Category Archives: Might See

The Wind | Nico Mastorakis’ 1986 stalk ‘n’ slash Euro thriller gets an Arrow Video Blu-ray release

Wanting some inspiration and solitude so she can concentrate on her latest novel, mystery writer Sian Anderson (Meg Foster) leases a cliffside cottage in a quiet island village in Greece from British expat Elias Appleby (Robert Morley). But it comes with a warning:  Don’t go outside at night when the wind starts to come in. Well, of course, she does the complete opposite and ends up witnessing Elias’ murder at the hands of his handyman Phil (Wings Hauser), who then sets out to silence Sian just as the wind starts to howl…

This Euro slasher thriller from Island of Death director Nico Mastorakis went straight to video (except in West Germany and Portugal) when it was released in 1986, and as I don’t remember coming across it in my local video rentals stores back in the day, even under its original title Edge of Terror, I was keen to seek it out – especially as I rather enjoyed Island of Death (check out my review later). And Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray release gave me just the chance. But, I’m sorry to say, I was rather disappointed.

Meg Foster certainly carries the film well – in a sub-par Linda Hamilton/Terminator kind of way – but her piercing blue cat-like eyes are a huge distraction and they totally overshadow Wings Hauser’s poppered up performance, even if he does deliver the inane dialogue with a great amount of glee: ‘If you need any technical advice on death just holler I’m next door’ being just one of them.

Mind you, Robert Morley provides the film’s other distraction – gnarly eyebrows and a chin that looks like a bullock’s ball sack. Luckily, he only gets a couple of scenes before he ends up in a shallow grave. Talking of which, there’s a Jason King** moment when Foster’s Sian transcribes the killing as it happens. Is she clairvoyant or are we seeing her murder mystery playing out before our eyes?

Lending credence to the latter is that Sian doesn’t run away after she witnesses the murders (yep! there’s another), instead she seems to want to be part of the mystery – which works well on the page but not in reality (you’d get the hell outta there!). And when she is chased through the streets (all backlit like a music video with fog and wind machines going full throttle), I was reminded of Mario Bava’s hallucinatory horrors Lisa and the Devil and Kill, Baby, Kill, where reality and fantasy also blur.

But Mastorakis is no Bava and what we see is what we get – an island village completely deserted apart from an old lady (who gets the chop), a backgammon-playing cop and a random seaman (Steve Railsback) who, just because he can speak English, decides to take on the copper’s job and check on Sian. Which brings me to David McCallum. Oh yes, he crops up here too (mainly in a pool talking on a yellow phone). He plays Sian’s boyfriend who becomes worried when their long distance phone call is suddenly disconnected. That’s it. Then he’s gone.

What follows is ludicrous with a capital ‘L’. However all the stalking and running that ensues is a great excuse for some lovely location shots of Monemvasia (AKA the Gibraltar of the East) – including its ancient stone buildings and alleyways, majestic oleander trees, and a medieval fortress that provides the setting for the climactic showdown between Sian (who finally remembers there’s some hunting weapons locked in a cupboard in her villa) and Hauser’s seemingly unstoppable killer.

The whistling synth track is by Hans Zimmer and Stanley Myers, Marlboro Lights feature often and note to self: Its best to have short hair when you are visiting a tourist destination where it’s windy all the time.

Arrow Video presents The Wind for the first time on Blu-ray, with the following features, and the film is also available on the Arrow Video Channel via Amazon Prime Video.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
• Optional English subtitles
• Optional Greek subtitles
• Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and LPCM Stereo 2.0 Audio
Blowing The Wind: Brand new interview with Nico Mastorakis
The Sound of The Wind: The complete soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer and Stanley Myers
• A collection of trailers for the films of Nico Mastorakis
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film

** Jason King was a 1970s ITV crime drama starring Peter Wyngarde, whose eponymous novelist-turned-sleuth used events happening around him as the source of his crime novels featuring his 007-inspired adventurer called Mark Cain. In one episode, Chapter One: The Company I Keep, King writes about a murder that has actually happened.

Beyond the Door | The infamous 1970s satantic shocker gets a limited edition 2k Blu-ray restored release – Hail Satan!

Prolific producer and director Ovidio G Assonitis, whose Tentacles (one of my all-time faves) and Piranha II: The Spawning cashed in on the killer fish craze that followed Jaws, scored his first worldwide hit in 1974 with Beyond the Door – the infamously insane riff on The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.

Jessica (played by Juliet Mills of TV’s Nanny and the Professor fame) is the wife of a music executive Robert (Gabriele Lavia) in San Francisco who starts to develop strange behaviors whilst pregnant with her third child. Before you can say ‘split pea soup’, she’s displaying signs of full-blown demonic possession – complete with projectile vomiting and fully-rotating head!

Her obstetrician Dr George Staton (Nino Segurini) believes Jessica should to be placed into a sanatorium, but a mysterious man called Dimitri (Richard Johnson) then reveals himself to be her former lover and a satanist who has a made a pact with the devil to deliver him Jessica’s newborn in exchange for having been saved from a car accident…

Described as ‘disgusting’, ‘scary trash’ and ‘maddeningly inappropriate’ by film critic Robert Ebert, the supernatural shocker (which was the subject of a successful lawsuit by Warner Bros over its direct rips from The Exorcist) has been given a brand-new 2k restoration release on Blu-ray from Arrow Video, packed with stacks of bonus extras. But is the film worth all the bother?

As the old saying goes, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’. But in the case of Beyond the Door (AKA The Devil Within Her), I’m sure it was a hell of a lot of fun trying. Yes, its cheaply made (in all apects – from its production design to its dire editing), but it does have some effective scares that keep you entertained – and they are the main reason why the film made such a killing at the box office.

I grew up watching Juliet Mills as the wise and wonderful magical nanny Phoebe Figalilly on TV, so seeing her as satan’s Antichrist incubator spewing obscenties and green sick was quite a shock. But whatever the two-time Golden Globe nominee’s reasoning was for accepting the role, Mills’ physical performance certainly impresses in the scenes in which she goes full-on Linda Blair.

Another standout is when Jessica’s two brats – foul-mouthed Gail (Barbara Fiorini), who is so obssessed with Erich Segal’s novel Love Story that she owns multiple copies, and her little brother Ken (David Colin Jr) – are terrorised by supernatural forces in their bedroom. The whole room starts shaking like a dollhouse, the kids are thrown about like ragdolls, and the eyes of their toys light up as though possessed. I loved this scene and I’m sure the kids did too. Colin Jr would next turn up in Mario Bava’s Shock in 1977, which was released in the US as an unofficial sequel to Beyond the Door.

Of course, this tawdry occult tale is all overseen by the Devil himself, who narrates throughout (by an uncredited British actor Robert Booth, who did bit parts in Z Cars and The Professionals and some voice work on 2006’s Tardisodes). And he gets some great quotable lines like, ‘Nobody knows the exquisite suffering of the damned’.

Interestingly the film’s co-producer was Edward L Montoro, whose own real-life story is worthy of a film itself. He embezzled over $1million from his film production company, Film Ventures International (which did two of my faves, Grizzly and Day of the Animals), and vanished, never to be seen again.

Here are the full specs on Arrow’s big release. No screeners were available, so I can’t comment on the extras.

LIMITED EDITION TWO-DISC BLU-RAY CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of the extended Uncut English Export Version
Possessed: a brand-new feature-length documentary on Italian exorcism movies!
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach
• Reversible fold-out poster
• Perfect-bound collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Martin and Alessio di Rocco

DISC ONE
• Brand new 2K restoration of the Uncut English Export Version, released as The Devil Within Her (108 mins)
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original uncompressed mono audio
• Optional English subtitles
The Devil and I: Interview with director/producer Ovidio G. Assonitis
Barrett’s Hell: Interview with cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli
Beyond the Music: Interview with composer Franco Micalizzi
The Devil’s Face: Interview with camera operator Maurizio Maggi
Motel and Devils: Audio interview with actor Gabriele Lavia
• Alternate Italian Chi Sei? opening titles
• Alternate Behind the Door VHS opening titles
• Alternate Japanese Diabolica opening and ending sequence
• Trailers, TV and Radio Spots
• Image Gallery

DISC TWO
• The alternate US Theatrical Version
• Italy Possessed: Feature-length documentary on Italian exorcism movies!

Magic | William Goldman’s 1978 psychological horror heads to Blu-ray

Adapted for the big screen by William Goldman from his best-selling 1976 book, Magic is out now on Blu-ray from Second Sight Films.

Corky (Anthony Hopkins) is a shy, aspiring magician who just can’t get a break, but after he introduces foul-mouthed ventriloquist dummy Fats to his act, his star begins to rise. When his agent Ben Greene (Burgess Meredith) offers him the chance of starring in his own TV show, Corky freaks out and heads to his hometown in the Catskills. Reuniting with his old high school crush Peggy (Ann-Margret), Corky decides to elope with Peggy and leave his career behind.

But the jealous and possessive Fats will not let him go…

Director Richard Attenborough’s 1978 thriller was originally sold as as horror chiller, but there’s very little in the way of horror or chills on offer (except for one very disturbing scene set on a lake). Well, that’s what I thought when I first saw it as a 14-year-old back in 1978. With the release of the Second Sight Films Blu-ray, I thought a revisit was needed (just to see if it – and I – had matured somewhat).

Well, this ‘terrifying love story’ has and hasn’t. Anthony Hopkins is certainly effective as the tortured entertainer, but his Corky becomes as manic and out of control as Fats, that you end up losing any sympathy you may have initially had for him. Mind you, Hopkins did get a  Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination for the role (in which he had to learn how to throw his voice).

However, Fats (whose facial featues were based on Hopkins’ own likeness) is genuinely creepy (but then aren’t all ventriloquist’s dummies?) and Attenborough does his best to keep us wondering if Fats is just an extension of Corky’s suppressed thoughts or has actually taken on a life of its own?

Thankfully, the lovely Ann-Margret is on hand to bring some much needed warmth to the proceedings (and to Victor Kemper’s chilly photography) – but her Peggy is ultimately a sad figure, and Burgess Meredith is terrific as the cigar-chomping Samuel Z Arkoff-styled agent, especially in one very telling scene in which he asks Corky to make Fats shut up for five minutes. The film’s big highlight, however, is Jerry Goldsmith’s hauntingly romantic score – which I am now seeking out to add to my collection.

The Second Sight Films Blu-ray release also includes a host of very interesting special extras (below), that have been all ported over from the 2010 MPI Media Group US Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Screenwriting for Dummies (2006, Blue Underground, 16mins): William Goldman looks back over the development of the film (whose original director was Norman Jewison), and talks about its cast and crew. And there’s some interesting on-set photos and footage included.
• Anthony Hopkins Spanish TV interview (6.16min): In Spanish and English
• Victor Kemper: Cinematographer (11.23min): The veteran Director of Photographer talks about his work and career, paying special attention to Magic (Includes a big spoiler, so watch the film first)
• Ann-Margret make-up test (1.19min): With some disco-style music in the background.
Fats and Friends (26.53min): Dennis Alwood, who acted as consultant to the production of Magic, takes look at the history of ventriloquism on stage and screen, and reveals how Fats scored the role over his own dummy, Dudley.
• Anthony Hopkins radio interview (3.20min): Against a background of raw dailies from Magic, Hopkins discusses his background and his career.
• Trailer (2:09min)
• 4 TV Spots (the second one got pulled from US TV for being too scary for kids)
• 3 Radio spots

3 From Hell (2019) | RIP Sid Haig as Rob Zombie’s ultra-violent sequel is unleashed

From the one and only Rob Zombie comes 3 from Hell, the latest blood-soaked chapter in his ultra violent sociopathic crime family saga that started with his 2003 throwback shocker House of 1000 Corpses and was followed two years later by the equally depraved The Devil’s Rejects.

After being ‘gunned down’ at the end of The Devil’s Rejects, Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) are serving their long sentences behind bars. But pure evil cannot be contained. Following the death of Captain Spaulding, Otis’ half-brother Wilson (Richard Brake) is enlisted to break Otis and Baby out of prison. But things don’t go according to plan… Otis has killed a well-connected gangland leader called Rondo (Danny Trejo in a super brief cameo), and now his son Aquarius (Emilio Rivera) and his Black Satanists gang are out for blood…

Rob Zombie’s films are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never warmed to the ‘Firefly’ series, but them I’m probably in the minority in hailing his Lords of Salem as a horror masterpiece (check out my review here). But here he seems to be spoofing the exploitation genre with a knowing sadistic glee (think Robert Rodriguez’s Machete), which makes this latest entry in his saga so much more fun. An extra bonus are the OTT turns of some of his co-stars, especially Dee Wallace as a genuinely nasty butch prison guard (I had no idea it was Wallace until after the credits) and Panchor Moler as the loyal one-eyed Sebastian. Plus, you’ve got Sheri going full-on mental.

Zombie also has fun paying homage to some of his cinematic influences. The film starts off aping the TV news reports of the arrest of Charles Manson and his ‘Family’ (a key inspiration for the film’s psychopathic trio), but there are also nods to 1955’s The Desperate Hours, in which Humphrey Bogart and a gang of escaped convicts hold a family hostage, the 1952 classic Gary Cooper western, High Noon, and even Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1989 avant-garde horror Santa Sangre.

There’s also something very poignant on offer here, and that’s Sid Haig. Ill health prevented the legendary character actor from appearing in anything more than a cameo, so this ended up being his final screen role. He died, aged 80, on 21 September 2019, just over a month after receiving the Vincent Price Award at Hollywood Horrorfest (something that was truly dear to him). But he goes out with a bang, delivering a touching, raging and powerful monologue that’s eminently quotable: ‘I’m just a clown dancing for the fucking man’. ‘I am what they make me. I’m your bozo Jesus hung out to dry for the sins of mankind!’ So, if you are on the fence about watching another Rob Zombie movie, this is reason to check this film out.

3 From Hell is unleashed from Lionsgate UK on digital download, Blu-ray and DVD from 14 October

American Horror Project Vol. 2 | Arrow Video unleashes another trio of obscure stars-and-stripes terror flicks

I’ve finally got around to checking out Arrow Video’s second volume in its American Horror Project series, and its mixed, but fun, bag of obscurities co-curated by Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents), which have all been remastered in 2k from the best surviving film elements. while the box-set is packed with a wealth of new and archival extras, including artwork by The Twins of Evil and a 60-page booklet.

DREAM NO EVIL
First up is this surreal 1970 offering from director John Hayes (Grave of the Vampire) about troubled preacher’s assistant Grace (Brooke Mills), whose desperate quest to be reunited with her long-lost father (Edmund O’Brien) propels her into an imaginary world of homicidal madness…

Part Jack Hill, Part Russ Meyer, part Psycho, this is one weird ride with Mills (who was also in Hill’s The Big Doll House) turning in a rather sympathetic turn as the demented Grace, who goes all Norman Bates when the father she has been searching for turns up dead in the local morgue. Imagining him to still be alive, she sets up home with him in a deserted shack on the outskirts of town, but soon her beaus are ending up dead because ‘daddy’ doesn’t like them touching her baby girl.

Among the supporting players are Hayes’ regular Michael Pataki (Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Grave of the Vampire) as Grace’s revivalist preacher foster brother, character actor Marc Lawrence as the local mortician who is also a pimp, and former 1940s film noir star Edmond O’Brien, who comes off a bit like Lon Chaney Jr in Spider Baby (another Hill cult fave).

Best line in the movie: ‘Your duck is bleeding really badly’.

The Arrow special features also include…

• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
Hollywood After Dark: The Early Films of John Hayes, 1959-1971 – brand new video essay by Stephen Thrower looking at Hayes’ filmography leading up to Dream No Evil
• Writer Chris Poggiali on the prodigious career of celebrated character actor Edmond O’Brien
• Excerpts from an audio interview with actress Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls) on working with director John Hayes.

DARK AUGUST
This 1976 rural horror stars future Barney Miller actor JJ Barry as Sal, a New York illustrator who relocates to Stowe, Vermont, to set up a photography studio. But when he accidentally runs over and kills a young girl, her occultist grandfather places a curse on him. After a series of terrifying visions and mishaps, Dal seeks the counsel of local white witch Adrianna (Kim Hunter, of Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire fame) — but can she stop the dark forces from achieving their goal?

Director Martin Goldman (who was previously a Madison Avenue art designer) and cinematographer Richard E Brooks (who went on to direct 1982’s We Will Rock You: Queen Live in Concert) bring a touch of cinema verité to their offbeat indie horror that features a lot of hand held camera and tracking shots, while also making effective use of the rural location. While I was baffled by the ending, there’s a real sense of creeping unease going on here; and Hunter is very convincing as the witch (It’s said she did lots of research into wiccan practices for role).

The Arrow special features also include…

• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Audio commentary with writer-director Martin Goldman
• Interview with Martin Goldman
• Interview with producer Marianne Kanter
The Hills Are Alive: Dark August and Vermont Folk Horror – with author and artist Stephen R. Bissette
• Original Press Book

THE CHILD
This 1977 bad seed horror is the best of the bunch in my book, and a delirious slice of horror mayhem. Laurel Barnett plays the new governess of bratty Rosalie (Rosalie Cole), who is so incensed by her mother’s death, she raises the dead from the local cemetery to lay siege on the family mansion…

I remember seeing the poster for this film in magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland when I was in my teens, but it never saw the light of day in my home town. 40 years on and I finally get to see it — and I was not disappointed. No wonder its a favourite of AHP curator Stephen Thrower — its totally bonkers. Cheap and silly, but oddly atmospheric — its like an ultra cheap fusion of Dark Shadows and The Innocents with ghouls (covered in blackened oatmeal) and some very bad acting.

This one was produced by that sultan of sexploitation, Harry Novak (who also unleashed Mantis in Lace and The Mad Butcher) and ends with a Night of the Living Dead meets Tombs of the Blind Dead-style life and death struggle in a local mill

Best lines:
‘I want to know who you were meeting in the cemetery?’
‘I don’t have to tell you anything!!!’

The Arrow special features also include…

• 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 presentations of the feature
• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new audio commentary with director Robert Voskanian and producer Robert Dadashian, moderated by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new on-camera interviews with Robert Voskanian and Robert Dadashian
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Original Press Book

Voodoo Man | When Monogram teamed three of the screen’s Horror Experts for a New Thrill Sensation!

Shot in seven days, and running at just 62-minutes, 1944’s Voodoo Man was the last of Bela Lugosi’s nine Monogram b-movies. Originally based on a story called Tiger Man, the tale (from a screenplay by Return of the Ape Man‘s Robert Charles) of young women being kidnapped and turned into mute zombies in an attempt to resurrect a dead woman is basically a reworking of 1942’s The Corpse Vanishes with shades of 1932’s White Zombie, and was hatched to cash-in on the success of Jacques Tourneur’s classic horror I Walked with a Zombie, made the year before.

HIS LUST FOR VOODOOISM SPELLS D-O-O-M!
Lugosi plays Dr Marlowe, who is obsessed with bringing his wife back from the dead and has a total lack of empathy for the poor women he is using to achieve his goal. Whilst the film’s script is riddled with clichés, Lugosi brings total sincerity to his character, alternating nicely between menace and compassion. Along for the ride is another horror legend, George Zucco, who, when not manning the local petrol station, throws on a wizard’s cloak to become the voodoo cult leader who conducts the arcane rites in a bid to transfer the lifeforce of Marlowe’s latest victim into his beloved wife (Ellen Hall) – who looks pretty darn good despite being dead for 22 years.

The hokey set-up has Marlowe’s lackies, John Carradine (channelling Lon Chaney Jr’s Lenny from Of Mice and Men) and former pro-wrestling referee Pat McKee, set up fake road blocks so their victims drive straight into their hands. Unfortunately, one of the intended – Stella (Louise Currie) – is the cousin of a local girl Betty (Wanda McKay), who is about to marry a reporter, Ralph (Tod Andrews). Her disappearance sparks a desperate search, but there’s a twist, her ‘soul’ isn’t compatible – and guess whose is? Yep! Its Betty… and soon Marlowe has her in his clutches…

This is a passable horror melodrama, but really only entertaining for seeing Lugosi, Zucco and Carradine strut their stuff, especially Carradine – who gets all the best lines like ‘Hmm! You’re a pretty one!”. Director William Beaudine was prolific to say the least, with a career that stretched seven decades resulting in some 500 film and TV titles to his credit. And here’s a great bit of trivia – both Lugosi and Andrews are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, California.

Although you can see Voodoo Man on YouTube, in a crappy version, the print on Fabulous Film’s Blu-ray and DVD release is excellent and is region free. What would be great now is a box-set of all those Lugosi Monogram features. How about it FF?

 

The Legacy | The 1978 occult chiller gets a UK Blu-ray premiere

This 1978 British horror from Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand fuses that mystery staple, the old dark house – seen in many a classic, including James Whale’s 1932 whodunit and the long-running Agatha Christie play on London’s West End, The Mousetrap – with the in-vogue satanic frighteners of the day like The Omen and Race With the Devil.

The Legacy (1978)

Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott (who later married after meeting on the set) play an American couple who become reluctant guests at the English country mansion of a dying Satanist (John Standing) who believes Ross to be the reincarnation of an ancestor and next in line to head his powerful cult. But standing in her way are five house guests, who soon meet with spectacular deaths including drowning, burning, impaling and a botched tracheotomy.

The Legacy (1978)

The cast boasts some famous faces, including The Who’s Roger Daltrey, playing a music impresario – of course; Charles Gray (still my favourite Blofeld) as a weapons dealer; and West End actress Margaret Tyzack (who’d go on to play Bianca and Ricky’s gran in EastEnders) as a nurse who can turn herself into a white cat.

The Legacy (1978)

With its themes of reincarnation, possession and telekinesis, The Legacy – which was written by the legendary Jimmy Sangster – follows in the wake of other occult-themed films like The Omen and Suspiria, and was very much inspired by them. While it’s no masterpiece, and didn’t catch the box-office alight – unlike Gray’s character, it’s still a stylish exercise in suspense with some decent special effects, crisp autumnal photography by Dick Bush and Alan Hume, and an ‘eccentric’ score from Theatre of Blood composer Michael J Lewis, who also wrote the annoying theme tune, Another Side of Me (sung by Kiki Dee).

Today you can visit the film’s main location, Loseley Manor in Surrey, as the house and gardens are open to the public all year round. But if you do, watch out for any suspicious-looking nurses lurking about. Meanwhile, the village scenes were shot in Hambleden, Bucks – which has been used for huge number of films and TV shows, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Good Omens.

The Legacy (1978)

The Indicator Limited Edition Blu-ray (UK premiere) is available from 29 July and includes the following special features…

• The UK theatrical cut, presented open matte from a Standard Definition master (102 mins): The film was released in UK cinemas in September 1978.
• The US theatrical cut, presented in widescreen from a High Definition master (100 mins): The film was released in the US in 1979, with a shorter runtime and some alternative shots
• Original stereo audio
An Extended Legacy (2019, 11 mins): an analysis of the differences between the US and UK cuts (This is found in the Play sub-menu): There 13 instances of unique footage across the two version – 12 in the UK cut and 1 in the UK cut.
• Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television website (I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially when Kevin discusses the filming locations and compares the screenplay with the the film’s paperback tie-in – which I have – and yes, I did go straight to page 183 to find out more about Charles Gray’s gruesome death)
An Editing Legacy (2015, 14 mins): editor and second unit director Anne V Coates recalls her work on the film (this one is ported over from the Scream Factory release)
The Make-up Effects of The Legacy (2015, 11 mins): Robin Grantham on his make-up creations for the film, including that squrim-inducing tracheotomy (also ported over from Scream Factory)
Ashes and Crashes (2019, 4 mins): interview with second unit director Joe Marks, who shares his memories of working with the film’s cast and crew (this one was shot for this release)
Between the Anvil and the Hammer (1973, 27 mins): Richard Marquand’s Central Office of Information short about the Liverpool police force (this is a real eye-opener — and an historic step back in time — when it really was grim up North)
• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Collector’s booklet with a new essay by Julian Upton, an archival location report, Jimmy Sangster on The Legacy, extracts from the novelisation, an overview of critical responses, an introduction to Between the Anvil and the Hammer, and film credits

 

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…

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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 Haunted House of Horror | Fancy a seance and an orgy with Frankie Avalon? Well you’ve got the wrong address!

At a ‘swinging’ London party, a group of bored teenagers decide they want a new ‘experience’, so Richard (Julian Barnes) suggests they head to a deserted mansion where an infamous murder took place. But during their ‘ghost hunt’, one of their number ends up brutally stabbed to death. Hiding the body, the gang decide not to tell the police, which turns out to be a really bad move. As guilt gets the better of them, they decide the only solution is to return to the scene of the crime…

Oh dear! This dated 1960s Tigon/AIP horror is embarrassingly bad, yet bizarrely enjoyable for its kitsch value. Beach Party‘s Frankie Avalon swaps his shorts and surfboard for some Carnaby Street clobber as the jaded group’s nominal leader. But he looks way older than his character should be, and practically dials in his performance. But he’s certainly not as stiff as Dennis Price (a last minute replacement for an ailing Boris Karloff), whose police inspector does little more than take phone calls. Among the dolly birds and male model supporting cast are future sitcom stars Richard O’Sullivan and Robin Stewart, pop singer Mark Wynter, and actress Jill Haworth (who ended up in Tower of Evil and The Mutations).

For fans of vintage British horror, you either love or hate this deeply-flawed attempt by Tigon to craft what is probably the UK’s first teen slasher, and its production history is certainly way more interesting than the film itself. Originally called The Dark, it was based on an original screenplay by 23-year-old Michael Armstrong, who also got to direct until he was removed by Tigon’s AIP co-producers, who demanded cuts, script changes and reshoots, to the point that the finished product looked nothing like what Armstrong had originally intended (he want to make a satire on the youth scene). Hence why George Sewell’s scenes look like they come from another movie. They were added to make up the running time after big cuts were made, which got rid of a homosexual subplot and other more interesting elements.

The restoration, however, is impressive as it really highlights the effective camerawork and lighting, particularly so in the mansion scenes (shot on location at the Birkdale Palace Hotel in Southport, but using sets constructed to look battered and aged). There’s so much more detail now and the colours really pop (especially in the cast’s trendy attire). Check out the clip below about the restoration work (But BIG spoiler alert! The killer is revealed).

While the film ended up generating good returns (especially when it was released in the US as Horror House on a double-bill with Crimson Cult – aka Curse of the Crimson Cult) it’s a real pity its a dog’s dinner of a thriller. But one can only imagine how it could have turned out had Armstrong had achieved his original concept with his dream cast of David Bowie, Scott Walker, Ian Ogilvy and Jane Merrow. If you want to read Armstrong’s original screenplay for The Dark, you purchase it from Paper Dragon Productions for £13.99. Just click on the link.

The Haunted House of Horror is available on Blu-ray in the UK from Screenbound

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Commentary and a new interview with director Michael Armstrong
• Interview clips with Michael Armstrong, actors Mark Wynter, Carol Dilworth and Veronica Doran; plus hair stylist Ross Carver, camera operator James Devis, production secretary Jeanette Ferber, dubbing editor Howard Lanning and editor Peter Pitt.

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