Madhouse Review - 0:33
Blood of Fu Manchu and Castle of Fu Manchu Review - 7:40
Jacques Rivette Collection Review -19:02
Shout Out - 34:07
Contest Drawing 35:25
New Contest 36:20
“Madhouse” Review by MrParka
Another Video Nasty is on special edition Blu-Ray thanks to Arrow films, Ovidio G. Assonitis 1981 slasher film “Madhouse”. The film is presented in top notch form both looking and sounding amazing.
“Madhouse” follows the story of Julia and Mary Sullivan, twin sisters with a major rift in their relationship. Mary, who suffers from disfiguring disease and mental illness, is currently residing in an asylum and Julia teaches deaf mute kids. Julia has major resentment toward her sister due to a disturbing childhood riddled with abuse. Mary apparently used her anger and a large pet dog to carry out vicious assaults, scarring her sister for life. These assaults would climax on the pair's birthday every year, where Mary had a special party planned. In typical slasher fashion, the dangerous twin Mary escapes the mental asylum days before the pair’s birthday. With the help of a large dog under Mary’s command, she begins killing and stockpiling bodies, biding for time until they can have one last birthday party.
The story and twists of “Madhouse” are fairly typical. We have many familiar tropes of the genre; the crazy sibling angle, the escape mental patient, the evil dog, and the birthday killer surprise party. These tropes have all been done before, sometimes better and sometimes worse than in “Madhouse”. These similarities are hardly a surprise as the director was known to be the 'rip-off king,' previously making a name for himself with such films as the “Exorcist” rip-off “Beyond the Door” and the ridiculous “Jaws” knockoff ,“Tentacles”. Saying this, “Madhouse” does have some really nice touches that some of the previous slasher and supernatural films don’t, such as top notch cinematography and some genuine dramatic moments. Many of these dramatic scenes are shot in wide angles and framed for suspense. These wide angles also give the filmmakers a chance to show off the lovely city of Savannah, Georgia, where the film was made. Riz Ortolani supplies the score for the film using tracks and cues from his iconic and beautiful “Cannibal Holocaust” score. The bits chosen out of the score for “Madhouse” are some of the more particularly harsh sounding songs. The chosen tracks create a strange primitive layer in the film. The characters surrounding our lead are a strange bunch, especially the fellow apartment compatriots. They feel as if they have come straight from the film “Rosemary’s Baby” or probably, more appropriately in terms of quality, “The Sentinel”. The characters are over the top and bizarre with kinks and quirks that make them somewhat interesting and sympathetic. Our landlady, for example, carries herself with such kindness and outward friendliness that it almost makes the viewer sick to their stomach when she becomes a victim. The death scenes are all cruel and fairly gory but, surprisingly, the cruelest death happens off screen. A park resident close to Julia goes to retrieve a Frisbee only to be met by our slasher’s vicious guard dog, with a hard cut to a body bag being carted away. This awful attack is made a bit sadder as the viewer was previously given a misdirection to think that the possible victim may be safe after all. The most famous gore gag in the film is that of the exit of our furry menace which involves a power drill. The twist in the film isn’t hidden well, but it never acts as if it is, and we aren’t given much closure from it. By the end the baddies are expired, but everyone is worst off for it. As Julia stands covered in blood, her face twisted into a frantic state, the question comes up; will Julia suffer the same fate as her psychotic sister? Riz Ortolani’s primitive savage score seems to make a suggestion.
All and all, “Madhouse” is a well-made nasty slasher with good dramatic moments, decent gore, and a solid cast and crew that manage to carry some of the heavier scenes without spoiling them. Arrow has included commentary by Hysteria Continues, an interview with actress Edith Ivey, an interview with DP Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli, and an interview with Director Ovidio G. Assonitis. The commentary is fairly informative about the types of films and comparisons to other work around the time. The cast and crew interviewees come across grateful that people still have interest in the film, even if they aren’t particular interested in the genre. Ovidio Assonitis gives a brief interview about the film and his career; he recalls the people involved and his involvement in horror films. A top notch presentation of a somewhat underappreciated flick and a healthy dose of extras make this one a winner. For anyone sick of watching the same 10 slashers, Arrow’s “Madhouse” is well worth the time.
MANY PEOPLE VISIT ... NO ONE EVER LEAVES. Helmed by legendary producer/director Ovidio Assonitis, the man behind such cult favourites as The Visitor and Piranha II: The Spawning, Madhouse is a crimson-soaked tale of sibling rivalry taken to a terrifying and bloody extreme. Julia has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary... but Mary hasn't forgotten. Escaping hospital, where she's recently been admitted with a horrific, disfiguring illness, Julia's sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling this year - promising a birthday surprise that she'll never forget. An Italian production shot entirely in Savannah, Georgia, Madhouse (aka And When She Was Bad and There Was a Little Girl) fuses slasher elements with the over-the-top excess of '80s Italian terror - resulting in a cinematic bloodbath so gut-wrenching that the British authorities saw fit to outlaw it as a "video nasty".
Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations
Original Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
Brand new interviews with cast and crew
Alternate opening titles
Theatrical Trailer, newly transferred in HD
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film
https://mvdshop.com/products/madhouse-blu-ray-dvd-blu-ray - buy here
Between the Hammer Dracula films, Christopher Lee had to stay busy. The result is the Fu Manchu films. The last two films of the Fu Manchu series are presented in HD from Blue Underground. Both of these “gems” are directed appropriately by Jess Franco, in hokey fashion.
“The Blood of Fu Manchu” is the first on the disc. This time around, Fu Manchu (Lee) is using women lined with venomous snake poison to travel around the world and deliver the "kiss of death" to his enemies. It is up to the typical heroes Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, along with a gun toting German anthropologist Carl Jensen, to stop the evil plan. Nayland Smith's time is limited, however, as he has been poisoned and has gone blind.
For the late 60s, “Blood of Fu Manchu” manages to pack in a fair amount of sleaze, nudity, and carnage. Women are tortured, towns are butchered, and people are poisoned. It would be rather shocking if it weren't done so silly; the blood is paint, the falling bodies are bad dummies, the fight scenes are laughable, and the dialogue forgets the scene that happened previously. Saying all this, “Blood of Fu Manchu” manages to keep the audience entertained; it doesn't ever stop being ludicrous and this is the films only strong point. “Blood of Fu Manchu” mixes spy, jungle adventures, and western genres into a mismatch tale of nonsense. A truly despicable character played by Ricardo Palacios stands out due to being comic relief and a complete monster simultaneously.
The second title on the bill is the final nail in the coffin for Fu Manchu “The Castle of Fu Manchu”. This time around, our evil genius has kidnapped a scientist to help him create a device that freezes the earth’s water. Of course Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie are the only hope in stopping him. A doctor and nurse lover duo, an Istanbul crime lord, and his female body guard get tangled into the mess.
“The Castle of Fu Manchu” is a much tamer affair and feels as if it should have come before “Blood of Fu Manchu”. One can’t help but be reminded of the Hammer Dracula series yet again, when one of the middle films in the series would be sprinkled with nudity and gore followed by a sequel that is much tamer. The most impressive work in “The Castle of Fu Manchu” is the miniatures; the dam breaking scene is an impressive feat and manages to be edited well to hide any use of inserts or stock footage. The boat miniature is done well enough too, allowing high stakes on a low budget. Again we have some of the same problems from the previous film, the fights are bad and the dialogue is painful, especially from director Jess Franco’s character, most likely due to his character’s poor dubbing. Lee is pretty much wasted behind his silly makeup and, to make matters worse, we don’t have any of the carnage and nudity to soften the boring burden of “the Castle of Fu Manchu”. By the end of the movie, Fu Manchu gets away and threatens to come back. Lucky for us, he lied.
For being cheap films made in the 60’s they look good on Blu-Ray. The disc sports two featurettes which are actually quite amazing, made in the early 2000’s. The featurettes include interviews with Actor Christopher Lee, Producer Harry Alan Towers, Director Jess Franco, and Actress Tsai Chin. Everyone is candid about the movies and seems to know what they are. Tsai Chin and Harry Alan Towers don’t hold back on their feelings towards the final film and make some jokes at Franco’s expense. The featurettes are also interesting and help one grasp how it was to make cheap films in the 60’s and try to carry on a franchise.
THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU: From his secret lair deep within the South American jungle, international super-villain Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee of COUNT DRACULA) and his sadistic daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) reveal their latest diabolical plot for world domination: ten beautiful women are infected with an ancient poison so deadly that one kiss from their lips will bring instant death and lead to a global plague. Now the Asian madman's nemesis, Nayland Smith (Richard Greene of TALES FROM THE CRYPT), must desperately hunt an antidote in a savage land where violence and torture reign and the ultimate evil lies in THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU.
Maria Rohm (VENUS IN FURS) and Shirley Eaton (GOLDFINGER) co-star in this wild Fu Manchu feature written and produced by Harry Alan Towers (EUGENIE) and directed by the one and only Jess Franco (VAMPYROS LESBOS). Also known as KISS AND KILL, AGAINST ALL ODDS, and KISS OF DEATH, Blue Underground presents THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU in High Definition, complete with additional scenes of violence!
THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU: Christopher Lee (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) returns as the diabolical super-villain who, along with his sadistic daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin of CASINO ROYALE), creates a fiendish new chemical weapon that will turn the seas into a giant block of ice. But when his archenemy Nayland Smith (Richard Greene of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) tracks the madman's trail of kidnapping, murder and massive global destruction, he himself becomes trapped in Fu Manchu's impenetrable lair of cruelty. Can any of the world's top secret agents (including a wild performance by Jess Franco) stop the cold-blooded terror that lives in THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU?
Maria Perschy (THE GHOST GALLEON) and Rosalba Neri (99 WOMEN) co-star in this notorious sequel directed by Jess Franco (THE BLOODY JUDGE) that marked Christopher Lee's final performance as the infamous Chinese madman. Now Blue Underground presents THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU in High Definition, packed with Extras for a disc full of Fu Manchu mayhem!
Special Features for THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU:
- The Rise of Fu Manchu - Interviews with Director Jess Franco, Producer Harry Alan Towers, and Stars Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, & Shirley Eaton
- Theatrical Trailers
- Still Gallery
Special Features for THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU:
- The Fall of Fu Manchu - Interviews with Director Jess Franco, Producer Harry Alan Towers, and Stars Christopher Lee & Tsai Chin
- Theatrical Trailers Poster
- Still Gallery
https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Fu-Manchu-Castle-Blu-ray/dp/B06X95LBJ8/ - Buy Here
In 1975, Jacques Rivette reunited with Out 1 producer Stéphane Tchal Gadjieff with the idea of a four-film cycle. He would create a quartet of interconnected films, each in a different genre. One was to be a love story, another a Western, and there was to be a fantastical thriller and a musical comedy starring Anna Karina and Jean Marais too. Ill health intervened, and only two of the films were completed. Duelle (une quarantine) sees Rivette in fantasy territory, cross-pollinating Val Lewton, Jean Cocteau and film noir as the Queen of the Sun (Bulle Ogier) and the Queen of the Night (Juliet Berto) search for a magical diamond in present day. Its parallel film, Noroît (une vengeance), is a pirate tale - and a loose adaptation of The Revenger's Tragedy - starring Geraldine Chaplin (Nashville, Cría cuervos). A third film began production - Marie et Julien starring Albert Finney and Leslie Caron - but Rivette succumbed to nervous exhaustion and shooting was abandoned. When he did return to filmmaking, Rivette borrowed some of the elements of Duelle and Noroît and came up with Merry-Go-Round. Joe Dallesandro (Trash, Flesh for Frankenstein) and Maria Schneider (Last Tango in Paris, The Passenger) are summoned to Paris, which leads to one of the most surreal and mysterious tales in a career that was dominated by surrealism and mystery.
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of all three films from brand new 2K restorations of the films
Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
Optional newly-translated English subtitles for all films
Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers - archive interview with the director, in which he discusses Duelle (une quarantaine), Noroît (une vengeance) and Merry-Go-Round
Remembering Duelle - Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz recollect their work on the 1976 feature
Interview with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who reported from the sets of both Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance)
Exclusive perfect-bound book containing writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens and Nick Pinkerton plus a reprint of four on-set reports from Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance)
Reversible sleeves with original and newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick
https://mvdshop.com/products/jacques-rivette-collection-limited-edition-blu-ray-dvd-blu-ray - buy here
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