British Chills

Just uploaded is another pair of British thrillers from the Paramount library via Legend Films in anamorphic transfers:

- The Man Who Could Cheat Death, Terence Fisher’s somewhat visually stale film for Hammer Films that’s nevertheless transcended by a great story that has eeeeevil Anton Diffring doing his damndest to stay young, and pretty Hazel Court as the love interest with serious self-esteem issues. (Note: like Phase IV, The Sender, and The Deadly Bees, Man/Death is currently a Best Buy exclusive, but is also available via Legend’s online site.)

- The Skull, Freddie Francis’ 1965 film version of Robert Bloch’s wacko story that has the flying skull of the Marquis De Sade threatening poor Peter Cushing. (The Skull, incidentally, was written and co-produced by Milton Subotsky, who also wrote Richard Lester’s feature film debut, It’s Trad Dad - a long unavailable title in Region 1 land that I really, really hope will see the light, given Skull and Trad both involved Amicus.)

Legend’s wave of Paramount titles, particularly the rare British ones, is a good sign that some of the UK films financed by major U.S. studios during the mid-sixties to early seventies are finally making their way to DVD (and about bloody time).

To further the issue, the release of Peter Watkins’ Privilege (via Project X/New Yorker Video in the U.S., and Morningstar in Canada) as well as Region 2 releases of Peter Yates’ Robbery and Peter Collinson’s Up the Junction mean some rarely seen films are slowly making their way to DVD (or the DVD labels at large have moved from directors named Paul to, uhm, Peter).

Eventually we’ll have a review of these gems, but their availability (albeit in Europe only) brings attention to director Collinson, whose best-known work is the original (and very zippy) Italian Job. And this nagging question: where is The Penthouse, his 1967 debut that apparently caused a stir during its original theatrical run?

We *will* have a review of the film, albeit from an ugly PAL VHS release, but the question begs as to why this risqué film, based on a play, has never received a (legit) DVD release.

Watch for a review of The Penthouse (plus another Collinson shocker) within two weeks, as well as an interview with Harkit Records’ Michael Fishberg, who discusses their release of the Penthouse soundtrack, as well as Christopher Komeda and the new Rosemary’s Baby CD.

Next: more soundtracks, reviews of Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch (Project X), and the refreshing documentary The Dali Dimension: Decoding the Mind of a Genius (MVD Visual).

And imminent: the last two Masters of Horror titles from Anchor Bay’s skull, plus the Canadian crime series Durham Country (also from Anchor Bay/Starz).


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