31 December, 2008

2008: Bests/Goodbyes

Although technically a 2007 release GEORGE A. ROMERO'S DIARY OF THE DEAD was the best film I saw theatrically this past year. Actually, one of the very few films I saw theatrically in 2008. But what's important is that it's probably the most underrated of Romero's forty-year-and-still-going zombie cycle and maybe the most chilling since the first, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). The gore is there as always with Romero's zombie films but he has something significant to say about our current internet era where how many hits one gets on one's website can be as consuming an obsession as surviving a onslaught of the living dead. And Romero doesn't see humanity's chances for survival as a workable proposition unless we really make some drastic changes. This didn't get much play theatrically. If you don't have the DVD, get it. This really rewards repeat viewings.

A belated goodbye to Malvin Wald, screenwriter of the police procedural classic THE NAKED CITY (1948), a member of the Hollywood 10, writer of numerous TV scripts and credited co-screenwriter on Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS (1969). Wald died earlier this year at the age of 90 after a busy writing career and later teaching screenwriting as USC.

A fond farewell to BCI Eclipse which is being closed down by its parent company. Over the last few years they released a number of excellent presentations of vintage Paul Naschy/Spanish horror including THE LORELEY'S GRASP, BLUE EYES OF BROKEN DOLLS and HUMAN BEASTS in their OAR, with Spanish language options available, Carlos Aured/Paul Naschy commentaries on HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB and BLUE EYES... and numerous extras. Cliff MacMillan is some kind of hero in my book.

Finally, a 2.35:1 transfer from excellent elements of this 1965 Amicus production which illustrates how skillful Robert Bloch was as a screenwriter and how underrated Freddie Francis was as a director.

See you next year.

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