BLOODY TERROR: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J Warren, 1976-1987 BLU RAY

British film director Norman J Warren made genre films at a time when British cinema was in steep decline. His films are defused with homages galore, prove that a skilled director must know film form and of course bloody limbs. Warren made films like his international compatriots, filled with violence, sex, blood and gore. He also made a few very good ones. So Powerhouse have decided to open up some of his work to a new generation of film fans. In this set BLOODY TERROR: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J Warren, 1976-1987, is  five films that were part of the ”New Wave” of British horror. Covering films from SATANS SLAVE (1976), PREY (1977), TERROR (1978), jumping to INSEMNOID (1981) and finishing with BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987).

So the best thing I can do here (and the most original) is to rank the best films in order and then detail what you get extras and the like. So without further ado…

The best film on the set is

TERROR (1978). 

A film has just completed shooting and from first appearances, it seems to be destined for success. The after party makes for a fun ride of drink and casual hypnotism. However when it appears that one guest is under more than the spell of the mesmerist, all become disturbed. As the nightmarish production of the film, brings a bloody toll, it may or may not be a curse that is killing people.

Written by David McGillivray (who also worked with Peter Walker writing such classics as HOUSE OF WHIPCORD) the premise sounds a lot like the set up for a thousand slasher films. Then as the film develops it can be seen as a series of homages and defusions of its influences (Italian Giallo, Hitchcock, Argento and 40s horror films). The commentary by Warren and McGillivray (from an older source) cover this in detail. They note the influences, reveal the shooting schedule and reveal the 4 nights they had to shoot the amazingly atmospheric (and staple of horror films) car breaking down scene. This all comes together cleverly enough to bring an interesting sense of space and mystery to execute an unsettling tale.

DISC

You may or may not have the DVD collection released by Anchor Bay (I believe). Well today the version of TERROR has been improved upon ten fold. The horrid visual distortion on the famous rain scene has gone. The sound fuzz has disappeared and finally, you can actually define things in the night scenes…Wonderful!

TOP 5 EXTRAS

TERROR

  • 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren 4/5 Mentioned above
  • Original mono audio 5/5 Again up there
  • Audio commentary with Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray (2004) 3.5/5 We have heard it before but its a keeper
  • The Early Years (2019, 17 mins): Warren recalls his first films as director. 4/5 The sets best Warren interview. He is funny and derides his early work, while also making it a lesson in why you make films. Top 3 (2)
  •  Bloody Good Fun (2004, 41 mins): archival documentary on the making of Terror featuring interviews with Warren, McGillivray, actors Carolyn Courage, Mary Maude, James Aubrey and Elaine Ives-Cameron, and others 5/5 I have a fondness for these. Being a dip into the behind the scenes and the camaraderie of on set life. Top 3 (1)
  • Tales of Terror (2019, 13 mins): actor John Nolan reflects on Terror’s production, 2.5/5 John is less involved in the conversation and it left me dulled.
  • Norman J Warren: A Sort of Autobiography (2004, 28 mins): archival interview with the director 4/5 Warren again but this time pre the reflexive self. The life and soul. Also what an engaging sense of film as style and statement of adoration.
  • Four extended scenes, with introductions by Warren
  • Norman J Warren Presents Horrorshow(2008, 33 mins): anthology film of five horror tales, hosted by Warren
  • Daddy Cross (2011, 2 mins): trailer for a 1978 ‘lost film’, with voice-over by Warren
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • French theatrical trailer
  • TV spot
  • Radio spot
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray

PREY (1977)

An alien monster named Kator, has landed on Earth and is murdering his way through a selection of locals. First he chooses Anderson and his girlfriend Sandy. killing both, he assumes the appearance of Anderson. The murderous intent continues  when he stumbles upon a lesbian couple living in an old mansion.

The second best film of the set is 1977 PREY. It is a tangle of ideas, nods to an abundant series of influences (50s Sci Fi, Horror films of the 60s, gothic horror) and even manages to sprinkle a little of that sexploitation in. There are a number of reasons why I liked PREY. From the sexual politics at its core, to the clever use of the miniscule budget and then its effective, tense use of space, pacing and edits.  Well worth the time for a visit. Not only from an alien bent on eating every human in site.

DISC

The 2K restoration hasn’t really upped the DVD in the main. It looks good, has lovely colour grade and the tones of the interiors and the darkly lit scenes are still very good but they were on the DVD. There was also talk of a framing issue with the disc, which we have been assured has been corrected.

TOP 5 EXTRAS

PREY

  • 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
  • Original mono audio
  • Audio commentary with Warren and film historian Jonathan Rigby (2004)
  • The BEHP Interview with Norman J Warren – Part One (2018, 60 mins): archival video recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring Warren in conversation with Martin Sheffield
  • Keep on Running (2004, 28 mins): archival documentary on the making of Prey, featuring interviews with Warren, actor Sally Faulkner, producer Terry Marcel, and others 4/5 This has been around before but the fact that Warren is core in discussing how the film was made and what it took to make it, grants it worth a look. (Top 3 (1)
  • On-set Footage (1977, 3 mins): rare behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Warren
  • The Bridge (1955–57, 7 mins): rare footage from Warren’s ambitious early film project about a pilot on a mission to locate a bridge in Germany during World War II, with optional director’s commentary 4/5 For younger film makers who are ambitious but dont know how to make films then watch this. Inventive, entertaining little story of Nazi’s, a dog, some pilots and a bridge (Top 3 (3)
  • Making ‘The Bridge’ (1957, 2 mins): rare and previously unseen footage with commentary by Warren
  • Carol (1962, 3 mins): mute test footage from Warren’s unrealised feature about teenage pregnancy and backstreet abortion, featuring Georgina Hale and Michael Craze, with optional director’s commentary 4/5 Reveals Warren as a film maker with a social feel. Only test footage but proves that a director knows what works and how to tell a story narratively. (Top 3 (2)
  • Drinkin Time (1963, 3 mins): silent comedy short directed by Warren 3.5/ 5 Keystone cops, meets slapstick humour in the homage from Warren
  • ‘Drinkin Time’ Introduction by Norman J Warren (2019, 4 mins)
  • Whipper Snappers (c1977, 1 min): toy advertisement directed by Warren
  • ‘Whipper Snappers’ Introduction by Norman J Warren (2019, 4 mins) 3.5/5 Odd addition but the way that Warren introduces the short ad is very good indeed. 
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray

INSEMINOID (1981)

Space. The final frontier. On a distant planet, a group of scientists working on the Xeno project (Scientologists must have been happy) begin excavating the ruins of an ancient civilisation. After a woman is impregnated, you would think they might think the planet has it in for them, but no. Not until a series of deaths caused by an overprotective alien, does the crew begin to get worried.

The third film is a mixed bag of thrills and fails. Produced by Sir Run Run Shaw (yes he Hong Kong film legend), INSEMINOID might look and feel like an ALIEN knock off but it also steals remorselessly from other Hollywood and exploitation fare. From Dawn of the Dead, Halloween and Hammer, it all gets mashed into this indie sci fi riff on all things horror.

DISC

The 2K restoration has totally overhauled that murky DVD, which lost a lot of depth in the early scenes and those awful DVD transfer dark scenes, have been spruced up.

TOP 5 EXTRAS

INSEMINOID

  • 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
  • Original mono audio
  • Audio commentary with Warren and assistant director Gary White (2004) 5/5 Warren is funny and reveals little bits about the location (a Salt Mine he thinks), the effects and the use of colour to give it more dimensions. Top 3 (1)
  • The BEHP Interview with Norman J Warren – Part Two (2018, 67 mins): archival video recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring Warren in conversation with Martin Sheffield
  • Norman J Warren at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films (2011, 62 mins): archival video recording of the director in conversation with horror author John Llewellyn Probert
  • Subterranean Universe (2004, 45 mins): archival documentary on the making of Inseminoid, featuring interviews with Warren, actors Stephanie Beacham, David Baxt and Barry Houghton, and others 3.5/5 If you like me, love Stephanie Beacham, then you will like this. She doesn’t mention the heavy make up being ripped off by tears but she does speak. 
  • Alien Encounter (2019, 6 mins): actor Trevor Thomas recalls playing the part of Mitch. Laugh out loud. Thomas makes a good case for not showing the monster to early. Top 3 (2)
  • Electronic Approach (2004, 13 mins): archival interview with composer John Scott. Well the score is a classic. Filtering Jaws, the Exorcist and BBC sci fi sounds. Scotts short piece is well worth a listen more than a  watch. Top 3 (3) 
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • Horror Planet teaser trailer 3.5/5 British and Americans are divided by a common language, or so the proverb goes. However they are also often divided by title recharges and trailers. The Americans have a bolder style. Or some such. 
  • TV spot
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • World premiere on Blu-ray

 

 

 

INDICATOR LIMITED BLU-RAY EDITION BOX SET SPECIAL FEATURES:

SATAN’S SLAVE

  • 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
  • Original mono audio
  • Two presentations of the film: the director’s cut (89 mins); and the export version (90 mins)
  • Audio commentary with Warren and screenwriter David McGillivray (2004)
  • Audio commentary with Warren and composer John Scott (2019)
  • Before the Blood (2019, 29 mins): Warren recalls his earliest experiences in the film industry
  • All You Need Is Blood (1976, 13 mins): vintage ‘making of’ documentary, presented in High Definition for the first time
  • All You Need Is Blood Outtakes (1976, 33 mins): rare and previously unseen footage shot on location
  • Creating Satan (2004, 30 mins): archival documentary featuring interviews with Warren, McGillivray, actor Martin Potter, and others
  • Devilish Music (2004, 13 mins): archival interview with John Scott
  • Two deleted scenes with commentary by Warren
  • Censoring ‘Satan’s Slave’ (2019, 16 mins): video demonstration of the cuts imposed by the British Board of Film Censors in 1976
  • Original ‘U’ certificate theatrical trailer
  • Original ‘R’-rated theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray

BLOODY NEW YEAR

  • 2K restoration, newly supervised and approved by director Norman J Warren
  • Original mono audio
  • Audio commentary with Warren and film historian Jo Botting (2019)
  • Norman’s Wisdom (2019, 29 mins): Warren discusses some of the lesser-known areas of his career, including his work in television and documentaries
  • New Blood (2019, 16 mins): actor Catherine Roman warmly remembers her first film role
  • The Art of Blood (2019, 15 mins): screenwriter and set dresser Frazer Pearce relates the production history of Bloody New Year
  • Fights, Camera, Action! (2019, 11 mins): actor and stuntman Steve Emerson recalls his work with Warren on Terrorand Bloody New Year
  • Working with Warren (2019, 10 mins): interview with filmmaker and Warren collaborator Yixi Sun
  • Turn Off Your Bloody Phone: Norman J Warren and the Ghost (2013, 1 min): short produced for FrightFest, starring Warren, Sun, and David McGillivray
  • Original trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray

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