The mighty Dead by Dawn festival, the UK’s longest-running horror festival, based in Edinburgh, takes place this year at Edinburgh Filmhouse April 20-23rd. They’re just announced their line-up and it’s a tantalising mix of brand new films, classics and a whopping 7 short film strands. They open with the UK premiere of The Evil Within (a film which has had some attention this week), and closes with a midnight screening of Gillespie and Kostanski’s The Void. The festival will also be featuring acclaimed new films Without Name and Always Shine, as well as a number of UK premieres. Dead by Dawn also boasts a very special screening of Arrow Video’s brand new 4K restoration of Dario Argento’s Phenomena. Other classics include a Cronenberg double-bill of The Dead Zone and Scanners, a Vincent Price strand and, much to editor Ben’s approval I’m sure, a ‘double-Dekker’ of House and The Moster Squad.
Attach the name Jess Franco to a film and unless you’re already a super fan it’s likely you’ll have your broad, generalised expectations of what that film will be like – crash zooms, extensive T&A, and, if there’s a plot, it might not make much sense. Sometimes, this expectation is not met, and in the best possible way – I’m still something of a Franco neophyte, but films like Virgin Among The Living Dead (even with that title) and Venus in Furs have proven to be enjoyable and beautifully made films. Along comes Female Vampire, then, out now on UK Blu-ray from new Euro-sleaze imprint Maison Rouge, arguably one of Franco’s most well-known, tentpole films. I think it’s fair to say that Female Vampire did indeed meet all of my expectations of a Franco film, and unfortunately for me that wasn’t a good thing.
There have been quite a few big announcements lately of upcoming home entertainment slates and there are some rather juicy morsels on their way from Arrow Video, Arrow Academy and Eureka in April and May!
Arrow Video recently revealed their release slate for April and gosh are there some juicy looking gems in there!
On April 10th Arrow Video will release a dual-format edition of Caltiki the Immortal Monster, which is something of a pivotal Italian genre film from Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava. Part-sci-fi and part-horror, Caltiki was Freda’s second film to be taken over by his regular cinematographer and soon-to-be auteur Bava, after I Vampiri in 1959. Arguably Bava’s first official film as director, he completed Caltiki when Freda left the set enraged by the behaviour of his producers. Being an Arrow release there are copious extras, including two audio commentaries, several interviews and, if you get a copy from the first pressing, a booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger and Roberto Curti.
When a film is touted as a supposedly offensive comedy, I tend to go in sceptical, because for me titles touted as such tend to be neither. Such was the case with War on Everyone, and it’s fair to say, in that regard at least, my expectations were met. War on Everyone failed to elicit a single belly laugh from me, and neither did it leave me writing letters to my local MP demanding the BFI should be dismantled for funding such sick filth. No, instead, I was mostly bored for just over an hour and a half, and wishing I’d re-watched The Nice Guys for a third time instead.
Something we’re hoping to keep you up to date on here at Warped Perspective is news of the most exciting upcoming home entertainment releases – we’re talking DVDs and Blu-rays, predominantly, of the hot new genre films and the best in cult classics. There are so many great specialist labels out there now that sometimes it can be hard to keep track (and I can’t promise I’ll manage to cover everything, so give me a shout if I’ve left out anything great!).
As it’s the start of the year here are some of the highlights of January’s upcoming releases, in case any have slipped under your radar, as well as a couple of exciting recent announcements.
If there was one thing that didn’t suck horribly about 2016 it was the year’s selection of genre films. As ever, I’ve been immensely privileged to see a whole load of upcoming films as well as general releases, and so my favourites list is populated by a mix of films that were on general release and others that will be in UK cinemas and homes during 2017. I’ve broadly here stuck to films which are ‘genre’, with an emphasis on horror, but even so it was a struggle narrowing things down.
By Nia Edwards-Behi
Hong Kong martial arts films have always had an evident spiritual connection to the Western – similar narratives playing out in different settings and with different weapons: fists and feet instead of Colts and Winchesters. This connection is drawn to the surface to full effect in Benny Chan’s Call of Heroes, as a mis-matched group of local heroes stand-off to protect a town from the psychopathic son of a warlord. Horse-back hero shots, sunsets, and a Morricone-lite score are notable Western icons in this otherwise blisteringly-violent and not-so-subtly political film. Add a dash of Mifune and a hefty helping of Sammo Hung’s excellent action direction and Call of Heroes is a gift for genre-lovers.
1971 saw something of a cinematic seismic shift in Britain, with three films seeming to trouble the censors and moral guardians of Britain more than any others before. Arriving in quick succession were The Devils, A Clockwork Orange, and Straw Dogs, three films which seemed to pave the way for a landslide of taboo-breaking and controversy-baiting – hot on the heels of these three landmarks were the likes of The Exorcist and Emmanuelle. While The Devils somehow remains cut in this country, and A Clockwork Orange retains its infamous status despite being a widely-seen and praised film, it’s almost easy to forget that Straw Dogs was as controversial as it was when it first hit screens. Although it’s now a celebrated and canonical film, even remade by the Hollywood machine, on first release Straw Dogs almost brought the BBFC to its feet and proved one of the most controversial films in British cinema history.
Straw Dogs is Sam Peckinpah’s adaptation of Gordon Williams’ novel, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. It stars Dustin Hoffman as mild-mannered American mathematician, David Sumner, who is spending research leave in Cornwall with his wife, Amy (Susan George), who hails from the area – escaping from the violent climate of America as well as getting away to work on his book. Once there, David very quickly finds himself at odds with the locals, in particular Charlie Venner (Del Henney), Amy’s former flame. As the blissful veneer of Amy and David’s relationship begins to crack, particularly after a violent assault on Amy, the tensions between David and the locals escalate. When David defends a local man accused of murder (David Warner), he must face off in a violent confrontation with Charlie and the other locals. Continue reading