The Fall [Series 2]

The-Fall-2I love British crime series although lately they’ve really started to become crappy by jumping on board the whole exploitative missing kid genre. The Fall was one of the better shows of recent years and I was greatly anticipating series two. What makes the show so awesome (apart from Gillian Anderson) is that it totally feels like a show that could have come straight outta Scandinavia despite being set in Northern Ireland.

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Pre-Order: Sailor Moon [Part One]

Sailor-Moon

It’s official, Madman is my favourite DVD company. Ever. Criterion is too conneisuer and overpriced, Umbrella have ugly cover art and don’t know how to spell check and Madman never let me down. Arthouse releases, documentaries and horror not to mention releasing those out of print/forgotten about gems.  I declared my love for them when they released Samurai Pizza Cats but it went to a whole new level when I heard they were releasing another childhood favourite – Sailor Moon.

Not only are they releasing it on DVD and Blu-Ray but they’ve also got episodes to watch for free on AnimeLab.

Moon Prism Power, Make Up!

Usagi Tsukino is a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl!

Extras:

  • Clean Opening & Closing
  • Galleries
  • English Dub Behind the Scenes

Now available to Pre-Order from Madman Entertainment. 

Hello Kitty, Hello 40

Hello-Kitty-40

I can’t remember the first time I laid my eyes on Hello Kitty but I have passed my Hello Kitty obsession down to my daughter who has Hello Kitty lego, a bean bag, towels, tea sets, DVDs, clothes and toys. Yes I am buying the stuff I wish I had as a kid for her, but then one of her first words was kitty, so that makes it ok…right??

Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is a collection of 40 stories (plus one for good luck) about Hello Kitty from different comic artists, muralists and toy creators. The book is a celebration of 40 years of Hello Kitty. The book includes a blurb from contributors about what Hello Kitty means to them before their comic segment. There’s also an introduction from Babymouse creators Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm.

What makes the book so awesome is all the different interpretations of her character, she’s presented in ultra cuteness to macabre horror-esque stories (one story reminded me of Roman Dirge’s Lenore). There’s a story in here to appeal to everyone from role playing geeks (yes there’s a RPG story here) and toddlers to grumpy old granddads, no one can resist Hello Kitty’s charm and cuteness.

I’m not a big comic fan and I haven’t heard of any of the contributors but enjoyed every single story in the book. I pretty much read novels and non-fiction so it was nice a nice reminder of how powerful images can be as there’s no speech bubbles in any of the stories. An impressive collection of Hello Kitty stories and an impressive array of art.

Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is a beautiful 144 paged hardcover book that is a must have for any Hello Kitty collector. Lots of Kitty and Kawaii!!!!

At the back of the book there’s an index of artists with a profile (see picture gallery.) Artists who contributed include: Alberto Arzeni, Franco Aureliani, Art Baltazar, Chuck BB, Alan Brown, Juan Calle, R.J Casey, Jacob Chabot, Chanmen, Belinda Chen, Gemma Correll, Brianne Drouhard, Jerzy Drozd, Chris Eliopoulos, Theo Ellsworth, Chynna Clugston Flores, Susie Ghahremani, Chris Giarrusso, Stephanie Gonzaga, Sarah Goodreau, Habbenink, Charise Mericle Haper, Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm, David Horvath, Corin Howell, Matrin Hsu, Debbie Huey, Leslie Hung, Phillip Jacobson, Karl Kerschl, Cynthia Liu, Ian McGinty, Alex Eben Meyer, Jorge Monlongo, Becka Moor, Travis Nichols, Sirron Norris, Luke Pearson, Lark Pien, Philippa Rice, Dave Roman, Brian Smith, Jay Stephens, James Turner, Gene Luen Yang.

Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is available from Madman Entertainment.

The Evil Dead Anthology [Blu-Ray]

Evil-DeadIn the annals of horror history, few films are as universally adored as Evil Dead (1981). A ragged, breathless, almost plotless adrenalin surge of a movie, it is about as pure a horror movie as you can get.

The set-up is that which launched a thousand imitators. Five college kids go to an abandoned cabin and, through playing a tape recorder of a vocal translation of the fabled Necronomicon, unleash an evil in the woods that possesses and kills them, one-by-one.

As simplistic as this is, the film really stands on pure energy and imagination. In particular, the frenetic and innovative camerawork of teenage director Sam Raimi. In time, he would become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, but the invention and will to entertain are already firmly in place in this, his first calling card.

A splattery roller-coaster of a film, Evil Dead belies its minuscule budget to deliver high-octane thrills and a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, the Blu-Ray transfer does little to clear up the murky grain of the movie but in this case, that is not a problem. Indeed, the roughness of the look only adds to the underground, punk rock grime of it all.

At turns chilling, action-packed and even nasty (the notorious tree-rape scene), Evil Dead is a deserved 80s horror classic.

Raimi and his producing partner Rob Tapert would next attempt an action/comedy/caper flick called Crimewave. The ill-fated film was mired in studio interference and a young filmmaker operating beyond his means. Disheartened, they returned to the well with the 1987 release of Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn.

A bigger budget, more experienced cast and crew and a more deft Raimi at the helm saw that rarest of beasts emerged – a sequel that actually improved on the first. Evil Dead II is effectively a remake of the first, but this time with a critical difference – comedy.

Raimi, Tapert and star Bruce Campbell had grown up making Three Stooges-style slapstick comedy short films and the cold-blooded horror of Evil Dead was purely a financial decision as to what sort of film was ruling the drive-in theatres of the time. The second time out, though, they were able to let their comic sensibilities shine.

The big evolution was in Campbell. His character, Ash, was the only returning one from the original, now positioned securely front-and-centre. The film shifts to rest securely on Campbell’s shoulders and he rises to meet the challenge with a scenery-chewing performance that jumps off the screen. It is a massive work of physicality, commitment and surely more suffering than any other character in film history (witness a scene where his hand is possessed by evil, resulting in him beating himself up, complete with forward flip onto a wooden floor). It is the kind of performance than in a just world would have catapulted Campbell to A-list stardom.

Alas, it was not to be. A failed TV series (The Adventures of Brisco County Jr) and a near-miss in being The Phantom on that character’s big screen debut would be as close as Campbell would come to breaking out of cultdom, aside from a latter-day supporting role on TV series Burn Notice.
Evil Dead II remains his crowning glory, however. Not the brightest of characters, Ash remains thoroughly sympathetic throughout as he alternates between battling darkness and shouting desperately into the night for a break, any kind of break.

The third Evil Dead film, Army of Darkness, would eventually follow in 1992.

In the lead up, the horror press were slavering at the idea of a big-budget Evil Dead film. Initially titled, The Medieval Dead, it was touted as a horror epic to end all horror epics.

Instead, and in retrospect predictably, Army of Darkness was a comedy. Not a horror like Evil Dead or even a horror/comedy like Evil Dead II, but a pure, slapstick-and-pratfalls comedy. This did not go down well. The hardcore fans were disappointed and the movie flopped badly.

Time, however, would be kind to Army of Darkness. Campbell’s Ash character had now been amped up into a full-blown windbag, full of boasting and unearnt confidence. With this change came endless quotable lines mostly made out of the fact that the modern Ash now found himself trapped in 1300AD yet still fighting the Deadites.

Armed with his chainsaw and shotgun (his ‘boomstick’ as he describes it to the medieval folk or ‘primitive screwheads’) and of course his trusty Oldsmobile (actually Raimi’s own car), Ash is forced to fulfill his destiny as the hero of prophecy, saving two warring clans from destruction at the hands of the evil dead.

As a comedy, Army of Darkness has hits and misses. Some inspired moments (Ash’s cockiness leads him to not remember magic words very well with disastrous results) are mixed with Stooges-type silliness (complete with ‘boink’ sound effects) that feel crushingly unfunny.

Despite a decent budget – which production ended up going over by nearly double – the film also over-stretches. In the pre-CGI age, creating a convincing army of undead is beyond the realms of practicality and a lot of clearly static skeletons are knocked over in ‘battle’. While the handmade aesthetic of the previous Evil Dead films gave them an eerie, otherworldly feel, here it just feels cheap.

For fans – the ending here is the director’s cut “downer” ending, rather than the studio-enforced, happier, “supermarket” ending. It may be debatable which is actually superior, but the darker conclusion may be tonally off-kilter with the rest of the film, but it is consistent with the bumbling, self-destructive nature of the Ash character.

Once again, though, it is the mix of Raimi’s energy and Campbell’s charisma that save the day and Army of Darkness, while undoubtedly the weakest of the trilogy, is still an enjoyable watch.

Raimi would then go on to make the star-studded action/western The Quick and the Dead (1995) before the more mature efforts of A Simple Plan (1998) and The Gift (2000) would lead to the global blockbuster Spiderman (2002). With Tapert, he would also find success on the small screen as a producer with Hercules, Spartacus, Legend of the Seeker and Xena shooting in New Zealand (the latter starring Tapert’s future wife, Lucy Lawless) and the formation of Ghost House Pictures, producing films such as the US remake of The Grudge (2005) and 30 Days of Night (2007).

Throughout this time, rumours kept circulating of a possible Evil Dead 4. But the schedules of the key players remained packed and, as Campbell in particular aged, it looked increasingly unlikely to ever happen.

But with the dawn of the 21st century came a rash of horror remakes and a different option appeared – a remake with an entirely new cast and director. Fede Alvarez had come to attention with his special FX short film about giant robots attacking Montevideo Panic Attack! and got the nod to helm a new take on Evil Dead in 2012.

Shooting in Woodhill Forest outside of Auckland in New Zealand, Alvarez approached the set-up with a clever twist: the characters this time would be at the remote cabin to help one of their number, Mia (Jane Levy) to go cold turkey from her drug addiction. Naturally, as Mia is the first one to encounter the Deadites, the conceit allows the other characters to not believe her…until things really get crazy.

As a remake, Evil Dead (2013) is a definite success. Alvarez has his own style, but it is as high-energy as Raimi’s, giving the film a familiar-yet-fresh feel. If anything, the nods to the original actually serve to hold back the remake and it is at its best when it is adding fresh mythology to the mix.

The gore is amped up and the FX are nothing short of brilliant, but gone is the eerie atmosphere of the original. The remake may be shocking, violent and high-octane, but it is never creepy or scary. The horror is much more physical and biological – culminating in a literal rain of blood that is the only real tongue-in-cheek moment.

Levy proves herself at least as game as Campbell and indeed her acting is probably superior. The supporting cast is weak, however, and one wonders if first-timer Alvarez, for whom English is a second language, was unable to get the best out of his young charges.

As a modern take on Evil Dead, the remake is an excellent piece of work held back from true high regard simply because of its lack of originality. This is naturally a problem with any remake, but when the ‘five kids in a cabin’ set-up of Evil Dead became the de facto standard template for horror movies in the past three decades, it became an insurmountable problem by 2013.

At time of writing, no further films were planned, but instead a TV series on Starz has been greenlit. The Evil Dead march on…

Extras:

Evil Dead has seen numerous releases of various formats over the years, but this package really is the best of them. As well as including the four films – all hugely entertaining – the discs are packed with extras with all sorts of behind-the-scenes details and footage.

The focus on the extras is definitely the original film, and justifiably so. The story behind Evil Dead has become almost as mythic as the film itself.

A group of friends in Michigan decide to make a horror movie and set about doing it the hard way – with no external help at all. They make a test mini-feature on 8mm called Within the Woods and take that around local businessmen, looking for investment. Eventually, from various merchants and dentists, they scrape together enough cash to get to work on their masterpiece and so would begin an incredibly gruelling shoot.

As retold in a variety of pieces – most are also present on previous releases, especially the Anchor Bay trilogy package – the remote shoot would test friendships, health and sanity. Campbell laughingly retells how none of the cast would talk to he or any of the other producers for a long time afterwards. Sleeping on floors, freezing temperatures, toxic smoke machines, unbearable fake blood and FX…the shoot ran way over time and took everyone to breaking point.

The release would be initially muted, until a screening at the Cannes Film Festival resulted in a glowing Stephen King pullquote (“the most ferociously original horror movie in years”) and a purchase by UK distributor Palace Pictures. Palace would launch the film in theatres in Britain simultaneously with a release on the burgeoning new home video format, resulting in major waves.

Then, the film found itself banned as part of the infamous conservative video nasty clampdown in Britain, but that only served to increase its infamy and it began to find an audience in America, too, eager to see what all the fuss was about.

One extra included is a feature-length documentary on Tom Sullivan, the lead special FX man on Evil Dead. His story is one of practicality and clever workarounds as he stretched a micro-budget into some iconic visuals. The stop-motion climax is explained in all its painstaking, multi-month detail and his illustrations for the Necronomicon are now the subject of a thousand tattoos worldwide.

Sullivan’s own story would take a dark turn as depression and the death of his wife ultimately would drive him from the set of Evil Dead II, but now he is an affectionately-viewed fixture of the horror convention circuit.

A behind-the-scenes of the special FX of Evil Dead II is excellent viewing. It is a showcase of the first time the legendary Kurtzman/Nicotero/Berger trio worked together, prior to the formation of their KNB studio. The effects are a wild mix of superb sculpture and magician-level sleight of hand and seeing them laid out is compulsive viewing, even if special FX are not normally of interest.

Army of Darkness is completely passed over in terms of extra material, but the remake is packaged with all the same extras from its own previous Blu-Ray release. These are a director’s commentary, plus a neat series of featurettes on various aspects, including some shots from Jane Levy’s video diary of a typically tough day of filming. (“You just missed my temper tantrum. I just hate the blood rain, it makes me into a…child.”)

On top of that, the whole collection comes packaged in a replica of the Necronomicon itself (although the discs are just in paper envelopes within) and there is also a scaled-down version of the Kundarian spine-dagger from the film, which makes for a pretty damn cool extra!

The Evil Dead Anthology is available on Blu-Ray/DVD from Madman.

20,000 Days on Earth [Blu-Ray]

Nick-CaveAfter watching Autoluminescent (the documentary about former Birthday Party member Rowland S. Howard) I thought it was odd that there hadn’t been any about Nick Cave and hoped I wouldn’t have to wait for him to die to see one.

20,000 Days on Earth is based around a fictional day in the life of Nick Cave. At the start there’s some montage clips presented in fast-forward of Nick’s milestones from birth to The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds, right up to present day. 20,000 Days on Earth is not of the past. Nick discusses events and people from the past but it is not a retrospective documentary about his career. It also focuses a lot on the recording of Push the Sky Away, so those anticipating any coverage/stories about The Birthday Party/Bad Seeds won’t find it here.

Cave also provides voice-over narration that has a literary quality to it, although some of it comes off a tad ostentatious (more so on first viewing), it totally fits Cave’s style and so does the film itself in that it breaks a lot of conventions. In between scenes of Cave going about his (fictionalised) day we see rehearsals, interviews with psychoanalyst Darian Leader, and footage of Cave driving around with Blixa Bargeld, Kylie Minogue and Ray Winstone. I enjoyed the scenes in the car and Warren Ellis the most as the conversations felt really organic and not as boring as the usual talking heads of people answering questions/fawning over the subject of the film/documentary.

Cave has said that  20,000 Days on Earth is fictional but within it there are truths. It’s definitely more of an art film rather than your typical “rock n‘roll” documentary.  It is very stylized and staged and Cave is presented in a very flattering matter (lighting, narration etc) but that’s not to say there’s no meat to the film or that it lacks an intimacy. It’s elegantly shot and despite it being staged, is very affecting and you gain a lot of insight into the myth of the man. I really enjoyed the filmic/meditative take on exploring an artist but having said that I’d still love to see a traditional documentary about The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds. If you’re expecting a more in-depth warts-and-all type of documentary this will disappoint.

It’s a film that has a little bit of something for everyone and can be enjoyed by those who don’t even know the man. Not so much a film about a man and his career but the art of storytelling and the artistic process.

An absolute must own for fans of the man.

Extras:

The Making Of – Runs for 15 minutes and includes interviews with Nick Cave, the directors, producer, director of photography and has some behind-the-scenes footage mostly of the car scenes. Watching the Making Of kinda ruined it a little for me in that it’s not Warren Ellis’ house (he actually lives in France) and someone else cooked the eel. The archive is also fictional. I didn’t think they would have taken it that far but even though a lot of it is set up, the footage that is captured and the discussions are 100% authentic.

The Archives – About 6 minutes of extended/different footage of Nick talking with the archivists about photos and artefacts, a particularly funny anecdote is of an image of a bronze statue Nick wanted to give to his home town – big pineapple, big lobster, big Nick Cave.

Tour Rehearsals – about 10 minutes long, they perform Your Funeral My Trial and Stranger than Kindness.

Interviews –About 9 minutes of interviews that didn’t make it into the film or are extended.

Studio Backing Vocals – About three minutes of clips of Nick, Warrren and co doing backup vocals and Warren playing violin.

Ray Winstone Fish and Chips – a 2 minute clip of Nick and Ray arguing over which country does better fish and chips.

Demo Sessions: 3 minute clip of See that Girl.

Live at Koko Duet with Kylie – Nick and Kylie perform fan favourite “Where the Wild Roses Grow”.

To round out the disc there’s a theatrical trailer and Madman Propaganda.

20,000 Days on Earth is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Hugh’s Scandimania – With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

ScandimaniadvdI’ve never been a fan of cooking shows but one day my mum made me watch an episode of a Nigella show. She was just so exquisite and had such a warm personality and her show seemed more interesting than the crappy 10 minute morning news show style cooking segments I was used to. I’ve heard my mum rave about River Cottage / Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and I’m obsessed with just about everything Nordic so that made the DVD even more appealing. At least if was shit I’d get to see some cool scenery and learn a bit about my cultural heritage.

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The Last Circus

the-last-circus-dvdAlex de la Iglesia is just about the textbook definition of a ‘cult’ director. First breaking through in 1993 with the sci-fi lunacy of Accion Mutante before making a splash internationally with the comedy/horror The Day of the Beast. He has forged a path of unhinged films, populated with idiosyncratic and often grotesque characters, laced with a fine line in black humour.

The most notable exception to this pattern was his last outing, which was expected to be his Hollywood breakthrough. The John Hurt/Elijah Woods starrer The Oxford Murders was a tepid, by-the-numbers thriller, perhaps providing conclusive evidence that de la Iglesia is a director at his best when allowed to run wild.

And so to The Last Circus, where things run very wild, indeed.

The story begins in 1937, as a group of circus performers are press-ganged into service during the Spanish Civil War. Amongst these is a clown, still clad in make-up, wig and a dress. Armed only with a machete, he promptly wades into the opposing troops, cutting down and all sundry before he is finally overwhelmed and imprisoned.

Fast forward 36 years to the mirror image date of 1973 and the clown’s son Javier (Carlos Areces) has grown up and has followed his footsteps into the circus. His lot is not to be the star, the happy clown, rather he is to be the straight man, the sad clown, the butt of all the jokes. This is because his childhood of misery has left him devoid of mirth, but full of tragedy.

The happy clown is Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), a charismatic superstar. The children love him, but his confidence bleeds into arrogance and alcoholism. When drinking, he has a tendency to abuse his wife, the acrobat Natalia (Carolina Bang)…who Javier also falls for. It is a love triangle that rapidly spirals into violence, madness and murder.

The Last Circus plays out as a political allegory. Javier is the Republicans, wracked by internal turmoil while Sergio is Franco’s fascist Nationalists, violent and strong of purpose. Between them is Natalia, representing Spain herself, torn between two desires. This metaphoric approach gives the piece added depth, but sacrifices elements of the storytelling. The plot flow becomes increasingly stretched as the movie progresses and all of the characters become almost completely sympathetic as the madness and atrocities pile up on both sides.

Offsetting this stumble on the scripting side of things is some amazing work behind the camera. The production design is sumptuous and evocative, but the cinematography is never less than stunning. Deep shadows abound, with a rich, gothic, almost fairytale feeling throughout. This is one beautiful looking film.

The acting is more of a mixed bag, although de la Torre is the clear stand-out, chewing the scenery with aplomb whenever he gets the chance. Special mention must also be made of Bang, who is quite ridiculously attractive throughout. Oh, and she is also de la Iglesia’s real-life partner, for trivia fans.

An ambitious movie, The Last Circus starts off strongly, but loses its way somewhat in the second half. Perhaps fulfilling the requirements of allegory meant, in this case, a less enjoyable narrative. Still, the visuals are terrific and the invention on show means the movie is never dull. Perhaps a misfire, but a compelling one all the same.

The extras are limited to just the trailer for the film and trailers for some other titles from the Madman Entertainment catalogue. A shame, really, as a commentary track ruminating on the symbolism in the film could have been a terrific addition.

The Last Circus is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Kill Team

KillteamThese days, especially when I review things, I go out of my way to avoid reading anything about the film or in this case documentary. This can have its downsides as I was kind of hyped to see this film thinking it would be along the lines of other documentaries that I’ve enjoyed such as Restrepo and Armadillo. I assumed Kill Team would be another embedded journalist in Iraq/Afghanistan and we’d be seeing close-range fighting action and interesting characters in chaotic scenarios. I don’t want to discuss the case at length, so let’s just say it’s not an embedded journalist documentary but an expose/legal case more along the lines of Standard Operating Procedure.

 Kill Team’s focus is on a soldier (Adamn Winfield) who finds himself in a moral dilemma: to be a whistle-blower and stop some bad shit from happening at a cost to his personal safety and also forever be known as a snitch, or to let it go on.  The film challenges the complexity of such moral choices, it is never as simple as you think and every action has a shitty outcome.  Kill Team looks at cultures within the marines but mostly deals with morality and injustice.  It’s a film that should divide its audience but I have a feeling most will side with Winfield’s family and how the whole thing is an injustice. That’s ok, but y’know the Nazi’s were just “following orders” too.

We are told the story after the fact though interviews with those involved, alongside, very mundane footage of their time abroad. There’s some really worrying admissions from some of the soldiers about the culture of being a “bad ass” and killing for fun. Of course I have seen this in movies and TV shows such as Generation Kill‘s Trombley character, but to see and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth was kinda stunning and makes it so real that these are just immature babies doing stupid shit that they’ll have to live with forever.

The blurb on the cover says “one of the best anti-war films I’ve ever seen” but what’s the point in being anti-war? Is it even an anti-war film? I didn’t read that into it, to me it felt more of a “life-is-unfair-during-war-film”. There was certainly no deep or philosophical discussions about the pros and cons of war. To be honest the film is a bit of a whinge-fest and I think Winfield’s decision not to act on the information he had and report crimes was the wrong choice. Spc Justin Stoner blew the whistle on his fellow soldiers (first for smoking drugs), and is thoroughly ashamed of snitching but he is an amazingly strong character who deserves his own documentary. Stoner is a by-the-book kind of guy and it would be awesome if every soldier could be more like him.

War’s an evil we have to live with and I for one appreciate the journalists and documentarians who embed with units and give us insight into that world without telling us whether to be pro or anti-war. Although this was a decent watch I just couldn’t look past the film’s agenda of making Winfield out to be a martyr.

A must see for fans of such fare but in all honesty I think you’d be better checking out Madman’s releases of Restrepo and Armadillo before this if you haven’t seen those films.

Kill Team is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment

Nazi Collaborators

Nazi-DVD-Review

I’ve studied the Holocaust and representation of trauma in media at University so whenever there’s an opportunity to review Nazi related films and documentaries I am the first to put my hand up. It’s a subject I never seem to tire of, but History Channel documentaries are tedious with their reliance on talking heads, repetition and only focusing on Jewish stories.

So when a set like this comes along which tells stories about the involvement of people from places like Norway, Greece, Holland, Latvia, Poland, France, Croatia, Palestine, Finland, Ireland (specifically the IRA?!?!?!) and it’s not a History Channel production, I’m excited.

Nazi Collaborators is a 13 episode, four disc box-set. It focuses on the men and women who conspired with the Nazis out of greed, a hatred of communism/Jews, and fear. Although I knew of some of them from various films and documentaries I have seen previously there were some surprising (the IRA connection) and very interesting stories here. So onto the collection.

Disc One

Chaim Rumkowski – Was a Polish Jew who was a Nazi appointed head of the Ältestenrat (council of elders) and ran the Łódź Ghetto. He believed that by making the Jews productive and helping the Germans by making shoes, uniforms, ammunitions and backpacks that he would be a valuable asset and save Jewish lives. Lesson? Never trust a Nazi.

Pierre LavalA French Politician and former Prime Minister, he collaborated with the Nazis to try and ensure loss of life and destruction if France but was later convicted of high treason.

The Arajs Kommando – Were a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police led by Viktors Arājs and known for some of the most notorious killings of Jews in the Balkans. It is thought they killed 26,000 Jews, most from the Riga ghetto.

The Belgian Collaborator – Léon Degrelle, founder of Rexism and Hitler Wannabe who, later in life became a Holocaust denier.

Disc Two

The Croatian Collaborator – Dinko Sakic was the commandant of Jasenovac concentration camp, also known as “the Auschwitz of the Balkans”. Sakic and his men were particularly fond of a crude weapon called the Serb Cutter. He was later caught after 50 years in Argentinia.

Vidkun Quisling – Another anti-Communist Politician who created a new government after the Nazi’s invaded. Got royally screwed by Hitler but maintained he did everything for the betterment of Norway.

IRA – One of the more interesting stories, a rather strategic plan for the Nazis to deal with the IRA to gain strategic advantage over England but it all turned out to be a bit of a comical mess and never really worked out.

Disc Three

The Grand Mufti – The Mufti met with Hitler and was set to be the leader of Palestine after the extermination of Jews.

Jews in Germany Who Fought Hitler and Supported Him – Focuses on “Mischling” or crossbreeds (half/quarter Jew and German) who fought along with the Nazis.

Dutch Collaborator – Anton Mussert was a founder of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands. He was declared by Hitler to be the Fuhrer of the Dutch people and was put in charge of establishing the Dutch SS.

Disc Four

The Greek Collaborator – Ioannis Rallis was used by the Nazis to form a puppet government to prevent Greece succumbing to a Communist regime. He created security battalions that acted against resistance groups

The Good Collaborators? – This episode focuses on Finland and their choice to be co-belligerents with the Nazis as they were fighting a common enemy: Communism and Russia.

Hitler’s Killer Police – The last episode focuses on auxiliary police battalions of the Eastern Occupied countries. Ranging from Poles, Belarusians to Lithuanians, the SS death squads were responsible for the round up and murder of Jews.

A well-researched show with a lot of archive footage I have never seen and it is only repeated minimally. It’s hard for me to find the subject matter shocking anymore, I am just numb to it as I have seen so many images of the Holocaust repeated and used in different contexts. I remain to this day absolutely horrified by what the Nazis did to the Jews but it is the stories of individuals that resonate with me more than images of destruction and death. There’s both on display here and the personal insights into what survivors went through and saw is utterly horrific.

A must buy for those interested in World War II and a must see for anyone with a fleeting interested in WWII and the Nazis.

Extras

There’s a selection of two-part clips from other titles that are available: Apocalypse The Second World War, The Noise and the Fury, and Nazi Hunters.

Nazi Collaborators is a 657 minute, 4 disc box-set available on DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Cartoon Network Holiday Collection

Cartoon

Ugh… it’s that time of year again. I wish I could love Christmas like John Waters does but for some reason I just hate the holiday season. I hate Christmas carols, I hate bands outside supermarkets, I hate the decorations and I really, really hate the fact that there’s no mail for six days. I am a total Grinch. I also have a two year old who is going to love Christmas so watching a Christmas themed DVD is a great way to start accepting that I have to get into the spirit and smile and stop being a Grinch.

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