Thunder Picks… #018guest edited by Raygun
In the spirit of on going drive for cultural diversity (kind of) this week I asked the good folk behind The Raygun, a video and film industry newsletter and website, to provide a guest Thunder Picks for us. The editor Tim Murray, who curated a Horse Meat Screen season at Horse Meat Disco, just so happens to one of the handful of people who has been to every single Thunder ever and is a fellow vinyl collecting obsessive, not to mention an old punk (which isnt dead, by the way). But he owns as many films as he does records, so this edition isnt about vinyl at all
Write about what you know, Mark Twain once said, so when we were asked to pull together some Thunder clips we thought wed follow that sage advice, after all, it didnt too him too badly.
So rather than tell you about the latest batch of L.I.E.S twelves, wed take the same approach to current and recent film releases, taking a look at a batch of DVD, Blu-ray and even VHS labels worth keeping an eye on, the same way youd follow a record label.
Weve paid particular attention to some soundtrack-related goodies too, ahead of potential further looks at the current crop of labels specialising in reissuing outstanding synth-heavy scores
Here then are five imprints worth following
The archivists of cinema history in the UK, the BFIs DVGD and Blu-ray operation has excelled in terms of its output in recent years. It takes in everything from classic, restored silent films (with new specially scored soundtracks) such as The Great White Silence through to documentaries, public information films and, more recently Childrens Film Foundation flicks and even complete versions of the likes of 70s schlock horror The Devils. But its finest releases are reserved for the wonderful Flipside imprint, dedicated to digging out long-forgotten near-classics from the darker underbelly of British filmmaking. Its roster includes everything from mondo and sleaze documentaries such as Primitive London (with an ace soundtrack) to swinging features such as Privilege (source for, among other things, at least one notable Big Audio Dynamite sample), by way of suedehead classic Bronco Bullfrog, even taking in more experimental, 60s underground experiments too. Like the best record label, pretty much anything on this imprint is worth picking up.
Masters Of Cinema
Described by many cinephiles as the UKs answer to the wonderful Criterion operation in America, this homegrown label is now cherry-picking from some of the major Hollywood studios film libraries, enabling it to add the likes of noir classics Touch Of Evil and Double Indemnity to its roster, which now also takes in more recent outings such as hardcore punk tale Repo Man and seminal 70s sci-fi Silent Running. Recommended titles include Beach Boy Dennis Wilsons iconic role in counterculture classic Two-Lane Blacktop, La Planete Sauvage, along with its ridiculously good and much sampled soundtrack, and the assorted versions of Metropolis, even Giorgio Moroders much-maligned, rescored and colourised version. Keep an eye out too for forthcoming, restored goth classic Nosferatu.
A fiercely independent label that has a wilfully eclectic library of titles and, as it admits itself, has a broad agenda when it comes to the titles it picks up. This means it takes in everything from low budget horror (recent notables have included VHS-era classics such as Basket Case and Return Of The Living Dead, complete with a Cramps title song, through to, on the way, Heavens Gate, a film with a budget so bloated it pretty much brought down an entire studio (its long overdue a reappraisal). In terms of titles to look out for, you could go from everything to Breakdance 2 Electric Boogaloo through to Berlin smack tale Christiane F, complete with a Bowie soundtrack, by way of the sample-friendly Dougal And The Blue Cat. But if we must recommend one, then go for the completely mental Possession, an art-film masquerading as a video nasty (or vice versa), with a Finders Keepers-approved synth driven soundtrack.
Mere mention of video nasties has to bring us on to the Arrow Video label. Even its ident is an 80s-style, lo-fi, cheap electronic offering, but this wonderfully curated imprint is a homage to the golden age of VHS films and video rental shops. Its a hugely varied selection, but each offering has newly-created artwork from the likes of Graham Humphreys, who created the original Evil Dead artwork as well as designing sleeves for The Cramps, as well as a raft of brand new, specially filmed extras. If we had to recommend just one or two from a catalogue that ranges from Penthouse-produced softcore tale Caligula through to, this year, a raft of Brian De Palma and early Cronenberg titles, then wed suggest a brace of Lucio Fulci classics, The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters, in part for their superlative Italo disco-infused scores from Fabio Frizzi.
You may not have spotted it, but theres something of a mini-VHS revival going on right now, inspired by some of the aforementioned labels and a wave of video nasty nostalgia. In recent years weve picked up everything from the Cherrystones and Lovely Jon Jigoku tapes rescored video nasty compilations to promo VHS releases for recent horror outings The House Of The Devil and anthology tale V/H/S (both are now going for decent amounts). Chief among these is the Mondo Video imprint, put together by those Mondo people in the States, whose empire includes specially created artwork posters for classic films and now a vinyl soundtrack label too. Its VHS-only releases are worth keeping an eye out for, although they do tend to sell out extremely quickly. Titles on the label include the likes of German tale The Burning Room, a post-nasty nasty.
Mr Simpson may be back next week…