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HOME VIDEO HERALD: RAGE IN HEAVEN (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 5, 2012 (San Diego) – There is a scene in Rage in Heaven in which Philip (Robert Montgomery) lures Ward (George Sanders) up to a scaffold at a steel mill where a worker fell and instantly perished in a pile of molten steel. According to the workers, the scaffold’s oblique positioning is such that it’s impossible for anyone to see anything. As Philip convinces Ward to lean over and look down, he’s ready to push the man to his death.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: ...TICK...TICK...TICK... (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 24, 2012 (San Diego) – Alfred Hitchcock once opined that a great film requires three things: the script, the script and the script. I would also add a fourth element, the title. A movie’s title need not be catchy, but it must hook the potential moviegoer while describing what it’s about. It could be as simple as Titanic or it could be as long as The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

March 6, 2012 (San Diego) – Anthology films are like short story collections and concept albums. Like the former, they offer an eclectic selection of stories. Like a concept album, an anthology film’s stories can sometimes be connected to a certain theme or share similar qualities.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: ALEX IN WONDERLAND (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

January 11, 2012 (San Diego) – After I watched Alex in Wonderland, available from the Warner Archive Collection, I remembered an interview I saw that featured independent director Henry Jaglom. At one point he said Steven Spielberg and George Lucas ruined the movies for him because after the massive box office successes of Jaws and Star Wars, it became about events, distraction, mass entertainment, and mechanization.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: DEMON SEED (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

January 3, 2011 (San Diego) – Demon Seed, available from the Warner Archive Collection and adapted from a novel by Dean Koontz, may borrow from Rosemary’s Baby and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I still felt like I hadn’t seen anything like it before.

 

Demon Seed starts out ten minutes too slow in showing the separation between Susan Harris (Julie Christie) and her husband Alex (Fritz Weaver). Their daughter died of leukemia and Alex has spent hundreds of hours tirelessly working on Proteus 4, an artificial brain. As a result, the two become estranged and Alex temporarily moves out for a few months, leaving Susan home alone.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE PACK (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

October 12, 2011 (San Diego) – The 1950s spawned a then-novel horror subgenre. Many of these movies involved everyday animals and insects attacking entire cities after being transformed into giants (usually thanks to atomic testing or laboratory experiments).

 

After years of dormancy, this subgenre made a comeback in the 1970s, only this time the animals tended to be their normal sizes. However, they were just as deadly. Films of this kind included Frogs (1972), Grizzly (1976), Day of the Animals (1977), and The Pack (1977), the latter of which is now available from the Warner Archive Collection.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: HEARTS OF THE WEST

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – Hearts of the West, available from the Warner Archive Collection, is a film about westerns that was released at an inopportune time. The year was 1975, a time in which the western genre was falling out of favor with audiences and studios alike. Over the three-plus decades since, there have been some notable exceptions, such as Unforgiven. But the genre has been nowhere near as popular as it was from the 1930s to the 1960s.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – The first five minutes of The Woman on the Beach are ominous, spellbinding and foreboding. Hanns Eisler’s booming and menacing score accompany the opening credits. The frame is backdropped with shots of the alluring beach and its forceful, foamy, and frothy tide. It’s a simple sequence of shots, but they’re chilling.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE DOUBLE MAN

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 17, 2011 (San Diego) – As a kid I remember watching The Parent Trap (1961). That was the Disney movie that starred Hayley Mills as two separated-at-birth twins. It was the film that probably didn’t invent it, but it certainly perfected the split screen technique that enabled the same actor to appear as separate characters in the same scene.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: DARK OF THE SUN

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 9, 2011 (San Diego) – Dark of the Sun (1968) was one of the first films to cash in on The Dirty Dozen’s success. Both films are set in war-torn countries, both are about do-or-die missions, and both feature football great Jim Brown (his second film after his retirement). The similarities end there. Judging it on its own terms, Dark of the Sun is uneven but when it’s good it makes you wish the rest of the movie were just as brutal and action-packed. When it drags, it really suffers.

 

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