We’re reliably informed that it’s been a bit of a “different” year out there, possibly even a “difficult” one, but in the time-warped basement of Oak Mansion, the previous 12 months have played out pretty much like any other… well, kind of. The House Of Freudstein opened for business five years ago (after I was nagged into it by Irene Miracle… about whom more shortly ) pretty much laser focused on European (and mostly Italian) Horror, Thriller and Exploitation Cinema. Such films will always constitute our thematic bread and butter and this year we opened our account with a review of Dario Argento’s autobiography and closed it via an exclusive interview with Ovidio Assonitis. However, during 2020 economic conditions came to determine all others (just like Karl Marx told you they would) and much of our piping about Pasta Paura has been played out elsewhere, for people who actually pay to hear the tune (THOF has generated precisely Zip in monetary terms for the last half decade). Consequently there have been fewer postings this year (though reader traffic remains reassuringly heavy) but we’ve covered a wider range of Cinema (and that can hardly a bad thing) than ever before, from Hollywood classics to American and international indie, European trash and Arthouse flicks, Hammer, Ozploitation, lashing of lovely Film Noir… we like to get around and we hope you’ll stay well and stay with us through 2021 and beyond.
Which discs most tickled our fancy in 2020? Arrow finally gave John Landis’s miraculous An American Werewolf In London the BD edition it’s been crying out for… yeah, I know it was released at the tail end of 2019 but I wasn’t allowed to unwrap mine until Christmas, anyway it set the tone for a Jenny Agutter saturated (Walkabout, Equus) year (my favourite kind). Arrow’s Gamera box was an impressive undertaking, reviewed elsewhere than on this site for the above-mentioned reasons, as were Severin’s magnificent Lenzi / Baker set, that mind-blowing Al Adamson box and their much anticipated release of Fulci For Fake, Simone Scafidi’s idiosyncratic portrait of the great man. Second Sight’s blockbusting Dawn Of The Dead also received our fulsome plaudits in another forum but The BFI and Indicator kept us busy with a succession of nifty releases (special mention for the latter’s Fu Manchu Cycle, 1965-69) and Shameless continued to upgrade their catalogue from DVD to BD.
So, which postings were people particularly pondering during the last 12 months of Covid-induced ennui? For the fifth straight year, our two most frequently visited offerings were our interviews with David Warbeck and Irene Miracle (our inaugural posting back in 2016) but this time (and you might want to hang on to something sturdy), Irene finally knocked David into runners up spot, in both annual and all time terms. She wasn’t bullshitting me when she predicted that her internet fans would be all over any cyber rendering of our encounter. Thanks, Pal! Me Me Lay was finally pushed off the bronze podium (ultimately placing fourth) by Barbara Bouchet’s dramatic re-entry into the Top 10. Her fellow Barbara, La Steele was also back, in 8th position. With Argento’s autobiography the only virgin new entry at #10, reviews of Pupi Avati’s House With Laughing Windows and Severin’s ace All The Colors Of Darkness / Giallo set plus my account of breakfast with Joe D’Amato descended into the teen ranks, for the time being. Lunch with Lucio Fulci remained on the chart, though dropping to 9th place. Françoise Pascal rose two places to number 5, Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive slipped one to 6th and Howling 2, despite the ongoing appeal of Sybil Danning’s bodice ripping giffy antics, descended three places to #7.
In the All Time listings, as previously mentioned, Irene Miracle again swapped places with David Warbeck but Me Me Lay dug in at number 3. Apart from a resurgent Barbara Bouchet supplanting Umberto Lenzi (her lunch mate in Manchester, last time I saw either of them) the remainder of the All Time Ten constitutes the same postings as this time last year, with a few ups and downs. 4th place went to Howling 2 (up one), 5th to Lunch With Lucio (up one), 6th to the TLE restoration of Suspiria (down 2), 7th to Barbara Bouchet (re-entry) 8th was Eaten Alive (up 2), 9th Breakfast With Joe (down 2) and 10th, our Spaghetti Exorcist survey (down 2).
The best is yet to come so mask up, get your shots and see you soon.