Friday, 24 November 2017

Sorceress (4½ Stars)

I watched this film two months ago, but I didn't put the Blu-ray disc back in my bookcase when I'd finished with it. I left it on my table because I wanted to listen to the director's commentary. It took me two months. but I've finally got round to it. It's a highly enjoyable commentary track. Jim Wynorski is entertaining and informative, the two qualities that are essential.

I'll just point out a few details from the commentary that interested me the most. I strongly recommend that my readers buy the Blu-ray and listen to it for themselves. You won't regret it.

Jim Wynorski had a budget of $350,000 for the film. That might not sound like much, but it was a lot of money for a low-budget director like Jim. He hired Fred Olen Ray as producer, and together they stretched the money as far as it would go.

The house used in the film belonged to six real witches in Los Angeles; six lesbian witches who were happy to let their house be used. It was full of appropriate paintings and artefacts for the film, so no additional props were needed. The witches supposedly laughed at the film, they said that it was an inaccurate portrayal of witchcraft, but Jim gave them a copy of the film on VHS when it was finished. He would give them a copy of the Blu-ray today, but he's forgotten where the house was. He only knows it was number 1938, because the house number is in one of the shots. Does anyone recognise it?

All the other buildings used were offered as locations by friends and colleagues.

There were no costumes made for the film. The actors brought their own clothes from home.

The biggest expense was the hiring of a police car.

The beer that the actors drank in the film was free, on condition that the labels were showing. That's a good deal. Does anyone want to give me free beer in exchange for me publishing photos of me drinking it in my blog?

The film's success is down to the high quality actors. Here's a scene with Linda Blair and Michael Parks. He's incredible. The more often I see him, the more I understand why Quentin Tarantino called him the world's best actor. What I didn't know before listening to the director's commentary is that he was a method actor. In the film he plays a confused character, and that's how he spoke to his fellow actors between scenes. Supposedly Linda Blair was unnerved by him.

I find the film's shower scene very stylish, even though it doesn't reveal much. It was kind of the lesbian witches to let the actresses use their shower.

Have you ever seen a knife killer having so much fun? Rochelle Swanson is a fantastic actress. My screenshot captures her at the moment of ecstasy. And speaking of screenshots.....

I watched the film on my computer today, so I'd like to make a few comments about the software I used. For years I used the VLC media player to watch DVDs on my computer. It's far superior to the Windows Media Player, and it's free. Unfortunately, it isn't able to play Blu-ray discs. Last year I began to use Cyberlink Power DVD. It's a commercial player that costs about $50, but it was bundled with the new Blu-ray drive I bought for my computer, so I got it for free. It's an attractive piece of software, but it's buggy. The screenshot button doesn't work when playing Blu-ray discs. That makes the software worthless for me.

I tried a few other free programs, but they were all defective in one way or another. Evidently it's more difficult to write software for Blu-ray discs than for DVDs. The only way I could make screenshots was to rip the film in full resolution to disc, then make screenshots of the resulting MP4 with VLC. Now I finally have a solution. A few days ago I discovered a program called Media Player Classic Home Cinema, shortened to MPC-HC. It's a completely free open source program. It's a simple program, lacking the features of VLC, but it plays Blu-ray discs and it allows screenshots. That's all I need. It's the program I'll be using from now on. Click here to download the newest version.

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