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VideoVista began in late 1994 as a monthly newsletter reviewing dozens of new VHS rental and retail titles, with an emphasis firmly on variety of coverage - from art house to exploitation cinema, from the Hollywood mainstream to obscure foreign movies. The last issue of VideoVista in its printed format appeared in early 1998, and there was a two-year break before it re-appeared online, to focus on the new range of video and DVD releases, and much else besides...
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I've seem some reviews of Larry Blamire's work on your site of late and felt a response to the disappointing scores given was in order, as I am something of an admirer of this director. So far, Blamire has completed five features, achieving in my opinion an admirable and likeable body of work, beginning with the well-received Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra (2001). Of the four features I have managed to see, each has the distinctive style of its creator: genial and humane humour, consistently amusing parody of older genres with use of increasingly familiar stock company - all of whom seem to be enjoying themselves as much as director and audience.

Blamire writes, directs and frequently acts in his own films, his careful scripts revelling in non-sequiturs and deliberate longueurs whilst eschewing coarse dialogue. The surreal Trail Of The Screaming Forehead is the most apart from its fellows I have seen, being made in colour, perhaps more expressly silly, with increased special effects work and the inclusion of special guest players (Dick Miller and Kevin McCarthy). Perhaps because of that, whilst still very amusing, it seems a little less characteristic and considered.

I think Blamire is an auteur to treasure, one who gives the art of parody back its name and quality - especially after the dismal, bigger-budgeted attempts of the likes of Jason Friedberg and the Wayans, directors who seem to have no affection for the films they imitate and always aim for the obvious. Their films are, arguably, hardly films at all - merely narrative clothes pegs on which to hang cheap laughs, slapdash and vulgar in equal measure, where Blamire is neither.

Speaking for myself, a sure-fire indication of a good parody is my willingness to revisit the work when the original joke has been seen and gone; this is true of most of Blamire's films, which grow more amusing and endearing upon re-acquaintance. And while the film types Blamire references have, typically, dated and long since left our screen, I think his own work set around them remains fresh and original.

Lost Skeleton was the first I discovered and still has a special place in my affections; but there's not much between it and Dark And Stormy Night - the finest ensemble piece in Blamire's work. Only The Lost Skeleton Returns Again I think a slight disappointment (even though it too has its admirers) if only because, inevitably, there's a sense of d�j� vu while the narrative flow seems a little forced. I hope to rent a copy of Johnny Slade's Greatest Hits (UK: Meet The Mobsters) soon, as that undoubtedly adds another dimension to Blamire's output.

Although the liking, or not, of any film is always a matter of taste, I would recommend a discovery of Blamire's small but extremely likeable oeuvre to anyone.
- Richard Bowden



I've just read Richard's review of No Orchids For Miss Blandish. The BFI database records one TV broadcast, way back in 1962, but as I wasn't born then I don't remember that. However I do remember Channel 4 showing it - if memory serves it was in their 'banned' season in 1991, the same season which featured the first and only broadcast on British terrestrial TV of WR Mysteries Of The Organism with animated goldfish covering some naughty bits. For reasons I can't remember, I didn't watch No Orchids... then - I probably should have done.
- Gary Couzens



My name is Geoff Klein, the director of Bikini Girls On Ice. I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your honest opinion of the film and for taking the time to actually watch it and then write a well written review.

I take every review to heart and vow to not make the the same mistakes in the sequel.
www.bikinigirlsonice.com



Your review of Fausto 5.0 was strikingly similar to my impressions of the film. Yours is a site to watch!
- Bill Sorensen



Another great issue [April 2008]... I was particularly impressed by the contributions from Messrs Hartley, McMahon, and McCalmont this time around, but everyone seemed on the ball. I'm going to have to up my game or risk looking like a fool if this keeps up.
- Jim Steel, Glasgow



It's good to see such a wide variety of insightful reviews on the site.
- Paul Smith (Head of Press, Tartan Video)



..regarding The Most Unromantic Man In The World... I was the camera operator and one of the producers of the film. Just wanted to thank you for your review which brought me much joy! I like to collect the negative reviews and yours was the best yet!

You are right in saying that it was straight to DVD, not direct to the bargain bin but not far off. It's released in the 'States this month so the yanks will be suffering soon! The Canadians and Ozzies have had to put up with it since March!

I agree the comparisons to the other shows like The Office aren't ideal, but believe it or not the film was shot way back in 2001 before most of those shows were around (although being first doesn't automatically mean better!). The entire production budget was only �4,000 and there was a crew of three of us (most of the credits are made up) so apologies for our poor effort but we tried our best!

And where did we find David Lumby? Old friend we wanted to humiliate by playing himself. Not that you could tell, but he went to the same drama school as Lee Oakes!

Thanks again and keep up the good work.
- Lee Mason



I was looking for some other material and simply stumbled across the profile you did on Buck and myself and enjoyed it tremendously... It brought back some wonderful memories and I wanted to express my appreciation... Buck lived again as I read that.
- John Goff



What a brilliant review of The Woodsman... very, very thoughtful and I enjoyed reading it.
- Jean Ralph (PR Manager, Prism Leisure)



Not only do you write clever and amusing reviews (Fit To Kill) but you get all the facts and spelling correct! You're the greatest. Thank you for your support. We do appreciate it.
- Andy & Arlene Sidaris (www.andysidaris.com)



Thanks so much for your entertaining review of Return To Savage Beach. We were particularly amused by the line "How the chicks with huge boobs manage to hide behind such anorexic trees is truly a wonder of camera trickery." I'm sure our Director of Photography will want to add that note to his resume!
- Andy & Arlene Sidaris (www.andysidaris.com)



I just wanted to thank you for flagging the upcoming [R2 DVD] release of Come And See. I ordered it immediately, it arrived last week and I watched it last night. Best war film I've ever seen. Probably the best film I've ever seen, period. Stunning...
- Andy Cox (TTA Press)



I read your review of the show [Little Lady Fauntleroy] about myself, Lauren Harries, and my family, and it was enjoyable to read your critisicms of Keith Allen. I will be on [TV] again with Terry Wogan on the 16th February, as well as Now magazine, so thank you - for a change I wasn't reading something bad about my family and myself but sad Mr Allen.
- Lauren Harries



I am now listing Christopher Geary as my new best friend. What a bright & lively review! [re: The Dallas Connection.] We appreciate your kind attention and appreciation of our work.
- Andy & Arlene Sidaris (www.andysidaris.com)



Just stumbled upon this review [Mayor Of The Sunset Strip] of this film via Google...
I'm in the film. I also did the parody song about Jennifer Love Hewitt (which I seek, incidentally, because of a reading the late Dutch psychic P eter Hurkos gave me.)

Rodney has personally told me that he was not dropped off at Connie Stevens' house by his late mother, Marion. This is a fabrication started by the director and voiced by Kim Fowley! Rodney and I objected to this 'Hollywood-isation' of the film; otherwise, it's accurate (but a little too short and 'dark' for some people).

Rodney will get his Star on the Walk of Fame sometime after 2006. Mayor Of The Sunset Strip could (and should) be re-cut (as the original picture elements still exist in storage.)
- Ronald Vaughan, Hollywood, California, USA



I believe your critique of Iron Man should be placed more within context: rather than "McCarthian" (Iron Man doesn't go on a witch hunt against American citizens), the cartoon, and comicbook follow the trends in graphic fiction as well as science fiction and horror films: the government are the good guys, and the bad guys are external agents, or internal agents acting against the will of the guys 'at the top.' This trend can be seen remarkably well in The X-Men, which started to criticise the government only around the time of Vietnam.

Furthermore, I find that Tony Stark is alot Like Bruce Wayne: ultra-rich capitalist that uses his billions to fight super-villians, and to produce his needed equipment. If [anything,] Bruce Wayne certainly helps any American military industrial complex through investment, which eventually finds its way back into the hands of the free world's militaries.
- Ned Brasington



[Here's] my personal review of the Broken Saints release, which I feel is much more fair and balanced in its praise...

THE COMPANY
First and foremost, it must be taken into consideration that this is a first time DVD production from a fledgling, new company that was created with the initial sole purpose of developing, the Broken Saints saga for wide release to the public. That it was done on a shoestring and on a timeline that could be considered to be nothing short of 'ludicrous speed' is nothing short of a miracle. The creators pushed themselves far above and beyond the call of duty, making more established production facilities look like they were sitting around contemplating their belly button lint. For this alone accolades must be doled out.

THE PRODUCTION
The transformation between the original release copies of the Flash series and the final release on DVD is nothing short of a triumph. Continual crunch-time and stresses and setbacks, which are evident in segments like where the creator, Brooke Burgess, is obviously distraught over the voice data loss of one of the characters, his face drawn, his features twitchy, goes over the incident on camera with the audience, making the viewer feel like part of the process. You almost feel you are in some parking lot with Brooke as he's peakin' and freakin' over this setback. You share the emotionalism, as he seems to be telling you personally. Other behind the scenes items, such as the obligatory 'making-of' segments introduce production timelines, intros to voice actors and the daily goings-on of the studio. You almost expect someone to offer you a cup of coffee through the screen, as the production has a very personal feel and everyone is simply being themselves and gettin' on with it.

SOUND
The sound was re-mastered for Dolby 5.1 in a number of languages. For about 98 percent of the production, the sound comes through flawlessly. However, there are a couple of small spots where there is a touch of distortion during high pitch music overlays (one of the most noticeable being in Chapter 20, Act 3). Further investigation reveals this to be the fault of the sound clip used, which is from and older source and is likely not re-mastered. I hear word that this will be dealt with. It's nice to know that a production company actually listens to its purchasers...

VOICE ACTING
For me this was both a strength and a weakness for Broken Saints. The voice actors have experience and strong characterisations for the characters they play yet sometimes something seems off about them. The voice of Raimi for example, although the voice itself is exactly what you would expect him to sound like, I often notice that the cadence and inflection is, well... 'off' in relation to what I'm reading on the screen script-wise, and what I'm hearing. Likewise, the voice of Kamimura, sounds as one would expect; wise, sagely and measured in its oriental accented tones... Well, perhaps too measured. Many times Kamimura's lines seem to plod or drag. They seem almost too thoughtful and deliberate at times. Shandala's voice is soft in areas it needs to be, and strident when required. It is musical and lilting... soothing. Oran's voice, however, shines. The accent is fabulous, the words delivered sure of purpose, clear of thought (after the bunker scenes) and presents a character with an ordered, calculating mind. Exactly what one would expect. However, as a counterbalance, one has to remember that the series emotion and mood was originally voiceless and designed to be carried by the weight of the story in conjunction with the music of Tobias Tinker. Fair is fair when doing a comparison like this.

PRESENTATION
The four-disc set comes in a handsome, well-constructed case, with the main BS logo of the faces of the four characters around an eclipsed sun with the island of Lomalagi beneath it. The only future concern I would have is that in order to remove a couple of the discs; one needs to slide one out from behind another over the mounting post to extract it from the case. If one is not careful, eventually, it could lead to scratch damage. Each of the discs is emblazoned with the face of each of the main characters� four discs, four faces... Slick. Overall, a very nice piece of packaging work.

STORY
The heart and soul of the series plumbs the depths of man's capitulation to technology and struggle of the soul. It's a story of conflict, justice, personal insight, redemption, ultimate retribution and eventually, worldwide revelation. How the characters come to this would be giving too much away, but the entire series must be seen for every piece of the puzzle to fall into place. However, like most things in this world, it is not for everyone. Some people, I've discovered, find it too involved, too 'preachy', too deep or too full of socio-religious overtones for them. If in doubt, watch the series online. Don't be fooled to the train of thought that 'now I've seen it online, why bother with the DVD?' There have been so many tweaks, additions and overhauls, that to not own the DVD set would be a crime unparalleled. Additionally, sometimes, things end. The future on the web is always uncertain, and despite Mr Burgess' heartfelt pledge to always keep BS available online, one never knows when or how this gem may be stolen from online viewing. Owning the DVD is like having your own, personal historical archive and an opportunity that should not be passed up.

FINAL ANALYSIS
This is a must see, must have item. An overall rating would be 9.2 out of 10 for all values above, and all things considered, especially the heart, hope and unbelievable amount of effort that was poured into the BS project by those three unbelievable fellas out of Vancouver. They deserve the sales just from the amount of stress, lost sleep and doubtless near mental breakdowns they must have suffered to get a product of this quality out in such record time.
- George Curtis, USA



Cool, always look forward to seeing VideoVista's reviews. Your website is so usable - there aren't a million things jumping at you and fire blazing all over the screen, instead it's just straight honest and creatively written reviews. - Well done!
- Cherish Denton (PR administrator, Media Communications)



Thanks so much for the pretty darn good review of my film Black Cadillac. I'm astonished that you know any of my other films, even the ones I would like to escape from (alas; the double edged sword of the information age.) Contagion still has not been released in the U.S. due to 9/11 sensitivities.

It means a great deal to me to have such insightful analysis of Cadillac especially in the light that this is the first film I've directed that has actually been mine (the other nine have been for hire jobs with script and primary casting control in others hands.) I agree with you in the places where you rightfully acknowledged that the production and script stumbled a bit short of the finish line. Your overall perception of the film seemed to us to have been right on in what we were trying to do.

Thank you again for the kind words for a film that started it's gestation days after the event depicted on screen took place and has taken three years of my life to realise for the screen.

I will look forward to your reviews of mine and other films released on video in the future.
- John Murlowski (producer/director)



I can't help but comment on this list... To each his own, and the problem with a list like this is that you can't contain a topic like this to only 10 movies.

Luke claims to have given thought to Eraserhead, but the absence of this movie on this list makes me wonder just what thought was given. Movies can be weird for the sake of being weird, but most of them will still adhere to some basic rules of storytelling. Eraserhead ignores all rules of storytelling, period, which places it in a category of its own. I can't say I 'like' this movie based on a conventional frame of reference as to what I like or not like, but Eraserhead's absence on this list is ridiculous. Move Dark Star off it and put Eraserhead back on... and yes I love Dark Star (I own a copy of it), but it's not a top ten weird movie of all time.
- Marc Borza



Congratulations on an outstanding selection of reviews. It's great to be able to read someone else's views on a newly released DVD before having to buy it yourself. I'm sure your site has saved me many disappointments, as well as pointed me in the right direction towards 'better quality' viewing. Keep up the good work.
- Philip Lewis, Gwent



I have only recently discovered your great site, and I must congratulate you on it. It really is an excellent site.
- Jim Edgar



..congratulations on the on-line mag, it keeps getting more eclectic!
- Andrew Leavold (Trash Video)



Keep up the great work with providing us with some outstanding reviews.
- Phil Lewis (ArtsMagic)



Enjoyed the latest edition...
- Richard Larcombe (The Associates, PR)



I appreciate your film reviews on VideoVista...
- John Paul Catton, Japan



I've just read through the issue - as interesting and diverse as ever.
- Gary Couzens, Hants



I like it though that all sorts of movies are being reviewed, not only new releases, 'older' films as well... great work overall!
- Marc C. Desbiens (Apollo Guide, USA)



I checked out your website. Well done. Very thoughtful, well-executed reviews.
- Arlene Sidaris (Malibu Bay Films, USA)



Nice issue! Thanks for all your support.
- Brian White (Hong Kong Legends)



..happy to have found such a throughly well-written film mag, at last. I enjoy reading your site's reviews, even if I disagree with the comments... but, more importantly, I've often found stuff out that I didn't know, and liked reading various critical views about types of movies that don't normally interest me... which is very true of VideoVista's top 10 lists.
- Pauline Taylor, Essex



The new site looks great.
- Rob Cory (BBC)



..the new VideoVista page yesterday looked very good.
- John M. Peters, Devon



I think you're publishing really first-rate reviews.
- Jeff Vandermeer, Florida



Great reviews. Agree completely re: Dark City and American Beauty. Thanks so much.
- Michael Moorcock, Texas



The site looks great, I checked it out today.
- Courtney Curry (Sue Procko PR, USA)



I always enjoy reading this site - not just because I'm on it, but because of the quality of all the reviews, and reviewers - it's a privilege to be among you all... The site looks good, very cool.
- Dawn Andrews, Herts.



This is great!
- Jeri Low (Ketchum Life PR)



An excellent on-line film magazine... I'm really impressed by the quality of writing and the scope of its content... our favourite UK on-line mag.
- Andrew Leavold (Trash Video, Australia)



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