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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.

• 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


The Naked Civil Servant (1975) | John Hurt’s Bafta-winning turn as gay icon Quentin Crisp restored in HD

The Naked Civil Servant (1975))

Originally broadcast on UK TV in December 1975, this Bafta-winning adaptation of Quentin Crisp’s best-selling autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, boasts a career-best performance by the late John Hurt as Crisp – a flamboyant south London engineer’s tracer turned artist’s model living an openly gay lifestyle during the intolerant pre-war years, where he proudly challenges the authorities that seek to suppress him and his kind.

Blackly comic, poignant and yet also life-affirming, this courageous story about a very unconventional British eccentric is masterfully directed by Jack Gold (The Medusa Touch, Escape from Sobibor), from a screenplay by Philip Mackie (TV’s Raffles), and executive produced by Doctor Who’s Verity Lambert.

It also boasts some colourful turns from the likes of Shane Briant as a cross dressing male prostitute called Norma and Patricia Hodge as an Isadora Duncan-styled ballet teacher. But kudos go to Stanley Lebor as the tragic Mr Pole (his descent into madness will have you reaching for some tissues).

One of the most significant LGBT British-made TV dramas of all time, the Thames Television production gave Hurt his first Best Actor Bafta and turned Crisp into an instant international celebrity and a gay icon.

The self-proclaimed ‘Stately Homo’ was hailed as a modern-day Oscar Wilde due to his aphoristic witticisms which led him into creating a successful one-man show and publishing further works including 1996’s Resident Alien (which inspired 2009’s An Englishman in New York, also with John Hurt). Crisp died, aged 91, in 1999.

Check out his archives here:

Voted fourth in BFI’s Top 100 TV programmes of 20th Century, The Naked Civil Servant has been restored in high-definition from the original film elements.

With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, it’s the perfect time time revisit the film, which also gets a special cinema screening on 28 May at a number of selected venues nationwide part of Picturehouse Cinemas’ Criminal Acts season. For more information go to:

Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Network on June 5 2017

• HD feature version (HD Blu-ray exclusive), restored from the original film elements and presented in its original 1:33:1 picture ratio with the ad-breaks removed
• Commentary with John Hurt, director Jack Gold and executive producer Verity Lambert
Seven Men: Quentin Crisp – a Granada profile from 1971
Mavis Catches Up with Quentin Crisp: an interview from 1989
• Image gallery
• Philip Mackie’s original script (PDF)











Chillerama (2011) | Marvel, cringe and delight at this twisted homage to drive-in B horror shlock


Irreverent to the point of verging on bad taste, Chillerama spoofs the horror anthology with four films being shown at a drive-in that is due to close down. While the patrons munch down their popcorn, infected with zombie blood, the tales (directed by Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green and Joe Lynch) are spooled for the first and last time by veteran projectionist Cecil B Kaufman (Richard Riehle).

Wadzilla is a gloobtastic take the 1950s drive-in classic The Blob as a giant sperm invades New York; I Was a Teenage Werebear turns Grease into a gay musical; The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is filmed in the style of 1930s Universal classic horrors with Hitler creating his own monster; and Zom-B-Movie is just hot moist madness. Wickedly funny and my idea of the perfect midnight movie. Watch out for Ray Wise, Kane Hodder and Eric Roberts who all make cameos.

Chillerama is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD and screens on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138) in the UK, with the next showing on Friday 7 February at 12.20m.


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