Thursday, June 02, 2005
Paul Morrissey on DVD
With his work often over shadowed by his association with Warhol, it's a pleasure to see the volume of worldwide DVD releases of Paul Morrissey's films. With the wider availability of his movies maybe now he will be respected as the independent and innovative filmmaker he truely deserves.
The director approved French four disc box set of Morrissey's La Trilogie puts the individual US discs of Trash, Flesh and Heat to shame. Each film is given a new transfer and Morrissey provides commentary on a selection of little seen deleted scenes and out-takes. Three rarely screened Morrissey shorts, All aboard the Dreamland Choo Choo, Like Sleep and The Origin of Captain America round off the main features but it is the fourth disc that provides the most interesting extras. Each of the films is given a short making of featurette and Morrissey's career is profiled in series of revelatory interviews. Various aspects of Warhol's infamous Factory are discussed, from fashion to The Velvet Underground, a wild array of footage has been sourced by the filmmaker and the disc makers Carlotta. The disc also features Morrissey's About Face, excerpts from the Jonas Mekas documentary Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol and remarkable footage of The Velvet Underground performing in Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Raro Video in Italy have now produced their own box set of the three films along with a double bill featuring the first ever DVD release of The Velvet Underground and Nico and Vinyl.
The Chelsea Girls has also been released in Italy by Rarovideo in a glorious two platter set. The packaging features a deluxe 66 page booklet featuring essays in both Italian and English by Silvia Baraldini and Mario Zonta. The feature looks glorious using widescreen split screen methods to depict its original twin projection method. The main extra is the complete documentary by Jonas Mekas only exerted in the French box set. A delightful additional interview with Mekas by Morrissey is a sweet reminiscence of a long gone age. It's a must for every Warhol aficionado or independent film scholar alike.
Morrissey's Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein have been released in a double disc set by Germany's Marketing Film. The prints and extras match those of the now deleted Criterion discs at a much cheaper price. There are however additional promotional materials and a fine gallery of foreign video releases included. Bizarrely the discs also include the running commentary by Morrissey and star Udo Kier that was originally used on their laser disc release of the films.
The UK is the next port of call with the release by CDA Entertainment of his much-maligned spoof on British comedy in The Hound of the Baskervilles. This bizarre combination of Carry on slapstick, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore's own surreal comedy and Morrissey's New York cool never quite works but the disc provides both the UK and US cuts of the movie to help us better understand what the director was trying to do. The widescreen print looks good and Morrissey is interviewed about his take on the great British literary sleuth. A trailer completes the extras.
Morrissey's low budget foray into the seedy side of New York prostitution, Madame Wang's is being given its worldwide DVD debut in Australia by Force Video. Part of a release of seven of the director's films by the company, all bare bones releases; a seven disc box set including a bonus disc of supplemental extras has also been released.
It will be interesting to see in which part of the globe will release the rest of Morrissey's catalogue as many of his later film's barely made it to video. Beethoven's Nephew, Forty Deuce and Mixed Blood aren't too far away.