At the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia (otherwise known as PZYK) I was introduced to Zamrock – a musical subgenre that combined African rhythm and sound with psychedelic rock – and arguably the most successful Zambian band of the 1970s: WITCH (an acronym for “We Intend To Cause Havoc“). Under the leadership of charismatic lead vocalist Emanuel “Jagari” Chanda, WITCH dominated the PZYK stage from the moment the band re-introduced themselves during ‘Introduction’.
On 29th March, ’70s espionage thriller The Black Windmill (1974) arrives on Blu-ray from 101 Films for the first time in the UK. Directed by legendary filmmaker Don Siegel, the film stars Michael Caine as a British secret agent targeted for death by friend and foe alike. Underrated and under-seen, this riveting suspense thriller features a superb cast and an outstanding score from Roy Budd.
“Seven days to a killing… the ultimate exercise in controlled terror.”
Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire is a sequel to the third film, Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse, but you don’t need to see the earlier film to understand the plot. Battle for the Heartfire begins during the last moments of King Gareth, the once young knight from Dragonheart 3 (now played by Valeriu Bazu), and focuses on potential rival rulers. The dragon in this story is still Drago from the previous film, but he is now voiced by Patrick Stewart; whose voice is on par with Sean Connery as Draco from the original Dragonheart.
“Boy king! You ready for a man’s death?”
Dragonheart: A New Beginning was released in 2000 and for 15 years it was the last Dragonheart. Probably because it didn’t do as well as the original – it no longer had Sean Connery as the voice of the dragon, Draco – and the story elements were too similar. Another possibility for the long delay is because storywise Dragonheart: A New Beginning was about the very last dragon, so it left little room for a sequel. However, there have now been three direct to DVD/streaming prequels produced for the Dragonheart series in the last five years. Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse is a prequel to the original film.
“Gone are the days when good men ruled.”
In our rush to analyse, dissect and debate, we often forget that one of the functions of art, in this case cinematic art, is simply to give pleasure. Pleasure is subjective – what might give you pleasure might not appeal to someone else. It’s futile to disagree on this point unless of course, we can all exchange opinions in ways that might be mutually enlightening. Some of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had with cinephiles is when they enthuse about the films that made them fall in love with the medium. It is that which has prompted me to discuss some of the ‘films that made me’…
“There are angels on the streets of Berlin.”
Offering a fresh take on the Frankenstein myth, Replicas is a taut and action-packed sci-fi thriller about family, loss and the dangerous questions surrounding emerging scientific technologies. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch and John Ortiz. Directed by Jeffery Nachmanoff.
Replicas is available on digital download 22nd April, and Blu-ray/DVD 29th April from Lionsgate UK.
“Some humans are unstoppable.”
The Asylum film company is pretty famous in certain cinematic circles as the company that puts out knock offs based on blockbuster hits. Snakes on a Plane became Snakes on a Train, while Transformers became Transmorphers! When they do it right, The Asylum are capable of crafting hilarious pieces of cinematic cheese. But when they do it wrong, boy do they mess up! Almighty Thor falls into the later category. It is heartbreaking when a film that could have been a trash classic falls so far from the mark. The budget was obviously an issue.