April 30, 2023

UNWELCOME and the Bloodthirsty Little People

2022 / 104 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

After a violent home invasion in their London apartment, expectant young couple Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) move to a small Irish community where the latter has just inherited an old house from his late aunt. Though definitely a fixer-upper, it’s a seemingly idyllic place to raise their new family.

However, one of the locals warns them of the Redcaps, hungry little goblins who live beyond a stone wall in the nearby woods and require a ‘blood offering’ each day, generally in the form of raw meat. Though they initially dismiss the story as folklore, Maya promises to comply. Meanwhile, they hire the Whelan family - led by a patriarch (Colm Meaney) who insists on being called ‘Daddy’ - to fix up the house. At first, they’re simply obnoxious, but soon grow more threatening and violent.

Sure enough, the Recaps turn out to be real, though not quite as monstrous as the trailer for Unwelcome suggests. In fact, once the Whelans are established as the primary antagonists, these creatures are ready to dish out some really violent retribution at Maya’s behest, especially since Jamie is kind of a milquetoast. However, the Recaps’ protection doesn’t come without a price, which Maya may or may not be willing to pay.

"I come with the house."
Unwelcome is pretty meandering during the first act, and considering the premise, the whole thing could use a little more humor. But for the most part, it’s a decent little slab of folk horror. Maya is a resilient, sympathetic heroine, while husband Jamie is deliberately depicted as weak and unsympathetic. Meaney is malevolently amusing as Daddy, but the Whelan kids are borderline cartoonish, established almost too quickly as sneering, hateful bastards. No way would anyone in their right mind keep this family employed.

Still, we look forward to their comeuppance, and speaking of which, the movie certainly delivers the gore goods in a couple of wonderfully nasty scenes. The Redcaps themselves are neat little creations, an unholy cross between gremlins and leprechauns. Refreshingly, they’re rendered primarily through practical special effects.

The film sort of drops the ball during its somewhat perplexing climax by throwing in a late revelation related to Jamie’s aunt that, at this point, the story doesn’t really need. But overall, Unwelcome is a fairly enjoyable little creature feature worth checking out at least once.


FEATURETTES - Behind the Scenes; Making the Redcaps.


April 28, 2023

ON THE EDGE and Some Paternal Payback

ON THE EDGE (on Blu-ray & VOD)
2022 / 100 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

Though not quite suicidal, Leo Castañeda (Antonio De La Torre) doesn’t appear to care whether he lives or dies. At first, we aren’t quite sure why. He doesn't open up much, nor is writer-director Giordano Gederlini in a hurry to enlighten us. But that's a big part of what makes On the Edge such an intriguing thriller, though its original Belgian title, Entre La Vie La Mort (Between Life and Death), more accurately describes both the protagonist and the overall tone.

The story does begin with a suicide, though. Just after Leo begins his shift as a metro subway operator, a young man throws himself in front of the train. The investigator in charge, Virginie (Marine Vacth), later learns the kid was Leo’s estranged son, whom he hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Leo doesn’t reveal why he didn’t inform her right away, but he’s obviously shocked and distraught by the incident. Since we learn his wife also died six years earlier, it’s no wonder that carrying on alone isn't a high priority.

Leo’s indifference to living gives him something of an advantage when he’s threatened by a crew of robbers who committed a deadly heist, which coincidentally, Virginie is in the middle of investigating. It turns out Leo’s son participated in the heist and was shot before driving off with the money. Now the crew wants the cash back and thinks Leo has it. Virginie also suspects Leo knows a lot more about the entire subway incident than he’s willing to say.

Brussels' scariest DoorDash driver.
To reveal much more about the plot would be to ruin some terrific surprises. The basic narrative is actually pretty straightforward…Leo obviously wants to avenge his son by hunting down his killers, while Virginie struggles to remain on the case (for distinctly  personal reasons). However, revelations are slowly revealed about both - at opportune times during the story - which not only increase our investment in them, they create a lot of “a-ha” moments related to previous scenes.

Leo himself is a great character. Despite never saying much, we understand what compels him. And while he doesn’t look or act like your typical man of action, he’s very resourceful and calculating. Speaking of which, the action itself is sparse and presented without much embellishment, but it’s generally pretty exciting and mostly believable. 

On the Edge is fast paced and stylishly directed, making great use of various Brussels locations (mostly at night). Tension-filled almost from the get-go, this neo-noir thriller methodically sucks’the viewer in with its revenge-themed story, engaging lead characters and excellent performances (De La Torre, in particular). It's an under-the-radar gem not to be missed.

April 27, 2023

DEEP IMPACT (4K): A Disaster Movie with a Message

DEEP IMPACT 25th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD)
1998 / 121 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

While some of the aesthetic aspects of Deep Impact may seem a bit dated these days, the film does feature one particular message that might even be more timely today than it was 25 years ago… 

In one of the very first scenes. Astronomer Marcus Wolf discovers that a giant comet is on a collision course with Earth. His internet connection is down, so he rushes from his observatory to warn authorities. Speeding down the mountain in his Jeep while urgently fumbling with his cell phone, he collides head-on with a semi-truck and dies.

Texting while driving is a bad idea, folks.

This scene has no actual impact on the plot. Nowhere is it indicated that Wolf’s untimely death prevents his ominous discovery from being shared with the world. The film simply picks up a year later, when the government is already well aware the comet is heading towards Earth and taking steps to make sure we're not globally screwed. So before anyone offers the argument that Wolf’s doomsday discovery is a damned good excuse for distracted driving, remember that he had plenty of time to drive safely into town and find a working phone. 

Timely message notwithstanding, of all the films released during the brief resurgence of the disaster genre in the late ‘90s, Deep Impact remains the best one…certainly better (and smarter) than the similarly-themed chest-thumper, Armageddon, which was released the same year. 

Looks like everyone has tomorrow off.
Earth is given about a year to live unless something can be done to divert the comet, so a crew of astronauts is sent into space (led by Robert Duvall) to land on the surface and plant thermonuclear charges, which will hopefully change its course. But they only succeed in blowing off one chunk, so now there are two comets hurling toward the Earth. Worse yet, the backup plan of launching Titan missiles into space also fails. Bad news for the world, but good news for the viewer because now we are assured that at least one of them is gonna hit (hey, we pays our two-bits to see cities get pummeled, not watch everyone breathe a collective sigh of relief after a near miss). Though the special effects are a bit antiquated, watching New York slammed by a 1,000-foot tsunami is inarguably the film’s best scene.

While it has its share of implausibilities, Deep Impact is one of the genre’s more intelligent films and boasts a good cast in roles that have a bit more depth than typical disaster movie stock characters (even if Tea Leoni is the least convincing news anchor of all time). There aren’t any bad guys ready to put someone else’s life in jeopardy to save their own asses, no idiots ignoring the problem, no hordes of extras reacting in a blind panic in the time-honored tradition of self-preservation. Admittedly though, part of me sort of misses some of those stock characters, which always made disasters of the ‘70s such goofy fun. I’d rather see more of them than two star-crossed teenagers getting hitched in order to survive.

But as good as Deep Impact is, it’s too bad that the awesome distracted driving message doesn’t have greater significance in the actual plot, such as having one man’s carelessness behind the wheel exacerbate the global threat. Maybe some viewers would stop to ponder if the next irrelevant call or text they make while driving at 60 mph could result in the deaths of billions. Still, Deep Impact remains great, epic entertainment with more heart and brains than most disaster flicks. This 25th Anniversary 4K UHD release serves up a decent upgrade from previous Blu-ray or DVD versions. However, there are no new bonus features.



FEATURETTES - “Preparing for the End”; “Making an Impact”; “Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam”; “Parting Thoughts.”


AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Mimi Leder and SFX supervisor Scott Farrar.


April 26, 2023

THE POOP SCOOP: Modern Classics & TV Terrors

😺THE TRUMAN SHOW Celebrates 25th Anniversary with a new 4K Ultra HD Two-Disc Set from Paramount.
Director Peter Weir’s cinematic triumph THE TRUMAN SHOW celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and Paramount Home Entertainment is marking the occasion by releasing a newly remastered version of the beloved classic on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever on July 4, 2023. Starring the incomparable Jim Carrey, THE TRUMAN SHOW was a box office and critical success, earning over $264 million worldwide and a 95% fresh critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Nominated for three Academy Awards, THE TRUMAN SHOW is both wildly entertaining and a complex exploration of media consumption, surveillance, and reality TV that was ahead of its time and even more relevant today. THE TRUMAN SHOW has been fully remastered using scans of the original negative, with the new 4K version approved by Weir.  The film is presented with Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos audio for a truly immersive experience.  The 4K Ultra HD two-disc set includes the film on both 4K Ultra HD Disc and on Blu-ray, along with access to a Digital copy of the film and legacy bonus content.

🙀V/H/S/99 Available on DVD, BluRay and SteelBook Packaging on May 23 from RLJE Films.
RLJE Films has picked up select rights to the horror film V/H/S/99 from Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural. RLJE Films will release V/H/S/99 on DVD, BluRay and BluRay/DVD SteelBook on May 23, 2023.  The release will also have over 3 hours of bonus features, including commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes and a comic com panel. In V/H/S/99, a thirsty teenager's home video leads to a series of horrifying revelations. Featuring five new stories from filmmakers Maggie Levin, Johannes Roberts, Flying Lotus, Tyler MacIntyre and Joseph & Vanessa Winter, V/H/S/99 harkens back to the final punk rock analog days of VHS, while taking one giant leap forward into the hellish new millennium.

🙀SCREAM VI on Digital April 25 and in a 4K Ultra HD SteelBook, on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on July 11th from Paramount.
Ghostface is more terrifying than ever on a rampage in the Big Apple in the “flawless” and “razor-sharp game-changer” (Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting) SCREAM VI, arriving for purchase on Digital April 25, 2023 from Paramount Home Entertainment. No one is safe and everyone is a suspect in the smash hit thriller from Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group that has earned more than $167 million worldwide.  The four survivors from the most recent Woodsboro Ghostface killings have moved to New York City for a fresh start. Just as they begin to feel a sense of normalcy, they receive that infamous call. Ghostface is more brutal and relentless than ever and will stop at nothing to hunt them down. Fans who buy the film on Digital will have access to over an hour of killer bonus content, including behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew discussing the wildly popular franchise and upping the ante in this latest installment.

🙀ONE FALSE MOVE on 4K and Blu-ray July 25 from Criterion Collection.
A small-town police chief (Bill Paxton) concealing an explosive secret. A pair of ruthless drug dealers (coscreenwriter Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Beach) who leave a bloody trail in their wake as they make their way from Los Angeles to Arkansas. And an enigmatic woman (Cynda Williams) caught in the middle. The way these desperate lives converge becomes a masterclass in slow-burn tension thanks to the nuanced direction of Carl Franklin, whose haunting film travels a crooked road across America’s most fraught divisions—urban and rural, Black and white—while imbuing noir conventions with a wrenching emotional depth. In addition to a 4K restoration, this release includes a Blu-ray copy of the film and several vintage bonus features.

April 23, 2023


2017 / 108 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😾

There might be a decent movie lurking around in there somewhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Pilgrimage is the first film I’ve ever reviewed where the entire experience is utterly destroyed by its presentation. 

I probably should qualify that by suggesting it could be the actual DVD transfer. The picture and sound are fine. In fact, Pilgrimage looks wonderful (save for a few wonky scenes where the use of green screen is obvious). However, the subtitles are way out of sync with the dialogue…sometimes by more than 5 seconds. This is a huge issue because not-only is all exposition presented by voiceover narration, we’re often unsure who is speaking, which is especially frustrating during numerous scenes involving a character who serves as an interpreter for the protagonist.

"A little seasick, sir?"
That protagonist, Fernão Mendes Pinto, was an actual Portuguese explorer who wrote about his exploits in a book that was published after his death. Apparently, the general consensus was that Pinto was more skilled at spinning engaging stories than offering factual accuracy. Pilgrimage is an adaptation of that book, narrated by Pinto (Claudio da Silva), who recounts two decades at sea in his quest for riches. 

Even without the subtitle gaffes, the episodic narrative is pretty choppy (and hard to follow), jumping from one isolated story to the next with minimal transition, compounded by multiple flashbacks and scenes where Pinto’s crew repeatedly break into song. And for a movie about one man’s global adventures, there’s precious little on-screen action, presumably due to budget restraints. Ultimately, we’re told a hell of a lot more than we’re shown. 

Though too convoluted to be fully engaging, Pilgrimage could have been at least watchable because it’s handsomely produced and features good overall performances. Instead, the subtitles simply exacerbate the film’s narrative shortcomings, rendering the whole film damn near incomprehensible and unendurable.

Stay Out of THE LAKE

THE LAKE (Blu-ray)
2022 / 93 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

Thailand's The Lake features a couple of great-looking monsters. The producers must have been especially proud of them, too, because they show up on-screen early and often. Considering what looks like a fairly limited budget, both are more-or-less convincing, rendered through a combination of animatronics, puppetry and CGI. The same admiration, however, does not apply to the rest of the film.

The basic premise is okay, if pretty derivative, with two amphibious reptiles that emerge from a local river. The giant one is obviously the mother, stalking around like a T-Rex in search of the egg that was snatched away by a little girl. The smaller one is an adolescent that’s far more quick and agile, as demonstrated by a few killing sprees.

Not wabbit twacks.
But the execution is awful, both narratively and visually. The Lake is almost immediately bogged down by dull characters and unnecessary subplots, the worst being that of a dedicated cop dealing with his snotty teenage daughter. It’s also loaded with dumb dialogue (exacerbated by clumsily-translated subtitles) and glaring lapses in logic, such as a Jurassic Park-inspired scene where the roaring mother is stomping around just outside a vehicle, yet no one inside hears her. There are also way too many scenes of characters simply staring in dumbstruck awe at these creatures. 

Perhaps all that could be overlooked if the monster mayhem was compelling. But despite terrific looking creatures, most of the attacks either occur off-screen or are ruined by too much quick-cut editing. It also doesn’t help that a majority of these scenes occur at night during a murky torrential downpour. Worst of all, despite a narrative that builds expectations of a showdown in the middle of town, the film abruptly peters out into an annoyingly anticlimactic conclusion. 

Unoriginal and underwhelming, The Lake offers nothing that hasn’t been more skillfully executed in better films. 


BEHIND-THE-SCENES FEATURETTE - With a hilariously histrionic voice-over.



April 20, 2023


2023 / 124 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seems to have been a Marvel mantra ever since kickstarting the MCU, with nearly every film following a reliable formula. There’s a sameness to their narratives that, depending on your level of investment, is either comforting or increasingly stale.

The arguable exception would be the first two Ant-Man movies, which were enjoyable anomalies. Breezy and humorous in tone, they were welcome breathers in between the ominous implications and apocalyptic spectacle of other films in the MCU, with a likable, laid-back and fallible protagonist. While obviously still part of the franchise’s overall story arc, these films lightened things up a little. Even the action and special effects were created to induce more amusement than wonder. 

Not this time.

The Ant-Man series wasn't broken, but for some reason, they decided to fix it anyway. Though occasionally funny, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania eschews nearly everything that made the first two endearing, resulting in a bigger but distressingly generic Marvel movie, emphasizing hyperkinetic action and special effects over its own established characters. 

It begins great, though, with Scott Land (Paul Rudd), settling back into a life of normalcy while enjoying a bit of local celebrity status for helping save the world. He also has to contend with his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), now a rebellious teen who’s proven to be a genius at quantum physics, much like Frank Pym (Michael Douglas). The first ten minutes are as charming and funny as anything in the other two films, effectively re-establishing the main characters as something of a family.

All that ends once a device Cassie built sucks everyone into the Quantum Realm, where Hank’s wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), was trapped for 30 years. It’s now ruled by Kang (Jonathan Majors), a tyrannical megalomaniac with an axe to grind, especially with Janet, who once prevented him from escaping. The rest of the story feels like a placeholder, setting up the next big MCU story arc with the Kang as its new Thanos-like threat. 

"I sneezed in my helmet."
While Majors is admittedly terrific (and menacing) as Kang, none of the other actors are given much opportunity to do anything interesting, which includes a gratuitous, distracting cameo by Bill Murray. Despite earnest performances overall, once the setting leaves San Francisco, everyone (including Lang) essentially becomes an action figure battling for the fate of the Multiverse in a CGI wonderland. And unfortunately, there’s apparently no place in the Quantum Realm for Lang’s amusing X-Con Security crew (Michael Peña, in particular, is sorely missed).

Speaking of the Quantum Realm…it is, of course, colorful and elaborate. There are some clever touches (such as “living” buildings), but since depicting imagined universes has always been part of the Marvel formula, there’s little that makes this place distinctive or memorable. The same criticism can be applied to the action. There’s a ton of it, of course, capped by the usual epic clash involving thousands. But again, we’ve seen all this before. Ant-Man was a lot more fun when bad guys could be taken out by an oversized Pez dispenser.

Instead, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is just another chapter in service of Marvel’s ever-expanding universe (the beginning of Phase 5, apparently). Most of what made the first two films a charming respite from the usual superhero spectacle has been stripped away. I suppose it's watchable, especially for those who feel the need to keep abreast of all things related to the MCU, but this is definitely a case where bigger isn't better.


FEATURETTES - “All in the Family”; “Formidable Foes.”



AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Peyton Reed and screenwriter Jeff Loveness.

April 18, 2023

POLICE STORY III: SUPER COP (4K): When Jackie Chan Was Great

1992 / 96 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

Police Story III: Super Cop is a wonderful reminder of how great Jackie Chan was in his prime. Not that us poor Westerners got a taste of it at the time. Like most of his earlier films, this one was butchered & dubbed into worthlessness for its theatrical release in the States. But for posterity - and the masochists - that truncated version is also included in this boxed set.

For everyone else, the original Hong Kong version of Police Story III is arguably the best film in the franchise…maybe one of the best of Chan’s long career (and infinitely better than anything he’s done recently). In his first collaboration with director Stanley Tong, he’s congenial, funny and, of course, an insanely fearless physical performer. Some of the stunts and action sequences in this film remain jaw-dropping.

The icing on the cake, however, is co-star Michelle Yeoh, a rising star at the time. As both an actor and physical performer, she’s every bit Chan’s equal, even managing to steal some scenes with amazing fighting skills and stunts of her own. Now that her career has since eclipsed his, checking out Yeoh in an early action role is pretty interesting (at this point, Police Story III was probably her best movie, too). 

Held up at work.
Chan Ka-Kui (Chan) returns as a Hong Kong “supercop” who teams up with Interpol inspector Yang (Yeoh). Posing as brother and sister, they go undercover to bring down a notorious drug lord. The plot is fairly straightforward and ultimately perfunctory, more or less a vessel for the action, which features plenty of close-quarters martial arts, gunfights, chases and explosions. The climax, in particular, is an epic marriage of exemplary stuntwork and Die Hard-style mayhem. Everything’s all the more impressive when you remember these were the days before CGI.

30 years later, Police Story III: Super Cop still holds up as tremendous entertainment. It’s fast-paced, funny and gets a lot of mileage from the chemistry between Chan and Yeoh. In addition to a great 4K facelift from 88 Films, this nicely packaged boxed set includes some interesting vintage bonus features, as well as a poster, lobby cards and an 80-page supplemental booklet. It’s a must-own for action fans, especially if all they know is the butchered English version.




INTERVIEWS - Lengthy vintage interviews with Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, director Stanley Tong, actor/stuntman Ken Lo.





COMMERCIAL - Featuring Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh

80-PAGE BOOKLET - Features an interview with former actor (now a doctor) John Wakefield and an essay by C.J. Lines, as well as dozens of photos.