Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Blood Bath (1966)

The new Arrow release of Blood Bath is not so much a release of a film, as an entire set devoted to how Roger Corman, Frances Ford Coppola, Jack Hill, Stephanie Rothman et al managed to take an obscure, unreleased Yugoslavian film and create another three films from it.  It's quite an undertaking, and included on this blu-ray set is a truly excellent feature wherein Tim Lucas takes us through all the different versions, explaining what happened, when and how and why.

I have to admit that Blood Bath is not a film I had previously seen, nor was particularly aware of, and as a black and white 1966 horror, which is fairly incomprehensible in places (and which has nothing whatsoever to do with some of the illustrative poster and ad art), it's a hard watch. William Campbell plays an artist, who is also a vampire, who is famed for his images of dead girls. In fact he paints them and then kills them, or vice versa, dipping them in wax in his studio. He is tormented by the ghost of a dead woman, and his undoing comes when this spirit summons his dead and waxed women to come alive at the end and kill him!

What is fascinating about all this, is how footage from a film called Operation: Titian, made around 1963, was cannibalised into three other films called: Blood Bath, Portrait in Terror and Track of the Vampire. I won't go into the detail here, but there's a general overview of what happened on the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Bath.

It's interesting to see Sid Haig, years away from starring as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, and Patrick Magee, better known from films like Tales from the Crypt and Asylum, not to mention The Monster Club, making appearances here, and both do well with the material. William Campbell also does a good job, as do the various directors, matching shots and details from the earlier versions into something which sort-of hangs together.

As always, the presentation by Arrow is excellent. All four films are included in the package, so I suppose you could try and make your own versions if you so wished, as well as various documentaries and commentaries.

It's certainly a release for film historians and those interested in the career of Roger Corman, and also as an object lesson perhaps in how film-making used to be done.

• Limited Edition collection of the complete Blood Bath
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of four versions of the film: Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire
• Brand new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from original film materials
• Brand new reconstruction of Operation Titian using original film materials and standard definition inserts • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all four versions
The Trouble with Titian Revisited – a brand new visual essay in which Tim Lucas returns to (and updates) his three-part Video Watchdog feature to examine the convoluted production history of Blood Bath and its multiple versions
Bathing in Blood with Sid Haig – a new interview with the actor, recorded exclusively for this release
• Archive interview with producer-director Jack Hill
• Stills gallery
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
• Limited edition booklet containing new writing on the film and its cast by Anthony Nield, Vic Pratt, Cullen Gallagher and Peter Beckman
Poster for Blood Bath. The film does not include blondes being
chained up, nor dipping girls in boiling blood. There are no skeletons, and no torture
chamber, and no rack on which a girl is strapped. There is no shrieking of mutilated victims,
and no-one is caged in a black pit of horror. There is however
a net which is used to dip a dead brunette in wax ...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Time and Spaces

Received through the post a lovely little book from the nice people at Miwk Publishing ... this is Time and Spaces: A Photo Journal of Doctor Who Filming by Yee Jee Tso.

The informed among you will realise that Yee Jee played the 'Asian Child' Chang Lee in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie which starred Paul McGann as the Doctor ... and thus this book is a record of the recording and locations of that TV Movie.

What Yee Jee has done is to revisit the locations 'today' and photograph them, putting them into the context of the TV Movie. There are a few excerpts from recording schedules, quotes and reminiscences from Sylvester McCoy and Daphne Ashbrook, and some lovely photos from the studio recording.

It's a shame that there aren't more photos from the actual recording on location, but instead we get a selection of lovely images of these places as they are 'today', with descriptions of how they were used for the making of the TV Movie.

It's a fascinating little memoir, and a trip down memory lane to the locations and places where history was made back in 1996, when the Doctor was back ... and it was about time!

Time and Spaces by Yee Jee Tso
Available from Miwk Publishing: www.miwkpublishing.com

Friday, May 13, 2016

12th Doctor's 2nd Sonic Screwdriver

It's been a long time since I was sent one of Character Options' Doctor Who products to review ... but at last they come through with the 12th Doctor's second Sonic Screwdriver ...

This first appeared in the last episode of season 9, 'Hell Bent', and was something of a surprise when the Doctor produced it from his pocket.

The main immediate difference from its predecessors is that there is no 'focussing' element at the end, instead there is a crystal-like structure which on screen reminded me a little of a Metebelis crystal. Otherwise it's the usual tube-like device with various bits and bobs on it - though different bits and bobs here to previous screwdrivers.

The operation here is a single push/pull switch on the side. Pushing it once and holding it activates a green light and a buzz, while pushing it twice and holding it makes it flash green with a whine sound. Pulling it once and holding it activates a blue light and a different buzz, while pulling it twice and holding it makes it flash blue 'chasing' around in a circle with yet another whining sound.

It's pretty cool, though it is quite hard to activate the 'two push/pull' functions. My thumb was hurting from the effort of holding the switch in place to make them work. It's also not obvious that there even is a 'two pull/push' element - I had to actually read the packaging to find out what it did! Perhaps the activation contacts could have been bigger and easier to connect to, or maybe just having four little buttons to press would have been a lot easier to navigate.

It might also have been nice if there were a couple of other manual functions to the toy - like the way that the old ones had an extending shaft and so on. However I guess that this would have pushed the manufacturing costs up.

It's a smashing looking toy though, and as the Sonic Screwdrivers have, over the years, become synonymous with the Doctor, it's nice that the newest one is available to buy in toy form.

The toy should be in the shops 'within weeks' Character say, but I'm sure there are some retailers around who will be taking pre-orders very soon.