Archive for the ‘DVD Reviews’ Category

A Spaghetti Western please, and make it a double…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

There really is no rest for the wicked. Mondo Esoterica is back in action with two all new reviews.

Sadly neither of these titles comes recommended, but for Spaghetti Western fans it makes another two to add to the list of English friendly DVDs, and both films are more than watchable:

W Django (1972) РAnthony Steffen is the star of this clich̩ genre entry, for years relegated to awful looking bootlegs, it now boasts a beautiful anamorphic 2.35:1 print.

Pistol for 100 Coffins (1968) – Peter Lee Lawrence is the star and Umberto Lenzi directs, but the film simply doesn’t gel with lots of missed opportunities. The print from X-rated is not the best, but at least there are no forced subs.

This takes our Spaghetti Western review count up to 42, and rest assured I have a shelf of genre titles awaiting review in 2008. Don’t forget to check out the Mondo Esoterica Guide to the Spaghetti Western for links to all the reviews and more.

Black Emanuelle’s Second Box…

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

The stunning Laura Gemser with the incomparable smouldering beauty of Ely Galleani in Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade (1978) the last of the Joe D’Amato Black Emanuelle series, and with its recent release from Severin USA, the chance to complete the collection of all five titles.

For more information on this, and two other lesser seen erotic films from the 1970s, check out the all new full review of: Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2

Fear not, there will be more from the delectable Ms Gemser next year, with a full review of the ultra-sleazy duo of Emanuelle in America and Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals plus a detailed biography.

Stay tuned to Mondo-Esoterica for some more reviews to round off 2007…!

Lucio Fulci

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

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Many people dismiss Fulci as a mere gore loving hack, but it is clear that they have not seen his early Giallo films. Between 1969 and 1977 he shot 4 of these murder mystery films.

Severin have recently obliged by releasing Seven Notes in Black (1977), while Blue Underground have recently re-released Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972). Read the all new full reviews. Nothing more to say about these films here, except that for Giallo and Fulci fans, they are both must haves.

If you want to learn more about Fucli himself, I have written an all new, and thoroughly exclusive 2,500 word biography of the director: Lucio Fulci

Watch out for more Fulci reviews, including the rest of his Gialli, his classic horror titles, and some of his lesser later work early next year.

Nuns and Guns – the early films of Lucio Fulci

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

We know him today for such gory excesses as Zombi 2 (1979) and City of the Living Dead (1981). However, Fulci was making films since the end of the 1950s, and covered many of the popular genres of the day. Most of his early works are comedies that were never released outside Italy, and are sadly unavailable on English language DVD. However, Severin USA in November did release his later comedy The Senator Likes Women (1972), part rude-comedy, part strong political satire, it is very enjoyable and a great looking DVD.

In between the comedies, Fulci directed a Spaghetti Western, Massacre Time (1966). Not boasting the most original plot, it does have some shocking brutality that teases of Fulcis’ later work, not to mention a solid pairing of Franco Nero and George Hilton. The Italian DVD is not great, but it is the best currently available.

Stay tuned next weekend for a Fulci Giallo double bill, with a look at Severin’s other recent release, The Psychic (1978) and the Blue Underground DVD of his grim Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972). I will also be presenting an all new and highly detailed biography of this notorious director.

An all action Alistair MacLean double-bill

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Now here is an interesting contrast of films. Two films based on popular Alistair MacLean novels, made within two years of each other, both starring upcoming actors in the lead roles with some well known supporting casts, and both helmed by lesser known directors. The difference comes therefore in the writing – Fear is the Key was scripted by Robert Carrington, while Eight Bells Toll is adapted for the screen by MacLean himself. Both films follow a similar pattern with the adaption, basing the script strongly on the book with some trimming for time, however MacLean shows infinitely more talent in doing this than Carrington, who leaves Fear is the Key with a mess of storylines, that is almost incomprehensible, and completely loses the Nihlistic tones of the book. Fortunately the film is saved by one of the best car chase sequences in cinema.

I have to admit to surprise over this result, many other writers have trouble cutting their works for the screen, getting rather too attached to the storylines. Hammer’s Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is a perfect example, with Nigel Kneale attempting to cram his 3 hour teleplay into a 90 minute film, leaving it overly rushed and chaotic.

Both of these films have been released with little flair but good looking prints in R2 land, and are now fully reviewed:

Eight Bells Toll (1971)

Fear is the Key (1972)

Chase a Crooked Shadow

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Optimum UK have a very mixed record on their DVD releases, with many titles being simple re-issues of existing discs, frequently changing release dates and a complete lack of publicity for many of their releases. However, every so often there is a gem, and the new British Thrillers collection released on Monday contains two. Fear is the Key (1972), an Alistair MacLean adventure film (review coming soon), and this film Chase a Crooked Shadow (1957), a two rather little known titles and completely unavailable on DVD before, they both get good looking (if barebones) prints.

The film is enjoyable, and very reminiscent of the Hammer thrillers of the early 1960s and comes recommended to fans of this time.

Check out the full review: Chase a Crooked Shadow

Have a Hammer Horror Hallowe’en!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

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Ah Hallowe’en, the best time of the year for a horror fan, and not just because its the only time you can get Pumpkins in the shops to make Pumpkin stew, but because all of the DVD companies decide to put out every horror film in their store-rooms, and the shops finally put horror films front row with big discounts. I’ve got to give credit to my local supermarket, I found The Haunting (1963), Hills Have Eyes (1978), and to my real surprise Mark of the Devil (1970). Someone will be in for a surprise when they sit down to watch this tonight!

So what horror soaked gem did I choose for tonight. None other than Hammer’s often overlooked Plague of the Zombies – a tight and well told tale of Voodoo in Cornwall. With some very good direction and acting, I highly recommend it.

Read the full review: Plague of the Zombies

Have we no SHAME?

Friday, October 26th, 2007

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The year started with cries that cult DVDs were doomed, talk of “over-saturation” and “the end of an era” were banded about. Yet we are still here, and much to everyone’s surprise, heralding the launch of an all new cult DVD company, in England!

Shameless Screen Entertainment has been established with the sole intention of distributing ex-video nasties, and the more extreme cult cinema. Their first two titles released earlier this month are a good example of this, and reflect the real possibilities… or the possible realities of this new company.

Phantom of Death is a real plus. Previously only available on DVD from Germany, and generally not very well known, despite the presence of the notorious Ruggero Deodato at the helm, it is presented fully uncut and in a good looking widescreen print.

New York Ripper is more of a concern. It has been readily available on DVD in the US (although it is OOP at present), and recently released on a very good, feature packed Swedish DVD, the Shameless release has also suffered from that curse that will doubtless hang over the company for a while to come – BBFC cuts. I won’t get into the idiocy of mature and consenting adults in the UK being barred from watching a film freely and fully available in the US, Scandinavia, Italy, France, Netherlands, Australia and Germany.

Ultimately Shameless have no way of telling, before they submit a film, whether or not it will be cut, and with the high cost of submitting a film, they can’t afford not to release it afterwards. However, they do know when a film has been previously released, and perhaps should be looking to fill the gaps in the market rather than simply doubling up – although from the Joe-six-pack perspective, titles like “New York Ripper” are much better known, and likely to sell a lot better in stores.

Shameless are certainly the most exciting company to emerge this year – their superb cover-art and well written case notes show a real love for the films that many of the other cult DVD companies, and certainly the majors seem to be missing. Some will doubtless criticise the lack of bonus features on the discs, but at their own admission, the company have said that the cost of recording interviews etc. would force them to cut their releases from two a month, to one every two months – and while it is a pity not to get to hear Michael York explain just how he came to be cast in a Giallo film, it is a worthwhile sacrifice to simply get the film out on DVD.
So lets just hope that they survive the BBFC maulings, and make enough sales with the better known titles to allow more unreleased goodies to emerge in 2008.

Read more about the upcoming Shameless titles at our upcoming page, or their own site at Shamless-films.com

THE PEPLUM!

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Peplum part 1

Well, its been a while, but I’ve been working on something big – and here is the first part of an all new Mondo Esoterica guide, with four all new reviews.
The guide itself is going to be greatly extended over the next few months, as are the reviews, but for now, take a look and enjoy:

The Mondo Esoterica Guide to THE PEPLUM

The Mind Benders (1962) – coming to DVD tomorrow!

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

We round off Horror September 2 with something a little different.

The Mind Benders (1962) is a rather talky and quite slow, but very well written and acted film, that falls somewhere between science fiction and horror. It is coming to DVD tomorrow here in the UK on a very good looking DVD from Optimum.

We’ve got a first look at the disc, and a full review of this interesting film – The Mind Benders.