Archive for the ‘Site Updates’ Category

Lee Marvin 20th Anniversary – Emperor of the North (1973)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

This is a special blog review, part of the Lee Marvin Blog-a-Thon and one that you won’t find anywhere else!

Lee Marvin was one of the big Hollywood names between the 50s and 70s, and even into the 1980s (he had a leading role in the epic war film The Big Red One (1980)). Back in a time when actors were distinctive, and what mattered was what they did onscreen, not what they did in nightclubs or their private lives. For my part in this tribute I have reviewed a film that ranks in my top 5 films of all time, Emperor of the North (1973):

Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and based on a real story (author Jack London’s account of his time as a hobo in the 1890s published as The Road), the film is a gripping and well written account of a duel between a hobo and a notorious conductor, who was happy to risk lives to get his job done. Lee Marvin is the hobo, and Ernest Borgnine the conductor in this very well crafted film. Direction is from Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen (1967)) who does a very good job, and most importantly (for myself and fellow railroad fans) he manages a great deal of historical and railway authenticity. Most excitingly there is not single blue screen shot in the whole film – the actors are really running around atop moving trains.

After an agonisingly long wait for this on DVD (at times I considered buying a laserdisc player, or even trying to buy the release rights myself), Fox USA released it last year on a very good looking disc. Details about the DVD, and more about the film can be seen in my new full review: Emperor of the North (1973).

200th Review! Grizzly Man (2005)

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Another great milepost here at Mondo Esoterica – my 200th review, and almost my 40,000th visitor! A great achievement in only two years, and thanks to all my loyal readers (and anyone who found this post on google while searching for something completely different!)
So for my 200th review I decided to watch a film from my favourite director, Werner Herzog. Grizzly Man is a documentary feature he made about the bear lover Timothy Treadwell who lived with them in Alaska for 13 years before being killed. A fascinating and well balanced documentary and highly recommended to everyone.

Read the full review: Grizzly Man

And for all my blog readers, stay tuned for more great stuff to come….!

Casting the Runes (1979)

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007


Once again Mondo Esoterica is here with an exclusive first look review. This time at the Network UK release of Casting the Runes – a British television adaptation of a ghost story by writer M.R. James (best known for its adaptation of the Jacques Tourner horror film Night of the Demon (1957)). Due out on DVD on the 3rd September.
Set in the modern day (ie. the late 1970s) this story is very well written and presented, and should raise a scare or two – highly recommended. Excitingly though, the DVD also includes a very rare adaptation of James’ story Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance, originally made for a children’s television show about using music in films to build mood. Although only 16 minutes long, it also captures a very good atmosphere, and is worth watching – as is the other bonus feature, a very well made 50 minute documentary about M. R. James.

Read the full review of Casting the Runes

Mondo Esoterica Historybook – THE VIKINGS

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Another all new project for Mondo Esoterica, I call it the Historybook. Basically it is a mix of real facts and film reviews, for a selected period of history. This is a trial run of the format, centered around the legendary Norsemen. If successful, I will be going on to explore lots more periods of history and their cinematic representations (suggestions welcome!)
I’v reviewed 6 new films, plus updated one existing review, and there will be more added to this Guide over the next few months:

13th Warrior (1999) – enjoyable but rather rushed.
Erik the Conqueror (1961) – a great adventure film.
Knives of the Avenger (1966) – a very interesting film, more plot than action.
The Long Ships (1964) – an enjoyable adventure film, mix between Vikings and Sinbad.
Tarkan versus the Vikings (1971) – utterly daft Turkish film.
The Viking Sagas (1995) – the best of the bunch, a very good film, shot in Iceland.
The Vikings (1958) – the Hollywood classic, enjoyable, but flawed.

So hurry and read reviews of all these and more at The Mondo Esoterica Historybook Guide to The Vikings

Horst Frank retrospective

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Although never a major player in Euro-cult cinema, Horst Frank is one the better known character actors from the period. German by birth, he got his first start in the late 1950s, and quickly moved across Europe starring in a variety of films from Spaghetti Westerns to Gialli through the 1960s and into the early 1970s when he returned to Germany, working extensively in television and radio there.

I have just posted a brand new review of one of his few starring roles, as an insane scientist in the German sci-fi film The Head (1959) and you can also find out a lot more about the background of this actor in the all new Mondo Esoterica Guide to Horst Frank.

More Spaghetti Western reviews

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Back to basics this week with an all new trio of Spaghetti Western reviews, from the recent Koch Media Halleluja boxset. Alongside two light hearted movies is the excellent gem, Raise Your Hands Dead Man starring Peter Lee Lawrence. Fans of the genre will certainly want to pick up this great looking set:

Hallelujah Italo-Western Collection

I have also added more information to the Spaghetti Western Guide page. Enjoy!

Ace of Wands (1970/2)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Another exclusive first look here at Mondo Esoterica

Ace of Wands was a very popular British children’s television show in the 1970s, but don’t let the “children’s” tag put you off, it is actually a very enjoyable bit of television with plenty of mystery and fantasy (enough to keep this fan of gory Italian horror films watching through all 20 episodes!)

The feature laden boxset should be of interest to anyone who enjoyed the show, and fans of classic mystery and fantasy television shows:

Ace of Wands

New review and exciting DVD news…

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Another new release from Severin films, an another top quality DVD – this bit of 1970s erotica is best known for being written by the author of the original Emmanuelle novels, but stands alone as an artistic and erotic film. Read the review.

In other news, the biggest DVD announcement of the year so far has been the news that DDHE have secured the DVD rights to a wide selection of previously unreleased films, including 13 long awaited Hammer titles. Details on these titles, and more at our upcoming pages.

The Invisible Man (1958) Season 1

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

This early British sci-fi TV series about the adventures of Dr. Peter Brady, who has sucessfully (although accidentally) made himself completely invisible, is coming to special edition DVD in the UK on Monday. I’ve just completed a complete review of the first season of this rather mixed quality show:

The Invisible Man Season 1 review

Editor’s notes: The review of season 2 will follow later this month. For this first TV series review on the site I’m trying out a new format for the review pages. Any feedback on this is more than welcome!

Another Franco double-bill from Severin

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Severin Films have again excelled with a superb looking pair of Jess Franco films from the 1980s:

Sexual Story of O (1984) – a rather well filmed and written, if slow paced piece of de Sade inspired erotica with a must-see surreal climax.

The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle (1981) – despite the title this film has to rank as one of Franco’s worst with no plot and some insanely dull sex scenes.
Released on the 24th of April in the USA, and also coming to DVD in the UK later in the year from Anchor Bay UK (details).