Category Archives: Must-See

Cruising | William Friedkin’s controversial gay serial killer thriller gets a director-approved restoration

William Friedkin directs Al Pacino as an undercover cop pitched into New York’s gay underworld in Cruising – available for the first time on Blu-ray in a brand new director-approved transfer from Arrow Video.

New York is caught in the grip of a sadistic serial killer who is preying on the patrons of the city’s fetish clubs. Captain Edelson (Paul Sorvino) tasks young rookie Steve Burns (Pacino) with infiltrating the S&M subculture to try and lure the killer out of the shadows – but as he immerses himself deeper and deeper into the underworld, Steve risks losing his own identity in the process.

Taking the premise and title from reporter Gerald Walker’s 1970 novel, Cruising was the subject of enormous controversy at the time of its release (filming and screenings were picketed by sections of the gay community) and remains a challenging but deeply powerful thriller to this day, with Pacino’s haunted lead performance as its magnetic centrepiece.

It is also still the only Hollywood feature to shine a light on the gay fetish scene – just before another deadly killer struck the community – AIDS – with all of the poppers-fuelled club action being shot on location in New York’s Meat Packing District, with the club’s members all consensually appearing as themselves in the film’s most notorious scenes.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative supervised and approved by writer-director William Friedkin
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Newly remastered 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio supervised by William Friedkin
• Optional English subtitles
• New audio commentary with director William Friedkin, moderated by Mark Kermode (PF: An incisive look at the film’s production, themes and legacy, this is a must-listen and will make you want to watch the film all over again with fresh eyes and ears — I never knew how important the sound effects were or that there are subliminal shots of anal sex inserted in the murder sequences — and Friedkin also clears up a few long-asked questions, including the supposed lost footage and what that closing shot really means)
• Archival audio commentary by William Friedkin (PF: Having listened to the moderated commentary first, where Kermode bounces off ideas off Friedkin, I found this a bit too scripted – though its still insightful)
The History of Cruising: archival featurette looking at the film’s origins and production
Exorcising Cruising: archival featurette looking at the controversy surrounding the film and its enduring legacy
• Original Theatrical Trailer

 

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Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount (1930-1935) | Six stunning classics from Hollywood’s Golden Age

The collaboration between filmmaker Josef von Sternberg and actress Marlene Dietrich is one of the most enduring in all Hollywood cinema.

Tasked by Paramount bosses to find ‘the next big thing’, director von Sternberg lighted upon German silent star Dietrich and brought her to Hollywood. Successfully transitioning from the silent to the sound era, together they crafted a series of remarkable features that expressed a previously hitherto unbridled ecstasy in the process of filmmaking itself – Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), and The Devil Is a Woman (1935).

Marked by striking cinematography, beautiful design and elaborate camerawork these vibrantly sensuous films redefined cinema of the time, while Dietrich’s sexually ambiguous on-screen personas caused a sensation and turned her from actor to superstar and icon.

Lavish, lascivious and wildly eccentric, the films Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich made for Paramount Pictures in the 1930s provide a unique testimony to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

The six films that von Sternberg made with Dietrich in Hollywood are presented here in new restorations on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras – including new appreciations, interviews, audio commentaries, rare films, outtakes and deleted audio, documentaries… and more!

Indicator/Powerhouse Film’s Limited Blu-ray Edition Box Set (6,000 units), which includes a 120-page collector’s book, is out on 26 August 2019

Morocco (1930)
Marlene Dietrich’s first American film cast her as the singer and adventuress Amy Jolly, ensnaring then being ensnared by legionnaire Gary Cooper. Brilliantly shot by Lee Garmes, whose work was nominated for an Oscar, Morocco is a film of shadows and shimmering heat, painstakingly directed for maximum effect. Marlene never looked more alluring, and sings three songs, including When Love Dies, in which she plants a kiss on a female club patron while dressed in a man’s top hat, white tie and tails. A trailblazing box-office success.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 2K restoration
• Original mono audio
Morocco audio commentary with Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg, son of Josef von Sternberg
The Art of Josef von Sternberg (2019): Nicholas von Sternbergon his father’s works in painting and sculpture
The Legionnaire and the Lady (1936): Lux Radio Theatre adaptation featuring Dietrich and Clark Gable
• Image gallery

Dishonored (1931)
This spy film, based loosely on the Mata Hari story, is probably the least distinguished of Dietrich and von Sternberg’s collaborations, but its camp plot and extravagant central performance along with the director’s impressive visual style (look out for his trademark and ever-present veils, nets, smoke and fog between actors and the camera) mark it down as an offbeat gem. Victor McLaglen is badly miscast as Dietrich’s lover (and his constant teeth gritting is really annoying), but Dietrich (as the alluring agent X-27, who breaks codes with piano music) is the whole picture, and she looks truly radiant, even in her first ever non-glamorous scenes where she plays a peasant girl with her hair scraped back and totally devoid of make-up.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration
Original mono audio
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg, son of Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg, a Retrospective (1969): feature-length television documentary by the acclaimed Belgian director Harry Kümel
I Did Why He Told Me To Do: New video essay by film historian Tag Gallagher on the Hollywood collaborations of Dietrich and von Sternberg
• Image gallery

Shanghai Express (1932)
‘It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,’ drawls Marlene Dietrich in one of cinema’s classic lines, and so the scene is set for an atmospheric adventure that’s like Grand Hotel on rails. Lee Garmes’ amazing photography won an Oscar and Dietrich’s sultry siren is enough to make even army doctor Clive Brook’s stiff upper lip quiver and put Warner Oland’s fiendish rebel leader Henry Chang off his chow mein. My other favourite line is: ‘I wouldn’t trust you from here to the door’.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration
Original mono audio
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg
• Audio commentary with critic and film historian David Thompson
Trouble in Hollywood: Interview with Jasper Sharp, writer and filmmaker, on the life and career of Anna May Wong
• Image gallery

Blonde Venus (1932)
Shimmeringly photographed by Bert Glennon, Dietrich plays a German café singer whose search for money to pay for her husband’s medical bills leads her into adultery in this this soapy and rather camp melodrama. One particularly memorable scene has Dietrich attired in a gorilla suit to sing Hot Voodoo, while another sees her drag up in a white tuxedo to sing I Couldn’t Be Annoyed. Herbert Marshall (The Fly) plays her estranged chemist husband, while Cary Grant is the millionaire third man who turns out to have a real heart of gold, and little Dickie Moore (Our Gang) plays her naive, but adorable son.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration
Original mono audio
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg
• Audio commentary with film and arts critic Adrian Martin
Dietrich, A Queer Icon: Interview with So Mayer, author of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema, on the queer iconography and legacy of Dietrich and von Sternberg’s films
• Image gallery

The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Dietrich scorches the screen as the 18th-century Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great in this dazzling display of style. Costume, spectacle and camerawork is the order of the day here, with Bert Glennon excelling in this last department. Watch out for Sam Jaffe, who is quite amazing as the ‘mad’ Grand Duke Peter.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration
Original mono audio
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg
• Audio commentary with writer and film programmer Tony Rayns
The Twilight of an Angel (2012): Dominique Leeb’s acclaimed French TV documentary on Dietrich’s final years
• Image gallery

The Devil Is a Woman (1935)
This is von Sternberg’s ultimate tribute to the Marlene Dietrich mystique that he himself helped to create. Dietrich’s personal favourite, the sumptuous, steamy melodrama, set in 1890s Spain, sees her playing a seductive femme fatale bewitching a string of men, including Lionel Atwill and Cesar Romero (who replaced Joel McCrea after one day’s filming). The same story was the basis for Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 4K restoration
Original mono audio
• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg
The Fashion Side of Hollywood (1935): a short compilation film of lighting and costume tests from Paramount productions, and featuring costume designer Travis Banton
Styling the Stars: New interview with Nathalie Morris, film historian and senior curator of the BFI National Archive’s Special Collections, on the costume designs of Travis Banton
If It Isn’t Pain (1935, 3 mins): excised audio of the deleted musical number from The Devil Is a Woman

Blood & Flesh The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019)

From his early years as the son of silent screen star parents, through the production of some 30 low budget exploitation pictures from the early-1960s through the early 1980s to his bizarre and tragic death, the story of American filmmaker Al Adamson (25 July 1929 – 21 June 1995) is told through the recollection from colleagues, friends, family and Adamson himself. Go-go dancers, bikers, porn stars – even Charles Manson and aliens all cross Al’s path before he himself becomes the doomed centre piece of a true crime story. Welcome to director David Gregory’s Blood & Flesh The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson.

If you recognise titles like Horror of the Blood Monsters, Satan’s Sadists, Dracula vs. Frankenstein and Brain of Blood, then you’re probably already familiar with the bargain basement schlocky horror oevure of Adamson. Actually, no genre was safe from Al’s guerrilla-style approach to making disposable programme fillers as he just loved to make films and make a buck doing them. And he often used the same crew (many getting their first start in the business like László Kovács (Easy Rider), Gary Graver (The Toolbox Murders) and Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter) and gave some veteran Hollywood actors their final pay cheques, including alcoholics Lon Chaney Jr and Broderick Crawford and the one-eyed, wheelchair bound J Carroll Naish (you’ll be crying with laughter at his story). He even married his muse, Regina Carroll, who appeared in many of his films until her early death, aged 49 (from cancer) in 1992.

In the first two thirds of documentary, Gregory interviews over a dozen interviewees with close ties to Adamson’s life and work who all provide some colourful anecdotes, most notably producer Samuel M Shepard who reveals how he and Al extended the life of their tacky low-rent films by reissuing them with new titles and added scenes (along with the fantastically lurid poster art that was always way better than the films themselves), and cashing on the latest genre crazes of the day, like Blazing Stewardess (1975) in the wake of the success of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. He also spins a fantastic yarn about Al’s obsession with UFOs and an encounter that may or may not be believed.

Now, you know the old saying – Truth is stranger than fiction? – well that’s certainly the case when it comes to Al’s brief encounter with Charles Manson. For his shoot on The Female Bunch (1971), Al used the infamous Spahn ranch, where Manson and his ‘Family’ were holed up just weeks before the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders. Seems Manson was a bit of a pain and got thrown off the set.

But most bizarrely is how Adamson ended up being murdered by his contract builder, Fred Fulford, who Al had hired to renovate his home in Indio, California. It was here that Al’s corpse was hastily buried under cement (after home jacuzzi), and wasn’t discovered for several weeks. This is when Gregory’s turns slightly procedural as it unravels Al’s mysterious disappearance and his death through interviews with his brother Kent, local law enforcement, and his housekeeper. But its gripping to the end.

While Al Adamson’s cinematic output might be questionable, this is an engrossing documentary about one of exploitation cinema’s true mavericks. And while I won’t be hankering for a boxset of his movies, I might consider looking out for the forthcoming restoration release of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, which will be released by Severin, the producers of this engrossing documentary.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Since 2000, David Gregory has carved himself a niche making documentaries on outré cinema, cult film-makers, composers and some legendary figures with his best known work being Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr Moreau from 2014. At this year’s FrightFest in the UK, genre fans will not get the chance to see Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson, but also Master of Dark Shadows, a fantastic look at Dan Curtis and his iconic vampire soap opera.

Get you tickets here:

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson
Friday 23 August, 1.15pm

Master of Dark Shadows
Sunday 25 August, 6.30pm

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

The Woman in the Window | Fritz Lang’s influential 1940s film noir on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (1944), starring Edward G Robinson and Joan Bennett, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.

Robinson plays Richard Wanley, a psychiatrist biding his time while his wife and children are on vacation when he encounters Alice (Joan Bennett), who bears an uncanny resemblance to the subject of a portrait he is fascinated by. When Richard and Alice retire to her home, her wealthy, jealous boyfriend intrudes, and is killed after a struggle.

Alice convinces Richard to cover up the crime, but as Richard’s district attorney friend (Raymond Massey) investigates and the boyfriend’s bodyguard (Dan Duryea) begins to apply pressure to Richard, the walls begin to close in…

The Woman in the Window is a fantastic thriller made by Fritz Lang at the end of a very profitable decade in Hollywood, years which had already yielded Fury, You Only Live Twice, The Return of Frank James and Hangmen Also Die.

Considered as one of the most important examples of the genre, it was a triumph for Lang, writer/producer Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath), and Edward G Robinson, and remains a classic nail-biter.

Bennett is in top form as the slinky femme fatale, while Duryea is at his silkily treacherous best as the blackmailer. Bennett and Duryea re-teamed with Robinson and Lang the following year for the equally exciting Scarlet Street.

Available to order from: Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
• LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
• Optional English subtitles
• Video essay by critic David Cairns
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City
• Original theatrical trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new essays; alongside rare archival imagery

The Grand Duel | Lee Van Cleef’s last great western gets a 2k Blu-ray release

Genre stalwart Lee Van Cleef stars as a gnarled ex-sheriff called Clayton who comes to the aid of young Philipp Wermeer (Alberto Dentice), a fugitive framed for the murder of a powerful figure called The Patriarch. Clayton helps Philipp fend off attacks from bounty hunters in a series of thrilling shootouts before the two make their way to Jefferson to confront the Saxon brothers, the cunning David (Horst Frank), the hotheaded Eli (Marc Mazza), and depraved psycho Adam (Klaus Grünberg), and reveal who really killed The Patriarch.

Penned by giallo writer Ernesto Gastaldi, The Grand Duel is one of the best Spaghetti Westerns of the 1970’s, featuring a superb central performance from Lee Van Clee, assured direction from Giancarlo Santi (a former as assistant-director to both Sergio Leone and Giulio Petroni), and a soaring tuneful score from composer Luis Bacalov (Django).

Add in some knock-out action sequences, a bunch of colourful characters, and a touch of giallo-noir in the second half and this forgotten gem really is one of the grandest of all the Italian westerns. But the highlight for me was Klaus Grünberg’s pockmarked villain Adam Saxon. Dressed in white, with matching gloves, he is truly despicable – especially when he massacres a group of Dutch immigrants just for the fun of it.

The Grand Duel is out on Blu-ray from Arrow Video from 6 May 2019.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
• Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the English soundtrack
• Audio commentary by film critic, historian and theorist Stephen Prince
An Unconventional Western: interview with director Giancarlo Santi
The Last of the Great Westerns: interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
Cowboy by Chance: interview with the actor Alberto Dentice (aka Peter O’Brien)
Out of the Box: interview with producer Ettore Rosboch
The Day of the Big Showdown: interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig
Saxon City Showdown: video appreciation by the academic Austin Fisher
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Extensive image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Matt Griffin
• Collector’s booklet (First pressing only)

The original Twilight Zone gets a 60th anniversary UK Blu-ray release

2019 marks the 60th anniversary celebration of Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone TV series and on 15 April, Mediumrare Entertainment is releasing an exclusive limited edition Blu-ray box set in the UK, which will include all 156 episodes of the original classic cult TV series, which was first broadcast on 2 October 1959 and ran for five seasons.

Included in the box set are a host of goodies, including an 80-page companion book written by Marc Scott Zicree, a 60-page episode guide, two reproduction Gold Key Comics, two post cards.

There’s also a host of extras (including audio commentaries, interviews, vintage radio dramas and the unaired pilots), plus a bonus disc which includes a new biography of the show’s creator, American Masters Presents: Rod Serling Submitted for Your Approval, and a new documentary, Timeless As Infinity: Entering the Twilight Zone, featuring interviews from Serling’s family, as well as interviews from the likes of Wes Craven and Joe Dante.

The fifth dimension has never been better than with this bumper box set on one of the most unique and inventive television shows ever created.

To pre-order the exclusive limited edition 60th Anniversary Blu-ray box set, which is priced at £149.99, and is not available from any other stockists, head over to: www.thetwilightzone.co.uk

Twilight Zone 60th Anniversary Box Set

Sebastiane (1976) | Derek Jarman’s first feature on Blu-ray and iTunes from BFI

Sebastiane

Derek Jarman’s first feature, Sebastiane, directed with Paul Humfress and released in 1976, presents the controversial, sensual and sexualised story of the 4th century Praetorian Guard whose human goodness leads to humiliation and martyrdom.

On 18 March 2019 Sebastiane comes to stand-alone Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, and iTunes, released by the BFI. Extras include Sebastiane: A Work in Progress (c1976) and The Making of Sebastiane (1975) and an illustrated booklet.

In Sebastiane, the heat of the Sardinian desert is powerfully captured on film – both cast and crew go through their paces, sweating it out Herzog-style – while Brian Eno’s distinctly moving score beautifully complements the superb framing and stunning slow-motion photography.

Sebastiane is a glorious hymn to the very real, living, breathing, male body and is presented here in a new digital version remastered from the original camera negative by the BFI National Archive.

Special features
• Presented in High Definition
• Jazz Calendar (1968, 36 mins): footage of the Royal Ballet in rehearsal featuring scenery and costumes by Derek Jarman
• Sebastiane: A Work in Progress (c1976, 62 mins): an incomplete, black and white and un-subtitled work-in-progress cut featuring alternative music
• The Making of Sebastiane (1975, 23 mins): Super 8 making-of, shot by the feature’s sound assistant Hugh Smith, along with Jarman
• John Scarlett-Davis Remembers Sebastiane (2018, 7 mins): artist filmmaker John Scarlett-Davis talks about his experiences on the set of Sebastiane
• Stills Gallery
• Illustrated booklet with writing on the film by BFI curator William Fowler, original review by Tony Rayns and full film credits

Out on Blu-ray and iTunes release on 18 March 2019

Class of 1984 & Class of 1999 | Mark L Lester’s cult high school thrillers make an explosive return – on Blu-ray

From 101 Films and Lionsgate UK comes a double-bill of high school trouble with the Limited Edition Blu-ray releases of Mark L Lester’s futuristic high school thrillers, Class of 1984 and Class of 1999.

Idealistic music teacher Andy Norris (Perry King) moves to the inner city with his pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross) and is shocked to find his new school is plagued by drugs and violence. Refusing to turn a blind eye like his fellow teachers like science master Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowell), he soon clashes with gang leader Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), setting off a chain of escalating events that puts himself and his wife in mortal danger…

Class of 1984 is one of the seminal cult movies of the 1980s and is director Mark L Lester’s contemporary take on the 1955 delinquent drama The Blackboard Jungle. Scripted by Tom Holland (who had just completed The Beast Within and The Initiation of Sarah), it still packs a punch after all these years.

Van Patten’s pretty boy Stegman and his gang (which includes a Stefan Arngrim from Land of the Giants fame) may look cartoonish in their Starlight Express-looking faux punk gear, but the bullying that they inflict on fellow students (including a chubby Michael J Fox) is all too real and still very relevant today – as is the drug-dealing, sexual grooming of underage children, and the wanton acts of physical ‘and mental’ assault on teachers. Alice Cooper supplies the theme song, I Am the Future, Roddy McDowall’s meltdown will break your heart, and it still has one of the coolest poster designs of the era.

Class of 1984 makes it UK Blu-ray debit from 101 Films with this Limited Edition release, and it looks and sounds terrific – boasting some great extras…

Life is Pain… a brand-new career retrospective interview with writer Tom Holland (Fright Night)
And Pain is Everything: An interview with director Mark L. Lester
• Audio commentary with director Mark L. Lester
Do What You Love: A career retrospective of Perry King
History Repeats Itself: An interview with director Mark Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin
Blood and Blackboards: Interviews with cast and crew
Girls Next Door: Interviews with actors Erin Noble and Lisa Langlois
• Trailer and TV spots
• Stills gallery
• Collector’s booklet

Lester’s sequel, Class of 1999, is also getting a new term on Blu-ray, as it joins Lionsgate UK’s Vestron Collector’s Series.

It’s 1999, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some US schools have become ‘free fire zones’ into which not even the police will venture. When principal Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell) decides to take his Seattle school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) steps in and introduces three android educators. But when the units revert to their original military programming and turn deadly (equipped with some powerful state-of-art weapons), former Blackhearts gang member Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) must join forces with the rival Razorheads to stop the ensuing carnage…

I don’t recall seeing this first time round, but Lester’s futuristic sequel ain’t half bad. Yes, its all very cheesy, with more hideous Mad Max meets Flashdance costuming, cartoon violence and scenery chewing acting (I’m looking at you Stacy Keach! with your mullet and contacts), but it moves at a great pace and has some impressive physical effects and pyrotechnics – which all look pretty effective in this new transfer. Playing the droids are Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier and John P Ryan – who all gets some suitably OTT Terminator-style demises.

The Lionsgate Blu-ray includes the following extras…

• Audio commentary with producer/director Mark L Lester
• School Safety: interviews with director/producer Mark L Lester and co-producer Eugene Mazzola
New Rules: an interview with screenwriter C Courtney Joyner
• Cyber-Teachers From Hell: interviews with special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Future of Discipline: an interview with director of photography Mark Irwin
• Theatrical trailer
• TV spots
• Still gallery
• Video promo

Jarman – Volume Two (1987-1994) | The BFI presents six final features from the iconoclastic artist, plus 66 superlative special features, on Blu-ray

It has been 25 years since British filmmaker Derek Jarman died, aged 52 (on 19 February 1994), and yet his artistic legacy continues to live on. Embracing the experimental, the political and the artistic, his cinema was fearlessly unique but also touchingly personal and truly inspirational.

The BFI’s second Limited Edition Blu-ray collection brings together Jarman’s final six features, made during a prolonged burst of creativity and political activism that followed his HIV diagnosis in 1987, and all of them featuring his artistic muse, Tilda Swinton.

These include The Last of England (1987), War Requiem (1989) with Laurence Olivier in his last screen performance, The Garden (1990), Edward II (1993) with Steven Waddington, Wittgenstein (1993) with Michael Gough, Blue (1993) with composers Brian Eno, Coil, Scanner and Simon Fisher Turner, and the posthumously-released elegy to Super 8, Glitterbug (1994), with music from Brian Eno.

All the films are presented in High Definition for the first time in the UK, and the box-set includes 66 amazing special features – both new and archival, plus trailers, galleries of rare stills and promotional materials, and a 100-page collector’s. This truly is a must-have, and a perfect companion to the BFI’s first volume (1972-1986), which contains In the Shadow of the Sun (1974), Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), The Tempest (1979), The Angelic Conversation (1985) and Caravaggio (1986).

•••THE FILMS AND THOSE EXTRA FEATURES IN DETAIL•••

THE LAST OF ENGLAND
Jarman’s highly personal allegory of England in the 1980s. The film combines images of inner-city decay, footage from home movies of three generations of Jarman’s family and a post-apocalypse vision of London ruled by a para-military authority.

Dead Cat (1989, 20 mins): Derek Jarman and Genesis P-Orridge feature in this startling surrealist film in which a young man is terrorised and humiliated, later engaging in a mechanised, industrial sexual encounter
Isle of Sheppey (1984, 7 mins): edited highlights from a VHS video shot on a location-hunting expedition, featuring Derek Jarman and cultural historian Jon Savage
Depuis le jour (1987, 5 mins): Derek Jarman’s sequence from the anthology film Aria
Depuis le jour: audio commentary by producer Don Boyd
Remembering Derek Jarman (2014, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Last of England (2019, 14 mins)
• Don Boyd Remembers The Last of England and Aria (2019, 16 mins)
• Homemade Stuff and Wild Ideas: Simon Fisher Turner on Derek Jarman (2019, 16 mins): the composer looks back on his involvement with Derek Jarman’s art
• Another Derek: Jarman’s Life Away From the Limelight (2019, 5 mins): interview with artist filmmaker John Scarlett-Davis
• An Odd Morality (2019, 4 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• Another World for Ourselves (2019, 9 mins): director John Maybury on meeting Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers Dead Cat (2019, 15 mins)
• Audio commentary on The Last of England with James Mackay, Christopher Hughes, Christopher Hobbs and Simon Fisher Turner
• Galleries

WAR REQUIEM
A must-see for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Benjamin Britten’s choral masterpiece, Jarman’s film interpretation includes readings of Wilfred Owen’s World War One poetry and disturbing images of wars since. Tragedy without the triumph, in other words. Features Nathaniel Parker (as Owen), Laurence Olivier, Sean Bean, Patricia Hayes and Nigel Terry.

Books By My Bedside: Derek Jarman (1989, 25 mins)
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Simon Field (1989, 32 mins)
Requiem For Jarman (2008, 37 mins): recollections on the making of War Requiem
• Don Boyd Remembers War Requiem (2019, 38 mins)
• John Maybury Remembers War Requiem (2019, 8 mins)
• The Nature of Super 8 (2019, 8 mins)
Caravaggio was Accidental (2019, 10 mins): Simon Fisher Turner remembers his first feature soundtrack for Derek Jarman
• Before The Last (2019, 15 mins): James Mackay recalls working with Derek Jarman on The Angelic Conversation and Imagining October
•Derek Jarman Presents (2019, 27 mins): John Maybury remembers the Super 8 filmmaking scene
War Requiem trailer
· Audio commentary on War Requiem with Don Boyd
War Requiem image gallery

THE GARDEN
In the last of three very personal films, Jarman used an explosive combination of scenes and images to bring together his loves, hates and desires – united by his imagery of the Passion.

Derek’s Shoot in Dungeness (1990, 6 mins): rare behind-the-scenes Super 8 footage shot on location at the time of The Garden
The Wanderer (1991, 30 mins): experimental film by David Lewis based on the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name, featuring Michael Gough and Michael York
Kiss 25 Goodbye (1991, 7 mins): experimental short on the 1991 OutRage! ‘kiss-in’ protest at Bow Street police station
Clause and Effect (1988, 19 mins): the gay community unites against Clause 28
Orange Juice (1984, 41 mins): Derek Jarman’s location shoot for the promo for ‘What Presence?!’ by post-punk band Orange Juice, fronted by Edwyn Collins
Shooting the Hunter (2015, 5 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• Anything Can Happen (2019, 11 mins): Richard Heslop on working with Derek Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• The Other Great Masterpiece (2019, 6 mins): John Maybury considers Jarman’s enthusiasm for gardening
The Garden trailers
• Life with Derek (2018, 44 mins): Composer Simon Fisher Turner’s collage of audio clips

EDWARD II
Jarman’s trenchant sort-of-modern-dress adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s play about the downfall of the medieval monarch, richly-textured with atmosphere, but with the homosexual content expanded, embellished and politicised.

Derek’s Edward (2009, 24 mins): the making of Edward II
Ostia (1987, 27 mins): Jarman embodies Pier Paolo Pasolini in this ambitious student film imagining the last hours of the Italian director’s life
Ostia director’s audio commentary
The Clearing (1993, 7 mins): short film by Alex Bistikas starring Derek Jarman and Keith Collins
The Extended Derek Jarman Interview (1991, 70 mins): With Colin McCabe
Cut/Action (2019, 8 mins): Video essay with music and narration by Simon Fisher Turner
• David Lewis Remembers Edward II (2019, 4 mins)
• The Same Spirit (2019, 6 mins): Don Boyd remembers Jarman’s later years
• Truly Beautiful (2019, 19 mins): interview with costumer designer Sandy Powell
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Colin McCabe (1991, 97 mins, audio only)
• Galleries

WITTGENSTEIN
Jarman executed this critically-acclaimed Channel 4 film celebrating the life of Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in just two weeks (on a tiny £300,000 budget). Visually stunning, with some fantastic costumes (from Sandy Powell), it explores Wittgenstein’s repressed homosexuality alongside his reputation as one of greatest thinkers of the century, and features Michael Gough and John Quentin as Bertrand Russell and Maynard Keynes.

• Karl Johnson on Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
• Tilda Swinton on Wittgenstein and Derek Jarman (2007, 10 mins)
• Tariq Ali on Producing Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
Wittgenstein: Behind the Scenes (1993, 22 mins)
Wittgenstein: An Introduction (2007, 4 mins)
Face to Face: Derek Jarman (1993, 41 mins): Jarman discusses his HIV status and sexuality with Jeremy Isaacs
• Producer Tariq Ali on Wittgenstein (2014, 7 mins)
• Jarmanalia with Simon Fisher Turner (2019, 17 mins)
• Films Made by a Painter (2019, 5 mins): James Mackay reflects on Jarman’s distinctive style as a filmmaker

BLUE & GLITTERBUG
Blue – the third film in the highly-personal trilogy begun by The Last of England and The Garden – received a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for its uncompromising look at what it’s like to live and work as an artist with the emotional and physical agonies of AIDS. A challenge to conventional filmmaking ideas, the film sees Jarman (and friends) musing on life, death and living with AIDS using vocal and musical testimony against a blank blue screen. Its a fitting goodbye from a director who never once compromised his principals or his own vision. The posthumously-released Glitterbug is a wonderful elegy to Super 8, featuring a compilation of shorts in which the likes of Adam Ant, William S Burroughs and Marianne Faithfull all contribute.

21st Century Nuns (1994, 10 mins): A look at the British chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their ‘colourful’ activist efforts at fighting homophobia. Great to see this included, as it features some dear friends (some of whom are no longer with us), and is a reminder of just how far we have come with gay/lesbian/transgender rights.
Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman (2009, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers Blue (2019, 15 mins)
• Simon Fisher Turner Remembers Blue (2019, 8 mins)
• David Lewis Remembers Blue (2019, 13 mins)
• Hard to Imagine (2019, 8 mins): John Maybury recalls Jarman’s journey towards Blue
• After The Garden (2019, 10 mins): Richard Heslop remembers Jarman’s later days
• Total Magic (2019, 6 mins): production designer Christopher Hobbs looks back upon Jarman’s fascination with occult imagery
• After Neutron (2019, 8 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• The Best Mentor (2019, 9 mins): John Scarlett-Davis on Jarman’s artistic legacy
Glitterbug and Beyond (2019, 7 mins): James Mackay on the production of Glitterbug
• David Lewis Remembers Glitterbug (2019, 7 mins)
Bliss (1991, 40 mins, audio only): the London debut of the avant-garde live show that helped raise funds to produce Blue, featuring Derek Jarman and Tilda Swinton. This is another of my personal favourites as I was in the audience for this performance, and ended up meeting and chatting with Jarman after the gig. He later gave me some Super 8mm film to shoot my own experimental short, Cruising Headstones.
• Galleries

Michael Gough in The Wanderer

 

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