Even in this modern world of Amazon, Netflix, Redbox, I-tunes and various forms of distribution, some great films still remain hard to find and in relative obscurity. Some films need that extra push in order to get a proper release, be it fan petitions, letters to producers and distributors by fans, and all other variety and manor of things.
For example, the film “INK” was released in 2009. Love it or hate it, the reason of its release and being picked up officially is because it was widely pirated on sites without having an official release. So a distributor saw it or read about it on these sites and realized that it was popular enough to warrant a real official release and they picked it up, otherwise it would have remained in a more complete obscurity than it currently does. Below are 10 great films that should probably have a wider release.
This is the original, not the remake. Yes, they’ve remade this classic. But the original doesn’t have a wide release. The older copies of just this DVD go for about 37$ on Amazon, which is a huge markup for a DVD and I’ve seen it fluctuate between that and 50$. It is completely out of print so the only copies you can buy are used. The film was written by playwright Anthony Shaffer, the writer for such classics as Alfred Hitchock’s “Rope” and the 1973 version of “The Wicker Man”.
There is a remake of this film that is easy enough to find and readily available…but the original 1972 film with powerful performances by master thespians Laurence Oliver and Michael Caine remains out of print. The film plays like a classic ‘who done it’ set in a large house with twists and turns all the way to the very end. The film has been listed in books like “The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, it is a shame the original has been almost forgotten, if you ask for it by name at most video stores the remake will come up.
2. The Devils
This film has a book “Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils” that is a seller among film history enthusiasts. I bought a DVD of this film a while back and the quality of the transfer is less clean than VHS, which for a film considered classic by many cinephile is a real shame. It has been sited along with films like “Straw Dogs” as part of the ilk in the early 1970’s that caused films like “A Clockwork Orange” to originally receive and X-rating. And to many it is just as classic as “Straw Dogs” and “A Clockwork Orange” and nevertheless is a major part of film history for that reason besides in and of itself being a wonderful and interesting film.
The film is loosely inspired by the novel “The Devils of Loudun” by Aldous Huxley. “The Devils” stars Oliver Reed in one of his most shakespearian, cathartic, and brilliant performances. He plays a priest who sleeps around who is genuinely a bad character, but he protects a track of land from the acting governments. Because of pent of sexuality from a group of nuns is accused of possessing them with devils and that accusation is used and latched on by the father of a girl, he impregnated to take away his power.
The film then spirals into a masterpiece of a hellish nightmare as Father Urbain Grandier (Reed) goes through trials and tortures for the false accusation of consorting with the devil and then is ultimately burned at the stake. The film is dark, highly-controversial, subversive, filled with nudity and all sorts of scenes that would make the average audience queasy, but it is also masterfully acted, shot, and directed that among the rabble of other films released would stand out for its boldness of style and performances and with the questions it poses about religion and government still remains relevant. It is a brilliant example of 1970’s extreme filmmaking and deserves to be available to the public in a higher capacity than an out of print poorly transferred and hard to find DVD.
3. Allegro Non Troppo
“Allegro Non Troppo” is one I can completely understand why it is somewhat forgotten and unreleased…copywrite infringement. However that suit would not fly because you can not copywrite a concept or style, otherwise almost every modern slasher film would be paying royalties to Hitchcock’s style and “Halloween”.
“Allego Non Troppo” not to be too blunt is considered an Italian rip-off of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia”. The film is the same formate. It is a series of short animated vignettes accompanied by classical music scores, each one bridged by a series of live action skits about an orchestra and artist which segues into each of the animated shorts.
Director Brunno Bozzette is considered on of the most important animators in Italy and if you do manage to find a copy of “Allegro Non Troppo” on DVD, it is way out of print and runs for about 50$, it features numerous short films by Bozzette as well as a short documentary that is 100% worth checking out for the enthusiast of animation, cult films, and classical music.
As weird as this movie is, it is a cult classic among serious horror movie fans. Possession was directed by Andrzej Zulawski and is enhanced by the fact that he may not speak that great English. The film is extremely hard to describe but what it lacks in coherency it makes up in pure energy. The performances by Sam Neil and his wife played by Isabelle Adjani are wild and bizarre, but with nothing held back.
The only copy I was able to find was a Korean copy. It is available on blu-ray in the UK, but so far nothing in the U.S. It is one films serious horror fans have been waiting for and are still hoping and looking for a future solid American release at sometime.
The film is truly bizarre like a twilight zone episode with a relatively simple premise about a man who feels his marriage is falling apart, in a way it is his wife appears to be having an affair with a strange tentacled monster. But this film deserves to be out there by the strange energy it radiates. The film during it’s climax features a beautifully shot chase sequence as well as performances that just keep you guess. It’s wild, unkempt and extremely beautiful. It is one of those films you need to see to believe.
5. Song of the South
I can buy “A Serbian Film: Uncut” on the highest formate available, blu-ray. That film is considered one of the most disgusting and disturbing films ever made. I can buy “Salo The 120 Days of Sodom” on a Criterion Collection blu-ray. A film so controversial the murder of its director after it was released is the stuff of film legends. I can buy Walt Disney’s “Peter Pan” featuring such controversial songs as “What makes the Red Man Red?” on a special-edition blu-ray, but a film that is the basis of one of Walt Disney theme parks most famous rides, “Splash Mountain”, that still draws people screaming to the drop year after year doesn’t have a DVD or Blu-ray release . . . why? SLAVERY… IS BAD. Which is such a taboo subject that it has clearly never been utilized in films before.
Slavery is one of the most horrible things in human history. But mature people can still watch a decent film about a cartoon rabbit and still understand that. Because films do not have to play safe. Even Disney can take a risk on being protested once in a while. And I won’t even argue and say “Song of the South” is high art cause I don’t believe it is but it is a piece of history and as wrong and inappropriate as it is, it is absolutely no different than those war films John Wayne was in that make the horrors of war seem as banal as a camping trip with ‘the men’.
The movie doesn’t raise any real questions about the morality of slavery but the tales of Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox are still part of American Folklore the same way stories about tricky foxes, cunning wolves, and frogs with overcoats are. Br’er Rabbit shouldn’t be buried in the annals of time.
A “Song of the South” release if Disney is scared of any sort of radical backlash upon a release would benefit to at least calm them and may be uptight audiences nerves to have a note at the top of the film saying ‘this film was made in a time when. . . racism bad, no longer reflects the opinions of the current Walt Disney Corporation’. Audiences can see a piece of animation history and it has this nice button so no one gets their feelings hurt.