatch his wife Anna (Agostina Belli) and demand the release of pretty crook Milo Ruiz (Testi).

Allowing Ruiz to escape, Cipriani plans to use him to get his wife back – but it soon becomes clear that powerful forces want Ruiz dead, as he is key to the assassination of a notorious French capitalist.

Gaining help from Ruiz’s lover, Carlotta (Paola Pitagora), to get over the mountain border, the determined lawman heads to Paris with Ruiz in tow to confront the kidnappers!

‘Makes Death Wish look like wishful thinking!’ was the tagline that accompanied Revolver upon its belated 1976 US release (where it was retitled Blood in the Streets), but this 1973 Italian crime thriller is much more than a gun-totting exploitation.

Versatile Italian director and screenwriter Sergio Sollima (17 April 1921 – 1 July 2015), gained international cult status with his trio of groundbreaking spaghetti Westerns, The Big Gundown (1966); Face to Face (1967); and Run, Man, Run (1968), before turning his eye to the poliziotteschi genre with 1970’s Violent City, starring Charles Bronson.

1973’s Revolver was his second crime thriller and again the highly-political, antiauthoritarian filmmaker brings to it his signature allegorical style to great effect. Here it’s all about corruption at the highest level and how his two protagonists find themselves at its mercy.

It’s bleak, hard-hitting and radical, bolstered by a powerhouse performance from Reed (who brings great depth to his character), a charismatic turn from Testi, adrenaline-inducing action scenes on the streets of Paris, and a terrific score from Sollima’s long-time collaborator Ennio Morricone (which includes the maestro’s classic Un Amico theme tune).

Due to poor handling by its producers, the film flopped in Italy and was relegated to the exploitation circuit in the US – but now we can fully appreciate its true worth courtesy of this new 4k restoration. A must-see!

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 4K restoration
  • English and Italian audio options (I preferred the English track as you get Oliver Reed dubbing his own voice, although his accent is rather odd)
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman (who supply some great trivia like Daniel Berreta, who plays pop star Al Niko in the film, is the Italian voice dub for Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • Film scholar Stephen Thrower on Revolver (and director Sollima’s career)
  • Tough Girl: interview with Paola Pitagora (the Italian actress looks back at her time on the film, with some interesting anecdotes about Oliver Reed)
  • Action Man: archival interview with actor Fabio Testi (Filmed in June 2006, the still very handsome former actor discusses his career from stunt man to leading man, including his work with directors Sollima, Lucio Fulci and Stelvio Massi)
  • English credits
  • Original theatrical and international trailers
  • Collector’s booklet featuring essays by Howard Hughes on the making of Revolver and on Ennio Morricone’s ‘Eurocrime’ soundtracks
  • Limited Edition O-Card slipcase [2000 copies]

Available to order from: Eureka Store https://eurekavideo.co.uk/movie/revolver/

Saint-Narcisse (2020) | Bruce LaBruce’s transgressive love letter to 1970s psychosexual thrillers

Since making his debut with 1991’s No Skin Off My Ass, Toronto filmmaker Bruce LaBruce has challenged audiences with his startling, sexually explicit films whose subject matter has included amputee sex, hardcore porn, gang-rape, castration and racially-motivated violence. Following 2013’s Gerontophilia, however, LaBruce changed direction, eschewing the extreme for a more meditative approach to his ongoing fascination with sexual taboos.

With Saint-Narcisse, he has crafted his most accomplished piece of transgressive cinema to date. Nominated for the Queer Lion award at Venice Film Festival, this anarchic love letter to 1970s psychosexual thrillers looks certain to mark a turning point for queer cinema’s former enfant terrible. But never fear; he still has a few shocks in store – this time, its twincest. 

Félix-Antoine Duval stars as 22-year-old Dominic, a sexually-adventurous young man in love with his reflection but doesn’t really know himself fully. Finding some unopened letters in his grandmothers’ closet, he discovers a family secret: his mother Beatrice (Tania Kontoyanni) didn’t die in childbirth. Determined to uncover the truth, Dominic heads to the parish town of Saint-Narcisse, north of Montreal, where he is shocked to find a tombstone inscribed with his name and date of death in a local graveyard.

Finally tracking down his mother (who the locals have labelled a witch), he discovers she’s a lesbian who was excommunicated by the church and was led to believe Dominic was stillborn. Now she lives in exile in a cabin in the woods with Irene (Alexandra Petrachuk), her late lover’s daughter. But Dominic also learns he has a twin. Sequestered in a remote monastery since birth, Daniel is being raised and groomed by a priest, Father Andrew (Andreas Apergis), who believes he is the reincarnation of Saint Sebastian. 

Whether dressed in leathers and sporting stubble or naked and shaved, Duval has the look of the divine about him, and his sex scenes (with himself) are both erotic and very tender indeed. It takes a good hour before the twins meet, but LaBruce uses that time to develop the narrative and his characters fully. Setting the film in 1972 also allows him to explore critical issues, such as children being taken away from their mothers (who happen to be lesbian or even just unmarried) and priests preying on the young men in their care.

I won’t reveal what happens, but LaBruce comes up trumps with a scene involving a St Andrew’s Cross, communion wafers, a wedding dress and some Caravaggio-inspired lighting that will stay with you long after the ending.

Kudos go to Andreas Apergis (who appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past and the US version of Being Human) as the film’s villain, the depraved Father Andrew. If his scary eyes don’t creep you out, his toe licking of the equally scary-eyed Saint Sebastian statue will. Oh, and that scene with the (very fit) monks skinny-dipping is gloriously gratuitous.

Saint-Narcisse will be released theatrically in the UK on 22 April
with a DVD and digital release from Peccadillo Pictures on 2 May 2022

Nineteen Eighty-Four | The celebrated 1954 BBC adaptation starring Peter Cushing gets a dual-format BFI restoration

Adapted by Nigel Kneale (whose centenary is being celebrated this year) and directed by Rudolf Cartier, the BBC’s adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, broke new ground for television drama and caused quite the stir when it was first broadcast live in December 1954.

Featuring a career-defining central performance from Peter Cushing as Orwell’s fatalistic protagonist, Winston Smith, this small-screen landmark has been restored by the BFI using original film materials from the BBC Archive and the BFI National Archive.

André Morell co-stars as deceptive Inner Party member O’Brien, Yvonne Mitchell as Smith’s rebel lover Julia and Donald Pleasence as Syme, Winston’s Ministry of Truth colleague. Giving a brief, but notable, turn is Wilfrid Brambell, who had also appeared in the BBC’s previous Kneale sci-fi, 1953’s The Quatermass Experiment.

Kneale was so in-tune bringing Orwell’s cautionary tale on totalitarianism and the cult of personality to dramatic life that it caused great upset within British public and political circles when it was first performed on Sunday 12 December 1954 (mainly due to a torture scene involving rats). While criticised for being ‘horrific’ and ‘subversive’, it was restaged on Thursday 16 December (thanks in part to Prince Philip’s announcement that the Queen enjoyed the first screening) with some 7 million viewers tuning in. And it is this telerecording that has become one of the earliest surviving British TV dramas.

The following year, an Australian radio adaptation was aired as part of the Lux Radio Theatre with Vincent Price taking on the role of Winston Smith, while Donald Pleasence would be the only actor from the BBC play to appear in director Michael Anderson’s 1956 film adaptation starring Edmund O’Brien.

The BFI restoration has really spruced up the image and sound of the 1954 production which is a mix of the live recording and 14 filmed inserts that were required for the scene changes. These inserts look fantastic now – but seeing them alongside the live (soft and grainy) footage they do somewhat jar. Nevertheless, it’s the performances (especially Cushing’s) that count. So time to ditch that old ‘taped off the telly’ DVD (or in my case VHS). Nineteen Eighty-Four is also available on DTO via iTunes and Amazon Prime on 11 April 2022.

Order from the BFI Shop here:
https://shop.bfi.org.uk/nineteen-eighty-four-dual-format-edition.html

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Audio commentary by television historian Jon Dear with Toby Hadoke and Andy Murray
  • Late Night Line-Up (BBC, 1965, 23 mins): members of the cast and crew look back on the controversies surrounding this adaptation of Orwell’s classic. This is a historic time capsule — and a must-see for Cushing fans.
  • The Ministry of Truth (2022, 24 mins): in conversation with the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, television historian Oliver Wake dispels some of the myths that have grown up around the groundbreaking drama over the course of the past half-century.
  • Nigel Kneale: Into the Unknown (2022, 72 mins): writer, actor and stand-up comedian Toby Hadoke and Nigel Kneale biographer and programmer Andy Murray try to unpick who Kneale was, what he did and why his work still matters today.
  • Gallery of rare images from the BBC Archives
  • Original script (downloadable PDF)
  • Newly commissioned sleeve artwork by Matt Needle
  • Illustrated booklet with essays by Oliver Wake and David Ryan; credits and notes on the special features.

Man Made Monster | Universal’s 1941 mad scientist shocker ignites on Blu-ray

Lon Chaney Jr makes his horror debut alongside Hollywood’s most exquisite villain of the 1930s and 1940s, Lionel Atwill, in Universal’s 1941 horror Man Made Monster, which makes its UK Blu-ray debut in Eureka Entertainment’s two-disc Three Monster Tales of Sci-fi Terror box-set (due out 11 April 2022).

THE TOUCH OF DEATH!
When carny Dan McCormick AKA Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man (Chaney Jr) miraculously survives a bus crash into a power line, electrophysiologist Dr John Lawrence (Samuel S Hinds) invites him to stay at his medical facility, The Moors, so he can study him and his seemingly natural immunity. But the kindly doctor’s assistant, Dr Paul Rigas (Atwill), has other plans.

In secret, Dr Rigas pumps Dan with increasingly higher doses of electricity so he can prove his theory that he can create a race of electrically-charged super slaves. Soon poor Dan becomes a ghostly glowing killing machine and nothing can stop him – not even the electric chair.

Man-Made Monster (the hyphen was added for the film poster) was originally planned to be a vehicle for Bela Lugosi when it was first mooted back in 1936 under the title The Electric Man. But it was shelved as being too similar to the same year’s The Invisible Ray.

In his first leading role, Chaney Jr gives an endearing turn as the gentle pooch-loving everyman in the film’s first half. But once he’s drugged up on Atwill’s electrical fixes, he turns into a mute, slow-moving monster. Luckily, we have John P Fulton’s effective special effects, some moody lighting and a great lab set to enjoy as well as Atwill’s feverish performance. This is possibly his most OTT mad scientist role and he milks the ripe dialogue to the hilt – most significantly his big speech when questioned about challenging the forces of Creation:

‘Bah! You know as well as I do that more than half the people of the world are doomed to a life of mediocrity – born to be nonentities, millstones around the neck of progress, men who have to be fed, watched, looked over, and taken care of by a superior intelligence.’

Atwill also gets some choice lines when revealing his insane idea to an elegant Vera West-styled Anne Nagel, who plays the film’s plucky heroine, June: ‘I’ve always found that the female of the species was more sensitive to electrical impulse than the male. Shall I show you how it was done?‘.

Shot in three weeks on one of Universal’s cheapest budgets, Man-Made Monster proved a modest winner at the box office when released in March 1941, and earned Chaney Jr a contract with the studio. It also kick-started his horror career which would be cemented when he reteamed with director George Waggner for The Wolf Man nine months later. Atwill, meanwhile, was facing a personal crisis. Just a few months after his character, Dr Rigas, commits perjury in the film’s big courtroom scene, Atwill was given a five-year probation sentence (and blacklisted) for the same offence over the 1941 alleged occurrence of a sex orgy at his home.

Be prepared for a tearful ending featuring Hollywood canine Corky (he’s so darn cute).

The Eureka Classics box-set, Three Monster Tales of Sci-fi Terror also includes 1957’s The Monolith Monsters and 1958’s Monster on the Campus. You can read my reviews on those films by clicking on the titles. Also included in the box set are brand new audio commentaries on each film, photo galleries and a limited edition collector’s booklet.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• 1080p presentations on Blu-ray
• Disc One – Man-Made Monster and The Monolith Monsters 
• Disc Two – Monster on the Campus (available in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios)
Man-Made Monster – Audio commentary with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
The Monolith Monsters – Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby
Monster on the Campus –  Audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
• Optional SDH subtitles on each film
• Collector’s booklet written by film scholar Craig Ian Man

Order from the Eureka Store: https://eurekavideo.co.uk/movie/three-monster-tales-of-sci-fi-terror/

Supper with the Stars Cookbook

VINCENT PRICE MANIA

I received the Supper with the Stars Cookbook about a month or so ago and never posted about it. It is a beautiful little book! I was excited to hear that Peter and Jenny were working on this book last year. It includes recipes from stars Vincent worked with as well as recipes from the Master of Menace himself, along with Peter’s writings about the movies and posters.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the awesome art that went into it. I just love the style of it. Naturally, when I heard about this book and saw that Jenny had posted about needing test cooks, I had to jump at the chance to be a part of the book. I will tell you I was THRILLED to find the page with the mixed green salad so that I could see my name and review of the recipe…

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She Freak (1967) | Roll up! The exploitation carny classic gets its UK 4K restoration release from 101 Films

PLEASE DO NOT FEED OR TEASE THE CREATURE’
Waitress Jade Cochran (Claire Brennen) sees her fortunes rise when she joins a travelling carnival and freakshow and marries its owner Steve St John (Bill McKinney). When he dies at the hands of her roughneck lover Blackie (Lee Raymond), she abuses her newfound position and earns the wrath of Shorty (Felix Silla) and his fellow freaks who turn her into one of their kind.

This sleazy 1967 reworking of Tod Browning’s 1932 classic Freaks is an absolute hoot from beginning to end (which re-stages Browning’s original climax). It’s also a love letter to the carnival lifestyle of the period by exploitation producer David F Friedman (himself a long-time carny) thanks to the real-life footage of the West Coast Shows carnival shot at the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield, California, which intersperses the ‘drama’.

I first learned of She Freak from Michael Weldon’s seminal 1989 tome The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film which had a picture of Claire Brennan as Jade and the hideous ‘Snake Girl’. Yes, the make-up (by Harry Thomas who worked on Frankenstein’s Daughter and Navy vs. the Night Monsters) is hokey, but it just so works in this trashy weirdo classic.

If you are a fan of either Nightmare Alley (1947) or Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), then you will get a real kick out of this as there are a couple of nods to those classics. There’s also a blink or you’ll miss it shot of the mummified body of real-life US train and bank robber Elmer J McCurdy, which was used as a prop. Plus, there’s the legend that is Felix Silla, who got the part when the original choice, Angelo Rossitto, had to bail as he had other commitments.

I originally saw She Freak on VHS as a Something Weird Video release I picked up in New York back in the 1990s, but this new 4K restoration by the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) is simply amazing! The colours are so vivid, just like the candy floss or slushies you used to get at carnival and circus shows of the past (where the E-numbers were dialled up to 100).

But I also so enjoyed the extras included in 101 Films release, especially Friedman’s archival commentary (he passed in 2011) – which is the last word on this production – and the feature-length trailers (which were included on my original VHS but are now all spruced up).

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• Archival commentary with producer David F. Friedman and Something Weird founder
Mike Vraney
Asylum of the Insane: She Freak inserts preserved in 2K
The Laughing, Leering, Lampooning Lures of David F. Friedman (97:20): a compilation of trailers from the Something Weird vaults, newly preserved in 2K
• Vintage shorts from the carnival midway
• Promotional photo gallery
• Booklet with essay by Something Weird’s Lisa Petrucci
• Reversible cover artwork

ORDER DIRECT FROM 101 FILMS

Johnny Guitar | Nicholas Ray’s ground-breaking 1954 Western gets a 4K restored Blu-ray release

Joan Crawford takes centre stage as Vienna, a saloon owner with a sordid past. Persecuted by the townspeople of an Arizona cattle town, Vienna must protect her life and her property when a lynch mob led by her sexually repressed rival, Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), attempts to frame her for a string of robberies she did not commit. Enter Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a guitar-strumming ex-gunfighter who has a history with Vienna.

Misunderstood by US audiences upon release, this intensely stylised 1954 film from director Nicholas Ray was embraced by European cineastes and is now regarded as a Western masterpiece. Boasting some of the best examples of Trucolor photography in cinematic history, Johnny Guitar is a must-have in any home entertainment collection. It features knock-out performances from Crawford and McCambridge, solid support from Hayden, Scott Brady, Ernest Borgnine, Ward Bond and Ben Cooper, and a scenario that challenges Western tropes as it tetters into Douglas Sirk-styled Hollywood melodrama.

Johnny Guitar is now on Blu-ray in the UK as part of Eureka Entertainment’s Masters of Cinema series. If you missed out on last September’s Limited Edition Hardbound Slipcase which is now discontinued, never fear as a Standard Edition is due out on 11 April 2022 (Pre-order here).

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 4K restoration of the original film elements, framed in the film’s originally intended aspect ratio of 1.66:1
  • New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
  • New introduction by critic Geoff Andrew, author of The Films of Nicholas Ray: The Poet of Nightfall
  • New video piece by Tony Rayns
  • Never is a Long Time – A new video essay by David Cairns
  • New interview with Susan Ray
  • Archival introduction to Johnny Guitar by Martin Scorsese
  • Trailer
  • A 28-page collector’s booklet featuring an essay by author Howard Hughes, and an archival interview with director Nicholas Ray

The Batman (2022) | The Dark Knight just got a whole lot darker

I have seen every incarnation of Batman on the big and small screen ever since I became a fan of the 1960s Adam West/Burt Ward TV series as a kid. I have enjoyed them all – some more so than others (psst! I’d rather watch those overblown Joel Schumacher ones than sit through the dire Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ever again). After Christopher Nolan’s incredible, seemingly unmatchable, Dark Knight trilogy, however, I was wondering why Batman should be resurrected yet again? But of course, there’s money to be made – and there’s a whole new generation of fans waiting in the ‘bat’ wings.

Now I’m a HUGE fan of the original Planet of the Apes films and absolutely loved the recent reboots. So when I read that producer Dylan Clark was on board, as well as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, I suspected that The Batman would be something to look forward to. And it is!

In his second year as Gotham’s masked avenger, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) is still finding his way as The Batman when he comes up against terrorist serial killer the Riddler (Paul Dano), who is striking fear in the city’s corrupt political elite as he takes them out one by one. But what is his real agenda and what does it have to do with Bruce’s murdered parents?

© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics.

Having shown his acting chops in Robert Eggers’ psychological horror The Lighthouse (2019) and Christopher Nolan’s spy film Tenet (2020), I knew that Pattinson would do the character justice. He does, though his impassive presence might be read as bland by some critics. Then there’s his hairstyle when he’s out of costume.

I just wanted to get a pair of scissors and trim those bangs. Oh, and is it just me or does he look like he’s channelling Crispin Glover in the 2003 Willard remake when he’s playing Bruce? As for the suit, I thought it fantastic – especially the pointy ears that I’m certain pay homage to the ones seen in Columbia’s 1940s serials.

© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/™ & © DC Comics.

The supporting cast assembled here is amazing and The Batman is an ensemble piece that works brilliantly. Paul Dano is downright disturbing as the Riddler, while Peter Sarsgaard, John Turturro and Rupert Penry-Jones are all decidedly nasty in their roles; but it’s Colin Farrell as rising mobster Oswald Cobblepot (AKA Penguin) that steals the show. Having gone into the press screening blind, I had no idea it was Farrell behind the prosthetics and fat suit. He’s terrific – no wonder he’s in line for a stand-alone film.

Zoë Kravitz also impresses as cat-burglar Selina Kyle, and I just loved how she and the writers have made her Catwoman such a sympathetic, heroic character. Then there are some familiar faces in Jeffrey Wright as Batman’s ally James Gordon and Andy Serkis as Alfred, while twins Charlie and Max Carver supply the much-needed eye candy as a couple of bouncer types.

© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics.

If you have never seen or read a Batman film, comic, TV show or cartoon, then you will certainly miss a lot of what makes this new entry so special – while lifelong fans will get a huge buzz. It’s a wild dark noir ride that might be a tad too long for some (near on three hours), but well worth returning to the cinema for.

Oh and so too are the film’s locations, including Liverpool’s St George’s Hall (standing in for Gotham City Hall), County Sessions House, the Royal Liver Building, the Walker Art Gallery, the Wellington Memorial Statue and much more, plus Glasgow’s Necropolis Cemetery, and Two Temple Place in London. I see a walking tour in the making.

CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://www.thebatmanmovie.net/

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