Showing posts with label 1974. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1974. Show all posts

20 February 2014

Blu-Ray Review - Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)

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Fantasy, Horror, Comedy
Arrow Video
Rating: 15
Brian DePalma
Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper
Buy: Phantom of the Paradise Steelbook [Blu-ray]

Phantom of the Paradise came out after Brian De Palma’s Sisters which was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Georges Franju. It also predated the glam rock meets horror film musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show in which comparisons can easily be made. It’s also one of De Palma’s finest films to date; only some of the later films like Carrie, Blow Out (his masterpiece) or his most widely known film Scarface transcend it.

It’s partly inspired by Phantom of the Opera, but what’s probably a more noticeable inspiration is the old tale of Faust. Cinema has been retelling the story of Faust since the early days of film- from Murnau’s film of Faust to Terry Gilliam’s Dr. Parnassus. It’s also a biting satire on the music business with the Devil incarnated as Paul Williams, the record label boss of Swan, who also wrote all the film’s songs.

William Finley - who has been working with De Palma since his student film days - plays the Phantom. The Phantom starts out life as a Randy Newman, an Elton John type character or indeed any early 70s singer/songwriter type named Winslow Leach. Swan likes Randy’s music, and in turn decides to steal it because he needs a catalyst to open his new venue The Paradise. Winslow objects and is thrown into jail but escapes and attempts to destroy the record label's pressing of the cover of his song. Following Winslow's disfiguration from his accident, he becomes the phantom and begins to seek revenge.

It would be unfair not to mention Gerrit Graham’s stellar performance as Beef; the ridiculously camp rock n roll diva who is set to headline The Paradise. One of the film’s greatest gimmicks are the band’s that Swan manages, changing names and styles throughout - from the Juicy Fruits (50s nostalgia band) to The Undead (Alice Cooper esq. rock) – they are all the same band. Jessica Harper, who actually starred in the quasi sequel to Rocky Horror Shock Treatment, plays the young singer the Phantom is trying to pursue.

Jack Fisk, who is one of the most well respected production designers in the business, designed the film. He is married to Sissy Spacek (who is credited as a set dresser on the film) and has worked with Terrence Malick, PT Anderson, David Lynch et el. It’s beautifully designed with bright colourful sets, and it’s also one of the best shot films of De Palma’s career with great use of fish eye lenses, long takes and split screen - all techniques of which De Palma made his name, while it even includes one if not the best on-screen parody of the shower scene in Psycho.

Phantom of the Paradise was very ahead of its time, coming out before Glam Rock became big in the US due to massive success of Kiss, who have been accused of ripping off the Undead’s makeup. Over the years it’s gained a rabid cult following with notable fans including Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro. It’s also one of the most scathing attacks on the music business in film history. The reception and the film’s lack of commercial success may be due to the its tone, which is extremely zany in a Sam Raimi-esque way, but the next scene can be a slice of gothic horror.

The disc includes a great documentary on the film, which was previously only available on the French special editions (where the film was a big hit). The biggest new extra is a fantastic 70-minute interview with Guillermo Del Toro interviewing Paul Williams. Typically of Arrow, the transfer and sound is top notch.


Ian Schultz

16 January 2014

The Phantom Of Paradise To 'Rock' Your Blu-ray Collection This February

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Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the release of Brian De Palma’s seminal horror fantasy Phantom of the Paradise coming to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK on 24th February. One of 2014’s most hotly anticipated titles from the Arrow Video label, this feature-packed disc will be released as both a Limited Edition SteelBook and deluxe Blu-ray featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress. This exciting Blu-ray release will also include an exclusive collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth and an exploration of the film’s troubled marketing history by Ari Kahan, curator of, illustrated with original stills and promotional material.

Featuring a bumper crop of bonus features such as Paradise Regained, a 50 minute documentary on the making of the film featuring director Brian De Palma, producer Ed Pressman and members of the cast, The Swan Song Fiasco, a new video piece exploring the changes made to the film in post-production plus alternate takes and bloopers from the cutting room floor, original trailers, a gallery of rare stills and most excitingly a newly filmed 70 minute interview where renowned director Guillermo del Toro interviews Paul Williams.

Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise came hot on the heels of his early horror film Sisters. De Palma planned both films at the same time but the complex production design and sets forced Phantom into second place due to budgetary constraints. For those who found Sisters to be too much of a Hitchcock rip-off Phantom of the Paradise is a very different film and finds De Palma working with his most wicked sense of humour in this gothic masterpiece.

Phantom’s devoted fans not only claim this to be De Palma’s best film but also far superior to the Rocky Horror Picture Show for cult musical madness. Phantom of the Paradise also claims many celebrity fans including Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino.


Brian De Palma’s inspired rock ’n’ roll fusion of Faust, The Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray boasts an Oscar-nominated score by Paul Williams, who also stars as an evil record producer who not only steals the work of composer/performer Winslow Leach (William Finley) but gets him locked up in Sing Sing - and that’s not the worst that happens to him along the way.
Few revenge scenarios have ever been so amply justified, but the film is also constantly aware of the satirical possibilities offered by the 1970s music industry, exemplified by Gerrit Graham’s hilariously camp glam-rock star. Jessica Harper (Suspiria) appears in her first major role as the naïve but ambitious singer, on whom Winslow secretly dotes.

Prodigiously inventive both musically and visually, this is one of De Palma’s most entertaining romps, not least because it was so clearly a labour of love.

The super-deluxe package, which is available both as a standard Blu-ray and as a limited edition Blu-ray SteelBook, is full of special features and bonus material. The special features for this edition include:

· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, available in the UK for the first time!

· Original uncompressed Stereo PCM / 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio options

· Isolated Music and Effects soundtrack

· Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

· Paradise Regained – A 50 minute documentary on the making of the film featuring director Brian De Palma, producer Ed Pressman, the late star William Finley, star and composer Paul Williams, co-stars Jessica Harper and Gerrit Graham and more!

· Guillermo Del Toro interviews Paul Williams (72 mins, 2014)

· The Swan Song Fiasco: A new video piece exploring the changes made to the film in post-production

· Archive interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton

· William Finley on the Phantom doll!

· Paradise Lost and Found: Alternate takes and bloopers from the cutting room floor

· Original Trailers

· Radio Spots

· Gallery of rare stills including behind-the-scenes images by photographer Randy Black

· Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth and an exploration of the film’s troubled marketing history by Ari Kahan, curator of, illustrated with original stills and promotional material

· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress [Amaray release only]

· Limited Edition SteelBook™ packaging featuring original artwork [ SteelBook only]

· Booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Kenneth Muir, author of The Films of John Carpenter, as well as a re-print of an interview with production designer John Lloyd and make-up effects artist Steve Johnson on the design and effects of the film, illustrated with archive stills and posters

Phantom Of Paradise will arrive on Blu-ray  on 24th February from Arrow Video, we will be reviewing the film nearer the time, so stay tuned.

You can pre-order/buy Phantom Of Paradise on Blu-ray or Steelbook Blu-ray

21 June 2013

Jack Hill's Foxy Brown / Spider Baby BluRay Review

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The fantastic Arrow Video has released 2 films by Jack Hill films Spider-Baby and Foxy Brown on blu-ray. Jack Hill has been by called “The Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking” by Quentin Tarantino. Jack Hill like many directors of his generation worked for Roger Corman in the 1960s he made such films for Roger as Pit Stop, The Big Doll House and the notorious The Terror (which Francis Ford Coppola directed bits of as well as Monte Hellman and even Jack Nicholson). Spider-Baby however was Jack Hill’s first real film but wasn’t released for years and was never properly released till the 80s/90s.

Spider-Baby is a rare slice of “California Gothic”, very few films are with only Psycho and some of Tim Burton’s films. The film is about these 3 children in puberty who are regressing the evolutionary ladder if you will; a backwards Darwinism if you will. They have a chauffeur Bruno played by Lon Chaney Jr. (the one who played The Wolf Man). The title Spider-Baby refers to Virginia because she is obsessed with Spider and hunts and bills bugs and her spider like movements. The film starts with them killing off an innocent postman. Bruno has mean able to keep the dark family secrets hidden all these years but when some cousins Emily and her brother Peter with their lawyer come it is all revealed over a grotesque dinner.

The film is a predecessor to something like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which it’s depicted of inbred cannibalistic family even though the cannibalism is all implied. It’s a very strange film with a dinner scene reminiscent of the one in Eraserhead. It’s shot in glorious black and white, which really adds to the gothic weirdness of the whole thing. The film starts a hilarious parody of the Monster Mash sung by Lon Chaney. The film also has an early role for Sid Haig as one of the inbred kids. It has in recent years even been adapted into a musical.

Foxy Brown is a very different film to Spider-Baby. It’s a quintessential piece of Blaxploitation and it stars the queen of Blaxploitation Pam Grier as its title character. Jack Hill is known for many things but probably most for discovering Pam Grier with his film The Big Doll House (which like Lon Chaney sang the title song in that film). Pam’s star making role was in the classic Coffy that Jack Hill also directed.

Foxy Brown was originally meant to be a sequel to Coffy due to its surprise success but American-International Pictures at the last minute decided they didn’t want a sequel. The film is some ways is rewrite the Coffy. Pam Grier plays a foxy mama who seeks revenge on some criminals on what they did to her loved one; in Coffy it was her sister. Foxy Brown it’s her boyfriend who is witness protection (he has had cosmetic surgery) who is shot down by a drug syndicate. She poses as a prostitute to infiltrate the organization. She helps one of the prostitute from a life drugs and sexual exploitation. The rest of the film is all revenge themed set pieces including one of castrating.

The film as expecting is a total hoot from start to finish with Pam Grier killing everyone; she literally hides a gun into her Afro in the climax. It’s normal case the soundtrack for Blaxploitation films to have a great soundtrack and it’s certainly the case this time with music by Willie Hutch who also did the score for the pimpin’ classic The Mack. The film is certainly on par with its predecessor Coffy, it may not quite reach the dizzy heights of that film but it’s a blast. The film like Spider-Baby and Coffy also features a supporting role by Sid Haig who Jack Hill knew since his student days. Tarantino famously adapted the title for his masterpiece Jackie Brown that of course stars Pam Grier.

Arrow Video has put lots of love and care into these releases which a wealth of bonus material with a doc on Blaxploitation, a doc on Spider Baby, interviews with Sid Haig, commentaries by Jack Hil on both films, one of Jack Hill’s short films. Arrow is rapidly becoming one of the best home video companies in the UK and look out for more by them in recent months and maybe some day they can release Coffy.


Ian Schultz

Spiderbaby (1968)
Rating: 18
BluRay Release Date: 24th June 2013(UK)
DirectorJack Hill
CastLon Chaney Jr.Carol Ohmart,Quinn K. Redeker,Sid Haig
Buy Spider BabyBlu-ray

Foxy Brown (1974)
Rating: 18
BluRay Release Date: 24th June 2013(UK)
DirectorJack Hill
Cast:  Pam Grier
Buy Foxy Brown: Blu-ray / SteelBook [Blu-ray]

28 May 2013

The One Hit Chick Squad Foxy Brown Finally Getting Her Blu Ray Release!

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She's back to do a job on the mob and finally give fans what they want Blu-Ray version of her film and Arrow Video is pleased to confirm the highly anticipated Blu-ray &Steelbook release of Jack Hill’s landmark Blaxsploitation classic FOXY BROWN on Monday 24th June.

Finally available on Blu-ray for the very first time anywhere in the world, this stunning version of FOXY BROWN features a beautifully restored high-definition transfer, the super-deluxe edition comes approved by Jack Hill himself.

A true innovator of America’s exploitation genre, Arrow will also release another of his trademark films, Spider Baby, on Blu-ray in the coming weeks.

The super-deluxe package, which is available both as a standard Blu-ray and as a limited edition Blu-ray steelbook, is LOADED with special features and bonus material.(full details below trailer)

Featuring audio commentary with Jack Hill, three new and exclusive featurettes, a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and publicity images, original Foxy Brown theatrical trailer (as part of a comprehensive Jack Hill trailer reel) and an in-depth collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Blaxploitation expert Josiah Howard and an interview with Pam Grier by Calum Waddell.

Keeping with what is a now a fan-favoured tradition of Arrow Video restorations, FOXY BROWN will come complete with a reversible sleeve, featuring the original 1974 artwork and a stunning new illustration from The Red Dress.

Quentin Tarantino is a fully-fledged member of the Foxy Brown fan club. He counts Jack Hill as one of his favourite American film directors and biggest influences. Tarantino’s 1997 film "Jackie Brown" pays homage to both Jack Hill and Foxy Brown, and features Pam Grier in the lead role (“Jackie” is a reference to Jack Hill, and “Brown” is a reference to Foxy Brown).


When Foxy Brown’s undercover-agent boyfriend is gunned down on the orders of evil drug kingpins, she stops at nothing to exact a thrillingly brutal revenge. This is one of the all-time great Blaxploitation films, pulling out all the stops at a time long before anyone had thought of political correctness.
After linking her boyfriend's murder to a so-called "modelling agency", Foxy poses as a prostitute to infiltrate the company, saving fellow black women from a life of drugs and sexual exploitation in the process.
Pam Grier was given the role of a lifetime as the street-smart yet intensely sexy Foxy, modelling a stupendously varied range of Seventies threads while righteously kicking villainous white butt at every opportunity.

With an incredible supporting cast, a suitably funkadelic soundtrack and just the right balance of sex and violence, Foxy Brown is still, undisputedly, the meanest chick in town.

The director-approved Special Features included on the deluxe editions of FOXY BROWN are as follows:

- Restored High Definition presentation (1080p), on Blu-ray for the first time in the world!
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Original Uncompressed PCM Mono 2.0 Audio.
- Audio commentary with director Jack Hill.
- "From Black and White to Blaxploitation" – Actor Sid Haig speaks about his long and influential friendship with Jack Hill.
- "A Not So Minor Influence" – An Interview with Bob Minor, the first African-American member of the Stuntman’s Association, and co-star of Foxy Brown.
- "Back to Black" – Legendary actors Fred "The Hammer" Williamson (Black Caesar) and Austin Stoker (Sheba Baby, Assault on Precinct 13), alongside Rosanne Katon (Ebony, Ivory, and Jade) and film scholar Howard S. Berger speak about the enduring popularity of the Blaxploitation film.
- Photo gallery of behind-the-scenes and publicity images.
- Original Theatrical Trailer.
- Trailer Reel – Trailers for all the major works by Jack Hill including Foxy Brown, Coffy and Switchblade Sisters.
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress.
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Josiah Howard, author of Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide, a new interview with Pam Grier by Jack Hill biographer Calum Waddell, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

Pre-Order-Buy Foxy Brown: Blu-ray / SteelBook [Blu-ray]