Sunday 24 April 2011

New Release - STRIPTEASE - starring Nico! Music by Serge Gainsbourg

Streetdate end May 11 - packed full of extras - and a brand new master - the world DVD premiere of Nico's first ever starring film role.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Kill List!

Kill List had its world premiere at SXSW last Saturday - here's our favorite piece so far....

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SXSW 2011: 'Kill List' mixes the mundane and the unthinkable [Update]
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March 14, 2011 | 6:34 pm

Playing as part of the SXFantastic sidebar at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, “Kill List” marks the return to Austin for British filmmaker Ben Wheatley. He was previously in town for the 2009 edition of the genre-centric Fantastic Fest with his first film, “Down Terrace,” which began as a look at small-town gangsters where the stakes were so small as to seem comical and built up to something terrifying and stunning. With “Kill List,” Wheatley again steadily escalates from the banal to the bruising.

After a screening Sunday night, the audience was so seemingly disoriented and stunned, as if it had been collectively struck by a head-butt, that it took a few moments for anyone to think of a question to ask during the Q&A.

[For the record: An earlier version of this post stated that Ben Wheatley's "Down Terrace" played as part of the 2010 South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas. The film actually premiered in Austin at the fall 2009 edition of the Fantastic Fest film festival. Wheatley's new film, "Kill List," is playing at the 2011 edition of SXSW as part of SXFantastic, a sidebar programmed by Fantastic Fest.]

"Kill List," which premiered Saturday at midnight and screened again Sunday night, is deceptive, tricky and creates something of a phantasm of anxieties large and small.

"It's based around my dreams and nightmares," Wheatley said while introducing the film Sunday, "which includes being chased, being trapped in small places and, indeed, long and difficult dinner parties — all types of horror."

The film opens with a dinner party between two couples who don't seem to particularly enjoy each other's company. The men (Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley) are former army buddies who now sometimes work together. Business has been off lately — apparently even hit men can be affected by an economic downturn — so when a job comes along that seems too good to be true, they have no option but to take it.

Escalating from uncomfortable domestic drama to gritty action to cult-horror freakout, likely few other films reference both Mike Leigh and "The Wicker Man."

"It's definitely a film of acts," Wheatley said after the Sunday screening. "The move forward was going from a domestic drama and it mutates — I don't know why I'm explaining it, you've just watched it."

Asked if some the film's cult religious imagery was taken from anything specific, Wheatley said he just made it all up.

"It's actually stuff I'm afraid of in my own mind, and I know it's been made up in my head, in dreams and like that, so I was trying to find that primal, scared point. I guess what you see is just a fear of other people, organized groups of people. It doesn't really matter what their belief system is or how they jam it all together, you don't need to know that. You just need to know their goal is something cohesive and they don't like you."

— Mark Olsen in Austin, Texas

Friday 11 February 2011

Kill List - World Premiere announced

We're very very pleased to announce that Kill List - Ben Wheatley's new original feature we co-produced - will have its world premiere at this years SXSW festival this March. The film will play in the SXFantastic midnights - hosted by Tim League from fantastic Fest and the Alamo Drafthouse.

The film concerns two ex army contract killers who's first job in eight months goes very very wrong! It's very dark and very disturbing horror movie... you're gonna love it!

Get the screening lowdown here.

Friday 4 February 2011

Tim Lucas on Lorna

Tim has written an entry at his Video Watchdog blog about our release of Lorna the Exorcist - we couldn't have put it better ourselves so have taken the liberty of reprinting it. Follow Tims blog here - and get hold of Video Watchdog here.

Some Words on Lorna... the exorcist

Having just watched Mondo Macabro's new, long-awaited release of Jess Franco's LORNA... THE EXORCIST (1974), I find myself surprised, shaken and stunned. Before my review appears in VW 162, I want to use this blog to spread the word about this release because it warrants your support, if you're brave enough to go where it will take you.

I've seen this film several times in its French version via various ragged, incomplete bootlegs, but now, having seen the film uncut for the first time and as good as it's ever going to look -- given the loss of the original negative and MM's painstaking three-print reconstruction -- I find it a very different and revelatory experience. I must caution my readers that this film contains a good deal of full frontal nudity and lesbian coupling and feels pornographic though it literally is not; it is also not traditionally "well-made" and is quite toxic in its intent. Owing to these qualities, it's not a film I could recommend to casual horror fans.

That said, LORNA is unique in Franco's sprawling filmography because here he summons, from the most shambolic ingredients (including, to be fair, some shots of immense beauty), something I find quite rare within the horror genre: a truly terrifying film.

It's a story, a Faustian fairy tale really, about male weakness and female empowerment. The film builds to a final revelation of Lina Romay's character in which she gives what is certainly her finest work onscreen -- a concise portrait of demonic possession achieved entirely through performance and without special effects. When the scene faded out, I wanted to stand and applaud right there in my living room. It is the hope that I will see at least one more horror film of this uncanny power that keeps me going.

This is powerful, taboo-shattering, primal filmmaking. But what is most compelling about LORNA is how it demonstrates that great actors, elegant cinematography, a consistent sense of style, traditionally good direction and even a completed script can be absolutely irrelevant to producing a film that can reach into the deepest emotions of a viewer and give them a good twist.

Yes, you could point to many things that seem "wrong" about the movie: it's a short story padded to feature length, the character makeup is overdone, the lenses clash from one shot to the next, the camera crosses the line, inserted cutaways disrupt the precious suspense of the main scene unfolding simultaneously, the casino flashback goes on far too long and fails to ratchet up any tension, the camera lingers on some shots long after they have made their point... all of this is hard to dispute. But, when all is said and done, what I once called "the sex scream of Jess Franco" has never been more piercing than it is here.

© Tim Lucas 2011 Original Blog Post

Thursday 3 February 2011

MMArchives: Tina Aumont - Ten Years In Another Town

Many years ago we released a few DVD's in the UK - one of our favourites was Cesar Canevari's The Nude Princess.

A real euroddity starring Ajita Wilson and Tina Aumont. We were lucky enough to get one of the last interviews with Tina before she sadly passed away in 2006. The disc is long since discontinued but we thought we'd share the interview with you again here. Even this late in her life Tina still possesses an incredible aura - it's impossible to drag yourself away from those eyes!

As well as roles in such eurocult classics as Howl, Salon Kitty and Torso, Tina also appeared in the superb Mondo Macabro release Lifespan - starring the late great Klaus Kinski. Here's a taster...

There's loads of great stuff on Tina Aumont all over the interweb but click here for a very nice blogpost including loads of photos.

*** By the way - we've made the Tina interview YouTube friendly by the addition of some not very subtle black blocks - if you want the unexpurgated version we suggest a trawl around Ebay ***

Wednesday 26 January 2011

At last - Lorna is here!

It's been a long long wait - and we want to thank you for sticking by us on this one - but - it'll be well worth it! Jess Franco's transgressive masterpiece Lorna the Exorcist is here - in a never before seen 100 minute version. Here's a little taster:

Streetdate is February 2nd - and the disc is available to pre-order now from all the usual places. We recommend our friends at Diabolik DVD - get the disc here

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Taste the last drop of Satan's Blood...

Our disc of Satan's Blood is being deleted - when they're gone - they're gone! So I guess this is the last chance you'll have to taste Satan's Blood on DVD for a while - pick up a copy from our friends at Diabolik DVD here.

DVD specs here.

"A lovingly crafted release of a culturally significant nightmare of surrealism and sexuality, Satan’s Blood spills as much brains as blood!" DVD Drive In

"A rare film that truly lives up to the label of erotic horror, Satan's Blood (Escalofrío) was one of the first films to take full advantage of post-Franco relaxations in film censorship and earned itself a nasty reputation in the process. Packed with unabashed frontal nudity, bloodshed, and downright spooky visuals (including a really creepy doll that comes into play in the second act), this is quite a bit harder than most previous Spanish horror films like the Paul Naschy monsterfests. The final ten minutes are especially potent, delivering a nasty frisson that lingers after the end credits. Though director Carlos Puerto didn't go on to do much else, horror fans will certainly recognize another name in the credits: producer and art director Juan Piquer Simón (a.k.a. J.P. Simon), who wormed his way into the hearts of sleaze fans worldwide by directing such films as Pieces, Slugs, The Pod People, and Cthulu Mansion. To put it mildly, this is far more accomplished and atmospheric than his usual fare, and much lighter on the ridiculous (but highly quotable) dialogue. Moody, shocking, and wonderfully constructed, this one's a definite keeper." Mondo Digital

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Memories of Jean Rollin

The death of Jean Rollin at the end of 2010 was a sad blow. No less for the fact that he was still working right up to the end, still planning new films. He was an important figure in the history of what we have come to know as “fantastic” cinema and he was an important figure to Mondo Macabro – our first TV show in the Eurotika! series was a profile of him and his work and the book, Mondo Macabro, was dedicated to him. Above all, he was our friend, and we will miss him. Here MM’s Pete Tombs remembers how he first met Rollin and reflects on the later career of this maverick creator.

I first met Jean Rollin nearly 22 years ago. He was then – a sobering thought – about the age I am now and his film making days, at least in France, were generally considered to be over. He had not had a theatrical release for half a decade. However, he was actively working to set up new deals, developing his writing career and beginning to sell his films to the then burgeoning home video market.

He was one of those people whom you meet and instantly know you will get on with. We started talking about his early films and gradually he opened up and we began to glimpse the man behind the mask – the real Jean Rollin, not “the maker of erotic vampire movies”. Over the following years I got to know him quite well and whenever I was in Paris I would always make that little pilgrimage up the hill to his book lined apartment in the Rue Haxo – not so far from his beloved Pere Lachaise cemetery. He also came to the UK a couple of times, one of them for a retrospective we organised at the National Film Theatre. Seeing the huge NFT 1 screening room packed out with curious fans, Jean was at first trepidacious, but finally delighted and occasionally amused by the subsequent reactions; none less so than when one gushing fan compared Le Viol du vampire to a Godard film!

The visits became less frequent as Jean’s health declined and he was forced to spend several days in hospital each week. On the positive side, this period, from the mid 90s onward, saw a revival of interest in his work, largely due to the video releases of his older films in the US and UK. He also took advantage of the enforced leisure of hospital stays to work on a number of new novels, including a series of six vampire books. When his health permitted he would also attend foreign festivals where he was accorded a warm reception – something he had despaired of in his native France where he was generally derided as a maker of “Z movies”. This overseas interest helped him to raise finance for The Two Orphan Vampires, his return to the film making fray in 1997. The book was based on one of his novels and was even released theatrically in France, albeit briefly.

Slowly, in his native country, Rollin began to be rediscovered by a new generation of young film makers. They admired his resilience and determination to go his own way. He was an inspiration to them and he became a kind of cinematic uncle to a number of up and coming directors. Thanks to Jean-Pierre Dionnet, his films were finally screened on Canal Plus, the large subscription TV channel, and received very strong viewing figures. This made it easier for Rollin to raise the funding for his next cinematic venture – La Fiancée du Dracula, which was first screened in 2002.

This film’s self referential content, and its freewheeling and anarchic style, peopled by a cast of friends and outsider figures from art and music, was very much a return to form – and also very much in the sprit of his first theatrical release, Le Viol du vampire from way back in 1968.

Jean was in poor health, but with his film making enthusiasm undimmed, he began work on his next project – La Nuit des horloges, This was in many ways his “Alice in Wonderland “ with a female figure following a trail of clues and encounters with bizarre characters as she journeys into the strange world of “Michel Jean”, the maverick film maker who has bequeathed her his estate.

The film was full of clips from Rollin’s previous features and yet it was remarkable how much of a piece it all seemed. Proof positive that the inspiration behind his work, right from the very beginning, had always sprung from the same fountainhead. This feeling is underlined by what has now turned out to be his final work - The Mask of Medusa, a kind of cinematic essay. Packed with his customary themes and visual references, it is a playful and now poignant reminder of what a journey he had been on and how his cinematic career was in reality a great circle, bringing him back at last to where he had started - on the isolated beach near Dieppe where his film making dreams had first crystallised as a teenager.

Even in sympathetic circles, Rollin is often described as a maker of “erotic horror films”. I remember one afternoon he was showing me a kind of scrap book, with a collection of his favourite stills and mementoes of his films. He seemed subdued and I asked him if it depressed him, looking back like this. He replied, no, it just made him sad to see that so often what people saw and remembered from his work were the naked scenes – which in so many cases were added at the behest of producers keen to guarantee a return on their investments. But he was wise – and old – enough by then to know that film making is a strange kind of dance in which you have to make two steps in the direction of the money to be able to make that half step back towards your own ambitions.

Rollin was a “gentle man” in the truest sense of the term. In many ways, film making with its retinue of cynics, double dealers and cheapskates was an odd place for such a poetic soul to have ended up. It’s a testament to his fortitude that he was able, Contre vents et marées, as the French say, to have amassed such a large body of work that is so very much his own.

Jean Rollin did not make horror films. He made Rollin films. Shrugging off the dead weight of commercial and critical indifference, he trod his own path, crafting his strange, whimsical and above all personal films for nearly forty five years. He is one of those rare film makers who have created their very own world, one that may be hard to define in the abstract, but is instantly recognisable once you are inside it. It’s not just the physical features – the empty train tracks, the cliffs, the funebrial statuary, the isolated chateaux, the girl vampires bearing candelabra – but the way the characters talk to each other, the way they are placed in the frame, the use of colour; all are expressions of his particular style and personality.

Jean Rollin was a dreamer, but not an escapist. He was a man whose dreams transfigured the everyday and transformed it into something marvellous. He pictured the world the way he wanted it to be – the way it ought to be - and refused to be dragged down by its sordid realities. As Baptiste says, in Les Enfants du paradis – “Dreams and life – it’s the same thing; or else it’s not worth living.” A fitting enough epitaph to the man who was Jean Rollin.