Spring Of Life aka Pramen Zivota (2000) DVD Review

sol1SPRING OF LIFE (aka Pramen Zivota) (2000)

Director: Milan Ciesler

Cast: Monika Hilmerova, Michel Sieczkowski, Johana Tesarova, Vilma Cibulkova, Karel Dobry, Bronislav Poloczek, Josef Somr, Bozidara Turzonovova, Alois Svehlik, Lubomir Kostelka, Zdenka Sajfertovea.

Running time: 107 minutes

Out Now UK on DVD from Redemption . Visit http://www.salvation-films.com

Extras: Children, Lebensborn and the Nazi Racial Ideal – Documentary with Michael Leapman. Original Third Reich racial material archive. Stills gallery. Original theatrical trailer. Redemption trailers.

Summary: Based upon a little known Nazi project to breed the most racially pure Aryans this story follows Gretka, a young Czech peasant girl who is deemed to be ideal breeding stock. She is transferred to a luxurious spa hospital where she undergoes training to prepare her for her future role as mother to the German ideal of the master race.

sol3Review: This is not what I expected of a Redemption film. The dark subject matter is dealt with very seriously, no random titillation involved, you are drawn into the heroine’s plight and confusion as she attempts to understand the gravity of the situation she finds herself in. The high production values are clear to see and some of the locations are beautiful and opulent, to a point where I was taking more notice of the architecture than the actors.

Although the film is well made and the location and architecture are impressive enough for a blockbuster movie the story tends to drag and at times feels as if watching a daytime drama . Despite the fact that the story depicts these hospitals as little more than upmarket brothels to serve the high ranking officers this at no time feels like an exploitation movie. If you want gurning villains indulging in sadistic torture porn stick with SS Experiment Camp and the like.

There is a side story involving Gretka’s relationship with the Jewish gardener and an impotent SS officer but these seem more of an afterthought to the dark reality of the Lebensborn project. This is no rollicking rollercoaster but rather a slow burning drama, well made, acted and beautifully shot. Don’t come into this expecting cheap exploitative shock but rather be shocked by the dark secrets of our world’s history.

sol2The extras include a very interesting documentary narrated by historian and writer Michael Leapman explaining the Lebensborn project and the German view of the perfect Aryan. It was well worth watching this before the actual movie as I must admit that I had no previous knowledge of this part of history. Also included is a gallery of original Third Reich racial material which showed how much they idealised the traditional German farming folk.

A well crafted and beautiful looking, award winning film about an interesting subject, but there is very little excitement involved and it all seems a little too safe for work.

Movie: 5 stars out of 10

Extras: 6 stars out of ten

The Night of The Hunted (1980) DVD Review

noth1The Night of The Hunted (French, 1980)

Dir: Jean Rollin

Starring: Brigitte Lahaie, Vincent Garder, Dominique Journet

Out now on UK DVD from Salvation Films – HERE

Website – http://www.salvation-films.com

Plot: The Night of The Hunted (known in it’s native French as “La Nuit Des Traquées”) follows Elizabeth (Brigitte Lahaie), an amnesiac on the run. She’s discovered by Robert(Vincent Garder), a young man who tries to help her but it isn’t long before Elizabeth is recovered by the doctor she was trying to escape and returned to the foreboding Black Tower facility. The facility is full of other patients suffering from the same loss of memory as Elizabeth and have become frightened and dangerous. Elizabeth attempts to escape again before she finds out what gruesome plans the doctor has for her.

The Night of the Hunted, a film by the late Jean Rollin, is a key example of Rollin’s particular style of cinema. Made in the days of exploitation cinema, it’s soaked in blood and sex. Yet it’s also bizarre and dream-like. Rollin had the reputation of making surreal films with other films including The Grapes of Death, The Living Dead Girl, and Fascination. His films are tinged with the erotic and the macabre and The Night of the Hunted is no exception.

noth2The Night of The Hunted is a slow paced movie, it moves along in a stroll from scene to scene often lingering too long. For those with little patience this can be quite grating,but it reflects the mind of the protagonist, Elizabeth. She’s moving but she’s not sure where. The film gains momentum as she manages to work out a plan but gets muddled again as she loses her way again.

Rollin also uses a lot of sex in this movie, to the extent that it does come off as a bit gratuitous, but with the protagonist struggling to remember even the most basic details it works. The moments of extreme sex and violence stand out amongst the slow moments, the easily forgotten moments. The bits that you’ll remember only until the next act of extreme sex and violence.

The Night of the Hunted can be read as either a very deep film or a very shallow film depending on how you interpret it. After 35 years certain elements definitely feel dated. The exploitation elements of sexuality and violence against the mentally ill both come off as pretty insensitive in this day and age.Unlike some other films in the past that have used mental illness in their horror, The Night of the Hunted thankfully doesn’t try to blame the symptoms on an existing disease, but the state of the facility does seem to reflect the idea of mental health facilities, cruel and bleak. It demonises the patients as violent and disposable. The sex can be justified like I previously stated but it also feels like they were just pandering to the audience too.

noth3The Night of the Hunted isn’t a film for everyone, it’s slow pace might bore some and the graphic nature might offend others. The latter is this film’s legacy though, the extreme nature of French horror that has also given us films like Inside, Martyrs and Frontier(s). If you like your horror gruesome,French, and weird, this film is for you.

7/10

The Night of The Hunted has a number of DVD extras including the trailer, extra scenes, stills from the movie and trailers for other releases through Redemption.

The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine (1974) DVD Review

nuns1The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine (1974)

Directed by Sergio Grieco

Starring – Paolo Malco, Jenny Tamburi, Françoise Prévost

93 minutes

Out NOW in UK on DVD from Redemption Films

Available from Amazon UK now – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sinful-Nuns-Saint-Valentine-DVD/dp/B00QJHX4NS/

Lets start with the title, The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine, what expectations does this title provoke? The Church manipulating the innocent, check! Naked Nuns, check! Lustful Lesbian Lovers, check!

The film kicks off with a horseback chase and sword fight resulting in the injury of the target, Esteban (Paolo Malco), who later popped up in Lucio Fulici’s awesome The New York Ripper. Esteban wins the fight and seeks refuge in the convent where his lover, Lucita (Jenny Tamburi another Fulci alum having co-starred in 1977’s The Psychic ), is being held. She has been imprisoned at the convent by her parents in an attempt to keep her from Esteban and convince her to embrace the ways of the bible rather than those of lust.

With the assistance of the verger the two lovers plan to elope but things do not exactly go to plan. This narrative gives several nods to Romeo and Juliet and is loosely based upon Aldous Huxley’s novel The Devil’s of Loudon which was brought to the screen previously in 1971 with the superior The Devils directed by Ken Russell.

nuns2After the initial set up we are given an insight to the matriarchy of the convent and the devious acts some of the nuns undertake in order to get their way. Some are dealt with under the lash while others suffer an altogether different style of abuse. There are some unnecessary moments, some are included as an attempt at comedy, others I feel were included simply to bump up the titillation quota and some are, for lack of a better phrase, just plain weird, in particular the scene where the crazed ‘possessed’nuns fight over scraps over food, it just seemed out of place in another wise solid film.

Before long the conspiring lovers Esteban and Lucita are discovered by the Soldiers of the Inquisition despite the Vergers attempts to keep it all under wraps and as punishment, the convent is walled up, trapping everyone inside. Soon the nuns go crazy making it easy for the catholic church to declare them all as being possessed by Satan, murder mayhem and more nudity ensues but what we have deep at the core of this film is essentially a very cleaver period thriller, with some naked nuns thrown in for good measure.

As nunsploitation films go, this is one of the better ones, the story is nicely written, the characters are well established and the acting isn’t too terrible. The set designers and the costume department did a fantastic job and the blood used wasn’t overly bright like some 70’s horror. As with a lot of Italian films of this decade, the sound transfer is not great and at times there appears to be a syncing problem, but it isn’t distracting. The picture clarity is great and the overall aesthetics are top notch.

nuns3This is a must have prime example of the genre and holds up even now 42 years after release. The DVD comes with a fantastic 20 minute documentary that briefly covers the history of the nunsploitation genre as well as the usual Redemption add ons.

This film gains a well deserved 8 out of 10

Please check out Redemption/Salvation Films here – http://www.salvation-films.com