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Tony Floyd (UK)

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Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (Limited Edition) Hardback
Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (Limited Edition) Hardback
by Ben Wheatley (Introduction)
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £64.99

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Arrow miss the target and shoot themselves in the foot, 11 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Arrow! What have you done?

I'll tell you. You have really hacked this devotee off.

The promise was 250 pages of expert, insightful, and most important, unique NEW material about all aspects of cult cinema, to support and enhance our appreciation of the Arrow experience.

At no point in their advance notices did Arrow indicate that a good two thirds of this book comprised material already published in the booklets accompanying many of their Blu-ray and DVD releases.

So buyer beware, because that's exactly what it does consist of.

Do you have their releases of Day of the Dead, Branded to Kill, House of Usher, Videodrome, Coffy, etc? Well then, be prepared to pay out again for the same material that you already have.

Yes, there are some new chapters, but not enough to justify the hefty price tag.

Yes, it's lavish and it looks good, but had I known I was going to get beautifully re-hashed repeats, then I'd have saved my money for the Taviani Brothers collection, or the Fassbinder box or The Human Conditon set which I now cannot afford because I bought this instead.

In the words of Dan O'Herlihy in Robocop after the Ed209 malfunction "I'm VERY disappointed."
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2016 8:11 AM BST

Curse of the Werewolf --Blu Ray--Region B [Blu-ray]
Curse of the Werewolf --Blu Ray--Region B [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Clifford Evans
Price: £11.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice package marred by one strange flaw, 22 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm torn by this one, as it is one of my favourite Hammer horrors, and I was keenly looking forward to adding a hi-def version of this lush and lurid tragedy to my collection, but this transfer while looking good has one very weird glitch.

Check out the credits. In all previous versions we had the credits playing over a single take close up of Oliver Reed's face in werewolf make-up as his weeping eyes looked from side to side.

In this blu-ray version all proceeds in familiar fashion until we get to the credit for photography, production design and supervising editor. Suddenly the image freezes and a big black blob obscures part of the picture. The soundtrack continues as normal and then we return to the moving image for the remaining credits.

Checking my region 1 DVD of Curse, I find that what is being obscured by the black blob on this blu-ray edition is the word 'Technicolor'.

Can anyone explain what the flip is going on and why Final Cut have stuck this horrible sticking plaster over that particular part of the credits?

I appreciate this is spectacularly trivial but it is pretty glaring and irritating if you know what the credits should actually look like.

It's enough to make you howl at the moon.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2016 2:28 PM BST

Duel [Blu-ray] [2015] [Region Free]
Duel [Blu-ray] [2015] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Dennis Weaver
Price: £6.05

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is it widescreen or is it idescree ?, 6 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like a lot of other fans of Steven Spielberg, much as I enjoy and/or admire many of his later films, my favourites remain those early classics Jaws and Duel, especially the latter, now released on Blu-ray for the first time.

Duel remains a master class in suspense, shark like in its sleek linear simplicity, drawing out every inch of potential from Richard Matheson’s superlative short story (which was based on a real experience) about a cat and mouse game played out on the California highways and byways between an innocent (?) Plymouth-driving traveling salesman and a demonic (?) truck-driver.

This Blu-ray edition now showcases the film in HD, with extras that have been ported over from the DVD ‘Special edition’ in standard definition. However that’s it – there are no new supplementary features unique to this release. Interestingly the package now sports a 12 rating, whereas the earlier special edition, the same in all other respects as far as I can see, was rated PG.

The big disappointment here is that this Blu-ray edition only has the longer theatrical cut of the film; the shorter TV version could easily, and should, have been included. While the longer version contains valuable additional material, the TV version is not only historically interesting but is a tighter and leaner beast. It would also have been great to have the episode (Never Give A Trucker an Even Break) of The Incredible Hulk which cannibalised huge chunks of Spielberg’s film, an exemplary showcase for the recycling of footage to bulk out a low rent TV series. (Spielberg was apparently not happy about his work being used for stock footage purposes but as Universal owned the copyright there was nothing he could do about it.)

So the question is, given that this is a less than definitive edition, whether an HD version of the film in a package lacking any other new elements is big enough draw. Actually I think it is, even with the following major proviso: Duel is here presented in a ‘widescreen’ version - the earlier DVD editions being in the TV ratio of 4:3. To achieve this widescreen effect Universal have simply sliced off the top and bottom part of the image, and re-framed the remaining portion into a widescreen dimension (the ratio being 1:85 according to the sleeve). To some this is probably sacrilege, but actually in this case I don’t think that the damage is that terrible. The expected poor resolution that would occur from simply blowing up of part of the image has has been effectively rectified by the remastering. Call me a heathen, but I really enjoyed watching this version of the film. Nevertheless, to pre-empt any likely criticism over this aesthetic philistinism, Universal have missed a trick by failing to include the aforementioned TV version in the appropriate 4:3 ratio.

So while I don’t necessarily object to this instance of fake wide-screening (which I suppose is analogous to the horrible ‘electronic stereo’ that used to be inflicted on mono records back in the day), the missed opportunities show yet again that the big studios are often not the best curators of their own archive and that they should take note of how smaller boutique companies like Criterion, Masters of Cinema and Arrow handle such material.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2015 9:23 PM BST

Duck You Sucker Aka a Fistful of Dynamite [Blu-ray] [1971] [US Import]
Duck You Sucker Aka a Fistful of Dynamite [Blu-ray] [1971] [US Import]
Price: £11.50

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plays in Region B players, 27 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is not a review of the film - Leone's forgotten child - which is better than I remember from my one viewing of it many years ago on TV, but just to confirm that the US MGM Blu-ray edition pictured here is not Region A locked, even though Region A is the stated region code on the back cover.

My player is UK Region B locked, but this Blu-ray of 'Duck, You Sucker' plays on it without any problems.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2016 6:37 PM BST

Behind the Scream: The truth about Horror Films
Behind the Scream: The truth about Horror Films
Price: £2.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worthless, 20 Feb. 2015
The author's first words in Chapter 1: "There are two, distinct (sic) forces working in this present (sic) world – the spirit of God and the spirit of Satan, and both can be felt around the world."

The author's first words in Chapter 2: "There were not always horror films. Horror films are only about 200 years old."

These statements are sufficient to demonstrate the utter worthlessness of this meretricious piffle: narrow-minded religious fundamentalism and an utter inability to get basic facts right. (I 'd love to see some of those classic horror movies from the 1820s, wouldn't you?)

Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Tod Browning's Dracula
Tod Browning's Dracula
by Gary Rhodes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.04

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearing the cobwebs away from a classic, 12 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Tod Browning's Dracula (Paperback)
Gary Rhodes is a man with a mission. The mission being to rescue Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula from its reputation as an ancient, creaky, fusty, dusty, stagey, stilted bore, and, as a secondary objective, to challenge the critical elevation of the ‘Spanish’ version at the expense of Browning’s. Hence this book.

Rhodes’ modus operandi is to deploy what must be called cinema archaeology, digging about in archives to unearth original and long-lost sources in order to upset and overturn all the tired and lazy attitudes to the film that have been unthinkingly relayed since the early 1950s. His work is highly commendable, even if his own prose style is a little stilted itself in places and indeed repetitive (hence the 4 star rating), with an extraordinary array of rare and indeed probably not seen for decades archive material on offer. Starting off with a chapter covering the manifestations of the ‘vampire’ in the cultural landscape of America from the publication of Bram Stoker’s book, Rhodes then patiently and exhaustively, some might say exhaustingly, charts the genesis, conception, writing, casting, production, release and after-life of the film which effectively launched the horror genre in the sound era.

Part of Rhodes motivation is to counter the reported disappointment many have felt that such a seminal and important film is actually not very good. Rhodes argues that the reasons often cited for this disappointment – Browning’s ‘failure’ to show key moments and really capitalise on the visual possibilities of the story, the stodgy pacing, the static camerawork – are based on factual inaccuracies and/or a lack of appreciation of the historical and cultural circumstances in which the film was made. So for example the presumption that the film is simply an adaptation of the stage play rather than the novel is overturned by Rhodes careful study of the different drafts of the script. Here he shows that Browning’s Dracula was actually a magpie piece drawn from a variety of sources – the novel, the stage play, Murnau’s Nosferatu – with about 40% of the total screen time not originating from the play. Again Rhodes refutes the criticisms of the film’s static mise en scene by assessing 20 films of similar vintage and charting the number of camera moves and average shot length in each and proving that Dracula was actually more tightly edited and had a more mobile camera than most of its contemporaries. He also makes more obvious points such as the fact that the technological and censorship restrictions of the time would have prevented Browning from putting onscreen those moments that critics complain about as having been omitted due to a failure of nerve or lack of imagination – the red mist, the rats, the stake through the heart and so on. The continued assertions that Browning was insufficiently engaged with the material, or was too timid to or incapable of capturing such alarming shots on screen are discredited by his work on the Mark of the Vampire which contains some impressive macabre Gothic imagery.

The book will undoubtedly prompt the reader to re-watch Browning’s Dracula (I say re-watch as I can’t imagine there will be many readers for such a detailed book about a film of this vintage that they haven’t already seen at least once). I must confess that I had retained the very same prejudices about it as those critics and writers whom Rhodes takes to task. I cheated slightly by viewing it with the alternative Philip Glass score playing, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Then I watched the Spanish version again as well. And Rhodes has a point – I actually far preferred the Browning version over the Spanish (or as Rhodes calls it the Melford) version. The Spanish version definitely has some plus points – the introductory shot of Dracula just as Renfield sees him on the staircase of his castle, the more overt sexiness and carnality of Tovar (the low cut and figure hugging gowns) – but that’s about all. Otherwise the film chunters on for an additional half an hour, pretty much all of which is interminable and indeed stagey dialogue scenes, and it fatally lacks the presence of Lugosi. (Rhodes it should be pointed out is also a Lugosi devotee, having written several books about him plus a similar tome about White Zombie, and I think that actually he is more concerned with rescuing Lugosi’s reputation than Browning’s).

Despite his repeated claims throughout that ‘persons’ will have differing opinions on any film, and that it is their right to do so, Rhodes is clearly frustrated and put out by the fact that when it comes to the let us call it the Lugosi Dracula, those ‘persons’ who fail to recognise its qualities are just plain wrong. His attempt to objectively prove his case is fascinating, all the more so for being so crazily obsessive. So, if you are a fan of the Universal era horror films then I would say that the book is indispensable in its exploration of the roots of that creepy cobwebby genre.

Bed & Board [Blu-ray]
Bed & Board [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jean-Pierre Léaud
Price: £8.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Silence is not golden, 20 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Bed & Board [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
While it's great to see a selection of Truffaut films finally coming out on blu-ray, one's pleasure is somewhat muted (deliberate choice of word - see below) by the absurdly inflated prices that Artificial Eye are charging for them. So my first caution to prospective buyers is to think twice before paying out at these prices as it’ll only encourage them to continue this licensed thievery next time round. (I know the argument is that these are likely low sales, niche, specialist products and thus a premium needs to be charged but my suspicion is that such a pricing policy probably puts off many potential purchasers.)

Anyway, I asked for several of the Truffaut titles for Christmas, so I am relieved that I didn’t have to suffer the financial pain in order to add them to my collection. The problem I have is that Truffaut is a film-maker who I revere which makes resisting the purchase of the blu-rays very difficult indeed. But given the issues I have with several of the discs then such self-denial is easier to bear.

Anyway, a good point first. The presentation of Bed and Board in terms of image quality is excellent. The only minor bugbear with the film being that (yet again, as is the case on the Anne and Muriel disc) the English dialogue remains unsubtitled. Another even more infuriating variant on this problem is evident on AE’s disc of Shoot the Pianist where Bobby Lapointe’s song Framboise has no sub-titles at all.

But my main complaint with the Bed and Board disc relates to the short Antoine and Collette which is included as an extra. Aside from the bizarre coupling (why not put in on the 400 Blows or Stolen Kisses disc where it would be more suitably placed chronologically) the soundtrack is missing right at the end, i.e. the song that should play over the Cartier-Bresson stills can be seen but not heard. By that I mean that with the subtitles on the lyrics can be seen but the actual song cannot be heard – there is just silence, no soundtrack at all. I have played the film several times to confirm that this is not a technical issue with my tv or blu-ray player.

That it is a disc issue is confirmed by the fact that when you play the film with the commentary track activated, the last few bars of the song CAN be heard when the commentary finishes.

Aside from this major fault, the print of Antoine and Collette used has other occasional clunky edits and sound drop-outs.

I’m not sure if my disc is part of a bad batch or it’s just an individual issue. In any case, given the price of their Truffaut blu rays, I think this is unacceptable. As is Artificial Eye’s customer service, as I have emailed them about this but they haven’t replied.

So I would advise caution before purchasing this and their other Truffaut titles on blu-ray, especially as they are asking for le bras and la jambe for the privilege.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2015 11:05 PM BST

On the Road [DVD] (2012)
On the Road [DVD] (2012)
Dvd ~ Garrett Hedlund
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £6.98

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stuck in 3rd gear, 19 Dec. 2013
This review is from: On the Road [DVD] (2012) (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jack Kerouac has on the whole been ill served by the movies. Adaptations of his work have been few and far between - an understandable situation if you've read his books - with only The Subterraneans having been transferred to the big screen before now. Rarely bothering with plot or story, Kerouac is a mercurial and improvisational autobiographer rather than novelist, capturing fleeting and vivid impressions of events in language that often breaks free of sense or clarity in favour of immediacy. Even his most famous book has until now eluded moviemakers. No one was able to commit to filming it despite earlier interest or potential involvement from the likes of Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola (as director) and Johnny Depp.

I was always sceptical about whether it could be done anyway, for the same reasons that other literary classics don't really work on film - Ulysses for example - namely that they are first and foremost self-conscious TEXTs, focused on structure, form, language and only secondarily, if at all, interested in story. Literalness is the plague that has afflicted adaptations of such texts, so one would have assumed, or hoped, that Kerouac's adapters here would have dodged this most obvious of approaches.

Sadly On the Road the motion picture does suffer from this affliction too, going so far as to include unnecessary biographical detail that was omitted from the book. Valid this may be to set the record `straight' historically, I would nevertheless question it as an artistically sound approach to adaptation. Even Cronenberg in his brilliant stab at The Naked Lunch felt compelled to go down the same route, though at least that was done with some verve and wit, so one can see that it is an approach that is hard to resist. Yet despite this major flaw, and the terrible earnestness throughout, the film looks great and still has some moments that work and which do capture the spirit of the book.

One the most enjoyable parts of Kerouac's novel for example, is the description of Sal Paradise's time at Old Bull Lee's ranch. Uproariously funny in the book, the film captures this section superbly, with Viggo Mortensen's note perfect turn as William Burroughs being a particular joy, but frustratingly it moves on from this vignette far too swiftly.

So not a great film then, and not a bad film either, it just seems a bit too much in awe of its source's iconographic status. It could have benefitted from a less reverential take on a book which after all is ultimately a fleet-footed and vivid account of the folly and fun of being a good looking and intelligent young dude travelling across a vast country with your best buddy looking for girls, fathers, fun and the transitory and unachievable IT.

Dracula (Blu-ray + DVD) [1958]
Dracula (Blu-ray + DVD) [1958]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £12.99

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fidelis et Mortem, 22 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You know the movie, one of Hammer's finest (though to the true aficionado there's no such thing as truly bad Hammer movie), so there's no need to comment on that.

So this version of it then, the blu ray from Hammer/Lions Gate, how does it rate, especially after the slightly disappointing, but still essential, Curse of Frankenstein release? Well, I'm pleased to report it's trebles all round, because this edition of THE Hammer classic is a ungainsayable triumph.

There are two versions of the film itself - first, the 2007 BFI restoration, i.e. the buffed up original English cut that has played since its 1958 release. Then there is the re-vamped (sorry, couldn't resist) Hammer version which re-instates footage originally removed from the English release to mollify the censor.

The restored footage, comprising additional shots from two key sequences, was only relatively recently discovered and recovered from a badly damaged Japanese print. When you view the unenhanced footage from the Japanese print (one of the many worthwhile extras here) and then watch how the additional footage has almost seamlessly been woven into the new Hammer version, you can fully appreciate and salute the work of the restoration team. (I note that the discoverer of this footage has posted his own review here, castigating the ill-informed muppets who posted `reviews' of a blu-ray package before it had been released, without having seen the restoration but instead basing their comments on some screen shots. Well said sir, and thank you for unearthing this filmic treasure - any chance of locating a version of The Mummy with the tongue removal?).

Both versions of the film look wonderful in high def; not pin sharp, no, like some bloodless CGI effects fest, as that was not intended or needed to convey the fairy-tale steeped in dread atmosphere. They are easily the best version(s) of the film yet seen, and the only issue is whether you want to luxuriate in the familiar `censors cut' BFI version or treat yourself to the Hammer version which will allow that extra frisson of pleasure during the seduction of Mina and disintegration scenes.

The rest of the package is equally enjoyable. There is the expected making of documentary, using the now well established format of knowledgeable talking heads (Marcus Hearn, Mark Gatiss) alongside the one (or occasionally two if we're lucky) remaining members of the cast, in this case Janine Faye, who apart from Christopher Lee (sadly not involved) is now the only surviving member of the cast. The documentary also utilises footage of an interview with an elderly Jimmy Sangster in which he ruefully acknowledges that, even then, he was one of a few classic era Hammer people who are left. Another highlight is a fascinating half hour `chat' about the film by cultural historian Christopher Frayling. In it he pays due tribute to Jimmy Sangster's innovative, if budget motivated, approach to the material, and floats the deliberately provocative idea that the film is really about the Holmwood's marriage.

There are two additional featurettes, one on the censorship problems that the film encountered in England and the other about the discovery, restoration and integration of the Japanese footage. This presumably now clears up the perennial myth about Hammer having deliberately shot `stronger' versions of their movies, or at least certain scenes, for the Japanese market and milder ones for us. It appears that Hammer simply had their sole preferred version, from which the English censors then cut what they thought was unsuitable for English sensibilities, while Japan (and other overseas territories) simply got the original uncut version. (But there was that topless Hazel Court shot for the European cut of Man Who Cheated Death, wasn't there. I'm confused again now.)

Anyway, doesn't this suggest the possibility that the Japanese archive may hold full uncut versions of other Hammer movies.

Please investigate, O Hammer high ups.

In the meantime however, this glorious package will keep us going.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2013 7:11 PM GMT

Mini Fibre Optic Christmas Tree Decoration
Mini Fibre Optic Christmas Tree Decoration

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good buy, 9 Dec. 2012
I got one of these about five years back and it doesnt seem to be breaking . It's well fitted together and is very robust. The only thing i found was that when trying to get the branches bent out they bent back in again. Overall a very good buy :) I have been able to use the same batteries for three years running ! The picture isn't very good quality but it is nicer in the dark . Go for it

*comment left by son of tony floyd

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