A Romanian Sci-Fi Adventure

The Romanian film poster for the 1984 animated science fiction fantasy DELTA SPACE MISSION.

In recent years streaming options for entertainment – movies, TV shows, music – have increased and become more commonplace in the average U.S. household but, at the same time, physical media like Blu-rays and DVD continues to prosper among movie lovers and film collectors. Specialty distributors like Severin Films, Vinegar Syndrome and Kino Lorber are releasing new acquisitions at an astonishing rate and obscure genre films and forgotten art house fare are suddenly available on Blu-ray in presentations that look better now than they did during their original theatrical release such as The Five Days (1973, Severin), cult director Dario Argento’s rare non-horror period piece, Ulli Lommell’s witchcraft thriller The Devonsville Terror (1983, Vinegar Syndrome) and Francois Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid (1969, Kino Lorber). Deaf Crocodile, a distributor based in Los Angeles, stands apart from its competitors for restoring and releasing movies from around the world that many film buffs never even knew existed. Among their recent releases are Zerograd (1988), an absurdist Soviet satire, The Unknown Man of Shandigor (1967) by Swiss filmmaker Jean-Louis Roy and Solomon King, a lost Blaxploitation indie from 1974. The real surprise for me, however, is Misiunea Spatiala Delta (English title: Delta Space Mission), an animated science fiction fantasy from Romania that was released in 1984.  

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A Madcap Chase Across Brazil

On September 6, 2021, France lost one of their biggest cinema icons of the 20th century with the death of Jean-Paul Belmondo at age 88. The actor attained international fame in 1960 for his charismatic performance in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless as an amoral car thief on the lam. He was the epitome of bad boy cool in that film and would enhance that screen persona in other crime dramas like Claude Sautet’s Classe Tous Risques (1960) and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Doulos (1962). Then, Belmondo reached an even wider international audience with the cross-over commercial hit, That Man from Rio (1964), which was even more accessible to the average moviegoer than Breathless, especially in America.

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The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman

During the summer of 1961 a double feature aimed at children was being distributed in selected cities across the U.S.. If you saw the titles on a theatre marquee, you might think they were Walt Disney releases – Bimbo the Great and The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. But anyone who ventured inside the theatre immediately realized that these films were NOT made in Hollywood. And in the case of The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, it didn’t even look like the film was made in the 20th century!

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