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Hellfire Video Club: New Hollywood Revisited

We've celebrated folk-films previously and last month did a screening of a lesser-spotted folk-horror at The Cube, so no May-Day-specific recommendations this month - instead we've selected a trio of great, but unnerving films from the New Hollywood period, albeit from various continents.

Words Hellfire Video Club Published 09.05.24


Alaistair Reid, UK, 1972

This is a terrible advert for visiting Jersey. Alaistair Reid went on to the dizzy-heights of directing some Inspector Morse, but in the early 70's he made a trio of psychologically damaged British kitchen sink dramas, of which this is my fave. 

This film follows the legendary Peter Finch (he of Network "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!" fame) as he plays a ornery ad man living in a crummy seaside town in Jersey. His boozy wife disappears, a young pregnant runaway arrives (played brilliantly by "Blood on Satan's Claw"s Linda Hayden) and his life is turned upside down. Lots of highly uncomfortable scenes, a persistantly cloying drab and dreary vibe, LOTS of footage of tourists burning rubbish on the beach (?!), and a brutal denouement. Check it out if you like to feel bad.


Ken Hannam, Australia, 1977

Australian director Hannam only did a couple of films, then went on to do MOR British TV direction for the rest of his career (The Bill etc), but this film is a bit of a forgotten gem. Starting much like another fantastic 70's Ozzy flick "Wake in Fright", the film follows a teacher arriving in the middle of nowhere to begin a new job at a rural school, only to find his predecessor disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The set up is ripe for a meaty thriller - but this beautifully shot meandering film instead opts for an organically evolving human drama, set against the stunning backdrop of the Australian landscape. A film about secrets and loneliness. Possibly falls apart a bit in the last reel - but still a very enjoyable ride.


Alan Arkin, USA, 1971

This is a very eccentric entry in the New Hollywood cycle of the 1970s (a period where studios lost control of the pictures as, after a number of failing years, they looked to newer directors to pull in the younger audiences - birthing a period of fantastic experimentation and growth in the otherwise relatively tame US film industry). 

Alan Arkin directs, and cameos, in this very odd and dark comedy. Hellfire-favourite Elliott Gloud (we did a screening of a few of his films around a decade ago at The Cube) plays an emotionally-flat young man trying to navigate the exceedingly chaotic streets of urban America. He starts a relationship with a domineering woman and ends up barricaded in her parents home. Full of character actors giving 110% performances, and a worldview that is a blend of hilarious and disturbing - at times playing totally for broad laffs, at other times a frothingly angry film...this oddball gem is totally singular. But just happy to watch anything with Elliott Gould in...

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