It’s a truth universally acknowledged that The Matrix is a great science-fiction movie, but there is more to it than that. For its 20th anniversary I’m going to take a look at all the elements that made The Wachowski’s movie such a cinematic milestone and how it raised the bar for all subsequent genre movies. When The Matrix was released in 1999 it opened up new vistas of imagination in screen science-fiction – a domain of cyber existence that no film had yet explored. It was a sci-fi movie that changed the genre. It was, in fact, a movie that changed film-making in general.
Following the success of The Hills Have Eyes, Swamp Thing shows Wes Craven adapting his style from the rough ‘n’ ready thrills and spills of his earlier exploitation films, to a sci-fi adventure featuring a mutant-monster with good intentions! Swamp Thing features a supporting cast of fan-favourites including Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise and David Hess in one of his best-remembered villainous turns.
“Science transformed him into a monster. Love changed him even more!”
For years fans waited for the release of a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s trendsetting Cannibal Holocaust, yet it would take almost a decade for The Green Inferno to arrive… and it wasn’t what followers of the Italian cannibal cycle were expecting.
First there was Cannibal Holocaust… Then came Cannibal Ferox… But somewhere in France, someone was already hatching a plot to cash-in on the Italian intestinal classics with Cannibal Terror!
“The thirst for adventure!”
Samurai, robots, flying tiger sharks, time-traveling baseball players and alien monsters: the legendary – and above all notoriously bad – Japanese detective series Ronin Suiri Tentai had it all. In Japan, the series was strangely enough no more than a modest success. But in Australia, where it was released in the early 1990s under the title Top Knot Detective, the series became a gigantic cult hit.
“Learn the inside story about the greatest Japanese samurai series, you’ve never heard of before.”
Netflix have done a brilliant job at exploring the Castlevania story with this season, which is twice the length of the first and has a lot more Dracula. For anyone who didn’t see the first season there’s only two things you need to know: First- Dracula has declared war on the human race after the Church killed his wife. Second- Trevor Belmont (the last descendant of the famous monster fighting family) and Sypha Belnades (a witch) have joined forces with Alucard (Dracula’s son) to defeat the vampire lord himself.
“In killing my wife, humanity has proven to me that they don’t deserve the Earth… We will scour them off the land!”
In March 2019 Arrow Video is re-releasing Hideo Nakata’s Ringu in celebration of its 20th anniversary; restored from the original negative in vivid high definition.
Ringu is based on a novel by Koji Suzuki, (known as the ‘Japanese Stephen King’) and for any western viewer this film is the starting point for any exploration of modern Asian horror.
“How did the rumours about the video even start in the first place? This kind of thing… It doesn’t start by one person telling a story. It’s more like everyone’s fear just takes on a life of its own.”
Released in 1978, the madcap mayhem of Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin was a surefire sign to audiences that its young star Jackie Chan was soon to be even more famous than the man who paved the way for the modern martial arts genre – Mr. Bruce Lee! An international box office success, this all-time classic is one of Chan’s most beloved masterworks and it is easy to see why. 88 Films is proud to present Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin in glorious HD thanks to a brand new 2k scan overseen by Golden Harvest itself!
“The cunning of the snake and the strength of the crane.”
Jackie Chan arrived on American soil with hopes of becoming a superstar in the West, and his first ever Hollywood project as a leading man certainly provided him with a notable director in Robert Clouse. Whilst Battle Creek Brawl was not quite as epoch defining, this is still prime Jackie – a classic bout of chopsocky on Anglicised soil, ready to punch its way into your collection in this 2K HD restoration from 88 Films.
“A martial arts fight to the finish.”
People have been raving about this Netflix series for a while now. Even Stephen King has praised it, so I’ve given it a go. The Netflix series differs from the novel. The advantage of only being loosely based on the novel is with the differences the Netflix series has made. Eleanor “Nell” Vance, for example, was the main character in the novel, but by mid-season the dynamic changes, so you don’t know what is going to happen.
“A ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.”
Written and directed by Shinichiro Ueda, One Cut of the Dead begins with an impressive 37 minute long take set in an abandoned Japanese water filtration plant. “It’s just an urban legend… On record, this place was built for water filtration. But the Japanese army used here for some sort of experimentation… Human experimentation. Like…bringing the dead back to life.” Shinichiro Ueda’s movie injects the zombie trope with new life; thus reanimating the sub-genre. This is not Dawn of the Dead, nor is it Shaun of the Dead. Instead, One Cut of the Dead celebrates low-budget filmmaking.
“Making a zombie movie, on a live broadcast, in one take?”
Lionsgate UK are pleased to announce three more cult classics joining their Vestron Collector’s Series. Originally released by Vestron Video, these classic horror and sci-fi titles are restored and remastered on Blu-ray, and packed with hours of special features. Lionsgate UK presents Class of 1999, Parents, and The Unholy on Blu-ray, 25th February.
“It’s the last lesson you’ll ever learn!”
In the original series you could really root for Sabrina as she learns witchcraft and all the negative aspects that came with it but here the stakes are much higher, not just regarding whether she will be a mortal or witch, but to be a witch she has to sign her name in Satan’s book and he could call on her at any time. There’s a stronger sense of Sabrina’s desperation to learn about her family history and what had happened to her parents, along with the struggles of being a half witch, giving the series a bit of a Harry Potter feel, even though the original Sabrina comics and 90s series predate it.