Category Archives: Thriller

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

Advertisements

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 Night of the Generals | The World War Two whodunnit on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes the World War Two thriller, The Night of the Generals, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, taken from a brand new 4K restoration, as part of the Eureka Classics range.

In 1942 Warsaw, a prostitute is found brutally murdered. Normally, the crime would attract little attention in war, but evidence points to one of three top Nazi generals as the killer. Thanks to German Military Intelligence officer, Major Grau, an epic man-hunt begins, through to Nazi-occupied Paris where, in 1944, an almost exact replica of the crime is committed…

This epic 1967 film, adapted from Joseph Kessel’s novel and directed by Anatole Litvak (making his penultimate picture), has a cast to die for! Not only do you have Peter O’Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray playing the prime suspects, you’ve got Omar Sharif (as Grau), Tom Courtenay, Christopher Plummer, Gordon Jackson, Coral Browne and many more. Even Juliette Greco gets in a little song.

More whodunnit than full-on war drama (with a Hitler assassination subplot that, frankly, seems a bit of an add-on), it also features a magnificent score from Maurice Jarre and evocative film location camerawork, alongside Litvak’s carefully calculated direction.

The highlight for me, however, was seeing Gray and Browne sparring as the devoted von Seidlitz-Gabler couple – as they would play similar roles on the London stage in 1975 in Jean Anouilh’s Ardèle alongside Browne’s hubby, Vincent Price. But O’Toole really is also totally captivating – even though he looks rather pale, sweaty and ill throughout most of the proceedings.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, taken from a stunning 4K restoration
• Uncompressed LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
• Optional English subtitles
• Brand new and exclusive Audio Commentary by author Scott Harrison
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author Scott Harrison

 

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 Big Clock | John Farrow’s superior 1940’s noir heads to Blu-ray

Screwball comedy and heady thrills collide in director John Farrow’s superior noir suspenser, The Big Clock (1948), adapted from the classic 1946 Kenneth Fearing novel of the same name.

Overworked true crime editor George Stroud (Ray Milland) has been planning a vacation for months. However, when his boss, the tyrannical Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton), insists he skips his holidays, Stroud resigns before embarking on a drunken night out with his boss’ mistress, Pauline York (Rita Johnson). When Janoth kills Pauline in a fit of rage, Stroud finds himself becoming the prime suspect in her murder…

Charles Laughton may steal the limelight here, but Elsa Lanchester (aka Mrs Laughton) is a real gem as the zany painter with a string of ex-husbands. Ray Milland and Maureen O’Sullivan (aka Mrs Farrow) are also good as the hero and heroine, and George Macready is super hissable as usual. Farrow tops off his terrific vintage thriller with an exciting chase climax.

The Arrow Academy Blu-ray edition of The Big Clock is out on 13 May 2019

SPECIAL FEATURES
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
• Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
Turning Back the Clock: analysis of the film by Adrian Wootton
A Difficult Actor: an appreciation of Charles Laughton by Simon Callow
• 1948 radio dramatisation by the Lux Radio Theatre, starring Ray Milland
• Original theatrical trailer
• Gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options

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.

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (1971) | Riccardo Freda’s luridly over-the-top giallo

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Talky and torturous, with a totally nonsensical plot, Riccardo Freda’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (aka L’iguana dalla lingua di fuoco) is one of several ‘animal-in-the-title’ giallo cash-ins released in the wake of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and now heads to Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video.

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Set in Dublin, it opens with an acid-throwing, razor-wielding maniac viciously slaying a young woman. When the victim’s butchered corpse is discovered in a limo owned by Ambassador Sobiesky (Anton Diffring), a police investigation is launched.

It turns out the murdered woman was the Ambassador’s lover, but Sobiesky refuses to cooperate with the police, claiming diplomatic immunity.

Troubled ex-cop, John Norton (Luigi Pistilli), is then brought in to assist, but as he starts up an affair with the Ambassador’s step-daughter, Helen (Dagmar Lassander), his own family are soon placed in danger as the maniac continues their killing spree…

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Now I’m not sure whether director Riccardo Freda was just having an off-day when he was making this or whether he decided to say ‘to hell with it’, let’s play fast and furious with giallo convention and spoof the genre, but Iguana is a confusing mess of a film.

Shot with a tourists eye on Dublin’s iconic O’Connell Street and around the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare (acrophobiacs beware), and featuring overblown (vocal) performances from the likes of Valentina Cortese (who plays Sobiesky’s glamourous wife as if she were Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond), plus a rousing score by Stelvio Cipriani, Freda’s luridly over-the-top murder mystery is, bizarrely, also quite mesmerising.

I just got carried away by the visuals, the score and the rather disturbing death scenes. I particularly loved how Cipriani introduced crashing instrumental sounds every time there was a close-up of a pair of glasses or a cigarette lighter. Intentional or not, it’s quite hilarious in a Garth Marenghi kind of way – as is the explanation as to the film’s title (you have to hear it to believe it during a scene between Norton and a shrink).

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire

Now, you can experience Iguana yourself with Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray release, which features some excellent extras. My personal favourite was Lovely Jon’s featurette on Cipriani, which has spurred me in tracking down the composer’s other scores (there’s quite a few) iincluding this film’s score which Arrow are releasing on purple vinyl; while I had to laugh that even academic Richard Dyer found the film as messed up as I did.

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
• New audio commentary by giallo connoisseurs Adrian J Smith and David Flint
Of Chameleons and Iguanas: video appreciation by the cultural critic Richard Dyer
Considering Cipriani: appreciation of composer Stelvio Cipriani by DJ and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon
The Cutting Game: new interview with Iguana’s assistant editor Bruno Micheli
The Red Queen of Hearts: interview with the actress Dagmar Lassander
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector’s booklet (First pressing only)

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) | Robert Aldrich’s splendidly macabre murder mystery on Blu-ray

hush... hush, sweet charlotte-4

From Eureka! Entertainment comes director Robert Aldrich’s brooding murder mystery, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, starring Bette Davis, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

Don’t Tell Anyone What Happened In The Summer House!
Tended by her loyal servant Velma (Agnes Moorehead), Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis) has been closeted in her family’s plantation mansion ever since the brutal murder of her married lover, John Mayhew (Bruce Dern) 37 years earlier. When the local county plans to tear down the house to build a highway, the spinster seeks the help of her New York-based cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland), but Charlotte’s mind soon becomes unhinged when she sees visions of John’s decapitated hand and hearing the song he composed for her wafting through the mansion late at night. Has his ghost really come back to haunt her or is someone trying to drive Charlotte insane?

Regarded as Aldrich’s informal follow-up to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, this splendidly macabre psychological thriller deservedly stands on its own merits, especially considering its seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress gong for Agnes Moorehead. She is simply splendid as the dishevelled Velma, who is quick to alert the authorities and an insurance investigator (a twinkly Cecil Kellaway) about her suspicions. Moorehead’s old Mercury Theatre pal, Joseph Cotton, meanwhile, chews the scenery big time as the bourbon-soaked Dr Drew Bayliss, who jilted Miriam after the murder.

In her last film role is The Maltese Falcon‘s Mary Astor. ‘Turn her loose, Robert, you might learn something!’ was Davis’ famous on-set comment about the veteran actress whose scenes as John’s seriously-ill widow Jewel are the antithesis of Davis’ full-blown hysterics. Nevertheless, Davis brings much pathos to Charlotte (especially in the last half of the film), while Olivia de Havilland (who sensationally replaced Joan Crawford) gives sterling support as the butter-wouldn’t-melt Miriam, who is hiding a few dark secrets of her own.

With its atmospheric black and white cinematography (from Aldrich regular Joseph Biroc), meticulous art direction (from William Glasgow and Raphael Bretton), cracking script (from Baby Jane novelist Henry Farrell), ghoulish special effects and nightmarish set pieces, not to mention the memorably haunting theme tune (from Frank De Vol and Mack David), this is a classic murder mystery of the highest order and one that can be revisited over and over..

Watch out for George Kennedy as the demolition foreman, Ellen Corby as one of the town’s gossips, and a couple of faces from Baby Jane, including Victor Buono as Charlotte’s domineering father whom she believed killed John.

Favourite line: ‘Don’t turn on the light. It’s not real when it’s light. It’s only real when it’s dark… dark and still!’

Eureka! Entertainment presents Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as part of their Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK with the following extras…

• 1080p presentation
• LPCM 2.0 Audio
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger
• Audio commentary by film historian Glenn Erickson
• Hush…Hush, Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte [22 mins]
• Bruce Dern Remembers [13 mins]
• Wizard Work [5 mins] – archival behind-the-scenes look at the film, narrated by Joseph Cotton
• Stills Gallery
• Trailer & TV spots
• Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Lee Gambin, illustrated with archival imagery

Available to order from Zavvi at http://po.st/vIhZja

DID YOU KNOW?
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, which was shot on location at the historic Houmas plantation in Burnside, Louisiana, was originally going to be called What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte? However, Bette Davis disliked the title as it indicated a sequel to Baby Jane, so it was she who suggested using Frank De Vol/Mack David’s song title instead. Crooner Al Martino (who sings the tune over the closing credits) released it as a B-side of his January 1965 single release My Heart Would Know, which reached No.52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bette Davis, Patti Page, Richard Chamberlain and even the UK’s very own Bruce Forsyth all released their own versions of the melody.

Long Weekend (1978) | Mother nature strikes back in the cult Oz eco-horror

Long Weekend (1978)

There’s a storm brewing in the city, and also between materialistic married couple, Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets), following Marcia’s affair with one of their friends. With a Bank Holiday weekend in sight, Peter engineers a camping trip to an isolated beach, telling Marcia that it will be a chance for them to sort things out. In reality, however, Peter just wants to surf, shoot and drink beer with his faithful dog Cricket by his side, while Marcia would rather prefer a plush hotel than a hot tent in the middle of bloody nowhere.

With total disregard for the environment, the couple set up camp and leave a wake of destruction as they start their bickering. Local wildlife gets run over, shot, splattered and poisoned; petrol cans, plastic and rifle shells litter the beach; and cigarette butts are carelessly tossed away. But when Peter shoots a harmless dugong after mistaking it for a shark, Mother Nature begins to exact her subtle revenge on the unlikeable pair…

This tense and unsettling minimalist horror, helmed by Australian TV director Colin Eggleston, is exceptionally well-made, and has out-lived more worthy period features that dominated the Australian cinema landscape in the late-1970s (like My Brilliant Career and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith) to achieve true cult status.

Alongside the same year’s Patrick, this was also the first successful attempt at genre film-making in Australia, and its all down to the performances of the two leads and the atmospheric imagery that director Eggleston and his tight crew conjure up to reinforce the sense of dread that permeates the film’s changing landscape – culminating in a sweat-inducing final 20 minutes that’s devoid of dialogue as nature closes in. Amongst the scenes that still manage to creep me out are the Barbie doll covered in seaweed, an abandoned combi van half-submerged in the surf and the scary night-time drive into a dense forest of trees (very Grimms’ Fairy Tale).

The film also casts a dark, satirical shadow over Australian identity and middle class mores thanks to an insightful screenplay from Everett De Roche, who is best known for penning a flurry of Ozploitation hits including Patrick (1978), Road Games (1981) and Razorback (1984). He also imbues his screenplay with a mythic quality that hints at the supernatural – something that Peter Weir also aimed at with 1977’s The Last Wave (aka Black Rain in the US), in which freak rainstorms in Sydney have a apocalyptic connection with the Aboriginal Dreamtime. But its this element that makes you want to return again and again to the film as there’s so much going on under the surface than you first expect.

Alongside 1983’s Careful, He Might Hear You and 1986’s Malcolm, this is Hargreaves’ finest hour, and his honest and authentic performance earned him a Best Actor award at the Sitges Fantasy Film Festival where he beat off Lawrence Olivier, Klaus Kinski and Donald Pleasence (now that’s a coup). Sadly, Hargreaves died of AIDS aged just 50 in 1996. But he thought so much of his award that he had it buried with him. Director Eggleston, who died in 2002, never really matched the success of this film with his subsequent features, but Long Weekend remains his enduring legacy.

Long Weekend is out on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK courtesy of Second Sight, with the following special features…

• Audio commentary with executive producer Richard Brennan (Mad Dog Morgan, Spotswood) and cinematographer Vincent 
Monton (Thirst, Road Games): Recorded in 2006, this commentary reveals lots about the technical aspects of the film, from using a precursor to the steadicam to manipulating the beach location (by spray-painting brought in trees to change the colour palette from green to grey to represent the decay setting in); and also explores the reasons why the film was a bigger success in Europe and Asia than in Australia.

• Nature Found Them Guilty: Examining Long Weekend – Panel discussion with film historians 
Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Emma Westwood and Sally Christie: The gang go deeper into the film’s themes and ‘grotty symbolism’ to quote Briony’s character, including how the film is an indigenous comment without having an indigenous person in the cast.

• Uncut ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ interviews with Everett De Roche, Briony Behets and Vincent 
Monton: These are very interesting, especially from Briony, who at the time of filming was married to the film’s executive producer, Richard Brennan.

• August 1995 audio interview with the John Hargreaves who talks about acting and his mentor, John Meillon, whom he affectionately called Maude, while the Crocodile Dundee star called him Hilary. This piece also includes a great behind-the-scene picture gallery which might be a bit spoilery if you haven’t seen the film first.

• Extensive Stills Gallery

• Original Theatrical Trailer

• SDH English subtitles for the hearing impaired

ORDER FROM AMAZON HERE

 

%d bloggers like this: