Wednesday, December 08, 2010

VW's Favorite DVDs of 2010: Bill Cooke

VW contributor Bill Cooke now offers a short list of some of his favorites of the past year. He's a film critic and teacher, corporate media screenwriter, video producer and the co-director of the horror film FREAKSHOW (1994). -- TL

By Bill Cooke

THE GREEN SLIME (1969, Warner Archives Collection)
This lunatic clash between astronauts and alien blobs -- a co-production between American and Japanese filmmakers -- is undeniably silly but a whole lot of fun. At last, the longer, English-language version is given a beautiful widescreen transfer by the folks at Warner Home Video, even if it’s only part of their manufacture-on-demand service.

STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (1940, Warner Archives Collection)
The Warner Archive Collection strikes again with this great little prelude to the film noir movement. John McGuire stars as a witness to a murder case. Is poor little Elisha Cook Jr. really the killer, as McGuire originally thought, or is it the mysterious Peter Lorre—the Stranger on the Third Floor? Includes a bravura, expressionistic nightmare sequence.

COLUMBIA PICTURES FILM NOIR CLASSICS II (1954-1958, Sony)
This second batch of Columbia noirs might not be as essential as the first, but still contains a few gems for aficionados. In spite of the title, Jacques Tourneur’s NIGHTFALL (1957) is mostly set in bright, snowy countryside, and features Brian Keith and Rudy Bond as two of the most sadistic bank robbers a suffering noir hero ever met; PUSHOVER (1954) stars Fred (DOUBLE INDEMNITY) MacMurray in a fascinating echo of his old noir self as he destroys himself once again for money and a dame ( Kim Novak); Fritz Lang’s HUMAN DESIRE (1954) is an American update of La BĂȘte Humaine, and features Glenn Ford as a railroad worker pulled into a mariticide; and CITY OF FEAR (1958) adds Cold War fears and a tense Jerry Goldsmith score to the mix, as hood Vince Edwards unwittingly carries around a stolen and volatile container of radioactive material.

THRILLER (aka BORIS KARLOFF’S THRILLER, 1960-1961)
Finally -- the most important gothic horror television series comes to DVD, complete and with a number of great audio commentaries by an all-star line-up of genre experts.

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