Thursday, January 10, 2008


(Continually we will spotlight films that are only available on VHS and of course are available at Rocket Video)


No Blade Of Grass (Cornel Wilde 1970)

With Criterion releasing Director/ Actor Cornel Wilde’s 1966 masterpiece The Naked Prey on DVD for the first time (in the U.S.) I want to implore them to restore his apocalyptic masterpiece No Blade Of Grass. It’s actually never been available on DVD or VHS in the states, the copy Rocket offers in their free section was recorded off of cable. It may be chopped up a little, even so it’s still a powerful, exciting experience.

This is a lost film that could rank with the admired poetic violence of say, a Sam Peckinpah. It is shockingly brutal, not just for a film of 1970. It’s depressing vision of future England is possibly a kin to Alfonso Cuarón’s brilliant Children Of Men in terms of bleakness, and where the later film uses all the razzle-dazzle tools available in 2006, Wilde employ’s many of those ‘Easy Rider jump cut’ devises, I guess, admired in 1970. Though they can date a film today, in the case of No Blade Of Grass the naivety of the style helps to give it an even bleaker authenticity.

 Here’s All Movie Guide’s  Plot Synopsis by Sandra Brennan

Based on a best-selling novel by John Christopher, this combination horror-movie, cautionary tale warns against the dangers of pollution. The tale is set in a futuristic Britain that has been decimated by the sudden onset of a terrible plague caused by environmental damage. Most of the devastation occurs in London. One family flees to the sanctuary of a friend's farm. The journey is treacherous and the clan must fight insane biker gangs and deal with their own personal problems, but eventually, they make it to the farm. Unfortunately, though they were especially invited, the owner's ruthless brother refuses to let them enter and so the desperate head of the family leads a brutal attack.

Further reads: This John Christopher story

Cinema Scope's  Beyond Brut: The Art of Cornel Wilde  By Andrew Tracy

Damnation Alley (Jack Smight 1977)

Imagine being one of the “lucky” ones and surviving a nuclear holocaust and then being forced to drive around in a supped up RV with a mustached by-the-book George Peppard and his artist/ boyfriend Paul Winfield and a creepy hot-dogging he-man Jan Michael Vincent. That what Euro-babe /saloon singer Dominique Sanda faces when the gang rolls through Vegas (luckily for their amusement all the electricity at the “casino” she’s been lounging in is still on - “let’s play some slots!”) 

For Sanda whose past directors have included such hacks as Vittorio De Sica (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) and Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist) it must have been a thrill to finally get to work with the legendary American director Jack Smight (MidwayAirport 75, that’s not the Charo one or the Bermuda Triangle one, it’s the Chuck HestonKaren Black one).

The posse is heading for Albany the source of a human survivors radio signal. Along the way they face the post-apocalyptic horrors that scientists for generations have been warning us about like giant desert crabs, man-eating roaches (normal sized), an ELO laser light storm, canker-sored yahoo bikers and maybe most eerie of all, a needy, mutant faced sixteen-year-old Jackie Earle Haley, right in that awkwrd teenage stage between The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) and The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977). 

The horror, the horror... Perhaps the lucky ones died with the nukes.

- sweeneyrules

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