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Category:    Home > Essays > Independent film > Ten Great Independent Films That Should Be Issued On Blu-ray Immediately!

Ten Great Independent Films That Should Be Issued On Blu-ray Immediately!



Note: This is an update of an essay we posted when the format war was still raging and was designed to get unique releases considered.  New developments since then are noted below.




The development of boutique divisions of the major studios is a very recent development and years ago, independent productions were either picked up by the majors and put under their name or the films found distribution through smaller companies and occasionally by the producer themselves.  There are always independent productions because it is hard to turn away from big money from a low budget hit.  Films like Night Of The Living Dead, Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween don’t happen much anymore (the slasher genre being played out notwithstanding) because the studios are good as buying and distributing or shelving a potential breakout hit.


At the same time, there are independent productions that occasionally have large budgets and like their usually lower (to no) budget counterparts, can become orphan films in need of serious preservation and restoration.  The deterioration of film stock, optical tracks and magnetic tape defines socio-economic class.


If it is not bad enough that the studios cannot ever spend enough time and money saving their own films, imagine what is happening to important independent voices and important cinema history worldwide?  Fortunately, high definition and the competing formats give a new economic incentive to fix up old indie favorites and inspire less known works to be fixed up and reissued.  What flows are ten great examples of important and even landmark work that does not come from major studios that prove important filmmaking is not exclusively owned by big money or toy tie-ins:



Black Christmas (1974) – The film that inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween has been unequalled and rarely rivaled, even after one of the worst remakes of all time.  The late Bob Clark (who died too soon in a terrible car accident that did not have to happen) likely had no idea at the time he had created a Horror classic and one of the most important films Canada has ever produced.  Even less recognized is the fact that he had equaled Romero’s original Night Of The Living Dead and the rest is history as a psychotic killer escapes an insane asylum and stalks sorority girls in one of the most imitated films ever made and an independent production at that.  Read more about it at this link:



A Boy & His Dog (1975) – The great character actor L.Q. Jones (Scorsese’s Casino) did great justice to Harlan Ellison’s story of a post-apocalyptic world where a young teen named Vic (Don Johnson in one of his few inarguably good performances) roams the wastelands with his dog Blood, who is ultra-intelligent and thanks to radiation, can communicate with Vic telepathically.  Their adventures are as bizarre and disturbing as they are hard to turn away from.  The ending remains highly controversial and the film was five years ahead of Mad Max.  Shot in Techniscope, it was issued originally in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor and in 2007/8 has been painstakingly restored.  That makes it a prime candidate to be one of the first of these films to see Blu-ray.  Read more about it from our DVD coverage at: http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/524/A+Boy+&+His+Dog+(First+Run


Fillmore (1972) – Originally issued by Fox as their answer to Woodstock, this documentary of the final days of the late, great Bill Graham’s Fillmore West and Fillmore East is one of the best looks inside the music industry ever filmed and much has not changed since, getting much worse in the 35 years since.  Originally issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor prints, multi-channel stereo and featuring no less than The Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Quicksilver Messenger Service, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Boz Scaggs, Lamb, It’s A Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop Group (when they had Steve Miller) and The Rowan Brothers, where is this film at?  Unless Graham’s estate does not want it issued, there is no reason or excuse for it to be missing.


Flesh For Frankenstein/Blood For Dracula (1973/1974) – Though they bared Andy Warhol’s name, these are Paul Morrissey’s groundbreaking and ever X-rated (for sex, thematics, violence) Horror classics that tore down Hammer Horror for good and remain more than cult favorites.  Joe Dallesandro was the hero/anti-hero of both and Udo Kier appears in both as well.  Great use of color, Frankenstein was made in 3-D and scope.  In 3-D or not, it and its companion would be very impressive in high definition and would surprise more than a few film fans.  3-D is already being tried out on Blu-ray, so we’ll see.


Ganja & Hess (1973) – One of the best Vampire films ever made, Bill Gunn’s independent classic co-starred Night Of The Living Dead’s Duane Jones in the male lead as this profound, stark, bloody, intense film slowly unwinds as one vampire creates another and infiltrates both black mobsters and a gospel church in this amazing thriller.  Marlene Clark is Ganja and the film is non-stop amazing from beginning to end.  When they give out money to save independent films, this masterwork should be at the top of the list.  Read more about it at:



The Gladiators (1969) – Peter Watkins made some incredible films (Culloden, The War Game, Punishment Park and Privilege, still being restored) that have been influential, innovative and remain incredible, but The Gladiators influenced George Lucas as much as Kubrick’s work from THX-1138 (1971 and even after over-changing it) and what it says about world politics and government is as powerful as ever.  From his earlier period showing him as one of the most important directors the U.K. ever produced (along with Hitchcock, Powell and The Scotts) would be amazing in High Definition and it has already been saved.  Read more about it at:



The Harder They Come (1973) – Though thought of as a famous “midnight movie” and a beneficiary of the Blaxploitation trend, Perry Henzell’s third-world-country Revenge Western exceeded its low-budget by also putting singer Jimmy Cliff on the map as its anti-hero lead and launched Reggae music worldwide with a classic soundtrack including the title songs and You Can Get It If You Really Want It among others.  Several different prints have surfaced on DVD, but none have done justice to the film.  It deserves a full restoration, preservation, 4K HD master and if the music masters can be found, a serious 5.1 upgrade.  The results would be amazing.


Negatives (1968) – Long before helming gems like The Krays (1990) and The Ruling Class (1972) up to howlers like Species 2 (1998) and endless hours of solid TV, Peter Medak made this creepy, indie, ahead of its time sex drama about two lovers (Glenda Jackson, Peter McEnery) who dress up like an infamous doctor and his lover to make sex more interesting.  A German photographer (Diane Cliento) enters the picture and things become more bizarre.  Like so many fine independent films, the rights on this film have been kicking around all over the place and announced DVD releases have already been nixed.  Maybe an HD version restored and upgraded could finally get this risk-taker issued, once issued in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor, released.


The Trials Of Oscar Wilde (1960) – The soon-to-be-James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and the gentleman director Ken Hughes made this daring 70mm epic drama about the controversial writer (played here by Network’s Peter Finch) as the writer takes on The Marquis of Queensbury in court, with ramifications far beyond its walls.  Not a hit in its time, it has not been seen much in recent years and Broccoli was highly disappointed that it was not a huge critical and commercial success, only emboldening his stance as he brought Bond to life.  Lionel Jeffreys and James Mason also star in this ambitious production long overdue for reissue and with cinematography by the great Ted Moore, a guaranteed High Definition winner.


Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich (1958) -  The only feature made in the large-frame/three-projector Cinemiracle process, the format was Cinerama without the lines showing in between the three projectors, but Cinerama bought out the system and after a 1962 reissue (and only in 35mm?,) it disappeared.  It too is a long overdue large frame film that deserves to be unearthed for even historical reasons, including its value as a documentary.  Hopefully, it still exists.  Produced by Louis De Rochemont III, who later produced the underrated The Noah (1975) and whose father was a major producer, knew how to get a good film made, even if he made few.  You can read more about The Noah this link:




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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