Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975)
Directed by Sergio Martino
Starring Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Lia Tanzi, Barbara Magnolfi, Gianfranco Barra, Patrizia Castaldi, Adolfo Caruso, Roberto Posses
There were a few things that got my attention right away when this disc came in the mail. First and foremost, it is directed by Sergio Martino, who has made more than a few films that I have really enjoyed over the years. I mean, let’s face it…the man is a god when it comes to the giallo! Secondly, it would be the first of five times that Claudio Cassinelli would appear in one of Martino’s films, before dying in a tragic helicopter accident. My first introduction to Cassinelli’s work was in Martino’s Island of the Fishmen (1979), co-starring Richard Johnson and Barbara Bach. He always seemed to have fun playing the good guy and did it well. So he’s always a welcome site for me when he appears on screen.
If you are a die-hard fan of the work of George Romero, then you will need to add this new 6-disc box set from Arrow Video to your collection. No, most of the films in this set are not his famous horror flicks, but at least they give you a great insight to this iconic director.
The George Romero “Between Night and Dawn” box set contains the three films that he made between his famous zombie films, which are There’s Always Vanilla (1971), Season of the Witch (1972), and The Crazies (1973), which comes out in October.
Each film is presented from a brand new restoration, with Vanilla from a 2K restoration from an original negative, and Season and The Crazies from a 4K restoration from original film elements. One can only assume that these are going to look better than they ever have! All three films also contain brand new audio commentary from Travis Crawford, as well as other features, such as new interviews with Judith Ridley, Richard Ricci, Russ Streiner, and Gary Streiner.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Directed Dario Argento
Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salemo, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano
This is a very important title to Italian horror fans. It is, of course, the directorial debut of Dario Argento, and what would be the first film in his ‘animal trilogy’. It was this picture that would start Argento down his path as one of the most popular Italian directors, whose career has spanned more than five decades. Sure, some might frown upon some of Argento’s later films, even from the last couple of decades. But no matter how bad you might consider those films, that doesn’t change the fact that the titles in the early part of his career still are stunning classics and, more importantly, still effective today. As Troy Howarth points out in his commentary that is featured on this new disc from Arrow Video, “His reputation as one of the most influential and imaginative of genre filmmakers can never be taken away from him.” So there you go.
Evil Ed (1995)
Directed by Anders Jacobson
Starring Johan Rudebeck, Per Löfberg, Olof Rhodin, Camela Leierth, Gert Fylking, Cecilia Ljung, Michael Kallaanvaara, Hans Wilhelmsson
Back in the ’90s, when the video market was still in full swing, every gorehound was always on the prowl for a film to give them the bloody goods within the 90 minutes or so of the particular movie title. Evil Ed delivered it to those that happened upon the video box, which showed a man with his head being split open with an axe. I mean, with a box like that, how could you go wrong? Granted, it was a cheesy graphic image and not something from the actual movie, but it did get the attention of the aforementioned horror fan. It also shows what could be allowed on box art back then, something that could be seen by any youngster that might be walking down the horror aisle. Ah yes…those were the days.
Brain Damage (1988)
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Starring Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry, Theo Barnes, Lucille Saint-Peter, Vicki Darnell
I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with this strange and twisted Faustian tale, that could only come from the mind of the man who gave us Basket Case (1982), writer/director Frank Henenlotter. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure what cave you’ve been living in for the last 30 years, but you need to pick it up now and watch it. It will change your life. Okay..maybe not change it, but definitely put a lot more entertainment in it. And there is even a message in there too! I mean, how can you have a tale about a parasitic creature, that looks like a cross between a turd and a deformed penis, that gets you hooked on a hallucinogenic drug that it emits, if only to keep you in control. Sure, there is a huge drug/addiction parable here, as well as the old fable of selling soul to a devil, but as crazy as it sounds, Henenlotter actually created a very well thought out story and it works quite well. The characters feel like real people, giving the dark and funny story more of an edge than most would probably take it as, about a much too common plague that still exists today. Sure, maybe not played out like it is here, but then it wouldn’t be as fun to watch, would it?
Being my first time at Texas Frightmare, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was their 12th year, so they must be doing something right. There were a few things that I noticed over the two days we were there that could have been handled a little better, such as organizing the lines for the celebrities and for the Q&A’s a little better, but those were minor complaints. It really was run pretty smoothly, not to mention everyone being extremely friendly. And that, my convention friends, really is the key to a good show, having a well informed staff who is very friendly and are glad you came out to spend the weekend with them. This was also my first convention in a few years that I was attending as a fan, not as a dealer and it was a strange feeling. On one hand it was nice not to have to worry about what time it was, making sure the booth was set up, and being down in the dealer room before the show opened. But on the other…I have to say I was bored about halfway through Saturday. But let’s not jump ahead.
Directed by Don Sharp
Starring George Sanders, Beryl Reid, Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Roy Holder, Robert Hardy, Patrick Holt, Denis Gilmore, Ann Michelle, Miles Greenwood, Peter Whitting, Rocky Taylor
The film, also known as The Death Wheelers, is about a biker gang that call themselves The Living Dead, that tools around England causing the usually sort of trouble like forcing cars off the road and just being royal pains. But their leader Tom is getting bored with the normal stuff. In fact, he often thinks of doing something really wild like killing himself. When he learns a little secret from his mother, that if you really believe that you’ll come back when you kill yourself, you will. It’s apparently that simple. Even better though is when you do rise from the grave, you can’t die and seem to be super strong. So he convinces the rest of his gang to follow his lead, in usually interesting ways.