HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Escape from New York+28 series+kung fu=Doomsday=Cool

I have to say after seeing the trailer a couple of times I'm actually impressed with it. It's like an Italian knock-off version of Post Apocalyptic or Escape From New York movies. Thats not a bad thing at all. It looks like it could be pretty fun and I plan on seeing when it comes out. Plus it's got Malcom McDowell and Bob Hoskins.
Here is a link to the trailer and official site
http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809834146/info
www.doomsdayiscoming.com

Some stills







































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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ninja in Ancient China DVD Screencaps

















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Ninja in Ancient China DVD Review

Ninja in Ancient China

Fans previously wanting to see the last work of master director Chang Cheh often had to settle for crappy pan and scan boots or VCDs. His last work Ninja in Ancient China has been especially hard for fans to find, that situation is now no more thanks to the work of Greenfan DVD and its owner Mike Banner. Greenfan will be a company of interest to fans around the world as there releases are coded Region 0 and in NTSC (conversion of NTSC to PAL tends to be a less common problem for Europeans). Fans around the world will be able to enjoy Greenfan product. This film is a reworking of the Shaw production Five Element Ninjas (aka Chinese Super Ninjas) so fans of that film will surely enjoy this one.

You can get Ninja in Ancient China from a variety of e-trailers such as Hkflix.com, play.com and others.

http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID.545075/aid.85597/qx/details.htm

Video: Ninja in Ancient China is transferred from a film print with burnt in English and Chinese subs. Unfortunately, it is not anamorphic and is a bit worn, but considering the rareness and the fact no copy before has ever been letterboxed, it is easy to understand and get past these print issues. They are nowhere to the point where I would say to not get the film or that its not watchable.

Audio: The Mandarin track is a tiny bit rough at times, but still easy to listen to and will not hamper your enjoyment of the film.

Extras: Greenfan debuts with a bevy of extras that are a fitting tribute to the last film of Chang Cheh. First off are excellent liner notes (printed with stills from the movie on the cover) written by genre expert Linn Haynes detailing the later phase of Chang Cheh’s career and his work in Mainland China. Next, off is a complete and excellent audio commentary by kung fu expert Nick Watkins telling us about the film, its actors, and the man himself Chang Cheh. Wrapping thins up are a still gallery comprised of lobby cards from the film.

Overall: The chance to get the see the final work of a great director like Chang Cheh is a situation that no one should pass up who is a fan of his works. While the quality is a little rough, as long as one understands this going in, it will not hamper there enjoyment of the film.


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42nd Street Forever Volume 3: Exploitation Explosion

42nd Street Forever Volume 3: Exploitation Explosion

Don May Jr, the mad genius behind Synapse Films has unleashed another volume of the extremely popular and excellent 42nd Street Forever (incidentally the first two volumes (in a two-fer) are for sale at Best Buy for $15.99 and third is $15.99) and this time he’s brought some friends! Exploitation Explosion more than 45 trailers from a wide variety of genres (horror, martial arts, sex, comedies, and more).

Video: Since these are a collection of trailers from 35mm, one needs to understand that the quality is all over the place (and to an extent this factor may be a plus for some). Some will look great, while others not so great. More importantly they are all the proper (and various) aspect ratios for the different trailers. Kudos to Synapse for taking the time to transfer all the trailers at proper aspect ratio’s instead of a general 1:78:1 (which for trailers can sometimes happen anyway).

Audio: The audio is generally good quality and of course varies due to condition. Still you will be able to hear everything nice and clear.

Extras: Now here is the big feature: an audio commentary for the ENTIRE run of the trailers Fangoria Editor Michael Gingold is joined by Historian and DVD Maniac poster Chris Poggiali and DVD Maniacs editor Edwin Samuelson. The trio relates tons of facts about each movie and are rarely, if ever silent during the proceedings. You will learn more than one would ever think you could hope to know such as the real reason Film Ventures tanked (It was not Great White being pulled) and other nuggets such as the killer children and true story sub-genre. Also the one film that all parties involved find just to damn sleazy! There are also a number of vintage tv spots as an additional bonus feature.

Overall: This is an easy recommendation for any fan of trailer comps, sleazy and silly films and more. The price is ridiculously low and the content is insanely high. Honestly, I can’t think of a reason why you would not want to buy this! Go out and grab it or you can get it via http://tinyurl.com/2re3sy and help support the people at DVD Maniacs (who says I can’t be charitable). Just go and get a copy so we can get Volume 4 as fast as possible.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ROYAL TRAMP 1 & 2 COMING TO DVD FEBRUARY 12th



Witty and bursting with high-energy action ROYAL TRAMP 1 and its sequel ROYAL TRAMP 2, land on DVD February 12th, under the Dragon Dynasty label from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company.

Hong Kong superstar Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer) stars as a fast-talking conman who manages to avoid death and score hot women, all while trying to save the Ming Dynasty from falling. Based on the book The Deer & The Cauldron and lauded as one of the top five grossing films in Hong Kong in 1992, director Wong Jing’s ROYAL TRAMP 1 is full of martial arts battle sequences, spectacles of swordplay, thrilling escapades and loads of laughs.

Released together for the first time as a double feature, the two-disc DVD includes commentaries by Hong Kong expert Bey Logan, original theatrical trailers and an interview with ROYAL TRAMP 2’s writer/director
Wong Jing.

Synopsis
Wilson Bond (Chow), a double-talking, fast-moving conman stumbles across a conspiracy that could bring down the entire Ming Dynasty. In hilarious fashion, he attempts to save the day, cheating death, charming the ladies, and kicking butt all along the way.




Royal Tramp 1 Specs
· Feature Length Audio Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
· Original Theatrical Trailer
Price: $19.95
Street Date: February 12, 2008
Rating: R
Run Time: Royal Tramp – 111 minutes
Languages: English Dolby 5.1, Cantonese Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned

Royal Tramp 2 Specs
· Feature Length Audio Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
· An Interview With Writer/Director Wong Jing
· Original Theatrical Trailer
Price: $19.95
Street Date: February 12, 2008
Rating: R
Run Time: Royal Tramp 2 – 98 minutes
Languages: English Dolby 5.1, Cantonese Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Heart is That Eternal Rose - Review

The Hong Kong New Wave beginning in the late 70’s spawned some of the greatest modern Hong Kong directors. Tsui Hark is the name that immediately springs to mind, a genius director responsible for some of the best and most off-the-wall films of the last thirty years. There were other directors whose names as not as well known, but whose contributions were just as important. One of these is Patrick Tam. He began his work in television before moving into film like many of his peers. Perhaps his most famous film, and one of his earliest, is The Sword. This fantastical visually inspired swordplay pic set new standards for high art in the wuxia genre. Into the eighties Tam made one of his (criminally) least well known films My Heart is That Eternal Rose in 1988. This film takes as its base the HK gunplay genre, which was incredibly popular at the time due to the success of John Woo’s masterpiece A Better Tomorrow. Despite sticking to some of the formulas of those films, My Heart is That Eternal Rose is born of the new wave in visual style, characterisation and heart. The unique fusion of new wave sensibilities and the Hong Kong style of action are superbly realised, alongside magnificent performances. This achievement can be attributed to Tam, but also another famous name: cinematographer Christopher Doyle Doyle is best known due to his work with Hong Kong (and now international) cinema’s arthouse genius director Wong Kar Wai, on such films as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. Before Wong had started to make his own films he served an apprenticeship as a writer, with one notable project being Patrick Tam’s Final Victory. In fact My Heart is That Eternal Rose was released a year before Wong’s debut, As Tears Go By. Tam was something of a mentor to Wong, and gave Doyle some of his first DOP jobs. As time went on Wong returned the favour, as Tam’s directorial career stalled. Tam served as editor on Days of Being Wild, and contributed to Wong’s run of art house masterpieces. While Wong’s films have no real precedent in Hong Kong or international film, Tam’s are directly out of the Hong Kong new wave, and My Heart is That Eternal Rose is no exception.

The film begins by introducing the two main characters Lap (Joey Wang) and Rick (Kenny Bee). They are here portrayed as naïve and innocent as can be, making their later transformations all the more exciting, if a tad unvelivable. Lap’s father Cheung (Kwan Hoi San, Uncle Hoi from Hard Boiled) is a retired triad who is forced by his old partner Shing to take part in the trafficking of an illegal immigrant. Rick is asked to be the driver. Things go awry as a bent cop involved in the scheme wants more cash. An accident causes the immigrant to be shot by the cop, and Rick intervenes to kill the cop before he does the same to Lap’s father. Rick must flee to the Philippines, cutting short the burgeoning romance between him and Lap. To help her father, Lap becomes the mistress of Godfather Shen (veteran kung fu movie star Chan Wai Man), a notable triad leader. Six years pass, and Lap now has her own driver, Cheung (a fresh-faced Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) with whom she forms a close bond. Rick is now a hitman, and by chance accepts a job in Hong Kong to assassinate Godfather Shen’s rat partner. Lap and Rick meet again (by chance) and want to leave together, but Godfather Shen is of course in the way. Cheung tries to help them, and they get away but Lap can’t leave Cheung to die. Who will survive? Watch the blood-soaked climax to find out.

As can be seen with this film and many Hong Kong films in general, there is a reliance on chance to drive the narrative. This may seem short-sighted and formulaic; but when backed up by tight pacing, glorious visuals and romantic believable performances it can be forgiven. In terms of villainous performances, Chan Wai Man does a good job with little screen time, conveying the calm on the outset yet violent intensity of his character. The real surprise here is The Master Killer himself Gordon Liu as Shen’s henchman Li. He gives a superbly sleazy but slightly comic performance, from the first words his character says, and reaches a gloriously gory demise.
As the film progresses the triangular relationship between Lap, Rick and Cheung becomes the underlying backbone of the film. Joey Wang here shows there is more to her than good looks, conveying Lap’s character development from proud, naïve waif to strong experienced woman superbly. Wang at the time was known more for her roles in fantasies, the most famous being A Chinese Ghost Story. Here the departure in terms of acting styles serves her well. Kenny Bee puts in another powerful turn, balancing the romantic and machismo aspects of his character well. Bee was known for his work with new wave director Ann Hui, and his transition from those more arthouse parts to the relatively generic role of Rick is well realised. The romance between the two is believable, but it is the performance of Tony Leung that lifts the film to new romantically charged heights. He deservedly won a Golden Horse (Hong Kong’s Oscars) for best supporting actor for the film, and the deep emotion that is his trademark is delivered unreservedly. His character is in love with Lap, and the emotional pull this creates is very strong. This is achieved with some beautiful visual symbolism, which can be credited to Tam and to co-cinematographer David Chung, but in the main Christopher Doyle.

Doyle is an anomaly, being the first foreigner to carve out a career as DOP on many Hong Kong and Chinese film projects. His sensibilities are perfect for the hybrid nature of Hong Kong film making, and even from the beginning this is evident in the masterful use of visual symbolism and atmospheric lighting of My Heart is That Eternal Rose. In the opening scene the lighting is high contrast, with soft focus and bright colours in the interior of the bar and very dark outside. This creates a slight dreamy haze to the atmosphere, and a shot of Lap outside on the beach is green tinged and unusually beautiful.

The relationship that Lap has with four men (Rick, Godfather Shen, Li and Cheung) is given more depth by the use of symbolism. In the scene where Lap goes to ask Shen to help her father, there is a manga-esque angle with Lap’s face in close up in the left of frame, while Shen is in the background watching her, her having not seen him and talking to Li. Here in one shot the relationship between Shen and Lap and Li and Lap is given extra significance; Shen sees her as a possession, and does care for her given his want to take her out of her strife. She sees him as a way to save her father. Li is seen as nothing to her, intensified by the fact that she thinks he is Shen, and he is not seen in this most unusual and eye-catching shot. In a later scene when Lap has become Shen’s mistress, there is a shot with him in close up in the right of frame while she is reflected in the left in a mirror. This portrays the reality of their relationship; he cannot possess her heart, as it belongs to Rick, only a reflection. Even later as the three main characters are hiding out together Lap comes into shot through broken glass, to lie with Rick. On the other side is Cheung, framed by the glass. This conveys the breaking of Cheungs heart, and foretells the fate of all three. The visual trademarks are here from Doyle, who uses similar techniques in his films with Wong Kar Wai.

For the action fans, those expecting intricately choreographed gunfights will not be let down, but they are certainly not of the level of John Woo and Ringo Lam. Early violence is gory and to the point; the end battle builds up brilliantly. What stands out most is the use of Peckinpah-esque slow mo cutaways, which make real time go right out of the window. This technique suits the inexorable fates of the three leads, plus it looks really cool.

My Heart is That Eternal Rose is definitely up there on lists of the greatest 80’s Hong Kong movies; because of the fact it is a genre piece that deviates from the template of the numerous Better Tomorrow rip offs made at the time. The visuals are restlessly inspired and plotting is tight and suspenseful, with action occurring at just the right points in the narrative. Patrick Tam’s new wave credentials create an original look and feel to the film, and certainly the crew members on board help this. Criticism can be aimed at the continual reliance on chance and difference in tone of some scenes, but these are minor faults. A mention should also go to the title song, a mournful ballad sung by Joey Wang in the film. Definitely one to buy.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vampira Deserves A Decent Burial And You Can Help!

I mean people she was married to Bela in Plan 9, plus she has always been cool with fans and interviewers. If you ever enjoyed Vampira the least you can do is help her enjoy eternity.
From Classic Horror Film Board (click on the image to enlarge it

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/14562

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Chiba and Kitano and More Coming from BCI

From BCI's Cliff M at a posting a DVDmaniacs

http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/forums/showthread.php?p=546944#post546944

And there is more new titles coming in 2008:
Basara: The Princess Goh/Rikyu (Double Feature/Special Edition)
Karate Wars/Judo Duel (Double Feature)
Battle Heater
Boiling Point
Violent Cop
Kitaro
Go For Broke
Unlucky Monkey
East Meets West

and another big title to be announced very soon

Al Edwards also posted info about a 2 disc special edition of GI Samurai
and a Chiba double feature of Fighting Fists and Soul of Chiba!
(Just scroll up for those links)
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MST3K The Movie coming to DVD May 6th!

Well, this was unexpected! Talk about a pleasant surprise.

http://tinyurl.com/2p5ofc



Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie delivers laughs that are out of this world! A demented scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester, has concocted a diabolical scheme for world domination. He's going to subject the human race to the worst movies ever made! But his test subject, Michael J. Nelson, possesses mankind's ultimate defense: a sense of humor. So as the classic sci-fi "B" movie This Island Earth unspools, Mike and his robot companions, Tom Servo and Crow, heckle the film mercilessly, providing a hilarious running commentary!!!

That's the description from Image Entertainment's old, long-out-of-print DVD release of the 1995 film Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. The bare-bones, non-anamorphic disc (which I have in my own collection, having bought it for my wife when it was still "new", and catching it on sale for only $10!) was originally licensed to Image for DVD release ten years ago, and has long been out of print since Universal Studios decided to begin releasing their own shiny discs.

While many of the Universal films which Image Entertainment put out on DVD have long since been re-released by Universal themselves, MST3K: The Movie hasn't been one of them. Whenever you find copies of the OOP Image release going on eBay, it's not hard for prices to get over $50, or even around $100!

But all that's about to change, because Universal is bringing out their own DVD release at last! This morning the studio has just announced a May 6th release for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. This new DVD release is still going to be mostly bare-bones, but at least the trailer is thrown in...along with a brand-new anamorphic widescreen transfer that will make the video look a LOT better on your home theater system.

The soundtrack has been upgraded, too, from a simple stereo mix to a brand-new English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. A French - Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included, as are English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. Running time is shown as 75 minutes, a minute longer than the old Image disc is listed at.

The film is rated PG-13 due to some sexual humor. Cost for the new release will be $19.98 suggested retail price, and since many stores will be discounting it you'll find it a cinch to pick this up for under $15. We know that many of you have been waiting to add this film to your MST3K DVD collection at a reasonable cost...now you'll get your chance! — David Lambert

--
Edited by The DVD Team (David Lambert) at 01/22/2008 1:16 PM to correct the release date: Universal's info shows May 8th (a Thursday) in the detailed listing, but shows the proper street date of Tuesday, May 6th in the actual schedule area. We regret passing along the incorrect info.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

SUBURBAN GIRL -- DVD Review by Porfle



In first-time director Marc Klein’s romantic comedy SUBURBAN GIRL (2007), Brett Eisenberg (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is an up-and-coming literary editor whose boss is replaced by a gorgeous but unbearably full-of-herself snob named Faye Faulkner (Vanessa Branch), who claims to be related to that Faulkner. As she finds her editing job to be increasingly demeaning, unfulfilling,, and perhaps even tenuous, Brett meets and falls in love with Archie Knox (Alec Baldwin), a successful but much older publishing legend who becomes her supportive mentor. Their May-September romance leads to complications when dubious friends and family cause them to question their relationship, especially when Brett discovers that Archie is a high-maintenance alcoholic.

Two short stories from Melissa Bank’s book “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing”, entitled “My Old Man” and “The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine”, formed the basis for this screenplay by Klein. I haven’t read them, but I’d assume “My Old Man” must have provided the subplot in which Brett’s preternaturally serene father, Robert (James Naughton, who starred in the “Planet of the Apes” TV series with Ron Harper way back in ’74), reveals that he has cancer. The rest of the family, including Brett’s doggedly cheerful mother (Jill Eiknenberry), face the worst with a stoic acceptance that Brett can’t comprehend at first. Only when she’s lived through it will she understand that life goes on.
 
Meanwhile, “The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine” is to fall in love with a twice-divorced alcoholic who’s almost as old as her father. Especially after friction between them causes him to start drinking again and seeking temporary solice elsewhere. Brett begins to rely on him for advice on things he’s already learned through experience, until he becomes, as Brett’s best friend puts it, her human “cheat sheet” for life. Eventually she realizes that he’s more of a teacher than a lover to her, and he’ll always see her as a student.
 
When I started watching this movie, I knew I was deep into chick-flick territory, which can be a treacherous place to find yourself in. But if you must watch a romantic comedy-drama, you could do worse than this slick, meticulously-crafted effort that does manage to give us a few likable characters and keep us interested in what happens to them.
 
When the more lighthearted comedy elements begin to give way to a deeper and more dramatic involvement in the interwoven stories, SUBURBAN GIRL becomes pretty engrossing. Sarah Michelle Gellar is an appealing lead, slipping easily between funny and serious as the events of her life become more unpredictable. Alec Baldwin gives the kind of performance he doesn’t really even have to wake up for—twinkly-eyed and warm, soft-spoken and huggable, like a big, pudgy teddy bear—yet he seems to be enjoying himself. And despite the reserved subtlety of his performance, there’s a convincing underlying desperation to Archie Knox, who doesn’t want to lose what may be the last great love of his life.
 
Not much in the way of special features on the DVD—there’s a nice commentary from the director and a trailer. The film is presented in its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and enhanced for 16:9 TVs. (I know because I copied that right off the box.) Sound quality is satisfactory. It’s rated PG-13, with no nudity, which is okay with me because most of the love scenes have Alec Baldwin in them and I’ve never been in any hurry to see him rolling around naked.

While this sort of movie is pretty low on my list of fun stuff to watch, it’s not an ordeal to have to suffer through, either. If you’re gonna watch a chick-flick, it’s nice to come across one as mature, thoughtful, and carefully mounted as this one. It gets a little goofy here and there, and some of Brett and Archie’s bickering interactions sound like the same kind of lovers’ quarrels that I hate to be around in real life, but all in all I enjoyed myself fairly well and felt pretty good about it at the fadeout. So I guess SUBURBAN GIRL would make a good couples’ movie, or at least one that doesn’t cause the guy to want to shoot himself right around the halfway mark. 


Buy Suburban Girl at Amazon.com and help support HK AND CULT FILM NEWS

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"SWAMP THING: THE SERIES" -- DVD review by porfle




"I know the evil men do. Do not bring your evil here. Do not incur the wrath of...SWAMP THING!"
 
Thus warns Dr. Alec Holland, aka Swamp Thing, who, as those familiar with the original DC comic and 1982 Wes Craven film will know, was once a scientist doing genetic research in the swamps of Lousiana. After a run-in with the evil Dr. Anton Arcane, Holland was bathed in deadly chemicals and set afire. Plunging himself into the swamp, he transformed into the hulking plant-animal hybrid known as Swamp Thing and began a one-monster crusade against evil.

The movie, as I recall, was fun but not really that great. Being more of a fan of Marvel's "Man-Thing" myself, I don't think I ever read a "Swamp Thing" comic, and I never caught the 1990 TV series when it was on. So sitting down to watch the first two seasons of the show on this 4-disc set from our old friends at Shout! Factory was intriguing. Would I be blissfully swept away on a wave of pure entertainment? Or would it suck swamp water? There was only one way to find out.

The first thing I noticed was the fact that it was developed for television by Joseph Stefano, whose credits include the original "Outer Limits" and the screenplay for Hitchcock's PSYCHO. Not bad--and he wrote the script for the episode that kicks off the set, "The Emerald Heart", along with several subsequent ones. Definitely a good sign.

In this episode, we meet Jim Kipp, a troubled, introverted lad who is spending the summer at his grandmother's house at the edge of a swamp. (Later, Jim and his mom will move into the house after the grandmother dies.) Jim's divorced mom, Tressa (Carrell Myers), hopes that a little time away from it all in her childhood home will help Jim to not be so emotionally screwed-up. This turns out to be a good plan when Jim meets the Swamp Thing, who becomes his best friend and guardian--which will come in handy when the evil Dr. Arcane (Louis Jordan in the movie, now played by dapper Mark Lindsay Chapman) starts putting the moves on Tressa and trying to wrest the house and property away from the Kipps.


In a way, the initial premise of "Swamp Thing" is surprisingly similar to numerous TV shows like "Flipper" or "Fury", in which a kid lives in a natural environment with a single parent and has a special friend to go on adventures with. Swampy comes off for the most part as a benevolent, almost warm and cuddly presence. Until someone commits an evil deed in his swamp, that is. Then, he's liable to pin the poor slob against a tree and encase his body in bark or something.


But just when the family-drama aspect of the show is playing itself out, something horrible happens to remind us that "Swamp Thing" has all the bases covered. That's usually where Dr. Arcane comes in. He's a twisted scientific genius with a hidden cave laboratory filled with hideous genetic mutations, and it's in this setting that the series comes closest to Irwin Allen territory. Like H.G. Wells' Dr. Moreau, Dr. Arcane's hobby is taking swamp animals and turning them into humans, with grotesque results. Then, more often than not, these creatures manage to escape and run around the swamp, making everyday childhood a bit more interesting for our Jim.


Swampy is played once again by Dick Durock, who wore the costume in the '82 film and its sequel. Although he doesn't really do that much, Durock acts well with his eyes and is a convincing presence in the role. The Berni Wrightson-inspired costume itself seems to have been improved upon by creature-creators Carl Fullerton and Neal Martz.


Ten-year-old Jesse Zeigler is fairly talented and manages to not be very obnoxious as Jim, which to me is a good recommendation for a child actor. Carrell Myers is appealing as All-American single mom Tressa, and is more than capable of handling the dramatic scenes. Mark Lindsay Chapman seems to relish playing such a dastardly character, which is a plus. His Dr. Arcane is a handsome young chap who can be quite charming, yet is the epitome of evil. This is an obvious contrast to the frightening-yet-benign Swamp Thing, demonstrating that you can't always judge a monster by its cover.


The rich, autumnal cinematography takes advantage of some good Florida locations, and Christopher L. Stone's evocative music augments the visuals nicely. (His "Swamp Thing" theme is hummable, too.) It's interesting to note that some of these episodes were directed by none other than "Wally Cleaver" himself, Tony Dow, while Andrew Stevens helmed a few others. The guest cast occasionally features notable names such as Stevens, Roscoe Lee Browne, Sandahl Bergman, Peter Mark Richman, and Wolfman Jack.


The DVD's picture and sound are of the same quality you can usually expect from Shout! Factory, with the standard full-screen TV image. The packaging (two double-disc slimline cases) and menus are nicely designed, though lacking an episode list with summaries, guest stars, and other info. As a bonus to the 22 half-hour episodes (presented here in the original order in which they were intended), a nineteen-minute featurette entitled "The Men Behind the Muck" contains interviews with Dick Durock and co-creator (with Berni Wrightson) Len Wein. Wein's enthusiasm for comics and writing in general is infectious, while Durock offers up an interesting history of his participation in the Swamp Thing's different screen incarnations.

At times, the Stefano influence gives "Swamp Thing" the feel of an old "Outer Limits" episode--indeed, Swampy would've been a perfect character for that classic show. Stefano also made sure that, while there would be no shortage of monsters and other weird stuff, the quality of the writing remained relatively high. In the episode "Falco", Swamp Thing has a rather philosophical exchange with a man (Richman) who used to be a peregrin falcon until Dr. Arcane got done with him, leaving him with a human body and a large falcon's wing in place of his right arm. The two kindred souls discuss what it's like to be freaks of nature and whether or not revenge is the right path to take. A chance occurrence gives Falco a more inspirational outlook on life and leaves us with an uplifting ending.

Another episode, "The Legend of the Swamp Maiden", has some surprisingly erotic overtones. Jim and his older-but-not-wiser friend Obo (Anthony Galde) sneak out into the swamp one night to witness the appearance of the fabled title character. She emerges naked from the swamp, and seduces Obo into a kiss that turns him into a monster. Appearing later in a revealing plant outfit she gets into a kinky wrestling match with Swamp Thing. Finally, the naked-again swamp maiden disappears back into the depths. I don't know about you, but my kid shows didn't have half-naked babes in them.

Then comes episode fourteen, and suddenly things have changed drastically. Joe Stefano's name no longer appears in the credits. Jim Kipp, last seen kidnapped by Dr. Arcane and being transported in a cage by truck to parts unknown, is history. Man, this has got to be the most unceremonious departure of a continuing child character I've ever seen. To paraphrase Tom Hagen: "It's like he never even existed." Meanwhile, Jim's older half-brother Will (Scott Garrison) has come home to stay, and Kari Wuhrer joins the cast as Abigail, a discarded result of Dr. Arcane's experiments in creating human life without human DNA. She moves in to cook for Tress, who's busy with a new swamp-tour business, and also to serve as a romantic interest for Will. So, with a hunky guy and a hot babe suddenly running around the swamp, the show takes on a rather different dynamic. As for Dr. Arcane, he's even more sinister than ever, now turning innocent humans into genetic mutations for sale as slave labor, among other atrocities. What a great guy.

The blending of family-oriented drama with monsters and sci-fi elements is pretty smoothly done and makes "Swamp Thing" a show that can be appreciated on both the kid and adult level. In this way it kinda reminds me of "The Incredible Hulk", in which the grown-ups could enjoy the serious adventures of Bill Bixby while the kids waited for him to Hulk out. It also brings to mind, of all things, SHANE. In that classic Alan Ladd western, a family of settlers is terrorized by bad guys trying to run them off their land until a mysterious stranger with special abilities rides to the rescue and becomes the little boy's hero. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that this describes much of "Swamp Thing" pretty well, except you don't need a six-gun to fight the bad guys when you can sic the environment on them.

You can buy Swamp Thing: The Seriesat Amazon.com and help support HK AND CULT FLIX DVD

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Friday, January 11, 2008

In the Name of the King: A...screw The Uwe Boll Movie Mocking Session in NYC

Well Jess and I will be at the 34th Theater in NYC for the 8:20 showing of the latest craperpiece from Uwe Boll. Feel free to joins us with what I would think will be a mostly empty theater for this laugh fest. I have black glasses and a green cotton shirt.
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Interview with Linn Haynes about the Upcoming Shaw Brothers Media Blaster Releases

Interview with Linn Haynes about the Upcoming Shaw Brothers Media
Blaster Releases.


1.Can you tell us a little about yourself and how did you first got interested into Shaw Brothers films?

Now that is a LONG story, here's the short version: When I was kid, I just watched kung fu films, not really knowing about the production companies and the like, but I DID watch everything around the age of seven or eight. As for the Shaw Brothers, like a lot of U.S. fans, I caught their films as part of the Black Belt Theater package on TV. We could actually barely get the station (this was before we got cable), and I stayed up late at night to catch it. Luckily my parents never caught me! I saw a handful of movies in the theater locally, but mostly television was where I really watched most of the films. When BBT stopped, I started watching Kung Fu Theater on USA Network. Saturdays were usually spent watching cartoons until noon when my parents changed the channel to USA for the rest of the day. I've still got an old tape of Kung Fu Instructor off of Kung Fu Theater that's a prized possession of mine.

After that, I took a break and saw just a few films over the next six years or so. I had started reading martial arts magazines as a kid, so I never really fell out of some of what was going on, but I didn't really have access to any current films. By that same logic, it helped me out a bit, because I could only watch period kung fu films on video. It wasn't until towards the end of high school that I really got back into the genre with a great deal of force.

I went to a convention in Atlanta called Dragon Con and came across a guy selling kung fu tapes. He was talking up a few films, and I recognized Jackie Chan's Police Story. I had heard about the film and wanted to see it. So I got that, Dragons Forever (the dealer said it was great), and A Chinese Ghost Story (still one of my all time favorite films),and went home. That night I watched them all and that was all it took. The next day, I went back, and bought something like twenty tapes. What's funny is, I recognized a LOT of actors from my Kung Fu Theater days, so I wasn't a lost as I thought I would be. I didn't know Sammo Hung's name, but I certainly knew his face! From that point on, I was a kung fu fanatic and started looking everywhere for kung fu tapes. I started renting films and making copies. I soon found a kung fu trading site online called Rindge on the Fringe that listed people from around the world with their lists and wants where I made a lot of friends I still stay in contact with today. I started doing everything I could to learn about these films, from digging in Chinese groceries to buying Chinese books and magazines. I even hired a guy at a local Hong Kong restaurant to translate some things for me! Within two years, I saw perhaps two hundred films. Now, I don't even want to think how many I've seen!

I started writing about the films where I could, first in a college newspaper. Damon Foster gave me a break with some reviews in his Oriental Cinema Magazine, and then I was off! Later I discovered a voice online and joined a couple of forums, notably Kung Fu Fandom, which I became an administrator for. In a couple of years, I'd written for and been interviewed in publications all over the world. Though I didn't start off doing this, it seemed everything I wrote of any substance was dealing with Shaw Brothers films. I realized just prior to doing this interview, I've never written anything that's been published on Golden Harvest. For whatever reason, I really gravitated to the Shaw Brothers films. Part of it was my local video store had some of the old “Shaw Brothers Video” releases, so the core films were easier for me to see. And of course I remembered seeing that Shaw Brothers films as a kid, as they were the main staple until about 1984 or 85, when it became more Taiwanese films.

2. How long has Media Blasters been interested in distributing the Shaw
Brothers films?

For as long as I've been involved with the company, since the release of Seven Grandmasters a few years ago. The issue has often been one of availability of titles, or viability of the market. It certainly hasn't been lack of want, as many of the people there are fans themselves of the films. I think their list of titles speak to that fact.

3. Media Blasters got some very well known titles, it was long thought that anything well known was controlled by Dragon Dynasty or Image. How could such well known titles slip through the cracks?

You'd be surprised how often this happens. It often comes down to one of three things: 1. Companies don't know enough about the films to make a valid judgment on the titles they're looking at. 2. The people viewing availability lists don't know the original international titles (meaning titles prior to them being changed for US releases), so they don't recognize the “good” films. 3. There's of course certain titles a company is looking for and some are naturally not chosen due to a set limit they have. To be honest, it's often VERY surprising to me what's not picked and what is picked. In the case of the Shaw Brothers films, many were not available until they were set for release in Hong Kong.

4. Shaw Brother releases in the United States have been extremely un-even at times. Is Media Blasters committed to doing more than just ports of the IVL discs?

First off, the majority of Media Blasters titles will be from High Def masters. That means that they'll be no issues with the PAL to NTSC transfers that have plagued all the IVL releases and some of the US DVDs.

Also, in the rare case a HD master isn't available for a title, they will be working with the original PAL masters to do a transfer, so those titles should be a step above the HK releases. One thing to keep in mind, all of the Media Blasters releases will also be 16:9 enhanced, which nearly all of the HK DVDs of these titles were not.

5. When do you expect the first title to hit retail and is Media Blasters planning to make the Shaw Brother titles a major part of their 2008 releases?

The first title is currently set to come out the second quarter of 2008. The idea is that one title a month afterward. Black Magic 2 is a natural for October I think. The Shaw releases are one of the cornerstones of Media Blasters release schedule for next year and they really want to do a good job on these.

6. Does Media Blaster rights extend only to DVD or also to next generation formats?

Media Blasters at the moment have no plans to release Shaw Brothers films on next generation formats.

7. Will sub-titles be retranslated by Media Blasters?

The plan is to retranslate problem subtitles.

8. Will the original English dubs be used? What steps are being done to find dubs that Celestial does not still have? Also would Celestial allow the use of collector prints for rare dubs (which seem to be coming out of the woodwork once again)?

Yes, the original dubs are being used. As a matter of fact, some may be 5.1 audio. And before fans freak out, mono tracks for both English and original languages will also be included. For the titles Media Blasters are releasing, there's only a couple that don't have complete English audio available, and every attempt is being made find missing elements if they exist.

9. What type of extras is Media Blasters aiming for the discs?

I talked to Mike Leeder (Editor of Impact Magazine, interviewer for Hong Kong Legends) almost immediately after I heard about the Media Blasters releases. Mike is on my short list of the most knowledgeable people on Hong Kong films in the world. Mike and I have been hoping to do something together for a while. I also contacted a lot of friends around the world looking for footage for extras and the like. I've contacted Frederic Ambroisine, an old friend of mine in France who handled the extras for the well known French Wildside releases, about looking into interviews he had done. I'm still looking for English trailers for these films BTW, so if anyone's got some out there, contact this site!

10. Are their attempts to interview some of the more uncommon subjects for the discs (English dubbers, Shaw crew members and non-actors, major actors who did not appear on the DD discs such as Ti Lung and Lar Kar Leung)?

If everything goes as planned, I think fans will be VERY happy with the extras for these releases. Media Blasters, Mike and myself are trying to set the bar high, some might say too high, for the extras. If everything works out, there's no way fans wouldn't enjoy what they find extras-wise. And yes, every effort is being made to get interviews.

11. Many people were pleasantly surprised with the skill the RZA displayed on the 36th Chamber of Shaolin commentary, is there any ideas about working with the RZA or other Wu-Tang Clan members on the discs? It seems with the new release of a Wu-Tang Clan CD in December entitled 8 Diagrams that it would be good marketing (with the Wu-Tang Clan in the news) to get them on the discs.

I was also impressed with the 36th Chamber commentary. As for getting him on the Media Blasters discs, we'll see.


12. Are there any plans for documentaries about the Shaws and how should documentaries be handled.

We've got some ideas we're floating around, but nothing set in stone at the moment. I don't want to get fans to excited and then something come up to slow things down. This is not an exact science after all.

12. Are there any plans for audio commentaries?

Media Blasters have asked me to do some. To tell the truth, I'm hesitant to do it, as every time I have, something bad has happened. The last time I agreed to it, I brought in a friend to be on it, only to have the DVD canceled the night before the commentary was to be recorded. I worked in radio for a couple of years, so I don't have a problem being on the mike, and I practice every time I watch a film with someone. I drive a few of my friends nuts!

14. Is it possible for footage of lost/un-made Shaw films to be licensed by Media Blasters as extras? Is it also possible for films to be licensed that Celestial declined to re-master themselves (ie Hong Kong Godfathers and To Kill A Mastermind)?

Mike and I have plans to try and find anything we can as far as vintage materials go. I sent him some things to look for, but it's currently too early to really comment on that. As for titles Celestial hasn't remastered: It's a possibility. You certainly mentioned the top two on my list. [Note: Just after this interview was done, it was revealed that BCI had purchased the rights to Hong Kong Godfathers and fourteen other films. Linn was responsible for picking those titles and specifically requested BCI to seek out the film for release.]

13. Any hint on what the first title will be?

The first title at the moment is Heroes Two. That doesn't mean something can't change between now and then, but I personally think it's a perfect title to start with.

14. Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview with HK AND
CULT FILM NEWS.

Thank you. And thanks to everyone reading this for supporting Asian
film releases throughout the world.


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A preview of things to come from BCI!

This is the end of Hong Kong Godfathers (so yes there are spoilers). This is the most uncut copy available, but as you can tell it is still cut. BCI will be working to restore full uncut status to this amazing film.


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

BCI and Celestial ink deal for US Shaws! Exclusive News!

I told you we would be back with a bang!

This is direct from BCI.
They have signed a deal with Celestial Pictures to release 15 films during 2008 & 2009.
The titles are:
Life Gamble
Opium and the Kung Fu Master
The 14 Amazons
Shaolin Hand Lock
Hong Kong Godfather
Shaolin Prince
Invincible Shaolin
The Bastard Swordsman
The Duel
Return of the Bastard Swordsman
Shaolin Rescuers
Soul of the Sword
The Lady Hermit
The Supreme Swordsman
The Sword of Swords

We'll post more news as we get it.
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Saturday, January 5, 2008

AVP REQUIEM Podcast

Download here

Sorry for the delay. We've had this done since before New Year's. Enjoy.
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