GOLD

Review by Andrew Johnson

Leave it to Kino Lorber for releasing on DVD those hard to find films from the past for film buffs to fill in their cinematic history and for all to enjoy filmmaking as it was in times gone by. (They’re also responsible for current titles playing theatrically and on DVD.)
I immensely enjoyed the film gem, “GOLD,” originally released by UFA studios in Germany in 1934. The tale speaks of corporate greed and how those in power will go to the extremist means to line their pockets, no matter how high the stakes and cost. Things haven’t changed much today, have they!


In German dialogue with English subtitles, in a very clear black & white print, the film opens in Germany as two scientists, Prof. Holk and his mentor have discovered the means in their elaborate laboratory in changing lead to gold by “atomic fraktoring.” A gigantic laboratory machine towers greatly over the individuals. Their assistant in the project is bought off by two unscrupulous men and is given a lead disc that looks very much like the ones the scientists use but having additives that will cause the machinery to blow up. The lab explodes and the older scientist is killed while Prof. Holk is miraculously saved and recovers from the destructive force.


A short time later, Prof. Holk is asked to meet a wealthy Englishman named John Willis in Scotland who is also working on a similar project Holk was working on, the one sabotaged. This individual needs the professor’s help in making his machinery work. Holk suspects something is not right with the Englishman and payback is in his mind for what has happened. Turns out the machinery in Scotland is very similar to that which was destroyed in Germany. Holk agrees to work for the shady businessman. Willis’ rebellious daughter will pay a key role in this cat and mouse capade and become a possible love interest for Holk, a dilemma for him as he so hates her father.


Well written and engrossing, this very good motion picture, made in National Socialist Germany in 1934, is a science fiction endeavor that certainly has a connection to the spectacle and interesting themes found in Fritz Lang’s silent film, “METROPOLIS” Even Brigitte Helm from the Lang film makes the transition quite well from silent to talkies in her portrayal of Willis’ daughter.


The cast is a good one with Hans Albers as Holk, Friedrich Kayssler as Holk’s mentor, Michael Bohnen as the villainous John Wills, and of course the aforementioned Brigitte Helm. Direction by Karl Hartl hits the mark perfectly with a fine screenplay by Rolf E. Vanloo.
“GOLD” is a motion picture well worth your viewing. I never really knew of its existence until now. I recommend it highly.

The Players: Hans Albers, Brigitte Helm, Michael Bohnen, Friedrich Kayssler

The Filmmakers:
Directed by Karl Hartl
Screenplay by Rolf E. Vanloo
Photographed by Gunther Rittau, Otto Baecker, Werner Bohne
Music by Hans-Otto Borgmann
An UFA film
Blu-ray DVD by Kino Lorber
German dialogue with English subtitles


Chiller: The Complete TV Series
by CJ Henderson



As everyone knows, they do things differently on British television. Yes, this is the complete run of "Chiller." But, that only adds up to five episodes, or 265 minutes total. Still, the question is, are they 265 minutes that are worth your time, or aren't they? The answer is, could be.
If you are a fan of the British way of doing horror, the five episodes are a tribute to what can be done with a small budget. What one has to do, of course, is rely on story-telling rather than unlimited gore and special effects. CGIing everything in sight costs money. Telling a twisted, thought-provoking, ingenious tale only takes the effort involved in gathering up a good writer and director and turning them loose.

That was done here to quite remarkable effect, actually.

Also, "Chiller" is a rather recent production. The run was aired in the UK in 1995, and has never been seen in America before this release. This means not only original material one can almost be guaranteed of never having viewed previously, but more up-to-date subject matter as well. Now, granted, malevolent spirits, serial killers, evil children, haunted houses, et cetera, are not the most modern of subjects. I'm referring to the handling of the subjects.
All five episodes are both well thought out and intelligently presented. Unlike most modern American horror film makers, there is no wink-and-a-nod to the audience to let them "in on the joke." There is no joke here. The shows being presented are done in a serious, forthright manner, and the entire production benefits from the we're-taking-our-work-seriously-here attitude of the filmmakers involved.

The episodes also feature a number of top British players of the era, including Nigel Havers ("Chariots of Fire", "Coronation Street"), Martin Clunes (the UK's "Men Behaving Badly"), Sophie Ward ("Young Sherlock Holmes") and Kevin McNally (Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" series).

There is nothing too fantastic to report in areas such as cinematography, costuming, direction, and so forth. These have all been well-serviced, but at a solid workman level. For instance, since it's all modern day settings, costuming's main goal was too be both realistic and timeless enough so that people did not look too goofy a few years down the road. The camera people all do a fine job, but low budget's mean shooting in standing structures and not building endless sets.
Still, what one is left with are five solid segments of a well-made television series. Excellent writing, solid, well-paced direction, and all other bases covered by people who knew what they were doing. The production was a fine effort and one can see why Synapse Films went after it.
So far Synapse has done an excellent job finding and making available hard-to-obtain, or classic, horror materials. They've also been able to uncover some nifty gems for the extras sections of their releases (always a personal favorite of mine with any DvD). Not so this time.
Apparently there was nothing much to offer. The two discs are well-produced, but offer no extras whatsoever. And that, my children, is pretty much it this time around.

Our final word: 5 stars out of 5.




                       

NES Classic is Coming for Christmas 2016

Nintendo's Classic Mini is a tiny NES with 30 games

Relive your childhood memories


That old NES in your attic is a pain to drag out of its box whenever you get the hankering for a rousing game of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Enter the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition and is described by the company as a "near-identical, mini replica" version of the original NES console which was released in 1985.

The diminutive version of one of the most influential home video game consoles of all time will launch with over 30 NES titles preloaded, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Metroid. The mix also includes some surprising choices such as StarTropics, but it's a well-rounded sampling of the best the system has to offer.

The full list includes Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Dr. Mario, Excitebike, Final Fantasy, Galaga, Ghosts' N Ghoblins, Gradius, Ice Climber, Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Pac-Man, Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, StarTropics, SUPER C, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

You'll get the preloaded games, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter and one NES Classic Controller, which obviously looksexactly like the ones you're used to. Nintendo has offered a few more details about the micro console, including whether or not it can connect to the internet to download more games and if the company will release additional software for it.

For those that want to play with a second player, Nintendo confirmed that the replica console will support two-player functionality for games with that option and a second controller can be purchased for $9.99. Players with a Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro can also use those, according to the company

 

The system launches this November 11th for $59.99 across North America and the UK.



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