Barry Forshaw’s DVD Choice
Barry Forshaw’s pick of the latest DVD releases
THE LAST EXORCISM DVD & Blu-Ray
Daniel Stamm, director/Optimum
Something of a surprise – despite the catchpenny title, a genuinely unsettling and intelligent entry in the supernatural field. After peddling false promise to the devout through prayer and trickery, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a film crew to document his final fraudulent days as an exorcist. Soon his faith is truly tested when a desperate plea from the father of a possessed girl (Ashley Bell) brings him face to face with evil itself.
A BAY OF BLOOD Blu-Ray
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Mario Bava, director/Arrow
After Blood and Black Lace changed the face of the Italian thriller, Mario Bava became the most important name in genre cinema before Dario Argento, and Bay of Blood is his most influential film on the cinema of other countries. Essentially an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery dressed up in the most graphic of killings, the film was virtually a blueprint for Sean Cunningham’s Friday the Thirteenth series, with several of the imaginatively grotesque slayings lifted wholesale from Bava’s film. Needless to say, the flat, unatmospheric milieu of the Cunningham films is something that’s very much that producer’s own input, as Bava creates a typically delirious dreamlike state in his narrative. The film begins with a particularly striking killing in which an elderly woman in a wheelchair is gruesomely hanged by a shadowy figure. Shortly after that, the killer himself is bloodily stabbed, and the carnage escalates.
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In And their Sleep is a truly striking piece of work, playing on the anxieties of the audience with great skill and allowing us to be several steps ahead of the beleaguered central character at all times will stop if there is a caveat to be registered, it is the relentlessly downbeat nature of the peace, they are much in the tradition of Haneke’s Funny Games -the viewer is left pleasantly tense after the experience of the film, but thoroughly dispirited.
K-20: THE LEGEND OF THE BLACK MASK
Shimako Sato, director/ Manga Entertainment
The lively visuals of this kinetic piece of superheroics will ensure that this one is well-received and (given that the superhero movie reigns supreme at the box office at present) there will be a ready, hungry audience. Of course, the success of such movies as The Dark Knight and Batman Begins based as much on intelligent delineation of character as they are on the breathtaking stunts this is a movie that made is very much on the latter, but remains constantly entertaining.
THE LOST PATROL
John Ford, director/Odeon Entertainment
One of the most celebrated (and intense) films of its era makes a welcome appearance, looking splendid in his latest transfer. A particular appeal of the film is the appearance of Boris Karloff, splendid here in his non-horror role as a religious fanatic, before the demands of typecasting ensure that roles of this type were to be few and far between for him.
PRIVATE ROAD/DUFFER/MOON IN THE ALLEY
Various Directors/BFI Flipside
If the latest batch of discs in BFI Flipside’s initiative of making available again obscure British cinema is more obscure than previous entries (and, it has to be said, there are no signal rediscoveries here as in previous issues) the company has once again provided a fascinating insight into a much neglected area of independent Britfilm, notably the more ambitious (if flawed) personal films of the 1970s. If the Blu-Ray aspect of these reissues is less impressive than on previous batches, the results here are nevertheless always respectable. The films are newly mastered from film materials preserved by the BFI .National Archive, and available in the BFI’s trademark Dual Format Editions (which include DVD and Blu-ray in the same box, for the same price as a DVD)
IN THEIR SLEEP
CAROLINE DU POTET AND �RIC DU POTET, directors/
In their Sleep is a truly striking piece of work, playing on the anxieties of the audience with great skill and allowing us to be several steps ahead of the beleaguered central character. If there is a caveat to be registered, it is the relentlessly downbeat nature of the piece, very much in the tradition of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games; the viewer is left pleasantly tense after the experience of the film, but thoroughly dispirited. Sarah (Anne Parillaud), deeply disturbed by the death of her teenage son and separated from her husband, lives alone in a house that she and her husband had planned to renovate. One night, on her way home, she almost runs down a young man, a teenager the same age as her son. He is covered with blood...
Bryan Forbes, director/Optimum
This entertaining thriller from 1968 merits a reappraisal; its virtues are more than its lackluster reputation suggest. For a start, there’s a Rififi –style robbery (taking place during a performance of John Barry’s striking Romance for Guitar and Orchestra) that is sequence everyone who has seen the film remembers is in need of appraisal; Deadfall is directed by Bryan Forbes (quite some way after The league of Gentlemen) and starring a colourless Michael Caine, but with always interesting Eric Portman providing the wattage massing form the above-the title star., and Giovanna Ralli. Cat burglar Henry Clarke and his accomplices the Moreaus attempt to steal diamonds from the chateau of millionaire Salinas.
THE LONG HOT SUMMER
Martin Ritt, director/Optimum
The novels of William Faulkner on film have long been a hot-or miss affair, but his colorful adaption of his shorter work has its virtues; not least a stellar cast including Paul Newman and Orson Welles riveting tale of life in the Deep South directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman! Accused barn burner and con man Ben Quick arrives in a small Mississippi town and quickly ingratiates himself with its richest family, the Varners.