Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Arrow Video - THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and THEATRE OF BLOOD on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Arrow Video - THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and THEATRE OF BLOOD on Blu-ray

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961; Roger Corman)
This film opens with a smearing of paint colors that look quite vibrant in this new Blu-ray presentation I must say. Further, director Roger Corman and Cinematographer Floyd Crosby have made a few colorfully filtered flashbacks a part of the film as well and they look fantastic. There's one in particular that is a near-psychedelic blue-filtered dream of a flashback and it was particularly mesmerizing in Blu-ray.
I am constantly analyzing my (and other folks') love for Vincent Price. He deserves every bit of it, but sometimes I ponder all the ways he is magnificent. Like a handful of his contemporaries, he had this remarkable cadence and unique acting style combined with a unique physicality that made him truly one unique. As I mentioned in my review of Arrow's THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER disc, he is perfectly suited to play in Edgar Allen Poe adaptations. All the traits I mentioned serve him exquisitely inside of the world of Poe. Few actors in the history of movies were ever so well aligned with material as Vincent Price was with Poe's work. And I really have to give se credit to Roger Corman for his role in bringing so many Poe stories to the screen. He brings a great atmosphere to these films and I love a movie with great atmosphere. Roger clearly knew what he was doing in putting together the casts, scripts and shooting styles of each one. He worked with some great cinematographers on these films to boot. They are easily among his best work and the chasm between these films and his more exploitative fare is as wide as a great ocean. It's almost like you can't believe the same guy made all the different films Roger put out into the world. I've always admired the fact that, as pragmatic as he was with regards to his own films and what made them marketable, he still had an artsy side and was also responsible for importing the movies of Fellini, Mario Bava and others as well as making his Poe cycle. He's a tough one to categorize, that Roger Corman. A true iconoclast and a cinematic visionary in so many ways.

Special Features:
-Optional Isolated Music and Effects Track
-Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman. It's always good to hear the director themselves on a commentary and Corman gives out good tidbits and personal anecdotes here.
-Audio commentary by critic Tim Lucas (of Video Watchdog). If you've never heard one, a Tim Lucas audio commentary is like a fantastic scholarly lecture on whatever film your watching. He thoroughly researches and gives TONS of interesting details and insights into the movie, it's director, cast and crew.
-"Behind the Swinging Blade" – A new documentary on the making of The Pit and the -Pendulum featuring Roger Corman, star Barbara Steele, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and more!
-Added TV Sequence – Shot in 1968 to pad out the film for the longer TV time slot, this scene features star Luana Anders
-"An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe with Vincent Price" (52 mins) – Price reads a selection of -Poe’s classic stories before a live audience, including The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum (with optional English SDH).





THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973; Douglas Hickox)
As with Poe, Vincent Price can slip into the world of spoken verse like Shakespeare with a remarkable deftness. Further, his style of acting can work really well when he plays 'hammy actor' type characters. Since Price himself was a bigger-than-life personality in a lot of ways, he's just perfect for this sort of thing. One of my very favorite Price roles is that of Mark Cardigan, the actor he plays in HIS KIND OF WOMAN. This film offers him a similar arena in which to chew scenery and go big in the best possible way as well. THEATRE OF BLOOD of goes much more maniacally dark and sadistic with that character than HIS KIND OF WOMAN. It was something of a cathartic experience  would think for Price to play such a role where he kills many of his critics as he was often not given the critical respect for his acting that most would now agree he deserved. I think he's a fantastic actor myself.
The film is truly a who's who of classic British character actors. Apparently, Price himself was quite the Anglophile so it was something of a great pleasure for him to mix it up with the likes of these heavyweights (such as Diana Rigg, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry and more) . The director, Douglas Hickox has only somewhat recently become known to me as a Quentin Tarantino favorite. QT apparently loves his film SITTING TARGET (with Oliver Reed and Ian McShane) and I believe is also a fan of Hickox's 'John Wayne as Dirty Harry in London' flick BRANNIGAN. It stands to reason he's probably a THEATRE OF BLOOD supporter as well. In addition to that, it is also a favorite of comedian Patton Oswalt as well (according to a list he posted some years back). That's a very solid pedigree I must say.

Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with The League of Gentlemen - Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.
-"A Priceless Potboiler: Victoria Price discusses Theatre of Blood" (12 mins) - Vincent Price's daughter discusses her realationship to the film (which she believes she's perhaps seen more times than any of his other films except HOUSE OF WAX).
-"A Fearful Thespian: an Interview with David Del Valle" (11 mins) - Film Historian Del Valle gives a nice bunch of background and historical context for the movie. He interviewed Vincent Price several times so he has some unique and memorable insights from the man himself.
-"Staged Reaction: an Interview with star Madeline Smith" (10 mins)
-"A Harmony For Horror: an Interview with composer Michael J. Lewis" (18 mins)

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