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The Holy Mountain | The German silent that launched Leni Riefenstahl’s career on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes The Holy Mountain, the greatest of the German ‘mountain films’ and the film that launched the career of Leni Riefenstahl , digitally restored in 2K and presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK as a part of The Masters of Cinemas Series.

German filmmaker Arnold Fanck made this beautifully photographed Bergfilm, or ‘mountain film’, in 1926. Written in three days and nights – especially for Riefenstahl, who would go on to direct the Nazi propaganda films, Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933), Triumph of the Will (1935), and Tag der Freiheit (1935) – The Holy Mountain (aka Der Heilige Berg) took over a year to film at the Atelier Staaken studio in Berlin and on mountain locations in Switzerland, with an entourage of expert skiers and climbers.

Ostensibly a tragic love triangle romance – between Riefenstahl’s young dancer and two mountain climbers, Vigo (Ernst Petersen) and his older friend (Luis Trenker) – Fanck relishes the glorious Alpine landscape by filming death-defying climbing, avalanche dodging, and frenetic downhill ski racing.

Digitally restored in 2K, The Holy Mountain is a visual feast – and a fascinating look at the origin of a genre.

Order via the Eureka Store or Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a 2014 2K digital restoration
• Score by Aljoscha Zimmerman, available in both LPCM 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1
• Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993, 180 mins) – Ray Müller’s Emmy award-winning documentary on Leni Reifenstahl. In German, with subtitles.
• Audio commentary by film historian Travis Crawford
• Collector’s booklet

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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

Cujo | The 1980s rabid dog horror from the pen of Stephen King gets a limited edition UK Blu-ray release

Evil bites when a drooling rabid dog lays siege to the frightened occupants of a broken-down car in this 1983 horror from director Lewis Teague (Alligator, The Jewel of the Nile), based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name.

While Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic Trenton (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) struggle to save their rocky marriage, their son Tad (Danny Pintauro) befriends the St Bernard who belongs to their mechanic. But what they don’t realise is that a bat bite is transforming Cujo into a vicious killer. With Vic away on business, Donna and Tad’s car trouble pushes them into a living nightmare…

Alongside Maximum Overdrive and Cat’s Eye, this is one of the weakest Stephen King adaptations, but it did do modest business at the box-office back in 1983 when hit became the fourth-highest grossing horror of the year. The simple premise is of a car breaking down, but in order to flesh out the film’s running time, it does so several times.

Dee Wallace and Who’s the Boss’ Danny Pintauro handle their roles pretty well, and Lewis does his best in the director’s chair which was originally occupied by Peter Medak (who left the project two days into filming). But Moe, the St Bernard, who plays Cujo is just too darn loveable looking, even with all that slobber coated over him, to make a convincing hell hound. And valiantly trying to generate suspense with his mobile camera is cinematographer Jan de Bont, who went on to direct Speed.

Eureka Classics’ Limited Edition 2-disc Blu-ray edition is available to order from Amazon

Check out the full specs below.

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION [4000 UNITS] CONTAINS
• Hardbound Slipcase, featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Justin Osbourn and original poster artwork
• 60-page Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author Scott Harrison, and Craig Ian Mann; illustrated with archival imagery from the film’s production.

DISC ONE
• 1080p presentation of the film, on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK
• Uncompressed LPCM mono soundtrack
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo
• New interviews with Dee Wallace [40 mins], composer Charles Bernstein [35 mins], stunt people Gary Morgan [25 mins] and Jean Coulter [21 mins], casting director Marcia Ross. [20 mins], visual effects artist Kathie Lawrence [13 mins], special effects designer Robert Clark [12 mins] and dog trainer Teresa Miller [28 mins]
Dog Days: The Making of Cujo – archival documentary on the film’s production [42 mins]

DISC TWO [Limited Edition Only]
• Q&A with Dee Wallace from Cinemaniacs & Monster Fest 2015 [96 mins]
• New interview with critic and author Kim Newman [25 mins]

La signora senza camelie (1953) and Le amiche (1955) | Michelangelo Antonioni’s early dramas shine a light on Fifties Italian womenhood

le amiche

Michelangelo Antonioni, who is getting a major retrospective at the BFI Southbank in January and February 2019, belonged to that elite group of Italian film-makers who made a huge impact on world cinema following the Second World War.

Best known for maverick fare like L’avventura, Blow Up and Zabriskie Point in the liberated 1960s and 1970s, Antonioni actually honed his unique vision in a series of wry character studies of Italian mores in the conservative 1950s.

Back in 2011, Eureka! Entertainment released newly-restored versions of two significant features from the celebrated film-maker as part of their Masters of Cinema series in which the director moved away from neo-realism – the dominate style of 1940s Italian cinema – to try his hand at new techniques of story-telling.

1953’s La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camelias) – one of the most insightful films about cinema ever made – tells the story of a former shop assistant called Clara Manni (Lucia Bosé) who finds herself thrust into movie stardom.

Clara has incredible beauty, but little talent or assertiveness to survive in the male-dominated film-making world that Antonioni portrays as fickle, frivolous and lacking in soul. But despite the disappointments and humiliations Clara encounters in both her career as an actress and in her loveless marriage to the wealthy, jealous Gianni, she is a woman whose inner resilience shines through.

The Lady Without Camelias

La signora senza camelie – a play on Alexander Dumas’s famous romantic work, The Lady of the Camellias – is a carefully-crafted character study about a woman out of sorts with her environment (a theme that would recur in Antonioni’s subsequent works). It’s also an opportunity for the director to poke a stick at the film-making process – in particular, Rome’s Cinecittà – making this a great companion piece to Minnelli’s Hollywood melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful (made the previous year) and Godard’s introspective art piece Le Mépris (made a decade later).

1955’s Le amiche (The Girlfriends) looks like a rehearsal for Antonioni’s masterworks. Adapted from Cesare Pavese‘s novella, Le amiche charts the story of Clelia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago), a successful dressmaker who returns to her native city of Torino (Turin) where she becomes involved with a group of wealthy women. But she soon finds herself torn between the conservative world of her working-class origins and the glamorous environment in which she now resides. It is only when one of her new friends commits suicide that she realises she belongs in neither.

La amiche

In this character-driven snapshot of the lives of five women, Antonioni experimented with a radical new style which would become his trademark: instead of the normal narrative structure, he presented a series of seemingly disconnected events – often using long, carefully framed, takes. This gives him the chance to explore each character and their own personal journey. It’s a tad stagy and experimental (his ideas would finally pay off in 1960’s L’avventura), but remains absorbing.

Both La signora senza camelie and le amiche address the role of women in modern Italian society. Over half a century later, they still have something to say and are now a window on an Italian landscape (both human and otherwise) that has changed so dramatically over time. For cineastes familiar with Antonioni’s better-known works, this pairing is the epitome of the director’s 1950’s period.

The Lady Without Camelias screens Saturday 12 January at the BFI Southbank, while Le amiche has four separate screenings, with the first on Wednesday 9 January. To book and for more information, check out the full season HERE

Laura (1944) | Eureka Entertainment presents the essential film noir on Blu-ray

Director Otto Preminger’s Laura is one of the greatest and most essential film noirs of all time, and now the deliciously well-crafted murder mystery is heading to Blu-ray as part of Eureka Entertainment’s The Masters of Cinema Series from 14 January 2019.

Police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is drawn into Manhattan high society as he investigates the death of career girl Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), apparently gunned down in her own apartment. The suspects are numerous, led by effete, snobbish columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), and Laura’s philandering fiancé Shelby (Vincent Price), who’s also been cavorting with Laura’s wealthy aunt (Judith Anderson). McPherson begins to fall in love with Laura through a portrait in her home and the memories relayed by those who knew her… just as it becomes apparent that even the basic facts of the case might not be what they seemed.

This 1944 murder mystery classic from director Otto Preminger (replacing Rouben Mamoulian) has grown in stature over the years, with its hypnotic mixture of doomed romantic obsession, dizzying intrigue, and fatalistic cynicism marking it as essential noir.

Peppered with eternally quotable dialogue (“I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbours’ children devoured by wolves.”), sumptuous, Oscar-winning cinematography by Joseph LaShelle and David Raksin’s haunting theme music, Laura is an undeniable American masterpiece.

Available to order from: Amazon and Zavvi

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray of both the extended and original theatrical versions of the film
  • LPCM mono Audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Audio commentary by composer David Raksin and film professor Jeanine Basinger
  • Audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Laura: The Lux Radio Theater broadcasts Two radio adaptations of Laura from 1945 [59 mins] and 1954 [57 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in the 1945 version, and Gene Tierney and Victor Mature in the 1954 version
  • Laura: The Screen Guild Theater broadcast Adaptation of Laura from radio anthology series, The Screen Guild Theater, originally aired in 1945 [30 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb
  • Laura: The Ford Theater broadcast A further radio adaptation of Laura from 1948, starring Virginia Gilmore and John Larkin
  • A Tune for Laura: David Raksin Remembers an archival interview with the renowned composer
  • The Obsession an archival featurette on Laura
  • Deleted Scene
  • PLUS: A collector s booklet featuring a new essay by Phil Hoad, alongside a selection of rare archival imagery

Troll: The Complete Collection | The 1980s fantasy franchise gets a Eureka Classics Limited Edition Blu-ray release

Troll (1986)

Long before a certain young wizard called Harry Potter waged a magical war against the dreaded Lord Voldemort, another youngster, also called Harry Potter, found himself battling a pint-sized dark wizard in the 1986 fantasy comedy Troll.

Troll (1986)

While critically-panned at the time, Troll has become something of a cult curiosity ever since it scored big on the home video business, where it even overtook The Goonies in rentals. Noah Hathaway from Never Ending Story fame plays the spunky hero, Harry Potter Jr, who comes under the tutelage of a white witch called Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart of Lost in Space fame) when his sister Wendy is possessed by Torok (Phil Fondacaro) – a powerful fairy (and Eunice’s former lover) who was turned into a troll after starting a war between fairies and humans.

Troll (1986)

Small, smart, dripping with saliva, and with teeth that would keep a dentist in bridgework for life, Torok wants to transform the human world back into the grand, magical kingdom that existed many centuries ago… With just 72 hours to complete his mission, Torok creates his fairy world inside a San Francisco apartment block and starts turning its tenants, including Sonny Bono, a pre-Seinfield Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Phil Fondacaro (who also plays a friendly neighbour), into goblins, nymphs and elves. Armed with Eunice’s magical staff, Harry then heads into the alternate world to save the day…

Troll (1986)

Troll was the brainchild of two protégés from Roger Corman’s New World quickies, screenwriter and former Fangoria-editor Ed Naha and director/sfx artist John Carl Buechler. It was originally planned to be a blood-drenched R-rated horror flick set in a sleazy motel called Goblin for Corman, but got transformed into a PG-13 fantasy in the Ghoulies and Gremlins mold when it was greenlit by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures.

While it has its faults, Troll boasts some neat practical effects, but is also packed with some delightfully odd moments, including a bizarre elfin-led musical number, June Lockhart turning into her real-life daughter Anne – not to mention Moriarty’s hyperactive turn as Harry’s 1960’s music-jiving dad (also called Harry Potter) and the film within the film called Pod People from the Planet Mars which plays on a TV set during all the mischief and mayhem.

Troll 2 (1990)

In the unrelated 1990 sequel, Troll 2, produced by prolific Italian film-maker Joe D’Amato, young Joshua (Michael Stephenson) makes a connection between the local residents of a town called Nilbog (try writing it backwards?) and a fairytale he was told by his grandfather (Robert Ormsby). Realising that the townsfolk are all goblins, he tries to prevent his family from eating any food before they are turned into vegetable matter…

My word, this is really bad – and not in a good way! In fact, its downright painful to sit through such bad acting, dialogue and makeup effects. This is only for cult film masochists or Joe D’Amato completists. In 2009, Stephenson, directed a documentary about the film’s production and subsequent popularity, humorously titled Best Worst Movie, which is also included in the Blu-ray box-set, as part of the Eureka Classics series, along with the following special features…

The Making of Troll: featuring director John Carl Buechler, producer Charles Band, Writer Ed Naha, composer Richard Band and more
• Audio commentary on Troll 2 with actors George Hardy and Deborah Reed
Best Worst Movie: deleted scenes and interview footage
• Interview with Deborah Reed
• Screenwriting Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Michael Stephenson and George Hardy
• Fan contributions
• Monstrous – Music Video by ECOMOG
• Booklet featuring rare archival material
• Limited Edition O Card slipcase featuring artwork by Devon Whitehead

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Night of the Creeps (1986) | The cult sci-fi zom-com gets a dual format release

Night of the Creeps

From Eureka Entertainment comes director Fred Dekker’s jokey 1980s sci-fi comedy Night of the Creeps, in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range.

When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a college student. 27 years later, his freeze-dried body is unwittingly revived by nerds Chris (Jason Lively) and JC (Steve Marshall), which releases alien slugs that turn their fellow campus students into brain-hungry zombies. Chris, CJ and Chris’ new girlfriend Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) must then team up with a troubled detective (Tom Atkins) to find a way to defeat the zombie horde…

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Presented for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, this deluxe edition of Night of the Creeps features the original director’s cut and the following special features…

DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL FEATURES
• High-definition remaster of the director’s cut
• Original stereo soundtrack and 5.1 surround audio options, presented in PCM and DTS-HD MA respectively on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by writer/director Fred Dekker
• Audio commentary by actors Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow
Thrill Me: Making Night of the Creeps: an hour-long series of video pieces on the making of the film featuring new interviews with cast and crew
Tom Atkins: Man of Action featurette
• Video Interview with Fred Dekker
• Deleted Scenes
• Original theatrical ending (which I rather prefer)
• Trivia track subtitles
• Theatrical trailer
• Limited-edition booklet featuring a new essay by critic Craig Ian Mann
• Limited Edition O-Card slipcase

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Monkey Shines (1988) | George A Romero’s twisted Experiment in Fear is a cunning little beast indeed!

Monkey Shines

Drug-addled research scientist Geoffrey Fisher (John Pankow) is injecting human brain serum into monkeys, but goes too far with Ella, one Capuchin that he gives as helper to quadriplegic law student Allan (Jason Beghe), who has been left paralysed from the neck down after a road accident.

Monkey Shines

All goes well at first, as Allan and Ella bond with the help of animal trainer Melanie (Kate McNeil). But when the scientist steps up the dosage, Ella begins responding to Allan’s subconscious rages, including wanting to dispose of the girlfriend (Janine Turner) who dumped him for the surgeon (Stanley Tucci) who operated on Allan after the accident. Murder and mayhem follow as the twisted thriller builds towards a nail-biting climax. Can Allan stop the cunning critter before she fully takes over his mind?

Monkey Shines

George A Romero’s Monkey Shines is presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of the Eureka Classics range with the following special features…

• Limited Edition O Card slipcase
• 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
• DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio options
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• New and exclusive audio commentary by Travis Crawford
• Audio Commentary with director George A Romero
• An Experiment in Fear – The Making of Monkey Shines: a lengthy retrospective with George A Romero, stars Jason Beghe and Kate McNeil, executive producer Peter Grunwald, and special effects legends Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero and Everett Burrell.
• Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes
• Behind-the-scenes footage, original EPK featurette, vintage interviews and news reports
• Trailers and TV spots
• Limited edition collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Craig Ian Mann; highlights from the film’s production notes: and rare archival material

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Michael (1924) | Carl Th. Dreyer’s bittersweet silent classic gets a luminous 2K restoration

Michael (1924)From Eureka Entertainment comes the 2K restoration of Micheal from multi award-winning director Carl Th. Dreyer (Vampyr) as a world exclusive on Blu-ray from 12 February 2018.

Michael (1924)

Hailed as ‘an engrossing hybrid of romantic decadence and spiritual austerity’, this 1924 German silent is considered an important early cinematic work as it contains Dreyer’s first clear use of Expressionism to reveal emotion, and this is much aided by the luminous photography of Karl Freund and Rudolph Maté, and the sumptuous production design of architect Hugo Häring.

Michael (1924)

Based on Herman Bang’s 1902 novel Mikaël, and scripted by Thea von Harbou (best known for Metropolis and Woman in the Moon), the bittersweet love story centres on an elderly artist, Claude Zoret, who is driven to despair by his relationship with his young protégé, Michael.

Michael (1924)

Conceived as a screen version of Kammerspiel (an intimate ‘chamber’ piece for theatre), it also had a profound influence on several directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, who drew on the film’s motif’s for his script for 1925’s The Blackguard. It is also a landmark in gay cinema with regards to its frank portrayal of homosexual relations and desire – with the character of Zoret supposedly based on the real life painter Auguste Rodin.

Michael (1924)

The remarkable cast includes Benjamin Christensen (best known for being the director of the 1922 docu-drama Häxan) as ‘decadent’ artist Zoret; Walter Slezak (who would forge a career playing heavies and villains, including the Clock King in TV’s Batman) as his young protege, Michael; and Nora Gregor (from Jean Renoir’s La Règle du Jeu) as the bankrupt Countess who swindles and seduces the Master and his muse.

And, in his only ever appearance as an actor, the film’s cinematographer, Karl Freund plays a sycophantic art dealer who saves the tobacco ashes dropped by a famous painter. Best known for photographing Lang’s Metropolis, Freund later emigrated to the US, where he directed 10 films, including the Universal horror classics, The Mummy and Mad Love, before helming TV’s I Love Lucy.

Available to order from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2AEcJ3r

Michael (1924)

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation from a new 2K restoration
• Score by Pierre Oser (piano, clarinet, cello) presented in uncompressed LPCM stereo
• Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
• Full-length audio commentary by Dreyer scholar, Casper Tybjerg
• Exclusive video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns
• Illustrated audio interview with Dreyer from 1965
• A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp; a reprint of Tom Milne’s The World Inside Me from 1971; Jean Renoir’s 1968 tribute, Dreyer’s Sin; a translation of the original 1924 Danish programme; a reprint of Nick Wrigley’s essay from the film’s 80th anniversary DVD release; and a selection of archival imagery

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