Microcinema International DVD has acquired six films from that bizarre and elusive British cult director Alex Cox, some of which have never before been available in the United States. First up is Straight to Hell Returns, which is a kind of remix of Cox's Straight to Hell (1987), "featuring enhanced violence and cruelty, and additional shots by cinematographer Tom Richmond." Straight to Hell was an attempt at a cult comedy Western, about a bunch of killers hiding out in a weird town, starring Joe Strummer, Courtney Love, Dennis Hopper, Elvis Costello,Sy Richardson, Shane McGowan, Dick Rude, Jim Jarmusch, and Grace Jones. It never really caught on, but perhaps it will now.
Next is Searchers 2.0 (2007), another comedy with Western overtones. Two former child actors, and veterans of many movie Westerns, take a road trip to get revenge on a sadistic screenwriter who tormented them on an early film. Roger Corman produced. Cox produced the Spanish-language Highway Patrolman (1991) in Mexico, and many critics agree that it's one of his best movies. It received a tiny theatrical release in 1994 and practically disappeared. Roberto Sosa stars as a young highway patrolman who discovers that the job isn't nearly as exciting as he thought. None of these three titles has ever been available on DVD in the United States.
The other three films are Death and the Compass (1992), Three Businessmen (1998) and Revengers Tragedy (2002). The first two were previously released on DVD through Anchor Bay, and the latter was released through Fantoma Films. Revengers Tragedy is an extraordinary film, starring Christopher Eccleston, Eddie Izzard, Derek Jacobi. It's set in the future, but is based on a 17th century play by Thomas Middleton that, according to the director, "was said by some to be the vilest piece of work in the English language, the product of a diseased mind."
Born in 1954, Cox is best known for his first two features, Repo Man (1984) and Sid & Nancy (1986), both of which pointed to a promising career as a cult director. But Cox's subsequent films suffered from production troubles or poor distribution, or were simply misunderstood. In 2008, the Criterion Collection released Cox's Walker (1988) on DVD, bringing new attention to a film that had been considered a masterpiece in Europe. Hopefully these new releases will continue to shed some light on this quirky and overlooked filmmaker. (Meanwhile, Cox is one of the world's leading experts on Spaghetti Westerns, and has published a book on the subject.)
Established in 1996 in San Francisco, Microcinema has distributed all kinds of outside-the-mainstream fare, including films by Luis Bunuel, Chris Marker, Hal Hartley, Bill Plympton, Craig Baldwin, and Maya Deren.