Friday, 7 September 2018

Blu-ray Review: D.O.A. A Right of Passage (Second Sight)


"The world is yours for a season"
Oscar Wilde

I started going to music gigs in the Autumn of 1976, taking in the likes of Budgie, Man, Curved Air and Steve Hillage.
Truth is, I was bored and didn't know it. Then, the Punk Rock explosion took place, which saw one of the most exciting musical revolutions ever.

D.O.A. A Right of Passage offers fascinating insight on both sides of the channel, following the Sex Pistols' infamous tour of America, while also
keeping tabs on what was happening in the UK.
The end result is a must for those who were there at the time, and for anyone who wonders what all the fuss was about.
Both sides of the fence are well catered for here, with fan interviews before and after gigs - some positive, some negative - while the odious
chain-smoking Bernard Brooke Partridge and Mary Whitehouse do what they did best, attacking anything they didn't understand.
There is coverage given to other worthy bands - with footage of Generation X, Sham 69, X Ray Spex and The Rich Kids - but this is the Pistols' show,
and their glorious wall of sound hits home with live footage of the likes of "Anarchy In The UK", "EMI" and "Holidays In The Sun".
The band played seven dates in the USA, culminating in that final gig at Winterland, San Francisco when the band trudged off, leaving us with one of the finest debut albums ever recorded.


Lech Kowalski's documentary really does get under the skin of Punk, with this movement's DIY attitude of making something out of nothing, uncovering
the state of things for an army of participants who felt let down by a system designed to bring them down. Witness Terry Sylvester - a working class lad
who tells it like it was before taking the microphone to front his own band, Terry and The Idiots.
There are some wonderful stories and anecdotes from the contributors here, who provides articulate insight into what went down and why, within a true example of guerrilla film-making.
Of course, the concert hall footage is alone worth the price of the disc, with Lydon showing he's one of the very best live performers, being utterly mesmeric.
I'd seen Joe Strummer, Iggy, Lux Interior, Patti Smith, Ari from The Slits, Siouxsie and Ian Curtis and Lydon can be added to anyone's list of fromtmen.


Another 30 years from now and the number of people who were present and incorrect during Punk's Golden Years will be vastly diminished. That's one of the reasons
documentaries such as this are so terribly important, turning the spotlight onto an age When We Were Kings.

The special features on this Blu-ray disc (which also includes a DVD) being with "Dead On Arrival: The Punk Documentary That Almost Never Was" (1 hr 55 mins 20s)
Here, we are privy to the recollections and opinions of key players in this story.
John Holmstrom (founder of Punk magazine); photographer Roberta Bayley; co-director and journalist Chris Salewicz; Pistols historian Mick O'shea; Midge Ure and many others, including Malcolm Maclaren. We hear about the origins of Punk with New York Dolls and Iggy namechecked (Roberta talks about being on the door at CBGB's); how the film ran into financial difficulties; why the crew were banned from filming at gigs, and there's valuable input from photographer Rufus Standefer. The Sid and Nancy infamous bed interview
is also included.
Nice to see Lamar St. John pop up, too, being the girl on the ground in the main feature, and still vital after all these years.
This generous making-off doc with a wealth of nostalgic footage gives considerable added value to an already worthy disc.

DOA A Punk Post Mortem (27m 8s) .
Chris Salewicz talks about the documentary and certain individuals, recalling the Sid and Nancy interview; the part played by Tom Forcade of High Times magazine and
looks at what Punk meant and continues to mean.
I struggle to think of anyone better than Chris to tell this story, which continues to resonate over 40 years on.
D.O.A. A Right of Passage will be released on the Second Sight label on 10th September. Image quality on this high definition presentation is strong,
and there's also a limited edition booklet in the package, written by Punk aficianado Tim Murray with additional article by Phelim O'Neill. The booklet is limited to the first 2000 copies, so hurry!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Blu-ray Review: The Changeling (Second Sight)


Compile a list of big and small-screen superior spookers, and the usual suspects inevitably come out to play: the BBC's Christmas ghost stories, The Haunting,
The Innocents, The Legend of Hell House, The Stone Tape, Bava's Kill, Baby...Kill!.....another solid addition would be Peter Medak's The Changeling.
My own association with this film dates back to the opening weekend of its theatrical release when I was lucky enough to attend a screening at a cinema
in London's Tottenham Court Road.


"The Changeling" begins with a truly tragic scene. Composer John Russell (George C. Scott) is on vacation with his wife and young daughter when a roadside
accident leaves him well and truly alone in this world.
The grief-stricken Russell moves to Seattle in an attempt to rebuild his life, subsequently moving into the Chessman house, which has spent the last 12 years uninhabited... by the living, at least.

Russell soon finds out why, as strange manifestations suggest the house - or something in the house - is reaching out to him.
A piano that plays untouched by human hands; the ubiquitous child's ball that bounces down the stairs; a music box which plays the same tune
as Russell's latest composition and - most chilling of all - a wheelchair with a mind of its own.
Add to this the thoroughly unnerving banging sounds that always take place at 6.00am, and icy terrors that lie behind closed or half open doors
and you have a haunted house tale par excellence.
There are so many scenes that make the spine tingle and the blood run cold, including a seance that ultimately delivered far more than was
initially suggested, leading Russell to investigate sinister Senator Joseph Carmichael, played by Melvyn Douglas.


Ken Wannberg's wonderfully evocative score builds the tension nicely, while also being sensitive to the twin tragic aspects of this story. Of course,
George C. Scott is also finely tuned into proceedings, delivering a pitch perfect performance as a man who has lost his family and must start again.
Russell's burning desire to positively react to voices from beyond the grave and his reactions to haunted memories are beautifully conveyed by Scott
in one of his most heartfelt performances.
In these times of overkill and excess, the resurrection of this superbly directed film will gladden the hearts of all those who hold it in high regard,
and also bring new admirers to the fold.


Second Sight's Blu-ray presentation unveils a 4K scan from the IP that boasts rich colours and a healthy amount of grain.
The extras begin with an informative commentary track featuring Peter Medak and producer Joel B. Michaels.
We hear why the film almost didn't get made; how Medak started out in the business; his stories about being on the sets of "The Haunting" and "Marnie";
why the film didn't take off in America, and there are discussions about the music and sound design and warm words for Scott and Douglas.

The House on Cheesman Park (17m 31s)
A featurette based on the Cheesman house which was built on a giant graveyard, with between 2,000 - 5,000 bodies still buried there when production began.
The Cheesman property had all the trappings: secret compartments and doorways; a bouncing ball and the diary of a young boy, making this a fascinating story.

The Music of The Changeling (8m 59s)
Here, composer Ken Wannberg talks about the great John Williams; the process of scoring a film and the pressures involved.

Building The House of Horror (10m 56s)
Art director Reuben Freed talks about building and lighting the sets; logistical problems; the budget and the passion of the crew.

The Psychotronic Tourist (16m 2s)
The wonderful Kier La- Janisse - author of "House of Psychotic Women" - plays host to 12 locations used in the film.
We get to see how the places look today, including the scene of the roadside accident, and visit a graveyard that contains two absolute legends.

Master of Horror Mick Garris on The Changeling (5m 31s)
Mick explains that he loves this film for its emotion, and talks about "The Haunting" and "Don't Look Now". He also explains why "The Changeling"
remains a very personal film for those of us who saw it theatrically.

The package is rounded off by the original theatrical trailer (2m 18s) and a TV spot running 29s.
Second Sight have also included the original soundtrack on CD and a 40 page perfect-bound booklet (which I haven't seen) containing a new essay
by Kevin Lyons, original production notes and an archive on-set interview.
Hugely recommended for those cold Winter evenings when shadows cast long and the imagination takes over.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Space Truckers. Blu-ray. Second Sight


Stuart Gordon's 1996 Science Fiction comedy comes armed with a strong cast and a rollicking story, set in a galaxy far, far away.
Dennis Hopper takes the role of John Canyon; an independent trucker who moves freight beyond the stars, in order to make a living.
It's a world of synth burgers and sham fries, where a canteen deal is struck for the eventual marriage of John and Cindy (Debi Mazar)
providing he can get her back to Earth for her mother's operation.
Enter Nabel the creator (Charles Dance) who is responsible for the design of an army of state-of-the-art disintigrators: biochemical super warriors
who will soon be bound for planet Earth in a cargo that's officially claimed to be sex dolls.
John and Cindy join forces with Mike (Stephen Dorff) in an effort to thwart this murderous mission, with Nabel just as intent in carrying it through.
The result is a pacey, often hilarious romp that makes the minutes fly if you don't think too hard about what you're viewing. Certainly, there's enough
explosions, excitement and general mayhem to satisfy all but the most demanding viewers.


Hopper is great value for money as the last of the breed trucker, while Dance also excels: watch out for a particularly strange case of erectile disfunction!
Even those raised on a steady diet of Stuart Gordon's OTT Horror fare will find much to enjoy here, as trademark humour rubs shoulders with some nifty fx,
and there's a nice surprise at the end for fans of a certain leading lady who certainly left her mark in the director's filmography.
There's no doubt "Space Truckers" has a healthy cult following, and members of that club will be delighted by the image quality on Second Sight's
Blu-ray presentation.


The special features begin with "Space Trucking with Stuart Gordon" (22m 53s)
Here, the director talks about his early ambition to be an astronaut (shared with script writer Ted Mann), which eventually led to the creation
of this film. Stuart talks about the $27 million budget, and the quest to source additional funding, and of working with Dennis Hopper who unleashed
a stinging rebuke for his director, during filming.

"The Art of Space Truckers" (8m 7s)
Art director Simon Lamont breaks down his role in this production, and gives his thoughts on how the film stands up today.

"Scoring Space Truckers" (12m 31s)
Composer Colin Townes - the original score composer - gives a brief resume of his early career, and explains his approach to scoring the film,
which benefited from his versatility.

"Space Truckers" is available to buy now on the Second Sight label.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Blu-ray Review: Heimat (Second Sight)


"Love and suffering lie so close together"

Edgar Reitz's acclaimed television drama depicts the lives of ordinary people in the Hunsrueck: a mountain range in Rhineland Palatinate, Germany,
which is bordered by four rivers.
Here, the fictional village of Schabbach plays host to a thoroughly engaging series of events, following village life from 1919 to 1982.
The cast - comprising of over 120 speaking parts - contains some beautifully drawn characters wo win and retain our most earnest attention
throughout the 889 minute running time.
We have Maria (Marita Breuer): daughter-in-law of Mathias (the village blacksmith) and his wife, who is married to their son, Paul.
The turmoil of World War One has taken its toll on Paul, who suddenly disappears, leaving Maria with her two sons, Anton and Ernst.
As the years gop by, there will be new additions to the family: Maria has another son, Hermann; Mathias' son Eduard gets married to the over ambitious Lucie;
Hermann grows up and finds love and, inevitably, characters dear to our hearts pass away.
Where did Paul go to on his long walk to enjoy a beer? Why did he leave his wife? Did he ever return to Schabbach? Not all of these questions are answered,
tantalisingly out of reach to cast and audience who experience some big changes down the years.
The rise of Nazism - personified by the big chief Weigand and his son; the introduction of the telephone, radio and television; the rise of Anton's
optics company and a soul-searching decision he is called to make, all presented by Glasisch, the narrator who guides us towards a quite beautiful
finale, set in a place many of us have wondered about. We must hope it turns out to be like Reitz's vision.


Throughout the series, triumph and despair, economic hardship and prosperity, life and death are all captured by some gorgeous cinematrography,
as Eduard's camera joins in with the recording of memories.
Here luminous monochrome vies with colour. Sometimes colour is used for fleeting moments, then for longer spells. Occasionally, b/w and colour
are used in the same shot: look out for the carnations dropped over the village during a homecoming flight to remember.
The onset of war brings its own physical and psychological challenges, scarring those involved, yet pushing them onwards and upwards
in a collective quest to create better times.
Some of the scenes are heartbreakingly sad, but there are happy times enjoyed by people who work and play together down the years.
Of course, this story is tinged with bitterness and regret, but it's also extremely uplifting in places,
demonstrating the human spirit car soar, even through hardship.


It's a tall order to chronicle 63 years of family life in a single project, but Edgar Reitz and his cast and crew delivered a work of art
that will endure for many years to come.
Indeed, it's the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner, sustaining interest and offering unlimited replay value.
A masterpiece, no less.


Second Sight's Blu-ray presentation offers a sumptuous image, restored from the original negative by the Edgar Reitz Foundation.
Here, the glorious Hunsrueck countryside comes alive during the four seasons, , whether it's the monochrome shots of Winter or the warm Autumnal glow
of the surroundings. Outstanding!

The extras begin with "Heimat The Hunsrueck Villages: Stories from the Film Locations" (1 hr 53m 17s)
This documentary offers a comprehensive look at German village life, taking in memories of the wars; transport; slate mining and history
lessons for children, and there's footage of an old mine that's now used for concerts because of the excellent acoustics (something that occurs in the series, too).

"An interview with Edgar Reitz on the making of "Heimat." (38m 39s)
Edgar begins by explaining how he became one of 26 young directors to sign the 1962 Oberhuasen Manifesto, designed to create a new type of German cinema.
He talks about his early work - which including success and failure; casting his series; how the actors grew into their roles and reminisces about
the war years and growing up in a world without men.

"Maria's Story: Marita Breuer on Heimat" (11m 18s)
The still gorgeous Marita recalls how she landed the role; talks about the mutual trust she enjoyed with her director and how she grew into the role.

"An interview with Christian Reitz on the restoration of Heimat (17m 24s)
Christian explains how "Heimat" was restored, with an arduous and rewarding process that repaired scratches, tears and warps to create
the wonderful high definition image we have today.

Showing Not Talking: Jan Harlan on Heimat (12m 16s)
Jan Harlan talks about seeing this series at the Lumiere cinema in London, and of the impression "Heimat" made on friend and colleague Stanley Kubrick.

"A visual essay by Daniel Bird" ( 8m 44s)
Film historian Daniel Bird delivers an excellent visual essay, demonstrating the role of the camera to enact the process of memory. It's a key theme
of this series, and explored so very well here.

This release is rounded off with a 50 page soft cover book (which I haven't seen), featuring liner notes by Carmen Gray; 'The Collaboration with Gernot Roll'
by Edgar Reitz and 'Germany as Memory' by Anton Kaes.
"Heimat" is avialable to buy right now, and highly recommended.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Blu-ray Review: Carrie (Arrow Video)


School, the workplace, social media... the reprehensible act of bullying today has more outlets than ever before, making Brian De Palma's "Carrie" particularly relevant in
this day and age.
Meet Carrie White (Sissy Spacek): a put-upon high school girl who lives with her religious zealot mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), and is a prime example of a troubled teen
who must deal with a motley crew of girls and guys.
The offending party is headed by Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and Billy Nolan (John Travolta), with PJ Soles and cohorts adding their support to a most unsavory project.
Carrie befriended by PE teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley), who takes this troubled girl under her wing as tampons fly during her first period amidst a throng of cat-calling
teens. It's just as well Carrie has an alternative mother figure in her life as support at home is zero, thanks to her domineering mother who prefers Carrie to be shut away from any potential friends and admirers who may introduce her to real life.


Based on Stephen King's debut novel, De Palma's film cats Sissy Spacek as probably the most naturally beautiful girl in the picture, shy and awkward but with special qualities
to entrance the right suitor.
She also possesses the power to move objects at will; something that's triggered by rage whenever the situation feels threatening to her. Tommy Ross (William Katt) slowly comes to recognise her beauty and her pesonality, when his girlfriend Sue (Amy Irving) persuades him to escort Carrie to the school prom where things go very badly wrong.
The high school shoot is a prime example of De Palma's special brand of filmmaking prowess, beautifully lit with economic use of split-screen photography and tensioncranked up to 11.
The cast - several of whom made their film debuts here - are uniformally excellent, split between the good, the inbetween and the downright ugly, who are all ultimately tarred
by the same brush.
It's certainly a rip-roaring finale, leading up to that famous 'jump' moment that helps make this film such a memorable one.
"Carrie" has certainly stood the test of time, emerging as one of the very best King adaptations and a most worthy inclusion in Horror's Hall of Fame.


Arrow Video's Blu-ray release unveils a 4k scan that really shows off the intricate lighting with strong, stable colours.
The extras begin with a commentary track from Lee Gambin and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.
The pair deliver an informative track, taking in critical reception to the film and addressing accusations of De Palma as a misogynist.Lee talks about Piper Laurie - not first choice for the role - and Alexandra goes into the use of space in this film. King's book, the mythological feel to the prom and De Palma's lighting of his female cast members are just a few of the additional things discussed in this enlightening talk.

Next up is "Acting Carrie" (42m 42s)
This is a 2001 featurette, comprising of interviews with De Palma (who calls this film "one of the great cast experiences"), Amy Irving, art director Jack Fisk and others.
Key scenes are discussed, including the prom and shower scenes.
"More Acting Carrie" (20m 19s)
A continuation of the previous featurette, with input from Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley and William Katt who discuss the script, rehearsals and De Palma's energy.
"Visualising Carrie: From words to Images" (41m 33s)
De Palma, scriptwriter Lawrence D Cohen, editor Paul Hirsch and Jack Fisk discuss the FX shots; Pino Donnagio's wonderful score; the first draft of the screenplay and the famous 'rain of stones scene that was left out of the finished product.
"Singing Carrie:The Musical" (6m 24s)
This is another 2001 featurette, where Cohen recalls how a night at the theatre inspired thoughts of a musical, and Betty Buckley (who played a different character in the stage version) tells how one particular performance went from boos to a standing ovation at the finale.
"Writing Carrie" (29m 7s) 2016
Here, Lawrence D Cohen talks about King's novel, explaining why it was decided not to include that literally heart-stopping scene. He also explains the challenges posed on this production, and there's a great midnight screening story.
"Shooting Carrie (15m 22s) 2016
This is an interview with cinematographer Mario Tosi, who talks about his mix-up approach to lighting this film and about the tools he had back in the day, comparing them to today's ultra high tech world.
"Cutting Carrie" (25m 9s)
A 2016 interview with editor Paul Hirsch, who explains why he was less than enthusiastic about the split-screen device and waxes lyrical on the freedom De Palma gave him.
"Casting Carrie" (16m 3s)
A 2016 interview with casting director Harriet B Helberg, who reveals how Spacek got into character for her screentest; her thoughts on the film and why they were initially unsure about one of the characters.
"Bucket of Blood" (23m 53s)
A 2016 interview with composer Pino Donnagio, who talks about how "Carrie" changed his life and reflects on De Palma, Bernard Herrmann and the challenges posed by the film.
"Horror's Hallowed Grounds" (11m 25s)
A look at the film's original locations, including the pig farm and the high school playing field.
"Comparing Carrie (20m 43s)
A visual essay from Jonathan Bygraves comparing the 3 screen versions of "Carrie": the 1976 original, the 2002 TV film and the 2013 adaptation.
Margaret White's character; the use of telekinetic powers and timelines are just some of the subjects discussed.

The extras are rounded off with an alternate TV opening; photo gallery; trailer; TV spots; radio spots and a "Carrie" trailer reel.
There's also a booklet (which I haven't seen), comprising of new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, author of Devil s Advocates: Carrie, a reprint of the Final Girls 40th anniversary Carrie zine, and an archive interview with Brian De Palma.
It's so good to see a classic film receive such reverential treatment.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Blu-ray Review: Celine and Julie Go Boating (BFI)


"Celine and Julie Go Boating" turned out to be Jacques Rivette's biggest commercial hit, throwing together two women who will ultimately seek to intercede
in a parallel universe that plays out in a Jamesian inspired haunted house.
Celine (Juliet Berto), a magician, and Julie (Dominique Labourier) who is a librarian, cross paths in Paris and become inseparable, trading lives and personalities in their quest to stop a truly hideous crime.
Magic sweets enable the pair to watch events at the house unfold in a film-within-a-film as Bulle Ogier and Marie-France Pisier become the 'Phantom Ladies Over Paris',
with Barbet Schroeder in tow as the father of a young girl in mortal danger.
As recurring scenes play out, Celine and Julie react with amusement, boredom and horror, finally deciding to join this dislocation in time and save the girl. But from whom?


In parts, "Celine and Julie Go Boating" is very funny, with the two leads injecting physical comdey into proceedings, while at other times it anticipates Lynch's
"Mulholland Drive" with regard to the doubling experienced by Celine and Julie, and the population of the house who reach into 'the present' with bloody handprints
triggered by scenes from alternate reality.
Here, Berto and Labourier were given a degree of improvisational freedom, though for the most part, "Celine and Julie Go Boating" followed a script that grew with input from the cast.
The end result is a 193 minute feature that fair zips by, begging repeat viewings to fully appreciate all that lies within.
The wafer-thin line between fantasy and reality; the powers of memory and perception and the idea that each and every event is destined to be played out on a loop
for all time are just a few of the pieces in this puzzle, leading to a most haunting finale.
Rivette's clever use of mirrors which join this world and the next, and use of Montmartre locations to create a magical zone that bends all the rules and reshapes them, as leading ladies trade their lives make this a compulsory purchase for all lovers of Cinema Fantastique.


The BFI Blu-ray was restored and scanned at 2K from the original 16mm frame elements. Image quality is very impressive, unveiling a strong, stable picture that will delight
fans of this film.
The extras begin with a commentary track from Adrian Martin. Adrian provides background to the film; highlights the director's love of theatre and his willingness to take risks; gives valuable information on cast and crew (and quotes from a number of sources, such as Rivette and Berto); talks about various influences on this production; identifies cameos
and puts forward his theories and ideas regarding the onscreen events. It's a wholly rewarding track, and I'd strongly urge you to listen to every minute to increase understanding and appreciation of how much was accomplished here.

Next up, is "Jonathan Romney On Rivette and Celine and Julie Go Boating (19m 17s)
This excellent 2006 video essay takes a look at Rivette's career, and packs in theories and observations about the film, taking in Henry James, silent cinema and the idea that this is a girls own adventure. A valuable addition to the package.
"Tout la Memoire du Monde" (1956, 21m 54s)
Alain Resnais takes us inside the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, offering a fascinating look at how books are catalogued and also sharing some of its rare treasures.
We also see the constant battle against the slow decay of papers, books and manuscripts.
"The Haunted Curiosity Shop" (1901, 1m 55s)
WR Booth's 1901 short shows a shop owner plagued by various ghostly forms and includes some rather impressive effects shots.

The BFI also includes a booklet, featuring interviews with Rivette, Berto and Labourier; a review by Tom Milne; Susan Seidelman's reflections on her Rivette-inspired
"Desperately Seeking Susan", and an essay by scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum who is an authority on Rivette.
"Celine and Julie Go Boating" is available to buy now and a strong contender for those best disc of the year lists.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

DVD Review: Kill, Baby...Kill! (Arrow Video)


That wafer- thin line between the living and the dead has been crossed by many directors but few, I'll wager, could walk the walk like Mario Bava. With the sole exception of Lisa And The Devil, Bava had to work with meagre budgets and tight schedules, relying on ingenuity, imagination and those painterly eyes that created some of the most vivid nightmares ever committed to celluloid.


Kill, Baby...Kill! pits science and law against the forces of evil when Dr. Paul Eswai ( Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) and Inspector Kruger (Piero Lulli) arrive at the small Transylvanian village of Kremingen; the latter in response to a letter from one extremely frightened girl who was found impaled on iron railings before Kruger could reach the village. Eswai is asked to perform an autopsy, aided by Monica ( Erika Blanc), an ex-local girl who returns home to find her birthplace gripped by fear. As Bava works his magic, we slowly discover the legend of Melissa Graps (played by a young boy ,Valerio Valeri) , a 7 year old girl who, many years earlier, bled to death following an accident while drunken villagers ignored her cries for help. Now, those who catch sight of her unquiet spirit suffer a similar fate while her mother (Giana Vivaldi) presides over the family villa, surrounded by memories and fueled by hate.Although Bava is often cited as a master of style over substance, Kill, Baby...Kill! is a veritable feast for lovers of the macabre who like nothing better than a tale well told. A frightened coach driver who reluctantly delivers Eswai into a place of evil; terrified villagers who form a wall of silence; a scorceress ( Fabienne Dali', echoing Rada Rassimov's character in Bava's Baron Blood) who uses 'the old ways' to ward off the dead; wonderful mist-shrouded night scenes where a tolling bell signals another impending death.... a familiar storyline with stock characters? To an extent, yes, but even though we're on familiar ground, the soil seems firm and fresh, thanks to Bava's supreme technical skill, coupled with his unerring ability to get under the skin of what really scares us. Here, the spectral figure of Melissa Graps takes centre stage, emerging as one of Bava's eeriest and most imitated creations. This 'bambino diavolo' has inspired the likes of Martin Scorsese (The Last Temptation Of Christ) and Federico Fellini (Toby Dammit, from Spirits Of The Dead), who took note of the images of a child clad in white, emerging from the shadows of half-lit corridors, peering through windows with a malevolent, death-dealing stare or, most chilling of all, perched on a swing, her laughter peeling through the cold night air: wish I had a gold coin (embedded in the heart, perhaps?) for every film that wheels on a child's ball bouncing down the stairs to land at the feet of the living.Melissa's evil mother also succeeds in quickening the pulse rate, at first commanding our sympathy and then moving to the other end of the scale as her part in this story becomes apparent.
In many ways, this is possibly Bava's finest achievement and a film that has stood the test of time. Still scary after all these years.


My DVD review copy from Arrow Video unveils a fine presentation of this film, and I found myself contemplating the long journey to finally seeing this film in pristine condition. I first saw "Kill,Baby...Kill!" on a grainy, 3rd gen video copy and graduated, years later, to DVD. I was also lucky enough to see this film on the big screen at London's National Film Theatre, as part of a Mario Bava retrospective, many moons ago. Arrow's superb presentation really does tick all the boxes here, with interior and exterior shots dripping with atmosphere created by Bava's ingenuity, often bathed in greens and blues that highlight the director's eye for creeping unease which so often reaches fever pitch.
The extras being as they should, with a Tim Lucas commentary track. Tim delivers a wealth of information on cast and crew, going on to talk about the history of some of the locations used, and also where they appeared in other Italian films. He discusses the prevalence of low angle shots, and highlights the many 'twinning' instances in the film. "Forbidden Planet", "Twin Peaks", "Toby Dammit" and "Demons 2" are just a few of the films and shows mentioned in this track, and there are interesting snippets from a telephone interview with Erika Blanc also included. It's a stimulating track, which enriches understanding and appreciation of this film.

The Devil's Daughter (21m38s)
This is an excellent video essay from critic Kat Ellinger, which covers a lot of ground in its running time.
Kat takes a look a gothic literature featuring children - such as "Children of the Abbey" by Resina Maria Roche - goes into child mortality rates in the 17th and 18th century, and offers thought-provoking analysis on child trauma in the family., touching on films and novels which include "The Devil's Backbone", "Don't Torture A Duckling", MR James' "Lost Hearts" and "The Turn of the Screw."
It's a beautifully delivered essay, guaranteed to prompt further reading and viewing from its audience.

Kill, Bava, Kill (25m 2s)
This is an interview with Mario's son, Lamberto, where his formative years are discussed, with golden memories of working under his father's stewardship.
Lamberto also takes us back to the locations used for "Kill, Baby...Kill!" in a nostalgic return to a place where time has stood still for 30 years.
It's an emotional piece, with Lamberto still greatly missing his father and justifiably proud of his achievements.

Erika In Fear (11m)
This is a 2014 interview with the still gorgeous (and very lively) Erika Blanc. Erika ehtuses over Bava's expertise, the lighting and colours used and the amtmosphere he conjured, seemingly at will. It's lovely to see this lady talking about her contribution to a great film, and proclaiming herself "a complete horror fanatic."

Yellow (6m 49s)
Semih Tareen's 2006 love letter to Mario Bava, which begins with a couple sitting down to a game of chess in a garishly lit apartment. What could go wrong? The tension is ramped up in this short film, as familiar tropes surface to delicious effect.

Arrow also provides the German opening titles for the main feature (3m 26s), which provides an early glimpse of Melissa Graps, and a 2m 32s international trailer.
Finally, we get to step through an image gallery comprising of 28 German posters and lobby cards under the title "Die Toten Augen Des Dr. Dracula".
There's also a collectors booklet included (which I haven't seen) which contains new writing on the film by critic Travis Crawford.