After its highly successful Blu-ray box of neglected Hammer titles last year, in Hammer Volume 2: Criminal Intent, Powerhouse/Indicator has another equally intriguing collection of such material lined up for February. The gem of this particular collection is Cash on Demand, an intelligent and ingenious crime thriller starring the matchless duo of Peter Cushing and Andre Morrell (celebrated for their Hammer outing as Holmes and Watson). What makes this one particularly intriguing is the fact that cineastes can imagine the film recast with the two actors – as an uptight bank manager and a smooth conman of military mien — playing each other’s parts. The collection also has the little-seen Never Take Sweets from a Stranger; the film’s subject, a sober treatment of paedophilia, may be one of the reasons why the film has been neglected for so long. Aficionados of Hammer need not hesitate, but the box should have wider appeal than that fiefdom.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK presents the Irish box-office hit, Stephen Burke’s critically acclaimed MAZE, which achieved the biggest opening weekend of any Irish film in Ireland and Northern Ireland since “ROOM” in January 2016. The film opened without previews to over €141k (£124k) after its release, Friday September 22nd, on 65 screens (between ROI and NI) and hitting number 3 in the Irish box office chart. The film ran for ten weeks, spending five of these in the Irish top ten, and achieved a box office of over one million dollars (£764,874) in that time. Following Maze’s robust theatrical release, the critically acclaimed film will now be available on Digital Download on 15th January and on DVD on 22nd January. Based on the true story of the 1983 mass breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland. As Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the chief architect of the escape, schemes his way towards pulling off this feat, he comes into contact with prison warder, Gordon Close (Barry Ward). Initially Larry and Gordon are confirmed enemies, born on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be unwittingly useful for his escape plan, a slow seduction begins. Larry intends to use and manipulate Gordon in order to get closer to his goal but what follows is a tense, and intriguing drama in which an unlikely relationship is forged between two enemies that will have far reaching consequences for both of them.
Stars of Pulp Fiction and Miller’s Crossing are brought together for Mitu Misra’s unflinching, multi award-winning British thriller about loyalty and revenge, a Northern Noir in the tradition of Mike Hodge’s Get Carter and Mike Figgis’ Stormy Monday. When his billionaire boss Demi (Harvey Keitel) dies, chauffeur Donald (Gabriel Byrne) is given one final job – to wipe out any evidence of Demi’s relationship with his mistress, the enigmatic and beautiful Amber (Sibylla Deen). Donald’s task soon unravels when Amber’s life is threatened, and he finds himself her reluctant protector. Unwittingly drawn into a dangerous urban underworld, he encounters dark, harrowing practices, and a sinister underworld figure who will test him to his very limits. LIES WE TELL is a unique, gritty thriller that portrays an ordinary man confronting extraordinary circumstances. The cast includes Golden Globe winner Gabriel Byrne (IN TREATMENT, MILLER’S CROSSING), Oscar-nominated screen legend Harvey Keitel (PULP FICTION, RESERVOIR DOGS), Mark Addy (GAME OF THRONES, THE FULL MONTY), Nicholas Farrell (CHARIOTS OF FIRE), BAFTA-winner Gina McKee (OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH), Toyah Willcox (QUADROPHENIA), Emily Atack (THE INBETWEENERS), Sibylla Deen (HOME AND AWAY), and Jan Uddin (SHANK).
LIES WE TELL WILL BE RELEASED IN THE UK ON 2 FEBRUARY 2018
The newish Blu-Ray company Indicator/Powerhouse is issuing a remarkably eclectic selection of films in an ambitious new programme, and its initial batch includes a very collectable Hammer Films box set (which is temptingly described as volume 1), containing neglected Hammer films such as Maniac and The Gorgon. The set is to be reviewed in the next DVD Choice.
Second Run’s next release – on both Blu-ray and DVD formats – will be Otakar Vávra’s WITCHHAMMER on October 30. A powerful and often shocking allegory of life under totalitarian rule, Witchhammer, co-written by Ester Krumbachová (Daisies, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders), chronicles a series of notorious 17th Century Czech witch trials, using genuine court transcripts from the forced confessions of those accused of sorcery and collusion with the Devil. With echoes of Bergman, Dreyer and František Vláčil, and with literary antecedents in Arthur’s Miller’s The Crucible and Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon, it is a disturbing political fable; and like Ken Russell’s controversial, expressionistic adaptation of Huxley’s text, The Devils (1971) and other films of the period such as Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968) and Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil (1970), it serves as both grim genre film and compelling historical drama.
OUR LAST TANGO (Un tango más) executive produced by Wim Wenders (Pina, Buena Vista Social Club, Wings of Desire) and directed by German Kral, will be released in the UK on 22nd September by Celluloid Circus in partnership with the Argentine Film Festival, London. Continue reading
In 1957, Hammer’s first ever horror film in colour was released: The Curse of Frankenstein. Its huge success spawned many more Hammer Horror films and the studio’s domination of the horror genre, which was to last for a decade and a half. So 60 years on, to commemorate this anniversary, Studiocanal and Park Circus, in conjunction with FrightFest, Scalarama and more tbc, are releasing brand new restorations of eight classic Hammer Horror titles at cinemas and on DVD/Blu-ray doubleplay. From the gothic horrors Scars of Dracula, Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb, Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde,Horror Of Frankenstein and psychological chillers Fear In The Night, Straight On Till Morning and Demons Of The Mind to Hammer’s last horror film of the 20th century To The Devil A Daughter, the eight films are selected from the glory years of the iconic house of horror. On Sunday 27th August 2017, FrightFest will host the restoration premieres of Demons Of The Mind and Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb at the Prince Charles Cinema, London. On 19th September 2017 Scalarama’s annual month-long celebration of movies presents ‘Hammer Day’, with screenings across the UK of all eight restored Hammer films, in conjunction with Park Circus. 19th September would have been the birthday of Hammer producer/screenwriter Anthony Hinds. Studiocanal will release the newly restored films as Doubleplay editions on 23rd October 2017 [Blood From The Mommy’s Tomb, Demons Of The Mind, Fear In The Night, Scars of Dracula] and on 13th November 2017 [Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Straight On ‘Til Morning, To The Devil A Daughter, Horror Of Frankenstein]. Extra features are to be confirmed.
Network’s upcoming Blu-ray releases inlcude Silver Dream Racer and The Belstone Fox. Silver Dream Racer – starring pop legend David Essex, Beau Bridges and Clarke Peters – is a thrilling ride though the cut-throat world of motorcycle racing as hot-headed racer Nick Freeman (Essex) is determined to prove himself on the track with his prototype Silver Dream Machine. The Belstone Fox is a captivating film for the whole family with exquisite backdrops of landscapes and country wildlife. From Born Free director James Hill, it tells the story of the unlikely friendship formed between an orphaned fox, Tag, and the foxhound Merlin. The film boasts an impressive British cast including Eric Porter, Jeremy Kemp, Dennis Waterman, Rachel Roberts and Bill Travers. Now both available for the first time on Blu-ray and join Network’s extensive The British Film collection.