Film director Jan Troell is not a well known name in America, though he should be. Only a few of his films have been released in theaters in the U.S. or on home video. His best and best know works, “The Emigrants” and “The New Land,” have not been available on home video since the long ago days of the laser disc (his 1982 film “The Flight of the Eagle” is suppose to be very good but I have not seen it). It’s the kind of situation that drives devoted film lovers up a wall. After the success of those two films, Troell, like many European directors in the early 70’s, was lured to America where he had the misfortune to make a couple of artistic and financial flops (“Zandy’s Bride” and “Hurricane”). Troell fled back home where he settled into a career making feature films and documentaries. Fortunately, thanks to Criterion, we now have access to his excellent and passionate 2008 work, “Everlasting Moments.” Continue reading
The first film I ever saw of William Castle’s was “13 Ghosts” back in 1960 at a local theater in Brooklyn called The Culver. Audience members were given viewers containing both a red filter and a blue filter that you would look through depending on if you wanted to see the ghosts or not after being prompted to do so by the movie. While it worked, the entire idea was not exactly state of the art special effects, even for 1960. But it was fun and “Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story” is even more fun and filled with memories, interviews and plenty of footage from Castle’s classic “B” filmography. For younger viewers and the uninitiated, terms like “Illusion-O,” “Percepto” and “Emergo” will be new but don’t worry it’s all engagingly explained.
Those familiar with only Castle’s horror films may be surprised to discover his earlier films and his association with Orson Welles. He was a second unit director for “The Lady from Shanghai.” Castle had purchased the screen rights to “If I Should Die Before I Wake” by Sherwood King, the source novel the film was based on, and asked Welles to pitch the story to Harry Cohn of Columbia with the idea Castle himself would direct. It didn’t work out that way though with Cohn deciding to go with Welles directing. Continue reading