Volume 12, Issue 5 / May 2008

Legend Films

In this issue

Fans (and Britophiles) of horror and science fiction can thank relatively new company Legend Films for the recent releases of the little known masterpiece from Saul Bass Phase IV (1974), arguably Freddie Francis’ best directorial effort The Skull (1965), and Terence Fishers’ The Man Who Could Cheat Death. Legend films is a company known for its cutting edge developments in digital film restoration, digital colorization, and theatrical color effects, and has recently ventured into the area of DVD production. Although they specialize in family films and golden classics, they have also included a range of cult and horror titles which should expand their fan base. Phase IV is an interesting speculative horror-science fiction film pitting human intelligence against one of the most resourceful of species, the ant. Released in 1974, the film recalls a similar ‘US vs. the ants’ film from a few years earlier, 1971, Hellstrom Chronicles, a fascinating mockumentary forecasting the inevitable take-over of the earth by (according to the film’s alarmist fictional scientist, Dr. Nils Hellstrom) the more superior species, the ant. (Ken Middleham appears in the credits of both films as cinematographer for the insect sequences.) As far as I know the film is presently out of print, or a rare item on DVD, and would make a wonderful companion piece to Phase IV (are you listening Legend Films!!!!). Along similar lines, my review of The Skull makes a nice retroactive companion piece to an essay on The Creeping Flesh which I wrote as a tribute shortly following the death of Freddie Francis. Cult films come in all shapes and sizes and this issue looks at one which sometimes slips under the radar of the filmography of a director team, the Coen brothers, who have specialized in cult items, The Big Lebowski. Writer Daniel Garrett reviews the recent BFI Film Classics series entry on the film. The issue concludes by welcoming writer N. Buket Cengiz, whose report on the 27th International Istanbul Film Festival concentrates on a core group of films (fiction and documentary) that have a strong commitment to social matters.

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