The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection
Curtis Harrington had one of the oddest careers in Hollywood history, beginning as an avant-garde filmmaker in the 1940s and 1950s, then migrating to low-budget thrillers in the 1960s and 1970s, then becoming a go-to director for trashy TV series like Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty.

But a little treasure trove of Curtis Harrington's dreamlike, lush, sexually ambiguous, and death-obsessed short films remains, the newly restored versions of which have now been carefully compiled for this new Blu-ray release, and they are a revelation. In the five shorts that he made between 1946 and 1955, Harrington, using more imagination and inspiration than material resources, used the magical medium of cinema to inscribe his wordless visions of the ineffable exaltations and horrors of sex and death, longing, and perpetually mutable identity onto celluloid in a way more famously associated with Luis Bunuel or David Lynch; in some ways, in the chronological aesthetic lineage of cinema, he's the long-missing link between the two.

BD25 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC | 124 minutes | 21.8 Gb + 7.49 Gb
Language: English
Subtitles: none
Genre: Experimental, Drama, Short, Horror, Documentary

Fragment of Seeking (1946)
Harrington plays a young man desperately seeking out the fleeting image of a female companion, and though he never quite catches her, he discovers much more through the surreal explorations of his own sexuality. Made a year before Kenneth Anger's Fireworks, the films contain some similarities in their treatment of homoerotic themes, though Fragment is more restrained and subtle.

Picnic (1948)
Beginning in the reality of American middle-class life, Picnic portrays the idealistic dream-quest of the protagonist, from which he is finally cast off. Harrington himself described the film thus: 'A satirical comment on middle-class life frames a dream-like continuity in which the protagonist pursues an illusory object of desire.'

On the Edge (1949)
In this fragile, yet frightening poetic fantasy, set against a dark industrial landscape, Harrington casts his own mother and father in the lead roles.

The Assignation (1953)
Long considered lost, this was Harrington s first color film. It was shot in Venice, Italy, and not unlike Fragment of Seeking, follows a masked figure through the labyrinthine canals of the city, building to a spectacular climax.

The Wormwood Star (1955)
A film study of the artwork of famed painter, occultist and Alistair Crowley-enthusiast Majorie Cameron. Cameron went on to star in Harrington s feature-length Night Tide. It is by far one of his most visually arresting works.

Usher (2002)
Harrington s final film before he died in 2007, Usher is a remake of a short he made in high school based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story The Fall of the House of Usher. He once again expresses his interest in the occult by casting known members of the Church of Satan, Nikolas and Zeena Schreck.

The Four Elements (1966), a film made by Harrington in the propagandistic service of the U.S. Information Agency. Surveying America's dams, coal mines, and impressive power grid and technological/manufacturing capabilities, and portentously narrated by Neil Jardine, its purpose was to show people in other countries that, in the Cold War era, U.S. mastery of "the four elements" (fire, water, air, and earth) was superior.

The Fall of the House of Usher, Harrington's 1942 version of the same Edgar Allen Poe story on which he would base his final short, Usher. This 10-minute adaptation, homemade by a precocious 14-year-old Harrington on 8 mm, is much cruder yet much more inventive and beautiful than his relatively large production of 2002 -- a silent, atmospheric, eerie little work, obviously made on a shoestring, that reinforces that old truism about necessity being the mother of invention.

Two extended recent interviews with Curtis Harrington -- one, running about 20 minutes, from 2005, excerpted and re-cut by documentarians Tyler Hubby and Jeffrey Schwarz from interviews shot for their 2009 film on the late filmmaker, House of Harrington; and the other, a 45-minute session shot for the archives of the Getty Research Institute in 2003, in which Harrington (an inveterate but never arrogant name-dropper) recounts his life and artistic experiences in some detail, dispelling, for example, the romantic idea that he and acquaintances/fellow avant-gardeists Kenneth Anger and Gregory Markopoulos were ever collaborators in any true or meaningful way.

Download The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection: Fragment of Seeking (1946), Picnic (1948), On the Edge (1949), The Assignation (1953), The Wormwood Star (1956), Usher (2002), The Four Elements (1966), The Fall of the House of Usher (1942) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Flicker Alley: