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 hang around, 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 a some 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.


June 10, 2019

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971): The Best from Sci-Fi’s True Golden Age

Starring Arthur Hill, James Olson, David Wayne, Kate Reid, Paula Kelly, George Mitchell, Ramon Bieri, Carl Reindel. Directed by Robert Wise. (1971/131 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😸

In this writer’s opinion, the golden age of cinematic science-fiction was the decade between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. This was the genre at its darkest. Distressing dystopias, cantankerous technology, apocalyptic annihilation...civilization was collectively screwed. And more often than not, these dire consequences were largely our fault.

Growing up on these movies, I found them both terrifying and fascinating. But I drew some comfort in the knowledge that it was merely science-fiction. Surely, none of these horrors could ever come to pass. Right? Right?

1971’s The Andromeda Strain is not only the best science-fiction film from this era, what makes it unnerving even today is that, despite its extraterrestrial threat, everything seems totally plausible. A satellite crashes in a small desert town, carrying a lethal microscopic organism that swiftly kills everyone, save for an old man and a baby who are seemingly immune to its effects. They are taken to an underground facility, code-named Wildfire, where a small team of scientific experts attempt to identify what they think might be some kind of virus.

"It could use a few throw pillows."
Much of the film takes place in Wildfire, depicting the methodical, painstaking process. The implications are dire. The germ – given the name, Andromeda – is not-only instantly lethal, it’s growing exponentially. What makes the scenario especially ominous is that the crew assembled are the best in their fields, and even they are mostly dumbfounded since Andromeda's existence is contrary to any known organism. Even worse are the simple "shit-happens" moments, when everything is nearly undone by human error or faulty machinery. We've all been there and its scary to realize it can even happen when stakes are at their highest.

Based on an early Michael Crichton novel, The Andromeda Strain is masterpiece of controlled tension. Aided considerably by impressively antiseptic production design – namely, the Wildfire facility – director Robert Wise wisely eschews melodramatics, a traditional music score and any real characterization in favor of the authenticity of its concept. Everything we see and hear is believable, including Andromeda itself. It’s a scary-ass bug to begin with, but the more were learn about it, the more malevolent it becomes.

The arcade's toughest claw machine.
The Andromeda Strain is also proof that G-rated movies could be pretty hardcore back in the fun-loving 70s, exposing impressionable youth to nudity, buzzard-chewed bodies, lab animals’ agonizing death-throes and a corpse’s wrist being surgically slit-open. So either the MPAA thinks today’s children are a bunch of pampered pussies or the organization never knew what the fuck they were doing in the first place. Probably a bit of both.

Despite its age, length and complete lack of traditional action, The Andromeda Strain remains an exemplary example of golden-age science-fiction. Perhaps the best example, since death-from-within is still a real apocalyptic possibility, making its concept more contemporary than wondering what Soylent Green is made of. It has been released on Blu-ray before, but this version from Arrow Films gives it a considerable facelift with a nice 4K scan restoration, remastered audio and a few nifty new extras to go along with some substantial vintage features. An all-around great release and highly recommended for anyone who loves smart, plausible science-fiction.

NEW: “A NEW STRAIN OF SCIENCE FICTION” - Running 30 minutes, critic Kim Newman discusses the film and its place in the history of the virus-related science fiction.
NEW: SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKLET – Includes an essay, “Secret Spine-Chiller: The Other Side of Robert Wise,” by author Peter Tonguette; “A Discussion Guide for Teachers and Students,” a promotional study guide that was sent to high schools back in 1971; Cast & Crew Credits; Restoration Credits.
NEW: REVERSIBLE COVER ART – Includes all-new and vintage artwork. We think the new cover is pretty damn cool.
NEW: CINESCRIPT – The entire shooting script, which can also by accessed as a PDF.
NEW: IMAGE GALLERY – With photos and promotional artwork.
"THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN: MAKING THE FILM” - A 30 minute making-of featurette from the 2001 DVD release. Features director Robert Wise, screenwriter Nelson Gidding, author Michael Crichton and special effects creator Douglas Trumbull.
"A PORTRAIT OF MICHAEL CRICHTON” - Interview with the author from 2001.

June 8, 2019

The Curiosity Factor of THE TRIGGER EFFECT and BODY COUNT

Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Richard T. Jones, Michael Rooker. Directed by David Koepp. (1996/93 min).
Starring David Caruso, Ving Rhames, Linda Fiorentino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Forest Whitaker. Directed by Robert Patton-Spruill. (1998/85 min).

Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

When movies are re-issued together as double features, they’re usually of the same genre or a particular actor appears in both. So the pairing of The Trigger Effect and Body Count was initially perplexing. One is a quasi-disaster film about a widespread blackout, the other follows a crew of criminals after an art heist.

But upon further review, I realized these films actually have a few things in common:
  • Both boast impressive casts. Not necessarily A-listers, but with pretty decent resumes.
  • Both were released virtually unnoticed in the 90s. In fact, Body Count never got a theatrical release.
  • Despite being over 20 years old, both are only-now being released on Blu-ray.
Regarding the first point, I suppose the curiosity factor might be relatively high. But even fans of any of these actors might have a hard time sitting through either film.

"Damn...no Twinkies."
The Trigger Effect’s premise is promising...how a massive, lengthy blackout causes society to breakdown. However, the story is distressingly episodic, jumping from one crisis to another before any of them has a chance to get interesting. The Twilight Zone explored the concept far better in a fraction of the time. Of the cast, Michael Rooker comes off best, providing the film’s only moments of genuine intensity. Too bad he’s regulated to just a few scenes.

"He didn't wash his hands. So I shot him."
Despite boasting a better cast, Body Count is an irredeemable mess. Haphazardly assembled and erratic in tone, it fails as both a thriller and a black comedy, though it desperately wants to be both. Not only that, the narrative is consistently undone by stupid characters whose actions often defy explanation or logic. Ving Rhames is good, but David Caruso and John Leguizamo seem to be competing to see who can give the most irritating performance. It quickly becomes obvious why this one went straight to video.

Even at a bargain price, this double feature is a hard sell. There’s a reason both films remain obscure and even the curiosity factor isn’t enough to make either of them worth enduring. Everyone involved on both sides of the camera have done far better work.



June 6, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL and a Tale of Two Origins

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Annette Benning, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg. Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. (2019/124 min).

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

When it comes to superhero movies, I suppose kicking franchises off with an origin story is almost unavoidable. After all, not everyone’s a comic book reader, so explaining what compels a guy throw on a cape for the public good makes narrative sense (though Tim Burton’s Batman never bothered and it turned out just fine).

Even if that has a tendency to render a lot of superhero films somewhat predictable, Marvel has done a pretty remarkable job introducing everyone populating their cinematic universe. And rather ingeniously, Captain Marvel actually gives us two origin stories.

First, of course, is the story of Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), whose circumstances leading to her emergence as the titular character are more interesting than those of Doctor Strange or an umpteenth reboot of Spider-Man. After a rather mundane opening act – a flashy-but-rote clash between the Kree and Skrulls – once Vers arrives on Earth in 1995, the story really takes off. She already has her considerable powers and stands-out like a sore thumb, leading to some amusing moments and frequent clashes with the shape-shifting Skrulls. Larson’s confident performance is enjoyable, displaying just the slightest bit of superiority over us puny humans (at least until she begins to remember where she came from).

Saving the day is difficult when you miss your train.
Vers also meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain Marvel’s other origin story. At this time, Fury is just another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (made plausible by some Oscar-worthy CGI that makes Jackson look 25 years younger). One long-standing criticism I’ve had of the entire MCU is that, with the possible exception of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury has never been given anything interesting to do. Here, Fury arrives early and does a lot more than provide exposition. Jackson is great, of course, like he's been unleashed to make Fury funnier and more charismatic than we've previously seen, especially once he befriends Goose the Cat. How he came to need an eye-patch provides one of the film’s biggest laughs.

Damn late fees.
Elsewhere, Captain Marvel tells an interesting story that not-only fits comfortably within the MCU, but provides a few welcome, surprising twists. Speaking of which, can we give another tip-of-the-hat to Ben Mendelsohn, once-again stealing every scene he's in? As Talos, not only does he make a terrific initial adversary, he’s personable and often very funny, no small feat considering he’s covered in alien make-up for most of the film.

Of course, Captain Marvel has plenty of the action and visual fireworks we've come to expect from the MCU (as well as a few moments of wonky CGI). But like the Ant-Man films, it never threatens to collapse under the weight of its own spectacle. As origin stories go, this is one of Marvel’s better recent ones.

FEATURETTES - “Becoming a Superhero” (mostly about Brie Larson preparation for the role); “Big Hero Moment” (a little character history); “The Origin of Nick Fury” (title tells all); “The Dream Team”; “The Skrulls and the Kree”; “Hiss-Sterical Cat-titude” (my favorite of the featurettes, amusingly presented like a 90s' era promo spot)
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

THE POOP SCOOP: The Duality of US: 2 New Special Feature Clips

The terrifying Tethered come home, with Jordan Peele's Us now available on Digital and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on June 18. Here are two special feature clips that comprise the "Duality of Us" featurette - a fascinating look behind the creative curtain to gain further insight into the mythology and symbolism of the film, as well as a look into Jordan Peele's mind as a satirist and horror filmmaker.

A look into
Us' emphasis on duality and the various roles of the Wilson Family with the "Duality & Family" clip:

Dive into Jordan Peele's take on the harsh realities that Us confronts with the "Privilege" clip:


June 5, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: A Shark Sequel, a Horror Classic and More

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED in Theaters August 16.
The film follows the story of four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city, who quickly find themselves in a watery hell as their fun outing turns into heart-stopping fear when they learn they are not alone in the submerged caves. As they swim deeper into the claustrophobic labyrinth of caves they enter the territory of the deadliest shark species in the ocean.

GREMLINS arrives on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on 10/1.
For its 40TH Anniversary, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that 1984’s Gremlins will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on October 1. Directed by Joe Dante (Innerspace, The ‘Burbs) and written by Chris Columbus (The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes), the film stars Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer, Phoebe Cates as Kate Beringer, and Hoyt Axton and Randall Peltzer, along with the voices of Frank Welker as Stripe and Howie Mandel as Gizmo. Includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features.
Brian De Palma’s DOMINO arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital July 30.
Experience legendary director Brian De Palma’s (Scarface, The Untouchables, The Black Dahlia, Mission: Impossible) brand-new, fast-paced action-thriller when Domino arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital July 30 from Lionsgate. This film is currently available On Demand. Featuring spectacular international sets from Scandinavia to Spain, the film stars Primetime Emmy nominee Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (2018, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, TV’s “Game of Thrones”), Carice van Houten, and Primetime Emmy winner Guy Pearce (2011, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries, TV’s “Mildred Pierce”).
The Classic 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? Britain’s venerable Ealing Studios brought together four brilliant directors, Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob), Basil Dearden (The Mind Benders), Alberto Cavalcanti (They Made Me a Fugitve) and Robert Hamer (It Always Rains on Sunday) to create this classic chiller that remains one of the most influential horror films ever made. This is the uncut and complete UK version of Dead of Night, now newly restored in 4K from original archival materials for the first time in decades.

June 4, 2019

THE BUSTER KEATON COLLECTION Volume 1: Two of Buster's Best

THE GENERAL – Starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender. Directed by Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman. (1926/79 min).
STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. - Starring Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron, Tom McGuire. Directed by Buster Keaton & Charles Reisner. (1928/71 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😸

In a recent review of Cohen Media Group’s The Great Buster: A Celebration, I briefly mentioned the only problem with that terrific documentary was it left the viewer wanting more. Well, “more” has finally arrived with The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 1, which features masterful 4K restorations of two of his most iconic films.

Did Keaton invent the action-comedy? Quite possibly. One thing is certain...1926’s The General is a near-perfect early example and arguably his best film. Set during the Civil War, it’s essentially one long locomotive chase with Keaton as its comic centerpiece. Not only is it a remarkable physical performance, his dour reactions to the surrounding mayhem are just as funny today as they were in the 20s. Some of the action set-pieces are still jaw-dropping, especially when we keep in-mind Keaton did all of his own stunts and no special effects were involved, not even during the spectacular climactic train crash. The General is silent filmmaking at its absolute best and remains massively entertaining today (once you get past the Confederate Army portrayed as the good guys).

When visiting Cottage Grove, for God's sake, take the bus.
Though it doesn’t quite reach the comic heights of The General, the decidedly more restrained Steamboat Bill, Jr. is another charmer. As the nebbish William Canfield Jr., Keaton’s considerable comic gifts are still here in abundance. But this time, other actors have their share of amusing moments, especially Ernest Torrence as William’s burly, beleaguered father. While the film includes Keaton’s most iconic gag (when a house’s facade falls around him), the hat shop scene remains my personal favorite. A subtle example of flawless comic timing, Keaton and Torrence play it perfectly. At the same time, what we learn about their characters in this seemingly inconsequential scene is quite revealing.

Never buy a home from IKEA.
These films have been released individually on Blu-ray before by another company, but not having seen them, I can’t compare the audio or video quality. This set is light on bonus features, but the 4K restoration is stunning and both films feature the wonderful orchestrated scores Carl Davis composed in the 80s. The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 1 is a must own for action fans, lovers of classic comedy and, of course, any self-respecting cinephile.

FEATURETTES - “Reflections on The General”; “Buster Keaton: The Luminary” (both are short featurettes with interviews from some of the same people who contributed to The Great Buster: A Celebration, including Quentin Tarantino, Leonard Maltin and Bill Hader).