280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

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MichaelB
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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#26 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jan 17, 2023 8:42 am

Nw_jahrles wrote:
Fri Jul 22, 2022 2:21 pm
So for the titles sourced from tape masters. Are they shot-on-video or are these the best available elements?
To answer this in much more detail now that the final box set physically exists, Murphy shot almost exclusively on 16mm from the late 1960s to 1999, the exception being the Super 8-shot Bloodstream (1985).

This was invariably reversal stock, for budgetary reasons, so we had access to not just the best but the only available elements - they'd been telecined for video release, but I don't think the film elements had ever been duplicated.

Unfortunately, the sole film elements of three of his better-known titles (Avalon, Death Run and Legend of a Hero) were destroyed in a fire at a storage facility - thankfully after they'd been telecined, so at least they survived in some form. With Quälen and Second Sight, we couldn't track down the 16mm originals for love nor money - there's no record of where they ended up, and all trails went cold. It also transpired that the final reel of Invitation to Hell was missing, so we had to source that from a telecine as well, although most of our presentation is 16mm-sourced 1080p. We'd also occasionally have to repair damaged footage by resorting to SD inserts (this mostly applies to the very early work on Disc One, whose 16mm materials were sometimes in very rough shape).

But, contrary to the initial announcement, the original versions of The Rite of Spring and Tristan (1999) are sourced from 16mm - it's only the re-edited DVD versions that are SD-only (of necessity, since they were assembled on SD in the first place, with new electronic titles and sometimes VFX that were easier to create digitally). Murphy also added digital VFX to the DVD version of Invitation to Hell, enhancing four shots with glowing demonic eyes, but since this is the only difference between the 16mm print and the DVD (aside from the latter's horrendous cropping and stretching to get the original 1.37:1 picture to fit a 16:9 frame, which there was no reason to preserve for posterity), we decided that the best option was to add the same glowing eyes to the 1080p master and give the viewer the upfront option to watch the film with or without them.

Murphy stopped shooting on film after the disaster that befell the initial attempt to film Skare in 2001, when a huge chunk of footage went missing in transit to the lab*. Thereafter, he either shot on SD video (Roxi, the entirely re-shot Skare, ZK3) or HD (Nekros, The Return of Alan Strange).

(*The relevant disc includes all the footage that did get processed, which turned out to be a fair bit more than Murphy's anecdotes suggested, although it's all silent because Murphy invariably post-synced his soundtracks and obviously never got to that stage. But it's very interesting to compare it with the completed 2007 version, because aside from having the same source script they're otherwise completely different - actors, locations, visual treatment, you name it.)

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#27 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jan 18, 2023 4:13 am

Mondo Digital.
Even in a world where we have massive Blu-ray box sets devoted to filmmakers like Andy Milligan, Ray Dennis Steckler, Norman J. Warren, and William Grefé, it's still a shock to see an encyclopedic collection for Michael J. Murphy. Largely focused on thrillers along with the occasional horror, fantasy, or sci- film over the course of his 30-film feature career that started in his late teens, Murphy is still quite obscure even in cult film circles with most of his work very difficult to find outside of scouring British VHS bins. In 2023, Indicator delivered the most unlikely labor of love in Blu-ray history with a sprawling ten-disc set comprising the 26 surviving Murphy films (mostly under the banner of the company he co-founded Murlyn), and a very comprehensive slate of bonus features shining a light on a fascinating and distinctive voice in homemade genre cinema.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#28 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 19, 2023 5:03 pm

Magic, Myth and Mutilated Beavers:
It is easily Indicator's most ambitious and challenging project to date and it will be the definitive for the entirety of this auteur's work - that spanned 50-years! A must own that will last the rest of your viewing days to revisit as the mood strikes. Absolutely recommended!

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exidor
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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#29 Post by exidor » Tue Jan 31, 2023 6:12 pm

This arrived at the weekend. I wasn't sure whether it would be my cup of tea but took a punt anyway when it was announced. I've already watched the first ten films over the course of three days and I think it's altered my brain chemistry. I have no inclination to watch anything else apart from the rest of this box set. I do the Leo di Caprio pointing at the screen thing when I see Tim Morris or Steven Longhurst pop up. Also I think I can smell colours.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#30 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:14 pm

Mine finally shipped, with Royal Mail, along with The Big Gundown and Santo. Can't wait, and I'm hoping it's as mind blowing an experience as advertised.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#31 Post by MichaelB » Fri Feb 03, 2023 5:05 am

Final specs:

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Disc One:

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Disc Two:

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Disc Three:

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Disc Four:

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Disc Five:

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Disc Six:

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Disc Seven:

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Disc Eight:

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Disc Nine:

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Disc Ten:

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MichaelB
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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#32 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 09, 2023 4:58 pm

An absolutely colossal CineOutsider review:
The Indicator team has done an amazing job here, and I can only imagine the amount of time and work that must have gone in to pulling everything in this extraordinary 10-disc set together. It's a brilliant release, and I absolutely love it and genuinely cannot recommend it enough. But for the sake of this utterly knackered reviewer, can you leave it just a little while before hitting us with the next one?

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Paul Moran
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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#33 Post by Paul Moran » Fri Feb 24, 2023 10:19 am

I finished watching this set two weeks ago. I'm not sure what I was expecting - perhaps something worthy but boring, to display on the shelf - but it turned out to be a very entertaining collection of films. Production values for the set were excellent, as usual, and it was clearly packed by someone who is as fanatical about proper, safe, packaging as I am. I rarely watch "extras" these days, but I did watch the 3 parts of Murphy's Lore. I agree with Murphy - the later films are better than the early ones. My positive experience with this set has persuaded me to pre-order the Mexico Macabre and Ormond Family sets. :)

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#34 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 04, 2023 11:20 pm

Cracked this set open today and am really looking forward to the deep dive. A question though: Is there a list somewhere of the films with significant missing footage vs. ones that are more-or-less comprehensive/narratively in tact? I loved Secrets, but the first two films on the first disc were a different kind of viewing experience - impossible to rate, and not exactly 'enjoyable' to consume given the significant gaps in continuity. This seems like it might be a set where one has to structure viewings according to mood; i.e. Am I game to admire something as an experimental bit of strung-together footage, or do I want to lay back, turn my brain off, and watch something more digestible and fully-realised? (To be clear, I'm not asking anyone to 'take on' the task of concocting any such list - just wondering if there already exists an archive in one of the extras or box set reviews I can reference)

It may be presumptuous, but I'm very grateful to the posters exidor and Paul Moran, who came here to express their 'pleasant surprise'-addicting experience with this set. I never would've sought it or any of the films therein out on my own, but it means a lot when people post praise in releases' dedicated threads. I've sought out many terrific releases based on word-of-mouth here, and I hope people continue to put a good word in for stuff that strikes them, whether or not it's not accompanied by a detailed writeup. I feel like I had no idea so many people were smitten with quite a few Indicator releases that were apparently unanimously beloved to place high on the alternate criterion forum awards list, so I'm catching up on a bunch of those a year too late.. thankfully not this one!

I don't have much to say about what I've seen thus far, except that Secrets surprised me with its arrhythmic narrative propulsion - sometimes I had to rewind just to make sure I caught all the activity packed into a series of edits, and other times it breathed into a slow-burn curio. Murphy's experimental style is fun - at once way more controlled and intelligent than one would expect from low-budget fare, but also willing to just go off the rails and forsake an internal logic of continuity for one of horror through the nature of breaking down expected film grammar to incite psychological deterioration. Also, the acting from both central actresses was far better than expected. They're not going to win any awards, but I was sold by their line readings just enough to see them as reflections of actual people, who aren't exactly the ultra-emotive communicators we're accustomed to getting from highly-trained professional actors. It was a refreshing change of pace, but I believed that they belonged to this world and oscillating between organic human behavior and the artificially-insane really fit the tonal shifts of the film well.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#35 Post by DeprongMori » Tue Apr 04, 2023 11:51 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Apr 04, 2023 11:20 pm
Cracked this set open today and am really looking forward to the deep dive. A question though: Is there a list somewhere of the films with significant missing footage vs. ones that are more-or-less comprehensive/narratively in tact? I loved Secrets, but the first two films on the first disc were a different kind of viewing experience - impossible to rate, and not exactly 'enjoyable' to consume given the significant gaps in continuity. This seems like it might be a set where one has to structure viewings according to mood; i.e. Am I game to admire something as an experimental bit of strung-together footage, or do I want to lay back, turn my brain off, and watch something more digestible and fully-realised? (To be clear, I'm not asking anyone to 'take on' the task of concocting any such list - just wondering if there already exists an archive in one of the extras or box set reviews I can reference)
I believe the CineOutsider review linked above does exactly what you are looking for.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#36 Post by MichaelB » Wed Apr 05, 2023 3:02 am

It’s only the first two features (Tristan & Iseult and Happy Ever After that are significantly compromised by obviously missing footage. Almost a Movie! is also clearly missing material, but in a much less damaging way, while all the other features are presented complete - the only compromises there are occasional unavoidable recourses to standard definition material in cases where the 16mm originals didn’t survive.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#37 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 05, 2023 9:13 am

Thanks! That’s good to hear, especially since I found Almost a Movie! totally coherent and enjoyable despite clearly missing footage

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#38 Post by swo17 » Thu Apr 27, 2023 10:44 pm

It is probably not that helpful to share that some of these films are better than others (unless you're expecting them all to be terrible!) I did generally appreciate the use of music throughout all of the films, while visually, there's a certain appeal to the ultra-low-budget aesthetic that evolves across decades. The grimy 2000s DV look (even stooping at times to use of Papyrus font!) is probably the ugliest, and yet I think Roxi is the film I enjoyed the most. It's one of the few films here not set in the supernatural realm, a ludicrously twisty neo-noir that reminded me perhaps a little bit of Soderbergh or De Palma.

Stupid question: This set could have been the perfect opportunity to showcase a full Indicator rainbow on the spine side, but instead it goes: red, four different shades of purple, two shades of blue, three shades of green (all the same shades shown in this post), and an orange booklet. What gives?

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#39 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Apr 28, 2023 2:47 am

It correctly shows 10 points of the 14 point pH indicator scale, in order, but going in the reverse direction to what is typical (and is continued correctly on the spine numbers of the adjacent releases).

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#40 Post by tenia » Fri Apr 28, 2023 8:52 am

EddieLarkin wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2023 2:47 am
pH indicator
I'm stupid but I never realised this until now (as a chemist by scholar cursus, I definitely should have !).

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#41 Post by swo17 » Fri Apr 28, 2023 11:20 am

Glad I asked!

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#42 Post by HitchcockLang » Sat Jun 24, 2023 9:13 pm

I just got the set (a little late to the party but excited nonetheless to discover some new outsider cinema). My copy has Scanavo cases but I've seen many reviewers mention digipaks. Is this a difference between US and UK editions or could I have gotten a bootleg?

Watched Invitation to Hell to get a sense of Murphy before diving in chronologically and it exceeded my expectations. I think this will be a lovely watch of someone who had the heart to make movies even if he lacked the budget.

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#43 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Jun 24, 2023 10:43 pm

HitchcockLang wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2023 9:13 pm
Watched Invitation to Hell to get a sense of Murphy before diving in chronologically and it exceeded my expectations.
I'm roughly halfway through the set, and Invitation to Hell has easily been my favorite so far. It's so bonkers and fast-paced that I think I watched it twice in a row to make sure I caught everything. Secrets - one of the first films - is my second favorite, and then Almost a Movie!, Quälen and probably Death Run, just cause it's so absurd. Unfortunately I haven't liked much else, but it's still a phenomenal set and I look forward to diving into the back half soon

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Re: 280-289 Magic, Myth & Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy

#44 Post by MichaelB » Thu Dec 07, 2023 5:28 am

Indicator co-founder Sam Dunn is interviewed by Musique Machine about the Michael J. Murphy box, still the most ambitious and logistically challenging project in the label's history.
Haha. Where do I start?! We faced challenges at each and every twist and turn. Delays occurred at every stage. And unforeseen surprises lurked around every corner. The unique nature of the project meant that there was really no precedent (either in our own catalogue, or indeed in anyone else’s), so, although we planned what we could, and set deadlines for delivery of the various assets and parts, the reality was that, until such time as we had those assets in-hand, and we knew exactly what we were dealing with, we really had no idea what we were actually up against (whether that’s from the perspective of image and/or sound quality, restoration problems, in/completeness, how the details in each essay and the filmographies tally with what’s onscreen, or indeed any other number of complex and inter-connecting issues). And, whilst we are obviously used to grappling with such problems on a monthly basis, and are, I’d venture to say, experts in problem-solving, the sheer scope and scale of the Murphy project made it almost impossible to plan to the degree we needed to, especially when the team was also, necessarily, attempting to manage a number of other projects at the same time.

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