This treasure trove of obscure, oddball, and just plain berserk Blu-rays keep on coming, and in the year where everyone proclaims the "disc" is dead, for movie freaks this is absolutely the golden age. Movies thought to be lost to VHS garbage bins now appearing digitally restored, with director's commentary, and hosts of extras. Here are 16 upcoming Blu-rays that will break your brain:
Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni's huge 1966 success is set in swinging 60s London and stars a dashing David Hemmings as a wildly successful fashion photographer who discovers a series of random pictures he took in a park might reveal a murder. Vanessa Redgrave plays the mysterious beauty who wants those negatives at any cost. This beautifully restored disc reveals the amazing color sense (supposedly the director painted the grass when it wasn't "green" enough).
Paris 05:59: Theo & Hugo (Wolfe Video)
The first explicit 18 minutes of this insanely good film by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (The Adventures Of Felix) is set in a French gay sex club. That's where Theo (Geoffrey Couet) and Hugo (Francois Nambot) hook up. And, aside from a nerve-jangling trip to a hospital emergency room, they spend the rest of the night wandering the streets of Paris until morning getting to know each other. In the style of movies like Weekend, there's a freshness and honesty here but also the touching romanticism of those initial romantic meetings that seem so full of promise.
In director Jules Dassin's 1962 film Melina Mercouri stars as the bored wife of a Greek shipping magnate who has a doomed affair with her husband's estranged son (Anthony Perkins). Offbeat casting aside, there's something weirdly fascinating about this pulpy adaptation of the Greek myth.
Superb and opulent 1972 Luchino Visconti film about the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (played with exquisite decadence by Helmut Berger). His obsession with Richard Wagner (Trevor Howard), and all his outlandish castles are displayed in this epic (over 4 hour) masterwork which shimmers on Blu-ray and finally includes a preferable English voice tract. With the gorgeous Romy Schneider as Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
Enjoyable 1985 horror-omedy about an author (William Katt), haunted by the disappearance of his son, who inherits his Aunt's creepy gothic house and moves in to write about his experiences in Vietnam. He finds to his great alarm and surprise that the house has a portal to another dimension. This also includes the more comic sequel House II: The Second Story (1987) starring Arye Gross who ends up with his long-dead Grandfather (Royal Dano) transported to the Wild West along with an adorably weird dog/caterpillar.
The Vampire Bat (Film Chest)
Fabulous restoration of a 1933 poverty row horror film filmed on the Universal sets and starring Lionel Atwill as a mad doctor draining people of blood to nourish a blob in his lab with a wonderfully unhinged performance by Dwight Frye as the town weirdo. With Fay Wray and Melvyn Douglas and a surprisingly color sequence. Trust me, you've never seen this movie look this good.
Demon Seed (Warner Archive)
Visionary director Donald Cammell directed this oddball 1977 sci-fi thriller starring Julie Christie who gets trapped in her artificial intelligence modified house by a computer that plans to somehow impregnate her. You heard right…It's fascinatingly bizarre and worth discovering.
The Valley Of Gwangi (Warner Archive)
Ray Harryhausen's brilliant stop motion dinosaur Gwangi is a wonder in this western monster movie set in Mexico about a traveling circus who captures the prehistoric beast to show with the expected calamitous results. James Franciscus stars in this beautiful looking Blu-ray.
Dead Or Alive (Arrow)
Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike took gangster movies to a totally other level in this insane trilogy. The first 10 minutes of the first film are so deranged and high-octane you're left gasping with laughter and shock. As this war between a cop and a criminal escalates to a fever pitch it reaches almost Itchy & Scratchy apocalyptic fury. Prepare to have your brain scrambled.
I Am Not A Serial Killer (Shout Factory)
I just adored this quirky and wildly original film directed by Billy O'Brien about 16-yr.old John (sensational Max Records) living in the Midwest who's forced to see a shrink (Karl Geary) for his disturbing homicidal tendencies. A series of murders occurs in town and John thinks he knows who the killer is, stalking him relentlessly. A strange and terrific film.
World Without End (Warner Archive)
Above average 1955 sci-fi movie about a bunch of astronauts heading for Mars who accident are sucked into a cosmic worm hole and catapulted to the future landing on a post-apocalypse Earth where cannibalistic mutants live above ground and all others live meekly in underground bunkers. With Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor and one of the silliest giant spiders ever.
The Mephisto Waltz (Kino Lorber)
Good 1971 occult chiller about a writer (Alan Alda) possessed by the spirit of a satanic, talented, pianist (Curt Jurgens). Beautiful Barbara Parkins plays Jurgen's evil daughter. The writer's wife (Jacqueline Bisset) is forced to fight Satan for her husband's soul. There is a great decadent masked New Year's party where a large dog wears a man's mask over its head in this fun Rosemary's Baby rip off.
Rumble Fish (Criterion)
Francis Ford Coppola's wildly cinematic black & white (with splashes of color) adaptation of S. E. Hinton's novel about a street hood Rusty James (Matt Dillon) having to live up (or down) to his older brother's (Mickey Rourke) mythic reputation. This Criterion upgrade makes you appreciate this unsung wonder.
From Hell It Came (Warner Archive)
This 1957 howler may be one of my all-time favorites. A South Sea Island Prince is murdered and transformed into a vengeful killer tree stump called Tabanga. To see this monster lumbering along with a screaming native girl in his stump arms is to know the heights of camp bliss. And now on Blu-ray! Will wonders ever cease?
The Screaming Skull (Shout Factory)
A husband tries to gaslight his wife at their Southern mansion by having skulls pop up to terrify her at all times only to have his plan frighteningly backfire in supernatural fashion in this 1958 chiller which looks astonishing on Blu-ray.
I Bury The Living (Shout Factory)
Richard Boone plays a cemetery caretaker with a map of the graves marked with white pins for empty ones and black pins for filled ones. For fun he starts switching the pins around with horrifying results in this atmospheric creep-fest and favorite of Stephen King.