Enzo G. Castellari’s 1978 World War II adventure is probably most notable for
inspiring a new Quentin Tarantino screenplay. Its three-disc DVD release, from Severin Cinema, is a
surprisingly deluxe affair tied to the Tarantino remake, with Q.T.
himself showing up to interview Castellari and put the
film in some perspective (it was never released theatrically in the
U.S., so Tarantino discovered it on a TV screening). Some
extensive making-of features and a CD of soundtrack music (the third disc) round
out the package.
When I settled in to take a look at Nimrod Nation, an eight-part documentary series that aired beginning in 2007 on the Sundance Channel, I expected to sit still for an episode or two before deciding when and whether to continue. To my not-inconsiderable surprise, I devoured the first four episodes in a single afternoon, took down two more in the evening, and finished out the package the following morning. Taken as a whole, Nimrod Nation is not a great documentary, but it’s a friendly and unassuming collection of days in the life that gets big points for compulsive watchability.
I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies. It’s quite possible that, were I more familiar with their form and conventions — if the exotic-to-western-eyes spell they can cast were less of a novelty — I’d have a lot less patience with Saawariya and the endless tiny complications that sustain its otherwise threadbare boy-chases-girl storyline over more than two hours of screen time. Then again, were I a Bollywood fanboy, I might be even more enchanted by everything that Saawariya gets right — enough that I’d be less cognizant of what misses.
Dawn (Jess Weixler), the protagonist of writer/director
Mitchell Lichtenstein’s playfully gynephobic black comedy Teeth, is a
high-school abstinence advocate whose no-sex-before-marriage stance masks her
deep discomfort with her own body. Because Teeth is also a horror movie, the
root of her fear is physical, not psychological — as Anne Carlisle put it in
the druggy downtown classic Liquid Sky, “this pussy has teeth.”
The gimmick of this energetic Brit-com is that the action
switches, approximately halfway through, from comic crime drama to comic
splatter movie. The main problem, then, is that The Cottage, against the odds, makes a better caper movie than gore flick. The first half-hour or so is an
engaging and amusing farce about kidnappers David (Andy Serkis) and Peter
(Reece Shearsmith), who drive to a secluded house with their hostage, Tracey
(Jennifer Ellison) bound and gagged in the trunk. It’s not the best plan — the outrageously busty Tracey may be the daughter of a gangster, but she’s a terrible hostage, strong-willed and foul-mouthed. She knows David on sight. And their inside man, Tracey’s brother Andrew, is a dimwit who brings the whole scheme tumbling down on top of them. About the time the car pulls up outside with a couple of Chinese hit men out for blood, The Cottage has established itself as a credibly tense comedy.
Image nicked from Tim Lucas’s excellent Video Watchblog entry on Night of the Werewolf.
It’s surely convenience, or just
coincidence–rather than any nods to quality or pent-up demand–that these are the first two Euro-horror titles to arrive in high definition on
Blu-ray Disc. This double-feature package from BCI and Deimos
entertainment pairs two films starring the well-loved (and prolific)
Spanish horror actor Paul Naschy. Vengeance of the Zombies (La
Rebelion de las Muertas, 1972) is a potboiler from cult director Leon
Klimovsky involving a charismatic Indian cult leader (Naschy), his
less-attractive brother (also Naschy), and a beautiful redhead (Romy)
from a cursed English family. And Night of the Werewolf (La Retorno
del Hombre Lobo, 1980) is a genre mash-up directed by Naschy
in which he stars as the wolfman Waldemar Daninsky and faces off against a
bevy of vampire women led by Elizabeth Bathory herself. (Scroll way down to read about some problems with these discs.)
Whatever happened to the red-meat, teens-in-trouble, blood-and-breasts American horror film? On the
evidence here, it’s been driven nearly underground. To be clear, The Lost,
which played the festival circuit and got a handful of theatrical showings in New York and Los
Angeles, isn’t a great film. It’s limited by its
budget, a general flabbiness around the midsection, and genre conventions that
serve as reminders of the film’s status as horror product. But, compared to the
cynical teen-scare flicks and semi-competent J-horror knock-offs clogging multiplex
screens, The Lost feels unhinged and even a little dangerous. Its climax has a
ferocity and evokes a sense of helplessness that’s hard to shake. If the ability to
genuinely disturb is any measure of a horror film’s quality, then The Lost is a
pretty good one.