January 31, 2022

You've Probably Seen LAST SHOOT OUT (Even if You Haven't)

LAST SHOOT OUT (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 86 min


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

Be advised…not even five minutes into Last Shoot Out, someone actually says, “Howdy, pilgrim.”

It’s just the first in an assembly line of western cliches & tropes that make up the entire film, including the plot: a lone gunslinger with a dark past who comes to the aid of a woman trying to escape her husband and his murderous family, whom she learns - on her wedding day, no less - killed her father. So chances are you've already seen Last Shoot Out without actually watching it.

And the badass man in black on the cover? Not the hero. One could even argue he’s not the primary villain. It’s Cam Gigandet, who apparently earned a spot out-front by virtue of appearing in some movies you’ve actually heard of (the Twilight franchise, The Magnificent Seven). Though Cam shares above-the-title billing with fellow Twilight alumni Michael Welch and living legend Bruce Dern, the aforementioned lone gunslinger is actually played by a guy named Brock Harris, whom you might remember from…well, probably nothing.

Still, I kinda liked this movie. 

"I got news fer ya, pilgrim. 'Round these parts, white stripes are sooo last year."
Sure, we suspect the closest most of these folks have ever been to a real horse was playing Red Dead Redemption (except Dern, of course). And yeah, making a last stand at a remote outpost - surrounded, outnumbered & outgunned - is one of the most reliable climaxes in the history of westerns. And of course, said-outpost looks more like it was constructed on a backlot somewhere. 

But you know what? So were most of the low-budget oaters from the ‘50s that were prolifically punched-out using the leftovers of bigger movies. Despite lacking stars like John Wayne or directors like John Ford, a lot of those humble horse operas were unpretentious fun. Viewed with tempered expectations, Last Shoot Out is similarly enjoyable.

We may not know who the hell Brock Harris is, but he gives an earnest performance, while Welch & Gigandet make the most of their one-note characters. Dern is..well, Bruce Dern, required to do little more than be cantankerous (which no one does better these days). Efficiently directed and running a lean 86 minutes, Last Shoot Out will never be mentioned in the same breath as Shane - or even a Gunsmoke episode - but I’ve seen worse bargain counter westerns.

January 30, 2022

WAYNE'S WORLD (SteelBook): A Time Capsule in a Tin

WAYNE’S WORLD - 30th Anniversary Edition SteelBook (Blu-ray Review)
1992 / 94 min


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

Watching Wayne’s World 30 years after it became something of a phenomenon, it occurred to me that 90% of it would probably be meaningless to anyone who wasn’t around back then. Not just the pop culture references and catch-phrases which briefly became part of teenage vernacular, but public access TV, heavy metal and the growing popularity of Mike Myers. 

The Blues Brothers notwithstanding, films based on Saturday Night Live sketches were never built to have a long shelf life, and most of ‘em were already expired before they even made it to the big screen. But at least Wayne’s World’s appeal and relevance lasted longer than the bag of pre-mixed salad in your fridge…long enough to warrant a sequel, anyway. Even in those days, it was easy to see why. Creator-writer-star Myers was well-aware that a five-minute sketch cannot sustain a watchable feature film all by itself.

"A Super Bowl ad? Not in my lifetime."
Hence, Wayne’s World was loaded with satiric asides, cultural references, non-sequiturs, familiar faces, amusing secondary characters and a ton of fourth wall smashing. By turns, the film was clever, stupid, stupidly-clever and cleverly-stupid. The elements that endeared Wayne & Garth to audiences in the first place were still here, but the film didn’t simply coast on them, meaning one didn’t necessarily need to be familiar with the SNL sketch to enjoy it. While there were times when Myers seemed just a tad too impressed with himself (as always) and I never found Dana Carvey to be particularly funny, Wayne’s World was amiably amusing (if seldom uproarious...much like the sketch).

But alas, even Twinkies have an expiration date. Wayne’s World is now a snapshot of another era and this Blu-ray SteelBook is sort of like opening a time capsule that’s been buried for 30 years, punctuated by antiquated catch-phrases and quotes adorning the cover. And like a time capsule, there’s nothing new inside (unless you count the digital copy). This is simply a collectible piece of nostalgia…perhaps a cultural history lesson for some.


EXTREME CLOSE-UP - 25-minute retrospective doc, featuring interviews with director Penelope Spheeris and the primary cast.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Penelope Spheeris.



FREE KITTENS MOVIE GUIDE is giving away a Blu-ray copy of the action-thriller, SEOBOK: PROJECT CLONE, courtesy of WELL GO USA

A former special agent (GONG Yoo) is called in for a secret mission: to safely escort the world’s first human clone (PARK Bo Gum), whose body may hold the key to defeating death itself. But as the enemy closes in, the pair is forced to make an impossible choice. Directed by LEE Yong Zoo (Possessed), SEOBOK: PROJECT CLONE co-stars GONG Yoo (Train to Busan, Squid Game), PARK Bo Gum (Love in the Moonlight, Hello Monster), and JO Woo Jin (Steel Rain, The Book of Fish), plus popular television series stars JANG Young Nam (It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, My Country: The New Age, Find Me in Your Memory) and PARK Byung Eun (Arthdal Chronicles, Mystery Queen, Your Honor). The bonus features include an English dub.

SEOBOK: PROJECT CLONE is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on February 15.


Shoot us an email at freekittensmovieguide@gmail.com


Contest ends 2/15

January 28, 2022

SUPERHOST and the Amiable Antagonist

SUPERHOST (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 84 min


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Maybe it’s the grumpy ol’ Boomer in me, but I have the minority opinion that anyone with aspirations of being a media personality should demonstrate a modicum of appreciable talent, or at least have something to say worth hearing. So yeah…I’ve little use for most vloggers, especially those armed with no more than a camera and a healthy sense of narcissism, whose sole mantra is “Look at me!”

Case-in-point, Claire (Sara Canning) and boyfriend Teddy (Osric Chau) are the perky purveyors of a video blog called Superhost, where they travel from one vacation rental to another and film their stay, providing viral reviews to their audience. But all they really care about is how many people are watching them. On camera, it’s immediately obvious they are their own biggest fans. 

Off-screen, they’ve just arrived at a remote vacation home to do their next show, concerned about their dwindling number of followers. Enter Rebecca (Gracie Gillum), the 'owner' of the house who’s so animated and cheery she makes the two vloggers look like grunge-era shoegazers. She also turns out to be dangerously psychotic, watching them through surveillance cameras, stalking the house in the middle of the night, cutting off their internet feed, chasing them through the woods with a knife…all while maintaining the same bubbly demeanor and broad grin.

But even though she does end up killing a few people - ferociously - Rebecca’s fun to be around (for the audience, anyway). In fact, she’s generally more likable than Claire and Teddy, which almost seems to be intentional, as if writer-director Brandon Christensen shares a similar disdain for self-absorbed vloggers. And because she’s perfectly played with over-the-top gusto by Gillum, I found myself rooting for Rebecca, much like we all cheered-on Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Unfortunately, that also means Superhost is far less entertaining whenever she ain’t around (which feels like half of the film).

Though never particularly scary, Superhost is frequently amusing, with bits of suspense here & there and a wonderfully gruesome death scene involving a knife to the face. Legendary scream queen Barbara Crampton is even on-hand for what amounts to a glorified cameo. But in addition to Gillum’s caffeinated performance, the film works best when having fun at the expense of the “Look at me!” culture. Those people have it coming.


FEATURETTES - “Behind the Scenes of Superhost”; “Shooting in a Pandemic”; “Superhost FX”

“SCAREDYCATS” EPISODES 1 & 2 - Two horror shorts by Superhost director Brandon Christensen, starring his kids. 

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Brandon Christensen.



January 27, 2022

STAGE FRIGHT: Second-Tier Hitchcock

STAGE FRIGHT (Blu-ray Review)
1950 / 110 min


Review by Mr. Paws😾

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s lesser known films, 1950’s Stage Fright doesn’t rank among his masterpieces, but his indelible stamp is all over it. 

It certainly begins with a bang, with aspiring actor Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) helping friend Jonathan (Richard Todd) elude the police. He tells her that his lover, stage star Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich), killed her husband in self-defense. However, he’s the primary suspect, taking off in a panic when police came to question him.

Having a longtime crush on Jonathan, Eve agrees to help him hide, as well as stash the bloodied dress worn by Charlotte. She takes him to her father, Commodore Gill (Alastair Sim), who suggests Jonathan’s being framed by Charlotte. Against Dad’s advice, Eve decides to investigate Charlotte a little closer, posing as her temporary dresser. Meanwhile, a chance meeting in a bar with Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding) slowly turns into romance. However, Smith is the detective in charge of the murder case and he has no idea of Eve’s involvement (which she desperately tries to conceal). 

"I'm tiiired...tired of playing the game..."
The narrative set-up leads to some amusingly suspenseful sequences which complicate her plan even further. Stage Fright actually contains quite a bit of levity for a murder mystery, though attempts at a real whodunit are minimal (the killer’s identity won’t surprise anyone). For the most part, it's the dialogue and performances that drive the film. Wyman makes Eve a likable protagonist, while Sim is quick-witted and funny, stealing every scene he’s in. Conversely, Dietrich’s performance sometimes borders on self-parody, especially during her musical number. Admittedly though, that could be because I’ve seen Blazing Saddles so many times that It’s easy to see where Madelne Kahn got her inspiration.

Though a bit longer - and more meandering - than it needs to be, Stage Fright is a decent little thriller with plenty of Hitch’s familiar touches…suspenseful set-pieces, dark humor, a bit of audience deception and, of course, the prerequisite walk-on cameo. Though it ends rather abruptly, the story comes to an exciting conclusion. Nicely restored for Blu-ray, this may not be essential Hitchcock, but it’s pretty entertaining.


HITCHCOCK AND STAGE FRIGHT - This vintage retrospective doc features numerous interviews with filmmakers and historians, including Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Osbourne and Stage Fright star Jane Wyman.


January 26, 2022

THE POOP SCOOP: Upcoming Kibbles!

Experience the long-awaited fourth film in the groundbreaking franchise that redefined a genre when “The Matrix Resurrections” arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on January 25. The film is directed by Lana Wachowski from a screenplay by Wachowski, David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis, and stars Keanu Reeves (The “Matrix” franchise, the “John Wick” franchise) and Carrie-Anne Moss (The “Matrix” franchise, TV’s “Jessica Jones”). The film will also be available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD beginning on March 8. In “The Matrix Resurrections,” return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. And if Thomas…Neo…has learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of—or into—the Matrix. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. But what he doesn’t yet know is the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before. Déjà vu. 

😺THE KING’S MAN and THE KINGSMAN COLLECTION on Digital 2/18 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & DVD on 2/22
Uncover the secrets of the world's most stylish spy organization and learn how it all began with the ingenious and action-packed origin story The King’s Man. From masterful filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, The King’s Man explores the mythology of the very first independent intelligence agency. Set in the historic WWI era, the lethal yet impeccably trained spies take on the ultimate mission to save the fate of humanity. As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions across the globe, one man must race against time to stop them. Add the film to your Kingsman collection on Digital February 18 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD February 22. Also for fans of the stylish spy series comes The Kingsman Collection. All three films, with bonus features, together for the first time. The collection will be available digitally on February 18 and as a collectible SteelBook on February 22.

😺AMERICAN UNDERDOG: THE KURT WARNER STORY on Digital 2/4 and 4K, Blu-ray, DVD & On Demand on 2/22
American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player – but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination.


😺FOR ALL MANKIND on 4K Blu-ray in 4/26
In July 1969, the space race ended when Apollo 11 fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s challenge of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” No one who witnessed the lunar landing will ever forget it. Twenty years later, Al Reinert constructed a documentary that imparts the unforgettable story of the twenty-four astronauts who participated in the Apollo mission to land on the moon—told in their words and in their voices, using the images they captured. With its awe-inspiring, otherworldly footage and a haunting atmospheric soundtrack by Brian Eno, For All Mankind stirs us with a profound sense of compassion for the “pale blue dot” that is our home, and it is still the most radical, visually dazzling work of cinema that has been made about this earthshaking event.


😺THE HUNGER GAMES COLLECTION arrives 3/22 on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital SteelBook
The blockbuster phenomenon The Hunger Games  saga arrives March 22 on 4K Ultra HD™ + Blu-ray™ + Digital SteelBook® from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy. The Collection features artwork from top artists Flore Maquin, Ise Ananphada, Alice X. Zhang, Tula Lotay, Paige Reynolds, Aracely Muñoz, Gemma O’Brien, Lauren Hom, Meni Chatzipanagiotou and Gia Graham. Starring Oscar® winner Jennifer Lawrence (2012, Actress in a Leading Role, Silver Linings Playbook), the Collection includes all four films: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.

January 25, 2022

AMITYVILLE UPRISING: "For God's Sake, Watch Something Else"

2021 / 85 min


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Wanna see something amusing? Go to iMDB.com and type ‘amityville’ in the search window. Not only will you get a list of the original film and all of its so-called sequels - no matter how tenuously related  - but dozens of others cranked out by would-be auteurs armed with more audacity than talent. Amityville Cop, Amityville Karen and Amityville Vibrator are just a few chuckleworthy attempts to cash in on a brand name.

Writer-director Thomas J. Churchill himself has belched-out three of ‘em, the most recent being Amityville Uprising. In this one, America’s favorite horror haven is rocked by a phony CGI chemical explosion at a military base. It eventually results in acid rain that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. I say ‘eventually’ because another 40 minutes pass before we see anyone return from the dead.

One of the movie's cheekier moments.
Until then, the film is an interminable barrage of drab exposition, obnoxious characters, ridiculous dialogue and lousy performances by a cast you’ve likely never heard of. When the undead finally do show up, it’s usually one or two at a time, attacking characters who stupidly, and repeatedly, manage to get separated from the others. Reflective of the budget, the entire film takes place in a single location - a small police station - yet despite the close quarters, no one hears any victims’ blood-curdling screams just a few doors down.

Some not-half-bad make-up effects can’t offset the scattershot pacing, laughable lapses in logic and a complete lack of style or purpose. Once everybody’s dead, the movie’s over. In addition to being a conceptual rip-off Return of the Living Dead - minus the intentional humor - Amityville Uprising is just another cheap, in-name-only cash-in. With that in mind, Amityville Vibrator sounds like a more entertaining option.

January 23, 2022

SONG OF THE THIN MAN: A Charming Send-Off

SONG OF THE THIN MAN (Blu-ray Review)
1947 / 86 min


Review by Mr. Paws😸

With this release, every film in the Thin Man series is finally on Blu-ray. Yay! Even though Song of the Thin Man is arguably the weakest of the six films, it’s still a charming send-off for Hollywood’s greatest - and funniest - crime solving couple.

For this last go ‘round, Nick & Nora Charles (William Powell & Myrna Loy) investigate the murder of bandleader Tommy Drake (Phillip Reed), who was shot right after a charity event held on-board the S.S. Fortune, owned by Phil Brant (Bruce Cowling). Naturally, there are suspects o'plenty: A chronic gambler, Drake owed money to local gangster Al Amboy; he had just quit his gig on the ship, to Brant’s chagrin; he put the moves on singer Fran Page (Gloria Grahame...mee-ow!), the girlfriend of unstable, alcoholic clarinet player Buddy Hollis (Don Taylor). Not only that, everyone in his band hated him, including musician “Clinker” Krause (Keenan Wynn).

Asta gets stuck with the check.
Par for the course, the plot is perfunctory. But this time, the narrative spends more time focusing on the procedural aspects than usual, meaning there’s a little less of the main element that’s always made these films so enjoyable: Nick & Nora’s playful banter, offhanded sarcasm and domestic side stories. Still, those moments are wonderful, particularly the scenes involving parental disagreements regarding Nick Jr (Dean Stockwell). And let’s not forget their loyal dog, Asta, on-hand to steal a few scenes.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and perhaps it’s good that Song of the Thin Man ended up being the last in the series. It’s still enjoyable and the on-screen chemistry between the two stars remains undeniable, but there are a few subtle signs that the concept has finally run its course. That being said, few franchises in any era have managed such quality and consistency through six films. Completing your Thin Man Blu-ray collection with this one is a no-brainer.


PASSING PARADE: A REALLY IMPORTANT PERSON - 10 minute short, which also features Dean Stockwell.

SLAP HAPPY LION - MGM Cartoon Short, directed by Tex Avery.


January 21, 2022

SLEEP: A Puzzle of Many Pieces...and a Pig

SLEEP (Blu-ray Review)
2020 / 102 min


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Brooding, bizarre and baffling, Sleep might be the closest thing to vicariously experiencing someone else’s dreams. While that renders the entire film intriguingly ambiguous and unpredictable, sometimes it’s like assembling a 1000 piece puzzle. All the pieces eventually fit together, but it takes patience. And even then, the finished picture still might feel incomplete. 

One thing is certain…this German horror film is extremely well made, a confident and audacious debut by director Michael Venus.

Mona (Gro Swantje-Kohlhof) is a young woman whose mother, Marlene (Sandra Hüller),

suffers from nightmares she’s convinced are visions, as seen in her drawings of a mysterious hotel. When she suffers a nervous breakdown, becoming catatonic, Mona goes to the small village where she’s been hospitalized. In the interim, Mona checks into a local hotel owned by kindly (?) couple Otto and Trude. Since it’s the off-season, she’s the lone guest. 

It’s at this point Mona begins to have vivid dreams herself, distressing visions which aren’t overtly nightmarish, but increasingly distressing. Sometimes she - and the viewer - experiences dreams within dreams, the kind where she’s aware she’s dreaming, but isn’t always able to wake herself up. Sometimes they’re related to her mother, the hotel or its proprietors, other times of the young people she befriends, such as Christoph (Max Hubacher), Otto & Trude’s son whom she sleeps with (or maybe doesn’t). Mona has visions identical to her mother’s disturbing drawings, which reveal dark histories about the hotel, Marlene’s harrowing childhood, a mysterious woman in red and the suicides of Otto’s brothers…who might have been neo-Nazis.

An unbilled cameo.
Reading back on my last paragraph, it sounds like I’m describing a linear, straightforward narrative, which couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I could be completely wrong. One of the more unique aspects of the film is - like Mona - we grow increasingly uncertain if a particular scene is a dream or reality, exacerbated by allusions to old folklore and a pig trotting about the place (one of the odder-shaped puzzle pieces). By the bizarre final act, we’ve become conditioned not to trust what we see or hear.

Venus establishes a dark tone from the get-go, rendered more foreboding by the film’s deliberate pace, quiet tension and surreal imagery. There’s an occasional jolt or burst of violence here and there, but Sleep appears more concerned with building dread than traditional scares, even if we’re not always sure what we should be dreading.

While that last point is sure to frustrate the hell out of many viewers, Sleep doesn’t revel in ambiguity for its own sake. The overall narrative does make sense; Venus just leaves it to us to make the pieces fit. But even if one isn’t particularly fond of puzzles, the direction, performances and aesthetics are engaging enough to make it worth checking out for adventurous horror fans.

EXTRA KIBBLES (some of which provide clarity)

A STRANGE DARK MAGIC - Visual essay by film scholar Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

SLEEPWALKING THROUGH NATIONAL TRAUMA - Visual essay by critic Anton Bitel.

DREAM AND FOLKTALE IN SLEEP - Interview with Louise S. Milne, who discusses the film’s allusions with old folktales.

TALKING IN THEIR SLEEP - Conversation with director Michael Venus & actor Gro Swantje-Kohlhof.

THIS IS NO DREAM - Introduction by director Michael Venus & actor Gro Swantje-Kohlhof.

A DREAM WE DREAM TOGETHER - Virtual festival intros (done during the Covid lockdown) by director Michael Venus and most of the cast.

MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE - Behind-the-scenes featurette.

MARLENE’S SKETCHES - A closer look at the creepy drawings seen in the film.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By critic/historian Kim Newman (who's always interesting) and author Seth Hogan.




SUPPLEMENTAL BOOKLET - Includes an essay, an interview with director Michael Venus and, “Frau Trude,” a Brothers Grimm tale; cast, crew & transfer credits.

TWO-SIDED POSTER - Features new artwork.

REVERSIBLE COVER - Features new and original artwork.