October 30, 2018

PREHYSTERIA!: A Kids Movie for Thirtysomethings

Starring Austin O'Brien, Brett Cullrn, Colleen Morris, Samantha Mills, Tony Longo, Stuart Fratkin, Stephen Lee. Directed by Charles & Albert Band. (1993/83 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

At the start-up of this disc, there's a trailer with a montage of several Full Moon Features cult horror classics to promote the company's Amazon channel. Many of the clips contain violence, blood and sex. One might initially question why something like this would precede a family film, until you realize that anyone who enjoyed Prehysteria! back in the day are now in their mid-to-late 30s, and I seriously doubt any kids today would be interested in a movie like this. Full Moon knows damn well who their audience is.

Since 90s' nostalgia appears to be a thing now, those same thirtysomethings who grew up on Full Moon's economic brand of straight-to-video entertainment might hold the same reverence for Prehysteria! that my generation did for The Shaggy D.A. In retrospect, both are terrible films, but sure enjoyable when we were too young to know any better. And sometimes it's fun revisiting childhood pleasures.

This snack comes with a prize.
Full Moon Features is, of course, known for horror movies, but did produce a number of fantasy-oriented family films under the Moonbeam Entertainment banner. Of those, Prehysteria! is arguably the only one to really find an audience, who were probably more enamored with the concept than the story itself: What kid wouldn't love the idea of miniature dinosaurs scuttling around the house, especially after Jurassic Park just made them cool again?

Naturally, Prehysteria! is no Jurassic Park...or We're Back...or even Carnosaur. The dinos are cute-but-clunky, the humor is eye-rolling, the performances are pedestrian and the story nearly non-existent. Anyone reading this probably already knows that and doesn't care. For them, this Blu-ray is a silly little trip back to the good ol' days of perusing the local Blockbuster armed with indiscriminate tastes.

"VIDEOZONE" - Full Moon was including making-of features on their VHS releases before DVD was a glint in anyone's eye.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Charles Band & Austin O'Brien
TRAILERS - For numerous other Full Moon films

THE PREDATOR on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD 12/18

The universe’s greatest hunter returns in The Predator on Digital and Movies Anywhere November 27 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD December 18. Fans can also bring home a special edition Predator 4-Movie Collection, which includes Predator, Predator 2, Predators and The Predator on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

The hunt has evolved – and so has the explosive action – in the next chapter of the Predator series, from director Shane Black (Iron Man 3). Now, the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before….and only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.

The Predator Digital, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ & DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Touch of Black
  • Predator Evolution
  • The Takedown Team
  • Predator Catch-Up
  • Gallery

October 29, 2018

BELIEVER and Some Payback for the Pooch

Starring Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Joo-hyuk, Kim Sung-ryung, Park Hae-joon, Cha Seung-won. Directed by Lee Hae-young. (2018/124 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

Mr. Lee is Korea's most notorious druglord, as well as its most elusive. In fact, nobody even seems to know what he looks like, and those who have seen him don't live long enough to talk about it. As for lower-level crime bosses who pose as Lee to elevate their own status...well, they aren't too long for this world either. Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) is a detective who's been obsessed with catching Mr. Lee for years, but has never come close.

Won-ho sees another opportunity when an explosion at one of Mr. Lee's warehouses leaves a survivor, Rak (Ryu Jun-yeoi), and his dog. Rak seems less upset that his mother perished in the explosion than the wounds suffered by the dog, so he agrees to help Won-ho get inside the organization. In the film's best sequence, Won-ho poses as a buyer to meet psychotic Chinese dealer Ha-rim (Kim Joo-hyuk) in a hotel, then goes to the next floor and poses as Ha-rim to make a deal with another henchman who works for Lee. The whole segment is tension-filled and masterfully performed.

Daft Punk...the early days.
Elsewhere, Believer is content to be a your standard obsessed-cop-vs.-elusive-criminal caper, with enough narrative and stylistic flourishes to keep it engaging. Won-ho and Rak are interesting characters, but few of the others really rise above standard tropes: the dedicated team, the green rookie, the cruel henchman, the depraved kingpin (though a pair of loony chemists deserve their own movie). Storywise, the revelation of Mr. Lee's identity probably won't be a big shock to anyone who's seen The Usual Suspects, though the film does end with a memorable - and wonderfully ambiguous - resolution.

Other than the denouement, there aren't a lot of surprises and most of the big action is regulated to the final act. Still, Believer is stylishly made, the performances are good and I admit getting some perverse pleasure from a scene involving the brutal torture of one particularly hateful character. That's what he gets for maiming the dog!


October 28, 2018

NIGHTWING and SHADOW OF THE HAWK: Two for the Niche Crowd

Starring Nick Mancuso, David Warner, Kathryn Harold, Stephen Macht, Ben Piazza, Strother Martin, Charles Hallahan. Directed by Arthur Hiller. (1979/105 min). 

Starring Jan-Michael Vincent, Marilyn Hassett, Chief Dan George. Directed by George McGowan. (1976/92 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

This latest double feature from Mill Creek Entertainment resurrects two forgotten relics of the 1970s.

Well, mostly forgotten. I actually recall seeing Nightwing in theaters, back when everyone, including yours truly, was still stricken by Jaws fever and it seemed like another knock-off popped up at my local Southgate Quad every week. Some where okay, most were terrible and none came close to giving me the visceral rush of Jaws.

Nightwing gives us vampire bats that terrorize an Indian reservation in New Mexico. Stonefaced local deputy Youngman Duran (Nick Mancuso) teams up with obsessive bat hunter Dr. Payner (David Warner) and perky girlfriend Anne Dillon (Kathryn Harrold) to try and destroy the proliferating pests. Other than some livestock and a few dumb tourists, these bats don't do much actual killing and the first half is really slow going. Things eventually improve, though the special effects are laughably terrible throughout. On the plus side, Warner's campy performance is wonderfully over-the-top. Based on his manic description of these animals, you'd think they were gonna bring about the apocalypse.

Ms. Harold conveys utter terror.
While mostly bat guano, Nightwing still holds morbid historical interest for the surprising amount of genuine talent behind it. This wasn't the usual low-budget Jaws ripoff. It was directed by none-other than Arthur Hiller, known for such classics as The Americanization of Emily, Love Story and The In-Laws. Amazingly, Carlo Rambaldi, who'd already worked on Close Encounters and Alien, created the silly looking bats (which look more like angry dachshunds). Not only that, legendary composer Henry Mancini is onboard to provide the score. One can only assume these guys' paychecks included a lot of zeros.

But at least Nightwing is kind of fun, even if that fun generally comes at its own expense. Shadow of the Hawk, on the other hand, is a comparatively dull and takes its ambiguous story way too seriously. Despite a few creepy moments, it looks and plays like a TV movie-of-the-week from the era: competently made, but with little genuine style or atmosphere. Jan-Michael Vincent plays Mike, a cynical businessman whose Native American grandfather (Chief Dan George) shows up to groom him as a tribal shaman in order to battle a malevolent demon. On the way back to the village, he fights a bear to the death, is pursued by a demonic car, blows up an owl and locks lips with new friend Maureen (Marilyn Hassett).

Even bears love Jan-Michael Vincent.
Consisting mostly of individual set-pieces rather than a cohesive narrative, Shadow of the Hawk is more of a mystical road movie than a horror film. The overly serious screenplay is filled with groan-worthy dialogue, not helped by wooden performances from Vincent and Hassett (neither of whom were ever outstanding actors to begin with). Then again, what else would you expect from a director whose greatest claim to fame was Frogs? However, if you're looking to complete your Jan-Michael Vincent collection - and who isn't? - here's your chance.

Since I have fond memories of hanging out at the Southgate Quad every weekend, Nightwing was a pleasant nostalgia trip. There might even be those with a similar sentimental fondness for Shadow of the Hawk. Neither of these titles would be worth picking up individually, but as a reasonably-priced double feature with a decent video transfer, this Blu-ray is probably has a niche audience who might dig it.


October 26, 2018

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Doesn't Stick to the Script

Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Flower, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer and the voices of David Cross, Lily James, Patton Oswalt, Forest Whitaker & Rosario Dawson. Directed by Boots Riley. (2018/111 min). 


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Sorry to Bother You is full of surprises, never once unfolding like we expect it to. That alone keeps it at-least interesting, whether you end up liking the film or not (I suspect many viewers definitely won't). That it's also wickedly funny, completely original and features a charming, relatable protagonist makes it one of the best films of the year.

I know from personal experience that telemarketing is a shitty way to make a living, so I empathized with Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) almost immediately. Living in his uncle's garage and desperate for cash, he lands a job at RegalView, a telemarketing company that pretty-much hires anybody who walks in the door. And why not? Telemarketers aren't paid unless they make make sales. Despite rallying staff pep-talks by overly enthusiastic managers - "Stick to the script!" - telemarketing appears to be yet-another job he sucks at.

All that changes when co-worker Langston (Danny Glover) shows him how to use his "white voice." In almost no time, he's the star of the office and promoted to be one of the company's Power Callers, who make huge deals with mega-corporations. I knew guys like this during my brief tenure as a telemarketer. They were usually the most overbearing assholes in the room. Cassius' sudden success soon alienates those close to him, including co-workers Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) and Squeeze (Steven Yeun), who lead a strike against RegalView over unlivable wages.

Meanwhile, people everywhere are protesting WorryFree, a corporation that provides slave labor - working for basic necessities, but no wages - to other companies. When Cassius crosses the RegalView picket line, he becomes a national punchline when struck by a soda can. Still, he's aggressively courted by obnoxious WorryFree founder Steve Lift to come work for him. It's when Cassius learns how Lift wants to use him that Sorry to Bother You takes one of the most unexpected narrative turns I've ever seen, resulting in a final act that's completely bonkers...in the best way possible.

Some people just can't get the hang of gravity.
Not that the film wasn't already a little strange up to that point. Taking place in what can be described as an alternate universe, Sorry to Bother You presents a slightly dystopian society where laborers are commodities who are easily placated by mundane rewards and idiotic entertainment. The film itself is quirky and occasionally surreal, with a sense of humor that sometimes reminded me of  Idiocracy filtered through Wes Anderson. Along the way, writer/director Boots Riley aims satiric daggers at a variety of targets. And most of the time, he hits bullseyes.

But all the self-assured cleverness in the world would mean nothing without engaging characters. As Cassius, Lakeith Stanfield is note-perfect, displaying a vulnerable likability, perplexed by his circumstances while simultaneously going with the flow...for awhile, anyway. Tessa Thompson is also effective as Detroit, his activist girlfriend who serves as his moral compass. Most of the secondary characters and antagonists are painted in broader strokes, but amusing nevertheless (Armie Hammer is an absolute riot). Certain characters' "white voices" are hilariously rendered by a variety of well-known actors and comedians.

Despite RegalView's company mantra, Sorry to Bother You definitely does not "stick to the script." The result is a unique, offbeat satire that's destined to polarize audiences for years to come. Those not on-board with its concept and ideas will want to get off this train before the first Equisapien even shows up. Everyone else will want to revisit the film again and again. This is an outstanding great directorial debut and I look forward to Boots Riley's next.

FEATURETTE: "Beautiful Clutter" - Writer/director Boots Riley talks extensively about his first film venture. Interesting stuff.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Writer/director Boots Riley

October 23, 2018

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN: Truth in Advertising...Sort Of

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Dominic Cooper, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Omid Djalili, Cher, Meryl Streep. Directed by Ol Parker. (2018/114 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Movies like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are sort of difficult to assess. On one hand, it's a strong contender for one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time. On the other, it is hard to imagine big fans of the original - or ABBA's music in general - not enjoying this one, as well. However, they might be surprised by the narrative's somber underpinnings.

Speaking of narratives, while I enjoyed the first film, I couldn't recall the actual plot shortly after seeing it. All that really stuck with me were the fun musical numbers, the fact Pierce Brosnan couldn't sing and a reminder that Meryl Streep is invincible. This time, we're getting a prequel, of sorts. Half the film takes place a few years after the first, with Donna's daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), getting ready to re-open her mom's hotel with the assistance of suave manager Fernando (Andy Garcia). Interspersed throughout are lengthy flashbacks of Donna (Lily James) in 1979, when she travels to Europe after graduation and meets Sam, Harry & Bill for the first time. She also falls in love with the island and ramshackle old house that she'd eventually turn into the hotel.

"Hey...did that mannequin just move?"
Along the way, there are plenty of musical numbers: a lot of tunes that only die-hard ABBA fans would be familiar with, as well as a few bonafide classics (including some featured in the first film). The numbers are sunny and fun, as is the choreography, which is a good thing since what little plot there is feels superfluous (and sort-of melancholy). Nearly all of the original cast returns, slipping comfortably back into their roles. But despite being prominently featured in the ad campaign, Meryl Streep is largely absent. She was the glue that held the original together and is sorely missed here. As for the ballyhooed addition of Cher...I guess if you're a fan, her appearance won't feel shoe-horned into the story, but her role is mostly a glorified cameo.

But we're here for the music, right? As before, everyone does-right by the songs and those who can't sing are mercifully regulated to being part of the chorus (sorry, Mr. Brosnan). Writer/director Ol Parker takes the reigns from Phyllida Lloyd and wisely stays the course, maintaining the first film's aesthetic and pace (though one suspects he was forced to fashion a story that didn't require heavy commitment from Streep). But bittersweet tone notwithstanding, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an aptly-titled sequel if there ever was one and unlikely to disappoint anybody who regularly sings along with the original film.

Speaking of which, this disc is loaded with bonus material (listed below), including the prerequisite "sing-along" feature. Most of the featurettes are pretty short, but there's a lot of them and they're pretty entertaining.

ENHANCED SING-ALONGS - Musical numbers from the film given the ol' Karaoke treatment.
FEATURETTES - "The Story"; "Mamma Mia! Reunited"; "Playing Donna"; "Sophie's Story"; "Meeting Cher"; "Costumes and the Dynamos"; "Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"; "Cast Meets Cast" (Christine Baranski & Julie Walters meet their younger counterparts); "Curtain Call" (the 'Super Trooper' number); "Dancing Queen: Anatomy of a Scene"; "Cast Chats" (featuring the younger flashback cast members); "Performing for Legends" (the cast discuss singing ABBA songs in front of the band); "Class of '79"
HIGH JINKS - I was hoping this was a gag reel, but it's a one-minute compilation of the cast goofing off).
TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW - Cher and Producer Judy Craymer
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Writer/Director Ol Parker
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Producer Judy Craymer

BLACKkKLANSMAN Blu-ray Giveaway!

TO ENTER: Simply drop us a message using the 'KITTY KONTACT' form at the top of our side column. CONTEST ENDS 11/6.

Based on the book Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth, BlacKkKlansman is filled with outstanding performances from an all-star cast led by John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace  and Laura Harrier  alongside an incredible roster of supporting talent including Alec Baldwin, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold and Paul Walter Hauser.

From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. In the early 1970s Ron Stallworth (Washington) becomes the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a difference, he bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. He recruits a seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Driver), into the undercover investigation. Together, they team up to take down the extremist organization aiming to garner mainstream appeal. BlacKkKlansman offers an unflinching, true-life examination of race relations in 1970s America that is just as relevant in today’s tumultuous world.

Packed with bold and provocative moments from beginning to end, BlacKkKlansman on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital comes with exclusive bonus content that will take viewers deeper into this timely and moving true story.


October 21, 2018

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE and Giallo's Humble Origins

Starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Mary Arden, Enzo Cerusico. Directed by Mario Bava. (1964/90 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

It would be interesting to see the direction Dario Argento's career would have gone if Mario Bava hadn't come along first. While Argento is widely considered the undisputed master of the Italian horror subgenre known as giallo, it was Bava who more-or-less invented it.

1960's Black Sunday may be Bava's most famous film (and arguably his best), but from a historical standpoint, Blood and Black Lace is probably his most important. Not only one of the very first giallo films, its style and narrative structure would also have a significant impact on the evolution of the slasher genre.

A cloaked, masked killer is stalking the beautiful models of a fashion agency, killing them one by one in search of a diary that supposedly has dirt on nearly every employee. Naturally, this means everyone is a suspect. This is all basic whodunit stuff, of course. But by placing unprecedented emphasis on style, vibrant color contrasts and extended murder sequences, Bava creates the template that his peers have been using ever since.

When bobbing for apples turns deadly.
That being said, it helps to view Blood and Black Lace in the context of when it was made. Undoubtedly a product of its time, the dialogue, jazzy soundtrack and violence will seem quaint compared to, say, Deep Red, though the murder scenes are still pretty potent, especially in this uncut version. Visually, it's easy to see the influence the film had on Dario Argento's subsequent work. For anyone interested in giallo's humble origins, this is worth checking out. 

Arrow Video released the film on Blu-ray a few years ago with a big batch of extras. I've never seen that version, though in addition to a nice 2K video restoration, this one from VCI has a few decent bonus features as well, including two brand new audio commentaries. It also comes with a cheaper price-tag.

ENGLISH & ITALIAN LANGUAGE VERSIONS - English on Blu-ray, Italian on DVD.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Diabolque Magazine editor Kat Ellinger.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By historian David Del Valle & writer/director C. Courtney Joyner (Lurking Fear, Class of 1999).
VIDEO COMPARISON - American version vs. uncut European version.
VINTAGE INTERVIEWS - One with Cameron Mitchell, the other with Mary Arden.
REVERSIBLE COVER - We like the red one better.


October 20, 2018

YESSONGS and the Revenge of the Nerds

Starring Steve Howe, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, Alan White. Directed by Peter Neal. (1975/70 min). 


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Growing up, I remember when the cool kids listened to Kiss, the cooler kids listened to Led Zeppelin and the sheep listened to what they were told was cool by radio DJs. But Yes? That was for the nerds and stoners. Or more accurately, nerds who also happened to be stoners, the hipsters of their day. This was also the era of midnight movies, when aging movie houses and college cinemas would show stuff created to appeal to those in the wrong state-of-mind, which included a lot of concert films. One of those was Yessongs, filmed in 1972 during the band's Close to the Edge tour and released in 1975 when they were at the peak of their progressive-era popularity.

While I've always liked progressive rock, I was more partial to ELP because I didn't need a musical intellect to appreciate how their brand of abrasiveness drove my parents up the wall. But a buddy of mine, Rick, loved Yes because he was a nerdy stoner and a guitar player, able to greater appreciate their complex songs, cerebral lyrics and Steve Howe's intricate solos. Hence, we broke curfew one Friday night to partake in the Oregon flower before venturing to the 5th Avenue Cinema so Rick could get his Yes on. From the opening number, he was enthralled - as were a lot of other nerds in the audience - marveling at the musicianship and humming along with every song, occasionally engaging in a bit of air guitar. As for me...well, "Roundabout" was cool.

Billy Bob Thornton's college days.
Keyboardist Rick Wakeman notwithstanding, Yes was never exactly renowned for their showmanship and not as conducive to a cinematic concert experience as, say, The Rolling Stones. Nor is Yessongs very imaginatively filmed (even Led Zeppelin's long-winded The Song Remains the Same had a goofy fantasy sequence or two to liven things up).

Which essentially means Yessongs is strictly a film for hardcore fans, those with an inherent appreciation for the band's 20 minute suites, virtuoso solos and Jon Anderson's quasi-mystical lyrics. Those same fans should get a kick out of this 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. The original film didn't look or sound that great in '75, nor is this transfer much of an improvement (Yes still sounds like they're performing in a high school gymnasium). But in a way, that might be part of the nostalgic appeal for those who first caught Yessongs back in the day. Personally, I found the bonus feature, "Yessongs: 40 Years On," quite a bit more interesting. Nearly as long as the film itself, this retrospective documentary features guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and longtime album cover artist Roger Dean discussing the film and the band's lengthy career.

I still think "Roundabout" is the best thing Yes ever did and anyone who concurs might have a hard time sitting through the entire film (even at 70 minutes). But all the nerds who grew up on these guys will surely love having this relic from their youth on disc. And at our age, isn't it nice that you no longer need to venture out at midnight to catch it?

"BEGINNINGS" - A weird little short featuring Steve Howe.


October 17, 2018

THE MEG Swims Home on Digital 10/30 & on 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 11/13

-Free Kittens Movie Guide

Go head-to-head with the largest prehistoric shark to ever exist when The Meg arrives on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD Special Edition and Digital. Jason Statham and award-winning Chinese actress Li Bingbing star in this science fiction action thriller directed by Jon Turteltaub (the “National Treasure” movies). Turteltaub directed the film from a screenplay by Dean Georgaris and Jon and Erich Hoeber, based on the best-selling novel MEG by Steve Alten.

The Meg 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features: "Chomp On This: The Making Of The Meg" & "Creating The Beast."

On October 30, The Meg will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, FandangoNow, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On November 13, “The Meg” will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.


PEPPERMINT on Digital on 11/20 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on 12/11

A powerful story about an underdog hero (Jennifer Garner) fighting for justice, Peppermint arrives on Digital on November 20, 2018 and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on December 11, 2018 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The release showcases exhilarating bonus content including a special featurette and film commentary with director Pierre Morel.

October 16, 2018

The Original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS: Olive Signature Edition

Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Winter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, the ever-reliable Whit Bissell and the ever-eccentric Sam Peckinpah. Directed by Don Siegel. (1956/80 min).


Review by Mr. Paws😸

One of the coolest things about the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers is that it's conceptually timeless, which is probably why the film has been remade three times since its inauspicious 1956 release (with another one reportedly in development). And let's not forget countless others - big & small, good & bad, classic & obscure - that have drawn obvious inspiration from it.

Social commentary and themes notwithstanding, the original still holds up as a smart slice of provocative sci-fi horror, certainly belying its minuscule budget and drive-in fodder title. Despite the film's iconic climax - when Miles (Kevin McCarthy) breaks the fourth wall to warn us we're next - its most effective moments remain the subtle ones. The scene where Miles (Kevin McCarthy) realizes Becky (Dana Wynter) is no longer Becky is still one of horror's most quietly chilling moments, while the pod people "gathering" at Santa Mira's town square is truly unnerving.

Everyone loves Mr. Bubble.
Then there's those seed pods. They may appear quaint compared to their horrifically-gooey counterparts in the 1978 remake, but a strong argument can be made that the greenhouse scene is one of cinema's earliest examples of the type of "body horror" David Cronenberg would make a career from decades later. It's amazing what you can do with a few soap bubbles, and the sequence remains a wonderful early example of gross-out entertainment.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been released on Blu-ray before, but this time Olive Films has thrown-in a plethora of new and vintage bonus features (outlined below), all of which are entertaining and informative. Along with a great video & audio transfer, this is, so far, the best release in Olive's ongoing Signature series and one of the best Blu-rays of the year. A must own for any cinephile, even if they own a previous version.

"The Fear is Real" - Directors Larry Cohen and Joe Dante recall their first experience seeing the film and its influence on thier own careers.
"I No Longer Belong: The Rise and Fall of Walter Wagner" - Author Matthew Wanger discusses the career of the producer, who derailed his own career by shooting a man.
"The Stranger in Your Lover's Eyes" - Director Don Siegel's son reads from the director's autobiography, along with vintage photos.
"Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited" - The best of all the bonus features, with commentary from its two stars, contemporary directors and historians.
"The Fear and the Fiction" - A feature about the movie's cultural impact.
"What's in a Name?" - An amusing look at some alternate titles that were considered.
"Return to Santa Mira" - A look at the various shooting locations.
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - One by historian Richard Harlan Smith, the other a vintage commentary by Kevin McCarthy, Dana Winter and director Joe Dante.
ESSAY - "At First Glance, Everything Looked the Same," by Kier-La Janisse


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 & 12/11

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