Posted Mon Jul 17, 2023 at 07:55 PM PDT by Tom Landy
This October, The Criterion Collection is set to release Nikyatu Jusu's Nanny and Freaks / The Unknown / The Mystic: Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers on Blu-ray, a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray upgrade of David Cronenberg's Videodrome, plus Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now as well as Alejandro Amenábar's The Others on both formats.
You can usually count on Criterion to punch out one or two horror gems for the spooky season but in recent memory Criterion's October 2023 horror-drenched slate has to be one of their most aggressively committed to the genre. There's a lot coming in so let's dive right in.
Arriving on October 3 on 4K UHD Blu-ray (and returning to Blu-ray) is Nicolas Roeg's classic Don't Look Now.
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie mesmerize as a married couple on an extended trip to Venice following a family tragedy. While in that elegantly decaying city, they have a series of inexplicable, terrifying, and increasingly dangerous experiences. A masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg, Don’t Look Now, adapted from a story by Daphne du Maurier, is a brilliantly disturbing tale of the supernatural, as renowned for its innovative editing and haunting cinematography as for its naturalistic eroticism and its unforgettable climax and denouement—one of the great endings in horror history.
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Next on October 10, David Cronenberg's Videodrome starring James Woods and Deborah Harry will be getting a 4K UHD Blu-ray.
When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new material for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called “Videodrome.” His attempts to unearth the program’s origins send him on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of right-wing conspiracies, sadomasochistic sex games, and bodily transformation. Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry, Videodrome is one of the most original and provocative works from writer-director David Cronenberg, and features groundbreaking makeup effects by Academy Award winner Rick Baker.
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Freaks / The Unknown / The Mystic: Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers - a trio of freaky silent-era features will arrive on Blu-ray on October 17.
The world is a carnival of criminality, corruption, and psychosexual strangeness in the twisted pre-Code shockers of Tod Browning. Early Hollywood’s edgiest auteur, Browning drew on his experiences as a circus performer to create subversive pulp entertainments set amid the world of traveling sideshows, which, with their air of the exotic and the disreputable, provided a pungent backdrop for his sordid tales of outcasts, cons, villains, and vagabonds. Bringing together two of his defining works (The Unknown and Freaks) and a long-unavailable rarity (The Mystic), this cabinet of pre-Code curiosities reveals a master of the morbid whose ability to unsettle is matched only by his daring compassion for society’s most downtrodden.
The most transgressive film produced by a major American studio in the 1930s, Tod Browning’s crowning achievement has haunted the margins of cinema for nearly one hundred years. An unforgettable cast of real-life sideshow performers portray the entertainers in a traveling circus who, shunned by mainstream society, live according to their own code—one of radical acceptance for the fellow oppressed and, as the show’s beautiful but cruel trapeze artist learns, of terrifying retribution for those who cross them. Received with revulsion by viewers upon its initial release, Freaks effectively ended Browning’s career but can now be seen for what it is: an audacious cry for understanding and a singular experience of nightmarish, almost avant-garde power.
The Unknown (1927)
The most celebrated and exquisitely perverse of the many collaborations between Tod Browning and his legendary leading man Lon Chaney, The Unknown features a wrenchingly physical performance from “the Man of a Thousand Faces” as the armless Spanish knife thrower Alonzo (he flings daggers with his feet) whose dastardly infatuation with his beautiful assistant (Joan Crawford)—a woman, it just so happens, who cannot bear to be touched by the hands of any man—drives him to unspeakable extremes. Sadomasochistic obsession, deception, murder, disfigurement, and a spectacular Grand Guignol climax—Browning wrings every last frisson from the lurid premise.
The Mystic (1925)
A fantastically atmospheric but rarely seen missing link in the development of Tod Browning’s artistry, set amid his favored milieu of shadowy sideshows and clever criminals, The Mystic provides a striking showcase for silent-era diva Aileen Pringle, who sports a series of memorably outré looks (courtesy of art-deco designer Erté) as Zara, a phony psychic in a Hungarian carnival who, under the guidance of a Svengali-like con man (Conway Tearle), crashes—and proceeds to swindle—American high society. Browning’s fascination with the weird is on full display in the eerie séance sequences, while his subversive moral ambiguity extends surprising sympathy to even the most seemingly irredeemable of antiheroes.
Hitting stores on October 24 on both Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray is the chilling 2001 film The Others starring Nicole Kidman.
A remote manor; hushed, candlelit atmosphere; and shivery, supernatural menace. With his first English-language feature, Chilean Spanish writer-director-composer Alejandro Amenábar resurrected the classic gothic chiller to create a ghost story of uncommon emotional resonance. Nicole Kidman stars as a World War II–era mother whose imperiousness masks a terrifying pain, as she keeps her light-sensitive children enshrouded in darkness on her country estate. The arrival of three new servants punctures her insular world—and seems to disturb the balance between the living and the dead. With each stunning twist and turn, Amenábar immerses us more deeply in a realm haunted not only by spirits but also by guilt, trauma, and repression.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED 4K UHD + BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
And finally on October 31st, Nanny - the debut feature film from Nikyatu Jusu will join The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray.
A spellbinding blend of social observation and artful shocks, the debut feature from Nikyatu Jusu plunges into the increasingly fractured consciousness of Aisha (Anna Diop), a Senegalese immigrant who takes a job as a nanny for a wealthy white family in New York City. Separated from her own son and casually exploited by her employers, Aisha finds herself consumed by unsettling visions and a growing rage—one that could either destroy or empower her. This visually captivating tour de force—the first horror movie to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival—distills complex ideas about motherhood, inequality, and cultural dislocation into a work of dreamlike dread.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
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