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

Sexy Battle Girls (1986) DVD Review

sbg1SEXY BATTLE GIRLS (1986)

Director: Mototsugu Watanabe

Cast: Kyoko Hashimoto, Ayumi Taguchi, Yutaka Ikejima, ,Yukijiro Hataru, Ayu Kiyokawa, Jimmy Tsuchida, Saeko Fuji, Reika Kozami, Masaki Watanabe

Running time: 57 minutes

Out now from Salvation Films – http://www.salvation-films.com

Extras: Stills Gallery, Pink Cinema Introduction, Redemption Trailers

Summary: When Mirai is transferred to a new private all girl’s school she is forced to battle biro throwing bullies, depraved truant officers and a sadistic Bond villain of a headmaster. It soon becomes clear that she is a pawn in her father’s quest for vengeance against the man who destroyed his family as she battles to bring down his institution that cultivates schoolgirls to satiate the perverted lusts of corrupt politicians. A classic slice of Pink Cinema that showcases the provocative eroticism and wild action from a much loved, stylised era of Japanese filmmaking.

This is one of Pink Cinema’s craziest titles, apparently based on a popular Japanese television series. But where the heroine there was proficient with a yo-yo, our heroine is armed with a kamada (a traditional cup and ball type game) with a protruding dildo that renders her opponents helpless and writhing. Add to that her special move, the venus crush (there’s a particularly uncomfortable but ultimately funny scene involving her father training her) that renders any male… well, you’ll see.

sbg2Although the sex scenes are essentially soft core with no exposed genitalia (mostly) not a lot is left to the imagination. Personally I found them uncomfortable seeing as each one consists of perverted dribblers making a mess all over the naked writhing schoolgirls. But if you like that sort of thing you’re in luck as they make up about half of the very short running time.

The actual story is basic Japanese schoolgirl ninja fare (if there is such a thing) played with knowing humour and a sly wink. I laughed out loud at least three times and had to rewind a couple of scenes to see if I was really seeing what I thought I was. Although there is not a lot of story this is clearly the style that Tarantino must have had in mind when making Kill Bill, right down to the dramatic soundtrack, which is actually quite good and keeps the movie’s adrenaline pumping, and the extreme close ups which frame the few acrobatic fight scenes.

With a few obvious plot exposes that a blind swordsman could see coming and a crazy one eyed villain with a stuffed budgie on his lapel Sexy Battle Girls makes for an enjoyable little slice of niche cinema.

sbg3The extras are sparse , consisting of a short stills gallery, a very basic single page introduction to Pink Cinema and a trailer reel of other Redemption movies which all bizarrely seem to have at least two different titles.

Essentially this a short and sweet shock and well worth a watch. Hell, maybe two, so grab that bottle of Saki and reach for the tissues. It’s going to get messy.

Score: 7 panties out of ten
Extras: 2 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.