Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Gradiva - streets today! Aug 24th

A quick post to remind you that Gradiva - our latest DVD and the last movie by Alain Robbe Grillet - streets today - well... we say street but you all know by now that looking in stores is probably a waste of time.... we recommend Diabolik DVD or Hong Kong Flix for all your online requirements! Links to your right....

The movie is getting fantastic reviews - like this one from DVDSavant

More reviews and release specs at the website here.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Grossmann 09 Film Festival

Karol Grossmann was a doctor and film pioneer who, in 1905, made the first Slovenian movie. He also inspired his one time house guest Fritz Lang, who back then was intent on being a sculptor, with the idea of making films instead. And we know what that led to…

In commemoration of the centenary of the good doctor’s first film and of the wine making tradition of his home town of Ljutomer, the Grossmann Film and Wine Festival was inaugurated in 2005 to bring together the two great traditions of wine making and film making – with a special emphasis on films with a horror or fantastic flavour. Might look strange on paper, but I can tell you it works wonderfully well in practice. We just spent a few very happy days in the beautiful countryside of Prlekija watching movies and drinking wine (with the odd pivo here and there). A huge thanks to all the team for making us feel so welcome.

Other guests included Trent Haaga, of Deadgirl infamy (a movie that just gets better & better with each viewing), Ruggero Deodato (who surely needs no introduction), the guys behind the Norwegian Nazi Zombie movie Dead Snow (Stig Frode Henriksen & Ørjan Gamst), and German auteur Jorg Buttgereit. Films are screened at a number of venues around the small town and every evening there is an outdoor show in the central square. The spectacle of several hundred curious Ljutomer residents (including more than a few very young kids) engrossed in the likes of Sauna and Kill Buljo projected onto a huge screen in the open air was - well, an interesting one. Although I did feel sorry for the guy who had a flat in the block right behind the giant screen who could be seen from time to time staring bleakly down at us as the screams echoed round the ancient buildings.

We were sponsoring several shows there, including a five film “Torture Garden” experience, where you got in free, but had to pay to get out. The amount decreased as each film finished. Amazingly, there was still a large crew of dedicated film hounds at the end of the staggering nine hour marathon. Film fans of Slovenia, we salute you.

Among the films we saw were:


Widely touted as “the first Serbian Zombie move” this was great fun on the big screen. We were lucky enough to enjoy a private projection in the company of Slovenian film maker and all round good bloke, Andrej Kosak, who was head of the jury for the Vicious Cat awards. Apparently a Vicious Cat is local lingo for a hangover. A particularly bad one is a Vicious Tiger. (Talking of which, Andrej showed us a great example of Slovenian hospitality by knocking on a total stranger’s door and asking if they had any spare wine… of course they did, it was home made, delicious and they were happy to share it round!)

The makers of Zone of the Dead have managed to create, whether they intended it or not, a sort of visual time machine. Watching this movie took me right back to 1979. The tail end of the Italian movie boom; the glory days of the low budget zombie/horror rip off. With its patchwork plot, “English as a second language” dialogue delivery from the mostly Serbian cast, hilarious non acting from a couple of cute babes who had to be the various producers’ girlfriends and appearances by solid genre imports such as Ken Foree, this one had all the elements of those long ago exploiters. The zombie make up and some of the sfx were excellent. Kudos to local make up man Miroslav Lakobrija and his team.

Expect to see this in a video store near you soon. It’s such a shame that they can’t revive the VHS format for this one, It really cries out for the big box treatment.


Had heard good things about this Norwegian “Nazi Zombies in the snow” outing and it lived up to expectations. A bunch of kids (medical students for some reason) go up to a cabin in the snowy mountains for a weekend break. Things don’t pan out as they expect. They should have listened to the movie geek member of the team and his discussion of how many horror movies have started with a bunch of friends heading for a cabin in the woods.

The film take its time to get going but, the final half hour or so of PeterJacksontwentyyearsago zombie mayhem more than makes up for the wait. The snowy backdrop, reminiscent inevitably of the likes of Cold Prey and (to me) Blood Tracks, is still different enough to lift this one out of the ordinary and make it a must see for those in the mood for fast paced zombie action.

This was a co-production of Plan 9 – the team behind the festival – and included starring parts and cameos for many of the organisers and their gang. The film was screened in a large marquee in the midst of a torrential downpour, which certainly helped to give the whole event a memorable “spirit of the blitz” feel for the huge crowd of locals who turned out to cheer on the home team. A complicated plot involving “Jesus’s Teeth” was mixed up with a lot of satirical references to local cultural, religious and political concerns - sort of Dan Brown meets QT...Slovenian style. Some spirited performances and splattery sfx helped keep this one moving.


An international premier for this long awaited new feature from Jorg Buttgereit. Before the screening, Jorg gave a fascinating in depth interview, very well moderated by Serbian writer Dejan Ognjanovic. He explained how the project initially grew out of a desire to have a visual record of a stage show that he had directed in Berlin. This was then mixed in with some extracts from earlier super 8mm shorts and specially filmed inserts to make the final product.

It sounded like a strange hybrid and one was apprehensive. In fact it turned out to be a hugely enjoyable and very spirited black comedy. In many ways it’s a return to the territory of his early shorts like Horror Heaven, and reminds us that humour has always been a component of even his bleakest films. Dracula makes an appearance, alongside Hitler’s brain and the fictional Captain Berlin – Germany’s “first costume super hero”. Buttgereit’s knowledge of and affection for old B movies, serials and a general trash aesthetic run right through this one. The perfectly pitched performances, in particular by Claudia Steiger as the fanatical but curiously innocent Ilsa von Blitzen, make this a fun ride.

The festival programme was wide ranging and there was much that we didn’t get to see, including a number of short films, but special mention for the 2008 Finnish short English Lessons. Highly original and very entertaining. Worth looking out for.

Besides films, the festival also includes music events (we missed Septic Scum!), book launches and wine tastings. A highlight was an exhibition of polemical film leaflets from the 1970’s created by famed Serbian film maker Slobodan Sijan. (As the man says…what you can’t say on a side A4, probably isn’t worth saying.) It was a pleasure to make the acquaintance of a man who had done so much for Serbian film and to see the roots of his aesthetic in these iconoclastic hymns to popular cinema. He deserves praise for even making a film called “How I Was Systematically Destroyed by an Idiot” .

It reminds you that film making - and film watching - is not (or shouldn’t be) a competition but rather a process of discovery.

As Slobodan Sijan wrote in his introduction to the exhibition: “I found more inventiveness, new ideas and raw truth in obscure American B production or even in the films intended for the mass public, than in the praised works of the seventh Art.”

Forty years ago, against the backdrop of State funding and socialist realism, such an affirmation was a real act of faith.

For all things Grossmann - click here

Monday, 10 August 2009

Down Terrace - World Premiere Announced!

Down Terrace's world premiere will be at this years FantasticFest in Austin Texas. Here's what festival director Tim League has to say about it: "Even more than the galas, I love sharing our discoveries with the audience. Some of my personal favorites in this announcement are DOWN TERRACE – a very smart and very black comedy which will have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest"

Read all the lowdown about DT and all the great line up of movies at this years FF -here

We'll be announcing the UK premiere very soon too..... stay tuned.