September 18, 2018

The Original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is Coming 10/16

https://olivefilms.com/product/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-olive-signature-blu-ray/
ON BLU-RAY FROM OLIVE SIGNATURE
Limited to 5,000 units.

“They’re already here! You’re next!” With these chilling words, Invasion of the Body Snatchers sounded a clarion call to the dangers of conformity, paranoia, and mass hysteria at the heart of 1950s American life. Considered one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, Invasion of the Body Snatchers stars Kevin McCarthy (Academy Award® nominee, Best Supporting Actor, Death of A Salesman – 1952) as Miles Bennell, a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming increasingly overwrought, accusing their loved ones of being emotionless imposters. They’re right! Plant-like aliens have invaded Earth, taking possession of humans as they sleep and replicating them in giant seed pods. Convinced that a catastrophic epidemic is imminent, Bennell, in a terrifying race for his life, must warn the world of this deadly invasion of the pod people before it’s too late.

OLIVE SIGNATURE FEATURES
  • New High-Definition digital restoration
  • Audio Commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith
  • Audio Commentary by actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, and filmmaker Joe Dante
  • “The Stranger in Your Lover’s Eyes” – A two-part visual essay with actor and son of director Don Siegel, Kristoffer Tabori, reading from his father’s book A Siegel Film
  • “The Fear is Real” – Filmmakers Larry Cohen and Joe Dante on the film’s cultural significance
  • “I No Longer Belong: The Rise and Fall of Walter Wanger” – Film scholar and author Matthew Bernstein discusses the life and career of the film’s producer
  • “Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited” – An appreciation of the film featuring actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, along with comments from film directors and fans, John Landis, Mick Garris, and Stuart Gordon
  • “The Fear and the Fiction: The Body Snatchers Phenomenon” – Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, along with film directors John Landis, Mick Garris and Stuart Gordon, discuss the making of the film, its place in history, and its meaning
  • 1985 archival interview with Kevin McCarthy hosted by Tom Hatten
  • “Return to Santa Mira” – An exploration of the film’s locations
  • “What’s In a Name?” – On the film’s title
  • Gallery of rare documents detailing aspects of the film’s production including the never-produced opening narration to have been read by Orson Welles
  • Essay by author and film programmer Kier-La Janisse
  • Original theatrical trailer

September 17, 2018

The Real DEEP RED (PROFONDO ROSSO)

Starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavla, Macha Meril, Clara Calamai, Eros Padni, Giuliana Calandra, Glauco Mauri. Directed by Dario Argento. (1975/127 min).

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Revisiting Deep Red for the first time in...Jesus, 30 years...I've come to the realization that Suspiria may not be Dario Argento's best film after all.

I didn't always think that way. When first I brought it home from my local Mom & Pop video store, I thought it totally sucked...bad dubbing, choppy editing and little of the stylized bloodshed that made Suspiria such weird-ass fun. It played more like a Lucio Fulci film and I considered rage-quitting every ten minutes or so.

Though I didn't know it at the time, what I saw was the truncated, full-screen, English version on VHS, with over twenty minutes shaved from its original length. It meant, of course, that I hadn't really seen Deep Red at all.

This new Blu-ray from Arrow presents Profondo Rosso the way it should be seen, in glorious widescreen with a 4K restoration and the original Italian audio track. For me, watching it was revelatory. This might be the most visually interesting and aesthetically gorgeous horror movie I've ever seen. Even the masterful murder sequences achieve a level of artistry - and savage beauty - Argento only hinted at in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

A Christmas Story II: Ralphie's Revenge.
One time I purchased a compilation CD by Goblin (the band who scored several Argento films), mainly because it contained the hypnotic title tracks from Dawn of the Dead and Suspiria. Heard out of context, most of the other music sounded like discarded ELP outtakes. But this disc's audio renders the Profondo Rosso tracks absolutely chilling, the perfect soundtrack for murder. And if the ominous title tune doesn't raise a few goosebumps during the opening credits, you're obviously not in the mood for a horror film right now.

And who knew the movie was actually funny? Besides some of the violence, much of what was cut from the English release were scenes of the relationship between the two main characters, pianist Marc Daly (David Hemmings) and reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), as they try to find out who's behind a series of brutal murders. Their interplay is often humorous and charming, offering a nice contrast to the more intense sequences. In fact, it's this attention to character detail that renders the film more narratively compelling than Suspiria or Inferno.

But Profondo Russo is still primarily a masterful exercise in style over substance (or logic). It remains the quintessential Giallo film, which justifiably established Dario Argento as one of horror's great visual geniuses. Though it's been released on Blu-ray before, this one boasts one great new bonus feature (outlined below) fans will want to check out. And if Profondo Russo is new to you - or you were perhaps once duped into renting Deep Red - you just gotta see this.

EXTRA KIBBLES
NEW: "PROFONDO GIALLO" - This is a lengthy, informative and interesting "video essay" by Michael Mackenzie. The best of the bonus features.
INTRODUCTION BY CLAUDIO SIMONETTI
"ROSSO RECOLLECTIONS" - Interview with Director Dario Argento.
"THE LADY IN RED" - Interview with Daria Nicoldi.
"MUSIC TO MURDER FOR" - Interview with Goblin's Claudio Simonetti.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Thomas Rostock.
ENGLISH AUDIO OPTION
ORIGINAL ITALIAN TRAILER
REVERSIBLE COVER ART
KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEE-OW! LIKE TAUNTING A MOUSE TO DEATH

SOLO Bonus Clip

SOLO - A STAR WARS STORY Coming to 4K, Blu-Ray & DVD 9/25. Now available on digital. 

DIGITAL AND BLU-RAY BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):
           Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable
Sit down with director Ron Howard and the stars for an intimate and entertaining discussion of the film’s making.   
·            Team Chewie
See what it takes to bring your favorite Wookiee to life in this lighthearted look behind the scenes. 
·            Kasdan on Kasdan
Iconic Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and son Jonathan share what it was like to write the movie’s script together. 
·            Remaking the Millennium Falcon
Track the transformation of the most famous ship in the galaxy, from Lando’s swank and impeccable pride and joy to Han’s stripped-down hot-rod freighter with “special modifications.” 
·            Escape from Corellia
Get behind the wheel for the making of this high-octane chase through the streets of Corellia. 
           The Train Heist
Explore the challenges and thrills of creating this action-packed sequence, including its remote location and spectacular effects. 
·            Becoming a Droid: L3-37
Meet the newest droid—and the talented actor who helps bring her to life. 
           Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso
Take an in-depth tour of the rough-and-tumble bar where strangers mix and gamblers risk all in the legendary card game, Sabaac. 
           Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run
Join Han and Chewie at the controls of the Millennium Falcon to see how this legendary moment in Star Wars history unfolds. 

September 16, 2018

There's Fun Inside THE TOYBOX

Starring Mischa Barton, Denise Richards, Jeff Denton, Brian Nagel, Greg Violand, Malika Michelle, David Greathouse. Directed by Tom Nagel. (2018/95 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM 
SKYLINE ENTERTAINMENT

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

More often than not, the synopsis of a horror film makes it sound a lot better than it really is. Here, the opposite is true. While The Toybox is indeed about a possessed RV with a taste for blood, the film isn't nearly as stupid as it sounds. In fact, it's actually pretty good.

A perpetually bickering family feels obligated to go on a road trip with the two brothers' recently-widowed Dad, who just purchased a beat-up old motor home for the occasion. After picking up two other stranded motorists, they detour from the highway onto a dirt road, at which time the RV takes over the driving duties. It speeds miles into the open desert, killing one poor rube along the way, then abruptly stops in the middle of nowhere. Unable to restart the vehicle and too far from the highway to get help, they're trapped. One by one, people start dying in a variety of awful ways.

Unlike the vehicular villains in Christine or The Car, there's a backstory behind this RV's rampage. We learn its previous owner was notorious serial killer Robert Gunthry, who used the motor-home as a traveling torture chamber. Though he was caught and executed, Gunthry's spirit now possesses the vehicle in order to keep on killing.

Another wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Despite its inherent comic possibilities,The Toybox takes the premise more-or-less seriously, maintaining a oppressively dark tone throughout, which is punctuated by several brutal deaths. It even manages to generate a fair amount of tension and suspense, with tight direction by Tom Nagel, a claustrophobic atmosphere and characters just interesting enough that when one dies, we sort-of feel it. You couldn't accomplish that with a cheeky, self-aware attitude.

That's not to say the film doesn't have its share of goofy moments. Why is it whenever someone flees from a pursuing vehicle, they run straight ahead instead of dodging left or right? The last time I checked, a lumbering RV doesn't exactly turn on a dime. It's also gotta be said that Gunthry's eventual appearance might elicit more unintended chuckles than fear. The guy looks like a demented copy machine repairman from the 1970s and grunts like a grizzly bear, defusing some of the dread. The film might have been better off never showing him at all. And whatever became of the family dog, who simply stops showing up after awhile?

Despite all that - as well as an underwhelming resolution - The Toybox is mostly a pleasant surprise. No classic, but certainly a lot of good, violent fun. It's fast-paced, atmospheric and not nearly as stupid as the concept suggests.

EXTRA KIBBLES
AUDIO COMMENTARY
BEHIND THE SCENES FEATURETTE
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS

September 15, 2018

LOOKER: Michael the Prophet

https://www.wbshop.com/collections/warner-archive
Starring Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey, Leigh Taylor Young, Dorian Harewood, Tim Rossovich, Terry Kiser, Darryl Hickman, Terri Welles. Directed by Michael Crichton. (1981/93 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM
WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION

Review by Tiger the Terrible😺
 
For a guy who spent a good part of his career writing about the terrors of technology, the late Michael Crichton sure as hell benefited from it. His name is still most-associated with Jurassic Park, one of the most technically groundbreaking films of all time. The first film with completely convincing CGI, movies would never be the same afterwards. Ironically, Crichton himself once directed a film about CGI before anybody even knew what it was.

Of course, with Crichton at the helm, CGI is used for nefarious purposes. In 1981's Looker, Albert Finney plays Dr. Roberts, a plastic surgeon whose supermodel clients are being murdered one by one. He's a suspect at first, but that plotline essentially goes nowhere. Committed to protecting the last model still alive, Cindy (Susan Dey), Roberts discovers that Digital Matrix, a tech company owned by John Reston (James Coburn), is recreating computer-versions of these models for commercials designed to hypnotize viewers into submission, then killing the girls afterwards.

Directing his own screenplay, Crichton doesn't adequately explain why murdering the models is necessary for Reston's to achieve his agenda. In fact, it almost feels like a plot hole (though a deleted scene - included on this disc - offers a relatively simplistic explanation). Elsewhere, Looker is both conceptually intriguing and supremely silly. Though the film is obviously a product of its time, Crichton's prophetic ideas - and warnings - are probably more relevant in today's era of CG enhancement and photoshopping than they were back in 1981.

"Pew! Pew! Pew!"
On the other hand, some plot elements border on ridiculous, such as a prototype gun that uses light to disrupt the victim's perception of time. This leads to a few scenes that elicit chuckles, such as when Robert gets the crap beat out of him by Reston's henchman (NFL star Tim Rossovich, looking like he's having a good time), who uses the weapon to appear invisible. The film isn't helped by bland performances. Finney looks uncomfortable as an action hero, to say nothing of the romantic subplot between his character and Dey's. Even Coburn appears to be going through the motions.

Michael Crichton always had a knack for exploring the dark side of technology, though with the exception of the original Westworld, he did it more effectively as a novelist than a director. But while Looker is far from a forgotten classic, much of the technology that Crichton predicted has-since become reality. It's always interesting to revisit old films where the sci-fi tag may no longer apply.

EXTRA KIBBLES
INTRODUCTION BY MICHAEL CRICHTON - More like a retrospective interview with the director.
DELETED SCENE
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
IT'S NO WESTWORLD, BUT NOT BAD.

September 13, 2018

BORN RACER // New Trailer Available

On DVD and Digital October 2.

Experience the fastest motorsport on earth through the eyes of four-time champion Scott Dixon and the Chip Ganassi Racing team. Filmed with an access all areas lens, BORN RACER follows the people who are passionate about the world of auto racing and asks why some individuals feel compelled to face danger and risk their lives in order to win.

Both action-packed and highly-intimate, it features an intense blend of up close and personal filming with never-before-seen spectacular, cutting-edge racing footage to explore a sport that defines the very people who inhabit it, and pushes them to the edge in their desire for success.

MILE 22 on Digital 10/30 and Blu-ray & DVD 11/13

James Silva and his CIA unit embark on a 22-mile gauntlet under deadly circumstances in Mile 22, arriving on Digital on October 30, 2018 and on Blu-rayT Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on November 13, 2018 from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From acclaimed director  Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) Mile 22 stars an outstanding cast including led by Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon) along with Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), Iko Uwais (The Raid), Ronda Rousey (Fast & Furious 7) and John Malkovich (Red).  The film on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital comes packed with exciting bonus features including a behind-the-scenes look at stunts with actor and stunt choreographer Iko Uwais, a special featurette on the fearless female actresses and more that take audiences deeper into the adrenaline-filled story.

September 12, 2018

BARBERSHOP and BARBERSHOP 2: A Long Time Coming


BARBERSHOP
Starring Ice Cube, Sean Patrick Thomas, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Michael Ealy, Troy Garity, Keith David. Directed by Tim Story. (2002/102 min).
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS
Starring Ice Cube, Sean Patrick Thomas, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Troy Garity, Harry Lennix, Kenan Thompson, Michael Ealy, Queen Latifah. Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan. (2004/106 min).

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM
MVD MARQUEE COLLECTION

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😽

You know what's surprising? That these two films have never been released on Blu-ray until now. Even Barbershop 3 landed on Blu-ray the same year of its theatrical release. One would think think that'd have been the perfect time to truck-out the first two, as well. After all, both were big hits (critically & commercially) and remain endearing ensemble comedies.

Oh well. Better late than never, and MVD has finally released the original Barbershop and Barbershop 2 (as well as the spin-off film, Beauty Shop) on Blu-ray as part of their Marquee Collection. There aren't any new extras, but the original DVDs were pretty generous in that department - especially the first film - most of which are carried over for these discs.

Barbershop remains the best of the two films (the whole franchise, for that matter, including the short-lived Showtime series), obviously because the premise was fresh and a surprising change-of-pace for Ice Cube, who was mostly known at the time for playing hard-asses. As shop owner Calvin Palmer, he's charming, laid-back and extremely likable, though often playing the straight-man to the antics and banter of his co-stars. Still, he's the glue which holds the entire narrative together. Loosely-plotted (and say the least), Barbershop is a congenial hodge-podge of engaging characters, authentic dialogue and no-small-amount of cartoon buffoonery.

Nothing a little duct tape can't fix.
Most of the cast returns for Barbershop 2, with the welcome addition of Queen Latifah as Gina, Calvin's old girlfriend who works at the beauty shop next door. While the main story isn't quite as interesting as the original, I really enjoyed the side story where Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) looks back at his life during the tumultuous 60s. Elsewhere, the film is as loose and leisurely paced as the original, though Kenan Thompson as Calvin's clumsy cousin is kind-of irritating. Barbershop 2 ultimately suffers from the law of diminishing returns, but considering it's essentially business as usual, the movie's a worthy follow-up.

I've personally never known anyone who loved of the original that didn't enjoy the sequel. For them, picking up both titles is probably a forgone conclusion. But for those who already own them on DVD, the bonus features are the same, so the improved audio/video transfer would be the only real reason for double-dipping.

EXTRA KIBBLES

BARBERSHOP:
"THE HAIR CLUB" - A four-chapter behind-the-scenes documentary (40 minutes total).
FEATURETTE - "Barber Banter"
AUDIO COMMENTARY - With director Tim Story, producers Robert Teitel & George Tillman Jr and writer Don Scott Jr.
DELETED SCENES
BLOOPERS/OUTTAKES
MUSIC VIDEO - "Trade it All" (Fabulous featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge)
TRAILERS - For Barbershop, Barbershop 2 and Beauty Shop
PHOTO GALLERY

BARBERSHOP 2:
AUDIO COMMENTARY - With director Kevin Rodney Sullivan and producers Robert Teitel & George Tillman Jr.
CAST VIDEO COMMENTARY - With Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Harris, Troy Garity and Jazmin Lewis.
DELETED SCENES
OUTTAKES
MUSIC VIDEOS - "Not Today" (Mary J. Blige featuring Eve); "I Can't Wait" (Sleepy Brown featuring OutKast).
TRAILERS - For Barbershop, Barbershop 2 and Beauty Shop
PHOTO GALLERY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS

September 10, 2018

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME on Digital 10/16 and 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 10/30

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon), two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world.

The Spy Who Dumped Me home entertainment release includes never-before-seen deleted scenes, outtakes, and four featurettes giving insight into the making of this huge action comedy. Experience four times the resolution of full HD with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes Dolby Vision HDR, bringing entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality. When compared to a standard picture, Dolby Vision can deliver spectacular colors never before seen on a screen, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker. The release also feature Dolby Atmos audio mixed specifically for the home, to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. The Spy Who Dumped Me will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD.




Disney's ANT-MAN AND THE WASP on Digital 10/2 and Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD on 10/16

https://youtu.be/SeAgqTzp1nE
Moviegoers are still buzzing about Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” the follow-up to 2015’s “Ant-Man” and the 20th  consecutive Marvel Cinematic Universe film to debut at No. 1 opening weekend and ranked in the box office top 10 for six consecutive weeks this summer. On Oct. 2, fans can instantly watch the laugh-out-loud super hero adventure Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD, and on Movies Anywhere; and on Oct. 16, take it home on Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD™.

Exclusive extras provide an inside look at some of Marvel Comics’ most celebrated characters and the consummate, comedic actors who portray them in “Ant-Man and The Wasp.” Featurettes spotlight Paul Rudd, who returns as good-hearted thief turned hero, Scott Lang, and delivers big laughs both on set and in theaters; Evangeline Lilly, who transforms into The Wasp, the first female character to be featured in the title treatment of a Marvel Studios film; and iconic actors Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer as super couple Hank and Janet Van Dyne.  Viewers can explore more about the visual development artists and effects used to bring the characters to life and drastically alter the size of the Super Heroes and their surroundings. Additional extras include deleted scenes, bloopers, outtakes, and audio commentary by “Ant-Man” franchise director Peyton Reed.


September 9, 2018

DEAD NIGHT: A Case of Deja Boo

http://darkskyfilms.com/
Starring Brea Grant, AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton, Sophie Dalah, Elise Luthman, Joshua Hoffman. Directed by Bradford Baruh. (2017/82 min). 

AVAILABLE ON DVD FROM 
DARK SKY FILMS

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

There's really nothing in Dead Night that a dedicated horror fan hasn't seen before, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Originality is pretty damned rare in horror these days. It might even be frowned upon in certain circles; sometimes seeing how a new movie treads familiar ground can be enjoyable.

A feeling of deja vu is definitely present throughout this one, which has a family venturing to a remote cabin in the snowy woods. And of course, there's something out there. This time, that 'something' is a band of grungy, monster-clawed nasties with supernatural abilities, but also able to ram a tree limb through your skull should the need arise. The story never makes-clear exactly what they are - it's suggested they are witches - or their purpose, but I suppose it ultimately doesn't matter.

The plot is murky at-best and makes the near-fatal mistake of inserting footage of a fake true-crime documentary about the incident, so we already know who lives, who dies and who killed them before the halfway mark. All that's left is seeing how everything plays out, but few of the narrative turns will come as real surprises. Conceptually, much of it is reminiscent of The Evil Dead, though more serious in tone.

"Look, lady...we're out of parmesan. Deal with it."
Still, Dead Night is well-paced, atmospheric - making the most of its snowbound setting - and features a few impressively nasty deaths. The practical make-up and gore effects are convincing and suitably graphic, with an elaborate 'transformation' scene that's one of the visual highlights. The performances are mostly adequate, though Casey Pollack has standout moments as the family's vengeful matriarch. And of course, it's always great to see legendary scream-queen Barbara Crampton, who engages is some amusing scenery chewing as the primary villain (and looking pretty damn good for a woman pushing 60).

So while there may indeed be nothing new under the sun (or in this case, the moon), Dead Night is enjoyable enough to warrant a watch or two. You've seen it all before, but what it lacks in freshness it makes up for with technical skill and creative carnage.

EXTRA KIBBLES
DELETED SCENES
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD. LIKE CAT CHOW.

September 7, 2018

Francofest!: GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS and DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO


GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS 
Starring Analia Ivars, William Burger, Antonio Mayans, Eva Leon, Emilio Linder. Directed by Alain Payet & Jess Franco. (1986/86 min).  
DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO 
Starring Katja Bienert, Antonio Mayans, Lina Romay, Aline Mess, Albino Graziani, Oliver Mathot. Directed by Jess Franco. (1983/83 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM 
MVD CLASSICS 

Review by Tiger the Terrible🙀

While I'd heard of the late Jess Franco, I never saw any of his films until now. After enduring both Golden Temple Amazons and Diamonds of Kilimandjaro - available on Blu-ray from MVD Classics - I suppose I should give him a grudging a tip-of-the-hat. After all, here's a man who wrote & directed nearly 200 movies over 50 years without ever learning how.

Perhaps it isn't fair to assess an entire career based on two films (even Hitchcock helmed a few pooches), but Franco made these exercises in ineptitude with 30 years' experience under his belt, so it's safe to assume they're representative of his body of work. Relatively speaking, even fellow schlockmeister Herschel Gordon Lewis managed to display some technical proficiency and professionalism over time.

Franco must have fans out there, though, whom I'm assuming find his brand of audacious awfulness endearing.

What brand, you ask? Based on the evidence, I came to the following conclusions:
  • Jess Franco loves boobs...the younger the better (more on that later).
  • Jess Franco loves to zoom in on a single spot, making the audience think they're seeing something narratively significant, only to zoom back out, never to return (maybe he was just testing the lens).
  • Jess Franco movies are remarkably similar to 7th Grade essays: rushed, sloppy, sometimes incoherent and displaying absolutely no evidence of proofreading.
  • I suspect even Jess Franco was sometimes embarrassed by his efforts. Not only is he credited for Diamonds of Kilimandjaro as 'C. Plaut,' Franco worked under more pseudonyms during his career than Frank Abagnale (such as David Khunne, A.L. Mariaux, Lulu Laverne, J.P. Johnson, Frank Hollmann, Lenny Hayden, Betty Carter). In fact, Jess Franco ain't his real name, either.
  • Plot-schmot. More boobs!
You get the idea.

Golden Temple Amazons, one of 10 films he directed in 1986 alone, is the more technically proficient of the two. But again, that's a relative term. It's laughably acted and atrociously edited, with audio apparently recorded using a single distant microphone. The opening scene is uproariously gratuitous, featuring a tribe of topless Amazon women - though they look more like college co-eds - riding horses through the jungle. Franco's camera leers lovingly over each one as they jiggle and bounce to a tinny synthesizer soundtrack. This scene goes on for about five minutes!

As for the plot, Liana (Analia Ivars) and her boobs square off these evil Amazons, ruled by the evil Uruck (William Berger), looking more like a middle-aged white lawyer who must have owed Franco a favor. There's lots of nudity, stock footage, a smart monkey, some hilarious girl-on-girl combat and a supporting performance from a guy mostly remembered for the exploding eye scene in Slugs. And let's not forget Eva Leon as Uruck's most ruthless warrior, Rena, attacking her role like she's auditioning for Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. Oddly enough, though, the movie is mostly devoid of the violence and sex for which Franco's renowned.

Franco Follies.
But that movie is King Solomon's Mines compared to Diamonds of Kilimandjaro, one of 13 movies Franco belched-out in 1983. In the very first scene, a plane crashes in the jungle; it disappears over the horizon, we see a small explosion, then hear the crash, and then we still hear the sounds of the engines. Later, when a nude swimmer is being pursued by an alligator, which is then shot by two of our heroes, the audio goes silent for several minutes (save for the music). This is unintentional because characters are speaking and firing weapons the whole time. At first I thought this might have been a glitch in the disc, but then the entire three-minute scene runs again, this time with the audio restored. Franco & friends simply never bothered to go back and remove their mistake. I guess when you're making over a dozen movies in a year, there just isn't time.

But while there's plenty of unintentional humor, Diamonds of Kilimandjaro is kind-of monotonous and almost perversely voyeuristic. Star Katja Bienert (who's nearly naked throughout the entire film) was only 16 years old when she made this...and looks more like she's 14. The scene where she briefly makes-out with grimy, middle-aged Antonio Mayans is just plain creepy. Maybe some Jess Franco fans out there are willing to defend such a questionable casting choice, though I'm not sure I'd want to hear their argument.

Since both films are new to Blu-ray, I suppose those same fans will probably be delighted by these. The transfers are decent, a few amusing trailers are included and the cover art for both is suitably lurid. For everyone else, unless you plan on rehearsing for a guest appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000, steer way clear.

EXTRA KIBBLES (for both titles)
TRAILERS (for these and other MVD releases)

KITTY CONSENSUS:
WTF?

September 6, 2018

Rest in Peace, Burt Reynolds

The Original TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975) Coming to Blu-ray

4K RESTORATION OF THE TELEVISION CLASSIC IS COMING TO BLU-RAY 10/16 FROM KINO LORBER

Legendary producer/director Dan Curtis (The Night Stalker, The Night Strangler) teams up with renowned sci-fi/horror writers Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and William F. Nolan (Logan's Run) to present three tales of horrific suspense in this highly rated and critically acclaimed made-for-television anthology that also showcases the tremendous acting talent of Karen Black (Burnt Offerings, The Day of the Locust), who plays four distinct roles. In Julie, an aggressive college student seduces and ultimately blackmails his seemingly shy English professor; in Millicent and Therese, two polar-opposite sisters become increasingly hell-bent on the undoing of one another; and in Amelia, a woman falls prey to a murderous Zuni fetish doll. The strong supporting cast includes George Gaynes (Tootsie), John Karlen (Daughters of Darkness) and Gregory Harrison (TV's Trapper John, M.D.).

Special Features: Brand New 4K Restoration | NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith | NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert | Audio Commentary with Karen Black and writer William F. Nolan | "Richard Matheson: Terror Scribe" Featurette | "Three Colors Black" Featurette | Limited Edition Booklet essay by Film critic and author Simon Abrams | Newly Commissioned Art by Jacob Phillips | Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase

August 31, 2018

THE SWARM Finally Buzzes Home on Blu-ray

https://www.wbshop.com/collections/warner-archive-pre-orders/products/the-swarm-bd
ON BLU-RAY 9/25 FROM
WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION

Producer/director Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno) now unleashes an end-of-the-world thriller based on scientific fact. In Africa and South America, killer bees are a reality. Now The Swarm is on the move...into North America!There are enough stars for five movies - Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, Richard Chamberlain, Jose Ferrer, Patty Duke Astin, Lee Grant and Bradford Dillman. But the scene-stealers are the supporting cast: an estimated 22 million bees, deftly deployed to depict deadly attacks on people and places. It's a nightmare that will give you quite a buzz!

August 28, 2018

The Affable BOOK CLUB

http://www.paramount.com/
Starring Dianne Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr, Wallace Shawn. Directed by Bill Holderman. (2018/103 min).

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

I can't help but harbor some resentment toward E.L. James...or more specifically, her fans. As someone whose own two novels sold a collective 300 copies, it sickens me that they turned this hack's sleazy brand of Momporn - germinating from her self-published Twilight fan fiction - into bestsellers and three inexplicably popular movies.

When I saw the Book Club trailer, the writer in me was incredulous. Just what we needed...a movie about Fifty Shades of Grey, further legitimizing the cultural phenomenon of a writer with far more audacity than talent.

But that's just the pretentious author in me talking. The movie blogger in me is generally intrigued by any movie that can assemble a cast like this, even one that looks like a pandering, high-concept product. I could just hear the pitch for this one: "Chicks love Fifty Shades, so what if we got four respected actresses to swallow their dignity and play old ladies who are inspired by it?"

Those respected actresses are Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, playing four lifelong friends who meet once a month to discuss a novel chosen by one of them. Vivian (Fonda) selects Fifty Shades of Grey for their next book, which of course means we'll get a montage of their shocked reactions while reading it.

"Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women."
But really, other than some brief segments where Carol (Steenburgen) is inspired to spice up her marriage, Fifty Shades of Grey is simply a plot device. Book Club is mostly about the crossroads these women have reached regarding relationships. Diane (Keaton) is a widow who meets a charming airline pilot (Andy Garcia), while her two grown daughters are convinced she'll die alone if she doesn't move in with them. Sharon (Bergen) is a federal judge who still hasn't gotten over her divorce fifteen years earlier - especially since her ex is about to marry a woman half her age - and lonely enough to try online dating. Carol and Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) are happily married, but their sex life has stagnated since he retired. Vivian has always been fiercely independent, treating men as objects, until the one man she once fell in love with (Don Johnson), re-enters her life.

While there a few laugh-out-loud moments - mostly involving sex and anatomy metaphors - Book Club isn't always particularly funny. It is, however, the kind of congenial movie one watches with a consistent smile on their face, knowing damn well how everything will turn out, yet enjoying the journey anyway. Much of that is due to the cast, who are obviously having fun with their roles (though sometimes it seems like Fonda is trying too hard). There's little in the way of actual conflict, but these characters are likable and their predicaments are engaging.

No one will walk away from Book Club feeling they just viewed a masterpiece. However, it's affably enjoyable and makes the most of its considerable star power. Everyone in the cast have done better films, but their dignity remains intact because the movie isn't the snickering sex farce I feared it would be.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FEATURETTES - "It All Started with a Book"; "Casting Book Club"; "Living in the Moment"; "Location, Location, Location"; "A New Chapter"
DELETED/EXTENDED/ALTERNATE SCENES
DVD & DIGITAL COPIES
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD. LIKE CAT CHOW.

August 26, 2018

BOUND (Olive Signature Edition) and a Sad Reminder

BOUND (Olive Signature Edition) and a Sad Reminder
Starring Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Peter Spellos, Richard C. Sarafian, Susie Bright. Directed by The Wachowskis. (1996/108 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM 
OLIVE FILMS

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Once upon a time, Lana & Lily Wachowski were simply great storytellers...

Like most people, my introduction to the directing duo was The Matrix. Not only was it visually groundbreaking for the time, the story itself was full of thought-provoking ideas that were conceptually intriguing. For me, the Wachowskis represented the new sci-fi vanguard and The Matrix was a harbinger of greater things to come.

But, alas, greater things never came. Beginning with Matrix sequels, subsequent Wachowski films grew bigger and more bombastic, their narratives taking a backseat to special effects and disorienting action. Interestingly, I found a Blu-ray of their last film, Jupiter Ascending, for only three bucks at Big Lots on the same day the Olive Signature Edition of their very first film, Bound, arrived in the mail for review. Watching them back-to-back was a depressing reminder of how much the Wachowskis have succumbed to their own ambitions over time.

Superficially, Bound is unlike anything in else in their filmography. In 1996, you'd have to be a psychic to connect the dots between this film and their next (The Matrix). Not only does it provide a stylish spin on a completely different genre, Bound is relatively small compared to the Wachowskis' later epics, driven by a fiendishly-clever story and vivid characters. With 20/20 hindsight, though, one can notice many of the creative stylistic touches that would serve the Wachowskis well in later films.

"This is decaf?"
In typical neo-noir fashion, Bound has a pair of lovers hatching a risky plot to abscond with ill-gotten money from a dangerous antagonist. The twist, however, is that the protagonists are both women. Corky (Gina Gershon) is an ex-con making ends meet by painting and repairing an apartment. Violet (Jennifer Tilly) lives next door with mid-level gangster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Not only does Violet want out of the mob life, she's attracted to Corky. The feeling turns out to be mutual, and not long after consummating their relationship, the two come up with an intricate plan to steal a suitcase full of mob money, scheduled to be picked up by Caesar's boss.

Corky and Violet share some gum.
That Bound has lesbian protagonists is not a gratuitous gimmick. The sex scenes are highly erotic without being overtly explicit. But more importantly, Violet and Corky are as dynamic and complex as Ned and Matty in Body Heat, only more likable. They're dropped into a story that is clever, violent, suspenseful and sometimes very funny, peopled by amusing secondary characters. Pantoliano is terrific in an increasingly maniac performance, while unknown-at-the-time Christopher Meloni is a real hoot as sadistic thug Johnnie Marzzone.

Ultimately, Bound is an exceptional directorial debut and arguably the Wachowskis' second-best film. Bereft of the bells and whistles they'd later come to depend on, it tells a compelling story with little more than a smart screenplay, a bit of dazzling camerawork and a perfect cast. Watching Jupiter Ascending immediately afterwards was another sad reminder that maybe these two directors would be better off without bottomless budgets and visual fireworks.

EXTRA KIBBLES
UNRATED VERSION OF THE FILM
NEW FEATURETTES - "The Difference Between You and Me" (a twenty minute featurette about neo-noir as it relates to Bound).
FEATURETTES (from the 2014 UK Blu-ray release) - "Modern Noir: The Sights and Sounds of Bound"
NEW INTERVIEW - "Part and Parcel" (with title designer Patti Podesta).
INTERVIEWS (from the 2014 UK Blu-ray release) - "Femme Fatales" (Gina Gershon & Jennifer Tilly); "Here's Johnny!" (Christopher Meloni). Though listed on the cover, an interview with Joe Pantoliano is not included.
AUDIO COMMENTARY (from the 2014 UK Blu-ray release) - With the Wachowskis, editor Zach Staenberg, sex consultant Susie Bright, Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Pantoliano.
ESSAY: "WE KNOW HOW THIS ENDS" - Booklet and video text versions, written by Guinevere Turner.
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEE-OW! LIKE TAUNTING A MOUSE TO DEATH