Watched Journal: October 2023
We are in a new golden age of home media.
What I mean by this is not only are we continuing to see classic films beautifully restored on 4K UHD, boutique labels giving cult gems their flowers with stacked Blu-ray special editions and a curious renaissance with vintage VHS collecting.
In October I went to a VHS market at The Plaza Theatre, hosted by Atlanta institution Videodrome, in which I was one of over a hundred film geeks digging through bins of VHS tapes for treasures. Watching 'Sleuth' on VHS for the first time in over 20 years, which for some reason has not been restored to Blu-ray, brought back a heavy dose of nostalgia to the days of taping movies when they aired on cable.
But the real highlight of the month for me was diving into Arrow Video's marvelous new 'Psycho 4K Collection' which brings to UHD the three 'Psycho' sequels along with Hitchcock's original masterpiece. The restorations of the three sequels breathes new life into the films, particularly the Anthony Perkins directed 'Psycho III', with its dazzling 'Blood Simple' influenced neon atmosphere. Arrow's box set is lovingly curated with alternative covers, press cards, booklet and transparent slip that pays homage to the infamous shower scene.
Another standout was Radiance's limited edition of 'Messiah of Evil', which the label describes as a "new restoration from a 4K scan of the best surviving elements in the Academy film archive." For me, it was a revelatory viewing experience compared to the original streaming version I had previously watched. 'Messiah of Evil' is a mood piece, a proto-'Dawn of the Dead' about a daughter trekking to a creepy coastal California town to find her missing father where she encounters a strange cult and possessed zombies.
I first encountered 'Messiah of Evil' when watching the excellent film essay 'Los Angeles Plays Itself' which showcases several scenes from the film including the classic supermarket sequence. Released in 1974, the same year as Tobe Hooper's 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre', 'Messiah of Evil' emerged in the middle of the 1970's indie horror boom that began with George Romero's 'Night of Living Dead' in 1968. This era came to an end in 1978 with John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' signaling a more commercial, slasher dominated genre to emerge in the '80s.
The two movies I watched in the theater were about greed: 'Dumb Money' and Martin Scorsese's latest, 'Killers of the Flower Moon.' Both films are based upon true stories, with the former being totally unnecessary and the latter about an hour too long. Scorsese's picture has called for a return of the intermission period, and in the age of hitting pause, I welcome the opportunity for a second wind.
What I watched in October:
10-1: Dumb Money [AMC Madison Yards]
10-3: Dark City [Criterion]
10-4: In The Mouth of Madness [Criterion]
10-8: Cabo Blanco [Media VHS], Death Wish [1980 Paramount VHS]
10-9: Vampires (1998, John Carpenter) [Indicator Blu-ray]
10-12: Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) [Arrow 4K], Psycho II [Arrow 4K]
10-13: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan [Scream Factory Blu-ray], Psycho III [Arrow 4K]
10-15: Psycho IV: The Beginning [Arrow 4K - TV Aspect Ratio], The Net (1995, Irwin Winkler) [Criterion]
10-16: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem [Paramount+]
10-17: Murphy’s Law [Kino Blu-ray]
10-18: The Big Caper [TCM]
10-19: Sleuth (1972, Joseph Mankiewicz) [Media VHS]
10-20: The Day of the Locust [Hoopla], Freddy vs. Jason [Blu-ray]
10-23: Messiah of Evil [Radiance Blu-ray]
10-27: Killers of the Flower Moon [AMC Madison Yards], Halloween III: Season of the Witch [Scream 4K UHD]
10-29: No Hard Feelings [Netflix], Agatha (1979, Michael Apted) [TCM]
10-30: Halloween H20 [Shout Factory 4K UHD]