Theatre of Blood (1973) / Madhouse (1974)

June 6th, 2008

The early 1970s saw the decline of the gothic horror film in the face of graphic new modern horror films. Production companies desperately tried to alter their styles but keep the same formats. This MGM double-film set shows how it was possible to do it well, and do it wrong.

Starring Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, and a co-production of AIP and Amicus, Madhouse should be great, with a storyline about death on horror film sets – however the storyline is only good for about 45 minutes and the rest of the film is useless padding with loads of extra subplots that really detract. Not recommended.

In contrast, the independent British film Theatre of Blood (1973) seems at first to be nothing more than a Dr. Phibes rip-off, but thanks to an original and highly literate script, and an amazing cast of British character actors it is really enjoyable and recommended.

Reg Park

May 26th, 2008

The only Yorkshireman to play Hercules, Reg Park was a three time Mr Universe, who like many well known body-builders during the 1960s found himself acting in Italian adventure films. In the case of Reg Park, a duo of very popular titles in 1961 saw him called back to make three more before the genre decline in the middle of the decade.

Amazingly, all five of the titles are now available on DVD, although the quality, both of films and prints, varies heavily. So the complete filmography is now reviewed, along with a complete guide to the man himself at our all new Reg Park biography.

Hazel Court 1926-2008

April 29th, 2008

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Despite only starring in two Hammer films and a trio of Roger Corman productions, Hazel Court has become a fan favourite actress from the gothic horror era.

As a tribute I am pleased to present an all new biography of the English born actress as well as new reviews of two of her AIP Horror pictures, Masque of the Red Death (1964) and Premature Burial (1962).

Normal Service will be resuming after a brief intermission…

April 9th, 2008

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Dr. Phibes

April 6th, 2008

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Fresh from the wagon, two of Vincent Price’s best performances but in two very different films. While The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) is an original and well written horror film with a darkly comic streak, Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) is a rather pallid effort relying on too many logical jumps and flat humour to be of interest.

Il Mio nome è Shangai Joe (1972)

March 24th, 2008

Kung-fu in the Old West  – sounds like a winning combination, but despite this idea, and the casting of Klaus Kinski and Gordon Mitchell, not to mention the presence of veteran Euro-cult director Mario Caiano behind the camera, Shanghai Joe is little more than a plain old exploitation western with nothing to really recommend it.

The DVD from Germany is similarly unimpressive, but like the film, it is serviceable and it is one that SW fans might well want to track down.

The Review: Shanghai Joe

Pepla Español

March 2nd, 2008

Fans of Pepla will know how hard it is to find genre titles on good looking DVDs, particularly with English options as well. I have already imported discs from Italy and Germany in search of original aspect ratios and now a pair of DVDs from Spain. Although the picture and audio quality are not perfect, to anyone used to watching the US PD sets these two should come as a revelation! As films neither are remarkable but genre fans should find plenty to enjoy. So check out the all new reviews of:

Caesar the Conqueror

The Conqueror of Corinth

Terror in Space!

February 24th, 2008

As fans of this site will doubtless know, I am not the biggest Mario Bava horror fan. I love his non-horror work, but have been rather disappointed by the horror titles I have seen so far. So for this horror/sci-fi fusion I had mixed expectations.

Fortunately the film turned out to be completely worth watching and one of the best films I have seen this year. Despite a ludicrously low budget, Bava provides his unique look and feel to the production and the planet has an hellish, alien feel that has rarely if ever been bettered.

The Italian DVD has the original Italian print, and very good it looks too, with solid English subs. Read the full review – Terrore Nello Spazio

Criminal Cinema, British style

February 9th, 2008

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Optimum UK continue their library of releases this Tuesday with a trio of classic British crime films, including two making their first appearances on DVD anywhere.

  • The Long Arm (1956) – Jack Hawkins is well cast as a police detective in this rather traditional British crime/mystery film from Ealing studios. DVD debut.
  • The Frightened City (1961) – Herbert Lom and Sean Connery star in this decent crime story, let down by a rather poorly written and acted police subplot.
  • Payroll (1961) – a vividly brutal attack on an armoured car is the highlight of this well written, directed and acted thriller. DVD debut.

As usual, we have got the first look and it is good news. Although completely lacking in extras, the picture quality is a good as we have come to expect with all three films boasting superb prints and only The Long Arm suffering from some slight audio problems.

Titles you can understand

February 5th, 2008

Don’t worry, there will be new reviews by the end of the week…

Until then, check out the menu screens. Yep, I’ve redone the titles so that instead of using the DVD titles as before, films are known by their ‘common’ titles. So no more Bestien lauern vor Caracas instead of The Lost Continent. The review pages for these films have also been changed so that the titles are generally consistent throughout the site.
Of course deciding what to call the Spaghetti Westerns is still a bit of a challenge, Italian or English titles? Generally I have gone with which ever sounded best. English titles if they are commonly used or the Italian titles for the more obscure films.Hopefully this all makes sense, please browse around and let me know if you think any titles should be changed.

On a similar topic, I am aware that the site does not look best on monitors above 1024 * 768. I will be making some more formatting changes over the next few months. Suggestions are of course welcome.