Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Prepare to be corrupted and depraved once more as Nucleus Films releases the sequel to the definitive guide to the Video Nasties phenomenon - the most extraordinary and scandalous era in the history of British film.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2, a three-disc collector’s edition box set, is being released on DVD on July 14th 2014, to tie in with the 30th Anniversary of the Video Recordings Act 1984
For the first time ever on DVD, all 82 films that fell foul of the Director of Public Prosecutions “Section 3” list are trailer-featured with specially filmed intros for each title, alongside a brand new documentary - VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS, directed by Jake West.
My review of David Lean's adaptation of Hobson's Choice, celebrating its 60th anniversary, is up over at Eye For Film. Click on the link below to see what I think.
Monday, 12 May 2014
With The Walking Dead, In the Flesh and The Returned on television and Warm Bodies, Juan of the Dead and Zombieland gracing the big screen in recent years, our collective love affair with the pop culture phenomenon that is the zombie shows no sign of abating any time soon. All of the various aforementioned undead themed shows and films owe a debt of gratitude, large or small, to the director and film that fully established the zombie in the public's consciousness back in 1968, George A. Romero and Night of the Living Dead. Over 45 years later, NOTLD is a recognised classic of the horror genre, its director a genial, treasured figure and the film's production history still one of independent cinema's great success stories.
Though the story of NOTLD's production, and the context within it was made, will not be news to fans of Romero and his movies, Rob Kuhns' new documentary on the subject is still an engaging watch. For those who may be unaware of its impact both on the horror genre and independent filmmaking, Kuhns' documentary will prove to be an illuminating experience.
Kuhn's presents a tried and tested mix of film clips, archive news footage, animated sequences and contemporary talking-head interviews. Romero himself, director Larry Fessenden, producer Gale Anne Hurd and critic Jason Zinoman, among others, speak fondly about the film, its making and the profound effect it would subsequently have on modern horror and independent film productions of all types.
Running at a brief 76 minutes, Birth of the Living Dead does a swift, deft job of encapsulating Romero's debut movie and the social, cultural and political climate from which it emerged. Though Romero's contemporary zombie movies, Land, Diary and Survival of the Dead, unfortunately, leave a lot to be desired, NOTLD is fully deserving of its place in film history and Kuhns' film is an entertaining, celebratory reminder of that.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
What film can't I live without? Tough question, and one I can't really answer in a single film. There are so many films, from the highbrow to the lowbrow, that I love with a passion. So how do I decide on just one? I could say The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, or a bunch of Russ Meyer movies, or loads of Godard, or Bunuel, or Lynch. They'd all be valid choices. But I'm going elsewhere. There is one film that sticks out, simply because it seems to be my go-to movie for showing people. Come round to my house more than once and you'll probably end up sitting through The Killing of America.
This documentary film was made in 1981, financed by Japanese backers who were expecting another Faces of Death (that movie having, according to legend, outgrossed Star Wars in Japan). Instead, they got a bleak study of violent crime in America, written, produced and co-directed (with Sheldon Renan) by Leonard Schrader, bother of Paul.The two Schraders were clearly cut from the same cloth – this would make a good 'decline of American civilisation' double bill with Taxi Driver. The film charts American violence – mostly, though not exclusively gun violence – from the JFK assassination to the murder of John Lennon. Narrated with perfect pacing and somber tone by Chuck Riley, the film features news footage – no fake reconstructions here – as well as interviews with killers like Sirhan Sirhan and Ed Kemper. It's dark, angry and nihilistic, expertly structured and the footage is uncompromisingly shocking – there is plenty of real death shown here, but it is never sensationalised or pitched at the sort of inadequate ghouls who enjoy films like Faces of Gore. Rather than the shockumentary that was expected, The Killing of America is both history lesson and polemic, an angry cry of despair at a nation that seemed to be on a downward spiral through lax gun laws and a culture that glorifies violence.
Such a message was hardly going to appeal to US audiences – it was far too close to home and on the nose. The Killing of America notably failed to secure an American release, even on video. It's legend would grow somewhat over the years, thanks to bootlegs and an uncut UK DVD release (even the BBFc recognising it as a serious work), but the film is still widely and ignorantly dismissed as just another sensationalist mondo movie. It's not a film for everyone, but it honestly deserves to be better known than it is.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
In collaboration with Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, Picturehouse, including Brighton's Duke of York's is proud to present a short season of previews, showcasing the very best in French cinema coming up in 2014. the three films playing at the Dukes are Bright Days Ahead (Friday, 6.30pm), Violette (Saturday, 2.00pm) and Venus in Fur (Tuesday, 9.00pm).
Bright Days Ahead
Venus in Fur
Thursday, 17 April 2014
With a range of candid interviews and fascinating insight ‘’Birth of the Living Dead’’ is an absolute must have for any horror fan, enter the original Zombie Universe, but remember ‘they're coming to get you, Barbara’.
Wednesday, 5 February 2014
'80s 'cult' B-movie Hell Comes to Frogtown, starring 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, has just been released on DVD/Blu-ray by Arrow Video. Click on the link below to see what I thought of this sci-fi action comedy oddity.
Monday, 27 January 2014
My first review of 2014 for New Empress is of Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant. Released on DVD/Blu-ray on Monday 27th January, Barnard's second full length feature ranked as one of my favourite movies of 2013. To read my thoughts on the film, click on the link below.
Five more British movies about wayward teens:
Made in Britain
Thursday, 23 January 2014
The latest theme over at Electric Sheep is 'Daughters of Darkness', inspired by the BFI's lengthy Gothic season. Having written a monograph on Brian De Palma's Carrie for Auteur Publishing's Devil's Advocates series, I thought it would be fun to look at similar movies centering on violent adolescent females. The resulting piece, Hell is a Teenage Girl, features Poison Ivy, Ginger Snaps, Teeth and The Loved Ones among many others and can be read by clicking on the link below.
Daughters of Darkness: 5 movies with deadly adolescent females:
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
With the BFI's excellent Gothic season in full flow, I take a look at Peter Hammond's 1989 adaptation of J. Sheridan le Fanu's novel Uncle Silas. Renamed The Dark Angel, and starring the late, great Peter O'Toole, this three part BBC series is well worth seeking out for both its performances and Hammond's wild take on le Fanu's Gothic thriller. Read my review for Flicks and the City by clicking on the link below.