August 31, 2021

A Mountain of DUNE (1984)

DUNE (Limited Edition 4K UHD Review)
1984 / 137 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

Our love-hate relationship with 1984’s Dune is rekindled with his loaded limited edition boxed set. In addition to a beautiful 4K restoration, there’s plenty of supplemental material to support any argument in the ongoing debate over the artistic merits of this still polarizing film.

Helmed by perpetually psychotic David Lynch (he did turn down Return of the Jedi to direct this), Dune is his infamous, $40 million trainwreck that bombed in theaters when released in 1984, but has since built a massive cult following. Adjusting for inflation, it might be the priciest cult film of all time. If someone were to go back in time to inform Lynch that Dune would still be debated, scrutinized and revisited decades later, he’d naturally assume they took too many hits from Frank Booth’s gas canister.

Speaking of love-hate...God knows there’s plenty of both. To call
Dune convoluted and confusing would be an understatement. Why else would Universal hand moviegoers a glossary when it was first released (even though no one reads in the dark)? Then there’s the plethora of distracting, clumsy and mostly redundant character voiceovers peppered throughout. The performances range from effective & understated to hammy & histrionic, the latter of which could also describe some of the chuckleworthy dialogue (“The tooth...the tooth...the tooth!”). And considering this is the post-Star Wars era, the special effects are sometimes laughably clumsy.

On the other hand, Dune remains consistently beautiful to look at - like an eerie sci-fi painting - including the scenes which wallow in ugliness. Even today, it’s a triumph of production design. Especially impressive are the striking contrasts among the three worlds depicted in the film. And while the FX are occasionally dubious, they’re just-as-often spectacular. Elsewhere, the make-up, costumes and lush score (by Toto, of all people) also contribute to make Dune compulsively watchable, despite its narrative shortcomings. And I don’t care what anyone says...those sandworms are fucking awesome.

"We just need you to feed him while we're out of town."
The film’s aesthetic attributes really pop in 4K (as do Baron Harkonnen’s pustules). Considering Dune’s longtime reputation for visual bleakness compared to other sci-fi spectacles of the era, I was surprised by the vibrant colors prominent in certain scenes, as well as sharp background details I never really noticed before. Still, the primary shades are brown and yellow, but even those scenes are more vivid than Universal’s previous Blu-ray release. The two audio tracks (2.0 and a 5.1) are equally impressive. 

Arrow Video has assembled another outstanding limited edition package that features new minimalist artwork. There’s also a big batch of new and archival bonus features, the latter culled from various previous releases. One minor’s too bad the even-more notorious extended cut - the one where Lynch had his name removed from the credits - isn't included. Surely there was enough room on the accompanying Blu-ray disc to throw that in for posterity.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Dune - flawed masterpiece, delirious debacle or something in between - this (nearly) comprehensive set not-only makes the film worth re-examining (again!), the stories surrounding its tumultuous production are just as fascinating. Like a few previous Arrow boxed sets showcasing questionable classics - such as last year’s Beyond the Door - you don’t necessarily have to love the film to love the product.

ARCHIVAL FEATURETTES - “Impressions of Dune “ (lengthy retrospective documentary with numerous interviews...though no David Lynch); “Designing Dune” (featuring production designer Anthony Masters); “Dune FX” (special effects); “Dune Models & Miniatures”; “Dune Costumes”; “Destination Dune” (original 1983 promo doc); Interviews with actor Paul Smith, make-up artist Christopher Tucker and production coordinator Golda Offenheim. 

NEW FEATURETTES - “Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune” (a wonderful doc featuring promotional tie-in products, including toys, school supplies and children’s books); “Prophecy Fulfilled: Scoring Dune” (features audio interviews with Toto members Steve Lukather & Steve Porcaro and music historian Tim Greiving; New interview with make-up artist Giannetto de Rossi.

2 NEW AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By film historian Paul Sammon; 2) By Mike White (from The Projection Booth).

SUPPLEMENTAL BOOK - 60 page book featuring 4 new essays, an interview excerpt from Lynch on Lynch, “Dune Terminology” glossary; cast, crew, restoration and disc production credits.




2 SIDED POSTER - With new and original artwork (I still haven’t decided which side I’ll be framing for display...they’re both gorgeous).

REVERSIBLE COVER ART - With the same new and original artwork.



August 29, 2021


CANNIBAL MAN (Blu-ray Review)
1972 / 107 min (Extended Cut) / 98 min (International Cut)


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

I get’re a distributor with a movie titled Week of the Killer, which sounds more like a Columbo episode than a horror film. But hey, what a movie is actually about ain’t really your problem. All you gotta do is sell the thing, so why not go big with something like Cannibal Man? It has a good exploitative ring to it, and at the very least, the title alone is sure to get the British Board of Censors’ knickers in a twist. As the old saying goes, bad attention is better than no attention, and being labeled a ‘Video Nasty’ is practically free publicity.

That 1972’s Cannibal Man did-indeed earn a spot on Britain’s notorious Video Nasties list is laughable. Not-only is there no actual cannibalism, the violence is fairly tame compared to many of the other films on the list (though an early scene featuring slaughterhouse footage is stomach churning). Whoever declared it a Video Nasty clearly didn’t actually sit and watch the fucking thing.

I’m not even sure I’d consider it a horror film in the purest sense, and writer-director Eloy de la Eglesia seems to have just a bit more on his agenda than visceral thrills. Not that Cannibal Man isn’t horrifying - or sometimes horrifically funny - but it’s more of a distressing descent into madness triggered by a single unfortunate incident. Marcos (Vincente Parra) is a lowly slaughterhouse worker who gets promoted to operate a new meat-grinding machine that will greatly increase productivity while eliminating quite a few jobs. For him, it means he can afford to marry his girlfriend, Paula (Emma Cohen), and get out of the dilapidated shack he calls home, the last one standing among several fancy high-rise apartments.

While out with Paula one night, he has an altercation with a belligerent cab driver that results in the man’s accidental death. Paula thinks they should go to the police, but Marcos vehemently disagrees. When she defies him by announcing she’s going to, anyway, he strangles her to death. What makes the scene so shocking is there’s no foreshadowing that Marcos is capable of such an act. Until then, he was outwardly meek and soft spoken. Yet at the same time, because he immediately stashes her in the bedroom - seemingly without remorse - and continues with his life as if nothing happened, it’s apparent he’s had some seriously loose screws for a long time. The cabbie’s death was simply the catalyst which unleashed his dark side.

Some cannibal...those aren't even real lady fingers.

Marcos murders several others - including his own brother! - either because they discover his crime or suspicion has them nosing around the house. He keeps stashing the bodies in the bedroom, which soon becomes a problem when they start to smell. Fortunately for him, his new position at work provides the perfect way to dispose of them, Unfortunately, he can only haul them in a few pieces at a time in his gym bag, meaning Marcos’ entire house utterly reeks after a while (a morbidly funny running gag). Still, this doesn’t make him a serial killer. Even though we’re clearly dealing with a deeply troubled mind, it’s obvious he’d prefer not to have killed anyone in the first place.

Ultimately, Cannibal Man is more of a character study of a man whose life spirals out of control and the psychological impact of his actions. There’s also an interesting subplot involving Nestor (Eusebio Ponceia), a young gay man living in one of the highrises who’s attracted to Marcos. Whether or not the feeling is mutual, there’s a sequence where Marcos appears to be questioning his own sexuality, which might even have the viewer questioning his love of Paula. In an intriguing narrative sleight-of-hand, we initially assume Nestor is destined to be just another victim. Instead, this outwardly mundane friendship ends up being a key component in the final act, which is as revealing as it is unpredictable (and probably anti-climactic to viewers expecting more of a horror show).

Anchored by an oppressive tone, drab locations and a suitably low-key performance by Parra (who appears in nearly every scene), Cannibal Man is an uncomfortable viewing experience, yet we’re compelled to stick-it-out to see what makes Marcos tick. Despite its glaringly misleading title, this is not a film for would-be thrillseekers, though I suspect many who fall for the bait & switch will find it lingering in their heads a bit longer than a typical cannibal movie.


“CINEMA AT THE MARGINS” - A career overview of director Eloy de la Iglesia by Stephen Thrower and Dr. Shelagh Rowan-Legg.

“THE SLEAZY AND THE STRANGE" - Interview with film scholar Carlos Aguilar.



REVERSIBLE COVER - Other side features some of the original artwork, which was far more lurid.


August 27, 2021

IN THE HEIGHTS and the Missed Opportunity

IN THE HEIGHTS (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 143 min


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😹


If I were a betting man, I’d have lost the farm on this one.

At the very least, I'd have wagered that In the Heights was destined to be a sleeper hit on par with The Greatest Showman. Being released just as the country was starting to open up again was almost perfect timing. What better way to celebrate the end of our pandemic-imposed exile - and enduring a barrage of current events which made us question our faith in humanity - than taking in a grand piece of escapism that promises nothing but a spectacular good time? Hey, it worked for Godzilla vs. Kong.

In fact, it was while attending Godzilla vs. Kong that I first caught the trailer for In the Heights. The damn thing gave me goosebumps, and I don’t even like musicals all that much.

That it arrived with a comparative whimper - despite stellar reviews - is still mind-blowing. Then again, I didn’t see it in a theater, either, so I’m partly to blame. But after finally watching the film for this review, I sure wish I had. If not one of the best movies of the year, In the Heights is certainly one of the most entertaining. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, there is so much going on in nearly every frame that a small screen doesn’t really do it justice. A missed opportunity, to be sure.

But even on my comparatively puny 50-inch set-up, In the Heights is constant eye & ear candy. From the showstopping opening number - introducing most of the major characters - to the heartfelt resolution, the film weaves dozens of insanely catchy tunes into the narrative that not-only drive the plot forward, they provide much of the character exposition. Many of the songs are accompanied by impressive choreography, sometimes featuring one or two actors, others where it seems like half of Washington Heights - the film’s setting - has shown up for the party. One sequence in particular - a gravity-defying dance up the side of a building - is visual highlight that probably wasn’t part of the original Broadway show.

Why I hate my daily commute.
Primarily narrated by the main protagonist, Navi (Anthony Ramos), the story juggles several concurrent storylines, most involving characters’ dreams of escaping the neighborhood that their Dominican Republic ancestors have called home for generations. Navi himself wants to return to DR to reopen his late father’s dilapidated business, while the girl he’s sweet on, Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), aspires to be a fashion designer with a swanky apartment. Navi’s young cousin, Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), wishes to someday attend college, which is threatened by his immigration status. Not everyone wants to leave, though. On summer break from Stanford, Nina (Leslie Grace) feels like an outsider in college and misses the people of her own culture. This upsets her father (Jimmy Smits), who sold off most of business to keep her enrolled. At the center of everything is Abuela (Olda Merediz), the de-facto matriarch of the entire neighborhood, though she never had children of her own. While technically a secondary character, in many ways she’s the heart of the film, both narratively and thematically.

In the Heights is filled with a wide variety of other colorful characters whose stories may not get as much screen time, but are just as engaging and wonderfully realized by a terrific ensemble cast. Even running a potentially butt-numbing 143 minutes, there are almost no throwaway moments. Nearly every scene, whether presented in song, dance or dialogue, is an important component to the narrative. There’s even some relevant - and poignant - social commentary to be found, though it never drags the viewer down with heavy-handed sermonizing. And make sure to stay through the closing credits for the film's biggest laugh.

It looks like most of us missed out on seeing In the Heights as it was meant to be experienced, but here’s hoping it finds the audience it never enjoyed in theaters. Even from the comfort of our living rooms, modern movie musicals don’t get much more entertaining than this. Energetic, funny, sometimes wonderfully bittersweet and occasionally jaw-dropping, it’s a film with many highs and very few lows. But for God’s sake, don’t watch it on a tablet!


“PACIENCIA Y FE: MAKING IN THE HEIGHTS” - A 6-chapter, 45 minutes doc featuring interviews with the cast & crew.


MUSICAL NUMBERS - This option lets you go to any musical number in the film.




August 26, 2021

THE GANG & THREE MEN TO KILL: What? He Did More Than a Bad "Airport" Movie?

1977 & 1980 / 197 min (2 films)


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Some of us ignorant Americans might only recall Alain Delon from the small handful of English language films he did in the ‘60s & ‘70s (the only one all I ever saw was The Concorde: Airport ‘79!). He never did make much of an impact on this side of the pond. But in Europe, he’s a living legend. In his heyday, Delon might not have been a versatile actor, but he had shit-tons of charisma and sex appeal, both of which are on display in these two mid-career crime thrillers. 

1977’s The Gang features Delon as Robert, the cocky and reckless leader of the Front Wheel Drive Gang. Taking place in post-war France, these guys commit a series of high profile robberies, sometimes two in a single day. Meanwhile, Robert strikes up a whirlwind romance with Marinette (Nicole Calfan). Eventually, there’s a tense stand-off with police at a countryside inn. Though leisurely paced, this is an entertaining film with a likable band of bad guys. Even with a bit of thinly-disguised commentary about French immigration policies, the overall tone remains pretty light. A couple of quips, though...the awful score sounds like something you’d hear during couples-skate at a roller rink, and what the hell’s up with Delon’s goofy afro?

Alain confronts his hairdresser.
In Three Men to Kill, Delon plays Michel Gerfaut, a professional card player who saves a stranger’s life one night. It turns out, however, the man was one of three to be murdered by a powerful arms dealer named Emmerich (Pierre Dux), who now believes Michel is a mercenary working for the other side, hired to disrupt the sale of faulty missiles. While on the run, Michel enlists the help of a former cop to learn who’s trying to kill him. This film is more violent and action oriented than The Gang, with a solid performance by Delon and lovely window dressing provided by Dalila Di Lazzaro, who plays his girlfriend. For the most part, the film is exciting and fast paced, though marred by a pointessly downbeat coda. Talk about your sucker-punches!

Certainly products of their time - and indicative of the films Alain Delon was making back then - neither of these are classics of French cinema, just well-made and enjoyable crime thrillers. For those unfamiliar with his lengthy body of work, they serve as a nice introduction. And at the very least, he’s more convincing as an antihero than sharing a cockpit with George Kennedy.


JURASSIC HUNT: Low-Budget Laughs

2021 / 84 min


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

Let’s just agree most movies with ‘Jurassic’ in the title that didn’t inspire a theme park ride are predictably cheap garbage, destined to be a ‘Weekly Wow’ at Dollar Tree or dwell in the lower bowels of your Amazon Prime menu. Some of ‘em are good for a few shits n’ giggles, but many try way too hard to top Sharknado’s calculated ridiculousness.

Which makes Jurassic Hunt sort of an anomaly. Sure, the CGI is on par with a computer nerd’s class project. And yeah, I suppose it could end up as an impulse buy in your Dollar Tree basket (perhaps even before the year is out). The whole thing looks cheap and hastily slapped together, with chuckleworthy lapses in logic and continuity.

But despite all that - and I can’t believe I’m saying this - Jurassic Hunt is actually pretty entertaining, and not always at its own expense. While no one will ever mistake it for a great film - or even a good one - it’s sometimes genuinely funny without resorting to the heavy-handed self-awareness the Sharknado series ran into the ground. 

And believe it or not, the basic premise isn’t terrible, featuring a group of thrillseekers who pay for the privilege of hunting dinosaurs on a preserve, only to be picked-off one-by-one in a variety of amusing ways. The lone woman in the group, Parker (Courtney Loggins), is actually an undercover activist trying to gather evidence to expose what’s going on, while the ruthless tycoon overseeing the preserve, Lindon (Joston Theney), takes extreme measures to make sure she doesn’t leave alive. No explanation is given for how the dinosaurs exist because...well, who cares? All that matters is we’re rooting for them from the get-go, wonky looking as they may be

"Sorry, man...must've been all those deviled eggs."
But we can’t completely write-off the characters and performances, especially the supporting cast of testosterone-heavy dino-fodder. My favorite would have to be Blackhawk (Antuone Torbert), a badass pirate/mercenary/terrorist whose monologue about the power he feels from killing is unceremoniously cut-short by a pesky pterodactyl. Another hunter’s stand-off against a stampeding T-Rex might be one of the funniest visual gags I’ve seen all year. And let’s not forget the guy who strikes up a conversation with a fellow hunter by asking if he’s ever wanted to do more to a dinosaur than kill it. 

Now that I think about it, with a (much) bigger budget and real talent behind the camera, this could have had the potential to be more entertaining than Jurassic Park III. Instead, Jurassic Hunt is slipshod slop. However, if you're in the right frame of mind, you might find yourself laughing with it as often as you laugh at it.


August 25, 2021

THE POOP SCOOP: Frisky Fall Films...and a Fancy Feast of Folk Horror

Severin Films presents ALL THE HAUNTS BE OURS: A COMPENDIUM OF FOLK HORROR on Blu-ray 12/7 (available for pre-order)
"Hail Behemoth, Spirit Of The Dark!” On December 7th, Severin Films is digging up haunted soil to unearth a truly unprecedented box set – All the Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium of Folk Horror. Curated and produced by acclaimed author and WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED: A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR director Kier-La Janisse, this definitive collection – anchored by Janisse’s award-winning documentary – includes 20 feature films, 3 CDs, a 126-page book, 15+ hours of short films, featurettes and more. ​​The most comprehensive collection of its kind begins with the definitive genre documentary of our time, Kier-La Janisse’s award-winning WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED. From there, experience 19 of the best-known, least-known, rarely-seen and thought-lost classics of folk horror from around the world, all restored from the best available vault elements with Special Features that include short films, audio commentaries and exclusive featurettes. The ultimate genre exploration continues with the original WOODLANDS soundtrack by Jim Williams and a reading of the classic short story ‘The White People’ by actress Linda Hayden, as well as a 126-page illustrated book curated by Janisse and designed by Luke Insect featuring all-new writings by renowned film scholars, authors and historians.


Warner Bros. and Studiocanal Announce Brand New 4K Restoration of Francis Ford Coppola's THE OUTSIDERS: THE COMPLETE NOVEL
Warner Bros., STUDIOCANAL, and American Zoetrope today announce the forthcoming 4K restoration of the 1983 American coming-of-age drama, THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL, from Academy Award®-winning visionary director Francis Ford Coppola. Created to give fans more of the action that took place in S.E. Hinton’s celebrated book, Coppola’s latest, definitive version includes new music, as well as several scenes cut from the theatrical version which were reconstructed from original camera negatives. Warner Bros. will release THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL theatrically in the US and Canada beginning on September 26th with tickets going on sale this week.  Details are available at Warner Bros. will also make both it and the original version available in a 4K UHD Collector’s Edition and on digital platforms starting November 9th. Additionally, THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL will be available on HBO Max beginning on November 16th and will also air this fall on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). 

THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS available on Digital 8/31 & 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 9/14
The Boss Baby is back and reporting for business in DreamWorks Animation’s THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS, a hilarious sequel guaranteed to bring the whole family together for non-stop adventure and laughs. On August 31, 2021 The Boss Baby Family Business is available to own on Digital and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray™ and DVD on September 14, featuring an all-new short from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  Building on the success of the first film, welcome back brothers Ted (Alec Baldwin) and Tim (James Marsden) as they’re introduced to a brand-new boss baby, Tim’s daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris), who is on a mission from BabyCorp. The entertainment extends beyond the film with all-new exclusive bonus features offering endless fun and sure to get the entire family into the ‘back-to-school’ mode.  These features include a brand-new animated short, deleted scene, gag reel, interactive Creative Experiment Labs, Boss Baby Art Class and more.


AMERICAN PSYCHO arrives on 4K Steelbook exclusively at Best Buy 10/5
From acclaimed director Mary Harron and staring Christian Bale in his career-making performance as Patrick Bateman, comes the exciting re-release of the unhinged cult-classic AMERICAN PSYCHO. American Psycho arrives October 5th on 4K Ultra HD™ Steelbook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street yuppie, obsessed with success, status, and style, with a stunning fiancée (Reese Witherspoon). He is also a psychotic killer who rapes, murders, and dismembers both strangers and acquaintances without provocation or purpose. Based on the controversial novel, the film offers a sharp satire to the dark side of yuppie culture in the ‘80s, while setting forth a vision that is both terrifying and chilling. Featuring all new artwork from artist Justin Erickson, American Psycho will be available on 4K Ultra HD Steelbook at Best Buy for the suggested retail price of $27.99.

At the end of season one, the survivors of the revolution are trying to pick up the pieces and maintain a fragile peace amongst the now merged classes with Layton (Daveed Diggs) emerging as the train’s leader. Discovering Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) is alive and headed their way on a rival train, Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) risks going outside to prevent him from invading Snowpiercer. While she’s out there, it’s revealed that Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard), Melanie’s daughter, who she thought had died, is alive and has become Wilford’s dedicated protegee. In season two, an entirely new power struggle emerges, causing a dangerous rift as people are divided between their loyalty to Layton and to Mr. Wilford, who has a new train, new technology and a game plan that keeps everyone guessing. While Layton battles Wilford for the soul of Snowpiercer, Melanie leads the charge on a shocking new discovery that could change the fate of humanity. All aboard the most elite train in the world, as the epic journey continues with more secrets, plot twists, and reveals as Warner Bros Home Entertainment releases Snowpiercer: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD on November 9, 2021. Strap yourself in for a thrilling ride with all 10 episodes from the second season, plus enjoy the captivating 21 minutes of extra features.