Monday, 27 May 2013

Coming Soon. Saxon Logan's Sleepwalker

Great news from the BFI who will be releasing Sleepwalker in September. Check out the list of extras which will make this a very special release, and look out for a full review here. "

"The British Film Institute has revealed that it is planning to release a Dual Format edition of director Saxon Logan's Sleepwalker (1985), starring Joanna David, Bill Douglas, and Heather Page. The release will arrive on the market later this year. When wealthy couple Richard and Angela visit Marion and Alex in their decaying family home, their differing social and moral attitudes create uneasy tensions. An inharmonious evening of drunkenness and sexual rivalry soon turns bloody as the guests fall victim to an unhinged attacker. Featuring a rare performance from Bill Douglas (Bill Douglas Trilogy, Comrades), and starring British screen greats Joanna David and Heather Page (both of whom would go on to work with Douglas in Comrades), Sleepwalker is an outrageous and incendiary mix of biting satire and bloody horror that is at once reminiscent of otherwise unlikely bedfellows Lindsay Anderson and Dario Argento. Remastered from the only surviving print, this long-unseen mid-length film is presented here for the first time on any home video format, along with two shorts by its director, Saxon Logan, and the rare 1971 mid-length fantasy, The Insomniac, directed by Rodney Giesler."

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" Special Features: Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition "

" The Insomniac (Rodney Giesler, 1971, 45 mins): a man experiences a night-time world that is part foreboding nightmare, part sexual fantasy "

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" Stepping Out (Saxon Logan , 1977, 10 mins): a couple's untraditional early morning ritual is observed in a short drama which originally supported Polanski's The Tenant in UK cinemas"

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"Working Surface: A Short Study (with Actors) in the 'Ways' of a Bourgeois Writer (Saxon Logan, 1979, 15 mins): Bill Douglas plays a writer struggling with a script about the interior lives of two women (playing by Joanna David and Heather Page)"

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" Extensive booklet with essays and complete credits "

You can read my review of this film HERE
I was lucky enough to see this on the big screen several years back and also had a review copy on VHS.
I will be reviewing the Blu-ray in September.


Saxon Logan's Sleepwalker

"Hey, tell me the truth. Are we still in the game?" - Oscar Hsu. eXistenZ "

"Saxon Logan's extraordinary 49 minute feature pitches four people into a class war situation with a vicious sting in the tale. After a not entirely stress-free journey, ("Wake me up when it's over")Richard Paradise (Grace) and wife Angela (David) arrive at the house of Albion, owned by brother and sister act Marianne and Alex Britain. When a violent storm breaches the walls and windows of Albion, Marianne is forced to abandon plans for a quiet candlelit dinner so the quartet head for a local restaurant where Fulton Mckay and Michael Medwin materialise as all-seeing, all-knowing proprietor and waiter; a Fulci-esque pair of characters who appear to 'come with the place.' It's here the fun really does start as Richard- ("He's in videos") looking for all the world like a deserving victim from Jose Larraz's Vampyres - launches a vicious attack on Alex (the excellent Bill Douglas) and his socialist principles. Be sure this loathsome 'Tory Boy' will set your hackles rising, as his entrepreneurial claptrap embodies the sentiments of Neil Kinnock's brilliant rejection of Conservative values ("The only person is me. The only number is one. The only time is now".) And the ladies? While Angela demonstrates she's at least a few pills short of a full valium bottle, Marianne (Page) simply drinks, while exuding a trouser-rousing air of sex and sensuality that remains right up to a veritable blood-soaked finale. "

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" Boasting a script laced with black as crude humour, Sleepwalker comes over like a head-on collision between Mike Leigh and Dario Argento, with its mise en scene often recalling the late, great Mario Bava. Frequent references to nocturnal, eyes wide shut states of being - comas, sleepwalking, the strange tale of a certain Mr. Valdemar, not to mention Alex's final terrified demand ("Wake up!") - take this film beyond the usual 'stuff of nightmares' fare and suggests that were it not for a calamitous change in British cinema policy, one Frederick Kruger may not have had things entirely his own way."

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" Yes, it may not be taking things a bit too far by comparing Sleepwalker to the work of a certain Mr. Argento (gory murder scenes, a sleeping witch and a girl who emerges from a drug-induced slumber), there is another (possibly unintentional?) Suspiria moment. When this film hits the small screen, hit the pause button when Alex's computer screen displays a passage of text from a script translation. There you'll see a description of a couple arriving at a town called Freiburg."

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"This is a review I penned several years back after seeing Sleepwalker on the big screen. Now get set for some exciting news."


Happy Birthday Siouxsie Sioux.

Happy Birthday to Siouxsie Sioux today. I was lucky enough to see The Banshees live on 14 occasions, and they were one of the very best live acts I've seen. This is a clip featuring the late John McGeoch, who is my favourite Banshees guitarist and Lord knows, they have had some real quality.

Friday, 24 May 2013

RIP Ray Manzarek

As a British music fan, I first became aware of The Doors around '74 when I purchased their amazing debut album. At the time, my musical tastes centered around Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and Pink Floyd - much to the disdain of my school friends who were into altogether different, more populist fare. Happily, The Doors were soon installed as firm favourites, with Jim Morrison's vocals and Ray Manzarek's wonderfully innovative keyboards hugely contributing to some timeless classics that will still be around long after we have departed. Ray met Jim Morrision at the University of California, Los Angeles, and after hearing some of Morrison's songs, went ahead and formed The Doors. After months of gigging, the band were signed by Elektra Records and their debut album was released in 1967, giving them the first in a string of top 10 albums. After Morrison's death in 1971, Robbie Kreiger and Ray shared vocal duties. The band would go on to make 2 more albums before disbanding. Luckily for music buffs, Manzarek's heart was forever in the industry, and he made 3 solo albums before forming Nite City which released two albums in 1977/8. More solo albums followed and a partnership with Robbie Kreiger yielded a new version of The Doors which became embroiled in legal battles because of the name. Manzarek also became an author and produced the legendary Los Angeles album by punk band X. His was a busy, artistically fruitful life and the very soul of his keyboard sound inspired countless musicians. Of course in 1976 - just prior to his Nite City project - the Punk Rock explosion sounded a huge wake-up call to the music industry, and one of the things that drew me to following The Stranglers was Dave Greenfield's keyboards which owed an awful lot to Ray's work. As well as producing the X album, Ray also collaborated with British band Echo And The Bunnymen, and worked with Philip Glass. His death is a huge blow to the world of music and The Doors' drummer John Densmore summed things up beautifully with this tribute: "There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words,"

Friday, 17 May 2013

Book Review. The Dead by Howard Linskey

Howard Linskey's third novel takes us on a white knuckle ride through a very modern criminal underworld, where the forces of darkness tread a wafer thin line on both sides of the law. Newcastle provides the gritty backdrop for this powerful story as David Blake finds his lucrative position as crime lord under threat from a bewildering variety of sources. When his bent accountant is arrested for the most heinous of crimes, Blake must make a supremely difficult choice while facing down vicious Serbian mobsters and an insane Russian oligarch who threaten to end a virtual monopoly of organised crime. Throw into the mix a satisfying dollop of police corruption, a partner with some very difficult questions about her father's death and a ghost from Blake's dim and distant past, and you have a molotov cocktail of a novel that simply refuses to relinquish its grasp. Be assured this is a hard-hitting novel with all the expletives and carnage one would associate with true heavyweights of the criminal fraternity, but the violent acts are often left to the imagination, rather than gratuitously described accounts of sundry blood-letting: the mark of a true craftsman, as the end result packs an ever stronger punch. Given a a reasonably faithful reproduction of its source, there is no good reason why The Dead cannot follow in the great tradition of big screen crime thrillers populated by the likes of The Long Good Friday and Jonathan Glazer's remarkable Sexy Beast. This is a real diamond of a novel, and deserves your most immediate attention.

A Warm Welcome

With very little fanfare, I welcome you to my new blog Wonderland, which could have easily been titled Anything Goes. As time goes by, I intend to cove selected gems from the world of cinema, music, books and the theatre, majoring on Horror and Fantastic cinema, Indie, punk and crime and horror fiction. I hope you will find something of interest. i also hope to meet people who visited and supported my last blog, The Last Picture Show which ended why illness really kicked in. I have Meniere's Disease which looks like greatly exceeding the 10 year's I've been a sufferer, but which at least is under control for a while. Some of you will have taken note of my blog header which contains a still from Michael Winterbottom's WONDERLAND. this is one of my all-time favourite films and I'll be taking a week-long look at this film in the very near future.