Sam Haynes – Spine Chillers CD Review

spinechillers1Sam Haynes – Spine Chillers CD Review 

As All Hallow’s Eve draws ever closer and the long days turn into dark nights horror fans can now revel in the haunting sound-scapes of UK EDM Horror music pioneers Sam Haynes as 2014 brings us another studio release for all your Halloween and horror themed nights.

Spine Chillers brings plenty to the table for fans of 80s horror synth and electronic dance music. The scene which has seen a boom over the past few years with a resurgence of both classic re-issues and modern music is been held at the forefront by UK Label Graveyard Calling with a wealth of excellent music on the horizon.

Things open hauntingly with the intro Death Comes Creeping in, a mellow and atmospheric track which sets the atmosphere and tone perfectly in its relatively short runtime.

People already familiar with the work of Sam Haynes will find plenty of new things to discover with this set of tracks breathing new life into his style making it both work well on Haunts and horror themed parties without being relegated to that alone, this is ideal music to fill your ears in those cold autumn nights.

Album highlights are the creepy, almost Hitchcockian Masks, its simple rhythm and methodical melody push this out of the haunt realm alongside some of the classic scores which fans hold so dearly.

The album nicely progresses on its runtime mutating into a terrifying listening experience; Fans of Rob’s recent Maniac score will adore Grim Reaper the albums 5th track, its pulsing and catchy electronica is a wonderfully upbeat yet sinister affair.

Speaking of Maniac the track Night Caller, a pulsing electronic beat slowly paces under a ethereal ghostly chorus before slowly gaining momentum and dread in equal measures wonderfully produced and emotive this is a stand-out on the album.

spinechillers3Pandemonium Carnival is showcase of the complex and intricate work that Sam Haynes produce, after an excellently subtle intro the track evolves into a grandeur,epic circus inspired opus extremely sinister and right out of a killer clown slasher film this is the music that accompanies nightmares.

Spine Chillers spans the entire horror sub genre spectrum, lullabies from ghost stories, Carpenter and Howarth inspired terror synth but it is the 80s where Sam Haynes’ heart firmly lives and his passion and influence are the concurrent theme of this album giving it a nostalgic yet modern feel, allowing listeners to find a new spin on something familiar.

The albums artwork comes from the excellent horror artist Kachenstein, his colourful and energetic artwork rounds of this CD package nicely

The album is released on September 13th on all the digital music trade sites and the timing is perfect for the festive season, anyone interested in the horror music scene or those planning Halloween shindigs are recommended to pick up this and the earlier Sam Haynes album and won’t be disappointed with the results.

6/10.

spinechillers2

UKHS Does the Nasty! The End… For Now.

DailymailvideonastyheadlineUKHS Does the Nasty!
The End… For Now.

It’s been a fun week but sadly our Video Nasty series has come to an end… Well, for now anyway. With such a huge wealth of titles (a massive ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FOUR in total, thanks to the original seventy-two and the newly discovered, eighty-two flick strong Section 3 list), we’ve barely even scratched the surface with our little run of detail-packed profiles. Over time, you can be sure that we’re going to be adding to this terrific stretch of features – it’s going to be one hell of huge, ongoing UK Horror Scene project. Right now though, we’re going to be taking a breather from such sordid shocks, probably with something lighter and easier going like the Guinea Pig series instead. Until then though, you can chow down on the personal musings from a few of the UKHS team members as they discuss just what, exactly, the Nasties mean to them…

CF1Dave Wain
Someone rented a film from my joint the other day. It was a fairly uneventful transaction: the guy paid cash, he was fairly middle-class, he was walking his dog and there was certainly no stigma surrounding his choice of evening’s entertainment. One thing WAS notable though, and that’s the fact that if the rental purchase took place thirty years ago I’d be liable for arrest.

If I had held that film in my catalogue the store would face a raid by the police and a portion of my library would be seized and destroyed. You see, thirty years ago in the democratic, civilised and enlightened confines of our fair isle, those in power decided that us – the pitiful proletariat – needed protecting from things like middle-aged Italian film directors and Wes Craven. They banned Milton in the seventeenth century, Thomas Paine in the eighteenth century and they banned D.H Lawrence eighty-five years ago. It will keep happening, and it’s vital that instead of viewing the nasties era as a comedic Mary Whitehouse led debacle, we view this period as a severe infringement on our right to view art the way it was intended, and fight to prevent any future Daily Mail led fascist restriction of our culture.

That man’s rental, by the way, was Zombie Flesh Eaters. Three days have since passed and his dog shows no visible signs of trauma.

Read Dave’s CANNIBAL FEROX analysis HERE
Read Dave’s Section 3 title analysis, NIGHTBEAST, HERE

nightmare_1981_poster_01Matty Budrewicz
I’m second generational: I missed the Nasties themselves (I wasn’t even a twinkle in my dear ol’ Dad’s eye when the schlocky shit hit the fan), but I was brought up in the aftermath. All the Van Damme movies with the nunchuks and double ear-claps cut… All the key moments of gore snipped from re-issued slasher movies… Thanks to the discovery of pocket money friendly DVD labels like Vipco though, I was able to dive head first into Nasty-dom in my early teens; the once contraband likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Toolbox Murders and a brain-frying medley of Fulci joints suitably exposing me to a realm of gratuitous horror that Freddy and Pinhead only hinted at. Even if they were still bloody cut (it took a few more years to discover the joys of importing), they were an important part of my horror education, and they’re still just as relevant today; a gateway to a whole new world of extreme horror and a sobering reminder that, given half the chance, those in power can and will try and control us…

Read Matty’s NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN analysis (part one) HERE
Read Matty’s Section 3 title analysis, THE BLACK ROOM, HERE

KN1Mark Pidgeon
They were a gateway into a world of horror for many fans growing up, myself included. I was always more interested in offerings from the far east, mainly Anime, but the association of films like Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City with splatter movies like The Evil Dead allowed me to devour a whole new slew of movies which, if I am honest, I could’ve overlooked in the grand scheme of things.
Working in a video store I would also come across lots of titles emblazoned with ‘Previously Banned’ and ‘Video Nasty’ stamped all over the cases like a badge of honour. These took me on a glorious discovery of Italian cinema which I still hold very close to me to this day and without that Video Nasty list my experiences as a horror film fan would be very different than they are now.

Read Mark’s KILLER NUN analysis HERE

DT 1Joey Keogh
As someone who was too young to appreciate what Video Nasties were, and who then grew up obsessing over slashers as opposed to films that were banned by the BBFC because of some nosey old lady who’d never even watched one, my experience of the infamous flicks has been fairly limited. My most vivid memory – aside from being forced to watch Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House On The Left in some sort of bizarre, triple-bill at a “party” – was catching The Evil Dead for the very first time, on a battered VHS tape in someone’s attic.

It was the perfect setting in which to appreciate the seminal flick – rain battering against the windows, winds howling, three of us snuggled under a blanket, and an ancient TV transmitting more static than anything else. My love affair with Sam Raimi’s cult classic began that night, and it’s grown significantly in the intervening years. I never found the film as scary as some of my friends did (and indeed still do), but I was fascinated by it and of course, Bruce Campbell instantly became my hero. The Evil Dead still holds a proud place in my DVD collection, and it’s a film that gets better on each viewing – the VHS tape, on the other hand, is, sadly, long since passed after being completely worn out.

Read Joey’s DEATH TRAP analysis HERE

House 1Luke Green
As a kid, getting into horror in the eighties/nineties, it was all about tasting forbidden fruit, watching things you shouldn’t and seeing if it was really all that nasty and scary. Of course, the darkest, most elusive movies of all, indeed, the collective holy grail for an eighties schoolboy, were the Video Nasties – and man, were they tough to get hold of. So, somewhat ironically, the DPP list probably corrupted the mind of many a British innocent more than any film ever could, simply by forcing them to imagine the content of these movies, resulting in them conjuring up scenes far grosser than the reality.

I vividly remember playground encounters, where random kids would pluck a title from the list out of thin air and describe a (often fabricated) bit where a girl got her tits chopped off. It was always a bit with tits getting chopped off; don’t ask me why. I went to an all boys school, maybe that explains it… As an adult, it seems so ridiculous now – sure, once seen, Cannibal Holocaust can never be forgotten, but the list also included stuff as innocuous as Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse and as silly as Mardi Gras Massacre, testimony to the stupidity of the whole saga.

Layout 1 (Page 1)Dean Sills
They had a huge impact on the world of horror with their excessive gore and pure violence, each one exposing adult themes to a young audience. Back in the eighties, my parents got me a Betamax video recorder as a present one Christmas and trips to our local video library got me more excited than a kid in a sweet shop. My Dad introduced me to some great horror classics, and I remember that all the video nasties were hidden under the counter; sitting there waiting for people to view in all their glory.

The campaigning against the worst video nasties just increased their popularity and helped make horror what it is today. The press even campaigned, blaming the exposure of nasties for the increase in violent amongst the youths. I watched a dozen of these gory flicks and never had a desire to strip naked and run around the woods, chasing women with a hard-on and a chainsaw, ready to rape and decapitate them in true bloody style. Instead it just got me hooked and curious to watch more!

NB 1James Simpson
Being a young lad at school in the early nineties I missed the Video Nasties scandal, but I was aware of it. In the playground myself and some friends would often talk about trying to see horror movies and one boy, Carl, claimed his older brother had ALL the Video Nasties. Just hearing about some of the titles and artwork, Carl never sneaked any tapes in like he had been asked to do, stayed with me from that age.

Now, as an adult and knowing more of the context and history of the Nasties, these memories come to mind whenever I watch one of the titles on the banned list. Most of them are available on home video uncut, if these films are deemed suitable for release now then it only highlights how frivolous it was that they were banned to begin with. But as I watch Zombie Flesh Eaters or The Beyond for the twentieth time I recall all the fuss surrounding them, the Video Nasties legacy will stay with horror fans (new and old) forever.

TBR 1Oli Ryder
It seems hard and nigh on impossible to comprehend today how the simple ownership (with intent to supply) of one of the infamous ‘Big 72’ could result in a prison sentence. We can be guilty of forgetting how spoilt we are now, with horror being one of the most prolific and lucrative of genres, that we can’t imagine what it must have been like to see our beloved genre run out of town by the lynch mob of the moral masses.

Of course from my own perspective, the bête-noir of the Nasties campaign in Sam Raimi’s masterpiece, The Evil Dead is my all time favourite horror film. Without the notoriety surrounding the film, it could have just slipped away into the void and much like the superb and still troubling Last House on the Left, the horror world is a better place now that the ban has been lifted. I feel it is unlikely such a hysteria-driven nationwide witch hunt will ever happen again and whilst the quality of the films that came under the ban varies to say the least, the Video Nasties should be remembered as a dark period in horror history and one we should be eternally thankful for being long dead.

DK 1James Pemberton
I was too young then to really know about the Nasty period, but I certainly felt the after effects of it: the time when the BBFC was under the rule of James Ferman, and the only way for me to get banned films in 1992 was to order them through Dark Side magazine classifieds and get third or fourth generation VHS copies from a guy in Northumberland.

Nasties for me represent a time similar to the grindhouse tradition, where people were selling films that had lurid titles and built on shock and gore – as humans, we’re always fascinated by the grotesque and disturbing. It both amuses and shocks thinking about it; amuses me as people were outraged by these films, and shocks me due to some of the abhorrent and misguided nature of people who seemed fit to campaign against them.

MP Graham Bright’s amusing comment that nasties affect not just children but dogs, is both hilarious and a stunning indictment of the stupidity of politicians; it sounds like something you would hear on Brass Eye. In the end it’s ironic that one time nasties such as Driller Killer can now be viewed fully uncut on YouTube. Technology has advanced so fast, we can now see these once forbidden films easily on our own smart phones…

anthropophagousLauren Harrison
Original. Extreme. Outrageous. Visceral. Misunderstood. The Video Nasties showcase an era of cinema that exposed the true, gruesome brilliance of the horror genre. A genre that will always be condemned and will always face controversy.: but never quite so harshly as it did during the early 1980’s.

I wasn’t conceived until the late eighties, so wasn’t around to witness this fiasco as it was happening. My parents were though, obviously. And as I grew, I learnt of the bannings and of the gross shame that surrounded the genre. Naturally, my interest peaked and I began to watch, re-watch and own many of the titles within the list of nasties.
What I love most about these films is the fact they push buttons.

Be it to a condemning Tory journalist, an unsuspecting movie renter or even a horror fanatic. Bloodshed and exploitation aside, stripped back, there is something that really hits a nerve with a viewer within these titles. Some see this as negative. I choose to see this as a positive trait. And I know I’m not alone in thinking this.
Long live the nasties!

Cannibal-Holocaust-a-draw-001Andy Deen

In 1982 I was 11 years old. I was walking into my local video rental store and walking out with a per-cert copy of Cannibal Ferox. We were one of the first families on our street to own a video player. When I say own , it was rented from Radio Rentals and the remote control wasn’t even infrared , you plugged it into the machine and the wire stretched an impressive 2 metres. Halycon Days indeed.

With my Mum’s video card I was quite the popular kid at school, and probably twice-weekly would make the trip and peruse the horror section for the best (or worst) cover art. With this began my life-long adoration of horror cinema.

But then it changed, there were laws passed and I was unable to rent films. Also the films I wanted to watch were now unavailable ? I remember it vaguely (as I had discovered girls and cider) but gone were the horror films and my friends were back watching Lemon Popsicle, Animal House and Porky’s.

I did trade tapes in the late Eighties and early Nineties, and did often worry about a knock on the door after posting a copy of Nekromantik or receiving Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, but it never happened. Those days now seem like a lifetime ago , especially with the internet age but for me there will never such a huge thrill again as when I would sit and watch a grainy 5th gen copy of Cannibal Holocaust !!

 

blwitStuart Anderson
I have three overriding memories of the era in which the video nasty furore erupted. Firstly, the rank hypocrisy of the press and establishment lecturing us yet again in what they believe was in our best interests – poor us, we need our hands holding, you know. I say hypocrisy, because if the latest revelations about an establishment cover-up of sexual abuse, by many in the same era within that very same echelon of British Society, is anything to go by – well, you know, throwing stones in glass houses and all that.

The second thing that comes to mind about the whole controversy was that it actually hid the fact that many (though not all) of the films that were seized and banned were in fact pretty rubbish in terms of cinematic quality. They were often cheaply made, badly acted, flimsily plotted pieces of horror with an over reliance on gore and blood over style and chills. What the furore actually did was to provide many films, that actually should have died a quiet death on the video rental shelves, eternal fame and notoriety.

The third factor that came as a consequence of banning orders was the knock on effect it had to other works as the BFFC went into panic mode in an effort to placate the feverish press and preaching politicians. Not only did it foresee the introduction of Video censorship, no movie it seemed was safe from seizure, examination and potential banning. Perhaps the most bizarre example that typifies the feverish mentality if the time was the seizure of copies of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, starring Dolly Parton. It was mistakenly assumed by the title to be some extreme sex film. Actually, on reflection, I did see it once (not by choice) and it’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. That’s one movie that actually should have been banned…

__________________________________________________
#UKHSNasty

 

UKHS Does the Nasty! KILLER NUN (1978)

KN1UKHS Does the Nasty!
KILLER NUN (1978)

It’s day four of our Video Nasty week and, clad in nothing but a holy water soaked wet t-shirt, UKHS’ resident audio nut Mark Pidgeon gets all sacrilegious with KILLER NUN…

Also known as: Suor Omicidi

As well as changing the face of the whole home video industry, the Video Nasty saga’s burst of moral panic and outrage also helped a few lesser known horror titles escape from the realms of obscurity; pushing them out into the stratosphere of cult movie fandom for decades to come.

The majority of titles were notably banned for violence and assorted misogynistic acts, such as graphic depictions of rape, torture and general sexual deviancy. Giulio Berruti’s Killer Nun meanwhile adds another to its cap, one which is still a very controversial topic to this day: blasphemy.

Much like its Nazisploitation counterpart, Nunsploitation was central to the rise of nasty fame, both sub-genres flourishing in a richly populated market that supposedly would exploit and corrupt the working class folk of eighties Great Britain. In typical class segregation and political elitism, some of the early Nunsploitation films condemned for home viewing within a Nasty-type bracket actually received acclaim from the upper-class, art-house scene – Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) and Walerian Borowczyk’s Behind Convent Walls (1978) most notably.

KN2Many Nunsploitation films would be set in a medieval/cathedral setting, usually including a sadistic mother superior with a penchant for flaying nubile Catholic nuns as she attempts to purify the flesh – a novel way for the seventies softcore audience to witness a little more masochism than they were used to. It was a similar set up to the women in prison mantra: young women exploited and helpless, all the while giving in to sin, with varying degrees of pleasure after initial reluctance.

Killer Nun thrust aging Swedish sex siren and La Dolce Vita starlet Anita Ekberg – the main reason film fans flocked to screenings to see more of the beautiful actress in more ways than one- into a world of degradation and desperation. The sexual antics are a tool for her to achieve what she wants and is in full swing throughout. Couple this with her need for drugs, a slope of insanity makes Killer Nun a beautifully filmed Nunsploitaion picture; yet the film hasn’t aged well and suffers like much of ilk to a now modern-day tameness.

Based upon a true story about a Nun working in a geriatric hospital, Sister Gertrude suffered with an addiction to morphine (due to cancer) and relentlessly killed patients, robbing them in the process to fund her morphine addiction. Taking out her own frustrations on her patients she becomes the antithesis of the veil and her religious duties, seen by Baba Yaga director Berruti whom then crafted and exploited the story as the basis for this film after seeing potential in the brutality of the crime.

KN3An excellent,delirious score supplements the carnage and is a highlight of the film offering an almost dreamlike status to the murder sequences which fits in well with the morphine thematic. During a scene where a patient is thrown from a window the repetitive pulsing sound-scape makes the sequence far more effective than it deserved adding surrealism and panic with a minimal yet aggressive sound structure; Kubrick would be proud.

Ekberg herself is noted in an interview from 2006 as taking the role as “the psyche of the nun appealed to her and was a deviation from the Dolce Vita clones that [she] was only getting offered at the time”. Her descent into addiction, madness and lust is well played throughout. She is convincing in the seductress part of the role as well as the addictive junkie personality, merging the two persona’s well and garnering both viewer sympathy and repulsion in the process. At heart this is a tale of a woman screaming out for help in a world which has unfair preconceptions about her and the life she chose to lead, both religiously and as a drug abuser/sexual deviant. It’s weirdly deep for a film of this ilk.

The supporting cast will be familiar to many a die hard Italian horror fanatic; roles from Suspiria’s (1977) Alida Valli and Nunsploitation mainstay Paola Morra help proceedings along nicely. Killer Nun is by no means a great film but it offers enough charm, flair and scope to merit a viewing. The lesbian love interest, Sister Mathieu, plays well against Gertrude as she rebukes her advances while being meticulous and cruel and she is deftly handled by Morra.

KN4Upon release Killer Nun was banned in Italy and later in 1983 was banned in the United Kingdom and, to this day, the film remains banned in Iceland. The original poster art also came under scrutiny as the suggestion depiction of a nun performing a sex act was deemed unsuitable and was amended into a subtler affair with a silhouette of Morra looking into Ekbergs seductive gaze.

The religious iconography is also another moot point, this could have essentially been the same film with Gertrude being in any position of uniform and not a nun; would it have still attracted the intended audience? For the most part yes, but Killer Nun rides the coattails of Catholicism focusing on the purity of religion using it as a tool for dissection and deviation sure to ruffle a few feathers and excite a few others in the process.

Its also undoubtedly on this list because of the connotation of the title alone; if it would have been given a release under its original language title, Suor Omicidim would the DPP have clocked it? The widespread panic and attacks by name association alone helped fuel the Video Nasty fire. Nunsploitation fans are grateful to her for rescuing this title from video.

Nunsploitation expert Nigel Wingrove submitted the film to the BBFC again in 1993 as part of his aptly titled side label Salvation, an offshoot of Redemption films. Redemption were oft victims of the heavy handed clout of Mary Whitehouse and her fear mongering lynch mob; Wingrove was granted a VHS release with 13 seconds of footage omitted.

KN6Removing two notable scenes of violence; the first a Needle in an eye sequence , the latter a depiction of Surgery on a skull which looks terribly dated upon viewing now. It is interesting to note than there are actually very few cuts compared to some of the more notorious titles on this list and that both cuts, although excessive were used to enhance the story not done for extra shocks.

The film is now available uncut in the UK from Shameless Screen Entertainment which resubmitted the film in 2006. Shameless have re-instated the cut footage from an Italian print – one which has never been dubbed into English – and this is an excellent way for people to witness the cut footage for the first time, although it does become a little distracting to have a tiny section of the film in Italian instead of using the whole Italian source. Presumably a full Italian print was unavailable or the print not of sufficient standard. Germany and USA also have fully uncut versions from Koch Media and Blue Underground respectively.

Killer Nun: perfect Saturday night viewing, before church on Sunday!

_________________________________________________________________________
Follow Mark on twitter @Gpressonline

#UKHSNasty

The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Showcase #16 – Devil’s Due (2014) by Mark Pidgeon

The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Showcase #16:

The Agony of DEVIL’S DUE (2014)

devilsdue1After a short break, E&A is back! And so too is Mark Pidgeon, this time bemoaning one pregnancy-themed horror that should have been drowned at birth…

After devouring my cinematic ecstasy, the monumental task of divulging my own personal filmic agony was set upon me; an incredibly painful exercise that could feature a whole catalogue of terrible horror movies with absolutey zero merit whatsoever. For me though, agony personified was the recent “blockbuster” Devil’s Due.

I was actually looking forward to seeing this theatrically – thanks to its innovative and funny marketing campaign – and the subsequent rage which flowed through my body like some kind of super siyan power for days after was overwhelming and annoying: I walked around in a dazed stupor, muttering under my breath about that bloody devil baby and stupid shaky-cam footage.

After a lost night on their honeymoon, newly-weds are rushed off to some kind of party by a weirdo taxi driver-cum-cult worshipper and the female is impregnated with some demon seed. Now so far so interesting but stop right there: go watch Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby instead, a far superior and suspenseful tale of demonic impregnation. If you’re still hankering after a bit of Satan child after that, give the orignal Omen a watch; just avoid Devil’s Due at all costs!

This found footage garbage is devoid of any substance; instead it’s like being dragged through your own personal hell. And not in a good, crazy-screwed-up horror way either! It could’ve been a creepy little tale but instead director’s Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett focus too much on intrusive cameras filming our lead couple that hinders and squeezes the life out of any sense of natural development. I’m actually surprised the cameras weren’t fixed to the damned toilets either, as this is certainly where this film goes…

devilsdue2The most obvious switch of a satanic doctor/midwife is bafflingly stupid too, and he does nothing to hide the fact that he’s bloody evil. I mean look at him! From that point, I really should have given up but no; I held out and was subjected to even more madness.

The film-makers themselves got so bored at the midway point they throw in three random teenagers allowing the possessed woman and showcase her devil powers,stupidly irrelevant to the couples story.

The scares are few and far between, any experienced horror fan will see the pay-off coming a mile off. In fact, just throw in all the clichés of satanic horror movies: priests getting nosebleeds, super devil powers(what is this super Devil Juice?), cravings for eating raw meat (even though she’s vegan), overt satanic symbolism and you have Devil’s Due.

The cult move into the most run down ,obviously creepy old building hideout(Scooby Doo where are you?) in order to monitor the pregnancy while they wait for the seed to develop, my god it feels like this boring movie takes nine months to end.

I’m sure the Devil himself would find this utterly repulsive movie garbage too; the whole film is more concerned with the last five minutes by which point I was bored to tears and very nearly sacrificed my own first born – which doesn’t even exist yet – to make it end. All this time they were just setting up a bloody sequel… Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

devilsdue3There are plenty more movies to seek out if you want some satanic thrills but please for the love of the horned one please don’t watch this film it doesn’t even fall into so bad its good territory. Sure, there is the argument that there are hundreds of films which are worse than this but I guarantee that every single one of them will have some tiny redeeming quality that makes them a million times more relevant than this life-sapping filth.

 

*****

Read all the previous Ecstasy & Agony pieces by clicking them:

#1 Dead & Buried (1981) by Duane Hicks 

#2 The Happening (2008) by James Pemberton 

#3 Sleepstalker (1995) by Matty Budrewicz

#4 A Serbian Film (2010) by Oli Ryder

#5 A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Dead (1985) by Dave Wain

#6 Cabin In The Woods (2012) by Joey Keogh

#7 Battle Royale (2000) by Mark Pidgeon 

#8 Avia Vampire Hunter (2005) by Andy Deen

#9 La Jetee (1962) by Stuart Anderson

#10 The Shining (1980) by Stuart Smith

#11 The Thing (1982) by Dean Sills

#12 Monster Brawl (2011) by Duane Hicks 

#13 Session 9 (2001) by James Pemberton

#14 Crimetime (1996) by Dave Wain 

#15 The Evil Dead (1981) by Oli Ryder

The Pit and The Pendulum (1961) Arrow Video BluRay Review

pitpen1The Pit and The Pendulum (1961)

Director – Roger Corman

Starring – Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, Luana Anders.

Released in the UK 19th May 2014 on BluRay & Steelbook by Arrow Video.

The Pit and the Pendulum was the second Roger Corman adaptations of Bostonian literary icon Edgar Allan Poe, much as Stuart Gordon was with H.P Lovecraft, Corman was heavily influenced by the macabre and mysterious tales of Poe.

1960 was the start of Corman’s Poe cycle in which he directed and released several films based around the works of Poe, several of these productions starred the legendary genre actor Vincent Price the first being House of Usher (1960) concluding with The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) an interesting aside the only Corman work not to feature Price was The Premature Burial (1962).

Another literary icon helped Corman flesh out the original short story, Richard Matheson ( I am Legend) took the short story which all takes part in the chamber and added a brilliantly character driven tale and he would go onto work with Corman on more of his Poe adaptations.

The excellent independent label Arrow video- long praised and applauded on this very site- have been releasing lovingly restored, seminal Price works and the one under review here is 1961’s Pit and the Pendulum presented on a beautiful Blu ray packed full of extras and glorious, newly commissioned artwork from Gilles Vranckx.

pitpen216th Century Spain is the locale, after the mysterious death of his sister Elizabeth ( the Gorgeous, incomparable Barbara Steele) Francis Barnard ( John Kerr, South Pacific) travels to visit his brother in law, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price, Theatre of Blood) son of a brutal torturer from the Spanish inquisition to discover the true events surrounding her death which will shock the audience unravelling a greater mystery.

Vincent Price empowers every frame that he appears in, his tortured character is a perfectly realised; a trait which Price delivers with gusto and believability, the audience can feel the grief of Nicholas as he offer vague explanations of Elizabeth’s death whilst dealing with the tortuous exploits of his father. The turmoil and despair or Nicholas is portrayed perfectly with the use of Price’s expressions, his eyes powerfully emotive and Corman exploits this in lavish close ups allowing the man to act his very soul out particularly in his descent to madness.

Flashbacks of the bewitching Elizabeth are washed in dreamlike hues of light blue, these sequences are used masterfully with Price’s distinct voice carrying the audience whilst an emotive and passionate score divulges and lulls the audience to the tragic events that Nicholas is reliving.

These flashbacks are an important tool that Corman and cinematographer Floyd Crosby utilise to drive character emotion in effect urging the viewers emotive response, colour is equally as important, one such startlingly violent flurry is drenched in a warm orange glow drawing the viewer into the acts thrusting their feelings toward that of the young Nicholas, events which haunt him in adulthood.

pitpen3The lavish Gothic castle is as much a character to the film as the actors themselves, cobwebbed secret corridors, extravagantly elegant stonework and an incredible attention to detail create immense amounts of atmosphere particularly in the films torture chamber. The titles eponymous pendulums swing is methodical, tense and perilous. Again the sound design adds tension to the proceedings as each swings creaky, croaking momentum fills the room counting down the perilous moments fantastically making each second feel like an eternity in the best possible sense.

The kaleidoscopic opening and closing credits are wonderfully delirious, rounding off an brilliantly filmed body of work its reminiscent of the Saul Bass and early James Bond credit sequence design, feeling completely at home with the tone of the film in the process conveying the perfect chaos of a descent into madness and panic.

As with all the Arrow video releases the extra features are what pushes these films to essential status, the ones on offer here are tremendous in their quality, commentary tracks from Corman himself and a separate track from renowned critic Tim Lucas are included alongside the discs highlight: An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, a made for television production from Samuel Z Arkoff in 1970 in which Price himself reads several Poe classics in-front of a live studio audience. The tales on offer in this 52 minute run time are as follows: The Tell Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum itself.

pitpen4Price delivers this performance with his usual gravitas and passion, every word he utters an embodiment of the terror and tension that Poe could conjure with his words. This is an superb feature and showcases the powerful presence of Price as he captivates the audience in his telling of these stories with such gusto that it is hard not to get sucked into every tale.

An original trailer is included on the disc and it gleeful revels in the terror and , an extended scene which was filmed in 1968 to flesh out the feature for play on television and features starlet Luana Anders as she was the only cast member available for additional footage at the this time.

Another highlight of the disc is a brand new making of feature filmed in 2013 an extensive 43 minutes runtime entitled The Story Behind the Swinging Blade featuring interviews with Roger Corman, Barbara Steele, Brian Yuzna and Victoria Price among others.

pitpen5All of the interviewees are personable, passionate each offering brilliant insight into the work of Corman and Price. As usual Corman is a delight to witness on screen his stories and explanations of working with American International Pictures are riveting and he holds an audience with his enthusiasm its hard not to get sucked into the stories he shares, the documentary is produced to the high quality you would expect from the High Rising Productions team rounding off this Blu ray package nicely. In the process offering one of the most complete edition of this classic film pushing it into its rightfully deserved essential purchase status.

7.5/10

A beautifully designed blu ray: from the excellent and reversible cover art to a glorious presentation of a Vincent Price classic, loaded with extras and a painstaking attention to detail this Arrow film release is an essential purchase for Corman/Poe/Price fans as well as collectors with a flair for the Gothic.

The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Showcase #7 – Battle Royale (2000) by Mark Pidgeon

The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Showcase #7:

The Ecstasy of BATTLE ROYALE (2000)

br1As we hit the end of our first E&A week, it’s Mark Pidgeon’s turn to tackle a film he just can’t get enough of. Here, Marky Mark picks iconic J-shocker Battle Royale to marinate in his love-filled juices…

Being part of UKHS has been a real pleasure for much of this past year. It’s given me ample real estate and freedom to express opinions, to direct readers towards great movies and, hopefully, to steer them away from a few not so good ones. Being involved has been an amazing opportunity, and in the process I have made some great friends who I hope are around for as long as I am!

As writers we rarely get the chance to wax lyrical about the things that we truly love; the movies that are for most us the reason we became critics and genre-based writers in the first place. That film for is Kinji Fukasaku’s 2000 opus Battle Royale.

The premise is simple: the forty-two classmates of class 3B are shipped to a government appointed island. They are given three days, armed with limited supplies, weaponry and given a chilling ultimatum: kill or be killed.

Underneath this skeletal idea is a story rife with political and sociological commentary; the way that both Koshun Takami – whom penned the original novel, and Fukasaku saw the state of Japan heading at the turn of the millennium. It’s an Orwellian swansong: a terrifying premonition of the actions arbitrated by a fearful government and the struggles that young people will go on to face on a daily basis.

br3Many can argue that this is not in fact a horror movie but let me shatter that misconception with this proposal: imagine if you, dear reader, stepped into this scenario. Face your colleagues, face your friends with the orders to kill them all without the ability to refuse. Tell me that isn’t scary. All of this because a totalitarian government feels it cannot handle the teenagers of its nation; crime rates, increased civil disobedience and the lengths that people with power will go to in order to “protect” a nation is laid out and controlled through the ultimate fear-inducing act. Big brother is always watching.

The film focuses on a small group of the students, making it easier to follow and thus allowing the runtime to flesh out the characters; their moral standpoints, their personalities and their fears as they face as much uncertainty as the viewer does. Main character Shuya Nanahara [Tatsuya Fujiwara] is coping with his father’s suicide. Through flashback, we see his strife and later on his morals are the driving point against the corruption at hand, whereas Takako’s [Chiaki Kuriyama] reckless and psychotic nature is the perfect counterbalance. It’s the personification of the Battle Royale program and the closest thing we get to a total villain in the movie.

Dreams, ambitions and desires all unfold as each student tackles the hardships in his or her own way Alliances are formed. Students plummet to their deaths in planned suicides to avoid participation, and bullies, victims and cliques are all pushed to the very edge of their psyche.

Another underlining threat which touches upon the voyeurism on display is from the excellent Takeshi Kitano’s character, the class teacher -note the authoritative figure being a spearhead in this campaign- who watches his students strife nonchalantly. It’s eerie. Really eerie.

br2Battle Royale left an impression on me that has lasted for fourteen years and has led to numerous revisits of this wonderfully rich, paranoid and ultimately heartfelt tale of teenagers against the odds. My own real life fears make this as much a centrepiece of my collection as does its defining of my taste in genre cinema.

I first stumbled across this film while working in a video store upon its DVD release. Already being familiar with the Tartan Asia Extreme label and a devout fan of Asian splatter cinema, I initially expected much of the same only to have my whole world lifted. Battle Royale took my mind and scattered it all over the floor and allowed me to see cinema in a whole new light. Other than Blade Runner I don’t think that a movie has had me think for days after a viewing, or offered something new in each subsequent watch.

Since its release a number of real world incidents have cemented the fears that are presented here as satire have now taken a whole new symbolic reference point for our own societies in 2014, this will only increase as time moves on and real world fears surmount.

Music is the most important part of a feature for me, in some cases turning a bad movie into a good one and vice versa! Battle Royale is perfectly scored from the outset, with an ominous outpouring of Verdi’s Requiem Dies Irae setting things off beautifully. It grabs me sonically, before even a frame has unfolded. The whole soundtrack perfectly captures the atmosphere, adding monumental emotion to an already volatile mix. Revisiting the soundtrack alone elicits the same response emotionally as watching the film, my mind filling in the scenes or making feelings arise without asserting them.

br4Another thing that resonates with me is that director Fukasaku loved cinema. Making movies was his lifelong passion and the fact he did so until his final days is a true testament to living your dreams and never giving up. Battle Royale was his last film and the perfect end to an already illustrious career. The fact that the film finishes as it does showcases that, in spite of the hardships presented, freedom and friendship will always prevail; the stuff all worth fighting for.

Violent, challenging, chaotic and rewarding, Battle Royale is a perfect movie. Let it wash over and seep into your very being; devour it’s rich black humour whilst struggling along with the forty-two ill fated students.
*******

Read all the previous Ecstasy & Agony pieces by clicking them:

#1 Dead & Buried (1981) by Duane Hicks 

#2 The Happening (2008) by James Pemberton 

#3 Sleepstalker (1995) by Matty Budrewicz

#4 A Serbian Film (2010) by Oli Ryder

#5 A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Dead (1985) by Dave Wain

#6 Cabin In The Woods (2012) by Joey Keogh

Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979) BFI BluRay Review

ntv1Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979) – Limited Edition Steelbook (BluRay)

Released by BFI on May 19th 2014.

Director – Werner Herzog

Starring – Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz.

 

The story of Dracula has been told a thousand times before on the silver screen, the characters lasting appeal is evident in the luscious and romanticised interpretations presented across generations; it is F W Murnau’s 1922 expressionist masterpiece Nosferatu which is an undoubted influence on German director Werner Herzog’s reinterpretation of this classic story, his love song to the pinnacle of German cinema’s expressionist era.

Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz, Downfall), a real estate agent from Wismar, Germany is tasked with an ill fated journey through the Carpathian Mountains to close a deal with the mysterious Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski, Aguirre, Wrath of God). Despite several bad omens on his arduous journey Harker makes the trip only to discovers all is not as it seems with the count and his mansion.

The Pallid Count, his sickly pale skin, almost transparent exudes an aura in every scene he appears in. Kinski, the driving force here not once feels as though he needs to tread into camp overacting; a feat which is both refreshing and necessary to the story.

ntv2Herzog’s Dracula isn’t your atypical portrayal but this isn’t a typical horror picture, he masterfully creates tension with wonderfully crafted framing and painterly, expressionist imagery. Combined with an evocative and emotive score from Popul Vuh offers a deliberately paced cinematic experience filled with passion and homage – the aforementioned German expressionism movement a driving force in Herzog’s opus – in equal measure.

This film will undoubtedly alienate a large section of the current generation of vampire flick fandom, this is a staggeringly slow paced, character driven and distinctly human tale, the desperate nature of the count and his struggle with immortality a beautifully rich study of the lust and subsequent burden of everlasting life. Herzog presents this as a hindrance to the count rather than a power to be exploited, the usual vampire trope in modern cinema. This is a curious addition to the psyche of the count bringing a moving and thoughtful dimension to the vampire mythos.

Kinski plays the role much like the masters of silent cinema contorting his figure to evolve into the backgrounds strikingly fierce and terrifying at the same time, much like Max Schreck did with Count Orlock in the Murnau production from 1922. The magnetism of the vampire is evident in his scenes with Lucy Harker, upon watching her in her bedchamber wistfully lusting after the love she shares with her husband offers a wisp of longing and is presented here as something that the count is missing, love.

His acting is both meticulously paced and captivating, from the moment he firsts meets Harker to the desperate longing on display when a cut raises the counts primal urges Kinski uses his posture, eye contact and a tremendous intensity to bring the count to life.

ntv3Jonathan Harker is an interesting study into the depths that humanity will go to discover the unknown, starting his journey to the castle his motive, the purchase of a new home for his beloved wife Lucy quickly spirals into a quest to discover the truth behind the counts “ghost Castle” and the occupant, the count an elusive and supernatural fairy tale to the locals.

The supporting cast all work marvellously particularly Roland Topor’s portrayal of Renfield, his menacing and completely insane, mistimed cackling is wonderfully creepy and later in the film he is enamoured with the count his obedience and longing showcase his acting ability. The gorgeous Isabelle Adjani plays Lucy Harker wistfully, appearing almost dreamlike in some sequences, a rich ethereal presence heightened by the surreal and fantastical camerawork makes her a pivotal and seductive character and it is easy to see why Dracula lusts after her.

Opening with an harsh, unrelenting pan of mummified corpses- victims of a cholera epidemic- is jarred with haunting choral music setting the proceedings nicely, this is again coupled with the idyllic surroundings in which Harker journeys, again the accompanying music is hauntingly beautiful as it is throughout.

The film’s set design and lighting are both outstanding with the expressionist era encapsulated in the counts castle design, high angled shots showcase the intricate pattern and designs which were synonymous with the Murnau production and the blu ray showcases these perfectly shadows elicit the dark and expansive emptiness of the surroundings and bring the viewer closer to the feelings of Harker himself.

ntv4The muted colours express the desolation of the journey and an overuse of white reflects the undead nature of the count, everything from the craggy mountainsides with their dark grey and shadowy depths are alienating to the damp, wet countryside and dull, dank landscape shots all add to the feel of the film not guiding or smothering the viewer with a sense of security.

BFI have included both the German and English language versions of the film on the disc; the German language version the superior of the two presentations Kinski’s acting benefits more form this production,his delivery and emotion resonate more in his native tongue than they do in the English version. Both versions are of merit and it is down to personal preference as to which you view.

BFI have included a wonderful new essay from Laurie Johnson that thoroughly dissects the film and touches upon a controversial scene involving a plague of rats, Herzog received a lot of negative press about the mistreatment of animals during both the making of this and throughout his career, she offers a brilliant study of the film and is a highlight of this release. Sight and Sounds review from Tom Milne is included in the booklet as well and offers a fascinating look at the film from the time of its release in 1979, essential stuff.

An on set promotional film from 1979 is included and features extensive candid interviews with Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski about the shooting of Nosferatu to see them both talking about the film, film history and continuity.

Watching Herzog direct is a thing of beauty, the working relationship between the two as it has been historically documented and one filled with turmoil. Herzog is a passionate film maker and he comes across as a determined and focussed director with a rich passion for the embodiment of cinema itself, his passion unfolds across the screen a distinct, driven persona.

ntv5Also included on the disc is the original trailer and an extensive gallery of production stills set to the haunting Popul Vuh score these are a great look into the process of the films genesis.

This package from the BFI is both an essential and important release. Hopefully BFI will offer a whole new generation of cinephiles a chance to see a master at work, evocative seductive and intense this is the epitome of vampire films.

9/10

Special features:

• Limited Edition SteelBook

• Newly remastered presentations of the English and German versions

• Original mono audio (German and English)

• Alternative 5.1 Surround audio (German)

• Feature-length audio commentary with Werner Herzog

• On-set documentary (1979, 13 mins): promotional film featuring candid interviews with Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski

• Original theatrical trailer

• Stills gallery

• Fully illustrated booklet with a new essay by Laurie Johnson, full film credits and on-set photographs

 

From May 12th The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Film Showcase !!

Next Week on UKHS…
comingsoonEver seen a movie you just really, really loved and really wanted to shout about? Or what about a film you really, really hate and you can’t stop moaning about it? Well, be sure to check us out next week ‘cos we’ve all felt that way too…

From Monday 12th May we’ll be hosting The UK Horror Scene Ecstasy & Agony Showcase; a two-week long series of eclectic daily articles in which each of our staff spotlights a film they adore… And a film they don’t.
Personal, witty and spiked with analysis, stop on by to find out what each our team rank as the film most likely to get ’em off, and the one most likely to put ’em off.

The UK Horror Scene Ecstasy & Agony Showcase: pleasure, pain and all the weirdness in between!

UKHS is 1 TODAY . Here is 12 months packed into a few paragraphs !!

 

Happy Birthday to us , Happy Birthday to us!!

hbtm2UK Horror Scene is 1 year old today.

So just to bore everyone I am going on a little journey……

About 2 years ago I was boring someone at my work about films (nothing new there) and horror films in particular. I then went home and thought that I would set up a blog so I could bore the pants off people I didn’t know too. So The Corpsegrinder blog was started.

After a couple of months my little blog was getting pretty good reading figures and I was receiving comments and praise!! Hold on I thought , I seem to be doing something right and people seem to be enjoying what I was writing. But something was niggling me , and that was I was reading some great articles from British writers yet there was a lack of UK sites that also had a UK bias . Now I am not saying there are not any great UK sites out there (there are many) but I thought I saw a gap in the market so to speak , so I began formulating a plan for world domination.

So to cut a long story slightly shorter , I came up with a name and an idea. The name seemed to encapsulate everything I wanted from the site. I then spent weeks designing a site and then a logo which was done by my wife and inspired by a few things including the New York Hardcore music logo (and a nod to Acid Reign ) and finally perfected by the wonderful Jim Connolly (http://jimconnollydrawsstuff.blogspot.co.uk/) who now has become a UKHS writer and a friend.

And after a little tweaking then UKHS was ready to launch, so on May 6th 2013 to much fanfare (in my house) I pressed the publish button and sat back.

UKHS_logo_with_txt_WEBTwelve months later we have published over 800 articles and 72 interviews . We have had over 1 MILLION unique users. We have interviewed such people as Robin Hardy, Luke Goss, Anthony Hickox, Marilyn Burns, Dick Maas, Cindy Hinds, Jessica Cameron, Pollyanna McIntosh and many many more. Not bad !

But none of this could be done without many wonderful people who give their time AND talents freely , just for the love of genre cinema, literature and music.

I could sit here for about an hour and list everyone who has helped UKHS. But instead I will just name a few people.

Firstly UKHS would be nowhere without a guy called Dave Wain. Dave has been with us from the start and is just a hugely prolific and talented writer, Dave owns one of the last independent video stores and does the new UK DVD releases . I know that without the help of Dave then UKHS would be nowhere near the beast it is today.

Secondly Dean Sills. Dean joined UKHS around August 2013 and was eager to interview genre actors and directors, and as an actor himself he had contact with many people especially British and since then Dean has inundated us with brilliant interviews that really show what low-budget directors and actors really do on and off the camera. Again (as with Dave) Dean has been a major reason why UKHS has been a great success in it’s 1st year.

Also I want to give major thanks to the following UKHS writers in no particular order, but each brings something new and fresh to the site and I am just so proud to have them writing for UKHS . So here’s to  Oli Ryder, James Simpson, Mark Pidgeon, Joey Keogh, Luke Green, Stu Smith, James Pemberton, Stuart Anderson, Chris Cavoretto, Duane Hicks, Geoff Johnston, Jim Connolly, Marek Zacharkiw, MJ Dixon and lastly (but never leastly) Matty Budrewicz. I could have sat here and listed my favourite articles, interviews and reviews but there are just so many that I really couldn’t choose.

cheersNow there have been many people and organisations that have helped majorly and here is a short list of some – Arrow Films, Monster Pictures, Second Sight Films, Koch Media, 88 Films, 101 Films, Weinerworld, Grimmfest, Image Entertainment, Cynthia J Sellers, Wayne Simmons, Peter McKeirnon, C William Giles, Paul Norbury and finally my wonderful and supportive family as without them then I would not be doing this. And lastly a huge HUGE thank you to all our readers, Twitter followers, Facebook likers (is that a word?) and Instagram stalkers. Without you we couldn’t do what we are doing , and without the constant exceptional feedback it just wouldn’t be worth it. To horror fans everywhere THANK YOU and CHEERS!!

On a final note there will be some major changes on UKHS in the coming months as we push forward from being just a horror blog to a more professional outfit and we will have a whole new look and a more interactive and responsive layout (but this will take a few months). But rest assured we will still have the same feel of fans writing about something we all love.

May I please thank everyone involved in the 1st year of UK Horror Scene and if I have forgotten to name anyone specifically please don’t take offence as there have been thousands. The last year has shown me that there are so many wonderful people out there.

Here is to the 2nd year and lets hope it is as fun and successful as the 1st.

Cheers – Andy Deen (Editor UKHS)

Please click the links below for our social media !!

UKHS FACEBOOK

UKHS TWITTER

UKHS INSTAGRAM

 

Pit Stop (1969) BluRay Review

pitstopdvdPit Stop (1969) BluRay Review

Directed by Jack Hill

Starring – Brian Donlevy, Richard Davalos, Ellen Burstyn, Sid Haig, Beverly Washburn, George Washburn.

Out Now from Arrow Video on Dual Format DVD & BluRay

 

Legendary exploitation director Jack Hill takes to the racetrack in the excellent blu ray release of Pit Stop A.K.A The winner (1967) from Arrow Films; an exhilarating and high octane action film that works both on and off the track.

 

Drag Racer Rick Bowman (Richard Davalos) is sprung from prison and recruited by racing promoter Grant Willard ( Brian Dowley in his final film) to move from the drag to a more dangerous and chaotic figure 8 track, this reckless and unrelenting race at first frightens the tough guy greaser who is reluctant to participate, but he soon finds the thrill of the speed and danger, brought on by an intense rivalry with Hawk Sydney; played to perfection by Jack Hill main-stayer and exploitation legend Sid Haig.

 

pitstop1The charismatic Haig holds the screen whenever he is present and this groovy slice of 60s americana and his brash loud-spoken character oozes bravado and fearlessness and put stop is a great introduction to this highly talented, varied performer.

 

Richard Davalos plays the great anti-hero loner, perfectly brooding and intriguing as his motives and ideologies unfold over the films short runtime.

 

The beautiful and captivating Jolene (Beverly Wishburn) is one of the highlights, her free spirited racecar junkie/groupie is a breath of fresh air and a relic from an age of strong female personalities and as always Hill showcases a very positive image with his female characters; Hill fans will undoubtedly be drawn to Coffy for an example but add mechanic Ellen McCleod to that list as well she is a bold statement for women’s equality and her tale unfolds into a bitter sweet story of a neglected wife who’s husband is dedicated to his sport rather than the gem he has in Ellen.

 

Legitimate race car driver and stuntman George Wishburn – brother of Beverly, whom plays the aforementioned Jolene – brings realism and gravitas to the racing sequences and plays the part of a man who’s love of the speed and racing overshadows the love of his wife, these race sequences are heightened by the kinetic and energetic camera work and exciting pile-ups, crashes and burnouts.

 

The film is so much more than a brainless action-er and as with all good characters Bowman evolves from a reckless and carefree young man with nothing to lose to a sympathetic and believable hero.

 

The roaring sounds and powerful noise of the stock cars bring so much more to the table and bring the atmosphere and exhilaration of the race track to life, but the film does not rely on stock car junkies as its target audience as viewers whom are not avid race fans will find lots to love in this fun, exciting and ultimately tragic story of ambition, desire and passion.

 

pitstop2The score is another welcome addition to the package with psychedelic funk bank band The Daily flash bringing in warm fuzzy guitar tracks and a reoccurring theme which has the viewer tapping their feet and nodding their heads in time, perfectly capturing the era in hazed out mix of acid blues and funky, fuzzy guitar overlays. Perfectly chaotic and mellow in one swift package.

 

Innovatively filmed at the now closed Ascot Racetrack in California, the crashes, smashes and near misses are all filmed with gusto and the natural talent of Hill as a director is evident, close up shots of the two protagonists are as much part of their persona as the actors themselves convey with acting, Haig’s Hawk is filmed erratically and chaotic, while the cool stillness of Bowman’s hero are captured with gusto in POV shots from inside the cars, the fact that each differs in essential the same set up is remarkable and is a credit that Hill doesn’t receive enough.

 

As usual Arrow have pulled out all the stops to bring the most comprehensive release of this film, offering a commentary track with Jack Hill, extensive interviews with Hill, Haig and producer and genre legend Roger Corman making this an essential purchase Calum Waddell and his High Rising Productions are churning out extras as good or even better than the movies themselves, the dedication and effort is commendable.

 

Jack Hill fondly reminisces about Put Stop in an excellent featurette entitled Crash and Burn, he fondly about being asked by Roger Corman to make a stock car racing film and wanting to make a movie where the hero loses, after being persuaded by Corman and finding out about the figure 8 races he agreed to do the picture.

 

Hill was in the thick of the action during filming placing himself on the intersection to get footage of the best crashes, shot in six weeks this certainly doesn’t look like it was a quickly produced.

 

pitstop3Jack Hill comes across enthusiastic and its hard not to cling onto his words and his stories about the cast and film making techniques are a pleasure to listen to.

 

Interviews with Sid Haig and Corman himself are both excellent, Life in the Fast Lane: a conversation with Roger Corman is fascinating as he talks about the AIP pictures, having some of his 60s pictures cut due to their radical nature (the Trip in particular) and the genesis of his own company. Corman speaks slowly and eloquently the only downside is this feature is only 11 minutes long, the stories he tells are important, interesting and informative.

 

A particular highlight are the stories from Hill’s later films such as the Big Dolls House(1971) and the women in prison sub genre.

 

Sid Haig is a genre actor most horror and exploitation fans will be familiar with, his charisma and energy are prevalent in this interview as he chats about making Pit Stop, working with Hill and his experiences talking to the drivers and real life racers( during filming Sid haig actually couldn’t drive) and about his character Hawk Sydney and how Hill pushed him in filming to gain confidence and method in his acting.

 

A short but welcome feature is included about the restoration process that James White does for Arrow Video, including comparison screens with narration explaining the reasoning and processes in making a film look its best while retaining the original “feel” of the original prints, keeping with the drive-in feel of Pit Stop.

 

The inclusion and supervision of Jack Hill is another testament to the amount of love and care that Arrow have for these lesser known titles, more companies could and should take note of this.

 

This high octane, thrill ride into the dangerous world of figure eight stock car racing is full of action, thrills and a heart highly recommended

 

7/10