Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy, 1967–2015

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Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy, 1967–2015

Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy, 1967–2015

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screens of production stills for the films on this disc, plus some home-grown (but neat) seat reservation cards, screening tickets and posters, a reel-change intermission advice note to the audience, and clippings from Movie Maker magazine. Interesting to see the actors still shaping their characters, but I'm guessing that there will be few who watch the whole thing.

A month after Murphy's death, some of his friends and collaborators – including Phil Lyndon, Chris Porter, Mark Iain Davidson, Jude Flanagan and June Bunday – made one final trip to his home to salvage what they could from his house, loft and studio garage. The script for Invitation to Hell, laid out in the theatrical rather than standard film format and spread over 46 screens, usually with two pages per screen but with enlargements of key elements, notably Murphy's own hand-written alterations. It's a testament to how much he was loved by his regular collaborators that Holding and Bunday both have to fight back tears to talk about their friend and regular collaborator. Given that these compromises allowed Indicator to present each of the films in this set in the most complete possible form, I found this easy to live with. Murphy here talks about the origins of the project and the original version – which was scuppered when most of the footage was lost in the post – and the changes that were made for this second take on the story, and Judith Holding comments on what a joy her character was to play.The soundtrack clarity has seen better days, and here the optional subtitles really came to the rescue for this tinnitus-afflicted viewer.

On the basis of the premise and some of the dodgier acting and production values in his previous films, I have to admit to having low expectations for what is his longest film yet, but have rarely been so happy to eat my words. A loosely constructed 'making of' featurette, in which Phil Lyndon talks about his character, Judith Holding delights in the Greek island location, and a green-screen introduction from Murphy outlines a couple of things that nearly nobbled the production from the start. When he's asked questions that he has already answered in detail on previous DVD introductions, he splices extracts from in rather than repeating himself here, though he does retell a couple of stories you'll hear elsewhere in this set. But for the sake of this utterly knackered reviewer, can you leav Two alternative title and credit sequences for the film, the only real difference being the typography.Impressed by the young Murphy's talent and enthusiasm for filmmaking while he was still at school, his headmaster helped to land him a place as a trainee director at Elstree Studios, at which point Murphy was just 16 years of age. This silent 8mm short opens with a low rent but surprisingly large scale and briskly edited recreation assault on the Roman held town of Camulodunum (now Colchester) led by Boadicea, then skips back in time (at least I think it does) to show her being romanced by Prasutagus, king of the Iceni tribe, before bearing the first of her two daughters and (maybe) taking her own life by swimming out to sea (as far as I'm aware, whether she died from illness or poisoning is still a matter of conjecture). The only surviving film elements from Murphy's take on the Greek myth at the core of the 1981 Clash of the Titans, complete with a carboard Kraken that Perseus confronts with the head of Medusa.

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