Archive for the ‘General News’ Category
DARIO ARGENTO’S HORROR CLASSIC
GETS THE SYNAPSE
COMING TO DVD,
AND OTHER OPTICAL MEDIA!
INC. LICENSES DARIO ARGENTO’S SUSPIRIA, SOUNDTRACK BY GOBLIN, FOR DVD, BLU-RAY AND
FUTURE OPTICAL MEDIA.
ROMULUS, MI – Oct. 31, 2013 – Synapse Films, Inc. has acquired the North American home-video rights to Dario Argento’s 1977 classic horror film SUSPIRIA, with an original soundtrack by European prog-rockers Goblin. Described as “one of the scariest films of all time” by Entertainment Weekly, SUSPIRIA stars the beautiful Jessica Harper (Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, Woody Allen’s STARDUST MEMORIES) as a young girl caught up in a coven of witches controlling a German dance academy, with a guest appearance by Udo Kier (Lars von Trier’s NYMPH( )MANIAC, Andy Warhol’s FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA).
“I’ve been involved in the restoration and release of many films in my career, but SUSPIRIA has always eluded me, until now,” says Donald May,
Jr., President of Synapse Films. “It’s one of my favorite horror films and I’m ecstatic that my business partner, Jerry Chandler, was able to negotiate with
the rights holders to release this film. This is going to be an amazing project for us.”
Synapse Films, Inc. will work closely with Technicolor Rome and Technicolor Los Angeles to create an all-new high-definition 2K scan from the original negative for a possible 2014-15 video
release. “It’s important to spend as much time as possible to create the definitive high-definition home video version for the fans,” May explains. “We’re going to take our time with this one.”
Synapse Films, Inc. is currently planning the extensive work on SUSPIRIA in conjunction with Technicolor, utilizing both their Rome and Hollywood facilities. The film scanning will be coordinated and supervised by Technicolor Hollywood’s Director of Restoration Services, Tom Burton, whose film restoration credits include Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER,
Georges Méliès’ A TRIP TO THE MOON, and Blake Edwards’ BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S.
Final specifications, retail pricing, and extras for the Synapse Films release of SUSPIRIA will be announced closer to the as yet to be determined release date.
Remembering Jess Franco
by Troy Howarth
Just last week, I was shocked to read that Spanish cinema’s “favorite” enfant terrible, Jess (Jesus) Franco, was in ICU due to a severe stroke; today, I am absolutely crestfallen to report that the great man is dead.
I guess to say he’s no longer with us is a bit incorrect – truth be told, he left behind a body of work that is notable for its sheer excess, in every sense of the term. After making his directorial debut with We Are 18 Years Old (1959 – though he had directed at least one short subject prior to this), Franco established himself as a stylish purveyor of genre fare. He dabbled in musicals, melodrama – and finally hit paydirt with The Awful Dr. Orlof (1961), a black and white tribute to his favorite Universal horror films. The film was a surprise hit, and its continued popularity vexed its maker, who often professed to finding it dull and antiquated.
Franco would continue to mine the horror and fantasy genres throughout the 1960s, but it was his experience working with the great Orson Welles on the latter’s Chimes at Midnight (1966) that proved to be the most seminal of experiences. Welles took a shine to Franco’s work and, against the advice of the film’s producers, hired him to direct second unit. It was Franco who directed the famous battle scenes, though of course he did so in accordance to Welles’ storyboards and instructions. Even so, Welles – the ultimate darling of the auteurists – recognized talent in his young assistant and encouraged him to “live to film,” advice that Franco would seize upon.
Franco would then go on to a period of wild, unfettered creativity, churning out films at an alarming rate. Franco, who previously seemed content in delivering technically proficient and relatively mainstream fare, would become hellbent on experimenting like wild. He would achieve some notoriety with his surreal blend of horror and sex, Succubus (1967), attracting acclaim from no less than the great German filmmaker Fritz Lang, who would refer to it as the only truly “beautiful” erotic film he had ever seen. The film’s success lead to a brief but fertile collaboration with maverick producer Harry Alan Towers, who put Franco at the helm of everything from the last installments in his flagging series of Fu Manchu thrillers with Christopher Lee to the truly brilliant erotic fantasy Venus in Furs (1969). The experience would see him guiding name actors like Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski and Dennis Price, and the increased exposure afforded him a chance to become better known in fan circles. Truth be told, few of the Towers vehicles showed him at his most inspired, but they did enable him to focus his fetishistic camera gaze on such lovely starlets as Maria Rohm and the late, great Soledad Miranda, whose presence would inspire him to make some far more experimental, and far more daring, films – often with an erotic bent – in Germany. Miranda’s death in a freak car accident would mark a terrible setback, but good things were around the corner.
While working for producer Robert DeNesle in the early 70s, Franco became acquainted with a young actress named Rosa Maria Almirall Martinez, whom he would later rechristen as Lina Romay. Though older than his star discovery by 24 years, and both burdened with marriages that were no longer fulfilling, the two clicked right away. They began collaborating, and eventually became life partners – they would remain insperable for almost 40 years, but would not actually marry until 2008. Romay was the ideal partner for Franco – she responded to his artistic impulses with unfettered glee, and seemed to enjoy embodying everything he wanted on camera. When Romay died in February of 2012, it came as a double edged shock: for one thing, she was still so young and vital; and for another, it was clear that, without her support, Franco would himself eventually wither away. True to form, he threw himself back into work after a period of mourning, but unfortunately, it would prove to be a brief return for him. As is so often the case with couples who are so much in love, the death of one half pretty much means the death of both.
Word has already spread fast across the internet, and tribues have been pouring in. Inevitably, many who simply never understood the appeal of the man’s work have felt compelled to offer their rather petty feedback as well. This is saddening in a way, but it’s hardly surprising. Franco never courted conventional, mainstream popularity, even if his own taste in film ran towards the populist (he often denounced arthouse darlings like Visconti and praised the likes of Spielberg). He once described himself as a jazz musician who makes films, and those who understand jazz will be quick to understand how apt this description is. Like a great jazz musician, he took familiar themes and situations and riffed on them; sometimes it worked beautifully, other times it felt rather pointless. His love of the zoom lens is well known, and his tendency to allow scenes to play on and on and on has been often vilified. But the truth is, all these things are part of what makes Franco so special, so unique. When he was “on,” his films achieved a dreamy delirium. True, the whole “dreamlike” argument has been overplayed, especially with regards to Eurohorror, but his films truly warrant this description. His films could be funny, they could be suspenseful, they could erotic. His hardcore porn films are typically unfulfilling simply because he found the graphic depiction of sex acts a little dull. But given a proper situation and the right actress (be it Miranda, Romay, Maria Rohm, Susan Hemingway, Britt Nichols, or whomever) he could create magic. There are scenes in Female Vampire (1973), for example, which remain potent, even haunting. The film itself, as a whole, is uneven and overly long – but the highlights warrant repeat viewings. His best films – Venus in Furs, Succubus, Virgin Among the Living Dead (1971), The Other Side of the Mirror (1972) – have no such drawbacks: they are beautifully rendered, even at their most rough edged, and they have a true sense of purpose. Franco, the man, may be gone – this means no more new Jess Franco films… and for those who us who didn’t have much to say in favor of his recent, shot on video efforts, that may or may not be a devastating loss. But those of us who love and take inspiration from his work will always have his imposing body of work to revisit – some of his films have even begun showing up on blu ray, and there’s no shortage of obscure titles and alternate edits of familiar titles to sift through.
For myself, I can only say that my first exposure to Franco was through Count Dracula (1970) and Kiss and Kill (1968), the latter being a heavily edited version of his thriller Blood of Fu Manchu. Nobody would argue that either is among his best work, but they both starred Christopher Lee – and when I saw them at an impressionable age, that was good enough for me. Reading one damning review after another of his work in The Encyclopedia of Horror Films pretty much convinced me he was a no talent pornographer, but eventually, as my love of European horror and fantasy cinema grew, I knew I had to explore his work further. Seeing the likes of Venus in Furs and Succubus proved puzzling – I could appreciate their formal qualities, but I didn’t really “get” either of them at first glance. Curiosity had taken hold, however, and as time wore on I began to explore more and more. No matter how badly I disliked some of his films (and I can truly say that his worst, least impassioned films is akin to watching somebody’s tedious vacaction home videos), there was always something that made me come back for more and more. I’m not exactly clear on how many films the man made – he himself professed to have lost count long ago. I can certainly say that I’ve seen about 120 of his films – and that doesn’t even include the alternate edits of some of them, such as the “non-sexy” version of Female Vampire or the bastardized re-edit of Virgin Among the Living Dead. The fact that there are so many other titles out there, waiting to be seen, is something of a small solace. I know I’ll dislike a good number of these, but there are also, no doubt, a few small gems waiting to be seen, as well. And then there’s the man himself, as preserved in interviews – opinionated but humble, self effacing but obviously proud of his status as a survivor in a dog-eat-dog industry, quick to deflate the pomposity of others but clearly gratified to be taken seriously on some level. I never got the chance to meet the man, but seeing all these interviews with him on DVD helped me to form a very favorable portrait of him. Say what you will, but the man was an artist – and he remains, for me, a major inspiration.
Rest in Peace, “Uncle Jess” – you will not be forgotten or emulated anytime soon.
A listing of theaters and dates is attached; all screenings will take place on October 21 & 22, 2011, except where noted. Theaters and showtimes are online now at http://www.blue-underground.com/zombie/
See the new trailer for ZOMBIE:
The late, great Lucio Fulci is known to horror fans for such wildly imaginative and outrageously gory films as THE BEYOND, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD; his influence continues to be felt in the work of contemporary genre directors including Eli Roth (HOSTEL, CABIN FEVER) and Guillermo del Toro (HELLBOY, PAN’S LABYRINTH).
Originally released in Italy as an unofficial sequel to DAWN OF THE DEAD, Fulci’s ZOMBIE is arguably the director’s most popular movie and remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time! ZOMBIE stars Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING).
Blue Underground is proud to present ZOMBIE in a new 2K High Definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative. Each frame has been lovingly restored to perfection under the supervision of cinematographer Sergio Salvati (THE BEYOND), and the soundtrack has been remastered in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound to create the most pristine, mind-blowing version of the movie ever seen.
“We are very excited about this theatrical release of ZOMBIE,” says Blue Underground founder and president William Lustig. “We spent hundreds of hours working by hand to restore every frame of the movie. When we premiered our restoration of the film at Fantastic Fest in Austin, fans told us that ZOMBIE looks like it was made yesterday!”
For a look at how Blue Underground meticulously restored Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzcDDgU8WK4&feature=related Blue Underground’s Ultimate Edition of ZOMBIE will be released as a 2-Disc Blu-ray and 2-Disc DVD on October 25, 2011.
When I first saw ZOMBIE, my mind exploded! After the movie ended, I didn’t know if I had dreamed it, because surely such movies didn’t exist! You are about to see a movie that is created by one of the most brilliant minds in the genre, that is full of ‘Oh, my God!’ moments that you will not believe….visceral satisfaction fully guaranteed! Fulci was a ferocious mind, and ZOMBIE is his most savage movie.” – Guillermo del Toro, director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth
“One of the all-time great horror classics, Fulci’s ZOMBIE contains the greatest scene ever committed to celluloid, and that is a zombie fighting a shark. Fulci put a stuntman dressed as a zombie in a tank with a live shark and made them fight – it’s one of the craziest, most insane and irresponsible scenes ever put on film. This was 1980, years before CG. And the zombie wins! To this day, nobody knows how in the hell he did it, it’s simply jaw-dropping. There’s nothing you will see in any modern zombie movie that comes close to what Fulci did in 1980. Viva Fulci!”
– Eli Roth, director of Hostel and Cabin FeverFor more information about Blue Underground, visit
www.blue-underground.com. Follow Blue Underground on Twitter at
www.Twitter.com/BLUnderground. About Blue Underground:BLUE UNDERGROUND’S goal is to bring cool movies to fans all over the world in beautiful, Criterion-level special editions. They are definitive discs of some remarkable films, all fully restored, remastered and packed with the most mind-blowing extras in the business. We look for fun movies to release, undiscovered films, and films that are really for people that are into movies. We’re committed to bringing these movies out of the dark and back into your life where they belong!
Midnight, October 21st & 22nd(except where otherwise noted)
Guild Cinema (Oct. 28 & 29)ATLANTA
Alamo The Ritz (Oct. 24 & 31)AUSTIN
Alamo S. Lamar (Oct. 30)BOSTON
Coolidge Corner TheatreCHICAGO
Music Box Theatre (also Oct. 28 & 29)CLEVELAND
Capitol Theatre (Oct. 15)DALLAS
Landmark Inwood TheatreDENVER
Landmark Main ArtHOUSTON
Landmark River OaksJACKSONVILLE, FL
5 Points TheatreKANSAS CITY
Tivoli CinemasLAS VEGAS
Theatre 7 (Oct. 31)
Liberty Hall (Oct. 21 only)
New Beverly CinemaMESA, AZ
Landmark Uptown (Nov. 4 & 5)NEW YORK CITY
Landmark’s SunshineOTTAWA, ONTARIO
The Oaks TheaterPORTLAND, OR
Crest TheatreSAN ANTONIO
Alamo WestlakesSAN DIEGO
Landmark Ken CinemaSAN FRANCISCO
Roxie Theater (Oct. 29 – 31)SEATTLE
Landmark EgyptianST. LOUIS
Hi-Pointe TheatreST. PETE BEACH, FL
The Beach TheatreTORONTOTUCSON, AZ
The Loft Cinema
Landmark E Street CinemaWICHITA, KS
Warren Old Town Theater (Oct. 24 & 25)
Alamo Drafthouse Winchester
Park Theatre Café (Oct. 13)
YELLOW SPRINGS, OH
Little Art Theatre (Oct. 22)
The Revue Cinema (Oct. 22 & Oct. 31)