April 3, 2020

THE POOP SCOOP: Columbia Classics 4k Ultra HD Collection Debuts on 4K June 16


Exclusively Available on 4K Disc in this Limited-Edition Set,
Includes an 80-Page Hardbound Book on the History & Impact of the Films
and Over 30 Hours of New and Archival Special Features

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is proud to debut six of the most acclaimed and beloved films from its library on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time ever, exclusively within the COLUMBIA CLASSICS 4K ULTRA HD COLLECTION, available June 16. This must-own set includes iconic favorites that span the studio’s history: MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, GANDHI, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and JERRY MAGUIRE. Each film is fully restored in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range.

In addition, the set also includes an exclusive disc featuring excerpts from Columbia Pictures’ televised 50th anniversary special, which originally aired in 1975 and has never been officially available.  These excerpts feature rare on-camera insights from such luminaries as Frank Capra, Phil Silvers and Orson Welles. This exclusive disc also includes the vintage behind-the-scenes documentary “Mr. Attenborough and Mr. Gandhi,” which was filmed on the set of GANDHI and features interviews with cast and crew.

Blu-ray Giveaway: IP MAN 4: THE FINALE

FREE KITTENS MOVIE GUIDE is giving away a Blu-ray copy of IP MAN 4: THE FINALE, courtesy of WELL GO USA.
Available on 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 4/21
Donnie Yen reprises his role as the legendary Wing Chun master in the grand finale of the revolutionary martial arts series. Following the death of his wife, Ip Man travels to San Francisco to ease tensions between the local kung fu masters and his star student, Bruce Lee, while searching for a better future for his son. From the action visionary behind Kill Bill and The Matrix, witness the heroic sendoff to the saga that inspired a new wave of martial arts movie fans.

TO ENTER: Simply drop us a message at freekittensmovieguide@gmail.com.

April 2, 2020


Featuring Nick Mason, Philip Selway, Ade Utley, Joel Gion, Phil Barton, Megan Page, Graham Jones. Directed by Pip Piper. (43 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😽

I’m too old to be a hipster, so I guess I’m one of those old farts who still prefers vinyl to any other format. As a kid, biking to the local record store was the best way to blow some of my lawnmowing income, so it’s unexpectedly awesome that I’m once-again able to grab me a slap o’ wax each payday. Of course I’m glad records are making a comeback.

The Vinyl Revival is sort of a love song to the independent record stores that support the format, from the shops that weathered the lean years to those which have popped up since. I hesitate to call it a documentary in the purest sense. Running a scant 43 minutes, the film isn’t particularly informational and doesn’t delve much into the hows or whys.

"Sure...I like records."
Instead, it’s a series of affectionate testimonials by shop owners and some notable artists, who explain their love for vinyl over other formats, as well as their opinions why it’s being embraced by significant numbers of young music buyers (though we don’t actually hear from any of them). In other words, The Vinyl Revival mostly preaches to the converted.

And that’s okay, because their enthusiasm is infectious. It’s also sort-of reassuring that vinyl doesn’t appear to be just a nostalgic fad (at least in England, where this is shot). Short but sweet, the film is a charming look at the tiny shops that have found their niche.


THE POOP SCOOP: Official Trailer for PENINSULA, the sequel to TRAIN TO BUSAN

We can't wait for this one. TAP THE TITLE TO VIEW THE TRAILER.

March 31, 2020

SHOOTING THE MAFIA Through Letizia's Lens

Featuring Letizia Battaglia. Directed by Kim Longinotto. (94 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😽

Letizia Battaglia is a free-spirited (to say the least) photographer who began her chosen profession relatively late in life. She approached her craft as an artist, finding a niche capturing the violent activities of the Italian mob. Considering her subject of choice, it’s kind-of amazing she wasn’t whacked.

Shooting the Mafia is both a biography of Letizia and chronicle of the Sicilian mob’s far-reaching power as documented by her camera and video footage over the course of a few decades. Some of the imagery is disturbing enough to be right at home in a Faces of Death video, but undeniably fascinating. Through her lens, we also learn of a few elusive mafia kingpins’ nefarious influence on society and the government, as well as their eventual downfalls.

'Copping' a feel...get it?
Less interesting are the segments focusing on Letizia’s personal life, often dramatized by scenes from old Italian movies. Her escape from an abusive marriage and struggle to earn respect in a male-dominated field is somewhat inspiring. However, I didn’t really care what assorted ex-lovers had to say – even if most of them were colleagues - and her other pursuits aren’t nearly as compelling as the violent images she’s famous for. While Letizia’s frankness is admirable, she comes across as somewhat self-absorbed (even abandoning her own kids), which might make it difficult for some viewers to completely empathize with her.

When focusing on Letizia’s specialty, however, Shooting the Mafia has considerable visceral power, telling a story that certainly strips away the mystique and romanticism associated with mob life. But be forewarned, most of the photos and video footage – some involving innocent children – is tough to watch.



March 30, 2020

BEYOND THE DOOR: An Italian Horror History Lesson

Starring Juliet Mills, Richard Johnson, Gabriele Lavia, Nino Segurini, Barbara Fiorini, David Colin Jr. Directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis & Robert Barrett. (108 / 98 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

"Whooo aaaare yoooou…”

So began the original TV spot for Beyond the Door, which showed possessed, yellow-eyed Juliet Mills growling like a death metal singer and levitating across a room. Being 11 years old at the time, that shit freaked me out, as did the chilling artwork of the movie poster and newspaper ads. This was the only movie that ever made me afraid to turn off the lights without actually having seen it. Regardless of one’s ultimate opinion of the film itself, the ad campaign was indisputably brilliant and all that promotional material – including a replica of the original U.S. poster – is included with this disc.

I didn’t actually get to see the thing for another several years, as the bottom half of a drive-in double bill. Having already endured The Exorcist by that time, Beyond the Door’s cavalcade of green vomit, rotating heads and levitating bodies was underwhelming, sometimes unintentionally amusing. Though not even coming close to the terror of my childhood expectations, it did have the lady from Nanny and the Professor spittin’ goo, slappin’ kids and droppin’ f-bombs! And since I was now in my late teens, the lovely Ms. Mills suddenly had a MILF quality I found quite appealing.

What I didn’t know at the time was that no blockbuster has ever been made that the Italians couldn’t knock-off faster and cheaper, Beyond the Door being one of the more notorious examples. Warner Brothers famously - and successfully - sued its producers for ripping off The Exorcist. While Beyond unquestionably cops a lot of The Exorcist’s moves, whether or not it constitutes actual copyright infringement is certainly an interesting debate that makes the film well worth revisiting four decades later.

Beyond the Door’s entire tumultuous history – before, during and after – is a story unto itself, which this set explores through an abundance of supplemental material that’s as revealing as it is entertaining. As we learn through dozens of interviews, not everybody involved with the film consider it a rip-off, nor do some historians. A few of their arguments sound like bullshit, but others have genuine merit. The best bonus is a new feature-length documentary, “Italy Possessed,” which chronicles Italy’s dubious history of post-Exorcist “devil” pictures. Beyond the Door was simply one of them, but being the best-produced and most internationally successful, it got the most attention (both good and bad).

Revisiting the movie itself all these years later was a nostalgic blast, especially with Arrow Video’s nifty 2K facelift. Few have ever mistaken Beyond the Door for a great film and some of its goofier aspects remain highly amusing, such as the funky score, the recurring appearance of pea soup cans, the protagonists’ bizarre children (enhanced by daffy dubbing) and the piéce de résistance, the truly WTF moment when one poor bastard is tormented by a street musician playing a flute with his nose.

A second look also reveals some elements of the film that are genuinely impressive. Mills’ performance is actually quite good, especially in sequences where she’s required to shift back and forth between terrified and demonically-possessed. And despite lacking the budget William Friedkin was afforded, the specially effects aren’t bad. In fact, one particular scene involving Mills’ wandering eye is creepy as hell, even by today's standards. Sure, some scenes are clearly inspired by The Exorcist, but I’d argue the overall narrative pilfers Rosemary’s Baby more than anything else.

The tragic results of Pop Rocks and Pepsi.
Whether one considers Beyond the Door a terrifying treasure, crazy campfest or ridiculous rip-off, this is a beautifully-packaged set with considerable historical importance for horror buffs. It's a fascinating, in-depth look at both the film and the opportunistic Italian auteurs who briefly started a movement, therefore a must-own. 

When it arrived, the first thing I did was pop-in disc one to relive the original TV spot that once gave me nightmares. Of course, it's a bit silly and quaint now. On the other hand, when I suggested the accompanying poster would look good in the Dave Cave, my wife quickly & calmly shot-back, "No fucking way." Either she's a coward, her hubby has no sense of decor or some of Beyond the Door's imagery is still unnerving. Probably all three.

2 CUTS OF THE FILM – 1) Uncut English Export Edition (onscreen title: The Devil Within Her), running 108 minutes; 2) U.S. Theatrical Version, running 98 minutes).
"ITALY POSSESSED: A BRIEF HISTORY OF EXORCIST RIP-OFFS” - Not exactly brief, this is a feature-length documentary about the plethora of Italian “possession” films that followed in the wake of The Exorcist. Featuring footage from several films and interviews numerous directors, historians and actors, this is the most interesting of the bonus features.
"THE DEVIL AND ME” - Interview with director Ovidio G. Assonitis.
"BARRETT’S HELL” - Interview with cinematographer/co-director Roberto D’Ettorre Piazoli (aka Robert Barrett).
"BEYOND THE MUSIC” - Interview with composer Franco Micalizzi.
"THE DEVIL’S FACE” - Interview with cameraman Maurizio Maggi.
"MOTELS AND DEVILS” - Audio interview with actor Gabriele Lavia.
57 PAGE BOOKLET – Contains screen-shots and two essays.
TWO-SIDED POSTER – Featuring new and original artwork (we prefer the original).
REVERSIBLE COVER Featuring new and original artwork (ditto).
6 COLLECTIBLE POSTCARDS – Featuring replicas of international poster art and lobby cards.
"BEYOND THE DOOR: 35 YEARS LATER” - Includes interviews with the primary cast, director Ovidio G. Assonitis and co-writer Alex Rebar.
AUDIO COMMENTARIES – 1) Director Ovidio G. Assonitis and historian Nathaniel Thompson; 2) Actor Juliet Mills and filmmaker Scott Spiegel (a frequent collaborator with Sam Raimi).
SEVERAL TRAILERS AND TV SPOTS (including the one that made me pee myself as a kid).

March 28, 2020

MEEE-OW!: Classic Hollywood’s 10 Most Gorgeous Gals

Lovingly compiled by Mr. Paws 
(while howling like a Tex Avery wolf)

They don’t make ‘em like they used to...a cliché, of course, but sometimes true. With all due respect to today’s leading ladies, there’s something about Classic Hollywood’s screen sirens that are beyond compare. And since we here at Free Kittens are as shallow and superficial as the next guy, we’ve assembled our choices for the era’s most beautiful, best-built and supremely sexy stars. Other than their obvious aesthetic attributes, the only criteria is that their film careers began or peaked before 1960.

From femme fatales to pin-up princesses to scream queens, here are the luscious ladies from long ago who still make us purr.

10. Barbara Stanwyck – The quintessential femme fatale.
9. Dorothy Dandridge – Underappreciated and gone too soon. 
8. Anne Baxter – Moses was either blind or an idiot…
7. Yvonne De Carlo – ...then again, maybe not.
6. Lana Turner – The face that launched a thousand marriages.

5. Anne Francis – The real reason to visit Altair IV. Our favorite Anne until Ms. Margret came along.

4. Mara Corday – The most beautiful of the B-movie babes.

3. Sophia Loren – Well, duh.

2. Rita Hayworth – Admit it...red is now your favorite color.

1. Ava Gardner – In her prime, she was untouchable (though we’d have loved the opportunity).

March 27, 2020

THE CAPTAIN: Just Like Grandma Used to Make

Starring Zhang Hanyu, Oho Ou, Du Jiang, Yuan Quan, Zhang Tian’ai, Li Qin. Directed by Andrew Lau. (111 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

It’s probably prudent to start this review by professing my love of disaster movies. Ever since seeing the original Airport on TV as a kid, it has been my favorite genre, even though I’m well-aware a most of them aren’t exactly created to challenge the intellect or compete for the Palme d’Or. With a few exceptions, I’ve enjoyed every disaster movie ever made, good, bad and ugly. So yeah, some might be inclined to take my review of The Captain with a grain of salt. On the other hand, who better to assess the merits of a new disaster movie than a guy who’s seen them all?

Okay, not literally all, but enough to know some of the best recent ones have come from overseas, such as Norway’s The Wave, South Korea’s The Tower and the gloriously-bonkers Russian hand-wringer, The Crew. The Captain is an air disaster thriller that hails from China, and although it’s based on a true incident that occurred just a year earlier, the film is a welcome throwback to the genre’s Golden Age, the 1970s.

"Jesus, somebody open a window!"
While stoic Captain Liu Changjian (Zhang Hanyu) is the central protagonist, the film features a large ensemble of passengers and crew, providing just enough exposition about each for the viewer to be concerned about their safety (or hope they get sucked out a window). During a routine flight, Flight 8633’s windshield implodes at 30,000 feet, incapacitating the co-pilot and decompressing the entire plane. Because they are over a mountain range, they are unable to descend to a level safe enough to equalize the cabin pressure, meaning they’re forced to fly dangerously close to the snowy peaks as a severe storm is approaching. Captain Changjian must decide whether to risk trying to reach their destination or turn back.

There was once a time when disaster films weren’t driven entirely by special effects. Though the CGI in The Captain is certainly up-to-snuff, the film recalls such old-school classics as The High and the Mighty, Airport and Zero Hour, which emphasized drama and suspense over spectacle. Similarly, this one efficiently establishes the setting and players – in the air and on the ground – before presenting a simple crisis with ominous implications. As such, the film is gripping and suspenseful, as well as a bit melodramatic and corny at times. In other words, it’s the kind of good old-fashioned disaster flick that Grandma used to make.

My only complaint is the film goes on longer than it needs to, with an unnecessarily extended epilogue after everything’s been resolved. Other than that, The Captain is director Andrew Lau’s first good movie in a long time and an exciting ride for fans of the genre. Then again, I’ve always had a soft spot for these things.


March 26, 2020

THE POOP SCOOP: Ragin' Robots Edition

In the year 2050, mankind is extinct on Earth. The last survivors, five Kasuga brothers, must use a time machine to travel back to the 2018, to collect a human capable of exterminating a group of giant robots sent to Earth by an alien race called the Killgis. Filled with massive action set pieces, robot battles, time travel, and tons of other sci-fi goodies, Bravestorm will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! A cinematic remake of two 1970s Japanese TV series (“Silver Mask” and “Super Robot RedBaron”), BraveStorm is being distributed by Distribution Solutions / Alliance Entertainment and GVN Distribution.
V: THE FINAL BATTLE on Blu-ray 4/14
Is there life out there? Finally, we know. Because they are here. Alien spacecraft with humanlike passengers have come to Earth. They say they come in peace for food and water. The water they find in our reservoirs. The food they find walking about everywhere on two legs. That saga that began with V now culminates in a struggle to save the world in V: The Final Battle. Sci-fi film stalwarts Marc Singer, Robert Englund and Michael Ironside head a large cast in this tense adventure that leaps from the stunning revelation of reptilian beings concealed by human masks to the birth of the first human/alien child to the harrowing countdown to nuclear doomsday. The future begins or ends here.
ZOMBIE and MANIAC on 4K UHD Blu-ray 5/26
Blue Underground is proud to present critically acclaimed restorations of ZOMBIE and MANIAC in true 4K Ultra High Definition with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix, bursting at the seams with hours of new and archival extras. "We put a lot of time and work into restoring films like MANIAC and ZOMBIE," said William Lustig, President of Blue Underground. " We're thrilled that fans can now view them at home in true 4K Ultra HD, with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range and new Dolby Atmos audio mixes."