CineSavant Column

Saturday December 11, 2021



It looks like the dependable UK disc folk at Powerhouse Indicator will be filling a huge gap in horror film history next March, with Blu-ray discs of two legendary Mexican horror films: Ramón Peon’s La Llorona and Fernando de Fuentes’ El fantasma del convento, both 1933. They’re said to be highly atmospheric — with the Catholic culture weighing heavily on them — and only slightly influenced by American horror. Can’t wait to see PI’s extras.

You’d think that the tale of ‘La Llorona’ would be better known, as it’s also the ghost-story used in a murder plot in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. These two will be very welcome; a couple of years ago Criterion gave us a restored Dos monjes, a spooky love-murder-romance tale that also involves a monastery.

Also from PI for March is Budd Boetticher’s final western A Time for Dying, an oater without big stars. Victor Jory and Audie Murphy each have small roles, as Judge Roy Bean and Jesse James. It’s a tiny production and may be just for completists . . . but we know western fans that have been waiting forever to see it properly restored.



This next item is in answer to a request from a Canadian reader who often finds it difficult to order Blu-rays and DVDs — he reports that is almost always understocked, and that gives him an unfavorable exchange rate and iffy shipping. If any CineSavant readers to the North care to send in links to reasonable alternative online sources or workarounds, we’d like to know so I can pass them on and mention them here.

Years ago I read the wailings of Australian disc collectors, whose problems obtaining product sounded pretty terrible. Perhaps they found a solution or two over time?  The fact is that we here in the U.S. are pretty spoiled — when I’ve ordered from the U.K., France, Italy and Germany I’ve always gotten good prices and delivery in less than a month.



And a mini- Book Review:   Correspondent Ted Haycraft asked me to take a look at author DeWayne Todd’s
The Buckaroo Banzai Collectors’ Compendium and I’m happy to give it a plug/mini review here. The softbound book carries the sub-title “A Marketing and Promotional Odyssey,” and that’s exactly what it is, sort of a giant scrapbook, collector’s corner and arcane trivia depository for one of the more tenacious cult features of the 1980s. Buckaroo Banzai is a convoluted filmic adventure about the heroic Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers, a tight-knit group of dandified specialists and men-of-action that travel the world righting wrongs, in the old Republic Serial sense. My Blu-ray review is here.

Todd’s text wanders afield explaining the appeal of various characters and the one-film franchise as a whole, as expressed through marketing material and ephemera. Collector-level detail is the book’s main draw: it documents just about every iteration of ads, premiere heralds, distributor’s pressbooks and posters for territories both domestic and foreign. Author Todd includes rare items, such as prototype toys that were never (I think) mass produced, etc.


And we’re also taken on a full trip through the film’s home video history, beginning with VHS tapes and CED video discs. The writing style is friendly; it’s the kind of book that one reads the opening chapters to understand the format, and then drops in whenever something grabs one’s attention, which is like every third page. A couple of comic book adaptations are present. There’s even full coverage of fanzines based on the Banzai cult, lobbying for the launch of a sequel, or a reboot.

The book is 152 pages including a bibliography; quite a few pages are in color. The cover illustration is by Mark Maddox.


Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson