June 23, 2019

The Sneakiness of GASLIGHT

Starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury, Dame May Witty, Barbara Everest. Directed by George Cukor. (114 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😸

Gaslight is one of the great thrillers of the 1940s, though I wasn’t necessarily thinking that while watching. It was nominated for 7 Oscars, but I'm ashamed to say I’ve never seen the film until now. Even worse, this is the first time I’ve ever watched the great Charles Boyer. And I have the gall to call myself a cinephile.

Anyway, Gaslight initially unfolds as a mystery with the murder of famous singer Alice Anton at the hands of a man looking for her precious jewel collection, which he didn’t find because her young niece, Paula, suddenly showed up. Okay, so far so good. I enjoy a good mystery now and then.

Fast forward several years and Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is all grown up. She inherited the old home where Alice died, but remains haunted by memories of the murder, so she has since moved away. However, in a whirlwind romance, she meets and marries pianist Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), who convinces her they should return to London and live in the house. To ensure Paula’s not constantly reminded of her aunt, Gregory stows all of Alice’s belongs in the attic and boards up the door. So I guess the film ain’t a mystery, but still, so far so good. Despite appearing to be simply protective of Paula, there’s something intriguingly 'off' about Gregory that we don’t quite trust. Boyer is also sort-of interesting in the role.

"Hey...it's my turn to be tied up."
As the narrative unfolds, Gregory’s protectiveness takes a dark turn. Not only does he constantly try to keep Paula housebound, he ventures out every single night, supposedly to where he can work without disruption. In the meantime, Paula is unnerved by flickering gaslights and strange noises in the house whenever she’s alone. Not only that, various items go missing and Gregory soon suggests she’s unconsciously stealing them. He becomes increasingly cruel and accusatory, trying to convince her she is losing her mind. By the time Inspector Cameron (Joseph Cotten) suspects a nefarious agenda, it’s obvious Gregory killed Alice and has a cold-blooded plan to get rid of Paula. Gaslight snuck up on me, being a crackling psychological thriller the entire time with one hateful son-of-a-bitch as its antagonist, played to icy perfection by Boyer.

As the film faded out, the first thing that popped into my head was, Wow, that was a damn good movie. It’s one of those sneaky films with no scenes that reach out and grab you, but by the final act, you’re on the edge of your seat anyway. This disc also includes the 1940 British version, but even though it came first, the 1944 MGM film is so suspenseful, well-written and perfectly-performed that it pales in comparison.

Gaslight is a great noir-tinged thriller that ranks among the best of the genre. New to Blu-ray, the transfer is terrific and the inclusion of the British version makes this release a must-own for classic movie lovers. Now that I’ve seen this one, I guess I can hang onto my cinephile card a little longer.

GASLIGHT (1940 BRITISH VERSION) – Starring Anton Walbrook & Diana Wyngard. Directed by Thorold Dickinson (84 min).
"REFLECTIONS ON GASLIGHT” - Featurette hosted by Pia Lindstrom (Ingrid Bergman’s daughter) and features an interview with Angela Lansbury.
1944 OSCAR WINNERS NEWSREEL – The year Bergman won an Oscar for this film, as did Bing Crosby for Going My Way.

June 21, 2019

THE BELIEVERS Might Just Save Your Life

Starring Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver, Robert Loggia, Harley Cross, Malick Bowens, Richard Masur, Harris Yulin, Jimmy Smits, Lee Richardson, Elizabeth Wilson. Directed by John Schlesinger. (114 min).

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

If nothing else, The Believers made me mindful of where I step.

In the very first scene, Cal Jamison’s wife is electrocuted in the kitchen, having the misfortune of standing barefoot in spilled milk when their coffee maker suddenly goes on the fritz. Cal (Martin Sheen) and their young son, Chris (Harley Cross), helplessly scream as she quivers and cooks to death. Lesson learned, whenever I shuffle barefoot & blurry-eyed into the kitchen each morning, I still have the foresight to make sure the floor's good 'n' dry when making my own coffee.

That disturbing scene is mostly inconsequential to the actual story, but sets a dark tone for the rest of the film, which has police psychologist Cal Jamison assisting New York detective Sean McTaggert (Robert Loggia) investigate a series of ritualistic child murders. Initially, all fingers point to Lopez (Jimmy Smits), another cop who’s delirious and claims a demon-worshiping cult is behind it all. He’s telling the truth, of course, but this cult also consists of wealthy white folks who commit sacrifices at the behest of its evil-eyed priest (Malick Bowens) in exchange for affluence and power.

Too many Red Bulls.
I seem to recall The Believers being a popular video rental back in the day. It’s since-been mostly forgotten, probably because neither the narrative nor the characters are particularly memorable. But while the film isn’t all that scary either, it does contain some impressively-unnerving scenes that horror fans loved back then, including a gruesome sequence that reveals what’s lurking beneath one victim’s festering facial wound. These scenes alone probably make The Believers worth checking out for thrill-seekers – maybe even more than once – but the interim moments in between are far less interesting.

The Believers is a film where the whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. It’s watchable and the performances are decent (especially Smits & Loggia), but beyond its more sensational elements, the film doesn’t resonate too much afterwards. However, it might be of extra nostalgic interest for those whose weekends once consisted of weekend trips to their local video store (the nastier scenes still hold up pretty well). And who knows...perhaps it'll prevent you from being careless in the kitchen.


June 20, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: Classic Rock & Classic Movies

RUSH: CINEMA STRANGIATO 2019 in Theaters 8/21
Trafalgar Releasing and Anthem Entertainment are delighted to share the just-released trailer for the highly anticipated release of RUSH: Cinema Strangiato 2019coming to select cinemas across the globe, for a special, limited theatrical engagement on Wednesday, August 21. Tickets for the event are now on sale at www.CinemaStrangiato.com

In partnership with
Concord Music GroupRUSH: Cinema Strangiato 2019 will feature a special look inside some of the most powerful performances from R40 LIVE, the band’s 2015 tour and live album of the same name. The theatrical film experience is set to include top RUSH songs, such as “Closer to the Heart", "Subdivisions", "Tom Sawyer" and more, as well as unreleased backstage moments and candid footage previously left on the cutting room floor.  The release also includes unseen soundcheck performances of the fan-favorite "Jacob's Ladder,” and exclusive new interviews with Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, Taylor Hawkins, producer Nick Raskulinecz, violinist Jonathan Dinklage and more. As a special bonus, fans will get a glimpse into the madness and passion that went into the making of Geddy Lee's new book, Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass - featuring a brand-new interview from the RUSH frontman himself.

THE THIN MAN on Blu-ray in July
Nick and Nora Charles cordially invite you to bring your own alibi to The Thin Man, the jaunty whodunit that made William Powell and Myrna Loy the champagne elite of sleuthing. Bantering in the boudoir, enjoying walks with beloved dog Asta or matching each other highball for highball and clue for clue, they combined screwball romance with mystery. The resulting triumph nabbed four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and later spawned five sequels. Credit W.S. "Woody" Van Dyke for recognizing that Powell and Loy were ideal together and for getting the studio's okay by promising to shoot this splendid adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel in three weeks. He took 12 days. They didn't call him "One-Take Woody" for nothing.

BRONCO BILLY on Blu-ray in July
Ask Clint Eastwood to select personal favorites from amongst his movies and you might be surprised by one choice. "It's an old-fashioned theme," Eastwood says, "but if, as a film director, I ever wanted to say something, you'll find it in Bronco Billy." "One of the funniest and most touching films you'll see this or any year" (ABC-TV) casts Eastwood as the ace sharpshooter and head of a modern Wild West tent show. Life's been hard for Billy and his ragtag troupe. But their luck might change – in the unlikely person of a highfalutin society dame (Sondra Locke). You may already have a favorite Eastwood role. Watch Bronco Billy and, chances are, you'll have another.  
DEAD OF NIGHT on Blu-ray 7/9
A group of strangers, mysteriously gathered at an isolated country estate, recount chilling tales of the supernatural. First, a racer survives a brush with death only to receive terrifying premonitions from beyond the grave. Then a teen’s innocent game of hide-and-seek leads to an encounter with the macabre. Next, a young couple purchases an antique mirror that unleashes a horrific power from its past. In a lighter vein, two competitive golfers play for stakes that may haunt the winner forever. Finally, a renowned ventriloquist descends into an abyss of madness and murder when his dummy develops a mind of its own. But even after these frightening tales are told, does one final nightmare await them all?

June 19, 2019

THE NEW YORK RIPPER and the Big Quack Attack

Starring Jack Hedley, Paolo Malco, Almanta Keller, Howard Ross, Andrew Painter, Alexandra Delli Colli. Directed by Lucio Fulci. (93 min).

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Lucio Fulci’s latter day horror films. Contrary to his rather sizable fanbase, I never felt he was a particularly skilled director and am incredulous at how often he's mentioned in the same breath as Dario Argento and Mario Bava.

On the other hand, despite an imitative career riding the coattails of giants, Fulci excelled at pushing the envelope for onscreen violence. And admittedly, watching just how far the director was willing to go to shock his audience was often entertaining. In the process, Fulci inadvertently managed to create a fair amount of suspense. The suspense didn’t lie in whether-or-not a particular character was going to die. It was in how badly they were going to die, sick thrills not far removed from the fun of watching how spectacularly Wile E. Coyote was gonna fail this time. Maybe that makes Lucio Fulci sort-of a Chuck Jones for gorehounds.

Marley and What's Left of Me.
Fulci briefly set aside his brash brand of zombie mayhem to throw his hat in the slasher ring with 1982’s The New York Ripper, arguably his most notorious film. Along with William Lustig’s Maniac, critics condemned it as the very embodiment of misogyny in modern horror. In this case, the accusations aren’t entirely unwarranted. All of the titular killer’s victims are beautiful, highly-sexualized young women. In addition to such Fulci favorites as disembowelings, severed arteries and another scene of ocular trauma that rivals Zombie in the “eeew” department, the killer often targets his victims’ breasts and nether regions.

The film also wallows in depravity, gratuitous nudity and kinky sex. Fulci never passes-up an opportunity to leer over every female body part before mutilating it. Elsewhere, the dialogue is laughably bad and – with the exception of Alexandra Delli Colli as a horny housewife with unusual sexual appetites - the performances are pedestrian. The piece de resistance is the killer himself, who literally quacks at his victims and makes taunting phone calls to investigating detective Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) with a Donald Duck voice! Fulci films have always been a bit whacked-out and ridiculous, but this takes the cake.

It's all fun 'n' games until someone stubs a toe.
But despite everything working against it, The New York Ripper might actually be Fulci’s best-constructed film. Sure, the viewer will need to shower off the grime afterwards, but buried beneath the butchery is a genuinely well-paced mystery with a surprising conclusion. Fulci also does a fine job capturing the squalid atmosphere of Times Square as it was back then. And believe it or not, there are a few sequences that approach the tension-filled artistry of Dario Argento.

Three decades later, The New York Ripper remains a challenge to endure for all but the most hardened horror fan, even by Fulci's brutal standards. It’s more sensationalistic than Maniac (to which it’s most-often compared), which is maybe the main reason it feels a bit more exploitative and misogynistic. Of course, Fulci fans will have no complaints with this limited edition 3-disc set. Though not quite on-par with their similar releases of Zombie and Maniac, Blue Underground has beautifully restored and repackaged the film in all of its gory glory. It’s also chock-full of entertaining bonus features, both new and carried over from the 2009 edition. Regardless of how one might feel about the film and its sleazy subtext, there's no arguing that a lot of love went into this new Blu-ray release.

NEW & ARCHIVAL INTERVIEWS – Several individual interviews with various cast & crew, including screenwriter Dardano Sachetti (the most interesting of the interviews), poster artist Enzo Sciotti, actors Howard Ross, Cinzia de Ponti & Zora Kerova and Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower. Most interviews also include related movie clips.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By author Troy Howarth
SUPPLEMENTAL BOOKLET – Includes film credits, CD credits & track listing and an interesting retrospective essay, “Fulci Quacks Up: The Unrelenting Grimness of The New York Ripper.”
POSTER & STILL GALLERY – Slideshow containing several dozen of promotional stills, international posters and home video covers.

June 18, 2019

THE RUNNING MAN (1963): A Heaping Helping of Harvey

Starring Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick, Alan Bates. Directed by Carol Reed. (1963/104 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😼

Granted, I haven’t seen a lot of movies featuring Laurence Harvey. The Manchurian Candidate stands-out, of course, as well as a particularly nasty Night Gallery episode that gave me a few sleepless nights as a kid (when I was convinced earwigs were waiting until I was asleep to lay eggs in my brain). But whether he was a double agent, defending the Alamo or walking on the wild side with Jane Fonda, I never had the impression he was all that versatile.

That’s not to say he wasn’t interesting. In every movie I’ve ever seen him in, Harvey had a cold, arrogant demeanor that was quite fascinating (and reminds me a lot of my cats). Maybe that’s why he was so effective at playing unpleasant people, even if they weren’t always the antagonist. He might even be considered the antithesis of Jimmy Stewart.

Harvey is the best part of The Running Man, a 1963 British thriller which makes the most of his uncanny ability to play conniving bastards. He plays Rex Black, a charter pilot who – with wife Stella (Lee Remick) - fakes his own death to cash-in on his insurance policy so the two of them can live abroad. It’s interesting to point out that his character is initially a pretty decent guy. It’s only after being screwed over by his insurance company that he concocts this plan.

After briefly being questioned by insurance investigator Stephen Maddox (Alan Bates), Stella meets-up with Rex in Spain, where he’s changed his appearance and stolen a passport to assume the identity of Jim Jerome, a wealthy sheep farmer. He’s also been partying with new friends under this pseudonym, which concerns Stella, but since they must wait in the country a week for the local bank to process the insurance money, she plays along, pretending to be an old friend. Then Maddox shows up, surprising Stella. He says he’s on vacation, but it seems like too much of a coincidence for Rex’s liking, who insists they befriend Maddox to find out how much he actually knows.

Laurence Harvey finally gets his own Stepford Wife.
Much of the narrative has the Blacks keeping up their ruse while learning more about Maddox, who comes across as introverted and lonely. Rex, however, grows increasingly cocky and impressed with his own cleverness. Stella becomes alarmed at the difference in personality between her husband and “Jerome.” Eventually, Rex thinks they might need to kill Maddox before he exposes them. Or is he just being overly paranoid? Maybe Maddox really is on vacation.

Part of the fun of The Running Man is how this quandary plays out. Though directed by Carol Reed, it often has the look and feel of lower-tier Hitchcock. I think ol’ Hitch would have injected some much-needed black humor into the story, which is somewhat meandering during the middle act. As for the performances, the film really crackles whenever Harvey is on-screen, less interesting when focused on the relationship between Stella and Maddox. Bates is fine, but I’ve never found Remick particularly compelling. However, the film does serve-up a nifty climax and cleverly ironic resolution.

Ultimately, though, this is the Laurence Harvey Show. His performance ain’t exactly a stretch, but it’s fun watching his character evolve into another despicable cad. No one did it better back then. Now on Blu-ray for the first time, Arrow Films has put together another quality release of a relatively obscure film. In addition to a fine transfer, one bonus feature suggests Mr. Harvey's persona may not have always been just an act.

"ON THE TRAIL OF THE RUNNING MAN” - A crew surviving crew members share their memories of the production. It is pretty interesting since the interviews are pretty candid (not everyone was overly impressed with the film). We also get the impression Laurence Harvey was a pill to work with.
"LEE REMICK AT THE NATIONAL FILM THEATRE” - A vintage audio recording from 1970.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Carol Reed biographer William Evans.
IMAGE GALLERY – Production stills and promotional material.
SUPPLEMENTAL BOOKLET – Essays: “Page to Screen: The Screenwriter and Novelist Behind The Running Man” (profiles the careers of John Mortimer & Shelley Smith)’ “Nowhere to Run: The Making of Carol Reed’s Last Thriller”; “Those Were the Days!” (2010 Article from British Cinematographer magazine, written by John Harris, a camera operator who survived a plane crash while shooting The Running Man).

June 17, 2019

CORVETTE SUMMER: Silliness from the '70s

Starring Mark Hamill, Annie Potts, Eugene Roche, Kim Milford, Richard McKenzie, Danny Bonaduce, Brion James, Dick Miller. Directed by Matthew Robbins. (1978/104 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😼

My wife ventured into the room while I was reviewing this film, which I hadn’t seen since it played at the Southgate Quad way back in 1978. Upon noticing a very young Mark Hamill in the starring role, she sat and watched, chuckling at its antiquity, silly plot and Hamill’s goofy performance. Half-defending the film and half showing off, I occasionally provided context of the era in which it was released, to know real avail. She later concluded Corvette Summer was one of the dumbest movies she’d ever seen.

Really, Francie? You obviously haven’t seen Eat My Dust, have you?

That’s what I get for marrying an 80s’ girl weened on Dirty Dancing and Footloose. What she didn’t understand was movies like Corvette Summer were the Footlooses of the ‘70s: amiable, teen-centric fluff just rebellious enough to appeal to kids who’ve outgrown Walt Disney. Instead of dancing their troubles away, some of these ancient anti-heroes stuck it to the man by putting the pedal to the metal.

One too many midichlorians.
These movies weren’t meant to challenge the intellect or stand the test of time; they were made to relieve kids of their paper-route earnings. As such, Corvette Summer did its job just fine. A chief reason this particular film stood out – however briefly – among the plethora of motorporn permeating suburban multiplexes was the presence of Hamill in his first post-Star Wars role. At the time, it was assumed he’d be that film’s break-out star. That never happened, of course, but despite my wife’s cheeky assessment, it certainly wasn’t because of Corvette Summer.

Considering Hamill still looked like a socially awkward teenager at the time, Corvette Summer was actually the perfect vehicle for him (no pun intended). As car-obsessed Ken Dantley, he’s earnest, likable and often very funny. More importantly, he’s more-or-less convincing as a clueless high-schooler trying to recover the stolen Corvette he customized for a senior project. Not that the movie itself is an exercise in realism. In some ways, it’s every bit the preteen boys’ fantasy that Star Wars was. Only this time, our underdog hero gets the girl (a perky young Annie Potts) and she doesn’t later turn out to be his sister.

My wife was right about one thing. Corvette Summer is a supremely silly film and undoubtedly a product of a bygone era, but that’s part of its charm for viewers of a certain age. While it’ll never be mistaken for a masterpiece, revisiting the movie 40 years later was one of the more enjoyably nostalgic experiences I’ve had in a long time.


June 15, 2019


Starring Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermoine Corfield, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Michael Sheen, Margot Robbie, Tom Rhys-Harries. Directed by Crispian Mills. (2018/104 min).

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😾

Don’t be fooled by the impressively misleading cover, prominently featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost along with a critical quote inviting comparisons to Shaun of the Dead. With its pandering, pointlessly-stylized title, Slaughterhouse Rulez doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

There’s some fracking going on in the forest near an English boarding school, eventually unleashing ravenous subterranean monsters that commence killing staff and students. ‘Eventually’ is the operative word here, since most of the first hour deals with the cruel pecking order among the student body. The actual protagonists are all teenagers, while the more recognizable actors appear intermittently throughout the story as supporting characters. But nobody is particularly interesting and, aside from a clever throwaway line here and there, most attempts at humor are hopelessly heavy-handed. Not even Pegg, Frost Michael Sheen or Margot Robbie (who's barely in this) can do much with the material. What a waste of a great cast.

"Help me find my pants."
It seems like an eternity before the creatures finally show up, generically-rendered CGI creations that commence picking-off the expendable characters. There’s plenty of blood, gore and amped-up attempts at absurdist humor, but where Edgar Wright managed this effortlessly, Crispian Mills directs his own screenplay with the subtlety of a hammer. The critic’s quote on the cover is accurate about one thing. This film does indeed make Shaun of the Dead look restrained...and that’s part of the problem.

Slaughterhouse Rulez feels as desperate as its title, which is unfortunate considering it was released by Pegg and Frost’s own production company. Neither funny nor scary, the film wastes the efforts of a decent cast, ultimately testing the patience of all but the most indiscriminate viewer. There are scores of better horror-comedies out there.


June 13, 2019


Starring Hillary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lynda Hearst, Pawel Szajda, Tyler Johnson, Ryan Cargill. Directed by Daniel Farrands. (2019/95 min).

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😾

It probably goes without saying that the concept of The Haunting of Sharon Tate is in pretty poor taste, but I’m assuming anyone still reading this is okay with that. So rather than comment on its repugnant inspiration, it seems more prudent to assess the film on its own merits as a sensationalistic piece of exploitation. After all, a horror film doesn’t necessarily need class to be effective.

The entire story is based on what the real Sharon Tate once said in an interview, supposedly dreaming she and good friend Jay Sebring were brutally murdered...a full year before she and four others were killed by the Manson family. The film covers the three days leading up to the murders, where Tate (Hillary Duff) is home with friends Sebring (Jonathan Bennett), Abigail Folger (Lynda Hearst) and Wojciech Frykowsky (Pawel Szajda). Tate is repeatedly haunted by visions and signs of her impending doom at the hands of Manson’s crew. And yes, those visions are offered in graphic detail.

Ms. Duff's agent suggests a Lizzie McGuire reboot.
Subject matter notwithstanding, an interview quote is a pretty weak premise to build an entire movie around and writer-director Daniel Farrands isn’t up for the challenge of making these characters interesting enough to spend 90 minutes with, including Tate herself. Duff gives it a good college try and it's obvious she's relishing the chance to do something different, but all that’s required of her is to panic and cry before suddenly having the foresight to arm herself.

Speaking of which, Farrands tries to have his cake and eat it, too, presenting the world’s most infamous home invasion twice, first as one of Tate’s visions, which accurately recreates the murders which still haunt us today. But the second time, Farrands offers a revisionist take on the event that plays like the climactic showdown of a slasher film. The problem isn’t necessarily that he exploits a real tragedy for the sake of cheap thrills. The problem is that we’ve seen it all before in countless other home invasion movies.

The depressing denouement also suggests Farrands is a card-carrying member of the Ambrose Bierce Fan Club, or at-least a big Twilight Zone fan. Forget the tastelessness of the premise. Real-life inspiration notwithstanding, The Haunting of Sharon Tate is simply a dreary, repetitive and ultimately derivative horror film.

"PREMONITION: THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE” - A 15 minute featurette consisting mostly of cast interviews.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Writer/Director Daniel Farrands.

June 12, 2019

T-34: Tanks for the Memories

Starring Alexander Petrov, Vinzenz Kiefer, Irina Starshenbaun, Viktor Dobronrnov, Yuriy Borisov, Anton Bogdanov. Directed by Aleksey Sidorov. (2019/112 min).

Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

The Russian film, T-34, is sort-of a throwback to the old war epics I grew up on. No anti-war agenda, cynicism or commentary on how combat changes a soldier. It doesn’t drop the viewer into the unflinching chaos of battle with hyper-realistic depictions of human carnage. With an emphasis on plot and action, it’s more Great Escape than Saving Private Ryan, something of a rarity in modern war films. As such, the movie is a lot of fun.

During World War II, Nikolay Ivushkin (Alexander Petrov) is a Russian tank commandeer who manages to destroy an entire squad of German tanks during a skirmish. Unfortunately, he is shot by SS officer Klaus Jager (Vinzenz Kiefer). Four years later, Ivushkin is a POW scheduled to be executed for refusing to give his name and rank. However, Jager remembers him. Still impressed by what Ivushkin was able to do with a single tank during their previous encounter, Jager makes him an offer he really can’t refuse: Assemble a crew to restore a stolen Russian tank (the T-34 of the title) and serve as an unarmed practice target for young cadets. If they survive, Ivushkin will be required to train new German tank crews.

Casual Friday.
Ivushkin reluctantly agrees, but while he and his crew are prepping the tank, they discover live shells hidden beneath the bodies of the dead crew the Nazi’s left inside. It’s at this point Ivushkin comes up with an escape plan, using the tank to blast their way out and head for the Czech border. He gets some assistance from Anya (Irina Starshenbaum), another POW who serves as an interpreter between Ivushkin and Jager. She offers to steal a much-needed map if they take her with him. The second half of the film is a thrilling chase across the countryside, with Ivushkin trying to outwit Jager, who unleashes troops, tanks and planes to track him down.

I don’t know how plausible T-34 is, but it’s fast-paced, exciting and often suspenseful, aided considerably by impressive action and special effects (particularly the slow-motion scenes of shells striking their targets). Though fairly light on characterization, Ivushkin and his crew certainly grow on us and Jager is an effective villain (his grudging respect for Ivushkin renders him not-entirely hateful). However, the pointless romantic subplot between Ivushkin and Anya feels shoehorned in for the sake of a love scene. One minute they’re allies, the next they’re practically star-crossed lovers.

Other than that, T-34 is a welcome throwback to the World War II movies Hollywood used to crank out before getting all serious and self-important on us. There isn’t a lot of depth, but with a simple story, likable characters and some big, loud action, it’s well-crafted and very entertaining.


THE POOP SCOOP: A Hero from Hell, a Missing Link and Classic British Terror

HELLBOY on Digital July 9 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and On Demand July 23
Hellboy is back, and he’s on fire. From the pages of Mike Mignola’s seminal work, this action-packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (David Harbour) called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants. There he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world. Take home Hellboy and delve into his world with exclusive special features, including a three-part documentary, never-before-seen deleted scenes, and more!

Laika’s MISSING LINK arriving on Digital 7/9 and Blu-ray, DVD 7/23
Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis lead an all-star voice cast in this globetrotting adventure from LAIKA, the makers of Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. Hugh Jackman is Sir Lionel Frost, a brave and dashing adventurer who considers himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters. The trouble is no one else seems to agree. Zach Galifianakis is Mr. Link. As species go, he’s as endangered as they get; he’s possibly the last of his kind, he’s lonely, and he believes that Sir Lionel is the one man alive who can help him. Along with the independent and resourceful Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), who possesses the only known map to the group’s secret destination, the unlikely trio embarks on a riotous rollercoaster ride of a journey to seek out Link’s distant relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.
Quatermass and the Pit: While working on a new subway tunnel for the London Underground, a group of construction workers uncover a strangely shaped skull. Nearby, another discovery: a large, mysterious and impenetrable metal object. Initially mistaken for an unexploded bomb, the object and its strange power turn out to be far more horrific than anybody could have possibly imagined. Is it of this earth? Could it be the ancestral link to mankind's evolution? Or could it be an ancient link to the unleashing of the ultimate evil? There's only one man capable of unravelling the clues, and his name is Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir), a man of science who thrives on the dark mysteries of the world. Written by legendary screenwriter Nigel Kneale, Quatermass And The Pit is a seminal British sci-fi classic. For its U.S. release by 20th Century Fox, the film was retitled Five Million Years To Earth
Quatermass 2 is the second and most talked about of the three science fiction stories written by Nigel Kneale and based on his critically acclaimed 1955 BBC series. Professor Quatermass, played by Hollywood veteran Brian Donlevy reprising his role from The Quatermass Xperiment, is Britain's most clever scientist. Investigating a series of bizarre incidents that have been reported from a deserted area, he finds a group of soldiers and government officials that appear to be controlled by aliens from another world. When a close friend is brutally murdered by these beings, Quatermass leads a mob of local workers to a showdown with the extraterrestrials. The film was retitled Enemy From Space for its U.S. theatrical release.
DEAD OF NIGHT on Blu-ray 7/9
A group of strangers, mysteriously gathered at an isolated country estate, recount chilling tales of the supernatural. First, a racer survives a brush with death only to receive terrifying premonitions from beyond the grave. Then a teen’s innocent game of hide-and-seek leads to an encounter with the macabre. Next, a young couple purchases an antique mirror that unleashes a horrific power from its past. In a lighter vein, two competitive golfers play for stakes that may haunt the winner forever. Finally, a renowned ventriloquist descends into an abyss of madness and murder when his dummy develops a mind of its own. But even after these frightening tales are told, does one final nightmare await them all?

June 11, 2019

NONE BUT THE BRAVE (1965): Sinatra the Selfless

Starring Frank Sinatra, Tatsuya Mihashi, Clint Walker, Takeshi Kato, Tommy Sands, Kenji Sahara, Brad Dexter, Tony Bill. Directed by Frank Sinatra. (1965/105 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😽

None but the Brave has the distinction of being the only film directed by Frank Sinatra. Considering his clout at the time, it's kind-of surprising this didn't turn out to be a vanity project. In fact, despite being top-billed, Ol’ Blue Eyes selflessly doesn’t even play the main character.

That distinction is shared by Clint Walker as Capt. Bourke and Tatsuya Mihashi as Lt. Kuroki, commanders of their American and Japanese squads, both of which end up marooned on a deserted Pacific island during World War II. Kuroki’s men have been stuck there so long that their own Army seems to have forgotten about them. Then an American plane is shot down, initially bringing the war with them. But after a few deadly skirmishes, both commanders realize they might need each other in order to survive.

To the chagrin of a few gung-ho subordinates, both sides form an uneasy truce, which threatens to fall apart at any given moment. Bourke and Kuroki develop a mutual respect for each other and friendships are formed among some of the others, leading to a few epiphanies about their dedication to duty. Ultimately, None but the Brave ends up delivering a poignant anti-war message.

"I thought I ordered you to dig the latrine first."
While relationship between Bourke and Kuroki is the crux of the story, None but the Brave is just-as-much an ensemble piece. Playing Chief Pharmacist-turned-medic Mate Francis, Sinatra does give himself the single best scene in the entire film – tasked by Bourke to save a wounded Japanese soldier’s life – but generously shares the spotlight with a fine American & Japanese cast. The one exception might be Tommy Sands, who severely overdoes it as jingoistic Marine Lt. Blair, sounding like a cross between Forrest Gump and a bullhorn.

Other than that, None but the Brave is enjoyable, no-frills entertainment, directed by the Chairman with workmanlike skill. While fans may be surprised by his comparatively sparse screen-time, Sinatra selflessly supports his cast with the film’s best performance.