The B-Movie Isle (03/13/17)
The B-Movie Isle a small written (sometimes) weekly companion piece to the B-Movie Podcast.
Every B-Movie is an Isle onto itself. The B-Movie Isle recommends a few films either being released or already released in theaters, VOD, streaming or on Blu-Ray/DVD. These are not going to be blockbusters but those movies you’ll probably find in the door buster clearance bin. Films that people told you weren’t worth your time or you may have not heard about. You and I know they’re just un-enlightened to the beauty of a killer B-Movie!!!
THE TOP SHELF TITLE AKA FEATURED TITLE OF THE WEEK
The Film: Twilight Time is one of those labels that I continually watch their release schedule like a hawk. Oftentimes I find myself more eager to see what they’re going to release over Criterion. CEO Nick Redman’s tastes feel more in line with my sensibilities.
Case in point: Edge of Eternity
The compact 80 minute thriller about a police deputy (Cornel Wilde) trying to solve a series of murders with the help of a smart woman (Victoria Shaw) could have been a paint by the numbers mystery. Enter Don Siegel, Cinemascope and The Grand Canyon.
The 17th film directed by Siegel is the kind of work you expect from the director. Clean unadorned camera work that’s setup for maximum cinematic effect. The older I get the more I appreciate just how great Siegel was at camera work and here it’s subdued perfection. The gimmick of Cinemascope (ultra-widescreen that was created to bring people back into the theaters as Hollywood was losing business to TV… mmmm, sounds familiar) in his hands isn’t a gimmick at all, it’s another tool. Even the vista shots have purpose in this film in Siegel’s hands.
The film’s central mystery is Cracker Jack original. Though a murder, it’s eventually revealed there is more at work than simple series of killings. The script by Knut Swenson and Richard Collins is able to efficiently give us exposition without it every feeling like exposition. Cornel Wilde should be given as much credit as the writers and director. Wilde plays Deputy Martin with the sort of easy charm that he’s known for in other films. His work with Victoria Shaw is easy going with chemistry to spare.
Siegel directs everything like clockwork allowing for a great build up to a truly awesome stunt laden third act set high above the Grand Canyon.
The Transfer: The transfer is beautiful in the way that an older film is beautiful. Do not expect the transfer to be razor sharp. This is the kind of transfer that fans of actual film adore. The grain structure is heavy in certain sections but it appears to be because of the print itself and not the transfer. Expect no DNR from this transfer. There is a beauty to the way that the film’s coloring and shading changes from scene to scene. Again this is not a dig at the TT and their transfer. This is something that’s imbedded in the print itself.
The Extras: Isolated Score and Audio Commentary with C. Courtney Joyner and Nick Redman. I sampled both and found that I will definitely return to the commentary. Redman is the owner of Twilight time and most commentaries on TT titles are hosted by him, which is always welcome. Here is no different as he and Joyner give an insightful commentary various topics including Siegel and the novelty of Cinemascope.
The Bottom Shelf: This is a no-brainer if you love Siegel as this tightly wound and compact thriller is great work with some amazing photography thanks in large part to the Cinemascope (and the care Siegel took with the framing).
The Film: Sometimes all a film needs is a great ending to elevate it to something better than you initially thought it was going to be. That is Slaughterhouse.
Though not a bad film, the movie itself is definitely on the fringe of 80’s slasher films. Slaughterhouse trudges similar ground as that and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Motel Hell. The film plays out less articulate and funny version of those films. This is the type of film that has its central antagonist who runs a Pig Slaughterhouse named Lester Bacon. Yes, because Bacon is Pig and Pig is Bacon.
The film is essentially a vengeance slasher film with Bacon’s property and now defunct Slaughterhouse being foreclosed upon. Bacon with his murderous son Buddy begins to leave a trail of bodies of those that have wronged them or just gotten into their way.
The Transfer: Vinegar Syndrome’s transfer of this film is beautiful. You’d almost think this film was shot today and made to look like an 80’s slasher film (which many a bad genre film does nowadays).
The Extras: The Vinegar Syndrome continues their release of stacked editions. This includes; An audio commentary by Director Rick Roessler and Producer Jerry Encoe, Interview with Sherry Bendorf Leigh, 2 Making of Featurettes Making a Low Budget Indie & Producing Slaughterhouse, archival interviews, Radio interviews from 1987, “Epilogue: 30 Years After the Slaughterhouse”, coverage from the Premiere of the film, Behind the scenes featurette, Outtakes, a “No Smoking” ad, theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots. The best is the new Making of Featurettes, but overall this is a great package. I am consistently shocked that Vinegar Syndrome is able to pull off the volume and quality of their discs. Bravo!
The Bottom Shelf: A decent Slasher film with a great ending… you can’t beat it. Add to the fact that the film is truly an odd cult oddity that has been given a lavish Special Edition treatment by Vinegar Syndrome makes it peak interest for any horror fan.
The Film: Please be warned. This film is not intended for anyone under the age of 18. If you’re easily offended by graphic imagery then I would stay away.
We are the Flesh is made from the same sort of stylistic mind that Gaspar Noe and Lars Von Trier has. Though Writer/Director Emiliano Rocha Minter’s imagery is often times graphic and disturbing, it is purposeful and artistically done like the two former directors. We Are the Flesh is purposely dense with meaning and imagery that’s both strikingly Catholic rich in the sins and guilt attributed to the faith.
The films “plot” is more of a setup than anything else. A boy and girl enter a rundown building at the end of the world. They meet an older man. What occurs between these three is both psychologically and physically horrifying. The dream logic at play will disturb and confound many. Those willing to look into this further and are used to boundary pushing filmmakers will find rewards.
We are the Flesh though as subtle a sledge hammer, the film is not salacious without purpose. Rocha Minter wants to push you farther than acceptable. He approaches film as a weapon and instrument to shed a light on the darker side of humanity. There is more going on with religious and societal conventions than even most art horror films. How Rocha Minter slowly but surely descends the boy and girl into hell tempting them is a twisted version of a Hellish Eden.
The Transfer: The film is beautifully reproduced here. As the film was made in 2015, this shouldn’t surprise anyone that Arrow Video has hit this one out of the park.
The Extras: The extras include A video Essay by critic Virginie Sélavy, Two Short Films by Rocha Minter, Interviews with Rocha Minter and actors Noé Hernández, María Evoli, Diego Gamaliel. The Video Essay by Sélavy is very enlightening for anyone that that wants further discussion or information on the meaning of this film. The interviews with director and cast are interesting from a production stand point though Rocha Minter may rub people the wrong way with his almost stand off-ish interview style (I found it truly hilarious).
The Bottom Shelf: Those that are into extreme horror cinema will find this artful and truly dangerous piece of cinema quite arresting. Others you have been warned this is not for the general populace or even for the general populace of B-Movie entertainment. Those only not easily offended need apply. Those who are will be rewarded with a new artful voice in the similar vein of Gaspar Noe.