A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) | Douglas Sirk ditches the melodrama to make an anti-war epic
During the last days of World War Two, a young German soldier (John Gavin) stationed on the Eastern Front becomes bitterly disillusioned with the war and the Nazi ’cause’ when he returns to his village, finding his love destroyed and his parents missing.
Douglas Sirk, best known for his lush 1950s Hollywood melodramas, directs a moving love story within the context of a fiercely anti-war film, based on a novel by All Quiet on the Western Front author Erich Maria Remarque.
A far cry from the soapy high camp of All That Heaven Allows or Written on the Wind, Sirk’s CinemaScope epic, A Time to Love and A Time to Die (which was originally released on 9 July 1958) is an explosive and unforgettable experience and is rightly regarded as his masterpiece, counting New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard among its fans.
In 2009 Eureka Entertainment released the 1958 war-time drama on DVD, followed by the Blu-ray in 2013 – as part of its The Masters of Cinema Series – in its original 2:35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio, with English SDH subtitles, optional isolated music and effects track.
The extras include, Of Tears and Speed: According to Jean-Luc Godard, a 12-minute, visually annotated recitation of Godard’s seminal essay on Sirk’s film; a 19-minute video interview with screenwriter Wesley Strick; Imitation of Life [Mirage of Life]: A Portrait of Douglas Sirk, a 49-minute documentary from 1984; trailer and collector’s booklet.
Convinced by her unborn baby (who speaks to her from her womb) that her partner’s death in a climbing accident was the result of a group decision to cut his rope, Ruth tracks them down and kills them with a large kitchen knife. But when her waters break as she finally confronts the group’s leader, Tom, (Kayvan Novak), Ruth finds herself on a cliff edge (both literally and metaphorically) swaying between redemption and destruction…
Shot in just 11 days during Lowe’s own real-life pregnancy, Prevenge is an assured directorial debut from the writer/actress, who is best known for her turns in Ben Wheatley’s Kill List and Sightseers. Now I came into the film expecting it to be played strictly for laughs, but there’s an emotional core that quietly drags you in.
And that’s down to Lowe’s compelling performance as Ruth who, throughout her murder spree, which includes slashing the throat of Kate (Game of Thrones) Dickie’s bitchy boss and the gory castration of Tom Davis’ sleazy DJ, the viewer is left wondering if she’s clinically mad or just having a really bad day?
Thankfully, Ruth’s got Jo Hartley’s caring midwife to help ground her back to reality. But Ruth is a deeply sad and lonely woman – and you can’t help but sympathise with her because she has no family or support as she awaits the birth of her baby.
Ruth’s bland apartment – which looks like temporary council accommodation – only heightens her loneliness and sense of alienation. So do the other-worldly neon-lit Cardiff city locations – which were chosen on purpose according to Lowe in the extras.
Speaking of which, do check out the Post Natal Confessions extra, it’s really informative in shedding light on the making of this surprisingly emotional black comedy that deserves multiple viewings. It also reveals the genesis behind my favourite scene in which Ruth meets ‘Death’ in the form of a Halloween party-goer.
Prevenge is out on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD from includes an audio commentary with Alice Lowe, cinematographer Ryan Eddleston, editor Matteo Bini and producer Vaughan Sivell.
The Prevenge soundtrack by ToyDrum is also available digitally through Invada Records at www.invada.co.uk
Winner of four Festival awards (Sitges International Film Festival, Monsters of Film, Toronto After Dark,
Deaffest) and shortlisted for a BAFTA, Dawn of the Deaf, from London-based writer/director Rob Savage is an accomplished, pulse racing short which sets the scene for an apocalyptic event in which a mysterious sonic pulse wipes out all of London’s hearing population, leaving only the deaf to deal with a zombie outbreak…
It’s a clever twist on the classic genre that could have been done for laughs, but Savage uses the 12-minute running time to explore some very important issues – discrimination, sexual abuse and empowerment – through the eyes of four very believable characters. Kudos go to Caroline Ward, who gives a touching performance as deaf teen Sam, whose pain and torment is expertly conveyed through her eyes and facial expressions.
The excellent camerawork (from DOP Sam Heasman) of some iconic London locations gives the film an epic ‘end of the world’ look (think 28 Days Later, but costing the fraction of the price), and there’s one shot that really brings home the gravity of the unexplained event – but I won’t spoil the surprise for you. And when the end credits roll, I’ll wager you’ll be begging to know what happens next…
Watch Dawn of the Deaf on Vimeo here:
Death in the Garden (1956) | Luis Buñuel’s rebellious rumble in the jungle is a surrealist tour de force
From Eureka Entertainment comes Death in the Garden, Luis Buñuel’s surreal adventure film, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series, in a Dual-format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition.
After his colourful 1954 rumble in the jungle with Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (which scored star Dan O’Herlihy a Best Actor Oscar nod), Luis Buñuel adapted José-André Lacour’s novel La mort en ce jardin for the second in his revolutionary triptych exploring the morality and tactics of armed revolution against a right-wing dictatorship. The first was 1956’s Cela s’appelle l’aurore and the last being 1959’s La Fièvre Monte à El Pao.
The action takes place in an unspecified South American outpost where martial law is declared following a miners revolt. Fearing for their lives, rugged adventurer Shark (Georges Marchal), French prostitute Djin (Simone Signoret), dedicated priest Father Lizardi (Michel Piccoli), veteran diamond miner Castin (Charles Vanel), and his deaf-mute daughter Maria (Michèle Girardon), flee into the jungle – but they are unprepared for the dangers that lay ahead…
Death in the Garden is a game of two halves: the first (running around an hour) is pure adventure as the fugitives escape the bloodshed, while the second half sees Buñuel let loose his surreal imaginings and political constructs.
Gorgeously shot in Eastmancolor and making painterly use of the exotic Catemaco and Cosamaloapan locations in Veracruz, Mexico, the film really comes into its own in the jungle with each character undergoing an existential crisis, while Buñuel’s master stroke is the discovery of the wreckage of a passenger plane – the contents of which become symbolic of the bourgeois trappings that our exiles have left behind.
Michel Piccoli (in one of his earliest feature film roles) gets my vote as the film’s stand-out character. His Catholic priest is devout, but also very human; while Georges Marchal makes for a pretty fit action hero, and Simone Signoret is one helluva rough diamond.
This little-seen Buñuel is certainly ripe for rediscovery and a surrealist tour de force.
Available to order from: Amazon http://amzn.to/2oBDNt0
DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES:
· 1080p presentation (Blu-ray)
· Uncompressed PCM soundtrack (Blu-ray)
· Optional English subtitles
· Interview with Tony Rayns
· Interview with actor Michel Piccoli
· Interview with film scholar Victor Fuentes
· Masters of Cinema exclusive trailer
· PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp, and archival imagery
Fantastic news frightfans – CULT OF CHUCKY will get its world premiere and open this year’s Horror Channel Frightfest which is also heading back to London’s West End from 24-28 August. Writer and director Don Mancini and stars Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif will be in attendance, alongside Chucky the deadly doll.
Mancini said today: “It’s a true pleasure to be hosting the world premiere of CULT OF CHUCKY at FrightFest. I have fond memories of unveiling Curse of Chucky there in 2013 so it’s great to be returning to the UK’s acknowledged home of horror – especially as this film picks up from where Curse…left off”.
Two more of the horror genre’s most popular and beloved franchises are given their World Premieres: To celebrate a decade of his cursed Victor Crowley creation, writer/director Adam Green is returning to FrightFest with a version of HATCHET never seen before. Plus, there is a presentation of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s LEATHERFACE, the stunning prequel to the terror classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.
AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS…
FrightFest unveiled a bright new directorial talent when it screened Tyler McIntyre’s PATCHWORK at the Glasgow Film Festival and the closing night film is the UK Premiere of his amazing TRAGEDY GIRLS, where HEATHERS meets SCREAM in a dream combo. It stars super-powered heroines Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand.
FrightFest also welcomes back Adam Wingard with the European Premiere of his supernatural manga DEATH NOTE, Joe Lynch with the European Premiere of his highly infectious action thriller MAYHEM, Mickey Keating with the European Premiere of his eye-shattering PSYCHOPATHS, Graham Skipper with the European Premiere of his surreal sci-fi romance SEQUENCE BREAK and genre favourite Barbara Crampton, who stars in Norbert Kell’s skin-crawler REPLACE, receiving its UK Premiere.
In a programme packed with innovation, uniqueness and individuality, other tips of the ice-pick are Ryan Prows’ powerful cult-in-waiting LOWLIFE, Trent Haaga’s stunning 68 KILL, high voltage THE VILLAINESS hot from Cannes, Alex de la Iglesia’s bleakly comic THE BAR, Miguel Angel Vivas’ remake of the French extreme thriller INSIDE, Daniele Misischia’s undead Romageddon THE END? Todd Tuckers’ affectionately creepy THE TERROR OF HALLOWS EVE, Brandon Christensen’s terrifying STILL/BORN, Sebastien Landry & Laurence Morais-Lagace’s head-exploding GAME OF DEATH, Kurtis David Harder’s provocative sci-fi horror INCONTROL and Royce Gorsuch’s kaleidoscopic mindbender MINDHACK.
Continuing the festival’s important and vital commitment to highlighting the cream of the homegrown crop, our British strand is well-populated with World Premieres for Dominic Brunt’s perverted shocker ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES, Christian James’ prison-set vampire comedy FANGED UP and Matthew Heaven’s scorching revenge study ACCOUNTABLE. There are also European Premieres for Dominic Bridge’s debut dark morality tale FREEHOLD, Tom Paton’s nerve-shredding REDWOOD and Benjamin Barfoot’s hilariously blood-soaked DOUBLE DATE. And the ‘First Blood’ strand Is back on the menu with five tasty titles: actor Jason Flemyng’s blood-sucking feature debut EAT LOCALS, Louis Melville’s squaddie shocker BOOTS ON THE GROUND, Hendrik Faller’s ice-cold thriller MOUNTAIN FEVER, Michaël Boucherie’s tattoo-terror WHERE THE SKIN LIES and Peter Stray’s alien-invading black comedy CANARIES.
The festival’s accent on rising talent is further enriched with Preston DeFrancis’ extreme slasher RUIN ME, Natasha Kermani’s sci-fi fantasy IMITATION GIRL, Clay Staub’s supernatural detective thriller DEVIL’S GATE, Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard’s mesmerising RADIUS, Samuel Galli’s devilishly shocking OUR EVIL, Andrés Goteira’s dazzling DHOGS, David Chirchirillo’s Tinder Terror GOOD MATCH, Tini Tuellman’s spine-chilling psycho suspense thriller FREDDY/EDDY, Haritz Zubillaga’s car-killing giallo THE GLASS COFFIN, Scott Poiley’s hard-edged chiller EXHUME, Adam Graveley’s Aussie outback shocker 3RD NIGHT, Michael Mongillo’s audacious and haunting DIANE, Peter Ricq’s stark comedy DEAD SHACK and Carlos Algara and Alejandro Martinez-Beltran’s gripping psychological twister VERONICA.Three documentaries will receive their eagerly awaited premieres at FrightFest this year. KING COHEN: THE WILD WORLD OF FILMMAKER LARRY COHEN is a dazzling career overview of the maverick director behind such classic horrors as IT’S ALIVE, Q THE WINGED SERPENT, fantasy television series like ‘The Invaders’, HELL UP IN HARLEM Blaxploitation, recent releases CELLULAR and soon the MANIAC COP remake. We welcome back on screen Kane Hodder, everyone’s favourite Jason Voorhees in the FRIDAY THE 13th series, with his moving and eye-opening TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY. Finally there’s the extraordinary MANSFIELD 66/67, a super Hollywood Babylon-style whisk through the final years of movie goddess Jayne Mansfield’s life and untimely, possibly Satanic, death.
Other attractions include Emilia Clarke in VOICE FROM THE STONE, Robert Englund in NIGHTWORLD, the French graphic novel adaptation ALONE, the outrageous gore-fest MEATBALL MACHINE KODOKU, the Aussie chiller KILLING GROUND, the hilarious TOP KNOT DETECTIVE and Episodes 1 & 2 of the amazing Japanese TV series CROW‘S BLOOD. Plus two FrightFest Glasgow hits are being rescreened: Simon Rumley’s FASHIONISTA and Colin Minihan’s IT STAINS THE SANDS RED.
This year’s retrospective restoration strand highlights the underrated British horror DREAM DEMON, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III, two classic Hammers, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB and DEMONS OF THE MIND, plus the longest version found of the seminal proto-giallo DEATH LAID AN EGG, lovingly restored by Nucleus Films’ Jake West and Marc Morris.
The Duke Mitchell Film Club is back with a hosted presentation of the UK premiere of Stefan Ruzowsky’s COLD HELL, a gripping serial killer thriller. This is followed by the not-to-be missed DUKE MITCHELL PARTY, where the audience and invited special guests can expect all manner of madness guaranteed to kick off your Saturday late night in style.
Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest, said today: “The whole cinema landscape is changing and Horror Channel FrightFest is listening. We know the fans want to see the films first, see them fast and see them in an environment that is second to none. That’s why we have what we believe is the finest line-up ever assembled and are showcasing the superlative selection in premium surroundings. So, the West End becomes the Dark Heart of London once again. And we’ve made it to our 18th birthday. It’s going to be quite some party”.
Festival passes will go on sale tomorrow (Saturday 1 July) at noon and will only be available to buy online: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
Single tickets will go on sale on Sat 29 July from 9am.
Based on an allegedly real-life paranormal encounter experienced by George and Kathleen Lutz in the mid-1970s, AIP’s The Amityville Horror scared the willies out of me when I saw it on the big screen back in 1979. And after all these years, the seminal shocker remains a thrilling exercise in suspense thanks to Stuart Rosenberg’s masterful direction, the top production values, a chilling Lalo Schifrin score, and some great performances.
James Brolin and Margot Kidder play the fraught couple who, along with Kathy’s three kids, buy a beautiful Long Island home, but they know nothing about the murders that took place there several years earlier.
And it’s not long before some inexplicable events start happening: Rod Steiger’s visiting priest turns into a sweaty nervous wreck when he’s bugged by a swarm of flies; the babysitter gets locked in a cupboard; and the Lutz’s little daughter gets herself an imaginary friend who turns malevolent.
Plus, there’s those spooky windows glowering like devil eyes, a vomiting nun, and James Brolin getting more mad-eyed, weird and sweaty while out chopping wood… Oh! and then there’s bubbling goo… Add some lightning and thunder and the family fleeing for their lives and you’ve got yourself the perfect scarefest.
Along with Burnt Offerings, Poltergeist and The Shining, The Amityville Horror is haunted house horror at its chilling best. So this new Blu-ray release from Second Sight is welcome addition to my cult film collection; while the bonus features are just the icing on the cake.
Check them out here:
• Brolin Thunder: Interview with actor James Brolin (his comments on The Car made me roar with laughter)
• Child’s Play: Interview with actor Meeno Peluce
• Amityville Scribe: Interview with screenwriter Sandor Stern
• The Devil’s Music: Interview with composer Lalo Schifrin
• My Amityville Horror: Feature-length documentary with Daniel Lutz
• For God’s Sake, Get Out: Featuring James Brolin and Margot Kidder
• Intro by Dr. Hans Holzer, PhD. in parapsychology (author of ‘Murder in Amityville’)
• Audio commentary by Dr. Hans Holzer
• Original trailer, TV spot, radio spots
• Four reproduction lobby card postcards (SteelBook Exclusive)
• New optional English subtitles
From Arrow Video comes the rarely seen early-1970s German serial killer drama, loosely based on the true story of Fritz Haarmann, aka the Butcher of Hanover. Produced by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and directed by Ulli Lommel, Tenderness of the Wolves was originally released on 29 June 1973, and became available on Blu-ray and DVD following a restoration by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation in November 2015.
Haarmann was responsible for the murders of 24 boys and young men during the so-called ‘years of crisis’ between the two world wars in the Lower Saxony capital before being executed by the guillotine in 1925. His grisly case partly inspired Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic M (starring Peter Lorre) as well as this near-forgotten gem from 1973, which I have been searching for ever since I read about it an issue of Stephen Thrower’s Eyeball magazine back in 1998.
In a supremely understated performance, a shaven-headed Kurt Raab makes his perverted boy killer a repellent, yet fascinating and (at times) sympathetic figure. He’s also one of cinemas most human monsters. Using his status as a police informant to procure his young victims – mostly runaways and street vagrants, the former petty thief dismembers their bodies, then sells their flesh on the black market to his friends and neighbours.
While uneasy to watch, Ulli Lommel’s film expertly utilises the true crime thriller genre to let a disturbing socio-political commentary on how poverty creates a climate of indifference to rear its satirical head.
The film’s real horror, meanwhile, is not in the killings (although they are made all the more frightening because they are alluded to rather than shown), but in the in-actions of those who support and nurture a vile creature like Haarman: including the police, his neighbours and lowlife friends (who dare not cast the first stone in case their own darkness comes to light).
And this horror is presented in two chilling scenes: when a store-owner laughs off Haarman eyeing up her young son (knowing full well what he does to them); while another, barely 10, accosts him for sexual favours, but is never seen again after knocking on his door…
THE 2015 ARROW VIDEO RELEASE
• New high definition digital transfer on Blu-ray DVD, with original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 sound, and newly translated optional English subtitles
• Audio commentary, interview and introduction by director Ulli Lommel
• Photographing Fritz: interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
• Haarmann’s Victim Talks: interview with actor Rainer Will
• An appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Trailer (in HD)
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by the Twins of Evil
• Collector’s booklet
Boccaccio ’70 (1962) | Italian sexual mores as seen through the eyes of Fellini, Visconti, De Sica and Monicelli
Italy’s greatest directors bring four stories of Italian post-war sexual mores and morality to cinematic life in the 1962 big-screen anthology Boccaccio ’70, which gets a brand-new remaster on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from CultFilms in the UK.
Federico Fellini directs his first colour work, the wild fantasy, Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio, which perfectly illustrates why Fellini is Fellini. Starring Anita Ekberg, who beguiled cinema audiences as the lady in the Trevi Fountain in 1960’s La Dolce Vita, Fellini’s surreal play sees a prudish man driven insane when a giant billboard featuring the ravishing Ekberg comes to life.
Luchino Visconti provides some serious melodrama with Il lavoro, a play in which Romy Schneider’s aristocratic housewife shows her independent side when her husband’s affairs make front page news. This one features what Time Magazine described as ‘surely one of the most provocative stripteases to be recorded on film’.
Vittorio De Sica’s story, La riffa, sees screen siren Sophia Loren putting her sexual favours up for auction in a bid a to pay off her taxes. While the portraits conclude with director Mario Monicelli’s once lost segment, Renzo e Luciana – a sweet, funny play about two working class lovers (Marisa Solinas and Germano Gilioli) who keep their impending marriage a secret in order to keep their jobs.
With an exciting soundtrack from the legendary Nino Rota and Armando Trovaili and outstanding camerawork, Boccaccio ’70 is a slice of cinematic history past that deserves multiple viewings.
For the first-time ever, the film is presented here in both its original language with new, improved, English subtitles and alternatively with an English audio track. The new Blu-ray release also features previously the unseen documentary, Sophia, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a candid, intimate interview with Sophia Loren with contributions from Woody Allen, Giorgio Armani and other close friends and collaborators.
Boccaccio ’70 is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from CultFilms in the UK from 26 June 2017
Meet Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) – who may or may not have come unstuck in time. During the Second World War, the young soldier is captured and sent to a German POW camp. On route, he witnesses the bombing of Dresden, an event that unhinges his fixity in time and causes him to live his life simultaneously as a POW, an optician in 1970’s America, and as the elderly abducted resident of a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore, where his captors provide him with a mate in the form of a porn star.
This thought-provoking anti-war, sci-fi from directed George Roy Hill (best known for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting) is based on American author Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s most influential and popular work, the 1969 satirical semi-autobiographical novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, which drew on the author’s own experiences as a prisoner of war when he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
Thought to be impossible to film given its intertwining storylines and timelines, it went on to win the Prix du Jury at Cannes, as well as the praise of Vonnegut who remarked: ‘I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book’.
The Bach compositions used in the movie were supplied by celebrated classical pianist Glenn Gould, while the film’s star Michael Sacks later retired from the entertainment industry in the mid-1980s to become a technology industry executive for Morgan Stanley. Amongst the cast is Ron Leibman (TV’s Archer), Valerine Perrine (Lenny) and Perry King (Class of 1984).
From the man who gave us Tentacles, The Visitor, Beyond the Door and Piranha II: The Spawning, Ovidio G Assonitis, comes Madhouse (aka And When She Was Bad/There Was a Little Girl), an Italian-made/Savannah, Georgia-shot slasher that was once on the UK’s video nasty list – and its a genuine find, courtesy of Arrow who have dusted it off and given it a 2k-restored release.
Julia (Trish Everly), a teacher in a school for the deaf, has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary (Alison Biggers)… but Mary hasn’t forgotten. Escaping hospital, where she’s recently been admitted with a disfiguring illness, Julia’s sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling – promising a birthday surprise she’ll never forget…
While nothing as gut-wrenching violent as the British authorities felt necessary to outlaw, Madhouse is a curious concoction of serial killer thriller, giallo whodunit and gothic histrionics. Think Happy Birthday to Me (also made in 1981) meets Rebecca, but with added camp – courtesy of character actor Dennis Robertson doing his best Roddy McDowall impression as the overly-friendly and rather odd Father James.
Indeed, director Assonitis told his cast to go over the top with their characterisations and indeed they did – which makes for some wonderful LOL moments (especially Alison Biggers as the bonkers mad Mary). And true to his honorific title as the ‘Rip-Off King’, Assonitis also chucks in a purely Omen-esque element – a Rottweiler trained to attack on command. It’s grisly demise – a power drill to the head – will most undoubtedly upset dog lovers everywhere, but the special effects will have you howling…
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
• Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations
• Original Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
• Interviews with cast and crew (my favourite is Edith Ivey – who knew she was Indian Princess Summerfall Winterspring on The Howdy Doody Show?)
• Alternate Opening Titles
• Theatrical Trailer, newly transferred in HD
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Marc Schoenbach
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film (first pressing only)