One of the bleakest, most despairing films I’ve ever seen, Buddy Giovanazzo’s “Combat Shock” has been re-released by Troma in a generous two-disc set that includes both the edited 1986 release version and Giovanazzo’s original 1984 cut — which was not titled “American Nightmares” for nothing. Probably the best film ever made on Staten Island, it’s another reminder of how wide open and audacious the exploitation field was in the 70s and 80s.
My review (here) also contains a major blunder on my part — an erroneous assertion that Stanley Kubrick shot parts of “Fear and Desire” in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The combat sequences were in fact shot in the San Gabriel Mountains, something I should have checked out instead of relying on my doddering film buff memory (Kubrick did use Prospect Park as the setting for some of his youthful photographic experiments). Sincere apologies to all.
On a more cheerful note, our friends from the National Film Preservation Foundation have wrapped up their repatriation project with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, and they’ve posted a few of their finds on their website, where they are available as streaming video and as downloadable MPG files. There’s some lovely footage, including a one-reel western, “The Prospector,” made in 1912 by Essanay and a 1920 Mutt and Jeff cartoon in which the two characters, discovering how deeply they’re being exploited by management, go on strike against their creator, Budd Fisher (who appears in live action footage). That’s pretty audacious stuff, too, given the red scare then raging in the wake of the Russian Revolution.