July 31, 2020

MIDSOMMAR and the Peen Scene


Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Will Poulter. Directed by Ari Aster. (148 min)

Essay by D.M. ANDERSON💀

Did you know Walmart sells vibrators?

Not that I'm in the market for one, but I spotted them in the Health & Wellness section while shopping with the wife one day. Quite a selection, too...the Satisfier Pro 2, the CalExotics 5-Speed Butterfly Kiss, the multi-speed Power Swirl and that family favorite, the Vibroman 3-Piece Couples Sex Kit. Real ammo may not be available at Walmart anymore, but it still has all your vibrating bullet needs (in assorted colors, no less).

They were locked in a display case along with condoms, lubricants and various other playtime products, which pretty-much guarantees Walmart will never be my destination for date-night enhancement. Personally, I'd be embarrassed as fuck seeking-out a pimple-face teenager in a blue smock so they could unlock the case and grab me a 4-Speed Jack Rabbit.

But maybe that's just me. As much as I love sex in all its shapes and forms – with the kids and occasional back scratches to prove it – I've always been irrationally self-conscious declaring it publicly. How irrational? As a teenager, I was more devastated that Mom found a dog-eared Penthouse magazine stashed in my sock drawer than the half-empty Jack Daniels bottle laying next to it.

Even as a responsible adult, I've always been uncomfortable buying condoms, sexy underwear or dirty Valentine's Day cards, for no other reason than I'd be sharing part of my private life with the stranger behind the counter.

Would you buy a dildo from this man?
That carnal discomfort extends to my viewing habits. Not that they include porn, but I frequently review DVDs for various studios and PR groups, some of which have featured scenes of uninhibited fornicating. The sex scenes themselves don't bother me. I'm neither aroused nor offended by them, but mortified my wife or kids might waltz into the room at the precise moment some sweat-drenched couple are reaching the apex of their athletic tryst. “What the hell are you watching?”

Explicit sex scenes are inconsequential to a movie's plot 90% of the time, as is graphic violence. But I get it...that stuff is merely frosting on the cake and I'll admit there are many horror films I enjoy because they are gratuitously bloody. Conversely, I've never seen one that was substantially better because of its boob count. Perhaps that's because recreational sex is a regular part of human existence, while someone's head being ripped open by a reverse bear trap decidedly isn't, therefore more interesting...from an escapism point of view, anyway.

Wow, reading that last sentence back to myself, I'm realizing how fucking creepy it sounds.

My youngest daughter, Lucy, is also a big horror fan, largely because of me. Ever since introducing her to the original Poltergeist years ago, I've shared a lot of great classic horror films with her. However, there are some I haven't and probably never will...not because of their violence, but the copious amounts of sex tossed-in for mallrats who are mostly too young to experience it for themselves. Because of my own hang-ups, I'm more comfortable with Lucy watching people getting disemboweled by zombies than horny hotties going at it between killings.

At first, it was because of her age, when she was still too young to wrap her head around the concept of sex. One night when she was nine or ten, Lucy spotted a couple of raccoons fucking on the roof of our shed. Ever the coward, I reassured her they were just wrestling. Needless to say, it was my wife who was eventually elected to give both of our girls “The Talk.”

That's one your mother knows, kid.
Anyway, Lucy is now 16 with discriminate tastes in horror. She's no fan of jump scares or slasher movies because most of them are pretty brainless. Like her old man, she likes the slow burners which methodically build dread and linger in your mind long after the end-credits. Still, there are some I won't share with her, even though she's since-learned where babies come from. In fact, Lucy makes more juvenile dick jokes than anyone else in the family. But sorry, Mr. Goldblum, your post-coital performance in The Fly is a little too enthusiastic for me to be comfortable watching it with my daughter.

So that one's out, as are Videodrome, Hostel, An American Werewolf in London, Phantasm, Rosemary's Baby and a batch of other classics which take a time-out to explore the joy of sex.

But sometimes I'm caught off-guard, like when we're both watching something for the first time. Lucy and I really enjoyed Hereditary, a deliberately-paced, atmospheric piece of supernatural horror directed by Ari Aster (his first feature film). While critically acclaimed, it sparked countless love-it-or-loathe-it debates among horror lovers, but we were impressed enough with its tone and originality to look forward to Aster's next move...

...which turned out to be Midsommar, a whacked-out, drug-fueled, epic-length slab of folk horror with an aesthetic similar to The Wicker Man. In this one, a group of American college students visit a Swedish commune, the HÃ¥rga, to research and participate in a festival that's held every 90 years. But the HÃ¥rga turn out to be a dangerous cult that not-only consumes a variety of hallucinogens on a regular basis, they conduct bizarre rituals, some highly sexual, others shockingly brutal.

For example, there's a harrowing moment when two elderly members who have just turned 72 - the maximum age allowed in the HÃ¥rga – happily leap from a cliff and splatter onto the rocks below. One actually survives the jump, so the others gather around to finish the job with a hammer. The scene is disturbingly graphic and lengthy. I've seen a lot of nasty death scenes over the years, but this one was absolutely ass-puckering, an assessment Lucy agreed with.

Another successful Trump rally.
Still, I was more comfortable with that scene than a later one when a male protagonist is drugged and coerced into ritualistic sex with a teenage cult member. As he rambles toward the temple with his dong hanging out, Lucy jokingly cried out, “Peeeen!” (she's still 12 years old in some ways, just like Dad). Then he goes in and commences burying-the-sausage, surrounded by a dozen naked cultists who howl and dance as they watch.

"Cover your eyes for a sec, Lucy,” I said with an nervous laugh. Equally put-off by naughty bits in-action, she happily complied. Though I thought the scene would be over quickly – as they usually are in horror movies - it went on and on for what felt like ten minutes. Lucy occasionally peeked up prematurely, catching a horrifying eyeful. But ironically, because of the ritualistic nature of the cult, this particular sex scene is actually essential to the plot, if only to emphasize the non-sensual purpose of the act. It might also be the most intentionally unerotic sex scene of all time.

Still, what the hell is wrong with me? Bodies exploding like watermelons - not-to-mention a poor bastard stuffed into a bear carcass before being burned alive - are perfectly fine, but prolonged procreation makes me uneasy with Lucy in the room? I mean, it ain't like I'm sharing porn with my kids. But again, maybe it's because sex is part of reality and horror violence generally isn't. The unreasonably self-conscious part of me was also mortified at the idea that Lucy was suddenly reminded she's here because her own parents did the nasty (minus the naked dancers, of course). "You 'n Mom are perverts, Dad."

At any rate, Midsommar is another dark, disturbing slow-burner from Ari Aster, all the more impressive when you consider it never relies on the usual horror tropes. No jump-scares, sudden cats, teenagers behaving stupidly, indestructible killers or supernatural entities. Hell, a majority of it even takes place in the beautiful spring sunshine. Bold, bleak and bizarre, Lucy and I ultimately enjoyed it (though a lot of spoon-fed horror fans did not).

And the movie's frankness didn't make Lucy explode or anything. In fact, she reverted to her 12-year-old self when telling her older sister, Natalie, about it, snickering like Beavis & Butthead over the plethora of pee-pees. Natalie later watched it online with her friends and they shared a lot of hearty laughs over that same sex scene. Ultimately, I think my kids are less uptight about that stuff than I am, at least around people their own age.

Rest in Peace, Alan Parker

July 30, 2020

Kino Now Streaming: Remembering Celebrated Director Kevin Rafferty & His Films

Kino Lorber Remembers Celebrated
Documentary Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty,
Director of The Atomic Cafe and Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Both films available to stream on KinoNow.com

Kino Lorber celebrates the life and legacy of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Kevin Rafferty, who recently passed away. A deeply influential figure in documentary and independent filmmaking, he made a profound impact on non-fiction film, bringing exciting new perspectives and energy to the subjects he captured.

July 28, 2020

THE POOP SCOOP: Catastrophic Kibbles Edition

'80s Cult Classic DEF-CON 4 on Blu-ray 9/18
Three astronauts, Tim Choate, Kate Lynch, John Walsch, in a secret spaceship lose all contact with the ground and observe what appears to be a nuclear exchange between the USA and Russia, basically a WW III. Two months later, the spacecraft’s guidance system is mysteriously reprogrammed, forcing the crew’s return to a vastly changed Earth. The spacecraft lands considerably off-course, on a beach in eastern Nova Scotia, Canada and they encounter “terminals” – humans crazed by disease. In the middle of the night, Howe ventures out in search of help and a way to escape. He soon encounters Vinny (Maury Chaykin), a survivalist who has fortified his house with barbed wire and booby-traps. Vinny effectively saves him from the “terminals”, and makes him his prisoner. Eventually, Vinny, fellow survivor J.J. (Lenore Zann), and Howe are captured, and taken in chains to a makeshift fortress built out of junk. In order to survive, the crew must escape to the radiation-free zones while avoiding the cannibal “terminals” and a sadistic military-school student- turned-despotic ruler. And will any of them be able to escape before a malfunctioning nuclear warhead explodes in sixty hours? Hang on tight, DEF-CON 4 is a cult classic that will leave you breathless.

GHOST IN THE SHELL arrives on 4K and Digital 4K Ultra HD on 9/8

Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of one of the most critically acclaimed anime films of all time when Ghost in the Shell arrives on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital 4K Ultra HD) and Digital 4K Ultra HD on September 8th from Lionsgate. Based on the beloved manga from Japanese writer and illustrator Shirow Masamune, the film’s voice cast includes Atsuko Tanaka (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, TV’s “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Ghost in the Shell 2.0”), Akio Ôtsuka (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Paprika, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots), and Kôichi Yamadera (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Ninja Scroll). Remastered in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and featuring fan-favorite commemorative artwork from pop illustrator Martin Ansin – along with brand new bonus material – this will be the most definitive Ghost in the Shell package to date.

Horror-Thriller 'Z' on Blu-ray DVD & Digital 9/1

Directed by Brandon Christensen (Still/Born) who co-wrote the movie with Colin Minihan (What Keeps You Alive, Grave Encounters), the horror film stars Keegan Connor Tracy (Final Destination 2), Jett Klyne (The Boy), Sean Rogerson (Grave Encounters), Sara Canning (War for the Planet of the Apes), Stephen McHattie (Watchmen), and Chandra West (White Noise). In the film, when Beth’s (Keegan Connor Tracy) son (Jett Klyne) brings home an imaginary friend named “Z,” she becomes concerned that he is falling too deep into a world of make believe. He starts to display extremely destructive behavior, blaming Z for all of his actions. But after he gets kicked out of school, Beth is forced to find a solution. She medicates her son, making him unable to see his imaginary companion. But now Beth sees Z…and he wants to be her friend.

RETALIATION on Blu-ray and DVD 9/8

Orlando Bloom stars as Malky, a demolition worker whose life receives a seismic shock when, out drinking with friends at a local pub, he sees a disturbing figure from his past: the man he holds responsible for a traumatic childhood incident. Fueled by anger, Malky sets out on a path of vengeance—and discovers that no one can escape the consequences of their sins in this taut thriller. Also starring Janet Montgomery (The Space Between Us), Charlie Creed-Miles (TV’s “Peaky Blinders”), and Anne Reid (TV’s “Years and Years”).


TERROR FILMS Launches Official Merchandise Store

After four years of building the horror label into one of the most recognized in the digital space, genre distributor TERROR FILMS is officially launching their merchandise store! The indie label will be offering a wide variety of goodies from backpacks to leggings. Merchandise will feature demons from their original productions: Trace (2015), The Chosen (2015) and Hell House LLC (2015), appearing on t-shirts, drawstring bags and movie posters. A wide variety of items are available in the TERROR FILMS store, now! TERROR FILMS plans to make many more items available in the future and will be adding new designs and images in the coming months as they continue to work with filmmakers on acquiring merchandise rights; this is something the company has only just begun.

July 27, 2020

GUNDALA: Working Class Superhero

GUNDALA (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Lukman Sardi. Directed by Joko Anwar. (2019/120 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

For the uninitiated - like me – Gundala is a popular Indonesian superhero who's been kicking around in comic books since 1969. This film is mostly an origin story, taking its sweet time depicting how young orphaned boy Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) becomes a reluctant defender of the working-class against an insidious crimelord and corrupt government.

Sancaka's superpower is enhanced strength, speed and agility whenever he's struck by lightning (which would pretty-much make him worthless on sunny days, but never mind). He's just a lowly factory worker when he discovers his power, and despite being able to take-on a few dozen thugs at a time, he's initially reluctant to get involved with the neighborhood's struggle against crime-boss Pengkor (Bront Palarae) because he doesn't consider himself a hero and getting struck by lightning really sucks.

But Pengkor has an even more sinister agenda...poisoning the city's rice supplies with a virus that will turn pregnant women's newborns into immoral little monsters (seriously). Pengkor's actually a pretty interesting character whose origins are also explained. The son of a mobster, he's orphaned and deformed as a boy, but grows into a ruthlessly cruel crimeboss whose own army consists of equally angry orphans.

"Not exactly a Batcave, is it, mister?"
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Most of Gundala is dedicated to Sancaka evolving into a blue collar Batman. A good two-thirds of the movie have passed before he first-dons his makeshift superhero garb, during which time we're bombarded with enough bonkers plot developments for three movies. Still, the action and special effects are decent, while Aryasatya achieves the right balance of determination and vulnerability to make titular hero engaging. The film does grow exhausting after awhile. Even the characters involved in the (anti)climactic brawl appear worn-out from all the fighting.

Par for the course with modern superhero epics, Gundala's franchise intentions are made clear with a coda that teases the next possible chapter. But at least it wraps up its current story fairly neatly. Though unnecessarily long, this is an entertaining enough film to make it worth checking-out by those who can't get enough comic book action (no matter where it hails from).

4 BEHIND-THE-SCENES FEATURETTES – About 20 total minutes.
4 PRODUCTION VLOGS – Running about a minute each.


July 26, 2020

DEAD DICKS: Come for the Title, Stay for the Surprises

DEAD DICKS (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Heston Horwin, Julian Harris, Matt Keyes. Directed by Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer. (2019/83 min)
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Despite the twisted premise, Dead Dicks isn't quite the outrageous horror-comedy its snicker-inducing title suggests. Though it's often very funny and has moments that are certainly horrific, the film has a lot to say about the nature of clinical depression and its beleaguering effect on loved ones.

Becca (Jillian Harris) has just been accepted into a prestigious nursing program, but is uncertain how to tell her unstable, suicidal older brother, Dick (Heston Horwin), who's depended on her every since their mother died. One night he calls her, urgently begging her to come to his apartment right away. Becca arrives to find him dead in the closet, having hung himself. But then another Dick comes into the room, alive and well. It turns out that Dick has already killed himself four times – with the bodies to show for it - but returns each time from a vagina-like hole in his bedroom wall.

That's just beginning of their problems. There are four bodies to get rid of and Dick appears content to have Becca clean up the mess with nothing but a handsaw and Hefty bags. Because she has already put most of her own life on hold to tend to his emotional needs, his seeming indifference to the enormity of the current problem is maddening. Matters get even more complicated when downstairs neighbor, Matt (Matt Keyes), who's already had enough of Dick's behavior, ends up getting involved.

Dick ignores the bag's warning label.
But Dead Dicks is not-so-much a horror story as it is an exploration of the relationship between the two siblings, which grows increasingly volatile with each new complication, including some surprising plot twists I wouldn't dream of revealing here. Dick is almost insufferable at times, yet Becca continues to support him, even after it becomes apparent she's literally no longer free to live her own life. Hence, there are moments when their relationship is almost poignantly touching.

Only during the convoluted climax does the film drop the ball. I'm all for open-ended, ambiguous endings, but without going into to detail which might spoil things, the denouement doesn't really make much sense in the context of the story. It's almost as if writer-directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer were dead-set on creating a debate-worthy conclusion without providing evidence for any kind of compelling argument. Or hell, maybe I just missed something. At any rate, the ending is disappointing.

But until then, Dead Dicks is an engaging, darkly-funny film that doesn't deserve being strapped with such a juvenile title. Extremely well-made with a limited budget, it features good performances, well-drawn characters which suggest they were created from personal experience and, to be certain, one gleefully over-the-top, shockingly-funny sequence you absolutely won't see coming.

VIDEO DIARIES - Four entries by the two directors, mostly covering the beginning or production. 
FX FEATURETTE - A two minute behind the scenes look at the film's most elaborate - and impressive - special effects sequence.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By directors Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer.


Rest in Peace, Olivia de Havilland

July 25, 2020

Rest In Peace, John Saxon

SIXTEEN CANDLES and the Cruelty of Time

SIXTEEN CANDLES (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Haviland Morris, Carlin Glynn, Gedde Watanabe, Deborah Pollack, John Cusack, Paul Dooley, Joan Cusack. Directed by John Hughes. (1984/93 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

Time does weird things behind your back.

It doesn't have the courtesy of informing you the Slayer record that once paralyzed your parents will be regarded by your own kids as “Dad music.” It lets you find out the hard way that your off-color joke which had college buddies doubling-over now creates uncomfortable silences in staff meetings. And those manboobs didn't just show up overnight. Time and gravity conspired to cultivate them, one beer at a time, right under your nose.

But to a younger generation, metal was always corny, those off-color jokes were never appropriate and you were born soft & squishy.

Sixteen Candles was – and still is – the second-funniest teen comedy of the '80s, right behind Endless Love. Clever, occasionally sweet and one of the more accurate depictions of suburban teens from that decade, writer-director John Hughes' never topped it (sorry guys, The Breakfast Club was just a little too self-important for my tastes). But even then, the film received some criticism for racial stereotyping and finding humor in date rape, which probably didn't surprise anyone already familiar with Hughes' work with National Lampoon (a magazine never renowned for its political correctness).

Anthony provides a description of his runaway turtle.
For those who grew up on it, though, Sixteen Candles was harmless fun, supremely rewatchable and infinitely quotable. While some of us may now be ashamed to admit we laughed at the running gag of a gong whenever Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) showed up, most of us could relate to Sam's (Molly Ringwald) insecurity and self-loathing, especially regarding her crush on Jake (Michael Schoeffling), the most popular guy in school who doesn't seem aware she even exists. And I don't care what decade it is...Anthony Michael Hall as “The Geek” is still funny as hell, the film's undisputed MVP.

But the cruelty of time has done funny things to Sixteen Candles, and not just the big hair, floppy disc references and plethora of synthpop. Societal changes has rendered the racial aspects of the film a bit archaic and uncomfortable, non unlike Mickey Rooney's performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And no fucking way would the subplot of taking advantage of an unconscious girl fly today.

Not that we should be retroactively offended by these elements. Viewed within the context of the era when it was made, Sixteen Candles is still one of the best  comedies of the decade. But unlike, say, The Lost Boys or some of Hughes' subsequent films, it isn't something I'd likely share with my daughters and expect the same level of enthusiasm (if even to laugh at how silly the 80s were). Theirs is a much more socially-aware generation and girls both are quick to school me whenever I even hint political incorrectness.

That being said, this Blu-ray from Arrow Video is obviously made for those of a certain age who revere Sixteen Candles as an endearing blast from the past. In addition to nicely remastered picture & sound, there are three versions of the film (outlined below). It also comes with a huge batch of bonus features, a lot of which are brand new and consisting of extended interviews with various cast & crew. While Hughes, Ringwald and Hall aren't featured in the new material (Hughes for obvious reasons...RIP), Hall shows up in the archival doc from 2008.

ORIGINAL AND EXTENDED CUTS – The extended cut runs two minutes longer.
ALTERNATE HOME VIDEO SOUNDTRACK – For the original home video release, ten songs were removed due to licensing issues. This cut features that altered version.
ADDITIONAL SCENE – From the extended version.
"CASTING SIXTEEN CANDLES” - Interview with casting director Jackie Burch.
"WHEN GEDDE MET DEBORAH” - Co-star Gedde Watanabe & Deborah Pollack discuss meeting and working together. Deb does most of the talking.
"RUDY THE BOHUNK” - Actor John Kapelos, who plays Brenda's groom-to-be, talks about his role.
"THE NEW WAVE NERD” - Interview with filmmaker Adam Rifkin, who was a kid back then and cast as one of the extras. This is actually my favorite of the interview features.
"THE IN-BETWEEN” - Interview with camera operator Gary Kibbe.
"MUSIC FOR GEEKS” - Interview with composer Ira Newborn.
"A VERY EIGHTIES FAIRYTALE” - This is an interesting video essay by author Soraya Roberts, who analyzes female roles in the film.
"CELEBRATING SIXTEEN CANDLES” - Archival retrospective documentary from 2008.
3 IMAGE GALLERIES – 1) Final draft of John Hughes screenplay; 2) 100 production stills; 3) Poster and video art (18 slides)


July 23, 2020


James Cameron's STORY OF SCIENCE FICTION (Blu-ray Review)
Featuring James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana. (2018/252 min)

Review by Cuddles, the Couch Potato😺

A more appropriate title might have been Story of Science Fiction Movies. Other mediums - such as books, comics & television – are given some props, but an overwhelming majority of the content focuses on films, particularly those from the '70s onward (and few which hail from outside the U.S.).

But I get it. It ain't like there are a lot of compelling clips of Jules Verne in action, and from a sponsorship point of view, I suppose it makes economic sense that they primary showcase films most viewers have heard of.

Six episodes make up James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction, each focusing on a specific theme: “Alien Life,” “Space Exploration,” “Monsters,” “Dark Futures,” “Intelligent Machines” and “Time Travel.” The sheer volume of clips from various related titles – from classics to modern blockbusters - is impressive, as is the list of luminaries who show up to talk about them...actors, directors, authors, even a few scientific and/or literary scholars.

Each episode is a quick-paced, entertaining and sprawling overview of films – with occasional books & TV shows – that are representative of its theme. Most are lauded with a quick clip & comment or two, while some seminal classics are explored in a bit more detail, though not a lot of depth. The show will probably be of greater interest to casual fans than hard-core sci-fi geeks, who aren't likely to see or hear much they didn't already know.

Cameron feigns interest.
Cameron himself hosts one-on-one chats with some of the most successful living directors who've dabbled in the genre, such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. When they're able to get a word in edgewise – Cameron loves to inform them what their own movies are about – most offer interestingly diverse views on the genre. Spielberg comes across as the most boyishly optimistic, del Toro the most enthusiastic, Lucas the nerdiest.

Frequent collaborator Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, too, but appears content to let Cameron do most of the talking. Since Cameron's also one of the few major directors to work almost exclusively within the genre, I guess he's earned that privilege. Besides, he's an authoritative host and his analogies are sound, his enthusiasm infectious. Hell, maybe he does know more about certain movies than the directors who made them.

Though not an all-encompassing history, James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction is an enjoyable whirlwind tour of the films, creators and concepts we most associate with the genre. I wish it would have explored the distant past more thoroughly than it does (perhaps a season two sci-fi chronology?), but it's hard to argue with the treasure trove that is included.


THE POOP SCOOP: "Animals" Edition

GAMERA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Limited Edition Box Set Coming 8/18
The original hero in a half-shell returns! For the first time ever worldwide, all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone's favourite titanic terrapin are collected together in one deluxe Blu-ray boxset. This limited edition collectors' set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the "friend of all children" in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made. In addition to hours of new and vintage bonus features, this includes a Hardback 120-page comic book including a full-color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic "The Last Hope" by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh

THE ELEPHANT MAN Criterion Collection on Blu-ray 9/29
With this poignant second feature, David Lynch brought his atmospheric visual and sonic palette to a notorious true story set in Victorian England. When the London surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) meets the freak-show performer John Merrick (John Hurt), who has severe skeletal and soft tissue deformities, he assumes that he must be intellectually disabled as well. As the two men spend more time together, though, Merrick reveals the intelligence, gentle nature, and profound sense of dignity that lie beneath his shocking appearance, and he and Treves develop a friendship. Shot in gorgeous black and white and boasting a stellar supporting cast that includes Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, and Wendy Hiller, The Elephant Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards, cementing Lynch’s reputation as one of American cinema’s most visionary talents.

THE BEAST MUST DIE on Blu-ray 8/25
The final horror film from Amicus, upgraded and uncut! In the swansong horror production from 'The Studio That Dripped Blood', Peter Cushing, Calvin Lockhart (COTTON COMES TO HARLEM), Charles Gray (THE DEVIL RIDES OUT), Anton Diffring (CIRCUS OF HORRORS) and Marlene Clark (GANJA & HESS) star in a '70s whodunit like no other. An eccentric millionaire has invited a group of eight colleagues to his island estate to hunt the deadliest game of all - one of the guests is a werewolf, and will be stalked and slaughtered for sport! But who is the lycanthrope, and do they have a shocking plan of their own? Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in the HARRY POTTER movies) co-stars in this "fast-moving and enormously entertaining" (SexGoreMutants) shocker from director Paul Annett ("EastEnders"). Featuring cinematography from Oscar® winner Jack Hildyard (THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI) and now fully restored - including the infamous 'Werewolf Break' - from a brand new 4k scan.

FIRST COW on Blu-ray (plus DVD & Digital) 9/8
Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich — but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a wealthy businessman’s prized dairy cow. With their scheme landing somewhere between honest ingenuity and pure grift, renowned filmmaker Kelly Reichardt finds a graceful and deeply moving origin story of America in their unlikely friendship and fragile life at the margins. From critically renowned director Kelly Reichardt, the film world premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in August 2019 and screened to great acclaim at the New York Film Festival in September 2019 and the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020.

July 22, 2020


Starring Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), Elvira's physical attributes, W. Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Greene, Jeff Conaway, Edie McClurg, Susan Kellermann. Directed by James Signorelli. (1988/96 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😽

If there was ever a movie that was truly made “for the fans,” it's this one. Well, fans and boys too young to rent porn.

Elvira needs no introduction. Created as a sexy, sassy TV host by Cassandra Peterson, she became an indelible part of '80s pop culture. Even today, she's revered by horror fans worldwide (and still looks pretty damn good, if you ask me).

Back then, everybody got their own movie whether they deserved it or not...Pee-Wee Herman, Fat Boys, Garbage Pail Kids, Ernest P. Worrell, Max Headroom, just to name a few. With her quasi-Valley Girl persona and fabulous physique, throwing Elvira up on the big screen was probably a no-brainer...much like the movie itself.

But it ain't like anyone was expecting The Seventh Seal. Besides, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark delivers exactly as promised: silly slapstick, juvenile humor, eye-rolling puns, innuendo, double-entendres and, of course, the star's considerable visual assets. With a plot so thin it would wisp away if you blew too hard, you're either already in-tune with Elvira's brand of creepy cornball comedy or view the film as a sure sign of the apocalypse.

One of the film's myriad esoteric moments.
Wherever you plant your flag, one aspect of the movie is indisputable: As Elvira, Peterson's 'physical' performance is eye-popping (you could even say she provides her own special effects). Sure, the character is a tongue-in-cheek homage to video vamps of the past, but that doesn't really change the fact she's built in all the right places, which the film exploits at every opportunity, most-gratuitously with a climactic Vegas-style song & dance number where Peterson demonstrates her tassel-twirling skills (pushing the PG-13 rating to its limit). And while I wouldn't go as far as to call Peterson a great actor, she is genuinely funny, even when her jokes elicit more groans than giggles.

For this Blu-ray release, Arrow Video has once again included more entertaining extras than films like this usually warrant but fans are grateful for. The best of them is a feature-length retrospective documentary that runs longer than the movie itself, with a slew of interviews and personal anecdotes from the cast & crew. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is ultimately a goofy product of its time, but as nostalgia trips go, it's still kind of fun if you're in the wrong frame-of-mind.

"TOO MACABRE: THE MAKING OF ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK” - Feature-length making-of documentary. The best of the bonus features.
"RECIPE FOR TERROR: THE CREATION OF THE POT MONSTER” - This featurette focuses on the film's most elaborate special effects sequence (besides Elvira herself, of course).
3 AUDIO COMMENTARIES – 1) By director James Signorelli, hosted by Fangoria editor Tony Timpone; 2) By Patterson Lundquist, Elvira webmaster; 3) By Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg & co-writer John Paragon.
IMAGE GALLERIES – Including storyboard, production stills, premiere photos, promo material.
REVERSIBLE SLEEVE (not previewed)


AIRPLANE! (Paramount Presents #7) and the Frequent Flyer

AIRPLANE! (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Robert Hays, Julie Haggerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lorna Patterson, Stephen Stucker. Directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker (ZAZ). (1980/87 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

I guess you could call me a frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you are, too, since Airplane! is easily one of the most re-watchable movies ever made.

Like Jaws and Star Wars, it's also one of those movies where you simply had to be there – sitting in a theater during the summer of 1980 – to really appreciate its impact. Today, movie parodies are a dime-a-dozen. Back then, we were caught completely off-guard. There had been plenty of genre satires before, most-notably those purveyed by Mel Brooks, but they were generally presented with a nudge and a wink. Airplane! played it straight, right down to the production design, film score and cast of typically-dramatic actors who didn’t appear to be in on the joke (this was before Leslie Nielsen become synonymous with parody).

Furthermore, it was like an issue of MAD Magazine brought to life. Like that magazine in its prime, the gags, puns and non-sequiturs came so fast and furious, subtle and not-so-subtle, that it was impossible to catch everything with a single viewing. I've seen Airplane! at least two dozen times over the years and almost always catch something new. In fact, while reviewing this disc - #7 in the Paramount Presents series – I noticed one of Airplane's funniest throwaway gags for the very first time. In the early scene where a ground crewman accidentally guides a jumbo jet through a terminal window, one of the people fleeing in panic is a woman who tosses her baby away as she runs.

Guess what that is! (Click to watch)
It's that kind of dedication to detail, gags-within-gags, that still makes Airplane! infinitely re-watchable, despite a few politically-incorrect jokes that wouldn't fly today and satiric references that might be lost on younger audiences. A groundbreaking film, we've been seeing its influence in countless parodies ever since, some good, some not-so-good and most downright shitty. 40 years later, Airplane! flies-high over all of them. No wonder it continues to have so many frequent flyers.

Newly remastered, this disc also boasts more new bonus features than some of the other Paramount Presents releases. The Q&A session, in particular, will be of special interest to fans, where the ZAZ team offers all kinds of amusing anecdotes about the making of the film.

"FILMMAKER FOCUS” - New interview with David Zucker, Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker.
"Q&A WITH THE DIRECTORS OF AIRPLANE!” - Following a 40th anniversary screening at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre, this is a really entertaining – and funny – discussion with the ZAZ team. Even Al White (Jive Dude #2) shows up.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and producer Jon Davison.


July 21, 2020

Dire Consequences in THE ROOM

Starring Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens, Joshua Wilson, John Flanders, Francis Chapman. Directed by Christian Volckman. (2019/109 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😸

With its unfortunate title, one might mistake The Room for Tommy Wiseau's notorious trainwreck or the Oscar-baiting Debbie-downer from 2015. Furthermore, the synopsis makes the film sound like yet-another knock-off of The Monkey's Paw.

While The Room – which first aired on Shudder - does indeed begin like a variation of W.W. Jacob's classic tale, it takes the concept a few steps further in exploring the dire ramifications of having any wish granted. In the process, the film presents some unique ideas, raises intriguing questions and grows increasingly disturbing as the narrative unfolds.

Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) move into a dilapidated fixer-upper whose previous owners were murdered. While doing repairs, Matt finds a hidden room and later discovers it can produce anything you ask for. In an amusing montage, the couple are basking in booze, jewelry, expensive clothes, priceless paintings and piles of cash. But things soon turns serious when the narrative reveals the couple had previously tried to get pregnant, suffering two miscarriages. It doesn't take a slide-rule to figure out what they wish for next.

And this is when The Room gets really interesting.

The one thing they didn't wish for: termites.
Like any story with the theme of “be careful what you wish for,” there's a catch, which I wouldn't dream of revealing here. But I will say that the previously-murdered couple figures significantly into the story. The movie also explores the psychological impact on Matt & Kate while throwing in some unnerving plot turns. It also raises interesting, discussion-worthy questions...not just over the wonderfully ambiguous denouement, but the morality of the couple's decisions and actions (especially Matt's) throughout the film.

Despite those lofty ideas, The Room never forgets to be a horror film. But rather than relying on cheap scares, it methodically builds dread, coming to a head with a conclusion that might linger with the viewer long after the credits role. A smart film with solid performances and a lot of surprises – even if you have read The Monkey's Paw – this one's a keeper.