Heard of BFI Player? Well, there’s also BFI Player+, a subscription service that offers an all-you-can-eat selection of hand-picked classics.
Every Friday, Mark Kermode highlights one of the collection’s titles with a video introduction. This week, it’s Countess Dracaula. Reappraising the late-period Hammer horror, Mark Kermode examines the film’s position in the history of its fabled production company and argues that the film is “often underrated”. Struggling to keep up with the new breed of horror in the 1970s, the period piece marked a move away from Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, with Kermode highlighting star Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers) as a “mesmerising screen presence” and a “force of nature”.
What else is available to stream? Every week, we bring you a round-up of the latest titles on BFI Player+:
Woman Under the Influence
John Cassavetes’ 1974 drama stars Gena Rowlands and the inimitable Peter Falk as a couple – Nick and Mabel – who struggle to cope with Mabel’s gradual emotional breakdown. It joins several other films in BFI Player+’s collection of the director’s work.
London the Modern Babylon
From immigrations to bohemians, Julien Temple’s 2012 film chronicles the story of London in the 20th century through popular music and clips from film archives.
Barney Patts-Mills directs this 1969 tale of suede-head subculture, which is acted by a non-professional cast of teenagers from east London with mostly improvised dialogue.
The Passionate Friends
When you hear the name “David Lean”, you immediately think of Brief Encounter or Great Expectations. BFI Player+’s addition of The Passionate Friends, then, is a welcome chance to catch up with one of the director’s lesser known dramas about a love triangle between Mary (Ann Todd), her wealthy husband (Claude Rains) and a man (Trevor Howard) she remembers from before getting married.
The Body Beneath
Vampires and Hampstead? Andy Milligan’s low-budget horror from 1970 sees the undead come to London, as a family of vampires takes over an estate known as Carfax Abbey. A warped mix of vamps dressing up as reverends and humpback assistants ensues.
The Gold Robbers: The Arrangement
The great Peter Vaughan stars as a detective in this seres inspired by The Great Train Robbery of 1937. BFI Player+ brings subscribers the first episode of 13, directed by Alan Clarke.
Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire
BFI Player+ continues its Alan Clarke run with a 1985 film that more than lives up to its title. Made at the height of snooker’s popularity on TV, it pits backstreet contender Billy Kid (Phil Daniels) against champion Maxwell Randall (Alun Armstrong). Whether it’s any good or not is up for debate, but this is undoubtedly the greatest vampire snooker musical in cinema history. It’s also the only vampire snooker musical in cinema history.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.