Film & DVD Reviews

Please Note: from Thursday June 3 to Friday June 4th the sites and alternate blog site will be offline to allow an important server switch. In an ideal world the switchover should be done by Saturday, and the sites will be up & running by Sunday. Blogs are other sundries will still be up & running at

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There's a weird irony at work right now. MGM has no money and is unable to forge ahead with the next James Bond film, nor Peter Jackson's production of The Hobbit, with the latter losing director Guillermo del Toro after 2 years in detailed pre-production. (Further info: 1 --- 2). Jackson and del Toro are the types willing to fully develop a project from script to full production, ensuring the film has been giving the best level of attention and care in getting it right.

As a contrast, there's Universal, who has money (and is solvent), but fumbled its new version of The Wolfman earlier this year. Based on Robert Siodmak's 1941 script, the film went through a few screenwriters, a new director, and another set of editors before it emerged in theatres this past January. Danny Elfman’s music was in the picture, out of the picture, and back in again, with extra music written by three composers to fill in the gaps.

The original running time was reportedly 125 mins, but it emerged in a shorter 102 min, version that didn’t please filmgoers with its awkward pacing, and wooden central performance by co-producer / star Benicio Del Toro. Unsurprisingly, director Joe Johnston went back to the editing suite and restored material that should’ve stayed there in the first place, but he had the good sense to leave a lengthy London rampage extension out of the film.

Universal’s Blu-ray contains that and additional deleted footage, and I’ve updated the film review with details of the newly restored material.

Another flawed horror film is the Spierig Bros.’ vampire opus Daybreakers, which was released last month in an excellent BR edition (Canada: Maple / USA: Lionsgate) with lots of extras, including the pair’s first short film, The Big Picture. In addition to reviews of Daybreakers and the short, I’ve added the full text to an interview with composer Christopher Gordon, of which an edited version appeared in Issue 97 of Rue Morgue Magazine, where Daybreakers was the cover story.

Next is a review of Fernando Arrabal’s 1983 film version of his play Car Cemetery / Le cimetière des voitures, starring Juliet Berto and Alain Bashung (who also composed the film’s music). Cult Epics’ DVD boasts a new (and very crisp) transfer from an HD master, and Arrabal’s reworking of the Christ passion play has aged quite well, given its setting and décor is a post-apocalyptic punk world.

Lastly, among the Ontario Cinematheque’s showcased stars this month is actor James Mason, who co-starred with Ava Gardner in Albert Lewin’s dreamy, weird, and ridiculously sensuous Technicolor production Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951). The film was apparently out of circulation for decades, although it has been available on DVD here via KINO.

In 2009, Pandora enjoyed a theatrical revival in its new and improved version that restored the film to its blazing Technicolor glory. Photographed by Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes), the film is among the top colour films of all time, and should be seen on the big screen. The restored version will make its DVD and BR debut August 3 in North America (KINO) and August 9 in the UK (Park Circus).

Lewin, best known for what’s still the best adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), only directed six films between 1942-1957, and in tandem with Pandora’s re-release June 22, I’ll have reviews of almost all of his directorial work, some on DVD, a lot of it not.

Please note that, as stated at the top, both and the Editor’s Blog at will be offline Thursday June 3 and Friday June 4 due to a server switch. In the interim, I’ll post new material at the main Editor’s Blog site,, and ideally both sites and content will be up, running, and in their proper places by Sunday June 6.

Thanks in advance for your patience, and if the switchover does indeed make Word Press more robust, the first stages of’s mobile version should be active by July 1st.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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