Movie of the Week: Jack the Giant Killer (1962)

This G-rated fantasy romp deserves a better reputation. After Ray Harryhausen's signature film, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) was a big hit, its producer hired the same director (Nathan Juran) and two principle actors (Sinbad and Sokurah the Magician) for this followup. Harryhausen isn't involved, so the stop-motion animation isn't up to his level of artistry. But there's lots of it, along with a truckload of other special effects like in-camera mattes, hand-drawn animation and optical printing. You will definitely not be bored, and it's fun for all ages. Sorry about the commercials, but if you subscribe to Hulu Plus you can watch it uninterrupted.


Movie of the Week: Screamers (1979)

from wikipedia:

Island of the Fishmen (L'isola degli uomini pesce) is a 1979 Italian adventure action horror film directed by Sergio Martino.

After being acquired by American distributors, a new opening for the film was written and shot. This footage contained grisly special make-up effects created by Chris Walas. Changes to the film itself included the addition of musical cues by Sandy Berman not present in the Italian cut, a new English dub track and a new title, Something Waits in the Dark.

After this 1980 release proved unsuccessful, Jim Wynorski spearheaded New World Pictures' re-release of the film. Wynorski retitled the film (again) and for this new version, entitled Screamers, a scene of a man being turned inside-out was filmed specifically for inclusion in a trailer designed to lure in audiences who failed to give Something Waits in the Dark much notice.

Upon its release in June 1981, Screamers performed well for its releasing company but when moviegoers complained that the gruesome "man turned inside-out" scene was not included in the actual release, prints were sent back to New World to have the demanded scene spliced in. This sequence has never been seen on home video as it was not part of the original negative.

Both Something Waits in the Dark and Screamers run approximately 85 minutes in length. Roughly half an hour of footage was excised from L'isola degli uomini pesce in order to make room for the stateside additions.


Eurotika: a European Exploitation Film Series

Leave it to UK's Channel Four to keep providing quality documentaries. This dates back to 1999, but I'm just discovering it now. Here's the playlist of the whole 12 episodes, starting with the films of established auteurs like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, then moving on to more obscure genres from France, Spain and elsewhere. Of particular interest to me is the third installment (Italian Horror of the 60's-70's) and episode 12 (a profile of the tremendously talented and intelligent Michael Reeves, who made his final film, Witchfinder General, at the age of 25 before his death).

On a related note, a well made documentary about Video Nasties is on Youtube, but I encourage you to purchase the three-DVD set, which contains a wealth of additional entertainment and enlightenment.


Movie of the Week: The Visitor (1979)

"Fearlessly fuses elements of The Omen, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Birds, Rosemary’s Baby, The Fury and even Star Wars creating the most ambitious of all '70s psychedelic mindwarps."
-Drafthouse Films