Sunday 30 June 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

Warning: the following review contains spoilers. It also happens to be the only review on the web so far (as far as I could find) that doesn't talk about this film in glowing terms. Therefore the fact that I didn't like it may well be my failing rather than the film's. It's not due for release in the US until July and the UK until August, so in the interests of fair play, if you do not wish to have what I thought was the somewhat mediocre viewing experience that is James Wan’s latest horror film spoiled, please look away when you get to the SPOILER WARNING sign. However, if you have seen at least one exorcism flick in the last couple of years there’s really not much here that you’re going to be surprised by.
THE CONJURING is ‘based on the true case files of the Warrens’. I had no idea who these people were until I saw the film. I therefore assumed that they must be an American cultural phenomenon until I asked Lady Probert, who hails from the US, and she confessed to having no knowledge of them either. Maybe you needed to be of an impressionable age in 1971 (ie a long, long time pre-birth to what is this movie’s presumed 15-certificate-targeted audience) to have even heard of them. Or perhaps they just couldn’t think of anything else to put on the poster. A quick check of Wikipedia tells me that their most famous "case" was The Amityville Horror, which has me wondering if the whole thing isn’t an elaborate hoax in the showmanship style of William Castle. If it is, then bravo to the film-makers, as that’s about the most original thing THE CONJURING has to offer.
Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are paranormal investigators. Ed is the demonologist who spends his time dealing with the more practical side of claimed paranormal phenomena. He also knows how to do exorcisms, although usually a priest gets called in for that. Meanwhile his wife is the psychic member of the pair, with each genuinely supernatural encounter leaving her with a little less of herself, although in this film she doesn’t seem to display any ill effects that look worse than a mild hangover. 

Boring Roger Perron (Ron Livingstone) and his insipid wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) have money problems. They move into a great big old farmhouse that has a boarded up cellar filled with scary paraphernalia that they get for a song at auction. Almost immediately their five daughters begin to experience weird goings-on, including seeing the old lady who looks suspiciously like the one from Wan’s DEAD SILENCE & INSIDIOUS. It turns out she’s some devilish witchy baby sacrificer from Long Ago who possesses the mother of the house and gets her to sacrifice her own children to Beelzebub. What a great set up - except that we never get anywhere near anybody, certainly not any of the five (FIVE!) children being anything more than mildly threatened. Ed and Lorraine get called in. Ed doesn’t want Lorraine to come on the latest case as he’s worried it may be too much for her. “God brought us together for a reason,” she says early on, at a point where I was convinced they were charlatan-cum-evangelists who were going to turn out to be the villains of the piece but no - this stuff is all dead serious.
Ed explores the cellar with the lights turned off and when he does need light he strikes matches. “The Catholic church need concrete proof of a possession,” he explains to the non-religious Perrons, but at no time do either of the victims of a possible possession question why an organisation based entirely on faith needs evidence when it’s made an entire belief system out of anything but. 
Carolyn needs to be exorcised, but a priest isn’t available so Ed has to do it. Anyone who has watched AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION, or anything vaguely Italian from the 1970s will get a warm feeling of nostalgia as blood flows, slightly scary demon makeup is applied, and various things fly around. It all ends happily, with not a single person dead or even severely injured. In fact the only living thing to die in this film is the family dog, and the insult is compounded by the fact that it’s by far the most likeable living creature in the picture.
THE CONJURING has had a lot of good reviews and I may well be coming across as a grumpy old git with mine, but that’s because I actually have a lot of time for James Wan. I loved SAW and INSIDIOUS and I really liked DEAD SILENCE as well. But if anything THE CONJURING feels like a step backwards. Every shock moment, every jump, is accompanied by the most appallingly loud noise on the soundtrack, just to make sure you get the point. John Carpenter called them ‘stingers’ and reported that he was embarrassed how many he recorded when he made HALLOWEEN. Well HALLOWEEN has nothing on this in the cheap scare department.
THE CONJURING feels like a safe, reassuring film for middle-class and very religious Americans, who will be able to nod sagely at the fact that the non-religious Perrons are initially denied church aid because, well, they’re not baptised (and goodness me they’re poor as well), and that’s the whole reason they’re in this mess in the first place. I’m sure Mr Wan didn’t mean to make a film like that but by the time I left I expected to see a caption stating ‘You Have Just Seen a Public Information Film On Behalf of the Catholic Church.’
I’m being unduly harsh, but James Wan can do better. So much better, and I will watch his next film. But despite some halfway decent scares and a bonkers exorcism climax, I cannot honestly recommend this one. We’ve seen it all before.

Friday 28 June 2013

Cello (2005)

      It’s always a pleasure to discover a horror film that’s well plotted, scary and lives up to its fabulously gruesome poster art. For a film with such an innocuous title (and the perhaps understandably underused setting of the cut-throat world of duetting lady cellists), CELLO is a very fine example indeed of the ghostly revenge Korean Horror subgenre.
Cello teacher Hong Mi-ju (Sung Hyun-ah) has a few problems. She’s curiously unwilling to take up a job promotion and it’s possible she’s being persecuted by a student whose exam paper she recently failed. Someone is sending her text messages that ask “Are you happy? You should be,” while at the same time dead maggotty-ridden birds are turning up in her locker at the school where she works. 
      Things begin to take a turn for the weird at her house, where the new housekeeper employed by her husband turns out to be mute from swallowing acid - the result of a suicide attempt after she was the sole survivor of a vehicle accident. The family dog turns up dead and then her sister-in-law has a breakdown and hangs herself after her fiance apparently breaks up with her. Then things get really strange.
Her husband discovers that in Hong Mi-ju’s student yearbook, the face has been cut out from one of the photographs, who turns out to be her old cellist partner. Apparently the girl was jealous of her getting all the best parts to play and drove them both off the road one night, with Hong Mi-ju being the sole survivor.
That’s not the true backstory at all, of course, but we get to find out what actually happened eventually in an extremely satisfying denoument that saves its ultimate horrors for last. That, plus the systematic destruction of everything Hong Mi-ju holds dear, forms the basis of the story, but even when she’s surrounded by corpses the worst is still in store in a nice twist ending that I didn’t see coming.
CELLO is definitely one of the better K-Horrors I’ve seen, managing to combine a sense of rubber reality and weird flashback sequences (or are they?) with a plotline that’s actually completely logical and an ending that’s really quite haunting.  I’m a sucker for any film where there’s a lot of classical music and plenty of blood anyway, but if you’ve yet to enter the world of the Korean horror film this is an excellent place to start.

Monday 24 June 2013

Demons of the Mind (1971)

      A movie that rarely finds itself on lists of Top Ten Favourite Hammer films, DEMONS OF THE MIND is one of those curious, slightly overambitious projects Hammer made at a time when it seemed as if any producer with a completed script could get backing from the company. Its reach may well exceed its grasp, and there’s quite a lot wrong with it, but that doesn’t stop DEMONS OF THE MIND from being well worth watching.
In his castle deep in the Hammerland countryside, Baron Zorn (Robert Hardy) lives with his two adult children Emil (Shane Briant) and Elizabeth (Gillian Hills). The Baron’s wife, a woman of peasant stock married in an attempt to 'improve the bloodline' (or so we are told) committed suicide when the children were much younger. A strain of madness runs in the Zorn family and the Baron is terrified that it will be passed on to his children. Of further concern to him is the amorous interest his son and daughter have begun to show in each other, with the result that he now keeps them locked in their bedrooms and has Elizabeth bled regularly to keep her subdued. In an attempt to cure the family’s madness the Baron recruits the services of discredited charlatan psychiatrist Dr Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) who has some decidedly exotic theories about how best to treat insanity. 
While all this is going the local village is being terrorised by a killer who murders village girls and scatters rose petals over their bodies. A mad wandering priest (Michael Hordern) is convinced the girls’ disappearance is the work of the devil, and that the devil is currently resident at Zorn’s castle. Falkenberg solves the mystery of the killer only to end up a victim himself as a mob of angry villagers descends on the estate looking for revenge.
The above plot summary makes DEMONS OF THE MIND seems less like a Hammer Film and more like something from the crazier side of EuroHorror. Indeed, one gets the feeling that if a giallo specialist like Sergio Martino had been recruited to make a Hammer-style gothic, this is what he might have come up with. As it is Peter Sykes acquits himself very admirably indeed in the director’s chair, and the creative flair evident in Sykes’ style is one of the reasons the film feels less dated today than much of the Hammer output of the period.
What makes and breaks DEMONS OF THE MIND, however, is its script. Christopher Wicking does a splendid job of trying to do something a little bit different from Hammer’s usual gothic formula. There are some nice touches to the Baron’s backstory, especially the mention of bloodlust and ritual sacrifice of his ancestors that suggests that the Zorn psychological malady may at some time in the past have been thought to be vampirism, and the touches of cod psychiatry are neat and effective. Unfortunately it is also Wicking’s oblique narrative style that lets the film down, rendering much of what is going on confusing. I have to confess I’ve never been a huge fan of Wicking’s writing. His best work is probably SCREAM & SCREAM AGAIN, with his worst including Hammer’s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER and Palace Pictures’ DREAM DEMON, and I firmly believe that his being banned from the set of BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB helped make it the classic it is today.
The second problem with the film is the acting. Both Shane Briant and Gillian Hills are very good in their portrayals of the tortured children and Patrick Magee towers over everyone with a skilful, layered performance as Dr Falkenberg, the quack who might be a genius (we never really get to decide which). Falkenberg is the closest this film gets to having a Peter Cushing / Van Helsing-type authority figure, but even his character is interestingly blurred so we can never really tell if he is hero or villain (or possibly, and perhaps most satisfyingly, both). Unfortunately Robert Hardy as Baron Zorn overbalances everything with a scenery-chewing eye-rolling performance that really needed reining in and quite possibly locking away in a box until it had calmed down. Hammer heroes are always pretty colourless specimens and Paul Jones puts in a likeable enough performance as the forgettable and ineffectual Carl the Medical Student.
Most of all, however, DEMONS OF THE MIND remains a fascinating watch because of how the story is resolved. It has to be one of the bleakest films Hammer ever made, with no happy ending for anyone as almost all the leads end up dead or insane by the end of the picture. In this respect it’s a little bit like Michael Reeves’ WITCHFINDER GENERAL, and Harry Robinson’s lush bittersweet music does much the same job as the Greensleeves-style portions of Paul Ferris’ score did for the Reeves picture.
DEMONS OF THE MIND is a film I’ve seen a few times and I suspect I’ll watch it a few more. In fact of all the Hammer Films I own (which I suspect is pretty much all of them) it might even be the one I’ve watched the most. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Christopher Wicking after all.

Friday 21 June 2013

The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

If you’re ever faced with that oh-so-common Trivial Pursuit question ‘Name a Belgian horror film’ you’re probably going to answer Harry Kumel’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, or, if you have a predilection for the Seriously Awful, Emmanuel Kervyn’s RABID GRANNIES. Hopefully, though, Jean Brismee’s THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE will be fairly high on your list of possibilities as well. Actually an Italian-Belgian co-production, Brismee was apparently just one of three directors who contributed to this, but it’s his name on the movie so he gets the credit / blame for this one.
It’s World War 2, as evidenced by the stock footage intermixed with a sepia toned pre-credits sequence in which Baron von Rhoneberg (Jean Servais) is being bombed while waiting for his wife to give birth. She dies and the child is a girl. Miffed by this outcome the Baron stabs the baby to death in a scene you wouldn’t get away with nowadays. We switch to colour (or rather an anaemic washout of reds and oranges if you’re watching the  public domain print that I saw) as the credits unfold to Alessandro Alessandroni’s warbly EuroHorror music score, complete with harpsicord and slightly unnerving female soloist.
A group of seven people on a guided tour in the ropiest old bus you could imagine get lost and have to ask directions from a man dressed in black and wearing white gloves standing at a crossroads. No-one seems to think this is odd so they probably deserve all they get. He directs them to the Baron von Rhoneberg’s rather lovely-looking gothic chateau where apparently they’re expected and rooms have been prepared. Over dinner the Baron explains that his family is cursed. Because of a centuries-old deal with the devil every female child is born a succubus. He denies he has ever had any children but of course those of us who were awake during the start of the film know better. When the Baron isn’t telling stories or fencing with his manservant he’s in his basement laboratory inventing sparklers, bubble bath and glitter. It’s quite possible that if left to his own devices he might have gone on to  invent disco and the mirrorball as well, but fate is about to intervene.
Arriving late at this bizarre party is succubus Erika Blanc, who as Sexy Erika tries to seduce priest Alvin (Jacques Monseau). Each of the guests has a vice that quite handily matches up with one of the seven deadly sins and results in their death at the hands of Scary Erika. The chap at the crossroads turns out to be the devil (surprise!) and Alvin bargains with him - his soul for the return of the souls of the others. The devil agrees but in one of those bothersome bits of small print, as the group are leaving the castle the brakes on the grotty old bus fail and over the cliff it goes to burst into flames as Satan gives us a rather crooked grin.
      It turns out that Erika is the Baron’s brother’s daughter via the housekeeper, or something, which is why she’s able to turn a kind of grey-white colour and kill everyone. Quite why all these people deserve to die just for eating too much chicken / playing with glitter / having a bit of a lesbian romp / getting a bit miffed is beyond me, but that’s Belgian morality for you. 
Overall THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE isn’t too bad, but it takes an awfully long time to get going. Having said that, there’s a nicely weird atmosphere at work here, and Erika Blanc makes an excellent screen succubus, perfectly capable of being sexy in one scene and unnervingly scary in the next. The direction isn’t especially stylish but the castle location is a gothic dream. Alessandro Alessandroni, the composer of the soundtracks to LADY FRANKENSTEIN and KILLER NUN amongst others, comes up with a suitably eerie main theme, but his accompaniment to the “erotic lesbian sequence” that occurs early on in the film sounds like a cat with diarrhoea being put through a mangle. Another picture where your tolerance for EuroDaftness will be a major factor on whether or not you’ll want to be watch it three or four times, THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE isn’t as good as DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, but it is a lot better than RABID GRANNIES.

Monday 17 June 2013

Mansion of the Living Dead (1982)

Like the STAR TREK movies or James Bond, the films of Jess Franco can only really be measured against themselves in terms of quality, his world of cinema being the kind of unique place where you know within about ten minutes whether it's your sort of thing or not.
MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD is middle-grade Franco. Not as fascinating as SUCCUBUS or LORNA THE EXORCIST, but nowhere near as dull, meandering or incompetent as his worst stuff. For a Franco film there’s a surprisingly straightforward plot, even if it is told in Franco’s rather oblique style.
Hundreds of years ago the Spanish Inquisition had a headquarters on Grand Canaria. One of the atrocities they committed was to stake and burn a young woman, who cursed them with living death until one of their number could find true love with her reincarnated form. 
Now that’s not a bad backstory as far as these things go. Unfortunately, in MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD, none of this is revealed until close to the end of its sometimes ponderous 89 minutes. Up until then it’s Mr Franco on a bit of auto-pilot and goes something like this:
Four topless waitresses arrive at a hotel in Grand Canaria in search of sun, sea and sex. Despite the hotel looking as if it could cater to at least three hundred people, there is no-one else there apart from hotel manager Carlo (Robert Foster). The girls think nothing of this and set off to their shared rooms to indulge in the usual sort of sapphic softcore groping that those familiar with Mr Franco’s work will either fast forward through or will have fast forwarded to get to (I dread to think who those people might actually be). The only other man on the island appears to be loony Marleno who spends his time singing and sitting on a strategically-placed dustbin on the beach.
One of the girls goes for a walk and wanders into a nearby abbey. We hear her screams and that’s the end of her. Meanwhile Mabel (Mabel Escano) goes for a bit of nude corridor wandering and bumps into Carlo, who promises he’ll meet up with her tomorrow but now he has to ‘go and feed someone’. The someone turns out to be a naked lady he has chained to a wall in one of the hotel’s rooms in a decidedly kinky subplot that also surprisingly, and unexpectedly, permits a bit of relevant backstory. Mabel ends up wandering into the abbey and is set upon by undead monks sporting either rubbish skull masks or Halloween-style makeup. She is sentenced to death, and this being a Franco film that means having her clothes torn off and being repeatedly raped in the kind of tasteless scene that again hopefully the viewer with taste will be fast forwarding through (if any Franco fans can be described as such). Lina Romay, playing Candy, turns out to be the reincarnated girl and Carlo is the undead monk who is supposed to fall in love with her. She kisses him, peels his face off and he falls over and turns to dust (I think - there obviously wasn’t the effects budget to show this and that’s hardly surprising seeing as there doesn’t seem to have been a budget for clothes for any of the actresses either considering the amount of nudity in this film). Lina runs away and the film ends.
As I’ve said above, MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD isn’t terrible Franco. Anyone unfamiliar with his work will of course think it’s simply dreadful, and they should be advised to steer clear. For the Franco fan, however, there are a few items of interest. Franco’s eye for filming architecture serves him well in getting the most out of his off-season hotel setting, with creepy empty corridors and lots of shots of the exteriors that manage to evoke that otherworldly weirdness that seems to come effortlessly to him. The few cast members are doubtless a result of budgetary reasons, but there is a genuine sense of loneliness in this film which, coupled with a revisiting of Franco's themes of obsessive love and necrophilia that he explored more enticingly and enigmatically in works like SUCCUBUS (1967) means it’s not a complete waste of time. But as I've already hopefully spelled out - if you’re not that familiar with the man’s work, this is one occasion when I would advise you to stay well away.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Vengeance of the Zombies (1972)

Spain has given us some terrific zombie movies over the years, from Jorge Grau’s masterful and atmospheric LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE to the more recent breathlessly thrilling [REC], with Amando de Ossorio’s BLIND DEAD series often seen as honorary Spanish horrors along the way.  Paul Naschy’s VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES, however, is not like any of those. But to be honest it isn’t trying to be, having more in common with the dafter black and white B movies of the 1940s than the work of George Romero and his disciples.
In a London cemetery a naughty thieving couple are in a family crypt attempting to divest a female corpse of her jewellery. Before you can say ‘Daft Sticky End’ a man wearing a black cloak, hat and weird rubber mask has turned up outside, poured blood all over a wax effigy, and the corpse is rising, killing the couple, and going off for a wander as we get the main titles.
The music that plays over them is quite awful, by the way. And if you find it to be too much you may well have to plug your ears and concentrate on the subtitles, because there’s going to be a lot more of the most inappropriate music score for a horror film since Bill McGuffie decided that the best way to evoke the horror of Peter Cushing murdering prostitutes in CORRUPTION was to play a lot of loud sanity-challenging jazz. As if to prove my point, the establishing shot of London which follows is accompanied by the most horrendous frog-like burbling noise to be heard outside an amphibian theme park aimed at undemanding three year olds.
A blacked up Paul Naschy plays Krisna, an Indian mystic who has just bought a house in an isolated Welsh village. Young, pretty Elvire Irving goes to stay with him. I have to say the Welsh setting in this film isn’t entirely authentic. It was not so much the Spanish villa Elvire gets to stay in, nor the perfect Spanish spoken by all the locals that spoiled it for me, rather it was the fact that throughout the entire film not a drop of rain is to be seen in this so-called “Wales”. Elvire is presumably so shocked by the uncharacteristic weather that she promptly falls asleep and has a nightmare in which Paul Naschy As The Devil cuts her throat while assorted rejects from THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, including a girl painted gold, look on.
Meanwhile, back in real, actual London, our chap in black is busy murdering the usual collection of topless Spanish ladies (unless you’re watching the clothed alternative scenes on the DVD for some strange reason) and bringing them back to life again. Every now and then yet another Naschy turns up, this time a horribly scarred one, but eventually everything in the plot is explained, sort of, as it turns out that Paul is in fact playing twins in this one, one of whom raped a woman in India many years ago and was burned alive by four English families for it. His rather complex plan for revenge has involved ‘learning the most diabolical voodoo of all’. He’s also going to get immortal life, presumably as part of some sort of voodoo loyalty card kill-four-girls-get-a-life-free deal - the kind that Tesco might offer if they dealt in Caribbean religions.

It all ends in typical EuroHorror style, with the police turning up to find most of the cast dead and shooting pretty Maria Kosty for good measure, which it turns out is just as well because she’s also on the verge of creating her own zombie army. Seriously.
Quite a lot of fun as these things go, VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES features an interesting, if barking mad, revenge plot, a lot of really quite bloody murders (including a decapitation that hopefully got a round of applause in the grindhouses of the time), and some nice creepy scenes of zombies murdering people, especially at the start. Sadly most of the atmospherics is ruined by music that sounds as if it was rejected from CARRY ON UP THE SPANISH MAIN. I can’t remember ever seeing a film that features solely female zombies, nor one where they smile so much, nor, come to think of it, one where all their clothes are see-through to reveal they’ve taken the time and trouble to put on their panties but have forgotten their bras.
It’s unique. It’s Spanish. It’s Paul Naschy. And BCI’s DVD and Blu-ray of this are still available if you fancy checking out all the daftness for yourself.

Friday 7 June 2013

The Key / La Chiave (1983)

European erotica of the 1970s and 1980s was a strange and varied beast, ranging from the actually quite good (Just Jaeckin’s STORY OF O) to the downright depressingly dreadful (Jess Franco and Joe D’Amato you know we’re pointing at you here).  Often effectively blurring the lines between art house and exploitation, it’s not surprising that many of the directors who made these movies also worked in the EuroHorror genre as well which, to be honest, is the only reason I have ever tended to want to watch them. Probably the best EuroHorror/Erotica crossover is Walerian Borowczyk’s IMMORAL TALES of which perhaps more another time. For now, courtesy of Arrow Video, who have sent me review copies of some of their latest releases, it’s time to talk about Tinto Brass.
“Where there’s muck there’s usually Mr Brass” I remember reading in a popular video magazine of the early 1980s, which is probably hardly surprising seeing as CALIGULA (1979) was still unobtainable in this country in anything but a severely truncated form at that time. Because Mr Brass has never made any horror films I haven’t made that much of an effort to seek out his work. THE KEY (1983) is now available from Arrow in a pristine Blu-ray transfer and uncut, for all those of you who want to see how far softcore European erotica could go in the hands of a competent director. It was Brass’s first major film since his ‘Principal Photography’ credit for CALIGULA. Apparently his later films are more overtly erotic and we shall see as I have ALL LADIES DO IT to review as well.
THE KEY is set in Venice in 1940, with the rise of Italian fascism a constant presence in the background. Frank Finlay stars as English professor Nino Rolfe. Apparently he announced in the press of the time that he was embarrassed by his appearance in this. He then went onto do the Just and Right Thing of starring in Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE (1985) about which much, much more another time. Nino is married to Teresa (Stefania Sandrelli) who is younger than him. She’s also rather  sexually repressed and he’s unable to bring her out of herself by his admittedly poor attempts at turning her on by wearing stripey pyjamas and baggy white T-shirts to bed. He writes his frustrations down in a diary, leaving the key to the drawer where he “hides” it in plain sight for her to find. When she does, she starts to keep her own diary as well. Things take a turn for the slightly odd when he starts to take pictures of her naked while she’s asleep (or pretending to be) and gets their daughter’s lover Laszlo (Franco Branciaroli) to develop them. Because this a EuroFilm there’s quite a bit of dubbing involved in this movie, as one might expect, and on the whole it’s pretty good except for Franco, who sounds as if his voice artist recorded all his lines in a very large, empty galvanised shed. Teresa begins an affair with Laszlo that is encourage by Nino. Nino has a stroke and dies, and the film ends with his funeral as there is an announcement on the radio that Italy is now at war. The credits roll to what I can only describe as the incongruously jolly strains of a saxophone version of Bavarian oompah band music.
THE KEY is an interesting film. The sense of period is spot on, the acting is very good for a movie of this type, and occasionally Brass manages some interesting and creative camera setups, mainly (and unsurprisingly) in the sex scenes. As I said above, Brass is a competent director, and he occasionally shows flair, but for me he lacks the stylish sexual mise-en-scene of Radley Metzger or the photographer’s eye for composition of Just Jaeckin. THE KEY isn’t a bad film by any means, but it’s far more a period piece with the occasional bit of sex in it than the all-out fest of depravity those unfamiliar with Brass’ work may be expecting from having only heard about CALIGULA. Ennio Morricone did the music and he has a lot of fun playing on themes by Strauss and Schoenberg to produce a score that is much lighter than a lot of his work. 
Arrow’s transfer is top notch and, as I said above, uncut. There are both English and Italian dialogue options, a trailer, a booklet about the movie by Brass scholar Alexander Tuschinski, a reversible sleeve and finally an inlaid postcard for Arrow’s forthcoming Blu-ray release of LIFEFORCE!