Archive for the Supernatural Category

5 Films yet to have a proper DVD release

Posted in Dario Argento, Giallo, Grindhouse Releasing, Horror, Supernatural with tags , , , , on May 6, 2009 by eibonblog

With the advent of cult films being released in high definition, and also with the long (long) awaited release (official or not?) of Argento’s Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971), it might come as some surprise to some that many cult classics have yet to see an official DVD release. Some of the great cult films of all time sit languishing in vaults, with only VHS versions of varying quality (usually bad!) existing for people to enjoy them.

So I decided to create a list of five cult classic films that are in desperate need of a proper definitive release either on DVD or (even better) on Blu-ray. So hopefully some upstanding owner of a fine cult film company will see this and give the films the restoration and loving release they so thoroughly deserve! So on with the list:

  1. Spider Labyrinth (1988) aka Il Nido del Ragno – A truly disturbing supernatural giallo from the late 80s, this forgotten gem clearly needs a restored uncut version released.Spider Labyrinth (1988) - cover Clearly some money was spent on this film as it has superior cinematography and some great special effects for the time. It also triumphantly succeeds in creating a very creepy, eerie atmosphere. It has some vhillingly effective murder scenes, and the final scene is pure Grand Guignol exuberance. The story sees Roland Wybenga playing Professor Alan Whitmore who is sent to investigate strange goings on in a small town. What he finds there is a horror beyond what he could have imagined and where nothing is what it seems.Unfortunately I’ve only ever seen a VHS rip with hardcoded Japanese subtitles on it, and it was fullscreen. It really takes away from what you can tell is some fantastic camera work. It might have that familiar 80s tinge to the picture, but it still should be incredible if a restored widescreen version could be sourced.Spider Labyrinth

    Spider Labyrinth

  2. Amuck! (1972) – A giallo masterpiece that mysteriously has never received a DVD release. Amuck! (1972)Directed by Silvio Amadio, this is a beautiful shot and fantastically scripted piece of film. Not only does it feature some ultra stylish setpieces so familiar with classic giallo, but it also features a truly electrifying sex scene between Barbara Bouchet and Rosalba Neri… two of the genre’s finest. The way Amadio shoots the scene is brilliantly done, and it literally sizzles off the screen.Couple all that with one of the best soundtracks to ever grace a giallo, and you’ve got yourself a truly fantastic cult film.So why no DVD release?

    That is a complete mystery as there are only bootleg DVDs around. These appear to be VHS rips and are unfortunately fullframe versions rather than the original 2.35:1 Cromoscope composition it was originally filmed in. It’s a shame as this is bound to look glorious.

    So please… someone bring out a great looking version of one of the first films that made giallo sexy!

  3. Thrilling In Venice (1979) aka Giallo a Venezia – Described by even hardened giallo fans as vile, repulsive, disgusting, and utter trash… this film represents the pinnicle in how depraved and sleazy you could make a giallo.Thrilling In Venice (1979) Not even New York Ripper or Torso could match this film for sheer depravity.There’s plenty of gore, softcore sex, nudity, and funny late 70s hair cuts on show. It has something for everyone… except those with no stomach for the depraved!I don’t think there’s much chance of this being released in the UK anytime soon, but it is strange that this infamous giallo has never received much attention from any of the major DVD labels. Anything that is so infamously trashy is bound to be a big seller. It ticks all the boxes for gorehounds, sleazeters, and grindhouse fans. I would have thought this was a perfect release for Grindhouse Releasing.

    Let’s hope a decent copy surfaces soon, as the only half decent uncut rip that seems to be out there is a brazillian VHS! Surely there has to be a better source than that?

  4. Night Of The Demon (1980)Night Of The Demon (1980) – Talking of grindhouse classics… this has to rank as one of the stars of that genre. The infamous Bigfoot video nasty from 1980. This film takes the well established Bigfoot genre, and turns it on its head by introducing ghaslty deaths, horrific scenes of penis removal by Bigfoot claw, and one of the craziest final 10 minutes of any film… ever! It’s just pure fantastic joyous trash in cult film form. The acting is dire, and dare I say this film is never going to get a pin sharp high definition makeover… but it still deserves far more than it’s got so far from distributors.In fact the only uncut version that seems to be doing the rounds is a copy of when Zone Horror showed it on that channel. It looks very rough though, so this film really needs some much needed attention.
  5. Libido (1965) – Libido (1965)Perhaps most perplexing of all is how this Ernesto Gastaldi written and directed giallo has not had a proper DVD release! This is one of the very first giallo, and it’s also one of the most accomplished. Shot in black and white, it has a fantastic plot (as you’d expect from the master writer of the genre), and some great acting. It’s very well made and really makes you wish Gastaldi had directed a few more films.Again the only version of this in wide circulation are VHS sourced. There is clearly a great looking film here, shot originally on 35mm, just waiting to burst out onto our home screens. Why hasn’t anyone done this yet? This is a classic by every definition of the word!Get to it please!

The Beyond (1981)

Posted in 1981, Grindhouse Releasing, Horror, Lucio Fulci, Supernatural, Zombies with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by eibonblog

Well we couldn’t very well start off a blog entitled ‘Eibon: Do Not Entry’ without first looking at Lucio Fulci’s infamous The Beyond aka ‘E tu vivrai nel terrore – L’aldilà’ or ‘Seven Doors Of Death’. Certainly many consider this to be his finest work, however my own personal tastes have always favoured his excellent Giallo contributions… particularly Lizard In A Woman’s Skin and Don’t Torture A Duckling. It’s certainly my favourite of his supernatural films, and definitely the superior of the unofficial Gates Of Hell triology (along with the earlier City Of The Living Dead & House By The Cemetery). I’m also a huge fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and there’s more than a subtle Lovecraftian influence in The Beyond. Not least the fact that it features the book of Eibon, which appeared in several Lovecraft stories.The Beyond (1981) - Lucio Fulci - Film Poster

The film was originally to be a haunted house story, focusing on a woman who has moved into a hotel that was built upon one of the seven gates of hell. Fulci is often criticised that his films don’t really make much sense, and that they skip around from one violent shocking scene to another. As a result, critics are often quick to label his films as badly edited and dubiously plotted. If these critics were to look a little deeper they would see the one of Fulci’s all time greatest influences is the playwright Antonin Artaud, a prominent advocate of Surealism. The plays of Artaud were not primarily concerned with linear plots, and concentrated more on "cruel imagary & symbolism" that would shock his audiences into action. This is what Fulci originally wanted to achieve with The Beyond. It was to be a number of shocking scenes around the hotel with little to link it together.

However, Fulci’s plans were scuppered by the German distributor of his films, who wanted him to continue the zombie craze that was still sweeping the cinemas. So Fulci rewrote his film and added in a hospital, in which he wrote many more scenes of action, shootouts, and zombie attack!

 The Beyond (1981) Lucio Fulci - Title

The end result was a genuinely atmospheric, and highly creepy film that really encapsulates the best of Fulci’s zombie’n’gore period. It has all his trademark agonising slow deaths, animal attacks, and of course eyeball mutilation!

 The Beyond (1981) Eyeball Gouge

The film starts off showing us a flashback to Louisiana in 1927. An artist named Schweick is using the book of Eibon to open one of the seven gates of hell in his room at the Seven Doors Hotel. An angry lynch mob storm in and claim him to be Warlock. Schweick claims that he is trying to save them all from hell itself, but the mob want blood! What we see next is a graphic and brutal whipping with chains, crucification to the hotel wall with nails, and eventually covering the poor artist with quicklime to burn off his flesh! Nice people in these lynch mobs.

 The Beyond (1981) - Schweick Zombie

The level of atmosphere that Fulci manages to generate during the runtime of The Beyond is fantastic. The hotel feels like it was lifted directly from the pages of a Lovecraft story, and transported to the 80s. The dark, flooded, and deadly cellar area feels like the stuff of nightmares. The walls drip with the sense of dread and evil that is so crucial to the strengths of this film.

 The Beyond (1981) - Zombies

The Beyond (1981) - Dog Attack

The Beyond (1981) - Zombie Hospital 

It wasn’t just Fulci behind all the elements that make The Beyond such an effective horror film. There was of course the great performances by MacColl and Warbeck (who provide great commentary on the DVD, just before Warbecks untimely death from cancer). They have extremely good chemistry on screen together, and this is illustrated perfectly (if not intentionally) by the brilliant scene in the elevator in the thrilling finale. Warbeck is clearly seen trying to reload his gun by putting the bullets into the barrel… only for MacColl to desperately try to stifle a smile as the elevator door closes!

The Beyond (1981) - Bullets go where?

The Beyond (1981) - Bullets go in the barrel?

The Beyond (1981) - MacColl LOL 

The real maestros at work were behind-the-scenes. Sergio Salvati provided some breathtaking cinematography that took viewers into the hotel, that made them feel the dark evil was ever further encroaching on them. Special effects were courtesy of Gianetto De Rossi, and let’s face it… these are what made the film so infamous. He delivers eye gougings, face meltings, acid burnings, zombie attacks, and those nifty little flesh-eating spiders. He doesn’t hold back on the gore, and even after repeated viewings, they still make you wince!

The Beyond (1981) - Spider Attack 

The Beyond (1981) - Nail Impale 

Not least of all was an absolutely stellar soundtrack by one of my alltime favourites, Fabio Frizzi. Poor Fabio had his score removed from the initial (heavily cut) US release of ‘Seven Doors Of Death’ and ultimately, when it was restored back into the film, fans realised just how cheated they had been. The music is some of the greatest of any horror film, and compliments the extremely visceral nature of the film beautifully. I urge you to hunt down the soundtrack if you don’t already own it!

The Beyond (1981) - DVD CoverBizarrely enough, if it wasn’t for Quentin Tarantino, a guy named Bob, and Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage… we might never have seen The Beyond in all it’s 2 perf Techniscope 2.35:1 widescreen glory, nor heard Fabio Frizzi’s masterful score! Previously the only way to see it uncut in all its original glory was to either have the original film reels, or to have the Japanese laserdisc (or one of the many rough bootleg copies). Sage Stallone and film editor Bob Murawski were big fans of euro cult classics and grindhouse cinema, and set-up the company Grindhouse Releasing. When they sought to re-release The Beyond to US audiences, they didn’t just grab a copy of the heavily cut transfer and port it to laserdisc/DVD. Oh no, they flew to Italy to meet with Fulci and his daughter and not only secured the rights to distribute it, but also the original film negatives. They took these and lovingly restored them in a high definition transfer. Although Grindhouse Releasing have as yet not released their own DVD of the film (they have sold on their restored version to be released by Anchor Bay), they did release the film to the midnight matinee market at cinemas across the United States. Although derided by mainstream critics (they just aren’t meant for these films!), it was met with huge acclaim from horror afficianados Worldwide… largely thanks to the theatrical release being masterminded and promoted by Tarantino and his film company in conjuction with Miramax. The rest, as they say, is history. The film rejuvenated interest in Italian horror and other related genres. Slowly but surely, other Italian classics were given the same loving treatment by other afficianados who set-up similar companies to Grindhouse Releasing (Noshame, Shameless, Severin, Blue Underground, and Shriek Show to name a few). Even now many classics are languishing without a good DVD release.

The Beyond (1981) - In The Beyond 

I’m sure most of you reading this will be very familiar with this film, so I will be preaching to the converted. For those of you who have not yet witnessed the splendidly gory tour-de-force that is The Beyond I urge you to hunt down either the Anchor Bay DVD (even better is the wonderful special edition tin – this has a wealth of postcards with alternate art and great inner notes), or to get the Grindhouse Releasing version (if it ever comes out!).

This next part contains some spoilers, do stop reading here if you have not seen it!  

Many people are left confused by the ending of the film, and there are many weird and wonderful explanations circling. However, I feel it’s best left to Fulci himself to explain it:

"What I wanted to get across with this film was the idea that all life is often really a terrible nightmare and that our only refuge is to remain in this world, but outside time. In the end, the two protagonists’ eyes turn completely white and they find themselves in a desert where there’s no light, no wind, no shade, no nothing. I believe, being Catholic, that they have reached what many people imagine to be the afterworld." – Lucio Fulci, 1993

What we must not forget though is that this is fun Italian cinema, it’s by no means all a master-stroke of genius… but a great blend of the right elements and pure hokum. Not least best illustrated by the other title of this blog: DO NOT ENTRY

The Beyond (1981) - Do Not Entry