Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Bava Book at 10

Free Pass through August 31!
Now with more extras! Click book to access.
It's hard to believe, but today marks the 10th Anniversary of the arrival of printed copies of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK at our doorstep.

It was a traumatic arrival, midwived by two large delivery trucks, whose drivers proceeded to fill our dining room and foyer with towers of heavy boxes, each containing three shrink-wrapped copies and weighing 39 pounds. Somehow the wooden floors of our old house, built in 1907, stood up to the crushing punishment and we lived that way for weeks, moving from here to there through tight passages between the boxes. Postmen who showed up to take the outgoing cursed under their breaths, but the patrons who pre-ordered blessed us and sent us photos of their children being crushed by the almighty monster. It all balanced out, and now (as those lucky enough to secure a copy know) it is What It Is. There's not a deluxe imprint out there that hasn't tried to make something even bigger and unwieldy in response.

Donna and I were wondering what we could possibly do to commemorate this important date. Unfortunately, the stars are not yet in alignment for us to undertake a revised edition. I am presently swamped with audio commentary work and there was no time or opportunity for me to produce something new for it. So what we've decided to do is to update the Digital Edition with more archival bells and whistles pertaining to its research and release.

Here is a list of the new audio-visual contents added to the Digital Edition today: 

  • My original interviews with Vincent Price (1975 - the first interview conducted for the book) and Cameron Mitchell (1989) - Audio, both released complete for the first time!
  • A webcam promotional interview with Tim & Donna Lucas, conducted by research associate Lorenzo Codelli, with a guest panel consisting of Lamberto Bava, Joe Dante, Kim Newman and Alan Jones, recorded in Trieste on November 16, 2007. (I was later told that Daria Nicolodi was in the audience for this event!)
  • The Bava Book Behind-the-Scenes, including our First Peek at a preview copy, the arduous and precarious Delivery (uncut - because, as Donna says, "Why shouldn't they share our anguish?"), and the packing and shipping process out of our home!
  • Tim & Donna at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles, 2008 - introduced by actor John Saxon and including our acceptance of the Award for Special Achievement!
  • Select examples of stills and posters BEFORE and AFTER the meticulous restoration work!
  • All this, PLUS an IMPROVED Table of Contents spread, with films and multimedia now listed ALPHABETICALLY for your greater convenience!

It's also now available in HTML-5, so it can be viewed on all web browsers without the addition of Flash.

So, what are all these new bells and whistles going to cost you? Well, you know us: NOT A CENT!

If you've already bought and downloaded the book, download it again and your copy will be automatically upgraded.

If you still haven't bought the Bava book, we are offering everyone a Free Pass to sample the new HTML format online, browse it, read it, live with it ABSOLUTELY FREE through August 31. No log-in required.

If you already know this is something you need and can't live without, you can buy it here and have it forever for the regular sale price. We appreciate your continued support.

Donna has been doing all the work on this upgrade, so I asked to summarize it in her own words. This is what she said:

"Now the digital Bava Book is the way I always imagined it could be! Not only does it look like the original, it's more functional and entertaining! The addition of trailers and interviews, home movies, and the "before" shots of the stills and posters we worked with will give readers a more complete picture of Bava's life and times, and the work and skill involved in creating a book of this size! I want to add more... and the great thing is, I can! I will! And updates are free!"

So, what are you waiting for? Go get yours NOW.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sarno's RED ROSES OF PASSION An Overlooked Gem

Patricia McNair is up to some suburban witchcraft in Joe Sarno's RED ROSES OF PASSION.

You may have had the same feeling, but sometimes I see a film that so impresses me I'm reluctant to go back and watch it again. I once put Eric Rohmer's PERCIVAL in my Top Ten on the basis of a single viewing, and - even as a long-standing Rohmer champion - was nowhere near so impressed on the second pass. Such has also been the case since my first viewing of Joe Sarno's RED ROSES OF PASSION (1966) about 15 years ago, which I reviewed with great favor back in VIDEO WATCHDOG #85. I love Sarno's work - I'm even writing a book about it now - but could this really be the knock-out I remembered?

I hate to say it (because I would have much preferred it to come out as part of Film Movement's Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series, and had the chance to do a proper commentary for it), but I was - if anything - even more impressed by my second viewing of RED ROSES OF PASSION last night. Vinegar Syndrome has now released it in a DVD/BD dual pack and the camera neg-sourced transfer is gorgeous. Not really about sex so much as sensuality, it's one of Sarno's best realized pictures, and possibly his most strikingly original story; it's a kind of horror fable (in that regard, rather like Jess Franco's LORNA THE EXORCIST) that looks at erotic inhibition and licentiousness through an occult lens. If you can imagine what Herk Harvey, for example, might have done with a remake of Romero's HUNGRY WIVES - that'll point you somewhere near the right direction. It's astonishing to me that a film this potent and original could still be so little-known.

The VS set is a limited edition of 2000 copies and apparently prone to the odd bad pressing; I had to return mine to Amazon today because the soundtrack on the Blu-ray disc was badly distorted. (Knowing how cheaply Sarno was sometimes obliged to work, it took me about 15 minutes to question the sound quality by putting on the other disc.) The DVD looked almost as sharp as the BD and sounded fine.

The only extra is a 20m monologue by Sarno authority Michael Bowen. He's a genial talker and knows his stuff. I smiled a lot because I've been covering much of the same tricky ground and coming up against the same questions in my own research.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.


Monday, August 07, 2017

First Look: Kino Lorber's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Kino Lorber Studio Classics is set to release their 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1967) one week from tomorrow, on August 15. I had the good fortune of being invited to provide the audio commentary for the US theatrical cut of the film, which most fans seem to feel is the definitive version and is making its Blu-ray debut in this release. It's a two-disc set and both the theatrical cut (162 minutes) and the extended cut (179 minutes) are included, both versions treated to 4K restorations. The extended cut is offered in this same set with optional audio commentaries by Sir Christopher Frayling and Richard Schickel.

As a contributor to the set, I received an advance copy of the set today, so I thought I might whet my readers' appetites with an advance peek. (Click on images to enlarge.) There has been some concern among the film's most ardent devotées about how this release is going to look, since MGM's previous Blu-ray release had a pervasive golden tint that was never part of the film's cinematography. As you see, that aspect has been eradicated. The blues in this new transfer are handsomely reasserted, and the depth of some compositions is actually dizzying. This film was shot in Technicolor and Techniscope, the latter being a two-perforation scope process that led to it being termed "the poor man's CinemaScope" back in the day. When I was a kid, and seeing a lot of sword-and-sandal pictures at my local theater, I could pick a Techniscope film out of a line-up because they were prey to excessive grain and a coarseness of detail, especially in depth. So I am sometimes astounded today by how much detail and depth it is now possible to digitally exhume from old Techniscope film - and Leone and Tonino Delli Colli choose their shots in this film as though they could see the technology coming that would someday unlock all of its power. Love seeing the original UA logo card back, too.

Pre-order now and get yours... for a few dollars less.

Text (c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Catching Up With Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger

It has been awhile since I've posted anything like an autobiographical blog entry, and many of you have kindly encouraged me to keep you posted on my current activities since we don't have the Kennel listings to guide you anymore. As it happens, I've been extremely productive and fortunate this year, and here's a sampler of just some of the things I can tell you about (or at least a little about):

I'm over 100 pages into a new book about a maverick filmmaker, but I'm not quite ready to announce that project.

I've also agreed to write two books for Neil Snowdon's Midnight Movies Monograph series (Electric Dreamhouse/PS Publishing) - one about Georges Franju's JUDEX (which will probably happen second) and another that hasn't yet been announced.

Speaking of PS Publishing, and Neil, my lengthy chapter on Nigel Kneale's literary works is part of their new book WE ARE THE MARTIANS: THE LEGACY OF NIGEL KNEALE, edited by Neil Snowdon.

And in what I personally consider my most exciting news, a very well-respected publishing house overseas recently accepted the first piece of lengthy fiction I've sold in twelve years. It will likely be published sometime late next year or early the following. It seems something happens with my fiction every twelve years; there were a dozen years between THROAT SPROCKETS and THE BOOK OF RENFIELD, and now a dozen years between RENFIELD and this one. It's not for lack of writing, just for lack of energy in showing that work around.

I'm also pleased to report that my work in audio commentary is continuing to pile up. My commentaries for the 50th Anniversary edition of Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (Kino Studio Classics), Mario Bava's ERIK THE CONQUEROR (Arrow Films), and no less than three already-recorded Joe Sarno titles are presently awaiting release, as well as a few other as-yet-unannounced titles. I am presently working on two commentaries simultaneously, and they will be followed later this month my continuation on the Sergio Leone series with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS.

So there is a lot of me to look forward to! If you would care to know more in the meantime, I am the guest on the current episode (#27) of Bill Ackerman's excellent podcast Supporting Characters. In my day-to-day life, I actually speak very little, but somehow Bill managed to keep me talking for more than four hours! Fortunately he tightened the recording up a bit by extracting some hemming and hawing, and I am pleased to direct you to the final result here.