An off-beat, minimalist thriller from idiosyncratic director Maxwell Munden, The House in the Woods stars B-movie stalwarts Patricia Roc and Michael Gough as a trendy couple who get in over their head in their quest for a little peace and quiet. Though The House in the Woods is presented here in a brand-new transfer from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, there are still some issues with the soundtrack. While they have been corrected as much as possible viewers will notice intermittent audio issues. Geoffrey Carter a highly strung author suffering from writer's block petulantly insists to his wife that they flee their annoying neighbours and move somewhere more peaceful. They find a delightfully remote woodland cottage which the owner a melancholic, widowed artist with a Larry Adler fixation is happy to rent them at a pittance. All too soon they realise that something is not quite right with their landlord and, much to Geoffrey's horror, he realises that the plot of his new murder mystery is being played out for real...
The Shaw Brothers veered into outright fantasy territory with HUMAN GODDESS - and often hilarious and very timely look at the state of Hong Kong in the early 1970s! Released in 1972 to adoring audiences, and directed by the iconic Meng Hua Ho (BLACK MAGIC/ MIGHTY PEKING MAN) this is an oddball outing even by the estoric standards of 88 Films and our immortal Asian film line! Taking audiences back to an era of troubled romance, painful poverty and greedy land tycoons - all of whom have to answer to an angel (played by the gorgeous Shanghai-born Li Ching) who has been sent from heaven to look after the residents of the former British colony - HUMAN GODDESS holds up as a riotious viewing experience even today. A mash-up of several genres - from sex comedy to space-age optimism and even political satire - HUMAN GODDESS is one of the most astute Hong Kong movies of its decade and a must-see for anyone curious about the golden age of Hong Kong cinema! Only 88 Films could have brought this true obscurity back from the vaults in a stunning HD transfer that will surely win over a new generation of vixen-enthusiastic viewers.
The first of the horror films producer VAL LEWTON (The Body Snatcher, I Walked with a Zombie) made for RKO Pictures redefined the genre by leaving its most frightening terrors to its audience’s imagination. SIMONE SIMON (La bête humaine) stars as a Serbian émigré in Manhattan who believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves (KENT SMITH) will turn her into a feline predator. Lewton, a consummate producer-auteur who oversaw every aspect of his projects, found an ideal director in JACQUES TOURNEUR (Out of the Past), a chiaroscuro stylist adept at keeping viewers off-kilter with startling compositions and psychological innuendo. Together, they eschewed the canned effects of earlier monster movies in favour of shocking with subtle shadows and creative audio cues. One of the studio’s most successful movies of the 1940s, Cat People raised the creature feature to new heights of sophistication and mystery.SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:New, restored 2K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrackAudio commentary from 2005 featuring film historian Gregory Mank, with excerpts from an audio interview with actor Simone SimonVal Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a 2008 feature length documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary Hollywood producerInterview with director Jacques Tourneur from 1977New interview with cinematographer John Bailey about the look of the filmTrailerPLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’BrienClick Images to Enlarge
The closest British film ever got to having its own Garbo, Madeleine Carroll continues to fascinate viewers nearly ninety years after her cinematic debut. Lazy journalism has reinforced and perpetuated the cinematic myth that she was purely a Hitchcock creation (springing fully formed into the limelight courtesy of smash-hit drama The 39 Steps), but nothing is further from the truth. By the time she worked with Hitchcock, Carroll had been successfully acting in films for seven years, her early body of work coinciding with an incredibly exciting period in film history – the transition from silent film to sound. Though she had notable successes both in Britain (Atlantic, The Dictator) and Hollywood (The General Died at Dawn, The Prisoner of Zenda), her idiosyncratic entry into films (via a beauty competition), peripatetic body of work and all-but-abandonment of her career following her sister's death during the Blitz have ensured that her career is reduced time and again to just a namecheck for The 39 Steps, which – while certainly a worthy epitaph – is a disservice nonetheless. By 1931, Carroll had successfully made the transition from support player to lead actor, and her role in Fascination as Gwenda Farrell – a jaded actress on the rebound – is arguably one of her best. Ostensibly the bad girl in a tale of marital infidelity, her warm, vulnerable performance – especially so in her scenes with Dorothy Bartlam (as good girl Vera) – shows just how good she could be with the right material. A significant degree of the credit for this successful character interplay can be laid at the door of director Miles Mander. Acting in British films since 1920, within a decade Mander had expanded his activities and had become an accomplished playwright, scriptwriter, dialogue polisher and director. He had scored a major hit in 1928, writing, directing and starring in The First Born – based on his own play and starring opposite Madeleine Carroll. He followed this up with an adaptation of another of his plays – The Woman Between, trade-shown in January 1931 – and then went straight into Fascination, which was shot at BIP's Elstree studios for Regina Films and trade-shown a few months later, in July 1931. Mander's obvious skill is in coaxing appealing performances out of all his actors – from the three leads, through supporting actors (special mention for Kay Hammond as Gwenda's airhead girlfriend) and even down to the walk-ons – the grievously disappointed drunken toff, for instance, is a classic bit of comedy business. Unfortunately, Mander directed only three more films before concentrating wholly on acting, carving out a lucrative niche during his final working years as an in-demand character actor. From a technical point of view the film is rough around the edges, but there's a noticeable Warhol/Factory-style energy inherent in both the direction and performances which carries things through. Its script (courtesy of BIP stalwart Victor Kendall) tries gamely to transcend its theatrical origins, creating a film which gives a good kicking to the cherished prejudice that all pre-war British films are either low-rent quota fodder or high-minded, middle-class frippery. It also presents a final act so devastatingly modern in its interpersonal relationships that it beggars belief that this film is actually just over fifteen years shy of celebrating its centenary. Despite going on general release across the country, only one copy of Fascination is known to exist – a 35mm print held at the bfi in its original nitrate format. Being an original exhibition print, continuous cinema projection during its theatrical run has resulted in missing frames, tears and general film damage throughout. The soundtrack is in a similar condition and, though restored as much as possible, subtitles have been created specifically for this DVD release as an aid to the viewing experience. Transferred in 2014 courtesy of a grant from the bfi's Unlocking Film Heritage fund, Fascination is one of those joyous (re)discoveries which definitively fills a gap in our knowledge of early British talkies whilst opening our eyes to how daring such films could be in the right hands. Despite its technical shortcomings, this is a film worth watching. Directed by multi-talented writer, director and actor Miles Mander, Fascination stars a luminous Madeleine Carroll heading up a strong cast in this light-hearted, emotionally engaging drama from the early 1930s. Childhood sweethearts Vera and Larry Maitland have been happily married for several years. When Larry encounters vampish actress Gwenda Farrell, however, he lets himself be led astray... and when Vera finds out the truth, her solution is a novel one! Fascination is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the only remaining copy of the film known to exist - a nitrate print. Though it has gone through a restoration process viewers will notice a drop in quality compared to other films in this range.