Archive for the ‘DVD Reviews’ Category

Amicus Retrospective

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

It is finally here! 3 weeks of hard writing and research, and lots of late night film-watching have produced an all new, 2500 word Complete Guide to Amicus.

That includes 8 all new film reviews:

Not to mention all new, two exclusive and extensive biographies of Amicus’ top directors, Freddie Francis and Roy Ward Baker, check those out.

And it doesn’t stop there, we have more Amicus reviews coming this month, including the impending WB US release of From Beyond the Grave (1973), not to mention more Horror Movie reviews for the rest of the month, all part of Horror September 2!

They Didn’t Die During the War

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

SHOCK WAVES and THE PROWLER, playing all week at the Mondo Esoterica drive-in:

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Special edition: Ingrid Pitt

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Ingrid Pitt

It has been a long time since we had any Hammer reviews on this site, so here are two new titles for your delectation, both starring that voluptuous Polish beauty, Ingrid Pitt.

The Vampire Lovers (1970) – the first, and certainly the best of Hammer’s female vampire movies is this close adaptation of the original Carmilla novel. An Italian DVD release that is a good substitute for the OOP US disc.
Countess Dracula (1971) -  not so good this time, but a relatively enjoyable film, an adaptation of the classic Countess Bathory legend. A recent R2 special edition DVD with lots of great features, might even tempt a double dip.

Of course to tie these together we’ve got the first new guide of Horror September 2, the complete Mondo Esoterica Guide to Ingrid Pitt – and there is more Pitt coming later this month (no prizes for guessing which one)!

A quartet of Slasher Movies

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Horror September Part 2 is here, with a quartet of slasher movies newly reviewed (well actually I reviewed most of them much earlier this year, and have just been saving the reviews for now!)

The Sleepaway Camp films are a good mix, with the first film being very dark and quite original, one of the few slasher films to achieve a realistic summer camp atmosphere. The sequels are generic body count slashers, but highly enjoyable with plenty of blood and breasts.

In contrast, Cheerleader Camp is another body count slasher, that despite some good gore effects is rather poor, with some gaping plot holes, and an almost complete absence of the sleaze and nudity we all watch these films for in the first place. Enjoyable in places, slasher fans might want to check this out, but not for those who only enjoy quality horror films!

Enjoy, and watch out for more this weekend!

Horror Express (1973)

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

The first Horror September review is here – a look at this most classic of neo-gothic horrors, with that always solid partnership of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee – in more than just cameo roles this time.

I’ve been watching the recent German DVD which is good (and the best currently available, since the US Image release is OOP), but does suffer from forced subtitles.

Read it all at my full review – Horror Express.

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.