The Week In Video Part L

Tuesday, October 6 2015
The Week In Video Part L

Back with out regular look at our recent home viewing, paying close attention to its trade potential… And as noted on The Raygun newsletter last week, we’re still playing catch up with some of our Film 4 FrightFest viewing, so our round up here is going to focus mainly on two elements, horror, alongside a wealth of documentaries we’ve been looking at too.

Just out form Lionsgate as we pen this very feature is the rather excellent Turbo Kid, which, as those in the know from FrightFest will testify, was one of the highlights of the weekend’s viewing. It truly shows the power of the event to launch titles (a subject we’ve mentioned here and on our newsletter a ridiculous amount of times in previous years) – the word of mouth garnered over the weekend will be more than enough to get this title off to a strong start and further help it over the first few weeks on release. It’s a kind of homage to early 80s post-apocalyptic splatter, with buckets of blood flying all over the place, but it’s so much smarter than mere pastiche. Heck, it even has the smarts to get Michael Ironside, one of the kings of the video store throughout the VHS era, involved as the archetypal baddie in a world without water, where, with no petrol, everyone rides around on BMX bikes. It’s more fun than it has any right to be, hugely enjoyable and comes in a ridiculously strong sleeve too. Oh, and the menu screen is one of the best we’ve seen for ages. A thoroughly commercial prospect.

Also arriving with more than a nod to the video nasty era is We Are Still Here. Despite having the same deference towards and respect for those halcyon days, this is less tongue in cheek. It’s a slow burner, for sure, more in keeping with Metrodome’s House Of The Devil from a few years back than the immediacy of Turbo Kid, but has a distinctly VHS friendly horror feel to it, earning comparisons with Lucio Fulci’s work, notably The Beyond. Again, its FrightFest appearance will aid it as it arrives. And in keeping with its contemporaries, Studiocanal, like the likes of Lionsgate, has its own channels through which it can push its wares, its Horror Vault to the latter’s Fright Club, with a built-in army of fans kept in touch through social media. Another with strong potential.

And from eOne comes Wer. It’s a werewolf film, but one infused with modern-day sensibilities, giving it a sharper, more contemporary edge. It uses found footage elements, but that doesn’t restrain it too much. It boasts a strong sleeve and the attempt to reinvent the werewolf genre should help it through. Not from the FrightFest world, but not a million mies away from it, is The Enfield Haunting. It’s taken a while to arrive on physical formats after its high profile transmission earlier this year, complete with Sky’s marketing muscle behind it. Its exile is ended with eOne’s release, after a few UK distributors were sniffing around it. Its exemplary homegrown television, boating a cracking cast, with Timothy Spall on fine form. We must confess to a personal interest here – The Raygun is headquartered just down the road from the actual house where the real-life haunting this outing is based on. The programme is still fresh enough in the memory to hop it succeed, as should the proximity of the release to Halloween.

Back to Lionsgate and, a world away from the horror of Turbo Kid comes Moomins On The Riviera. Now, we’ve watched a lot of kids’ films over the years, more so since we’ve had our children, but blimey, this is as strange as it gets. Surreal it might be, but there’s plenty going for it, not least a high profile theatrical release. Works well with pre-schoolers, parents looking for something a bit different away from the more obvious titles and an older, nostalgist audience too.

A whole clutch of documentaries now, with more than our fair share from the experts in this field, Dogwoof. Recently out at cinemas, as part of a SuperTicket promotion along with a fully fledged vod and later DVD release towards the end of October, is Cartel Land. This powerful and moving documentary, looking at the war on drugs and the drug business on both sides of the US and Mexican border, ties in neatly with a current wave of interest in cartels and the likes – Sicario is also arriving at cinemas under a welter of publicity and marketing noise, while over on Netflix, Narcos is big news and being pushed, again with heavyweight marketing, as the natural successor to its other big hitters. It’s strong stuff, taking a slightly different line from the other titles, with perhaps a wider scope, and is all the better for it. An instantly recognisable brand, the seemingly unending fascination with the cocaine business and drugs trade will only keep this, er, high.

3 1/2 Minutes And Ten Bullets, also from Dogwoof, is a heartbreaking tape of a senseless murder of an American teenager and the fallout from the case, following the trial of the man accused of the killing. It’s another powerful outing and the case has struck a chord on both sides of the Atlantic, with plenty of PR here around its theatrical release. Meanwhile, with gun crime in the US seemingly never off the agenda, sadly, this film looks set to remain relevant for some months to come.

Finally from Dogwoof, and on a far cheerier note, look out for Fresh Dressed, due from the imprint later this year, it’s an outstanding documentary looking at the links between hip hop and fashion. And in a similar vein, the equally excellent Rubble Kings looks at the era leading up to the birth of hip hop, the gangs in the outlying boroughs of New York – the real life Warriors, if you will – and how their violence and fashion ended up morphing into the creation of a new form of music and style. It’s a well-put together doc and is due from new Terracotta offshoot Sharp Teeth, showing the resilience and growth that can still be enjoyed in the documentary sector. Moreover, as this title, and some from Dogwoof, show, it’s an area where shortened windows and innovative release strategies can still pay off. Keep an eye on this area, it’s one that continues to break new ground in how to bring titles to market…

That’s not to say, however, that some documentaries don’t deserve to be treated as major theatrical releases, complete with full cinema to home entertainment windows. Take, if you will, Precinct Seven Five, given the full theatrical treatment by eOne in the summer, and deservedly so. For it’s a documentary that almost defies belief, about US police so bent that it goes beyond fiction. It arrives with incredible word of mouth – once seen, it’s difficult not to spread the word – and if anyone can turn this into a bigger, wider audience, then it’s eOne. One of 2015’s most commercial documentaries, this deserves to succeed. Similar in nature, but wildly different in tone, is The Wolf Pack, another of the year’s best non-fiction outings and one that again boasts plenty of commercial possibilities. Released by Kaleidoscope’s Spectrum imprint, it too has had a fully-fledged theatrical bow, aided by the PR that money can’t buy, as the brothers who’d barely left the home and most of whose knowledge came purely from films, came to the UK for a premiere and press tour. Due at the end of the year, at about the time it should be appearing on a few year-end Best Of lists, this is another to keep an eye on.

And we’ll end with a title out this week, Back To The Future. Anyone old enough to remember its original theatrical release, and almost every subsequent release since, will know that it’s the gift that keeps on giving – a perennial seller that can be given a new lease of life every few years. 2015 is another cracking opportunity – with the 30th anniversary not just of its of its release but also the arrival of the date in which Marty McFly and Doc travelled to in the “future” from 1985. This serendipitous timing makes it a double whammy and Universal has pulled out all the stops to make this a truly special release. We’ve had a look at some of the bonus content and it’s exemplary, while Universal’s marketing is of a similarly high calibre. A worthy piece of catalogue marketing that deserves to succeed and could point a way forward for an increasingly tough market.

Tags: ,