Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

The Summer Blog Post…

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Howdy blog fans, its that time of year again when I remember to do a proper blog post. Its been a good year so far with some new biographies proving always popular, plus some great new preview reviews from Severin (can’t wait to see what they have in line next).

Its also been a bit quiet, what with me getting married and becoming the senior staff member at work – and its going to get pretty busy over the next month or two with house moving on the horizon, but I will keep the reviews coming so don’t lose faith!

I mentioned a while ago, Horror 101 a book released by Aaron Christensen, it is basically a collection of 101 essays on horror films written by genuine fans (including myself). It is genuinely interesting and has received good reviews from the likes of Tom Savini and Joe Dante. There is more information on the official Horror 101 website and you can now buy a copy in the UK from Where Shadows Fall and in Europe from Cultreviews.

I do recommend this book to horror genre newcomers but also to more experienced fans – it is very easy for folk (including myself) to get so deep into cult cinema that you forget that there are some mainstream gems out there, and this book is a good way to find out about them.

Normal Service will be resuming after a brief intermission…

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

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2008

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

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So as we pay our tributes the the ancient gods of cinema it is time for my annual ‘proper’ blog posting.

I won’t bore you with a traditional “best of 2007″ films list, for I realise that I simply have not watched any films that were released in 2007, my only cinematic expeditions were for classics showings (see my post on the Bradford Film Festival).

On the DVD front I didn’t get too many newly released discs this year but there was certainly a fine selection available. Severin excelled again with some lesser known Fulci titles finally hitting DVD and two superb Black Emanuelle boxsets. In the UK, Network did good work with some more classic television boxsets, while Optimum continued their rather hit-and-miss output with some real classics emerging, with superb prints, but a complete absence of any features, even trailers. On the mainstream front MGM‘s Midnite Movies collection returned with some great new releases but some real furore over the use of the US print on Vault of Horror.

Here at Mondo Esoterica we hit 200 reviews back in August and I now have over 30 fully featured actor/crew biographies and 8 highly detailed genre guides on the site, with many being further enhanced over the next few months. Throughout 2008 I will be adding a number of additional Guides with a few very exciting projects in the pipeline.

There have already been some changes this year – the ‘upcoming DVDs’ page is now gone – it was requiring a lot of time to update and was too often out-of-date. DVD News will now be posted directly to the blog. As for the films being reviewed, I am going to be contrasting the depths of Euro-sleaze with some rather more cultured productions.

So that was 2007, Happy New Year and let us see what 2008 brings….

Merry Christmas…!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Well, it looks like a good haul for me this year. A Merry Christmas to all my readers new and old.

Check back before the New Year though for more top quality reviews, and a sneak preview of 2008…

Now in print!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

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Well, it’s not quite All the Colours of Darkness, but here is my first film related appearance in print. Horror 101 was a group project launched on a few forums last year, with the aim to compile reviews of 101 different horror films into a single book. Perfect as a reference work or for genre newcomers. My personal contribution is a chapter on Amicus, and specifically Asylum (1972).

A million thanks to Dr. AC who lead the project, and got it into print. Sadly it is not yet available in the UK (although if there is enough demand, I can import a few copies to pass on, e-mail me!). However you can buy it direct from Amazon.com or the official Horror 101 with Dr AC website today.

The Bradford Fantastic Films Festival 2007

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Thanks to the hard-working team at the National Media Museum, this year’s event was another highly popular and successful weekend.

On Friday I sadly missed the screening of television ghost story ‘The Treasure of Abott Thomas‘ due to late running trains, but did make it through in time for a double bill of modern fantasy films:

Sunshine (2007) [IMDB]

Directed by Danny Boyle, this sci-fi story is set in an unspecified future, when the Sun has begun to die. The story is set aboard a spaceship sent to re-start the star.
It is clear from the start that this is no ‘Armageddon’ or ‘Deep Impact’ and as things start to go wrong, it is inevitable that most of the crew won’t survive even the first leg of the journey. The frequent twists and turns, and very well researched science make most of the film gripping viewing – but sadly towards the end it takes a turn for the unnecessary, and the conclusion is far too overplayed – a nice ambiguous ending would have suited the film a lot better.

300 (2007) [IMDB]

A chance to see this sword-and-sandal fantasy epic on the massive IMAX screen was certainly one not to miss and it looked amazing.
Despite the political criticism, the film is very well made and sets new heights for both graphic novel and sword-and-sandal films to come. The almost complete use of CGI is surprisingly effective and combines with an effective soundtrack.

Come Saturday we just managed to make it in in time for the first screening

Basket Case (1982) [IMDB]

This improbably daft and gory piece of 1980s New York cheese was shown in all its uncut glory in a surprisingly good looking print and was certainly worth getting up for.

Forbidden Planet (1956) [IMDB]

The classic 1950s sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet stands up amazingly well today with some good looking effects and a very cleverly written storyline. The 35mm print looked fantastic, and the 50 year old special effects still had the power to wow an audience, decades before CGI came in. Probably the highlight of the weekend.

Twins of Evil (1971) [IMDB]

A product of Hammer’s near exploitation days, this daft and quite disjointed film somehow remains watchable throughout, and is one of Hammer’s most entertaining productions. Director John Hough was in attendance, and after the film he spoke about working with the friendly and meticulous Peter Cushing, the quiet and reserved Dennis Price, and the mischievous Collison twins. He also mentioned some of his other film work, including directing Orson Welles and Sophia Loren, as well as his two failed attempts in the years after Hammer’s demise, to lead a coalition to buy out and restore the company. A unique and fascinating chance to hear this director speak.

Read the full Mondo Esoterica review.

Suspiria (1977) [IMDB]

There is not much I can say about this true classic of Italian horror. Screened on a good looking 35mm print, there were a few slight cuts to the goriest scenes (it was an old British cinema print, and had the original BBFC cuts from the 1970s) and some dropped frames, but it was more than watchable, and sounded deafeningly good.

Sunday rolled around after Saturday (as usual) and the last day of the festival:

Vincent Price’s Dracula (1985) [IMDB]

Not available on DVD, this is a rarely seen 50 minute ‘documentary’ about the real Vlad Tepes, and how Bram Stoker turned him into the most famous vampire in history. Alongside a variety of clips from Dracula films, some surprisingly epic battle scenes that appeared to be taken from a Turkish movie and some Mondo Cane style footage of ‘contemporary’ Rumanian rituals, there are some amazingly (and presumably intentionally) cheesy sequences with Vincent Price himself in a Gothic castle set. Very enjoyable, and the 16mm film print looked surprisingly good.

Threads (TV) (1984) [IMDB]

Made in the height of the Cold War, this television drama sought to vividly portray the effects of a nuclear war on the normal working people of a British City (in this case Sheffield). The first half effectively builds characters and sets the tone, with news reports of the growing crisis in the background to most scenes. The second hour starts well, with the devastating effects of the blast being shown in an uncompromisingly grim way, unfortunately, the final quarter sees the setting jump forward over a decade, turning from facts into overly pessimistic speculation. A rather disappointing ending to what was probably one of the best (and most terrifying) television dramas ever screened)

The Woman in Black (TV) (1989) [IMDB]

Susan Hill’s novel had all the ingredients of a classic ghost story, and Nigel Kneale’s television adaptation brings them very successfully to the screen, with a few clever changes that actually help to make the story better (the idea that Arthur Kidd is already married, with children before the story starts makes his targeting by the Woman in Black more plausible). Genuinely scary in several places, with a good atmosphere throughout, this was certainly worth coming to see – its absence on DVD in the UK is more than criminal.
Countess Dracula (1970) [IMDB]

The weekend drew to a close with one of the first of Hammer’s exploitation ‘blood and breasts’ films. Not as fun as Twins of Evil, it still makes for a decent watch thanks to the exploitation elements, and Hammer’s typically impressive Gothic castle sets. Certainly not the best film of the weekend, but a good way to draw it all to a close, and worth watching on a very good looking 35mm print.

In all, a very enjoyable weekend, with no complaints. I’m already looking forward to what 2008 has to offer!

Where did you go?

Friday, May 18th, 2007

No updates for a while and I apologise. Real world matters are intruding once again as we prepare to up and move across the country. I’ve got a new preview review on the way that will be posted in the next week and be writing reviews throughout the next few weeks that I’ll post as soon as I get back on-line in mid-June.

As usual, suggestions for reviews and themes are more than welcome…

No news is good news!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Sorry its been a while between updates but I’ve not been napping. There are 6 new reviews sitting on my hard drive waiting to be uploaded along with a brand new Guide, and I just unexpectedly received some exciting preview discs which I’ll be reviewing over the next few days.

I have been trying to keep on top of the DVD announcements from the various cult companies. There are some more trashy exploitation films coming from Dark Sky, and a couple of new titles announced by Severin. The latest news on the BCI Naschy discs is that the first two titles will street in May with the rest of the collection to follow in the future. Read more at my Upcoming Pages.
There have also been some surprising announcements from the majors, most notably the Cult Camp Classics collection from WB, including a peplum and some classic airborn disaster movies, the potential for future releases in this series seem boundless and there are already rumours of a Hallowe’en horror boxset coming later in the year. Read more at DVD Times.

2006 and 2007…

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Well, its that time of year when everyone does their “best DVD of the year” lists. Well I have no plans to bore you with a complete rundown of the best and worst of 2006, so here is a quick (and fully linked summary) of good news for cult DVD fans:

Some of our reviewed titles from 2006

In the USA, it has been a very good year for fans of obscure and cult cinema, with NoShame and Blue Underground continuing to put out plenty of Italian genre cinema, newcomers Severin have really impressed with their Jess Franco discs. Meanwhile in the UK, Optimum have done decent (if rather inconsistent) work with their re-issuing of the Wickerman, Dalek and Hammer DVDs. More Spaghetti Westerns from Germany, and cult films from Italy have also been the order of the day. Ultimately, cult fans are getting it great. If I was asked to pick a single best DVD of the year, I think Mondo Macabro might take it for Lifespan – an incredibly obscure film, given the sort of special edition treatment that even most Hollywood films don’t get.
What does 2007 hold though? While the introduction of HD might be confusing the markets, 2007 is likely to bring some sort of sanity, hopefully in the form of a dual format player, at an affordable price – although HD as a widespread medium is probably not likely until 2008. Meanwhile for the cult fans, news is already good, with the Paul Naschy collection hopefully due to impress fans from March, and a good list of other titles already announced from various companies.
We review a varied selection here at MEs!

For Mondo Esoterica, 2006 has been a very big year, the site has exploded, now boasting 150 reviews and top billing on several search engines. In 2007 I hope to more than double the review archive and expand the outlook of the site even further, from the heights of European arthouse, to the grimy depths of exploitation. The most popular feature on our site this year has been the Complete Guide to the Karl May Westerns and I plan to write several more Guides in the next year, packed full of information that you can only find here at Mondo-Esoterica.net!

Merry Christmas…!

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

and we’ll be back before the new year with more of the insightful comments and obscure reviews that you all love!