October 15, 2018

ELF // 15th Anniversary "Buddy’s Sing & Cheer Along Edition" on DVD and Digital 11/27

Elf: Buddy’s Sing & Cheer Along Edition will be available on DVD and brand new Elf-inspired extra content, including a bouncing elf hat singalong with Buddy and his friends and all new fun, family-friendly interactive special features.  Also included in the DVD package are the original theatrical film and previously released special features.

Fans can also own ElfBuddy’s Sing & Cheer Along Edition via purchase from digital retailers beginning November 27th as a new standalone feature, as part of iTunes Extras, or in a bundle with the original film depending on the digital retailer platform.

ElfBuddy’s Sing & Cheer Along Edition will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

THE EQUALIZER 2 on 11/13 and 4K, Blu-ray & 12/1111

Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington (Best Supporting Actor, Glory, 1989; Best Actor, Training Day, 2001) returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career when the gritty, pulse-pounding thriller THE EQUALIZER 2 hits digital November 13 and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD December 11 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Reunited with Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Washington is Robert McCall, who serves unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will his no-holds-barred vengeance go when the victim is someone he loves? THE EQUALIZER 2 also stars Pedro Pascal (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) with Bill Pullman (Independence Day) and Oscar winner Melissa Leo (Best Supporting Actress, The Fighter, 2010).

The digital & Blu-ray releases of THE EQUALIZER 2 are loaded with over an hour of action-packed bonus features, including “Retribution Mode,” deleted and extended scenes, The Equalizer 2 pop up trivia track and a behind-the-scenes featurette. “Retribution Mode,” the follow-up to The Equalizer’s “Vengeance Mode,” allows fans to watch the film with Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua as they take fans through the making of their favorite adrenaline-filled action scenes with exclusive in-depth and personal conversations.  In the featurette “Denzel as McCall: Round Two,” Denzel Washington describes his return as Robert McCall and why this continued story was so important for him to tell.

October 14, 2018

Good Vibes from BAD RONALD

Starring Scott Jacoby, Kim Hunter, Pippa Scott, Dabney Coleman, John Larch. Directed by Buzz Kulik. (1974/74 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😼

I have fond memories of the ABC Movie of the Week, which used to air on Tuesdays back in the early 1970s. This anthology series consisted of modestly-budgeted made-for-TV movies from a variety of genres. Not a lot of them were memorable, but some served as pilots for popular television shows and a few - such as Duel and Brian's Song - were as good as anything playing in theaters.

Some of the horror-based episodes, such as Trilogy of Terror and The Night Stalker, have since become cult classics among those who grew up on them. Watching these movies on a flickering, hand-me-down black & white TV was my first real introduction to horror, as it probably was for a lot of children of the 70s.

Bad Ronald is not as revered as those aforementioned titles, but like Killdozer, enough of a cult item to at-least inspire a band name. I vividly remember being disturbed by the concept: Teenage misfit Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby) accidentally kills a taunting peer. His overprotective mother (Kim Hunter) comes up with an idea to keep him in a hidden room so no one can find him, telling the police he ran away. After she dies, Ronald remains in the house, staying hidden from the new owners, a family with three daughters, one whom he begins to obsess over.

Snickers satisfies.
Revisiting it with adult eyes - I think this is the first time I've ever actually watched it in color - Bad Ronald is more quaint and campy then it was all those years ago, playing more like the type of lurid quickie William Castle used to crank out a decade earlier. Still, the story remains kind-of fun, bolstered by tight storytelling and Jacoby's wonderfully creepy performance. Whatever happened to him, anyway?

Aesthetically, Bad Ronald is pretty dated and probably lost all its power to scare audiences a long time ago. But anyone who grew up on this stuff will certainly find it an amusing trip down memory lane. And with a great Blu-ray transfer, the movie didn't look this good even during its original broadcast.



Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, T.I., Judy Greer, David Dastmalchin, Hannah John-Kamen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne, Abby Ryder Forston. Directed by Peyton Reed. (2018/118 min). 


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

When heavy metal was at the height of its popularity, most bands could be counted-on to include at least one power ballad on each album, a relatively quiet song that was seldom the best tune on the record, but got the most radio airplay and had fans whipping out their lighters during a concert.

The power ballad also served an important aesthetic purpose, offering a brief respite from the sonic fury of the rest of the album. For example, smack-dab in the middle of Metallica's Ride the Lightning is a song called "Fade to Black." While still heavier than anything Poison ever recorded, it was sort of a breather from the constant speed and intensity of the surrounding songs.

As films in the MCU grow longer, louder and increasingly epic, the Ant-Man films are sort-of like Marvel's power ballads. The second film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is more tied to the MCU story arc than the first, but steadfastly maintains the same light, breezy and humorous tone, another welcome break from the serious implications and apocalyptic battle royals where the fate of the world is at stake.

"Guys...I gotta make a stop."
Not that it skimps on spectacle. As power ballads go, Ant-Man and the Wasp is still more Metallica than Poison. But the stakes are more personal, the characters more grounded and realistically flawed. One thing I appreciate about Paul Rudd's amusing take on the title character is that he screws up as often as he succeeds, and most of the supporting characters (Evangeline Lilly as Hope/Wasp in particular) are just as integral to the plot. Most distinctively, the action & visuals are as humorous as they are eye-popping (you haven't lived until you've seen a giant Pez dispenser take-out a henchman).

Other than an ominous MCU-related coda during the end credits, Ant-Man and the Wasp, while not strictly mining for laughs, is never overly serious. It's even shorter than other recent Marvel movies, never outstaying its welcome. Like heavy metal power ballads, the film may not be among the most essential entries in the franchise, but like the first Ant-Man, it's a welcome change of pace. Even fanboys need an occasional breather.

FEATURETTES - "Back in the Ant Suit: Scott Lang"; "A Suit of Her Own: The Wasp"; "Subatomic Super Heroes: Hank & Janet" (These three feature the cast & director talk about the main characters and the actors who played them); "Quantum Perspective"
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Director Peyton Reed
OUTTAKES - The outtakes feature Stan Lee and comedian Tim Heidecker, who isn't funny

October 12, 2018

THE OFFICIAL STORY: A Devastating Dilemma

Starring Norma Aleandro, Hector Alterio, Chunchuna Villafane, Chela Ruiz, Hugo Arana, Analia Castro, Guillermo Battaglia. Directed by Luis Puenzo. (1985/115 min). 


Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀

Imagine being unable to have children of your own, so you adopt a baby. For five years, you love, spoil and protect her like any good parent would. For all intents and purposes, she's yours and you never questioned the legitimacy of the adoption. Now imagine coming upon the slow realization that the girl's birth mother may not have given her up willingly, perhaps even murdered after the child was taken away. As a mother, how far would you go to learn the truth? Would you even want to know the truth?

That's the harrowing quandary presented by The Official Story, which won the 1985 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It also won or was nominated for a slew of other awards, all listed prior to the opening titles of this restoration from Cohen Media Group.

It's 1983, near the end of Argentina's military dictatorship. The country is essentially divided between elitists who support the regime, and liberal protesters, many of whom suspect the government has tortured and murdered thousands that were deemed subversive. Alicia (Norma Aleandro) leads a seemingly idyllic life, married to government official Roberto (Hector Alterio) while teaching history at the local high school. Together, they spoil their adopted daughter, Gaby.

That begins to change when an old friend, Ana (Chunchuna Villafane), returns from exile, who horrifies Alicia with stories of being tortured because she was living with a subversive, as well as other women whose babies were taken and sold to wealthy couples. Alicia asks Roberto for details about their own adoption, but he's dismissive of her concerns. Meanwhile, some of the more rebellious students and staff at school have her questioning not only possible government atrocities, but Roberto's involvement in them. Later, while searching for birth records, she meets Sara, who reveals her own daughter was kidnapped and Gaby may very well be her granddaughter. A scene where she shows Alicia her only remaining family photos is truly heartbreaking (for Alicia and the audience).

"I can't read this...it's written in IKEA."
The Official Story is a slow-burning film that's part family drama, part social commentary, part political thriller. Raising questions that neither we nor Alicia necessarily want answers to, the film grows increasingly unnerving, culminating in a devastating final act. We find ourselves questioning what we would do in the same situation, especially since the ramifications of learning the truth are potentially life-altering. Perfect performances by Aleandro and Alterio underscore the tragic effects on their marriage as it threatens to disintegrate.

While never overtly disturbing or suspenseful in the traditional sense - the film is pretty slow-going at times - it's ultimately engaging because the viewer can't help but put themselves in Alicia's shoes. The empathy we've developed for her renders the climax and resolution particularly distressing.

Considering some current events that have caused similar societal divisions in the United States, The Official Story might be more timely than we'd like to think. Not a cheery thought, but this isn't a film intended to entertain. It's barely-disguised commentary masquerading as a personal drama. By bringing the effects of atrocity to a home that one thinks would be unscathed by it, we ultimately realize none of us are immune.

FEATURETTE - On the film's restoration process.

October 11, 2018

ZOMBIE 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Coming 11/27

Just in time for its 40th Anniversary, Blue Underground is proud to present ZOMBIE in a brand-new 4K Restoration from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative. 

In Italy, it was considered the 'unofficial sequel' to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line "WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!" 

Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by 'Maestro Of Gore' Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time.

This is a ZOMBIE release like never seen it before, bursting at the seams with hours of new and archival extras. It includes the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Fabio Frizzi (with an exclusive bonus track), a collectible booklet with a new essay by Stephen Thrower, and a ton of other killer bonus features.

October 10, 2018

THE CYCLOPS and the Notorious B.I.G.

Starring James Craig, Gloria Talbott, Tom Drake, Duncan Parkin and Lon Chaney Jr. as the Hammered Horror Has-been. Directed Bert I. Gordon. (1957/66 min).


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Bert I. Gordon may not have been what many would consider a great filmmaker, nor did he ever graduate from the type of B-movie drive-in fodder of which he was synonymous. But I'd be willing to bet the man had more fun making his movies than the typical auteur.

Gordon's heyday was during the 1950, cranking out budget-conscious sci-fi/horror flicks with concepts indicative of his initials. He directed, wrote, produced and even created a lot of his own special effects. One of his earliest efforts, The Cyclops, established a style and work ethic that he'd more-or-less adhere to throughout his career. From a visual effects standpoint, there's little to differentiate this one from his final film of behemoth beasts, 1977's Empire of the Ants.

One-too-many tanning sessions.
As no-frills fear-fests go, The Cyclops is enjoyable and amusing, often at its own expense. Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott) puts together a small group to search for her husband, Bruce, whose plane disappeared in an irradiated region of desert a few years earlier. Of course, they run into a variety of equally-irradiated critters the size of city buses. Poor Bruce is out there, too, now a disfigured, one-eyed giant running around in a loincloth.

Marty detects a road apple.
The visuals probably weren't convincing even in the 50s, but they serve what little plot there is just fine. But the best part of the film involves no special effects at all: Lon Chaney as Marty, a greedy prospector in search of uranium who basically exists to repeatedly put everyone's lives in jeopardy. At one point, his character punches their charter pilot during the flight, knocking him out and nearly causing the plane to crash. In the very next scene, everyone - including the pilot - acts as though nothing happened. Ya gotta love that.

While it's doubtful anybody would mistake The Cyclops for a good movie, one has to appreciate what the notorious Bert I. Gordon and friends were able to do with such a tiny budget while still putting-up with Chaney, who was allegedly drunk most of the time. Every mini-mogul had to start somewhere, and it was ultimately this tacky treat which led to bigger things (no pun intended), like Beginning of the End, The Amazing Colossal Man and Gordon's groovy Gortner-fest, The Food of the Gods.

This Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection is sadly lacking in bonus features, but the film itself has been given a great Blu-ray transfer.


Disney's CHRISTOPHER ROBIN on Digital and Blu-ray 11/6

This entirely new take on the Winnie the Pooh stories will transport parents back to the imaginative, carefree days of childhood and allow them to share their love of Pooh and friends with their own children. “When you are able to make people laugh and cry in the same movie and you are able to tell the story with integrity and ground it in reality and have the magic realism on top of it, it lifts your spirits and connects you with the people you love,” says director Marc Forster. “We could all use a little bit of Pooh’s heart and wisdom right now.”

Bonus features provide a heartfelt look at the making of “Christopher Robin,” showcasing the magical artistry that brings the classic characters to life, the human actors’ techniques for interacting with stuffed animals, and the filmmakers’ passion for their project. Bronte Carmichael, who plays Christopher Robin’s daughter Madeline, takes viewers on an exciting journey from the drawing board to film locations throughout the United Kingdom. Features flash back to highlight Walt Disney’s fondness for Winnie the Pooh and recall the voice actors who lovingly portrayed the unforgettable voice of the iconic character. An exclusive digital bonus feature explores the actual teddy bear, given to Christopher Robin Milne 98 years ago, which inspired the original Pooh stories that have been shared and adored by families around the globe.

October 7, 2018

RODIN: Sorry...No Flying Reptiles

Starring Vincent Lindon, Izia Higelin, Severine Caneele, Edward Akrout. Directed by Jacques Doillon. (2017/119 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

I know for a fact you can make a compelling movie about artists and their craft. Reviewing La Belle Noiseuse earlier this year showed me that. Despite being longer than The Ten Commandments, not-only did that film effectively capture one man's obsession with his muse, one couldn't help but develop an appreciation for the artistic process. Rodin isn't nearly as long, but sure feels like it, without a single flying reptile to liven things up.

Vincent Lindon is the titular character in this biographical film of the famous French sculptor. Though commissioned to create a piece based on Dante's Inferno, much of the film centers on his relationship with Camille Claudel (Izia Higelin). Not only is she an artist in her own right - though fame is not forthcoming because she's a woman - Camille is also his muse, model and lover. It's a complicated relationship because even though Rodin is obsessed with her, he can't bring himself to leave Rose (Severine Caneele), the woman he actually lives with (and mother of his son).

Auguste Rodin accidentally sculpts another ashtray.
While aesthetically interesting, Rodin is seldom very involving. The episodic nature - often with little in the way of transition - doesn't help, but Auguste Rodin himself isn't presented as someone we should really care about. He talks an awful lot about his craft and the inherent beauty of the human form (mostly to Camille). But unlike the subject of 2014's Mr. Turner, who managed to be likable despite being sort-of a pig, Rodin mostly comes across as arrogant, narcissistic and pretentious.

In the end, we don't walk away with a greater appreciation for the man's craft than we did coming in. Rodin looks wonderful, the sculptures themselves are interesting and the performances are good, but this same story was presented with more sincerity - and less pretension - in 1988's Camille Claudel.

FEATURETTE: "Sculpting Rodin"

Rest in Peace, Scott Wilson