February 28, 2022

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE Never Lives Up (or down) to Its Title.

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (Blu-ray Review)
1987 / 83 min


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😾

For a certain fringe crowd, Troma Entertainment needs no introduction, nor does the company’s loony landlord, Lloyd Kaufman. For everyone else, they’ve been prolific purveyors of sleazoid cinema for decades and probably best-known for the Toxic Avenger franchise, the absolute closest the studio ever got to releasing anything considered mainstream. 

Die-hards know what to expect…lots of blood, sex, nudity and good natured immaturity, generally presented with a big middle finger to the PC crowd. However, for anyone curious about what they might be missing, there’s a distinct difference between a Troma film and one simply distributed by them. 

For example, 1987’s Surf Nazis Must Die certainly has a Troma-worthy title, but any similarities end there. Unlike the cultivated crassness of, say, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, this film squanders its whacked-out premise. Sure, there are Nazi surfers. And yeah, they must die. But despite that tastelessly tantalizing title, the whole thing is not-only cheap, meandering and amateurish, it’s actually pretty tame. If Kaufman were minding the store, there’d be gobs more blood, boobs and buffoonery.

Madea goes boating.
Most damning of all, it's almost never funny. Not on purpose, anyway. Some humor might be found in the godawful performances, lame writing and director Peter George’s superficial, heavy-handed attempts at cult hipness. Other than getting it onto video shelves, Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma team played no part in this…and it shows. Maybe that’s why most of this Blu-ray’s bonus features are about Troma itself, all of which are a lot more frivolous fun than the movie.

There might be some nostalgic value for those who grew up in the horror section of their local video store, but for anyone seeking cheap thrills, Surf Nazis Must Die never lives up (or down) to its title.



INTERVIEWS - Interviews with director Peter George and producer Robert Tinnell.

2 “PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS” - Goofy Troma-style PSAs completely unrelated to the movie.

FEATURETTES - “Lloyd Kaufman’s Autobiography” (unfortunately, not a bio…just a promo for Lloyd’s book); “Radiation March” (some weird dance number); “Scenes from the Tromaville Cafe” (pretty-much the only bonus feature related to the movie); “Indy Artists vs.Cartels” (Lloyd Kaufman’s diatribe against the big studio system...which I kinda get); “The Hollywood System” (More Kaufman vs. Hollywood).

“LATCHED” - Short film.

February 26, 2022

THE FLAG OF IRON: Looks Are Everything

THE FLAG OF IRON (Blu-ray Review)
1980 / 113 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😽

The ‘Venom Mob’ was a group of martial arts actors who regularly appeared in a variety of Shaw Brothers films during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, which I was previously unaware of. If The Flag of Iron is indicative of their work, these guys are better athletes than actors.

However, that athleticism is pretty jawdropping. Whether using spears, swords, fists or furniture, their skills are displayed front and center, both in real time and slow motion. Anything resembling thespian skills - and the plot, for that matter - are comparatively insignificant.

Still, there is sort of a plot. When the Iron Flag clan clashes with rivals, their master is murdered by an assassin known as “The Wanderer.” One of the clan brothers, Lo, goes into exile, where he ends up fighting a variety of flamboyant killers, all working for the same person who hired the Wanderer to kill his master. Later, the Wanderer himself shows up to inform Lo he was hired - under false pretenses - by one of the Iron Flag brothers. That’s when Lo, Brother Yun and the Wanderer himself return home to avenge the betrayal.

Lo gets the point.
Ultimately though, the story is just a clothesline on which to hang gobs of fight scenes, all of which feature stunning choreography…ballets of bodies, blood and brawls. Bolstered by flamboyant costume design, vivid color and amusingly histrionic dialogue, The Flag of Iron bombards the viewer with enough aesthetic fun that we don’t concern ourselves with complexity, logic or the Venom Mob’s acting skills.

While this disc doesn’t include much in the way of bonus features - at least compared to other recent Shaw Brothers movies released by 88 Films - it boasts a pretty decent HD remaster, as well as a double-sided poster with new and original artwork.


AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Mike Leeder & Ame Venema.

SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKLET - Features an essay, “Red and Black Attack,” by Andrew Graves.



February 24, 2022

SHATTERED: Another Girlfriend from Hell?

SHATTERED (Blu-ray Review)
2022 / 92 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

The last thing we need is yet another “girlfriend from hell” thriller. You know the drill: Lonely guy meets beautiful woman. Lonely guy and beautiful woman seem made for each other. Beautiful woman returns out to be a murderous psycho. 

But I gotta admit I enjoyed Shattered more than I wanted to, maybe because it isn’t quite “in the tradition of Fatal Attraction,” as the cover synopsis boasts.

In this one, the lonely guy is Chris (Cameron Monaghan), a millionaire in the midst of a divorce who lives in a secluded, high-tech mountain home. Then he meets beautiful woman Sky (Lilly Krug), who charms the pants off him (literally). When they aren’t together, Sky and a roommate are living in a seedy hotel managed by crusty old horndog Ronald (John Malkovich). While Chris and Sky are out one night, he’s attacked by a car thief, breaking his leg. Sky happily moves in to take care of Chris. Shortly afterwards, the roommate ends up dead, supposedly from suicide. But we know better, don’t we?

If it can't be fixed with duct tape, it ain't worth fixin'.
Even if we didn’t, Sky is more than willing to clear the air, informing Chris she killed her roommate. Then she imprisons him in his own home, subjecting him to a variety of torments. However, Sky has an actual agenda that has nothing to do with unhealthy infatuation. Using torture to get access to his accounts, she plans to bilk Chris of everything he has. She ain’t working alone either. Sleazy mentor and stepfather Sebastian (Frank Grillo) arrives later to help finish the job.

Shattered contains more than its fair share of implausibilities, sometimes straining credibility to the breaking point, but at least we’re spared the same old psycho lover routine. Neither Chris nor Sky are particularly interesting - even when bumpin’ uglies - because they feel like patchwork composites of characters in similar films, nor are the actors able to breathe much new life into them. Grillo, however, seems to be having a great time. The less said about Malkovich’s embarrassing role, the better.

But despite its shortcomings, the story isn't half bad. At the very least, it’s engaging enough that we’re compelled to see it through (even if we kinda see where everything’s heading). Bolstered by a few bursts of explicit sex & violence for the yahoo crowd, no one’s likely to walk away from Shattered thinking they’ve just seen a great film, but it’s okay in the moment.


“MISCHIEF IN THE MOUNTAINS: THE STORY OF SHATTERED” - Labeled as an interview with director Luis Prieto, it also features most of the primary cast.



THE POOP SCOOP: Upcoming Kibbles!

WEST SIDE STORY on Digital March 2 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD 3/15 from 20th Century Studios
Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg presents an inspired reimagining of the beloved musical West Side Story. The film that critics celebrate as “electrifying” (Alonso Duralde, The Wrap) and “a total triumph” (Matt Goldberg, Collider) has been nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress and 11 Critics’ Choice Awards. Rejoice in the spectacular new choreography alongside the iconic songs – plus see astonishing all-new footage of Spielberg at work in documentary filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau’s revealing “The Stories of West Side Story.” Bringing together the best of both Broadway and Hollywood, the film’s creative team includes Tony Kushner, who also served as an executive producer; Tony Award winner Justin Peck, who choreographed the musical numbers in the film; renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor and GRAMMY Award winner Gustavo Dudamel, who helmed the recording of the iconic score; Academy Award-nominated composer and conductor David Newman (“Anastasia”), who arranged the score, Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”), who supervised the cast on vocals; and GRAMMY-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Chicago”), who serves as executive music producer for the film. The film is produced by Spielberg, p.g.a., Academy Award-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger, p.g.a. and Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum. Original choreography by Jerome Robbins, based on the stage play, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, play conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Leonard Bernstein.

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook 4/19 from Lionsgate
A rambunctious group of five college friends steals away for a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of endless terror and bloodshed. Sound familiar? Just wait. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror-movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make! With their efforts continually thwarted by an all-powerful “eye in the sky,” do they have any chance of escape? Writer-director Drew Goddard’s wicked and twisted horror-thriller, The Cabin in the Woods, arrives April 19 on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook from Lionsgate. Produced and written alongside Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods features Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams), two-time Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins and three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Bradley Whitford.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON Limited Edition 4K coming 3/15 from Arrow
On March 15th, An American Werewolf in London bites its way into 4K. Directed by John Landis, this horror-comedy tells the story of two friends (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) that are viciously attacked by a wolf-like creature while backpacking through England. One friend dies while the other suffers a much worse fate - he becomes a werewolf. Featuring a gnarly and bone-shattering transformation scene, An American Werewolf in London set the gold standard for which all other werewolf films strive to be with Film School Rejects calling "a quintessential horror text when it comes to both lycanthropy and practical effects." This UHD release includes a brand new 4K restoration completed by Arrow Films from the original camera negative. Special features include documentaries, audio commentaries, interviews, and limited edition 60-page, perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles, and original reviews.


DOUBLE INDEMNITY 4K Coming 5/31 from Criterion
Has dialogue ever been more perfectly hard-boiled? Has a femme fatale ever been as deliciously evil as Barbara Stanwyck? And has 1940s Los Angeles ever looked so seductively sordid? Working with co-writer Raymond Chandler, director Billy Wilder launched himself onto the Hollywood A-list with this paragon of film-noir fatalism from James M. Cain's pulp novel. When slick salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) walks into the swank home of dissatisfied housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck), he intends to sell her insurance, but he winds up becoming entangled with her in a far more sinister way. Featuring scene-stealing supporting work from Edward G. Robinson and the chiaroscuro of cinematographer John F. Seitz, Double Indemnity is one of the most wickedly perverse stories ever told and the cynical standard by which all noir must be measured. In addition to the 4K restoration, this disc includes a large selection of new and vintage bonus features.

February 23, 2022

HARD HIT and the Literal Hot Seat

HARD HIT (Blu-ray Review)
2021 / 94 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

Don’t be fooled by the distressingly generic title, which makes the film sound like just another punchfest. Instead, Hard Hit is a tense South Korean thriller that unfolds like a mash-up of Speed and Phone Booth, with some unusual character developments during the final act.

Lee Seong-gyu (Jo Woo-jin) is a successful bank manager whose ambition has him spending more time at the job than with his family, which includes his teenage daughter and younger son. While driving them to school on the way to work one morning, a mysterious caller informs him there’s a bomb in the car. If Lee or either kid tries to get out or contact the police, he’ll explode the bomb. A similar device is also in his partner’s car, but when that man’s wife doesn’t heed advice…Ka-boom. Since Lee is parked too close, the explosion gravely injures his son, yet the caller refuses to let him take the boy to the hospital.

"For the last time, sir, you can't park here!"
This incident has the police on the hunt for Lee, who's now the primary suspect when his car is identified with a traffic cam. Meanwhile, the caller demands millions from Lee, most of which he’s forced to embezzle from his own clients. Still, it isn’t enough. The caller repeatedly demands Lee to elude the police, leading to a harrowing chase through downtown Busan until they surround him. There’s a stand-off, in which Lee is eventually able to convince bomb squad leader (Jin Kyung) he’s innocent, while the police chief still thinks he’s a madman…and has snipers trained on him.

We also meet the bomber during this segment, Jin-woo (Ji Chang-wook), who may be ruthless, but his motive is understandable, even sympathetic. Lee’s also revealed to have an unsavory past, having coordinated a shady deal at his bank which destroyed the lives of well-meaning investors. If the ongoing crisis didn’t involve children, the viewer might be questioning who the true villain really is, a character development atypical of the usual action film.

There are a few lapses in plausibility - probably necessary to keep the story moving forward - so some suspension of disbelief is required at times, but no more than we needed for movies like Speed. While not as rousing or fast-paced as that film, Hard Hit is an enjoyable thriller in the same vein, despite the lazy title.




February 22, 2022

GHOSTRIDERS: That Little Ol' Flick from Texas

GHOSTRIDERS (Blu-ray Review)
1987 / 85 min


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Maybe you know a guy who regularly claims the 1980s were the “golden age” of horror, waxing nostalgic about weekends spent in the horror section of the local video store. While those were indeed good times and horror was undoubtedly a booming market, the reality is a vast majority of those films were regionally-produced, homegrown flicks cranked out by would-be auteurs armed with more ambition than resources...or talent. 

So for every genuine cult classic name-dropped by your ‘80s-obsessed friend, there were dozens - even hundreds - of movies like Ghostriders...grown and grass-fed in great state o’ Texas. Not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, it’s nevertheless an admirable example of the can-do spirit required of anybody trying to sneak into the movie business through the cellar window.

Maybe some of you reading this are that guy who walked out of Blockbuster every Friday night with an armload of fright flicks chosen for their lurid cover art or aggrandizing synopsis. Since Ghostriders checks off both boxes, there’s a chance you might carry a nostalgic torch for this one. 

Vince McMahon...sick of your shit.
If so, you’re already well-aware the so-called “ghosts” of the title look more like a well-fed western bar band than undead spirits; and that the primary cast of non-actors spend half the film walking around some Texas grassland outside of Austin; and that much of the story was based on the resources the producers had on-hand at any given time, which explains the bi-plane scene and a grasshopper’s unfortunate encounter with a wolf spider (tossed into its web by one of the producers!).

And you probably wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s an earnestness behind this budget-conscious backwoods bonanza that’s kind of charming. We walk away with the impression that once filming wrapped, everyone involved with Ghostriders celebrated with a cookout and a case of Lone Star. They may not have made a good movie, but at least they made a movie. How many of us can claim as much? 

Today, Ghostriders is sort-of like revisiting the good ol’ pre-Netflix days, when we were more motivated to see a film through to the end because…hey, we paid for it. Moreover, it’s indicative of what mostly awaited us on video shelves during horror’s so-called “golden age.”

In addition to a pretty good restoration, this disc is given a nostalgic boost with some new & vintage bonus features, including an entertaining look back by writer/producer James Desmerais and DOP/producer Thomas L. Calloway, the latter who confesses hastening the death of that poor grasshopper.


BRINGING OUT THE GHOSTS: THE MAKING OF GHOSTRIDERS - A new, very interesting doc featuring the producers, who provide many entertaining anecdotes about their efforts to get the film made. Easily the best of the bonus features.


AUDIO COMMENTARY - By DOP/producer Thomas L. Calloway, writer/producer James Desmerais and moderator Steve Latshaw.



February 21, 2022

EDGE OF DARKNESS and a Bit of Norwegian Payback

EDGE OF DARKNESS (Blu-ray Review)
1943 / 119 min


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Edge of Darkness isn’t one of the most-remembered films Errol Flynn did in the ‘40s, but it’s arguably one of the better ones.

That’s not necessarily due to Flynn himself. With all due respect, Flynn was always more of a movie star than an actor, so while he’s suitably stoic as Norwegian resistance leader Gunnar Brogge, it’s the writing, direction and terrific ensemble cast that make the film intensely gripping.

The story takes place during World War II in a small Norwegian fishing village occupied by Nazis, commanded by coldblooded Captain Koenig (Helmut Dantine, in a chilling performance). With the town’s safety, livelihood and freedom at stake, some of its citizens are quietly planning a revolt using weapons promised by the British. Brogge becomes the de facto leader of the movement, assisted by love-interest Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan), much to the chagrin of her father, Dr. Martin Stensgard (Walter Huston), who feels Brogge’s recklessness endangers his daughter. Like a few others in the village, he’d rather remain neutral.

Not impressed.
Still-others capitalize on the Nazi’s presence for their own personal gain, such as greedy cannery owner Kaspar (Charles Dingle) and Karen’s own self-serving brother, Johann (John Beal), who’s suspected of being a ‘quisling’ (someone who essentially rats-out their own people). Much of the first two acts establish the characters and depict the resistance preparing to carry out the revolt (which Brogge is impatient to start, especially after Karen disappears), while Koenig grows increasingly ruthless. This leads to a stunning - and surprisingly violent - clash once the townspeople have been pushed too far.

Edge of Darkness hooks the viewer right away by showing the aftermath first, the town strewn with hundreds of corpses, which leads us to believe such a slaughter left no survivors. Flashing back, the narrative takes its time establishing the plot and characters, which is important to assure the viewer’s investment in their plight, so by the time the bullets start flying, we’re more than ready for some swift Norwegian payback and are rewarded by a rousing climax filled with taut action.

Even though Flynn is top billed, he’s simply one part of a uniformly excellent cast. Elsewhere, Edge of Darkness is aptly titled, somber in tone and occasionally infuriating when depicting injustice at the hands of the Nazis, as well as the betrayal perpetrated by one key character. 


“GUN TO GUN” - Warner Bros short.

“TO DUCK…OR NOT TO DUCK” - Looney Tunes short, with Daffy Duck & Elmer Fudd.


February 20, 2022

THE KING'S MAN Takes a Step Back

THE KING’S MAN (Movie Review)
2021 / 131 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😽

Add the film to your Kingsman collection on Digital February 18 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD February 22.

I’m generally not a fan of prequels or origin stories and would have preferred another direct sequel in the Kingsman franchise. The first two films are sort-of like James Bond without a filter: colorful, brutally violent and occasionally raunchy with an off-kilter sense of humor. I’m not sure how many were pining to see where it all began, but since Matthew Vaughn wrote and directed this one as well, surely the same elements which made the others so enjoyably cheeky would be here in abundance. So why not?

But there are long stretches where it seems like Vaughn forgot what makes the Kingsman series fun.

Set prior to World War I, The King’s Man often eschews the elements that endeared us to the other films. There’s visually impressive action, as usual, but for at least the first 40 minutes, the overall tone is surprisingly somber, focusing on Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), a disillusioned spy and protective father who’s trying to dissuade teenage son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) from joining the military, especially since Germany has declared war on England. Meanwhile, a secret organization, headed by an unseen figure, is manipulating the kings of England, Germany and Russia with the help of loyal moles in those governments.

We all need a little more Rasputin in our lives.
Up to this point, there’s too much plot and too many characters, but aside from Orlando, none of them are particularly interesting. But things pick up considerably when mad monk Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) is unleashed to wreak havoc. Perverted, psychotic and extraordinarily lethal, he’s a terrific character and perhaps the most amusing antagonist in the entire franchise. The fight between him, the Oxfords and Orlando’s ‘butler’ Shola (Djimon Hounsou) is both thrilling and hilarious. Now this is more like it!

But just when one thinks the rest will be the type of Kingsman film we’re used to, everything once again turns serious with a middle act which spends way too much time with Conrad on the German front. Not only is the shift in tone unwelcome, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen in other historical war films. And despite clumsy efforts to integrate Conrad’s army stint into the main plot, it's ultimately inconsequential, exacerbated by the fact he’s not very compelling…just another naive kid who’s too patriotic for his own good. We’ve seen him in a lot of war films, too.

The film rebounds with a wild final act atop a mountain butte which pits Orlando & his assembled team against the mysterious mastermind (though his reveal ain’t much of a surprise) and a vengeful mountain goat. Thrilling, suspenseful and phenomenally choreographed, the climactic clash goes a long way in making the serious segments worth enduring. Had the entire film been this exhilarating, The King’s Man would have been a worthy franchise spin-off. Instead, it’s simply another well-made action film...watchable but lacking any real charm.

THE GREEN MILE (4K): Now Even Greener

1999/ 188 min


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸


One of the more enduring adaptations of a Stephen King novel, The Green Mile gets a long awaited 4K upgrade. Both the audio and video are a significant improvement over previous Blu-ray editions (and there’s been a lot of them). The image is sharper, with a lot more clarity and detail in every scene. The film sounds great, too, with a Dolby Atmos remix for better overall balance.

As for the movie itself, I’ve always considered The Green Mile sort of an oddity among King-based works. There’s arguably no better director at adapting King than Frank Darabont. Whether it's a horror story or not, his films capture the overall spirit and tone of the original novels while still remaining mostly faithful to the source. When he does make changes to the story, they’re often an improvement over what King originally wrote.

"Care to take a customer survey?"
But what makes The Green Mile something of an anomaly even within Darabont's filmography is its daunting length. With a running time usually reserved for art films and sprawling epics, The Green Mile is neither. It’s a unique combination of realism and fantasy, the latter of which isn’t even introduced to the narrative for nearly an hour, with virtually no foreshadowing. A more pragmatic director would have trimmed things up by an hour and still told the same story. But because Darabont allows the characters and story considerable breathing room, each scene becomes a bit more immersive. 

Though The Green Mile never quite reaches the emotional heights of The Shawshank Redemption - to which it is most often superficially compared, for obvious reasons - it thoroughly (obsessively?) retains almost every aspect of the original novel. More than any other King adaptation that isn’t a two-parter or miniseries, we feel like we’re watching the entire book unfold on-screen. 

In addition to the new 4K restoration, this set includes the original Blu-ray version and a huge batch of vintage bonus features. But being that there’s no new supplementary material, it’ll only be of interest to those looking to upgrade the movie itself. 



WALKING THE MILE: THE MAKING OF THE GREEN MILE - A shorter version of a previously released feature-length doc. 

MIRACLE AND MYSTERY - Six featurettes with a ‘play all’ option. Our favorite features various authors & filmmakers discussing Stephen King’s works and influence. 

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Frank Darabont.