Criterion Files

Criterion Files

Editor’s note: This week, your tireless Criterion Warrior (oh, idea for a new column!) requested a week off to pursue something literary and intelligent and, well, big-wordy. With Mr. Palmer out, our own J.L. Sosa stepped up to the plate to file his very own Criterion, um, File. Be nice, bloodsuckers! When I first saw Paul Morrissey‘s Blood for Dracula, I definitely felt like I was partaking of an illicit pleasure. A friend of mine with an encyclopedic knowledge (and equally impressive collection) of B-movies was moving to new digs and bequeathed to me, along with many other obscure relics, his VHS dub of the Criterion Collection’s unedited laserdisc edition of the film (LD spine #287, for the digit-obsessed). Based on the rumors I’d long heard, I was expecting copious over-the-top gore. The film delivered on that promise, but also unexpectedly unfolded with the langorous pace of a high-falutin’ costume drama. You know, just like Sense and Sensibility, except with more extended scenes of softcore grinding and vomiting of blood. I later caught a midnight showing of the film at the beloved St. Anthony Main theater, just across the Mississippi from downtown Minneapolis. This time, the salacious tale of Count Dracula (Udo Kier) and his quest for the blood of a “wirgin” was screened from an authentically scratchy print, and curiously retitled Young Dracula. Although the R-rated Young Dracula had most of its eroticism trimmed, there was still enough suggestive content and bloodletting to draw whoops of approval (and sometimes […]

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Criterion Files

To this point in our subjection of the films of BBS Productions we’ve been privy to a handful of boundary-pushing films that we now recognize today as landmark pictures in the furthering progress of New Hollywood from the late 1960′s onward. They were films dealing with contemporary cultural changes and a youthful revolutionary attitude to not necessarily show things as we dream them to be, but more as they are. Life isn’t like the movies, so maybe make some movies that are a reflection of life. Life is imperfect, rough around the edges and occasionally a little disorienting. Thus far, the films in the BBS library discussed these past four weeks have shown us just how the mindset of the transitioning American lifestyle and interest was during that time period with timely and current stories.

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Criterion Files

The 1958 film Corridors of Blood is a loose depiction and dramatically hightened story about the discovery/invention of anesthesia in 1840′s London. Dr. Thomas Bolton (played by Boris Karloff, the godfather of horror actors) is the surgeon destined to find the cure for patient suffering in medically necessary amputations and other major surgical procedures after seeing the traumatic aftereffects on one of his former patients. His desire evolves into obsession, and his obsession leads him into unintentional addiction to the drugs he’d been testing primarily on himself. His reliance on the chemicals to both feed his compulsions and further his research causes others with less noble intentions to blackmail the doctor into fraudulently signing death certificates so that money can be claimed for the cadavers of murder victims.

None of this sounds particularly horrific, does it? Well, it’s about as horrific as it sounds. It truly is an emphatic representation of a horror gray area. The only components in the film that are found commonly in the horror genre are murders (though not gruesome) and a few actors who appeared frequently in many of the Hammer horror productions (Christopher Lee and Francis Matthews) of the 1950s through the 1970s. However, contained within the content of the film is an unintentionally representative depiction of human attraction to withstand watching others in serious pain. Dr. Bolton is not only a surgeon, but a professor and all of his surgeries in the film are done in the presence of spectators who are either wanting to learn, or want to see how quick the doctor can be in order to minimize the extent of excruciation.

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The Criterion Collection rebooted two of their early releases these past two weeks, re-releasing Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout on DVD and Blu-ray…and bringing us another amazing restoration of Fritz Lang’s M on Blu-ray. One of these films, I had never seen before. The other film, I have seen…but I have never seen it look or sound so good.

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This week The Criterion Collection unleashed a few films, but none as powerful as the 2008 import, Hunger. Hunger is the most recent IFC film to end up in Criterion’s careful hands.

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