Monday, May 21, 2007

DVD Party Offers Fun Surprises

Once in a while my friends and I have a "Bring Your Own DVD Party" where each of each brings a DVD that we think the others may never watch on their own, yet would still enjoy seeing. This weekend we had a particularly good grouping of films.

Keith's selection was the 1966 Italian horror film "Kill, Baby, Kill" from director Mario Bava. I'm hot and cold on Bava, but I like his early films and had never seen this one. It was really terrific a ghost story set in the Italian countryside in the late 19th century with a particularly creepy looking ghost girl (actually a boy with a blonde wig). Before becoming a director, Bava was a cinematographer and his lighting is so striking you can't mistake his movies for anyone else's. A particular emphasis on green and blue lighting means you're in Bava Land. The transfer courtesy Anchor Bay was very fine indeed. I've always liked his other films "Black Sunday", "Black Sabbath" and "Hercules in the Haunted World" so I may have to give his later films, which I've always dismissed like "Baron Blood", another look.

My contribution was "The Pearl of Death" a particularly fine entry in the 1940s Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Universal horror queen Evelyn Ankers has an atypical role as the villian, and there's an appearance at the end by Rondo Hatton as The Creeper, a homicidal killer who spreads terror throughout London by breaking his victim's backs. Great fun, and it runs a crisp 69 minutes.

Scott's selection was the M-G-M version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", which I've never seen. Really well acted by one and all, with Burl Ives making a memorable turn as the towering Big Daddy. He won a Best Supporting Oscar that year for a similar role in "The Big Country." All I can say is I'm glad my family is not like the one Tennessee Williams portrays here. I've been neglectful about other Williams translations, such as "Baby Doll" and "The Night of the Iguana" and hope to rectify that soon. Unfortunately, my attempts to have everyone from now on refer to me as Big Daddy fell on deaf ears.

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