Grindhouse Releasing seems to be getting on track. It's a mixed blessing. They are my favorite exploitation DVD company, but it is sad that co-founder Sage Stallone is not a part of it. Stallone died, tragically too young, in 2012.

Grindhouse has a reputation for delivering the most outrageous and horrifying movies from the exploitation era: Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, The Beyond, Pieces, A Cat in the Brain, I Drink Your Blood. Great, amazing stuff. But they are branching out into other areas.

Recently Grindhouse brought us the delirious An American Hippie in Israel. Even more recently they put out a classic Spaghetti Western, The Big Gundown. Next up is one of the finest movies of the 1960's. I'm talking about The Swimmer.

I first heard about The Swimmer sometime in the 90's. Gary Braunbeck wrote an article in, I think, The Scream Factory Magazine. It dealt with horror movies that were not considered horror movies by most people. The Swimmer was part of his piece.

Intrigued, I bought The Swimmer on VHS. And I loved it. I later bought it on DVD. That disc went out of print, and I put my copy on ebay. I made a handsome profit off of it, too.

The Swimmer stars Hollywood legend Burt Lancaster. He plays a healthy, virile suburbanite who has a rather bizarre idea one afternoon. He decides to swim across his neighborhood. From yard to yard, swimming pool to swimming pool. All the way home.

We see the area as a model suburbia. Clean houses and yards, happy, affluent people sipping martinis. But all is not as it seems. As the swimmer progresses on his journey, the facade of happy normality starts to fracture. Lancaster's facade of vibrancy fades. All is not bliss in suburbia after all.

The Swimmer is not a story in which a shock surprise hits the viewer over the head at the climax. The darkness gradually, subtly unfolds, and by the time the swimmer reaches his destination, we have a pretty good idea about what he will find. That doesn't lessen the effect at all, but rather enhances it. The dread mounts until the inevitable horror is revealed.

The Swimmer is based on a short story by John Cheever, and was adapted by Frank and Eleanor Perry. Though critically respected, The Swimmer never quite became a famous movie. This is doubtless due to the unconventional nature of the story, as its downbeat tone.

The Grindhouse DVD is coming in March, and as always they will deliver a hell of a package. A restored print, the original short story, a 12 page booklet with notes by Stuart Gordon, stills, galleries, trailers, and, best of all, a 2 1/2 hour documentary about the making of The Swimmer. Like it or not, this will be the now-standard Blu-Ray/DVD Combo.

If you have never seen The Swimmer, you need to do so when this DVD is released. And if you have, you know damned well that this is one to own.

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