Archive for February, 2007

Five Golden Dragons (1967)

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Our prime directive here at Mondo Esoterica is to bring reviews of obscure films, and obscure DVDs, that no other websites offer. We may be accused of losing our way a little recently (surely no-one can call Airport (1970) obscure?) but here is a little something to make it all better!

Five Golden Dragons is a completely overlooked film, despite its cast list boasting Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and Brian Donlevy – plus a barrage of other well known actors from mainstream and cult cinema. Shot in Hong Kong it is a well made Edgar Wallace thriller, with plenty of surprises. It comes on a neat little DVD from Italy that has a superb print and great sounding English audio (with no forced subtitles). I recommend both the film and the DVD, but check out the review for lots more.

The Fu Manchu Collection (1965-69)

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Released without much attention outside of Germany last year was this five disc boxset from Kinowelt containing all five of the Fu Manchu films produced by Harry Alan Towers and starring Christopher Lee.

Full review with loads of background information: Dr. Fu Man Chu Collection

You can also check out a brand new Mondo Esoterica Guide, to producer Harry Alan Towers.

Emmanuelle (1974) coming soon to DVD

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

On April 23rd, Optimum UK are releasing the classic Emmanuelle – the “original” soft-core porn film, onto DVD. Not currently available on English language DVD, and previously censored in the UK, the film is being released fully uncut and includes a new 30 minute interview with director Just Jaeckin and the film’s producer, as well as the original French trailer.

The film is presented in anamorphic 1.66:1 ratio and retains the soft-focus feel of the original print with a good transfer. Sadly, only the English language dub track is provided, instead of the more subtle French language track that was included on the earlier Anchor Bay US release of the film.

A full review of this film, and many of its contemporaries will follow closer to the release date.

The People that Time Forgot (1977) mini-review

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

People that Time Forgot

The People that Time Forgot (1977) was the direct sequel to the late Amicus adventure film The Land that Time Forgot (1975) and based on the book of the same name by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

It tells of an expedition, lead by Major Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne), thats set out to track down Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) who was left trapped on the lost island at the end of the first film, and had put his journal and a description into a canister and thrown it into the sea. A group set out in a plane to fly over the island to look for signs of Tyler, but they are attacked by a flying creature, and forced to ditch. Three of the group head off and meet a native woman who was taught by Tyler, and tells them that he has been captured by the island’s most advanced tribe…..

The People that Time Forgot is far more exciting and enjoyable than the first film, with some a gripping storyline – unfortunately the pacing does seem very off in places, so we get some very long human vs. dinosaur sequences that really drag the film out, while some of the key plot points are hurried over. Burrough’s notions of metamorphosis and evolution that were briefly described in the first film, are simply overlooked here. Filmed on location in the Canary Islands, the film does look very good, and the advanced tribe with their pseudo-feudal-Japanese costumes are very sinister as is their mountain lair, although the soundtrack is rather sparse, certainly not as effective as the strange Mike Vickers score for At the Earth’s Core (1976).

There is an interesting mix of cast present. Patrick Wayne (who looks a lot like a young Terence Hill!) is well cast as the hero, while frequent Hammer star Thorley Walters plays well as the eccentric scientist (although they cannot recreate the superb double-bill of McClure and Cushing in Earth’s Core). Doug McClure himself gets little more than an extended cameo, but is obviously putting in some good effort. A duo of pretty girls, the very attractive Sarah Douglas and the amazingly scantily clad Dana Gillespie, look good in their roles, while the rest of the cast put on good shows – look out for several bit part Star Wars (1977) actors, and the big man, David Prowse in a small role.

An entertaining, if rather simple script, some good looking, if rather poorly paced direction and a generally solid cast make this an above average family friendly adventure film that comes recommended (although watch The Land that Time Forgot (1975) first to make more sense of it all).

The film is available on good looking DVDs in the UK/Europe and the USA from MGM. IMDB. DVD Rewind. Look out for a full DVD review later this year.

The Django Italo-Western Collection

Friday, February 16th, 2007

We’re back to basics with a trio of Spaghetti Western reviews, this time, a rather impressive German Django boxset from Koch Media.


Plus, the Spaghetti Western guide page has had a few new tweaks.

And now a word from our sponsors!

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

No, not really, just something to help pay the bills.

Mondo Esoterica, and my source site have been hosted for 2 years now by Dreamhost, with minimal downtime and great amounts of bandwidth and webspace for about £60 a year. Plus friendly customer service and a very easy to use online panel.
So… if you plan on getting some webspace and plan to use Dreamhost, why not save a little money – as you sign up, enter the discount code MONDO25 and you will save a full US$25 on the first year of any contract. Rather swish eh?! And even better, we here at Mondo Esoterica will make a few pennies to keep those obscure DVDs coming!

Affiliate Link – DREAMHOST.COM (don’t forget to enter MONDO25 during sign-up).

Editor’s note – don’t worry, we are not about to start advertising on the site, I’m going to keep it banner free, and obviously I recommend you shop around before buying web hosting – but if you plan to use Dreamhost, enter the discount code and we all win!

Thanks for listening – normal service will resume shortly…

The Airport Movies…

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Yes we’ve finally sold out…

A guilty mainstream pleasure of mine is Airport (1970), and so I seized the opportunity to buy this film, and its increasingly daft sequels in the Airport Terminal pack boxset.
From the very impressive Airport (1970), to the simply bad Airport 1975 (1974), the enjoyable Airport ’77 (1977) and the utterly absurd Concorde:Airport ’79 (1979), the series has it all, with plenty of big name actors making appearances. Read more in my complete review of the films and boxset.

Editor’s notes: Don’t worry, we’re not going mainstream here at Mondo Esoterica, and for the rest of this month we’ll be going back to a staple diet of Spaghetti Westerns and Hammer…! However, there will be more mainstream reviews coming in the future as we aim to keep the site fresh and diverse.

Mario Bava Collection…

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

5 of Mario Bava‘s classic movies are coming back to DVD thanks to Anchor Bay USA, including the DVD debuts of the AIP American theatrical edits for Black Sunday, Girl Who Knew too Much and Black Sabbath, which extended to completely new footage and soundtracks. All the films include trailers, and with the notable exception of Black Sunday, include subtitled Italian tracks – there are audio commentaries and interviews as well!
ABUS are also releasing Bava’s grim kidnapping movie Rabid Dogs (1974), along with the new re-edit known as Kidnapped. The boxset and this release are both due on the 3rd April.
Loads more details on the Upcoming Page.

Vampyros Lesbos (1970) mini-review

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

One of the best films from Jess Franco’s tragically short lived union with actress Soledad Miranda, Vampyros Lesbos is a bizarre female twist on the Dracula tale, even down to a female Renfield. Very sedately paced, with a lot of strange imagery coupled with some surreal jazz, the film is certainly not for all, but is recommended to Franco fans. Alongside the beautiful Miranda, Franco regulars Dennis Price and Paul Muller have parts to play, with Franco himself in one the strangest roles in the film.

The British DVD from Second Sight is very impressive, using a newly restored print and including a subtitled German soundtrack (the same as the Image R1 DVD). A still photo gallery includes some interesting shots of scenes that seemingly never made it into the film.

Editor’s note – this is the first mini-review for this blog. For films that I either do not have time to review, or plan to review fully in the future, I will post these mini-reviews, exclusive to this blog. They will not be publicised elsewhere, so keep watching the blog, or subscribe to the RSS feed so as not to miss any! In this case, I have not given the film the full Mondo Esoterica treatment, because I will be compiling reviews for a complete Soledad Miranda week later this year, including of all the released films that she shot for Franco – so stay tuned for that.

Frankenstein: The Movies – Part 1

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Well, its finally here – 12,000 words of new Guide and reviews.

Editor’s project notes.

Readers will probably notice first the absence of Universal Horror reviews, don’t worry, these are coming later in the year in Part 2 of the Frankenstein: The Movies project. Part 3 is also on the cards, which will feature more exploitation and obscure titles. As with all our guides, updates will be ongoing over time, with new reviews and information being added.

I hope you enjoy the results of this four month labour, and stay tuned for some similar projects later in the year (3 guesses as to the topic of the next Guide!).