THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, Juan Carlos Medina, director/Lionsgate Peter Ackroyd’s chef d’ouevre Hawksmoor was inexplicably passed over by filmmakers, so I suppose we should be grateful that the writer’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem enjoyed a creditable film adaptation, although it is one that did not in the end quite do justice to the source material. The vengeful monster of Jewish mythology has a human equivalent in 19th-century London as refugees arrive in Britain from Europe. Detective Inspector John Kildare (nicely underplayed by Bill Nighy in a film full of larger-than-life characterisations) is tasked with tracking down the serial killer of the title. Visually stylish and full of the kind of Victorian music hall exuberance found in the novels of Kate Griffin rather than Ackroyd’s novel.
THE CREMATOR, Juraj Herz, director/ Second Run If your taste is for the unorthodox in cinema, Juraz Herz is unquestionably a directive whose work you should sample . It is not for every taste, but it is safe to say that this is a filmmaker whose vision is quite unlike that of his contemporaries, and his work offers a strange and disturbing experience. Presented from new HD materials, Second Run has issued a Blu-ray edition of a film that has been described in many ways – as surrealist-inspired horror film, as an expressionistic political allegory, a pitch-black comic satire and as a dark and disturbing tale of terror. It’s a brilliantly chilling film, a unique mix of Psycho, Dr Strangelove and Repulsion, and is set in Prague during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. It tells the story of Karl Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský), a professional cremator, for whom the political climate allows free rein to his increasingly perverse and deranged impulses for the ‘salvation of the world’…
THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, Matt Cimber, director/Arrow Blu-ray Sometimes, directors have one remarkable and individual film in their CV, with other, subsequent work far less impressive. A classic case of this syndrome is the director Matt Cimber, whose one cult classic this bizarre, sexually-charged film is. His other work shows very little of the vision and imagination to be found here. Molly Perkins in a career-best performance is a woman whose strange and violent fantasies involve tying up male victims before killing them with a razor. But how real are her fantasies? The film’s reputation has grown over the years, and this new Arrow disc looks splendid.
RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER 3, Zackary Adler, director, Signature Entertainment The all-out bare knuckle prequel to the Britcrime thriller Rise Of The Footsoldier comes to home video starring Craig Fairbrass and a strong cast in a brutal and bloody real life story of Essex, drugs and rock and roll. Ruthless Essex gangster Pat Tate blazes a path from Marbella to the Medway in the late 80s, peddling pills and snorting coke and crushing anyone who gets in his way, in his quest for cash and power. Double- crossed by an ex-pat drug baron, Tate ends up in prison. Undeterred, he establishes himself as top dog inside, and gets himself in shape in preparation for his release – when he plans to reclaim his turf the only way he knows how – with violence, and no mercy.
HAMMER: VOLUME 1: FEAR WARNING, Various directors/Powerhouse Blu-Ray Box In splendid new Blu-ray transfers, here’s a tempting collection of lesser known Hammer films, including Fanatic, Maniac, and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb. But perhaps the most interesting film here is the one the studio (and its makers) were ambiguous in their reaction to. Almost everyone connected with The Gorgon (1964) was prepared to admit – in rueful retrospection – that a key element of the film has simply not been up to scratch — and disappointment of audiences had seriously hurt the film’s prospects. It was, in fact, the vision of the titular monster — the same syndrome, in effect, which had sabotaged another Hammer project, the distinctly non-frightening devil dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which had similarly drawn audiences’ attention away from the excellences to be found elsewhere in the film (notably, in both films, the nonpareil acting).