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Simon Davis (Melbourne, Australia)

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French Furniture Makers: The Art of the Ebeniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution
French Furniture Makers: The Art of the Ebeniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution
by Alexandre Pradere
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, In Depth Examination Of The History Of 17th And 18th Century French Furniture, 11 Feb. 2011
When I first saw this book in London just after it was first published it took my breath away. Being an ardent admirer of everything to do with 18th Century France my knowledge was already fairly extensive on this topic, however nothing prepared me for this lavish volumne filled with wonderfully researched information and the most glorious illustrations, often of pieces never publicly photographed before. I dont believe there has ever been a more comprehensive study on all the major Furniture Makers and Styles of French Furniture through the Golden Period of Pre revolutionnary France in the 17th and 18th Centuries. This book is still the number one reference material for all things to do with this highly creative period of furniture design in France, a period never equalled for creative design, innovative use of distinct materials by different artists, and with unsurpassed attention to detail in execution.

"French Furniture Makers" provides extensive chapters devoted solely to all the major furniture makers from the earlier 17th century masters such as Pierre Golle and Andre Boulle who were responsible for the first furnishings of Louis the Fourteenth's newly built Versailles, right through to the eve of the Revolution with Reisener's sublime creations for Queen Marie Antoniette. Each chapter is accompanied by eyefilling colour photos of examples of each master's work whether they be in public collections like the famed Wallace Collection, Louvre Museum or Palace of Versailles, or in numerous private collections. Many of the pieces also have photos provided of the masters furniture marks or historic inventory numbers from the Former French Royal Furniture Collections.Much time and research has also gone into mentioning the very active guilds that existed in France whether they be for gilders, wood workers or those involved in upholstery. Information is also passed on about the importance of the proper placement of furniture within the whole interior decoration of the french upper class home at this time. For any student of this period or for those who just love French arts in general this breathtaking book makes very informative and enjoyable reading.

For any lovers of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century French Furniture and Decorative Arts this is a volumn that you cannot afford to pass up. It is one of my most treasured books in my extensive collection on furniture and the decorative arts and of France in general. The beauty of this book is that it can be enjoyed by those with little knowledge of this era of furniture making as well as by the seasoned student of this period like myself. I constantly discover new things when I reread it and marvel at the work it has taken to assemble all the information and photos contained here. A book I cannot recommend highly enough and the very best book on the furniture of Pre-Revolutionnary France. A true treasure.

Silent Night Deadly Night [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Silent Night Deadly Night [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial 1980's Christmas Slasher Effort, 31 Dec. 2010
I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of the "slasher genre", which mushroomed out of all proportion during the 1980's in the wake of the huge success of John Carpenter's classic "Halloween", I do find that this film contains some quite interesting elements interdispersed among its often very disturbing scenes. "Silent Night, Deadly Night", is certainly not your average "family", Christmas movie complete with snow, sleigh bells and a jolly Father Christmas, and it would never be suitable in any generation for children's viewing. That of course doesn't necessarily make it a bad movie and I believe using the holiday season as a setting for such a bloody tale as this will always cause people to have very strong and definite views on its worth as a piece of suitable entertainment. case. There have been far more gory movies released however "Silent Night, Deadly Night", earned eternal infamy when released in 1984 when the film was picketed in many countries by family organisations outraged at a lovable figure like Santa Claus being depicted in the guise of an insane mass murderer who goes on a bloody rampage on Christmas Eve. Probably the film got more notoriety than it probably deserved however for the record it is not a film for the squeamish

We first see young Billy Chapman as a young child on Christmas Eve 1971 when with his parents and younger brother he is visiting his hospitalizied Grandfather. Strangely the Grandfather comes out of a comatose state just long enough to warn young Billy to "be afraid of what Santa can do to naughty young boys". On the way home tragedy strikes when the family car is held up by an escaped convict wanted for murder dressed in a Santa Claus suit. The subsequent carnage on Billy's family permanently traumatiziesthe boy. Fast forward to when Billy and his younger brother are now living at St. Mary's school for orphans run by the cold hearted Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin), who is frustrated by Billy's inability to fit in and his irrational behavour takes the form of savage depictions of Christmas scenes in his drawings and a terror of the image of Santa Claus. The years pass and Billy (Robert Brian Wilson), grows into a young man and Sister Margaret still trying to help the disturbed boy she knows so well arranges for him to begin work in a Toy Store in town. However Christmas time arrives and when the store Santa breaks a leg Mr. Sims innocently recruits Billy to become the Santa in his place. Billy 's old fear of Santa Claus returns and he begins behaving very irrationally. At the Christmas Eve store drinks after closing Billy still dressed in the Santa outfit suddenly snaps and a bloody night of carnage and murder is unleashed by the deranged young man before the tragic and bloody finale.

"Silent Night, Deadly Night", would never be up there with "Halloween", or "Nightmare on Elm Street", as far as absolute suspense or sheer terror goes however as a tale of the mind being totally taken over by the trauma of an early horrific experience it does hold some interest. Within the limitations of the role Robert Brian Wilson does reasonably well as the young man who is suddenly set off on a killing spree by having to be a store Santa Claus. His innocent good looks actually serve the part very well and he is definately a scary individual once his mind is affected by the traumatic flash backs to the murder of his parents. None of the supporting characters have much to build on in their characters as is generally the case in these types of films however Gilmer McCormick as the kindly Sister Margaret does a good job in her efforts to protect Billy from himself. Having alot of the action set in a Catholic Orphange is quite interesting and the two nuns are quite distinct characters that show interesting good and bad elements. Even though these things dont hold much importance in these types of films, "Silent Night, Deadly Night", does have the benefit of some beautiful on location photography in snowbound Utah which does give the film a better look than most of its kind.

It is of course unsettling for a Christmas lover like myself to see Santa portrayed as an axe weilding maniac as he is in "Silent Night, Deadly Night", however I never associate this movie with the Christmas season that I enjoy and instead treat it as an at times nail biting fright movie that was very much a product of the decade it was made in. Never could it be considered as the best "slasher flick" whatever that would mean anyway, as experts in this genre would I'm sure say that there is not enough blood or gore despite the terrible murders that take place. Frankly I'm not a great fan of blood on screen anyway and the scenes where little is shown are far more effective in my book. The reasons why Billy goes on his killing spree I find much more interesting than the actual murder spree itself. "Silent Night, Deadly Night", is not for everyone's taste to be sure however along with "Halloween", it is one of the select few of the 1980's slasher films that holds real interest for me. Turn down the lights, lock the doors, pour yourself some egg nog, and nestle in under the blankets to watch the ulrmate in Christmas horror "Silent Night, Deadly Night".

Asylum [1972] [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Asylum [1972] [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £7.99

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polished Amicus Anthology Film Featuring Murder, Insanity And Magic, 29 Aug. 2010
As all true lovers of British horror undoubtedly know the production companies of Hammer and Amicus ruled the horror scene for most of the 1960's and early 1970's with their stylish horror films and tales of the macabre. While the product of Hammer Studios, especially their well known Gothic horrors, are well known and loved world wide the output of Amicus often receives less acknowledgement and is often confused with those films produced by Hammer. Amicus won its main fame from the tremendous "Anthology" films it produced where a linking story allowed three or four seperate mini tales to be told. In this wonderful Dark Sky DVD release we finally have one of the later and most polished efforts of the Amicus production company to enjoy in a beautifully prepared DVD release. "Asylum" has first rate credentials having been directed by veteran horror master Roy Ward Baker and written by acclaimed horror writer Robert Bloch. If that was not enough the film boasts a superb international cast including Barbara Parkins, Patrick Magee, Britt Ekland, Charlotte Rampling and of course horror legend Peter Cushing in an intriguing set of tales framed around the main story of the arrival of young Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) for a job interview at an isolated and suitably eerie looking asylum for the criminially insane. Dr. Martin soon finds out that Dr. Starr who was to interview him has had a breakdown and is now confined to one of the upstairs rooms. Dr. Martin is then challenged by Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) to work out which one of four patients is the mysterious Dr. Starr and during the course of his meetings with each of the four patients their individual stories are unfolded.

The four stories while varying in quality are all well produced and very well acted by the talented performers who bring them to life, they are:

"Frozen Fear"
Starring Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd and Sylvia Sims.
A cheating husband and his mistress get more than they bargained for when they do away with the chief "obstacle" to their new life together with suitably grizzly results.

"The Weird Tailor"
Starring Peter Cushing and Barry Morse.
A financially troubled tailor receives the unexpected offer of a high paying job from a mysterious man wanting an unusual suit made for his son. However the suit is not intended for the usual purpose of such an item and has very sinister consequences for all who come into contact with the strange garment.

"Lucy Comes To Stay"
Starring Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland.
A young girl returns home to live with her brother after having suffered a complete mental breakdown. However her happiness is soon complicated by the arrival of her strange "friend" who seems to have an overpowering influence on her, or does she?

"Manniikins Of Horror"
Starring Herbert Lom and Geoffrey Bayldon.
A doctor confined in the asylum creates strange little robots with faces resembling his former collegues which are not as innocent as they first seem with the one modelled after himself created for a very deadly purpose which belies its small size.

While I can't say that "Asylum" is my favourite Amicus Anthology story,(that honour goes to the superb "The House That Dripped Blood" which was also written by Robert Bloch), there is much to recommend here for fans of British produced horror and mystery. We have a suitably sinister looking main setting of the mist shrouded asylum complete with a main staircase lined with nightmarish etchings of victims of insanity, the terrific cast in all four stories, and best of all the very disturbing feeling that almost every character and setting is not exactly what they first appear to be. A grand viewing experience is guaranteed in a multi story film the type of which is rarely produced nowadays. Dark Sky DVD here have continued their first rate DVD presentation efforts and have gone all out with a deluxe presentation of this film. Presented in its correct widescreen and aspect ratio the film has never looked or sounded better having been restored with great clarity and vivid rich colour. On top of this Dark Sky have really put the icing on the cake with some wonderful extras including commentary by the film's director Roy Ward Baker and cameraman Neil Binney, cast and crew biographies and a terrific featurette "Inside the Fear factory", which details the history of the famous Amicus Productions with input from many of those who helped create this great company. In short the whole DVD is a horror fans delight and cannot be faulted. I know this Dark Sky release is now a treasured part of my Amicus horror DVD collection and I highly recommend this release as an example of how classic horror should be released onto DVD. Enjoy!
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2013 3:01 AM GMT

The House That Dripped Blood [1971] [DVD]
The House That Dripped Blood [1971] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eerie Haunted House Anthology From Amicus Productions, 27 July 2010
"The House That Dripped Blood", has always been my absolute favourite of the rich output of horror anthologies that Amicus Productions turned out in the 1960's and early 1970's. Often mistaken for Hammer Studios productions because of the frequent crossover of casts and similiar look, Amicus' speciality were these multi story horror tales tied together by a framing story. Here the story revolves around a suitably creepy old house in the countryside just outside London that seems to have a strange effect on its succession of occupants. The framing story of this piece concerns the mysterious disappearance of the latest tenant, famed horror movie actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee)who was renting the house while shooting his latest horror epic "Curse of the Bloodsuckers", and it revolves around the police investigation carried out by Scotland Yard's Det. Insp. Holloway (John Bennett). Along the way the inspector is introduced to the eerie history of the house and the strange fate of each of its occupants. Four excellent stories are told in flashback and each is highly entertaining in it's own unique way with great atmosphere, first rate casts and with themes including deranged stranglers, haunted wax museums, witchcraft and vampires. In short it is a horror fans smorgasbord sure to entertain.

Story One is "Method for Murder", and revolves around famed murder mystery writer Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliot), who during a period of acute writers block takes up residence in the house with his wife Alice. Charles creates a sinister main character in his new novel called Dominic who is a deranged strangler who laughs out loud as he murders his victims. As the novel progresses Charles begins to question his sanity as he actually begins seeing Dominic in the house or just outside the window. Is Dominic real? Or is Charles going insane? All is revealed in the eerie twist at the finale.

Story Two is "Waxworks", and stars the great Peter Cushing as retired Stockbroker Philip Grayson who takes out a lease on the house to get away from the fast life and many painful memories in London. While visiting the local village he comes across an old wax museum and to his horror finds one of the wax exhibits depicting Salome is an exact likeness of his old lost love. Visited by old friend Neville (Joss Ackland), Philip finds his friend also drawn to the wax figure. The museums strange proprietor (Woolfe Morris) relates the sinister story behind the wax figure and the hold she has on men. After Neville goes missing after visiting the museum Philip learns to his own detriment the deadly secret of the waxworks museum.

Story Three is the very eerie "Sweets to the Sweet, which finds widower John Reid (Christopher Lee) and his seemingly angelic young daughter Jane (Chloe Franks) moving into the house. John has an unexplained fear of his daughter and is intent on keeping her isolated from other children of her age. He hires a nanny/teacher Anne Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter),to tutor Jane at home. Anne dislikes John's parenting methods however first appearances in this case can be very deceptive as too late Anne discovers the real reason for John's overly harsh treatment of his daughter and the real cause of John's stabbing heart pains with sweet Jane not being everything she appears to be.

Story Four is "The Cloak", a real favourite of mine and finds the latest residence of this cursed house to be the famous horror actor Paul Henderson who to his own detriment finds himself attracted to the Gothic nature of the dwelling. He is currently starring in a dire horror effort titled "Curse of the Blood Suckers", and fed up with appearing in "Z" grade efforts goes in search of his own authentic vampire cloak. Unfortunately he finds it and soon begins to discover the sinister power of this mysterious cloak. His beautiful leading lady, the buxon Carla Lynde (Ingrid Pitt) also proves to be not as innocent as she first seems and eventually she reveals her true identity and real purpose to a terrified Paul who pays dearly for his quest for "authenticity" in his acting roles.

I personally love everything about this horror effort from its great title, to superbly spooky haunted house set to great cast all ideally cast in often surprisingly non typical roles. Written by the celebrated Robert Bloch who penned "Psycho", special mention must also be made of the wonderfully mood enchancing musical score courtesy of Michael Dress which adds so much to the individual stories. All four segments take a different approach in their storytelling and are of equal interest. Obviously with themes such as vampirism, witchcraft, voodoo and characters out of a book coming to life the proceedings are a splendid showcase for the talents involved. The cast are all given wonderful showcases for their talents in both the large and smaller roles and Christopher Lee has the distinction of suffering probably the most horrible death of any of the characters in the stories. Story four has strong elements of humour in it which surprisingly works well within it's vampire subject matter. Remembered mainly as television's Dr. Who, Jon Pertwee is perfectly cast as the bombastic actor Paul Henderson who's disappearance sparks off the investigation around this house that literally seems to drip blood on all who live there.

Amicus Productions were expert in creating these horror anthologies and excelled in their other big effort the next year in "Tales From The Crypt", however this effort rightly takes it's place in the haunted house hall of fame and is essential viewing for all horror buffs like myself that enjoy these multi story horror tales set in creepy mist shrouded old mansions hidden away from the outside world. Make sure you visit "The House That Dripped Blood", soon but remember your stay may be a short one so enjoy it while it lasts!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2012 1:23 AM BST

Monster (aka I don't want to be born) [1980] [DVD]
Monster (aka I don't want to be born) [1980] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joan Collins
Price: £6.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Joan Collins Battles The Baby From Hell, 18 July 2010
This film from 1975 known under a number of titles such as "The Monster", "The Devil Within Her" and "I Don't Want To Be Born" always seems to raise feverish opinions among viewers ranging from it being a complete piece of cinematic junk, to it being an awful camp classic not to be missed, right through to it being an interesting film from the then popular "Demon Baby" genre that flourished in the early 1970's. I personally love this film despite being well aware of all its very obvious short comings. Accused of being a rip off,(of sorts) from the classic "The Omen" the film I feel explores another angle on the demonic child idea with some admittedly unintentional laughs along the way. Filled as it is with horny curse delivering dwarfs, strippers, determined nuns and Ralph Bates struggling with an extrememly uneven italian accent (why did they have to make him and his sister Italian in the story?) the film perhaps for the wrong reasons will definately stay in your mind after a viewing.

"The Monster" was produced around 1975 in the dying days of the great British companies such as Hammer and Amicus and in some respects this film does resemble the later products of those legenedary film comapnies. Despite the often bizzare storyine "The Monster" does however have some very strong points to it. A terrific cast is headed by Joan Collins who really does give her all to her role as the mother who becomes scared of her own child when it begins to display an extremely nasty side to its character behind the innocent facade. Joan once again proves what a good actress she can be when given something to work with and while this role would never win any Oscars she is excellent as the central character. Ralph Bates has actually little to do here and as stated previously he is saddled with playing an Italian which never really comes off. In the role of Sister Albana, Eileen Atkins does what she can as the determined nun who performs the exorcism on Joan's baby. Horror veteran Donald Pleasance as Dr. Finch who delivers the demon baby also manages to play it all seriously which helps the viewer overcome some of the hilarious parts in the script. And those moments are aplenty in "The Monster"!! The horny dwarf called Hercules played by George Clayton has to be seen to be believed and somehow here he possesses magical powers as he curses Joan's unborn baby and manages to superimpose his face over the baby in the crib at regular intervals. This whole supernatural element to the story is never explained which I find baffling and despite being spurned by Joan romantically it seems hard to believe he would try to destroy her life so utterly for a simply rejection of his adavances in Joan's dressing room. The stripper club where Joan works prior to her marriage is also alot of fun with its sleazy owner, gaudy costumes (what little there is of them!) and tart talking girls audtioning for parts in the "revue". I personally love the mid 1970's look and feel to the film and there is real interest when the story takes the characters out into the streets where we are treated to some wonderful views of London circa 1975.

While no classic this film is still alot of fun and since all the actors play the story totally straight I believe you will find yourself sticking with it to the disturbing climax. They sure don't make horror films like this anymore, mores the pity but I'd recommend it to any film fans who like demon possessed stories that became so common on screen in the mid 1970's. Sit back and enjoy Joan Collins battling for her life against the angelic child from hell in director Peter Sasdy's "The Monster".
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2010 7:03 AM BST

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