Best of 2016: by Robert Monell
THE NEON DEMON: The high fashion world of Los Angeles is on grotesque display in this glossy art-horror film from Nicolas Winding Refn. It’s a world where vicious competition, soul vampires and casual cannibalism are omnipresent. A visually entrancing satire about a world where appearances are everything. This was the best new film a saw in a theater (nearly empty) in 2016.
SYMPTOMS: The best Blu-ray release of 2106. Jose Ramon Larraz was a Spanish master of light, shadow and madness, all on display in this moody study of a murderess on rampage in rural England. With brilliant performances by Angela Pleasence and a small but memorable supporting cast. This release finally allowed the world to see this great film in HD, after years of being available only in poor video dupes from battered prints. A stunning experience. From Mondo Macabro.
DR. BUTCHER M.D; BURIAL GROUND: two outrageous early1980s Italian gorefests featuring endless cannibal/zombie attacks in candy colored HD! Each fully loaded with a titanic cargo of special features: the DR. BUTCHER MD Blu-ray presents two versions of the film. BURIAL GROUND includes the Italian language track and everything you ever wanted to know about Peter Bark! Both are Highly Recommended. From Severin Films
COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE: A Blu-ray – DVD combo from Vinegar Syndrome of Paul Naschy’s Gothic-experimental take on the Dracula legend. A vividly colorful HD remastering, check out Dracula’s crimson lined cape! Special features include the Spanish language track with English subtitles, a commentary track with director Javier Aguirre and Naschy, a fascinating interview with Mirta Miller by Elena of Spanish Fear, and more. A must have.
NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES [MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE]: a welcome Blu-ray release of one of Jess Franco’s most personal and delirious 1980s erotic thrillers, involving mind control, betrayal, seduction and murder. A visual stunner in HD. From Mondo Macabro, your go-to place for quality releases of cult cinema from around the world.
THE FORGOTTEN FILMS OF JESS FRANCO: Dorado Films hits a home run with their first HD release which includes 4k scans from 35m of two rarely seen Jess Franco thrillers, THE SINISTER EYES OF DOCTOR ORLOFF and SILENCE OF THE TOMB (both 1972), both featuring Lina Romay lookalike Montserrat Prous. An interview with star Robert Woods, an informative booklet from Francesco Cesari and Robert Curti are also included among other special features. A recommended collector’s item.
CRIMSON: THE MAN WITH THE SEVERED HEAD: A crazy 1973 crime film featuring Paul Naschy as a robber who gets a brain transplant. The standard and the longer, explicit Euroversions are both included, along with English subtitles and commentary track by Richard Harland Smith.
SEX-MURDER-ART: Fullly loaded multi disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, featuring four legendary transgressive epics from the master of body decay, Jorg Buttgereit, NEKROMANTIK, DER TODESKING, NEKROMANTIK 2 and SCHRAMM. There’s not other filmmaker anywhere like Buttgereit, he highlights the grotesque and unspeakable with liberating humor and special insight. Includes CDs of the film’s soundtracks, making of featurettes, a documentary, JB’s short films, a 40 page booklet, commentaries, interviews with the director and collaborators and much more. New HD, fully uncut & uncensored versions of all four films along with two versions of NEKROMANTIC and director’s introductions to all the films. Cult Epics.
THE KILLING OF AMERICA: Amazing, shocking and brilliant mondo-documentary style survey of decades of all American violence, featuring Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy, Jim Jones and an array of proud-to-be mass murderers. Includes the longer, even more outrageous Japanese versions along with a full metal jacket of extras. From Severin Films.
PRIVATE VICES PUBLIC VIRTUES: In 1976 legendary Hungarian director Miklos Jancso went to Italy to make this sprawling, surreal account of a bacchanal set in a Central European Kingdom which ended in the shocking death of it’s host, the Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This high spirited staging of the infamous “Mayerlilng Affair” in the late 19th Century is closer to Fellini than a dry historical text and may be the wildest party ever put on film. With Teresa Ann Savoy. A light blasted, deliciously overripe depiction of decadence and death from a master. The shimmering HD transfer from original elements. The alternate English soundtrack is also available. Another essential delight unearthed and restored by Mondo Macabro.
THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK: I’m just happy that what I consider the greatest film from the “Golden Age of Italian horror” finally got a Blu-ray debut this year. It looks better than I’ve ever seen it. This is the shorter US release but it will do until a proper restoration comes along. Olive Films.
THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST: The true Godfather of Gore passed away in 2016 but he lives on in this 17 Disc Limited Edition Box set of Arrow Films bursting-at-the-seams box set is a high ticket item but nevertheless essential for gorehounds, exploitation historians, fans and collectors. It contains 14 of his most iconic films. These are his 100 proof gore classics, BLOOD FEAST THE WIZARD OF GORE, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, THE GRUESOME TWOSOME (a personal favorite), A TASTE OF BLOOD (one of his more Mario Bava-esque productions), THE GORE GORE GIRLS and more. Featurettes, interviews, video essays, audio commentaries and HGL intros are among the too numerous to mention special features. I’ve only gotten through a few of them, the rest will keep you busy for …. A lifetime.