Horror DVD round-up
It’s Halloween, so lets fire up the DVD for some seasonal scares. We start with a trio from the Masters of Cinema series (all bundled up with substantial booklets and extras). The very roots of modern horror can be seen in silent masterpiece Nosferatu (Eureka!) ●●●●, Max Schreck as the titular vampire is still shockingly sinister. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s first sound film the nightmarish and surreal Vampyr (Eureka!) ●●●. Four traditional Japanese ghosts stories are brought to stunning life in Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (Eureka!) ●●●●, picking up the Cannes Special Jury Prize in 1964 and released for the first time in the UK in its full 183 minute version. The sets alone are a work of art (particularly in the segment ‘The Woman in the Snow’), perhaps too slow paced for modern tastes, this is a sumptuous and wonderfully evocative piece of cinema.
The most comprehensive release of Wes Craven’s infamous Last House on the Left (Metrodome) ●●● ever, fully uncut and packed with multiple extras including an alternate cut and the tenuously linked, but excellent, documentary Going to Pieces. This 1972 rape-revenge thriller is still as disturbing and uncomfortable as ever, whether you want to spend this much time wallowing in this much grime is another question entirely. A direct descendent is Timber Falls (Scanbox) ●●●, think Deliverance with added slasher violence, while gruesome it never achieves the nastiness of its ancestor. Some may argue Donkey Punch (Optimum) ●●● isn’t a horror film but it shares the genre’s conventions: young attractive protagonists, a rising body count and bloody deaths. It’s also a very British film, concerning young Brits abroad downing booze and drugs in the Med before events spiral out of control.
Finally we throw ourselves on the mercy of the direct-to-DVD market. Do we really need another ‘group of strangers waking up in a room with no idea how they got there’-movie in The Entrance (DNC) ●● The Passage (DNC) ●●●, starring Stephen Dorff, features some amazingly naturalistic acting as a tourist in Morocco is drawn into a dark conspiracy, even if the payoff is rapidly becoming a cliché; while Kim Basinger is terrorised by teen thugs in While She Was Out (Optimum) ●●●.