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All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review - Part Three

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    Ian Jane
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  • All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review - Part Three



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: December 7th, 2021.
    Director: Kí¥re Bergstrí¸m, Vií°ar Ví­kingsson, Mario Andreacchio, James Bogle
    Cast: Bjí¸rg Engh, Henki Kolstad, Henny Moan, Kristjan Franklin Magnus, Helga Bernhard, Karl Agust Ulfsson, Penny Cook, Rodney Harvey, Bruno Lawrence, Arna-Maria Winchester, Miranda Otto
    Year: 1958, 1987, 1988, 1988
    Purchase From Amazon

    All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror - Movie Review:

    With what may very well be their most ambitious boxed set release yet, Severin Films compiles a wealth of folk horror productions and loads of accompanying bonus features to put this most unique of horror subgenres into ever important context.

    Here's a look at discs five and six from this twelve disc set.

    Disc 5: LAKE OF THE DEAD/TILBURY

    Directed by Kí¥re Bergstrí¸m in 1958 and reported to be Norway's first horror film, Lake Of The Dead follows a group of six friends led by a mystery/thriller writer named Bernhard Borge (Henki Kolstad). He is joined by his wife Sonja (Bjí¸rg Engh), a psychoanalyst named Kai Bugge (Erling Lindahl), a magazine critic named Gabriel Mí¸rk (André Bjerke), a lawyer named Harald Gran (Georg Richter) and Harald's fiancée, a painter named Lillian Werner (Henny Moan). They get together and take a train ride to a remote forest to spend some time in a cabin in the woods that belongs to Lillian's twin brother, Bjí¸rn (Per Lillo-Stenberg), to whom she believes she has a psychic connection.

    Upon their arrival, they find that Bjí¸rn is missing. Bernhard notices that the dog and rifle are also missing so it's assumed that Bjí¸rn has gone out hunting and will return soon. He doesn't. In the meantime, the six learn of the legend of the cabin involving a one-legged man named Tore Grí¥vik (Leif Sommerstad) who was so in love with his sister than when she became involved with another man he killed them both and tossed their bodies into the nearby lake, rumored to be bottomless, before joining them himself.

    As the group spends some time in and around the cabin, strange things start to happen that tie into Tore's story and Bjí¸rn's unusual diary entries, much of which seems to lead back to the lake itself.

    While this sometimes feels more like an episode of something like The Twilight Zone than a straight horror film, Bergstrí¸m infuses the seventy-five minute black and white feature with some interesting imagery and some eerie moments. A one-legged crow seated atop the roof of the cabin, overgrown with grass, the sight of a body under the water, and plenty of shadowy figures skulking about, some more harmless than others. The cinematography from Ragnar Sí¸rensen is to notch and the scope photography really does a great job of accentuating the remoteness of the location where almost the entirety of the film takes place. The score from composer Gunnar Sí¸nstevold suits the tone of the movie nicely and highlights the many scenes of tension and drama.

    The film is definitely on the talky side but you don't mind it because the characters are interesting and not only well-fleshed out but played quite effectively by the different cast members assembled for the production. It winds up feeling like a fairly sophisticated and mature production, one that leaves its audience with some food for thought without tying up all of its loose ends.

    On the flip side of that coin is Vií°ar Ví­kingsson's 1987 made for TV movie, Tilbury. The picture opens with a prologue of sorts where we learn about the Icelandic folk tale of the tilberi. This is a goblin or sorts that could be summoned by a woman during times of hardship to go suckle the teat of a cow, fill its belly with milk, return home to its mistress and regurgitate the contents of its stomach as butter. The tilberi itself feeds on a nipple that grows out of the thigh of the woman who summoned it.

    From here, we meet a young man named Audun (Kristjan Franklin Magnus), a young man who lives in a remote part of Iceland. He needs to move to Reykjavik to further his competitive swimming goals but before he leaves is asked by the local priest to find out what happened to his estranged daughter, Gudrun (Helga Bernhard), who Audun grew up with and who he has a crush on.

    Upon Audun's arrival, he takes a job with the occupying British forces who are using the island nation as an outpost in their war against the Nazis. After being chastised by a soldier for drinking milk on the job, Audun then meets a General Tilbury (Karl Agust Ulfsson) who admires his choice in beverages and rewards him with a chocolate bar. When Audun eventually finds Gudrun, he discovers that she appears to be having an affair of some sort with the much older Tilbury, something he knows her father would frown upon. The more Audun looks into this, the more he learns that the relationship between Gudrun and Tilbury is not what he thinks it is and that Tilbury himself is definitely not what he seems.

    A seriously weird fifty-six minute feature, Tilbury offers up some gross effects work, lots of green spew, some nudity, weird nipples of varying degrees of freakiness and a killer soundtrack that sounds like it could have been lifted from Twin Peaks. It moves at a very good clip and features some interesting and dedicated performances, everyone in front of the camera seemingly taking all of this very seriously. There are elements here that work better as black comedy than as horror but the fact remains that Tilbury is a strangely original and uniquely Icelandic piece of work, and one that offers up a whole lot of wildly unorthodox entertainment value.

    Disc 6: THE DREAMING/KADAICHA

    The Dreaming, directed by Mario Andreacchio in 1988, is a movie about a doctor who is haunted in her dreams by the restless spirit of an Aborigine. The young doctor Cathy Thornton (Penny Cook) tends to a dying young Aborigine woman, who was injured in an attempt to steal back sacred artifacts that were stolen from her people. Upon the death of the girl, Dr. Cathy begins her nightmares and dreamlike visions involving a tribe and an attacking group of fat ugly whalers. From there it delves into the realm of befuddlement, as the story doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense afterward. A relative seems possessed by a fat whaler ghost. That part seemed clear.

    A few semi-interesting kill scenes help this one limp along, but it doesn't give it much support. There are too few and far too much time of tedious nothingness in between to hold much interest. The movie seems like it did have some thought put into it though, as it the look of the film is inviting enough with its (too long) dream sequences and imagery. Someone was certainly trying to make something of this stinker, but sadly whatever was that “something” is lost along the way. A tough one to sit through for certain, but it has the feel of having been a movie you'd catch on the USA Channel late Saturday night when trying not to pass out before you sobered up a bit. To some people, there's a certain appeal to that.

    The second feature on this volume is titled Initiation, a movie dripping with 1980s nacho cheese. An American teenaged boy travels to Australia to live with his father after the death of his mother. He arrives in a world that sees him as an outsider and he sticks out like the huge dangling earring he sports throughout the picture. Danny (the late Rodney Harvey) isn't exactly the apple of his father's eye and his arrival disturbs the delicate balance that Nat (played by the late Bruno Lawrence) tries to maintain with his new family. His girlfriend (the late Arna-Maria Winchester) and her daughter Stevie (the not-late Miranda Otto) live with Nat and seem to accept Danny well enough with time (Stevie really accepts him), but he has a lot to prove to his dad.

    Nat gets into some trouble with drug smugglers as he agrees to fly bales of weed in this plane. Danny wants only to please his pop and helps him out, but the drug dealers are bad. Their actions cause a mishap in the air and it's up to Danny to get his old man out of danger. But he messes that up and crashes the plane. It then becomes a war of wills between Danny and a forest (jungle?) in Australia, and he has to dig deep within himself, with the help of an Aborigine spiritual guide, to survive his quest for help. And it takes forever to get to the point where he finds that inner truth.

    If not for the serious 80s vibe this movie is soaked with and the great scenery, there wouldn't be much of interest here at all. It's not anything more than a “coming of age” tale peppered with a little drug dealer action that almost seems tailor made to be an after school special. Miranda Otto is cute, and they sexualize her a bit, even though she doesn't look over 15 in this one (she was 20). The 80s styles, the music, and the torn jeans keep it from going over the cliff, but even adding Miranda Otto doesn't make it worth giving much of your precious time. Especially if you came to the table expected some sort of horror movie, which is what should be expected from Katarina's Nightmare Theater.

    Also known as Stones Of Death, Kadaicha was directed by James Bogle, his first feature film, and penned by Ian Coughlan, the man who gave the world the wonky 1981 Australian horror picture Alison's Birthday. The story borrows elements from Poltergeist in that it deals with the residents of a newly built suburban housing development that has been constructed overtop of an ancient Aboriginal burial ground set on the scenic Australian coast.

    Within this suburb live a group of teenagers who all start to experience the same dream wherein they find themselves wandering around inside a creepy old cave with a bunch of somewhat sinister looking cave drawings inside. When these characters wake up and find a stone on their pillow, they learn that they've been marked for death by the Kadaicha Man, an undead Aboriginal elder who is clearly upset that the sacred burial ground of his people has been built over! One by one the 'teens' start getting killed off in increasingly gruesome (and admittedly very creative) ways… leaving the kids with no one to turn for help but the descendent of an Aboriginal shaman.

    Kadaicha is a pretty interesting film, blending teen horror and slasher elements into its plot rather well and making great use of a rather unorthodox digeridoo-heavy soundtrack. The murder set pieces are the best part of the movie, they're quite interesting and rather bizarre, highlighted by a sequence that takes place in a library where a spider manages to attach itself to a character's eye! We also get death by lawnmower, death by dog and death by giant snake. A subplot about one of the male characters trying to 'make it' as a guitar player adds nothing of interest to the plot but it does allow for some impromptu wailing now and again for whatever that's worth.

    The casting isn't so spot on. While the actors that play the teenagers do a decent enough job in their respective roles, they don't really look a whole lot younger than the cast members tasked with playing their parents, but hey, it's an eighties horror film, we can forgive these things. The Aboriginal characters are more interesting. They have a very mystic quality to them that makes them interesting to watch. The film's politics are a mess, simultaneously damning the white suburbanites for building where they did and treating the Aborigine who helps the kids as a bit of a boogeyman in his own right, but again, it was the eighties. It's best not to think too hard about this aspect of the movie lest it all fall apart and don't expect much in the way of character development here. Some pacing problems hurt this picture but fans of eighties horror who can appreciate an Australian twist on some genre clichés will get a kick out of it so long as expectations are held in check.

    All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror - Blu-ray Review:

    Lake Of The Dead's black and white transfer, taken from a 2k restoration of the original negative, is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. There's some mild print damage here and there, more visible in the opening five minutes or so than the rest of the movie, but for the most part this transfer is in nice shape. We get strong detail, good contrast and decent texture as well. Black levels are good and there are no issues with compression artifacts, noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    Tilbury is framed at 1.331, which makes sense given its made for TV origins. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation was restored in 2k from the original 16mm negative by The Film Museum Of Iceland. The elements were clearly in less than perfect shape as in addition to some mild print damage there's also some noticeable color flickering but this is still a more than decent presentation. Detail isn't as strong as the first movie but it's pretty solid and the image is always film-like. Compression doesn't really factor into things here and overall, this offers up a fine way to watch this utterly strange film.

    The Dreaming arrives on Blu-ray 'Restored in 2K from best surviving 35mm positive print' and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation takes up 23GBs of space on the 50GB disc it shares with Kadaicha and despite some print damage and noticeable scratches, it looks pretty solid. A few dark scenes look a bit too dark but otherwise things shape up nicely. We get good detail here and nice color reproduction and the naturally grainy image always looks properly film-like.

    Kadaicha, unfortunately, doesn't fare as well. Mastered from only surviving broadcast quality video master and framed at 1.33.1, this looks like the tape it was sourced from and as such, it's soft with some color fading. The transfer takes up 20.7GBs of space on the disc and features decent enough compression but the limitations of the source material definitely shine though. It's watchable enough and fairly stable given that it was taken from a tape, but don't expect it to blow you away.

    Lake Of The Dead gets a Norwegian language 2.0 Mono track in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 and it sounds excellent. The track is balanced and features more depth than you might expect for an older film like this. It's clean and clear and there are no problems here. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Tilbury doesn't fare quite as well as the audio for the presentation was taken from an analogue master. Still, the 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in the film's native Icelandic language, is more than serviceable even if sometimes things sound a little muffled. The score sounds pretty strong here and the track is balanced properly, it just leans towards the flat side most of the time.

    The Dreaming's 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 track, in the film's native English, sounds fine. The score has good range to it, the dialogue sounds clean and clear and the whole thing is properly balanced. There aren't any issues with any noticeable hiss or distortion and all in all it sounds just fine. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Kadaicha again suffers from the limitations of the available elements. The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is flat and sometimes a little muffled. Most of the movie sounds fine and you won't often have any trouble understanding the performers. It's just a shame that better elements weren't available for the movie.

    Disc 5: LAKE OF THE DEAD/TILBURY

    The only extra for Lake Of Death is an audio commentary by film historians Jonathan Rigby And Kevin Lyons that proves to be quite an interesting listen. They start off by admiring the opening cinematography and the mood that it sets before then going on to talk about the script, the different characters and their intellectual traits, different little touches that the director puts into the film to keep the mood tense, the stark atmosphere provided by such a uniquely remote location, films that may have influenced the picture and in turn pictures that may have been influenced by this film, notes on the cast and crew and more.

    As for Tilbury, the audio commentary with director Vií°ar Ví­kingsson, screenwriter íží³rarinn Eldjí¡rn and moderator/film scholar Gudrun D. Whitehead, which is conducted in English, is also quite interesting. There's quite a bit of talk here about the folk story that inspired the movie, where the inspiration came from, the uniquely Icelandic elements of the film, how Ví­kingsson came to direct the picture, working with the cast and crew, the score, the audio and sound effects featured in the picture and some of the symbolism featured in the picture that you might not pick up on upon first viewing.

    With Enough Tilbury Butter, Anything Is Good is a six minute interview with Karl ígíºst íšlfsson, the actor who played Tilbury in the film. He talks about how he landed the part, his love of horror movies, his background in live theater, what it was like on set, his appreciation for the Icelandic qualities of the film, getting along with the cast and crew as well as the director and who much he enjoyed working on the production overall.

    A Boy From The Country is an interview with Kristjí¡n Franklin Magníºss, the actor who played Audun in the film, that runs for three minutes. In this short piece he talks about his character and similarities between his life and the one he portrayed on screen as well as the remote Icelandic countryside and his personal experiences there as a boy.

    White Spot In The Back Of The Head is a student film made by Vií°ar Ví­kingsson in 1979 that runs for thirty-three minutes. It starts off with a group of young people gathered around a table complaining about getting nightmares from a phantom of some sort. A doctor shows up and discusses his unorthodox methods before then having them engage in a séance of sorts. When they make contact with… something, the black and white movie shifts to color and gets strange. Conversations about the meaning of pleasure and the existence of God lead to sex and cityscape, after which we go back to black and white and (sort of) return to the original narrative. Based on the Icelandic legend of The Deacon of Dark River but set in the France of the early seventies, it's a decidedly odd work, sometimes artsy simply because it can be, but it's interesting and it does feature some striking imagery even if sometimes the ideas at play aren't perfectly executed.

    The Moon Fades, Death Rides is an interview with Vií°ar Ví­kingsson that runs just short of five minutes wherein the filmmakers discusses the folkloric origins of White Spot In The Back Of The Head, that being of The Deacon of Dark River, a story he says every kid in Iceland knows and is terrified of, as well as how this was made as a student film without a lot of experience and how it was never really meant to be seen by a mass audience.

    Disc 6: The Dreaming/Kadaicha

    Aside from a trailer for the feature, The Dreaming also includes an audio commentary with director Mario Andreacchio, moderated by Australian film historian Jarret Gahan that starts with a detailed discussion of the opening footage where the camera zooms across the water, shot in a helicopter we're told. From here, we learn about how Andreacchio came on board to direct the film, working with the producers, shooting a movie for an international audience, working with the cast and crew, casting the film, the locations that were used, originally shooting the film with theatrical distribution in mind only for it to go straight to video and more.

    Kadaicha receives an audio commentary with director James Bogle moderated by film journalist Michael Helms of Fatal Visions. Bogle speaks quite a bit here about working closely with the Aboriginal community to try and get certain aspects of the story right, the locations, casting the film, the movie's distribution, where some of the ideas for the film came from, his background and tracking and other topics related to the film's history and the people that made it.

    The Final Girl Of Kadaicha is a thirteen minute audio interview with actress Zoe Carides conducted by Gahan. This covers how she got into acting, how she had really no familiarity with horror movies when she made this, how she got along with Bogle and the rest of the crew, what she was able to learn on set, her background in live theater and her thoughts on the film overall.

    The eighteen minute Composing Kadaicha is an audio interview with composer Peter Westheimer, again conducted by Jarret Gahan, that goes over his background and training. He talks about wanting a keyboard as a kid but getting a violin from his parents instead, playing in folk and rock bands in his younger days, moving to the big city and broadening his horizons, how he got into film scoring, playing with bands as well as with an orchestra and the different instruments that were used in scoring Kadaicha.

    Behind The Scenes Of Kadaicha is a selection of seven minutes of recently-unearthed footage of director James Bogle and the cast and crew of Kadicha doing their thing. It's shot very much 'fly on the wall' style and gives us a reasonably intimate look at some of the material staged in the cave being shot.

    A trailer for the feature rounds out the extras on the disc.

    All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror - The Final Word:

    Discs five and six of All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror continue to offer some interesting and obscure folk horror entries in strong presentations. Even if Kadiacha doesn't (and can't) look perfect, the extras help to make up for that, while the other three films all look and sound quite strong and also contain some great supplements. Now at that half way point, this set is turning out to be very impressive indeed!

    Click on the images below for full sized The All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror Blu-ray screen caps!








































































































































































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