Monday 31 August 2020

Frightfest 2020 Day Four - Sunday

Skull The Mask

The discovery of a skull mask by Nazis leads to a blood-drenched attempt to revive the Old Gods in Sao Paolo in this action-packed thoroughly entertaining movie from directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman. There's a 1970s feel and enough wit, creativity and ambition on display here (the depiction of the evil god sitting on his throne in the depths of the void of space is a delicious example of low budget cosmic horror) that this feels like a Brazilian Larry Cohen film, and that's praise indeed. Definitely two directors to look out for - their next movie could be even better than this.

Hail to the Deadites

A feature-length documentary on the remarkable number of fans who are mad on Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD trilogy and Bruce Campbell's character of Ash. Even people who aren't a fan of these particular films should be able to relate to the sheer joy everyone here has for the thing they love, and how important a role it plays in their lives. Interviewees include the cast of both EVIL DEAD & EVIL DEAD II (and at least one surprise from ARMY OF DARKNESS) with most of the talking left, quite rightly and appropriately, to Bruce Campbell himself. 

Two Heads Creek

A charming horror comedy with a strong League of Gentlemen vibe as a Polish brother and sister discover their birth mother is actually Australian. They leave the hideous English estate where they live and set off for the tiny town of Two Heads Creek ("You'll never want to leave") where they discover the town is part of a government-funded cannibalism programme to help deal with the immigrant population. TWO HEADS CREEK is crammed with plenty of funny gags about the intolerance of certain groups of both English and Australians to foreigners, plus some nice cultural references (there's a 'Neighbours' board game amongst the squalor, the locals drink a wine that's actually called 'A Nice Chianti'). Imagine if an early Peter Jackson (and yes I know he's from New Zealand) had directed Xavier Gens' FRONTIER(S) and you'll be on the right track. 

TWO HEADS CREEK is getting a digital HD release on Signature's Frightfest Presents label on Monday 7th September 2020


From the department of short film ideas steam-rollered out to feature length comes 75 minutes of people crawling down a corridor when they're not talking to each other very slowly indeed in hotel rooms. Of course 75 minutes isn't really long enough for a feature so hang around after the credits for what to do (or rather, not) if you've been told to make your film longer & decided to do so by tacking on a talking head that dispels what little tension you may have managed to achieve in what has gone before. Slow, dull and with little to commend it. [REC] played at 10% the speed. 


Oh Reynaud Gautier what have you done? Failed to live up to the promise of DISCOPATH, that's what. The technique is a little more polished but the occasional glimpses of wit and style from that one are sadly lacking in AQUASLASH, a film that tried hard to compete with PIRANHA 3DD in the truly awful aquatic-based horrors department. It fails, thankfully. A maniac fits blades to a water slide and the film is one long build to the (poorly CGI-enhanced) carnage that ensues. Attempts at a giallo-style backstory and a very silly killer reveal indeed all help to harm this one. If you liked DISCOPATH or PIRANHA 3DD (did anyone like that one?) you might like this. Or not. 

A Ghost Waits

But let's not leave Day 4 on such a bum note. Also showing in a new version today was A GHOST WAITS, which first premiered at Glasgow Frightfest where it deservedly went down a storm. Here's what I had to say about that screening: Quite likely the funniest, most romantic, touching supernatural horror we'll see this year. A man has to renovate a house where a female ghost has been driving away the occupants and gradually they fall in love. A GHOST WAITS is superb, evoking the best of writers like R Chetwynd-Hayes while never losing its profound emotional core. Really, truly, madly, deeply wonderful. Loved it.  

Sunday 30 August 2020

Frightfest 2020 Day Three - Saturday

The Columnist

Newspaper columnist Femke Boot (Westworld's Katja Herbers) decides she's had enough of the online trolling she's been repeatedly receiving on Twitter and Facebook and starts tracking down the perpetrators and killing them. This Dutch production treats its subject matter with broad strokes but does so in a way that allows it to be entertaining as well as providing social commentary. To be honest it's surprising there aren't more films dealing with the subject. And it's a shame they couldn't have called it TROLL HUNTER. 

The Horror Crowd

A feature-length documentary featuring a number of well-known (and some not so well-known) creative artists currently involved in the horror scene answering questions about how they got into horror, where they get their ideas from and how their love for the genre affects both them and those around them. Interviewees include Darren Lynn Bousman (after his excellent REPO THE GENETIC OPERA it's no surprise his big influences include THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and - yes - THE APPLE!); Jeffrey Reddick and Craig Perry, creator and producer of the FINAL DESTINATION franchise (and Perry suggests he's like to do another one); PARANORMAL ACTIVITY's Oren Peli; Adam Robitel (INSIDIOUS 4 and the ESCAPE ROOM movies); Chelsea Stardust (SATANIC PANIC) and Ernest Dickerson (TALES FROM THE CRYPT DEMON KNIGHT). Good use of clips breaks up the talking heads and while this isn't especially groundbreaking it's a decent enough genre documentary that's a reasonable timewaster for both those new to horror and those who feel they have lived the genre since birth.


The second of the day's films to feature a famous horror author as a major character. Playwright Jack Travis moves into a remote Scottish castle with the intention of writing a new work based on the building's murky past, but he reckons without whatever's walled up in the cellar taking advantage of him instead. Made with no money but a fabulous location, this first-time directorial effort by Toby and Fionn Watts feels like an attempt at a modern-day riff on Roger Corman's Poe pictures, and while they score points for atmosphere a bit more attention to the screenplay would have greatly improved things. Still, definitely two directors to watch.


From Marcel Walz, director of 2016's BLOOD FEAST remake, comes BLIND, a film so appallingly bad that the live chat running concurrently on the Frightfest Facebook Group was far more entertaining and a testament to both how little this one holds the attention and how terrible its many onscreen mistakes are. A blind woman who lives in a house filled with sharp edges and easily breakable objects? Who doesn't know if the lights work but has filled her house with lit candles? Who is in a support group run by a cut-price Jason Momoa who can't speak and has a machine that makes him sound like Ned from South Park? All so, so terrible. And I haven't even mentioned the panty-sniffing sushi delivery man, the speech by the threatened heroine at the end that goes on for longer than the running time of the film, the numerous full glasses of wine she drinks during the climax from a thin-stemmed easily knocked over and broken glass, how her makeup is suddenly immaculately restored after her shower, or the ending where everyone just gives up and sticks the credits on. This year's TULPA. In fact every year's TULPA. Except for the year TULPA was on. 

Don't Click

Don't watch torture porn or you'll end up porn appears to be the message of this heavy-handed, poorly thought out, overly naive tale of two university students who click on a website and find themselves in a torture dungeon. There's a very Japanese feel to the worrying zealousness of the torture scenes, emulating the style of movies like Koji Shiraishi's 2009 GUROTESUKU, the justification for all this being a story of ghostly revenge. I think. To be honest it's all a bit of a mess, stretched out from director G-Hey Kim's original short but needing rather more depth than we get here to make it at all effective. 

Saturday 29 August 2020

Frightfest 2020 Day Two - Friday

I Am Lisa

Lisa (Kristen Vaganos) returns to her home town to an almost I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE-style greeting from the evil Sheriff Huckins (Manon Halliburton oozing sleaze along with the best / worst of them) and her family & friends. Beaten & left for dead in the forest Lisa's bitten by a werewolf and her subsequent transformation allows her to get revenge.
Director Patrick Rea was last at Frightfest in 2016 with ENCLOSURE / ARBOR DEMON which I called 'a Machenesque keeper'. I AM LISA is a werewolf picture where, despite the cripplingly low budget, Rea's recurring themes of the weirdness in landscape and the blurring by the supernatural of the line between civilisation and the wild still manage to shine through. The werewolf transformation is minimal, using fangs, contacts and fingernails, but Rea makes this work in the film's favour, crafting a film that suggests the supernatural 'out there' may not be so different from what we believe to be normal. Even saddled with no money, Rea gives the forest a deliciously eerie, other-worldly feel and on the basis of both this and ENCLOSURE a Patrick Rea movie of Arthur Machen's The White People or Ramsey Campbell's The Wise Friend would be a welcome thing indeed. On the basis of these two films Mr Rea is definitely developing a unique and worthwhile oeuvre and we should all encourage him. 


A group of ghastly twenty-somethings go on a camping holiday and wake up to find themselves strapped into bombs with countdown clocks. As we get to learn more about them so we feel more sympathetic to the Jigsaw-like mastermind who has engineered the whole thing. Director Alastair Orr manages to wring maximum tension, suspense and (thanks to some truly funny culturally aware dialogue) laughs out of this plotline, ably assisted by actors who provide colour and character to what was doubtless just sketched out on paper. TRIGGERED feels like BATTLE ROYALE crossed with a FRIDAY THE 13TH film and that's no bad thing. 

Friday 28 August 2020

Frightfest 2020 Day One - Thursday

Always bloody and always unbowed, Frightfest has not totally succumbed to the effects of the pandemic that currently continues to threaten the health of the world. It has had to change a bit, though, which is why this year's festival has gone digital and has a slightly smaller lineup. It's still Frightfest, though, with the only major difference being that we're not getting to meet up with the vast number of like-minded friends we have made there over the years. But there will always be next time. The only other differences have been the absence of the traditional train trip to London and the not needing to set ourselves up in a West End hotel for five days. Yes, this year Frightfest is being beamed direct to the House of Mortal Cinema where the plan, as ever, is to cover as many of the films showing as possible. So, without further ado:

Sky Sharks

Continuing the tradition of the first film at the August festival being Not Very Good (Adam Wingard's THE GUEST being the exception that proves that particular rule) this time Frightfest took the plunge and started with The One That Everyone Walks Out Of. At least let's hope this is the only one. Brian De Palma has been influenced by Hitchcock, Quentin Tarentino has been influenced by everyone. With SKY SHARKS, director / co-writer / editor / costume designer Marc Fehse seems to be channelling both Bruno Mattei and Richard Driscoll in an attempt to outdo them both in terms of incompetence with this witless farrago of babbling nonsense. Zombie Nazis fly sharks and attack passenger planes. There is some kind of organisation out to stop them consisting of an actress from HOSTEL, her blonde blue-eyed co-producer colleague, and a really, really old man. Tony Todd pops up onscreen. So does Amanda Bearse from Tom Holland's FRIGHTNIGHT. Both likely shot their scenes without a full script because it probably still hasn't been completed. SKY SHARKS is a barely coherent parade of non-sequiturs and random scenes thrown together, with added sequences of "comedy" that are less respecting of the naked female form than CARRY ON EMMANNUELLE was back in 1978. And there I was worrying I hadn't seen anything to go on the 'Worst of the Year' list yet.

Saturday 22 August 2020

The Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection (1969 - 2020)

The term cult visionary director is getting increasingly bandied about on movie trailers these days. Alejandro Jodorowsky, one of the directors most deserving of the term, actually does have a new film coming out this year (PSYCHOMAGIC) and to celebrate it Arrow Films are bringing out both PSYCHOMAGIC and three of the director's earlier works in a stunning (both in terms of the extras and the films themselves) Blu-ray box set. Let's take a look at what's in there:

Fando Y Lis (1968)

A man and his paralysed lover encounter bizarre and surreal situations as they seek the mystical land of Tar in Jodorowsky's first full length feature. There's a very helpful introduction from Richard Pena on the disc where he quite accurately describes the film as 'a series of provocations rather than an overall narrative'. A man plays a piano while it burns; people sit in bed with funnels on their heads; others spend their time immersed in mud pits. 

        A profound meditation on the nature of relationships or just a collection of crazy nonsense? Like much of the director's work what you take away from it will very much depend on you, but it's fascinating to see the initial development here of motifs Jodorowsky would return to explore again and again - the concept of the quest that culminates in unexpected results, processions as a recurring theme and so on.

Arrow's Blu-ray is a new 4K restoration of the film. Extras include a Jodorowsky commentary track and a new 2019 interview with the director. La Constellation Jodorowsky is Louis Mouchet's feature length 1994 documentary that includes interviews with Marcel Marceau and Peter Gabriel amongst others. LA CRAVATE, Jodorowsky's 1957 20 minute short adaptation of Thomas Mann's The Severed Heads is also on here along with a trailer and image galleries for the main feature. 

El Topo (1970)

A black clad gunslinger rides through a town filled with dead people, slaughtered and gutted animals, and massive pools of blood presumably from both. He eventually finds himself an epic fantasy-style quest to take on four 'Masters' in the desert, all of whom he defeats. But his journey into the weird is only half done.

EL TOPO is an utterly bizarre experience that, together with film like John Waters' PINK FLAMINGOS and David Lynch's ERASERHEAD helped define what is nowadays known as the Midnight Movie - a film best experienced at some ungodly hour when the border between consciousness and sleep is suitably blurry. The less charitable might suggest they are actually called that on the basis that the kind of people who would want to watch this stuff are the same as those you might encounter at 3am shopping in Tesco. Either way, EL TOPO was there first and even though most sources call it a Western it really is its own unique and very strange thing.

Arrow's Blu-ray offers a new 4K restoration of the film in two aspect ratios: 1.85:1 and 1.37:1. There's a new interview with the director (and an archival one from 2007) who also provides a commentary track. You also get an interview with Brontis Jodorowsky, trailer, image galleries, a new introduction by Richard Pena and, on an accompanying CD, 37 minutes of soundtrack cues from the film. 

The Holy Mountain (1973)

A man who looks like Jesus (or possibly George Harrison who was originally planned for the role) but is later identified as 'Thief' passes through a number of religious and historical tableaux (including a scene where toads dressed as conquistadores are blown up - I'll echo Kenneth Anger's comments in saying I wish Jodorowsky hadn't done that) before meeting The Alchemist (Jodorowsky himself). The Alchemist has gathered together a number of rich and powerful individuals ruled by the planets and together they set off on a quest for the Holy Mountain, seeking immortality.

Once again we find ourselves in a world of Fellini-esque grotesquery and startlingly beautiful imagery that's not always for the faint-hearted. Jodorowsky's mind-bending (and mind-blowing) odyssey features elements of SF (electronically operated cadavers participating in their own funerals) as well as multiple amputees being kicked about by very fat men dressed as Romans. Very much not to everyone's tastes THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is nevertheless a remarkable film and an incredible achievement for its director who also wrote the script, starred and did a lot of the production design. 

Arrow's disc comes with a Richard Pena introduction (best watched after the film I would suggest), a Jodorowsky commentary track and a new 15 minute interview with the director along with a 20 minute separate interview with Pablo Leder, Jodorowsky's PA on this and other movies. A 29 minute video essay 'The A-Z of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN' is packed with fascinating information and is yet another aid to interpreting the film. There are also 25 minutes of out-takes and 5 minutes of deleted scenes with Jodorowsky commentary. An image gallery is broken down into sections of stills, posters, panels, awards and more.  

Finally, Arrow's disc offers two sound options and the 5.1 mix really is something special. 73 minutes of the lengthy and eclectic soundtrack is also included on an accompanying CD but the surround option while the film is playing adds a whole new dimension of the trip that this film most definitely is. 

Psychomagic (2019)

A complete change of pace for the final film in this set. This is a non-fiction piece documenting some of the cases Alejandro Jodorowsky has been able to treat using his own invented therapy of Psychomagic, a kind of mirror to psychoanalysis where the treatment of psychological problems very much has its basis in physical cures. 

So we get to see a man with an abusive father buried in the ground and covered with meat that is then feasted on by vultures; a woman whose fiance killed himself by jumping out of the window the day before their wedding being taken parachuting; a man smashes pumpkins to bits with a sledgehammer; another plays the piano and then rolls around on top of it. Whether or not you'll agree with Jodorowsky's methods, by the time we get to the end of this feature length piece there's no denying his mass appeal in his homeland as he 'performs' to large audiences and takes part in a street demonstration. Also including clips from his films all the way back to FANDO Y LIS. It's a fascinating way to round off this box set of the works of this talented, original and supremely creative individual.

The Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection is a six disc set (four Blu-rays and two CDs) from Arrow Films on Monday 24th August 2020

Friday 21 August 2020

The Comic (1985)

"Quite Phenomenally Awful"

To say anything else would be to mislead the unsuspecting who may not have heard of THE COMIC, or the man who made it. Now it has been released on Blu-ray, a film that was booed off screen on its UK premiere in 1990 - five years after it was made - and directed by Richard Driscoll, a name familiar only to students of appalling cinema, Her Majesty's Prison Service, and those unlucky few who may have happened across his numerously-titled 'works' in Tesco and been suckered into buying them. One wonders what Arrow was thinking (especially as that process has not extended so far as to provide any stills in their press pack - aha!)
In a dystopian land where 'people do not survive, they only exist' (no I don't know what that means, or more importantly what it is intended to mean, either) budding standup comedian Sam Coex (Steve Munroe) resorts to murder to get his big break, gets involved with a booze and drug-addicted dancer who leaves him for Mr Big, and frequently gets beaten up by officers of the brutal regime that represents the law.
There. I think that's what THE COMIC basically is. Anyone who watches it. however, may come away with a summary more like this:
Orange hair. Screaming. Badly recorded sound. Straw everywhere. Unfunny jokes. Terrible acting. Stilted direction. Badly dubbed sound. Multiple dream sequences involving legs. A grey demon with matching underpants. A man taking his little daughter to escape by boat when the tide is so far out you can't see any water. Terrible dance routines. A set that looks as if it has been wallpapered with wet toilet roll. Awful juggling. Smoke machines turned up to eleven so sometimes you can't see the actors. Sound recording so poor if you're still with it you'll be glad of the subtitle option. Or not. 
So there it is, a film that makes Bruno Mattei look like Stanley Kubrick and Ed Wood like Billy Wilder. I will admit as the film goes on it is does start to weave its own bizarre spell as your mind tries to impose reason and rationality onto what is happening. Is Driscoll making fun of David Lynch films? Is this actually a brilliant parody of every up itself, pretentious, arty, first-year-film-student-needing-a-slap film project ever made?
Arrow's disc has some extras. There's a slightly embarrassed-looking Steve Munroe to introduce it and he has a 17 minute interview on here as well. Most interesting is a Richard Driscoll selected scene commentary track which runs for about 50 minutes and helps explain quite a lot. For example, the reason for the straw being everywhere is because he was shooting on sets left over from Freddie Francis' THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS and nobody could be bothered to clear it up. 
I will admit that THE COMIC is not the worst film I have ever seen. In fact it doesn't come close. For that one needs to search deeper within the Driscoll oeuvre to examine (or run away from) THE LEGEND OF HARROW WOODS which I reviewed on here a long time ago (and yes it's nine years since I have watched a Driscoll film & I should have stuck to my vow). If you really want an incoherent retitled waste of time, talent and celluloid that's the film to check out. Oh yes, THE COMIC was just the warm up act. 

Richard Driscoll's THE COMIC is out on Blu-ray (who ever thought anyone would be typing those words) from Arrow on Monday 31st August 2020

Thursday 20 August 2020

Buster Keaton: Three Films Volume 3 (1923-27)

"Even More Restored Keaton!"

Once again we have Eureka continuing the essential work of ensuring there are as many Buster Keaton 2K & 4K restorations on Blu-ray on UK shelves as possible with the release of three more of his longer works. I previously reviewed Volume One in the series here, Volume Two here and Eureka's impressive box set of Keaton's short work here. As with the previous two volumes this one comes with a 60 page book and a wealth of extras on the discs. Let's take a look at what we get this time:

Our Hospitality (1923)

A breakthrough movie for Keaton in particular and film comedy in general, OUR HOSPITALITY features some fascinating attention to period detail (it's set in the early 1800s) including what looks like a working version of Stevenson's Rocket. Our unwitting hero turns out to be a member of one of two feuding families and has to go to absurd lengths to avoid being killed. A remarkable (and remarkably dangerous-looking) climax involving rapids is just one of the highlights on offer here. 

Eureka's print is a 2K restoration and you get the options of playing it with a Carl Davis score or a commentary track by silent film historian Rob Farr. Extras include an early, shorter, workprint version of the film (entitled HOSPITALITY) which also comes with an optional commentary, this time from Buster Keaton expert Polly Rose. There's also a splendid 26 minute video essay by Patricia Eliot Tobias that contextualises the film both in Keaton's career and US silent movie comedy of the period, and a stills gallery.

Go West (1925)

If you've been watching all the films in all the Keaton sets so far this one may feel like a bit of a change of pace. It's still a comedy, and there's an amazing set piece to end the film that seems to feature hundreds of cows, but the story of pauper Friendless (Keaton) heading out to the wild west and befriending a cow (Brown Eyes who gets her own screen credit) before attempting to save her from slaughter, is more measured in its telling. The comedy routines and stunts aren't as plentiful or as rapid fire as in his other pictures. There's still plenty to enjoy but this isn't the film to watch if it's your first Keaton.

Eureka's print is from a 4K restoration. This time the soundtrack options are a score by Rodney Sauer (which I'll admit I thought could have done with being rather more frenetic as the film reached its climax) or an audio commentary by film historians Joel Goss and Bruce Lawton. A Window on Keaton is a 28 minute video essay by David Cairns and John Bengston provides another video essay on the filming locations for GO WEST. There's also the 11 minute comedy short GO WEST (1923) and a stills gallery.

College (1927)

Pro-academe anti-sports Ronald (our hero) finds that the only way he can get his girl at college is to become an athlete, which he proceeds to achieve in his own unique style. Like GO WEST this is very much one long build up to an entertaining set-piece payoff with some amusing sight gags along the way, but don't expect frequent stunts or breathtaking physical situations. 

Eureka's print is a 2K restoration with a Rodney Sauer score. No commentary track for this one but you do get Silent Echoes, a 10 minute video essay by John Bengston on the film. Also included is THE RAILRODDER (1965), technically Keaton's final silent film (and in colour!) which comes either with or without commentary by director Gerald Potterton and DP David De Volpi. BUSTER KEATON RIDES AGAIN (1965) is a nearly hour-long documentary filmed at the time of THE RAILRODDER and going behind the scenes. There's the option of playing this with a live Q&A conducted  in 2018 with the director and DP of the movie. There are also stills galleries for both COLLEGE and THE RAILRODDER on this disc.

        The accompanying 60 page book contains new writing on all three films and the whole set comes in a limited edition hardbound slipcase to match the other two sets. Get them all and spend the week laughing and marvelling at a unique talent. More fantastic work from Eureka.

Buster Keaton: Three Films Volume 3 is out on Blu-ray from Eureka on Monday 24th August 2020

Saturday 15 August 2020

Equus (1977)

"Stunning, Gripping Adaptation"

Sidney Lumet's splendid film version of Peter Shaffer's play is getting a limited edition (3000 copies) Blu-ray release from the BFI.

Alan Strang (Peter Firth) blinds six horses at the stables where he works. Instead of going to prison, at the request of Hesther Saloman (Eileen Atkins), he is transferred to the Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at the local hospital to be specifically under the care of Dr Martin Dysart (Richard Burton). As Dysart begins to psychoanalyse the boy and discover exactly what happened and why he begins to learn the truth about himself as well, and it's not necessarily something he's pleased to realise.

Adapting a successful stage play to the screen is not always easy, often because it's felt that the action needs to be 'opened up' for cinema audiences. Certainly EQUUS loses a little of the claustrophobic intensity of the best theatre productions but Lumet's direction, exquisitely careful attention to production and costume design, and above all stellar performances all round (Colin Blakely and Joan Plowright play Alan's parents and Jenny Agutter the girl Alan befriends at the stables) mean the 137 minute running time is thoroughly gripping throughout. Is this movie more effective than Milos Forman's film of Shaffer's AMADEUS? You know, because of all the above I think it just might be.

Extras include a commentary track from Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and an isolated score track. The Sidney Lumet Guardian Lecture is an audio recording of the director being interviewed by Derek Malcolm at the NFT in 1981. You also get a new 40 minute interview with Peter Firth and Tony Palmer's two hour 1988 Richard Burton documentary In From the Cold. Add to that the usual BFI extra short subjects (Religion and the People - a 1940 14 minute documentary; The Farmer's Horse - an 18 minute short film from 1951) a trailer and a booklet and this limited edition of 3000 is another excellent addition to the BFI's library of Blu-ray releases. 

Sidney Lumet's film of Peter Shaffer's EQUUS is out on Blu-ray from the BFI on Monday 17th August 2020

Friday 14 August 2020

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

"Hugely influential silent classic"

Eureka are releasing Paul Leni's original version (there have been a couple of forgettable remakes) of Victor Hugo's novel in a 4K restoration from Universal. 

England in the 17th century. After his father refuses to kiss the hand of King James he is executed and Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt of CALIGARI and CASABLANCA fame) has his face mutilated so that it is fixed in a permanent rictus grin. He ends up performing in a carnival sideshow. His only friend is Dea (Mary Philbin - Christine in Rupert Julian's 1925 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Lon Chaney). But Gwynplaine is in line for the throne and soon he finds himself having to choose between a life of royalty and a life with Dea.

Frequently cited as inspiring the look of the Batman's the Joker, and likely also  an influence on Ray Russell's novel Sardonicus and the look of Guy Rolfe's character in William Castle's 1961 movie adaptation, Paul Leni's film is the first and best version of the tale. With its scenes of swordplay and overlying feel of tragedy and doomed romance THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is an epic horror film-cum fairy tale.

Universal's 4K restoration looks marvellous and the transfer is in the original 1:2 aspect ratio. There are two score options - the original 1928 movietone in mono and a 2.0 stereo score by the Berklee School of Music. There's also a featurette on the making of the film, a newly recorded Kim Newman interview and a new video essay by David Cairns and Fiona Watson. 

The first print run comes with a limited edition 'O' card slipcase and the package also includes a booklet with new writing on the film from Travis Crawford and Richard Combs.
Paul Leni's THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is out on Blu-ray from Eureka on Monday 17th August 2020