DVD Round-Up

Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages

Hallowe’en is almost upon us so let’s delve into the DVD dungeon. We have to start with Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (Starz) •••••. Much imitated but rarely bettered, John Carpenter set the groundwork for every slasher film that followed and this anniversary edition (we’ll forgive their crummy maths as it was actually released 29 years ago) packs in a hefty wad of extras (the release is available in two and four disc versions). Staying with the modern masters of horror, Wes Craven’s little seen Deadly Blessing (Arrow Films) •••, starring a young Sharon Stone, gets its first DVD release this month. Set in a sinister, Amish-like community the film features a few decent creepy moments, but it drags in places and the ending descends into off-the-wall lunacy.

The truly old school 1922 docudrama Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Tartan) ••••, comes packaged with the silent original and the 1968 William Burroughs-narrated version. This is sophisticated and innovative early cinema. Moving swiftly onto the golden age of British horror, the untouchable Hammer House of Horror, The Brides of Dracula (Showbox) ••• and The Evil of Frankenstein (Showbox) ••• both star Peter Cushing but sadly suffer from a distinct lack of Christopher Lee.

If you want cult perfection dig out Basket Case (Tartan) •••• a super- cheap 80s oddity about a young man and whatever the hell he’s got in his basket. Funny, weird and gory, this is just the kind of freaky stuff indie horror cinema is made of. Let’s keep it cheap and nasty – Lucio Fulci made the demented pseudo-classics The Beyond and Zombie Flesheaters (and perhaps has more entries on the 1984 Video Nasties list than any other director). New York Ripper (Shameless) •••• is depraved Italian gaillo fun, but you’ll feel dirty for weeks for having enjoyed it.

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