Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part IV.

Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part IV. – Top 30 DVDs #21-30

Brian Stirner in Overlord (1975)

Overlord (Criterion)
Please see my review of Stuart Cooper’s Overlord (1975) HERE.

Performance (1970)
James Fox in Performance (1970)

Performance (Warner Home Video)
I spent a lot of time writing about Performance (1970) last year and you can find links to all my posts below:
The British Are Coming to DVD!
Performance: VHS vs. DVD
James Fox: Subverting Sexual Identity & Social Class in British Cinema

Marisa Mell and Elsa Martinelli in Perversion Story (1969)

Perversion Story (Severin)
Please see my review of Lucio Fulci’s Perversion Story (1969) at Cinedelica HERE.

Rika Aoki in Rica (1972)

Rica 1-3 (Exploitation Digital / Media Blasters)
I hope to write a more detailed review of the Rica (1972-73) series in the future, but in the meantime please see my overview of pinky violence cinema that makes reference to the first film HERE.

Kashin no Irezumi: Ureta Tsubo (1976)
Tattooed Flower Vase (1976)

Tattooed Flower Vase (KINO)
Please see my review of Masaru Konuma’s Tattooed Flower Vase (1976) HERE.

The Third Secret (1964)
Pamela Franklin in The Third Secret (1964)

The Third Secret (Starz / Anchor Bay)
Please see my review of Charles Critchon’s The Third Secret (1964) at Cinedelica HERE.

The Face of Another (1966)
The Face of Another (1966)

Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara: Pitfall / Woman In The Dunes / The Face Of Another (Criterion)
These brilliant Hiroshi Teshigahara’s films had previously been available individually on PAL Region 2 DVD from Eureka Entertainment in Britain, but Criterion released all three films on Region 1 DVD last year for the first time along with some of Teshigahara’s shorts as part of their impressive 4-disc Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara collection. Hiroshi Teshigahara is truly one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers and if you only purchase one DVD collection on my list, make it this one! The director seamlessly weaves thoughtful social commentary into his stylish avant-garde films and manages to mask their origins in science fiction and horror cinema with evocative surrealist imagery. I had previously seen Woman In The Dunes and The Face of Another, but Teshigahara ‘s short films and his masterful existential ghost story Pitfall were new to me. Seeing Pitfall for the first time last year was undoubtedly the highlight of my DVD viewing in 2007 and I hope to write about the film a bit more in the future. In the meantime, please see my lengthy review of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face Of Another and my write-up about one of the film’s minor stars (Bibari Maeda) linked below:
The Face of Another
The Face of Bibari Maeda

Ken Ogata in Vengeance Is Mine (1979)

Vengeance Is Mine (Criterion)
Please see my review of Shohei Imamura’s Vengeance Is Mine (1979) at Cinedelica HERE.

Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (1968)

Witchfinder General (MGM)
Please my brief write-up about Witchfinder General (1968) and the Vincent Price MGM Scream Legends Collection HERE. You’ll also find links to many different reviews there.

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

Who Can Kill a Child? (Dark Sky Films)
Over the years I’ve read a lot about Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s Spanish thriller Who Can Kill a Child? (¿Quién puede matar un Niño?, 1976), but I finally got the opportunity to see the film when it was released on Region 1 DVD for the first time last year by Dark Sky Films. Who Can Kill a Child? did not disappoint, and I was frankly rather surprised by the film’s overt political themes, creative direction and interesting script based on a novel by the Spanish horror author Juan José Plans. Most of the film takes place on a small remote island in Spain where a British couple has decided to vacation. When they arrive at the scenic seaside village they discover that the adults have vanished and all that remains are some children whose erratic behavior hides a deeper and more sinister motive. Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s direction is really impressive at times and I liked the way he weaved political and social commentary into his script. The film opens with a disturbing montage featuring news footage gathered from all over the world of dead, starving and wounded children that is still startling some 30 years after the film was first made. The director also does a terrific job of capturing the beauty of the the Spanish coastal towns in the film, which stands out in stark contrast to the horrific themes found in Who Can Kill a Child? This unusual horror film is definitely not for everyone and I’m sure some viewers will be immediately put off by some of the violent acts in the film that feature children portraying victims as well as villains. The Dark Sky Films DVD contains a great looking uncut widescreen print of the film with two optional audio tracks (English and Spanish with subtitles) and extras include a still gallery as well as in two interesting interviews with cinematographer José Luis Alcaine and director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador.

Links to the first, second and third part of my Favorite DVD Releases of 2007 list can be found below:

Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part I. – The DVD Year in Review – An Introduction
Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part II. – Top 30 DVDs #1-10
Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part III. – Top 30 DVDs #11-20

And that’s it folks! I hope I’ve encouraged a few people to seek out some of these terrific films. Most of them were released on DVD for the first time last year and many of them were never theatriclly released in the U.S. These important DVD releases often give western audiences the first opportunity to see these neglected films and I’m really grateful for that myself.

Naturally my list is limited by the films I’ve had the opportunity to see and some of the DVD titles that might have made my list if I had seen them include The Blood Rose (Mondo Macabro), La Jetee / Sans Soleil (Criterion), When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Criterion), Cria Cuervos (Criterion), Sweet Movie (Criterion), Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection (New Yorker Video), etc.

It’s also worth noting that my list only contains films, but there were also some terrific TV shows released on DVD in 2007 including Land of the Giants (20th Century Fox), Jason King (Image Entertainment), The Mod Squad (Paramount) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Time Life).

Last but not least, there were also many noteworthy films re-released on DVD last year often in deluxe editions or as part of a collection such as The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 and 2 (Starz/Anchor Bay), Stanley Kubrick – Directors Series (Warner Home Video), A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Media Blasters/Shriek Show), Help! (Apple Corps Ltd.), Chinatown (Paramount) and Taxi Driver (Sony). I’ve haven’t had the chance to pick up any of these myself or view them, but they are well worth a look if you don’t own any of these films yet or just want to replace your previous DVDs with these superior new releases.

17 thoughts on “Favorite DVD Releases of 2007: Part IV.

  1. A wonderful list of selections, all told, with some excellent choices at the finish. “Overlord” is a triumph of production over budget, with many haunting images – the second-best of the Brit war films, IMHO, with “Ice Cold in Alex” just nipping it at the line. If you like WWII films with a difference, have you caught “The Cranes are Flying” (Letyat Zhuravli), the mesmerizing 1958 Kalatazov/Urusevsky film? Realistic performances and stunning camera work, and amazing that it came from the Soviet era, albeit during the immediate post-Stalin “Thaw”. Love James Fox – he’s highly underrated, IMHO. I hadn’t heard “The Third Secret” is out, so one more to get – Crichton’s films were always interesting, and this was one of Boyd’s least-mannered performances – I always liked him. Bravo for an excellent best-of-year list!

  2. I’ve got to chime in with Vanwall in cheering your list! I agree with almost all the ones I’ve seen (except “Who Can Kill a Child”) and I’ve tossed the rest on the Netflix queue. “Witchfinder General” was almost near the top anyway, although now that its on Instant Watch, I really have no excuse. Thanks for a great DVD survey!

  3. Vanwall – Thanks a lot! I’m glad you enjoyed my list of 2007 DVD releases. I haven’t seen Ice Cold in Alex or The Cranes are Flying, but I have read a lot about the later film (first in college) and the still shots I’ve seen make it look amazing. In all honesty my experience with Soviet cinema is pretty minimal and I haven’t had the urge to explore it much but I should rectify that so thanks for the recommendation. The Third Secret was terrific and really surprised me last year. Crichton is an interesting director and I’d like to see more of his earlier films.

    Film Walrus – Thanks the feedback! I really appreciate it and I hope you’ll enjoy Witchfinder General when you get a chance to see it.

  4. I can’t keep up these posts are coming so fast. I too am excited to see Witchfinder General but I have yet to get instant watch to work on Netflix. The picture is digitally blocky, the sound is bad and the moment I try to adjust the size of the picture it crashes. So I’d much rather see this on DVD instead.

  5. I’ve only seen a few of these in the past. I’m going to have to add what I can find to my Netflix queue. I love Witchfinder General. One of my favorite Vincent Price films of all time. It was great to see that on your list. I really enjoyed these. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  6. Jonathan – I had no idea that Netflix lets subscribers watch films online until you mentioned it. It’s too bad that the technology isn’t all that great yet but hopefully they’ll work out the bugs soon. I’m on a Mac so I expect I will have to wait years before that option is available to me. I hope you get a chance to see the Witchfinder General soon. The new DVD is a vast improvement over the old VHS copy of the film I own.

    Keith – Thanks a bunch Keith! Most of the films should be available for rent so I hope you get a chance to see them.

  7. For those interested in the Netflix Instant Watch feature, the quality is entirely based on the connection speed of the user. There are three different levels that range from basic (I’m assuming that’s the one that merited the bad review) to near-perfect DVD quality. I’ve seen films on all three modes and have never found them to be much of a problem. I just got finished watching “Witchfinder General” on the lowest setting as a test and found it be only the slightest bit distracting. Considering that the feature is free, I’m not complaining.

    As for Macs, I know they are working on it. The Netflix blog had a post a while back (http://blog.netflix.com/2007/08/instant-watching-on-mac-firefox-and.html) if you are interested.

  8. Dave Hudson’s found the right word: “marvelous.” Marvelous indeed, Kimberly, congratulations on this consummate guide reflecting your own impassioned expertise.

  9. Again, I really enjoyed reading your selections and the thoughts behind them. Some more inspiration for my future viewing. I’m going to add the Eureka Teshigarhara discs to my Lovefilm rental list. Just read your previous posts on PERFORMANCE – excellent! I was so excited when this came out that I pre-ordered the region 1 DVD as I just couldn’t wait for the UK release.

  10. Many thanks Maya, Steve and Peter!

    Steve – Is the Performance Region 2 disc much different then the Region 1 disc? I’ve been meaning to look for comparison reviews but I got the impression they were exactly the same. Now you’ve got me curious again.

  11. What a great collection of titles these lists! Seeing how much fascinating stuff is being released on DVD these days makes me want to get a queue myself. Of these selections, I’ve only watched the Teshigahara discs (and not even all of those). Though I’ve seen several others before (love if… and Witchfinder General in particular)

  12. The R1 and R2 are indeed the same, Kimberly. Both have the ‘Influence And Controversy’ featurette,’Memo From Turner’ and the theatrical trailer. Would have been nice to get a fully loaded special edition of this one.

  13. I adore Witch Finder General (or Conqueror Worm as my copy is titled) is one of my favorites, now I’ll have to go find the re-mastered disc! Awesome! Your blog is really interesting, I expect I’ll be checking in from time to time, now. Thanks for swinging by SC, and thus introducing yourself and your great web site!

  14. Brian – Thanks for the comment! I hope you get the chance to see more the films on my list. I think you would proabbly enjoy a good portion of them.

    Steve – Many thanks for the info Steve. I’ve been wondering if the Region 2 Performance DVD was worth picking up too, but now I won’t worry about it. I do hope another addition comes out in the future and they interview more of the people involved in the film, uncover some “lost footage” and fix the sound.

    A.D. Puchalski – Thanks a lot for taking the time to leave a comment here and I’m glad you enjoy my blog. I really enjoy SC and appreciate your feedback a lot!

  15. I am a little late on giving the thumbs up on this. But thanks! Your selections were unique compared to films I saw on other lists. I have Pitfall here at home, thanks to Netflix. Though not on this list, the links here lead to me to see “If….” last weekend. What an excellent movie! Like you need me to say it, what a great site! My preference in films is for the 60s and 70s (early 70s focus)and your site is definitely on my faves!


  16. One of the actresses in the movie “Who Can Kill A Child?” -Maria Luisa Arias- was a friend of my family when I was a kid. I have good memories of her, we still keep a gorgeous collar that she brought us from a tour in Mexico. I was surprised to find about this movie here, I think is one of the top yet unknown Spanish wonderful suspense movies. I love this blog, by the way. Thanks for it. 🙂

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