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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Surrealism > Short > French > Horror > Thriller > Fantasy > Fairy Tale > Mythology > L’Age d’Or (1930/BFI Flipside Region Free/Zero Blu-ray w/Region 2/Two DVD Dual Format Import Set) + Blood Bath (1966/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD) + Red Riding Hood (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

L’Age d’Or (1930/BFI Flipside Region Free/Zero Blu-ray w/Region 2/Two DVD Dual Format Import Set) + Blood Bath (1966/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD) + Red Riding Hood (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

 

Picture: B-/C+/B- & C-     Sound: C+/C+/B & B-     Extras: B/D/C-     Films: B/C+/D

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: L’Age d’Or is a Region Free import Blu-ray that can be ordered directly from our friends at BFI at the link at the end of this review and will play on all players worldwide.  Blood Bath is a web-only DVD release that can be ordered from Amazon.com and accessed from the sidebar of this site.

 

 

We received three different titles that span 82 years, yet have a streak running through them.

 

For starters, we take on the classic film L’Age d’Or (1930) by Luis Buñuel (who once called himself a “terrorist”) and surrealist innovator Salvador Dali (who admitted he was a “fascist”) making a wild and wildly enduring film (runs 63 minutes) about a couple deeply in love who quickly discover they cannot get a moments alone of peace or to consummate their relationship as every outside force imaginable (family, church, state, “petty bourgeois”) interrupt them.  The film is a classic and set up themes Buñuel would spend his career investigating.

 

The film is still considered subversive to this day, is as timely as ever and includes elements so many filmmakers and artists have tired to duplicate that you have to see it to believe it.  BFI has issued the film on Blu-ray (for the first time) and DVD from a restored print and the film has never looked so good, though it shows its age, the 1080p 1.19 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image includes the original score and scene select audio commentary by Robert Short, who also offers a 25-minutes-long filmed introduction (only on the DVD for some reason) and that makes this the bets opportunity yet to see the film.

 

BFI has issued this as a Dual Format set (both formats included) and it is definitely worth going out of your way for.  In addition, the co-director’s first work, the 1929 classic short Un Chien Andalou (17 minutes) comes from the 1960 restoration of the film that famously includes a sliced human eye still in the head of its owner and a hole in the hand that has living ants running out of it.  The film is also here HD (same specs) with three audio tracks: the 1960 'Tango' score, newly commissioned Mordant Music score and another fine audio commentary by Short.

 

It is a great pairing of vital, priceless pure cinema that remains unmatched and a must-see for all serious film fans.  BFI has offered great transfers of the films and all the audio on the Blu-ray is in PCM 2.0 16/48 Stereo and added more extras including José Luis López-Linares and Javier Rioyo with a feature length documentary A Propósito de Buñuel (2000, only on the DVD) on the life and work of Buñuel, that bonus DVD and a fully illustrated 24-page booklet with tech information, credits, biographies, illustrations, notes by Buñuel and an essay by Short.

 

Buñuel became a major international director and Dali worked on other films occasionally (including one animated short with Disney that was only finished recently after both had passed away) as well as the extremely influential dream sequences in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Spellbound (1945), all of which further kept their early collaborations alive.  The censorship did not hurt the curiosity either, so it is no surprise they and their films would both be influential.

 

When Jack Hill was starting as the infamous director he became (Spider Baby and Sorceress (1982) are considered two of the worst films of all time, while Coffy, Foxy Brown, The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage became exploitation classics), he would co-direct Blood Bath (1966) with Stephanie Rothman in her directorial debut.  They would both be associated with genre films and wacky B Horror movie where women keep disappearing in Venice, California is another one of American International’s attempts to make their low budget fare seem at least somewhat artsy.  Though a mixed success as a film, there are more than a few surreal sequences that you would not find in most Hill movies that look like Rothman’s later work.

 

This throws off the gender point of view and actually lessens the victimization a bit of the female characters, likely unintended.  An artistic madman who is an actual artist (think Dali?) is grabbing these women to honor one that haunts him and only some local beatniks (including Sid Haig) might be able to stop him, yet another separate killer is on the loose.  The ending is contrived; though that seems less of a problem after the work of the two different directors don’t totally cohere.  Oh, and the film lasts about as long as L’Age d’Or.

 

It is watchable enough and though not great, at least interesting the cast and locations help.  William Campbell, Marrisa Mathes and Linda Saunders lead the cast, it is an interesting genre piece with more than enough of a curio factor to be in print, even if it is an MGM Limited Edition Collection release, but Horror fans will want to have it.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black and white image comes from a good print and looks pretty good throughout, though there are slight issues with detail and the print can have some dirt on it.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good for the films age and the combination is not bad overall.  There are sadly no extras, but Rothman moved on to helm The Student Nurses, It’s A Bikini World and the underrated Velvet Vampire, which succeeds where this film falls short.  You can read more about it at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9690/Isle+Of+The+Snake+People+(1971)

 

The review is paired with a later Hill film, Isle Of The Snake People.

 

 

So you would think the female directing position in genre filmmaking would improve over three decades, but with Catherine Hardwicke, that is not necessarily the case.  Known best for launching the overrated Twilight franchise, she manages to be even more boring with the awfully awful Red Riding Hood (2011) with well-cast Amanda Seyfried in the title role and also has Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Lukas Haas and Virginia Madsen.  Too bad the David Johnson’s screenplay is as bad as anything Jack Hill could have come up with and the visuals (often overly digital and embarrassingly so) are never scary, sexy, romantic, serious, intelligent or amount to anything, though Hardwicke thinks she is making them so.  However, she is either bluffing and/or is presenting things only she understands.  Worst of all, she could not put a patch on Rothman for honestly, sexuality or skill.  This is just stunningly lame and how it got the greenlight is beyond puzzling.  It also comes across as a really bad version of Neil Jordan’s The Company Of Wolves for idiots, but here it is.

 

The Blu-ray offers the equally lame “Alternate Cut” but the real cut should have been canceling this disaster before it was in front of a camera.  You sit there bored and could care less about anything that happens to anyone.  Any wolf or werewolf or whatever killer is on the loose needs to speed it up so this will end, but this runs a very, very, very long 100 minutes.  The biggest problem is that this is bells and whistles would-be filmmaking that is not honest about any of its themes for a second and showing blood well lit is not art or possesses any real meaning.  Hardwicke was better at making skateboard films.

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is soft and has all kinds of digital work that holds back overall fidelity, plus the color shave been laughingly manipulated.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is remarkably horrid, pale, soft, blurry, weak and probably should not have been included.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray is well-recorded and the only thing that saves this from being a coffee coaster.  The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is not as rich, but still has a soundfield, though not as consistent as the DTS-MA on the Blu-ray.

 

Extras exclusive to the Blu-ray include BD Live BD Live interactive features, that Alternate Cut, a picture-in-picture commentary, a couple of unnecessary Music Videos, cheesy Red’s Men featurette, a Gag Reel and some other tired junk, plus useless Additional Scenes also on DVD and Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices.  Needless to say Ms. Hardwicke knows little about the genres or surrealism (is clueless too strong a word?) but has allowed herself to make the worst, most cynical and most condescending subgenre of would-be teen romance junk around.

 

What a yawn!

 

 

To order L’Age d’Or, here is the link:

 

http://filmstore.bfi.org.uk/acatalog/info_19519.html

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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