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Posts Tagged ‘Mario Bava’

Torture Chamber: DVD Review

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Torture Chamber (2012)

by Troy Howarth

torturechamber

Directed by Dante Tomaselli

Starring Vincent Pastore, Christie Sanford, Richard D. Busser, Carmen LoPorto, Lynn Lowry, Ron Millkie

A deeply religious woman inflicts psychological scars on her two children.  The older of the two, Mark, goes on to become a priest, while Jimmy is horribly burned in an accident and inflicts terror on everybody who encounters him.  The child is locked away but displays an ability to start fires and inflict harm without lifting a finger.  When he escapes, Dr. Fiore and Mark must attempt to find him before he succeeds in his mission of destroying his mother and anybody who gets in his way…

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Beginning with Desecration (1999), independent filmmaker Dante Tomaselli has established himself as a distinctive voice in the modern horror film.  Working on small budgets and outside of the studio system, Tomaselli explores deeply personal neuroses and obsessions in the context of commercial horror subjects.  Over the course of several films – Horror (2003), Satan’s Playground (2006) and now Torture Chamber – the filmmaker has grown in style and ability while refusing to compromise his very personal and very idiosyncratic vision.

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On the surface, it would seem fair to suggest that Tomaselli has learned much from the dreamy Italian horror films of the 1960s and 70s, but it would be unfair to suggest that he is a mere imitator.  Tomaselli’s approach is deliberately stylized but while he doesn’t shy away from visceral shocks, he doesn’t go in for the type of over the top grand guignol effects that one would expect to see in a film by, say, Lucio Fulci or even the latter-day Dario Argento.  The violence is rough when it occurs, but the film is more of a mood piece on the whole, juxtaposing the dreamworld with reality in such a way as to erase the boundary between the two altogether.  Tomaselli’s characters don’t act like real human beings simply because they’re not functioning in a realistic milieu dictated by concerns of logic.  If anything, they are pawns in a nightmarish dreamscape where anything can happen – and very often does.

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Torture Chamber builds upon the director’s earlier work and emerges as his most consistently accomplished film to date.  Production values are very good.  Makeup and effects are kept practical and old school, which is a major plus, and the various shock sequences are handled with a flair for the tactile which proves all the more effective in context.  The performances are quite good here, in contrast to the sometimes stilted performances found in, say, Desecration and Horror.  Child actor Carmen LoPorto does an impressive job as the monstrous Jimmy, while Christie Sanford is convincing as the religious zealot mother unknowingly causes the tragedy.  Name value is provided by Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos) and Lynn Lowery (I Drink Your Blood), both of whom give depth and gravitas to their characters.  Tomaselli’s excellent use of sound adds to the claustrophic, nightmarish vibe.  Viewers looking for a more straight-forward, linear approach to storytelling may find Tomaselli’s elliptical approach a little hard to warm to, but in a genre currently overloaded with bland remakes and endless sequels, Torture Chamber offers a refreshing alternative.

Video:

Torture Chamber makes its home video from Cinedigm.  The region 1 disc is presented in the appropriate 1.85 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for widescreen TVs.  The transfer is clean and colorful, with strong detail and no distracting authoring defects to report.  It’s a shame that they didn’t elect to give the film a Blu-ray release, as well, as the striking colors would have looked particularly impressive in that format, but even so – this is a handsome presentation.

Audio:

Audio options include a 2.0 stereo track and a 5.1 surround track.  Both tracks are in excellent shape, with the latter in particular having an added kick that really shows off Tomaselli’s intricate sound design.  Captioning options are included.

Extras:

This is where the release really falls down: Tomaselli has recorded some very good commentary tracks in the past, but for whatever reason he does not get a chance to do a commentary for this one… there isn’t even so much as an interview featurette.  All you get is a still gallery.

Film: ***1/2 out of *****

Video: ****1/2 out of *****

Audio: ****1/2 out of *****

Extras: * out of *****

The Whip and the Body (1963) Blu-Ray Review

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Stars: Christopher Lee, Daliah Lavi, Tony Kendall, Ida Galli, and Harriet Medin
Director: Mario Bava
Released by Kino

Reviewed by Steven Ruskin

As this film begins it is very reminiscent of the Edgar Allen Poe films that Roger Corman was making with Vincent Price over at AIP at the time. We have a very small cast. The film takes place almost entirely in one dank and brooding castle of an estate. It is also a period piece steeped in gothic atmosphere. The set design is spooky with plenty of dark corridors and flowing drapes for characters to peer around. There is essentially one exterior – the beach along the seacoast. And there is a deep family secret that gnaws at the souls of several characters. There are definitive similarities with Corman’s The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) and a few others. However the script delves into area of depravity that are doubtful AIP would be able to get away with.

The plot concerns a father living in this desolate castle with his much younger lover. His son is all set to marry a lovely woman. There are two servants. Christopher Lee (Dracula) plays the other son whose devilish ways drove the maid’s daughter to take her own life with a dagger. The dagger is kept under glass in a display that looks very much like the one that holds the magic rose in Beauty and The Beast. Lee as the bad boy of the Menliff clan returns. He is tall dashing, handsome and very threatening. In almost no time at all he has the bride to be thrown against the rocks at the shoreline. Under cover of the night he whips her bad enough to rip her shirt open and draw a good deal of blood. Only Nevenka seems to like this. Clearly they have engaged in this sort of thing before and have a sordid past together.

One night Lee is found murdered apparently stabbed by the very same knife that the maid’s daughter used, the one that is now missing form the glass case. Christopher Lee is the star and the stays in the picture as a ghost. He is silent using body language and expressive facial features, especially his eyes to communicate. The ghostly visitations are rendered in so many creative and clever visual formats. Hues of deep blue and sea green are used heavily as are judicious reds. There is one point where Lee’s eyes are the focal point. These sequences are scary but also beautiful. We seem to be out of Poe territory now and drawing more from gothic ghost stories like Henry’s James’ Turn of the Screw. As the young lady continues to be seduced and savaged by the ghost things take an even odder shading. As powerful as the image of Lee wielding the whip on her in the dark of night is, we’re given clues that not only does this excite her sexually but that it may be she who is manipulating him to commit these acts.

Bava has created a visually stunning piece here with his trademark use of colors. The sadomasochistic sexuality on display is quite risqué for the times. This is a European film which was heavily edited and censored when it was released in the states. This was done despite the fact that the acts themselves do not feature any nudity save for the lady’s upper back. The bloodshed is very minimal. Yet the scenes are entirely compelling, due in large part to the actors’ eyes and the way the scenes are shot. Throughout the film there is a classical piano supported by strings and other orchestral pieces in sections. The lone keyboard has a romantic expressive feel to it that suits the visuals perfectly. This is a stately and very well presented story. It’s classy like the films that Price and Corman made yet Bava’s story has a seething sexuality that is unique. The Whip and The Body is an engaging tale filled with plenty of tantalizing visuals that look fantastic in this Blu-Ray edition. Bava creates a captivating atmosphere that is both unnerving and visually luscious. He’s got a great feel for this. Lee has a real commanding presence in his part delivering much of his role silently as the ghost. 1963 was the same year that Bava made Black Sabbath with Boris Karloff. Working with two of the major icons of the horror genre in the same year is impressive. That’s a pair of incredible films from this stylish filmmaker.

 

Video – 1.78:1 Though the end result does tend to favor blues and greens this 35mm French print looks to be in remarkable condition after the very beginning. The credits are soft and the opening scene of a man riding a horse along the seacoast to a castle seems to repeat the very first few seconds almost in a jump cut. After that moment the print looks to be in fabulous shape to me. Strong colors and good detail can be found in the textures of furniture and clothing. There was one scratch that I noticed and very few instances of any kind of dirt or speckles. In some scenes you will encounter portions of the frame that are cast very darkly resulting in black crush. However the overall experience is extremely solid showing off the bold colors that Bava is know for. Green is a tough color to work with. Many lighting directors who come from a theatre background won’t go near it. But Bava gets some neat hues and tones from his sea greens and ocean blues. With the exteriors of the movie done along the seacoast this seems very appropriate.

 

Audio – Italian, French and English dubbed tracks with subtitles offered in English. Keep in mind that the entire film was shot MOS, without sound. The actors’ voices were dubbed in later for all languages. Without a doubt it is disappointing that Lee was not able to dub his own voice. This apparently bothered him to the point that it was the last time he let it occur in a film he would work in. The score by Carlo Rustichelli sounds lush and full. At times it feels a bit too much but for the most part it’s an excellent fit. Sound effects are ok. Extras – Commentary by author Tim Lucas, Trailers for a few other Bava films

 

On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic

Blu-Ray – Excellent

Movie – Excellent

The Snake God: DVD Review

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

The Snake God (1970)

by Troy Howarth

Directed by Piero Vivarelli

Starring Nadia Cassini, Beryl Cunningham, Evaristo Marques, Sergio Tramonti

Paola (Nadia Cassini) joins her older husband (Evaristo Marques) in the Caribbean and gets drawn into a local cult which helps to liberate her libido….

   

Don’t let the title and the voodoo elements of the plot fool you: The Snake God is not a horror film.  If anything, it’s more of a melodrama with erotic overtones.  Director Piero Vivarelli had previously worked in genres as diverse as musicals and Spaghetti Westerns, co-writing the original Django (1966) for Sergio Corbucci and collaborating on some of Lucio Fulci’s earliest works.  Just prior to The Snake God, he had directed the fumetti Mister X (1967) and Satanik (1968).  The Snake God was probably his most significant hit, though it received scant distribution and has fallen into obscurity.  The Encyclopedia of Horror Films granted it an entry, but the review is so off-the-mark that one wonders if the writers were in fact able to screen a print at all.  Vivarelli would go on to direct the steamy Summer Temptations (1988) starring porn star Moana Pozzi in her most “mainstream” assignment, but his work is somewhat forgotten and neglected these days.

  

The film is most successful as a pure aesthetic exercise.  It looks great, has a number of beautiful actresses on display and it moves along at a good pace.  Vivarelli handles what could have been very racist material with care and finesse, turning the story into a tale of liberation rather than overindulging in embarrassing “native” stereotypes.  The tone vacillates from the dreamy to the carnal, with some of the voodoo sequences threatening to push the film into proper genre territory – but it never goes down that road, which will no doubt frustrate some viewers who were hoping for a more conventional film.

  

The action is dominated by the gorgeous Nadia Cassini.  American-born Cassini became a cause celebre in Italy with her wild partying and love affairs but her film career never really kicked into gear.  She would appear in a number of films, including Luigi Cozzi’s endearingly juvenile Starcrash (1978), but she missed out on what could have been a major artistic experience when the Mario Bava sci-fi picture she was pegged to appear in went down the tubes.  The Snake God is a literal love letter to her sensuous beauty, and Vivarelli was clearly aware that her shapely figure and features would be a major selling point.  She spends much of the film in various states of undress, thus assuring that the film will appeal to many viewers who might otherwise be unmoved by the film’s subject matter.  She is paired with the lovely Jamaican actress Beryl Cunningham, who has the distinction of being one of the relatively few black actresses to make much of a dent in the Italian genre scene of the period.  She can also be seen in Massimo Dallamano’s updated version of Dorian Gray (1970).  The two actresses play well off of one another and ensure that the “scenery” is always attractive.

  

Vivarelli makes excellent use of the widescreen frame throughout.  The locations are attractive and well utilized and the music score helps to set the right mood.  The script was co-written by Ottavio Alessi, who was responsible for the gloriously sleazy Rosalba Neri/Edwige Fenech vehicle Top Sensation (1969).  The editing was Carlo Reali, who served as Mario Bava’s editor of choice on a number of his late period titles.  The combination of their efforts help to make The Snake God a brisk and enjoyable diversion.  It may not deliver the cheesy frissons one might anticipate, but it does offer plenty of raw sexuality and beautiful scenery – and it’s worth seeing on that level alone.

Video:

Mondo Macabro brings The Snake God to DVD for the first time ever in the US.  The 2.35/16×9 transfer looks superb.  Colors are rich and vibrant, detail is strong and the print is uncut and in excellent condition.  The disc is coded for Region 1.

Audio:

The film is presented in Italian mono.  It’s unlikely that an English track was ever prepared, as the film doesn’t appear to have secured any kind of American or British release.  The track is in decent shape.  The music has ample presence, and the removable English subtitles are clear and easy to read.

Extras:

The most substantial extra is a video interview with Vivarelli.  The director – who passed away in 2010 – talks about everything from his fixation on sex to his love of marijuana to his respect for Lucio Fulci.  It’s a good interview.  Production notes and cast and crew bios are included, along with a trailer, which is also presented in anamorphic 2.35.

Film: *** out of *****

Video: **** out of *****

Audio: *** out of *****

Extras: *** out of *****

AV Maniacs Top Ten Releases for 2013

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Welcome to the first Year End Top Ten Releases as selected by our reviewing staff.
If any of us have encouraged you to check out a film during the year we hope you liked it. Enjoy them all.

Troy Howarth’s Top Ten

2013 has seen a wide array of releases, some good, some bad… some outstanding, some disappointing. Here are ten discs that really delivered the goods for me this year: I hasten to add that I’ve heard tremendous things about the upcoming blu ray releases of The Whip and the Body (Kino) and Nosferatu (BFI), but they’re not out yet so they fall outside the scope of this article…

10. Monsieur Verdoux – Charlie Chaplin’s tremendous black comedy gets the Criterion treatment… ‘nuff said.

9. A Virgin Among the Living Dead – Kino/Redemption have dropped the ball with some of their Jess Franco releases, but happily they got the job done right with this one. A nice transfer and some wonderful bonus materials, too.

8. The Vincent Price Collection – Were it not for the slightly disappointing transfers on The Fall of the House of Usher and The Haunted Palace, this would rate higher… as it stands, it’s still a tremendous package with some wonderful new bonus materials from David Del Valle, Steve Haberman, Justin Humphreys and the late Robert Fuest.

7. Fernando Di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection, Volume 2 – Another winner from Raro and this one is particularly noteworthy for finally unearthing the obscure (and excellent) Shoot First and Die Later in a beautiful transfer.

6. Prince of Darkness – Shout! Factory have been issuing some great titles, but this one – a long standing favorite of mine – is arguably the best looking John Carpenter blu ray to date. The commentary is ported over from the old UK DVD release and there are some excellent new extras, as well.

5. Black Sabbath – Arrow have been picking up the slack where Mario Bava is concerned on blu ray. While Kino’s releases have been rather disappointing, Arrow’s offer up stronger transfers, variant edits and more in the way of bonus materials. This is the best of their Bava releases thus far.

4. Eyes Without a Face – Criterion finally issues this gem to blu ray, and the results are as fine as one would expect. This haunting masterpiece just gets better with each passing year, and I loved the new interview with star Edith Scob.

3. The Mummy – There’s been a lot of controversy over the various blu ray editions of the classic Hammer horrors, but this one has been pretty much universally praised – and for good reason: it’s a terrific presentation of a wonderful film.

2. Dracula – The Lionsgate (Region B/Region 2) blu ray/DVD combo of Hammer’s most famous film (known in the US as Horror of Dracula) was blasted by many for being “modernized” via a “blue tint.” I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s one of the best – and most important – releases of the year. The restored footage alone makes it essential, but the film looks great and there are tremendous bonus features with the likes of Hammer historians Jonathan Rigby and Marcus Hearn.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – Arrow’s new blu ray release is how a special edition deserves to look… it offers the same transfer and extras featured in the domestic release, but there’s some additional interviews and an additional disc featuring lovingly remastered versions of Hooper’s early films The Hesiters and Eggshells, which show the young filmmaker experimenting in interesting ways. Hooper contributes a new commentary for Eggshells and there’s an interview with the director focusing on his earlier works. All this, plus a lengthy booklet filled with interesting information, to boot!

Honorary mentions include: The Fall of the House of Usher (Arrow), Lifeforce (Arrow and Shout!), Deranged (Arrow), How To Seduce a Virgin (Mondo Macabro), Corruption (Grindhouse), Night of the Devils (Raro), Hands of the Ripper (Synapse), Maniac Cop 2 (Blue Underground), Plague of the Zombies (Optimum), Barbara Broadcast (Distribpix), Tess (BFI) and the most welcome “Jess Franco Collection” from Ascot-Elite.

I should note: these are all blu ray releases… and TCM2, Black Sabbath, The Mummy and Dracula are Region B.

 

Mike Kenny’s Top Ten

# 10) “The Amityville Horror Collection” – Scream Factory

Scream Factory, the horror offshoot of Shout! Factory, wowed genre fans this past Halloween with a triple dose of haunted house goodies. The original “Amityville Horror” never impressed me but there’s no denying its place in horror history. The real meat of this impressive box set comes in the form of its unsettling 1982 sequel, “Amityville II: The Possession”. This twisted, incest fueled possession flick packs a dynamite cast with Burt Young (Rocky) and Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin). Impressive make-up effects and a tone that urges you to shower after viewing makes this film an underrated gem as far as horror sequels go. In addition, “Amityville 3-D” rounds out the collection and is presented in Real 3D! All the cheesy, in your face 3D effects that you’d expect are present along with a gorgeous Lori Loughlin (Full House) front and center. Scream Factory did a wonderful job on these transfers and included wonderful special features such as interviews with key talent like Diane Franklin, Director Damiano Damiani, Tommy Lee Wallace, Candy Clark and more. Whether you love them or hate them, Scream Factory did well by this franchise with a respectable collection that easily earned a spot on my top 10 list.

#9) “Horror Stories” – Artsploitation Films

#8) “Beetlejuice” The Complete Series – Shout! Factory

The release of this childhood favorite sent me doing back flips this past year. Beetlejuice, based on the popular Tim Burton film, ran for 4 seasons from 1989 to 1991 and entertained the hell out of me. This wacky spin-off was always high on my list of cartoons to one day make its way to DVD and thankfully the fine folks at Shout! Factory made that dream come true. All 94 episodes are included in this frighteningly fun 12-disc set and should earn a spot in anyone’s collection that wants to relive a time when Saturday mornings were worth waking up early for.

#7) “Night Train to Terror” – Vinegar Syndrome

#6) “Tomboy” – Scorpion Releasing

Scorpion Releasing has never been afraid to dabble in any subgenre that interests cult fans and that’s why I can’t help but own every one of their titles. “Tomboy”, only Scorpion’s second Blu-ray effort, was a risqué move that successfully entertained and impressed me with there attention to detail in the transfer and inclusion of a nearly 30 minute interview with leading lady Betsy Russell. Scorpion Releasing continues to impress with a diverse catalog of future output that includes The Beach Girls, Flavia the Heretic, The Dain Curse and On the Yard. With a devotion to cinema like that, Scorpion Releasing is easily one of the best indie labels on the circuit and deserves the utmost support in each of their endeavors.

#5) “The Fly” – 20th Century Fox

#4) “Demons” / “Demons 2” – Synapse Films

#3) “The Police Connection” – Code Red DVD

Since going rogue and selling exclusively through an online storefront, Code Red DVD has been pumping out cult releases at an incredible pace. 2013 winds down on a major milestone with the independent label finally entering the Blu-ray market with Voices from Beyond and Jeff Lieberman’s classic Just Before Dawn, but their DVD release earlier this year of The Police Connection takes the cake. Presented for the first time on DVD in its rare, uncut form, The Police Connection has everything that makes a quality cult flick. A madman hell-bent on punishing those he blames for his daughter’s overdose goes on a bombing spree. A tough detective is on the case as the only witnesses’ to have spotted the bomber are a rapist and a mute girl. Violence and mayhem ensue in this gem that is begging to be added to every cult fans collection.

#2) “Halloween” 35th Anniversary Edition –Anchor Bay Entertainment

To be clear, the fact that this reviewer appears in one of the supplemental features showcasing his original “Halloween II” 1-sheet is not the reason this release is included on this list… Then again, it can’t hurt! Kidding aside, just when you thought you’ve purchased every edition of John Carpenter’s classic you could ever need, Anchor Bay rolls out a 35th Anniversary Digibook. To my surprise, this latest release is without question the most definitive to date. Director of Photography Dean Cundey supervised the transfer and it’s like seeing the film for the first time. While fans seem to be split on the transfer, I find it to be incredibly detailed and satisfying. Anchor Bay included a slew of exciting special features such as a new audio commentary with Director John Carpenter and Actress Jamie Lee Curtis as well as The Night She Came Home!!, a new hour-long featurette that followed Jamie Lee Curtis to her first horror convention signing at Horrorhound Weekend 2012. As mentioned earlier, you may spot a certain someone waxing intellectual about a certain poster he’s going to get signed by the Scream Queen herself. Remaining extras include a look back at the filming locations today, a collection of TV Version footage, the original trailer, TV and radio spots. While, Anchor Bay will probably find a way to gouge our money again for another edition at some point, the 35th Anniversary Edition is the cream of the crop for this immortal classic!

#1) “The Vincent Price Collection” – Scream Factory

It should come as no surprise that a Scream Factory release earns the top spot on this list but before October rolled around, it was tough to narrow down a favorite. The Vincent Price Collection made the Halloween viewing season all the better with the inclusion of 6 classic Vincent Price films across 4 Blu-ray’s. Favorites such as The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Abominable Dr. Phibes, showcase Price at the top of his game, oozing with charisma and charm in each role. Scream Factory’s transfers of the films are night and day with appearances so colorful and rich that it was almost unbelievable. In addition, Scream Factory overloads the collection with a wealth of special features that include intros and outros to many of the films by Mr. Price as well as audio commentaries, theatrical trailers, poster galleries and a comprehensive essay booklet from Film Historian David Del Valle. It’s easy to see why this collection earned the top spot and I can’t urge fans enough to pick it up. Vincent Price built a strong career with unforgettable performances and after reliving so many fond ones in this set, one can only hope that a Vincent Price Collection Volume 2 isn’t far behind.

 

Steven Ruskin’s Top Ten

A couple of my favorite noirs got the blues this year. Early works from cult directors were filled in while a favorite guilty pleasure TV show came to an end. Vincent Price had a great year dominated by a smashing six film set as well as several others. Come award time, Blackfish the expose of Orca killer whales at Sea World will likely get the nod but the documentary about Levon Helm’s twilight years is a very compelling piece. For collectors the field is still going strong. There are plenty of stocking stuffers for the cult film fan in your life.

10. Knightriders (1981) Blu-Ray Shout
This George Romero story of idealistic independence set against the world of traveling motorcycling jousters has always been one of my favorites of his.

9. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) Blu-Ray Scream Factory
John Carpenter takes a good dose of Howard Hawks as a starting point to create a terrific siege film. He has the tough as nails characters down. The man could have gone on the make actions films and westerns instead of horror. Finally we get a version where you can see all the action that was lost in the murky darkness of previous editions.

8. Spartacus War of the Damned The Complete Third Season Blu-Ray Anchor Bay
The final season of a show filled with action, debauchery, and bloodshed. Spartacus managed to combine trashy exploitive fun with some truly devious and masterful plotting. I loved every episode and will miss the Thracian.

7. The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Blu-Ray Kino
Ida Lupino’s gritty film noir gets the recognition and treatment it deserves. She was a killer actress but had a good run behind the camera as a director, too. This was based on a true story and gets nice and creepy

6. Hard Times (1975) Blu-Ray Twilight Time
What a great mix of depression era moxie and bar-knuckle boxing. This is known as Charles Bronson’s film, but when James Coburn’s Speed starts talking everyone falls under his spell. Finally available in its correct aspect ratio.

5. Django Unchained (2102) Blu-Ray Starz / Anchor Bay
You don’t need to have diner with the man to like this film of his. Forget the Quentin Tarantino backlash and take this one on its own for what it is. Maybe a tad too long but Christoph Waltz’s engaging bounty hunter was a hoot in every scene he was in, which was most of them.

4. Boardwalk Empire The Complete Third Season Blu-Ray HBO
Season one was amazing. Season two coasted. This season delivers on the promise and then some. I love the mix of true-life characters with the heady and risqué drama. “You can’t be half a gangster. “

3. Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm Blu-Ray Kino
I was at first disappointed that there wasn’t more about the story of the legendary singer and drummer for The Band. But on subsequent viewings this tale of a charismatic, cantankerous old soul named Lee and how he negotiates his way through his later years completely won me over.

2. The Vincent Price Collection Blu-Ray Scream Factory
You get four from the wonderful Roger Corman Poe Cycle combining the talents of writers Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont with Price’s lead roles. Masque of the Red Death and House of Usher look absolutely stunning. Plus one of Price’s harshest roles as the Witchfinder General and one of his most fun with The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The vintage show intros from an Iowa TV station are for me the top extras of the year.

1. Leave Her to Heaven (1945) Blu-Ray Twilight Time
If you thought all film noirs had to be black and white, this Technicolor bitch will
leave your jaw hanging and eyes bulging. The locations are drop dead gorgeous. Gene Tierney’s lipstick should be the gold standard for bright red.

Honorable Mention: Mud, The Oranges, Killing Them Softly, Thieves (Korea), Tower Block(UK), Escape (Norway), Spring Breakers, End of Watch, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fog, Sexy Beast (UK), Blackfish and Zulu Dawn.

 

Thanks to all of you who have read the reviews during the year.

The AV Maniacs Review Staff