28 December, 2006


Here are a few more DVDs I enjoyed in 2006:

GOJIRA [Classic Media]: Two disc set containing excellent transfers of the first, and still best, Toho giant monster epic, Ishiro Honda's GOJIRA (1954), uncut and with English subtitles, and GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956), the radically altered US release, featuring Raymond Burr. Both discs are supported by informative commentary tracks, original theatrical trailers and related featurettes. Of course, we must mention here that Jess Franco paid tribute to Godzilla by including his Aurora monster model incarnation in NECORNOMICON/SUCCUBUS.

THE CONFORMIST [Paramount]: A gorgeous presentation of Bernardo Bertolucci's best film to date, this extended version restores several scenes which have been missing for decades. I saw this on the big screen in the early 1970s several times and it looks even better on this DVD. One of the great films of the 1970s finally available on DVD at an amazingly low price.

WARRIORS [Mill Creek]: Yes, the print quality on most of the 50[!] sword and sandal epics collected here ranges from fair to poor, but where else can you get this many vintage genre movies for a fistful of dollars? Spread across 13 discs, these are Italian produced
pepla from the 1950s and early 1960s which were hurriedly produced in the wake of the success of HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED. A few of these are partially letterboxed and have fairly good color. We really need R1 2.35:1 transfers from original elements with Italian language options of such outstanding films as Riccardo Freda's GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960) and Giacomo Gentilomo's viking saga (partially directed by Mario Bava) THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961), not to mention a correctly outfitted R1 DVD of Vittorio Cottafavi's original HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS (1962), before the Woolners butchered it into HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN. LION OF THEBES, HERO OF ROME, THE TEN GLADIATORS, MOLE MEN VS THE SON OF HERCULES, starring such then popular musclemen as Mark Forest, Gordon Scott, Dan Vadis and Ed Fury, are among the titles included. I just enjoyed the hell out of this package and it's unlikely all of these will have deluxe R1 DVD presentations in near future.

CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS/WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS [Dark Sky Films]: A "DRIVE-IN DOUBLE FEATURE" cotaining beautiful new transfers of two early 1960's sci-fi oddities . Antonio Margheriti's 1964 WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS is presented in a dubbed, letterboxed print which restores its intended vintage space-comix aesthetic with the most delirious colors imaginable on display. This may be the least of his four GAMMA ONE fantascienzia features, but it's very nice to see it in a pristine print. Now, if we could only get a DVD boxset of the entire quartet...

HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE [Anolis]: This R2 DVD was my favorite import of 2006. It's not from a perfect source, but it looks like a FILM rather than a digitally enhanced experience. Read Squonkmatic's definitive appraisal on the Paul Naschy topic on the LATARNIA FORUMS. This is the closest you will get to how audiences probably experienced the film back in 1972. What really clinches the deal is a detailed, passionate commentary track from writer-star Paul Naschy, in German (he speaks it perfectly) with Eng subs. Naschy details his intentions, the film's production and reminisces about even the most minor actors in his heartfelt, droll fashion which made this the best DVD commentary I have ever heard. Among the impressive extras is a vintage Super 8mm cut of the film. "Those Germans...." Thank you, Paul Naschy!

(c) Robert Monell 2006

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