THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, Charles B Pierce, director/ Eureka Entertainment With its memorable title, this is a cult film which has built up quite a following over the years, and it is good to see it given the deluxe Eureka treatment. Two young lovers are brutally beaten and tortured on a back country road, and three weeks later, two more people are killed in a similar way. When Deputy Norman Ramsey fears a pattern is developing he calls upon the help of Texas Ranger J.D. Morales (Academy Award Winner Ben Johnson from The Wild Bunch) to find "The Phantom Killer" before he can kill again. Starring Andrew Prine and Dawn Wells, and directed by Charles B. Pierce (The Legend of Boggy Creek), The Town That Dreaded Sundown is based on one of America’s most baffling murder cases. This is a new 1080p high-definition transfer.
THE LEGACY: SEASON 2, Various directors/Arrow Blu-Ray Season two of The Legacy tries something relatively audacious, moving away some of the elements from that made first show successful – principally making the various dramatic confrontations more low key. But the acting and performances (notably TrIne Dyrholm), already honed to a fine degree in the first season, are enhanced by the fact that several episodes are directed by Jesper Christensen, who plays the hapless pot-smoking Thomas – and who is clearly an actor’s director (as I learned when I interviewed the cast at the last Nordicana). A skein of deception was ripped apart in the first season of The Legacy. The death of the artist Veronika Grønnegaard set in motion a series of ever-more fractious conflicts between her grown-up children, who have already been obliged to deal with another legacy – the emotional scars left by an unconventional and dysfunctional family. While not matching The Killing and Borgen in cult esteem, The Legacy proved that the Scandinavian invasion of British television continued apace, despite the fact that it was not in the golden genre of crime. There were, however, dissenting voices — and that trend has continued with this second season which is prepared to take its time. But the show is still a showcase of some of the best acting on television, and the undercurrents between the characters remains fascinating.
HORROR HOSPITAL, Anthony Balch, director/Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray In the long and colourful history of the British horror film, there is really nothing like Antony Balch’s deliriously entertaining Horror Hospital. Made by an ambitious avant-garde filmmaker, it can be looked at in two ways: as a serious director cheerfully slumming in a commercial genre, or as an affectionate annihilation (and simultaneous parody) of the horror genre. Whenever the thinking behind its making, it is gruesome fun with such details as a limousine with scythes built into the wheels (for lopping off the heads of those being pursued) and Michael Gough, turning in his usual scenery-chewing performance as a mad doctor – a performance, what’s more, which makes all his other such turns look restrained. The film has never looked better than in this splendid Blu-ray transfer.
JET STORM, Cy Endfield, director/Simply Media Of the director Cy Endfield, I wrote (in British Crime Film): ‘Looking at Hell Drivers (1957) today is a reminder that the House Unamerican Activities committee did British cinema a favour by consigning left-leaning directors such as Joseph Losey to professional exile in the UK in the 1950s.’ A key casualty of the communist witch-hunt was Endfield, who produced excellent work when exiled to Britain — as with Hell Drivers, one of the most incisive Britcrime movies ever made. Endfield’s lean, taut movie about corruption among truck drivers (as aficionados will know) is clearly indebted to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear, with its truck-drivers-in-peril scenario (here matched to criminality and cruelty) but so what? Now Simply Media have made available another cherishable hard-to-see British Film by the director, Jet Storm, with damaged, vengeful Richard Attenborough, on board a plane with a bomb. This tense item is made with Endfield’s customary grasp of suspense, with Attenborough as impressive as ever.
EYES WITHOUT A FACE/LES YEUX SANS VISAGE, Georges Franju, director/BFI Blu-Ray There are many who would claim that Franju’s strange, disturbing masterpiece is the greatest horror film ever made, and this impeccable BFI Blu-Ray transfer will confirm that opinion in the eyes of many – this astonishing film has never looked as good as it does here. Much imitated, but never bettered, it is a haunting surrealist dream with moments of the purest horror. The BFI version sports a variety of cherishable second features, although one would like to see more of Franju’s other, difficult-to-see other films The BFI’s long-awaited release is presented in a Dual Format Edition (both a Blu-ray and a DVD disc), and there are also numerous special features.
THE SABOTEURS, Per Olav Sørensen, director/Arrow Blu-Ray While the director Anthony Mann was nearing the end of his career when he made the Kirk Douglas film, Heroes of Telemark, it still bore the stamp of one of the cinema’s great filmmakers. So how does this new adaptation of the same WWII events compare? It’s a very different kettle of fish, but just as impressive in its own way, while having a more authentic feel than Mann’s film. Already a huge success in its native Norway, drawing a record breaking 1.7 million viewers, the series premiered to 336,000 viewers on June 22nd, nearly 100,000 ahead of the channels slot average. Nobel Prize winning German scientist, Werner Heisenberg, is aiding the Nazis’ efforts to develop an atom bomb using ‘heavy water’ from a factory deep in the Norwegian mountains. Desperate to crush Hitler’s catastrophic goal, The Allies’ plan and mount a series of daring sabotage missions to blow up the plant before the Germans can create their potentially devastating nuclear weapon.