HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PULSE 2 -- DVD review by porfle

2006's PULSE, based on the Japanese horror film KAIRO, began what will be a trilogy about an apocalyptic invasion by supernatural entities after a freak technological glitch inadvertently bridges the gulf between the living and the dead. PULSE 2 (2008) gets right on with the story and pretty much assumes that those of us who didn't see the first film will catch up, giving us just enough exposition along the way to keep the slowly-unfolding mystery intriguing while maintaining a high creep factor.

The afterlife, it turns out, is a dark and lonely dimension. So when a portal to the world of the living is opened up, ghosts begin to pop up all over the place--via computers, cell phones, and televisions--and suck the will to live from anyone they touch. These victims, in turn, either commit suicide or die from a horrible disease that quickly turns them to carbon dust. When divorced mother Michelle (Georgina Rylance) wakes up in her apartment amidst a cloud of this dust and finds that her young daughter Justine is missing, she fears the worst. But things are much darker and more sinister than even she suspects.

Meanwhile, Michelle's ex-husband Stephen (Jamie Bamber, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) and daughter Justine (Karley Scott Collins) are hiding out in a cabin in the woods, where they hope to remain isolated from the plague that is spreading everywhere. Stephen's insufferable girlfriend Marta (Boti Bliss) shows up and, after accidentally turning on his laptop, they discover that he's receiving dozens of email messages reading "Help Me" over and over--from a dead person. Their location now exposed by this Internet connection, Stephen and Justine are then forced to flee cross-country in search of a safe zone beyond the reach of technology, with malevolent spirits hot on their trail.

For a sequel, PULSE 2 is a fairly stand-alone story that had me in suspense throughout. While the open ending left me anticipating part three, there was enough of a resolution to keep it from feeling as wide open as the middle entries in other trilogies often are.

Much of the early part of the film has an eerie "Twilight Zone" feel as we try to figure out what's going on. The ghosts look like old, flickering black-and-white video images, which is a pretty cool idea. Writer-director Joel Soisson does a good job of staging the scary stuff, giving us some mildly effective shock cuts while establishing an overall atmosphere of dread.

There isn't a lot of gore, although an extreme BCM (Bad Cat Moment) may have cat lovers hitting the fast forward button. Here, Michelle's Aunt Carmen (veteran actress Lee Garlington) and Uncle Pete are on either side of a locked bedroom door, and one of them is a ghost. Later, a delightfully nasty scene has an infected woman seducing a fat guy and then literally being reduced to black goo beneath his heaving body as they make out on the floor. Other instances of violent suicide and hostile ghost attacks help to keep things interesting.

As it's hard to depict the end of the world on a low budget, a large amount of PULSE 2 is done with green screen. Granted, this is some pretty good green screen--I've definitely seen a lot worse. But while you don't notice it as much in a futuristic or fantasy setting, it's pretty obvious when used for everyday backgrounds like houses, city streets, forests, deserts, etc. I got used to this after awhile and it didn't bother me, but for viewers with a less willing suspension of disbelief this element will probably prove a major drawback.

Karley Scott Collins handles the crucial role of Justine very convincingly for such a young actress. Jamie Bamber and Georgina Rylance are also good as her parents, Stephen and Michelle, whose custody battle over Justine really gets serious when one of them joins the ranks of the living dead. The rest of the cast is fine, particularly the ever-reliable Lee Garlington as Aunt Carmen and Boti Bliss (who looks like she could be Ashton Kutcher's sister) as the sexy but unstable Marta. Special mention goes to Todd Giebenhain as Ziegler, a sarcastic, wrapped-in-red computer geek (the color red repels ghosts) who holds Justine hostage until Stephen ventures into a haunted warehouse to fetch him a particular electronic component. It's a good bet we'll see him again in part three.

The DVD is in matted widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 and English and Spanish subtitles. Extras include a group commentary track, two deleted scenes (an unfinished one shows the actors performing in front of the green screen), and a preview of PULSE 3.

After sneaking a peek at the IMDb page for this movie, I notice that so far it isn't exactly taking the world by storm. For me, it was consistently entertaining, with a certain Dean Koontz vibe that I found appealing. PULSE 2 isn't a classic, and there's that little matter of the ubiquitous green screen, but for a low-budget, direct-to-video apocalyptic horror flick I'd say it's well worth checking out.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Little Shoppe of Horrors #21 Review

Little Shoppe of Horrors #21 by Ian Friedman


Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to read for review the upcoming issue of Hammer Studios fan magazine LSOH. Its current issue is largely dedicated to an overview of the Hammer classic Curse of Frankenstein.


Usually when fans want to learn about the history of a particular they often will have to turn to a selection in a book about a film studio which at most can often only give 10-20 pages about the film. For fans of Curse of Frankenstein, the only thing they will need to look at is LSOH #21. This issue is an amazingly comprehensive look at the entire production of Curse of Frankenstein which leaves no stone unturned. In short this issue will be the definitive reference guide for researchers and fans wanting to learn about the movie. Its synthesizes from previous articles and interviews and new material to talk about the makeup, casting, scripting, critical reception, and just about everything you would ever want to know about the film and is the work of an exceptionally talented writing pool.


Still, the issue is not just about Curse of Frankenstein, but also has a very good article by Ted Newsom about the aborted show Tales of Frankenstein. Tales of Frankenstein has an interesting history with me, because I remember it being used in a VHS (2 Tape) compilation about the history of Frankenstein complete with trailers (it is where I first saw Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster). I have to wonder if Ted worked on the production of that tape set.


Little Shoppe of Horrors is a must buy for any serious fan or student of the classic Curse of Frankenstein and also those interested in Tales of Frankenstein. This is not to imply that magazine is not also filled with excellent articles and a feature interview with the late director Terrance Fisher.


You can get the latest issue at www.littleshoppeofhorrors.com and I suggest you do so immediately!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS" UNRATED -- Coming to Dimension Extreme DVD


IT’S DINNER TIME AND EVERYONE’S ON THE MENU!

Just In Time For Halloween, Scream Queen Jenny Wade, Diane Goldner And Clu Gulager Star In The Blood-Curdling Tale Premiering On DVD October 7 From The Weinstein Company And Genius Products

SANTA MONICA, CA – Intense, disturbing and shockingly gruesome, the highly anticipated sequel to director John Gulager’s “Project Greenlight” winning film Feast, FEAST II: Sloppy Seconds arrives on DVD October 7 from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company under the Dimension Extreme banner. Following an evening filled with viscous attacks and ghastly killings, FEAST II: Sloppy Seconds continues the terrifying tale of a motley crew of strangers who survive the darkness of night but must continue to fight the flesh-hungry creatures in the light of day.

When the un-godly monsters make their way into a small neighboring town in the middle of nowhere, the evening’s survivors and town locals must band together in order to save their own lives. From the writers of Feast and Saw IV and V, FEAST II: Sloppy Seconds features bone-chilling performances from horror vixen Jenny Wade (No Reservations, Feast), Diane Goldner (Feast, Pulse 2) and Clu Gulager (Feast). Featuring a commentary by director John Gulager and deleted scenes, the FEAST II: Sloppy Seconds DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.97.

Synopsis
It’s morning and the nasty flesh-eating monsters from the night before have moved on to feast on the inhabitants of a nearby town. Those lucky enough to have survived the night join a twisted group of locals including a girl-biker gang from Hell and a tag-team of ass-kicking midgets whose only goal is to stay alive!
Bonus Materials:
--Commentary By Director John Gulager
--Deleted Scenes

Basics
Price: $19.97
Street Date: October 7, 2008
Catalog Number: 81553
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running time: 96 minutes
Languages: English Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Closed Captioned

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ANIMAL HOUSE:30TH Anniversary Edition 10/28

IT WAS THE DELTAS AGAINST THE RULES...THE RULES LOST!
CELEBRATE THE MOST POPULAR COLLEGE COMEDY OF ALL TIME

Containing Outrageous New Bonus Features, Commemorative Packaging and Much More--Available October 28, 2008 From Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal City, Calif., September 12, 2008--"Food Fight!" "I’m a zit, get it?" "Toga! Toga! Toga!" The over-the-top, politically incorrect, subversively endearing comedy classic that introduced those iconic lines to generations of audiences celebrates a milestone with Animal House:30th Anniversary Edition, coming to DVD on October 28, 2008 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Directed with madcap zest by John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Coming to America), the definitive college fraternity film will be released in a two-disc special edition that includes two all-new "Scene It?" mini-game experiences for $19.98 SRP and a gift set that contains two new mini-game experiences, a brand new 98 minute documentary with cast and crew interviews, and a printed collectible "Faber College Yearbook" all in collectible "Delta House" packaging.


The hilariously raunchy screwball comedy that introduced the late John Belushi in his feature film debut as John "Bluto" Blutarsky is filled with unforgettable performances from a host of future stars: Stephen Furst (Class Reunion), Peter Riegert (Traffic), Thomas Hulce (Amadeus), Tim Matheson ("The West Wing"), Karen Allen (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and Kevin Bacon (Mystic River). Donald Sutherland ("Dirty Sexy Money") also makes a memorable cameo in this often imitated but never equaled comedy milestone.


Outrageous Bonus Features

The two-disc Animal House:30th Anniversary Edition DVD set comes with over an hour and a half of side-splitting bonus features, including:
 Two All-New "Scene It?" Mini-Game Experiences* – Relive all your favorite moments from your favorite fraternity through real movie clips, trivia questions and an array of on-screen puzzlers.
 Where Are They Now? A Delta Alumni Update – A hilarious mockumentary featuring the original cast.
 The Yearbook: An Animal House Reunion* - An original documentary featuring interviews with director John Landis, producers Ivan Reitman and Matty Simmons, composer Elmer Bernstein, writers Chris Miller and Harold Ramis, cast members Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Peter Riegert, Kevin Bacon, and John Vernon, plus behind-the-scenes footage and clips with John Belushi.

The Animal House 30th Anniversary DVD Gift Set, packaged in a commemorative fraternity house box, includes the above bonus features plus an exclusive bonus feature and printed book:
 National Lampoon’s Animal House: The Inside Story - An all new documentary celebrating Animal House 30th Anniversary featuring interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, including Harold Ramis, John Landis, Peter Riegert, and Karen Allen. This 98-minute documentary also includes a visit to the University of Oregon, where the movie was filmed.
 Collectible Faber College Yearbook

* New to DVD

TECHNICAL INFORMATION
DVD Street Date: October 28, 2008
Pre-Order Close: September 23, 2008
Copyright: 2008 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Price: Two-Disc Collector’s Edition $19.98 SRP / Gift Set - $34.98
SRPSelection Number: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition 61103505
Gift Set 61106410
Film Running Time: 1 Hour, 49 Minutes
Layers: Dual
Aspect Ratio: Various
Rating: R
Technical Info: English Dolby Digital 5.1/ Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0; English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
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Monday, September 22, 2008

MONDO RONDO! HATTON You Oughtta Check This Out?

"Long live the Rondos!" - Ain't It Cool News

"I love Rondo!" - Guillermo del Toro

Forget the Oscars--forget the Emmys--it's never too early to start thinking about what really matters. Namely, the next Rondos!

Growing in popularity by leaps and bounds is this increasingly prestigious annual award which was created by fans (David Colton and Kerry Gammill) for fans (this means you!) and is a fond tribute to the one and only Rondo Hatton of THE BRUTE MAN fame. The eerily lifelike bust itself was sculpted by illustrator Gammill, and cast by modeler Tim Lindsey.

Everything you need to know about the Rondos, including past winners, upcoming unsanity, and tons of other stuff, can be found at The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards website. And to find out how the current nomination process is going (and maybe even participate in it yourself), along with a crypt-load of other creepy threads on the subject, check out the Rondo folder at the Classic Horror Film Board.

All together now: "Da doo ron Rondo, da doo ron ron!" (I meant for you to groan!)
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Latest News From Legendary Producer TED V. MIKELS!

Ted V. Mikels is a man who needs no introduction to those who love old-style exploitation flicks. And now the man who gave us THE CORPSE GRINDERS, THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES, and THE DOLL SQUAD is back! We just got a message from Ted himself, so let's all get the straight dope in his own words:

Hi ALL !!!Just to keep you informed, we are having the WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING of our new movie DEMON HAUNT ON SUNDAY, OCT.12, AT 3:15 P.M.

CLARK COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, NEW BUILDING AT FLAMINGO ROAD NEAR MARYLAND PARKWAY. MUST START PROMPTLY, SO BE ON TIME. MOVIE RUNS 92 MINUTES, G RATED. ADMISSION FREE, 400 SEATSLIMITED NUMBER OF DVD'S OF THE PRE-RELEASE DIRECTOR'S CUT WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR $20. (PLUS $5.95. PRIORITY SHIPPING AND HANDLING) AUTOGRAPHED IF REQUESTED. CHECK, MONEY ORDER OR PAY-PAL IS ACCEPTED, OR ONE CAN BE PICKED UP AT THE STUDIO.IF ORDERING BY MAIL, SEND TO:

TED V. MIKELS
146 GREENBRIAR TOWNHOUSE WAY
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, 89121.

WE ARE ANNOUNCING THAT " ASTRO ZOMBIE M3 CLONED"IS PRESENTLY IN PRE-PRODUCTION, GATHERING CREW, CAST, LOCATION SCOUTING, ETC. IN THE STORY, WE ARE CLONING ASTRO ZOMBIES AT AREA 51, CREATING AN ARMY OF INDESTRUCTABLE ASTRO-MEN THAT ARE REPLACEABLE AT WILL TO BE USED TO REPLACE HUMANS IN WAR. THEY CAN REGROW ARMS, LEGS, BODY PARTS. THIS MOVIE OF COURSE, WILL BE CAMPY AND FUN, AND WILL FEATURE TURA SATANA, SARA "QUEEN AMAZON" (7 FEET TALL) , SHANTI, AND MANY OTHERS NOT YET CAST.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PRODUCTION, OFFERING ACCESS TO ALL SHOOTS (AT PARTICIPANTS COST OF TRAVEL, BOARD, ETC.) PARTICIPANTS MAY BE CAST IN SMALL PARTS IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, OR OFFERED POSITIONS ON THE CREW. ALWAYS THEY WILL HAVE ON-SCREEN CREDITS. WE ARE RECEIVING PARTICIPATIONS IN INCREMENTS AS LOW AS $1,OOO. NOTHING FURTHER PROMISED, ALTHOUGH INVESTORS IN THE ORIGINAL ASTRO ZOMBIE MOVIE MADE MANY MANY TIMES THE AMOUNT OF THEIR INVESTMENT IN RETURN. IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN. ABOVE ALL IT WILL BE A FUN VENTURE.IF INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING, SEND A MAILING ADDRESS, AND I WILL FORWARD A SIMPLE THREE PAGE AGREEMENT OUTLING ALL DETAILS. ( IF SERIOUS, CALL MY PERSONAL CELL: 702-234-7006 )DEMON HAUNT WILL ENTER INTO WORLD-WIDE MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION IN ALL MEDIUMS AND TERRITORIES IN OCTOBER, AFTER THE PREMIERE SCREENING.

MY KINDEST REGARDS, TED V. MIKELS
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Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN -- 3-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition 10/7

Arriving with 4 ½ hours of additional content, the madman behind the mask is back in director Rob Zombie's terrifying re-imagination of the original slasher film Halloween. Available October 7th from Genius Products and Dimension Films, Collector's Edition includes 3 discs on standard DVD. Zombie's Halloween delves into the troubled childhood of anti-hero Michael Myers, a psychotic but silent killer who escapes from a mental institution, dons a haunting guise, wields a kitchen knife and wreaks havoc on his hometown.

Taking the lead in a bone-chilling performance as Myers is former World Champion Wrestler Tyler Mane (X-Men, Troy, The Scorpion King). The film also features suspenseful and thrilling performances from Malcolm McDowell ("Entourage," "Heroes"), William Forsythe (The Devil's Rejects, Freedomland), Danny Trejo (Grindhouse's Machete, Once Upon A Time In Mexico) and Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil's Rejects, Grindhouse, House of 1000 Corpses).

The Halloween Collector's Edition features an unrated Director's Cut with 11 extra minutes of footage, plus an all-new four and a half hour documentary from Director Rob Zombie, deleted scenes, bloopers, casting sessions and more. The Halloween Collector's Edition DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.95.

Disc One: Feature Commentary By Writer/Director Rob Zombie. Disc Two: Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes With Optional Director's Commentary, Bloopers, The Many Masks Of Michael Myers, Re-Imagining Halloween, Meet The Cast, Casting Sessions and More. Disc Three: 4 1/2 hour documentary Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween

Format: Box set, Collector's Edition, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. )
Number of discs: 3
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: The Weinstein Company
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
Run Time: 121 minutes
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"BOY A" -- Released on DVD 10/7


Insightful and poignant, thought-provoking and controversial, Boy A, arrives on DVD October 7th from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company in the Miriam Collection. Lauded at film festivals around the world and winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, Boy A stars Andrew Garfield (The Other Boleyn Girl, Lions For Lambs) in his BAFTA®-award winning performance as a young ex-convict returning to society after 14 years of incarceration in a juvenile prison. Forced to live under an assumed name, "Boy A" struggles to establish a new identity at the age of 24 and enter a society that he has never known.

After a random act of kindness catapults him into the media spotlight, his past is uncovered, re-igniting public outrage and making it increasingly clear that a second chance at life may be impossible. A gripping drama based on the award-winning novel by Jonathan Trigel, acclaimed filmmaker John Crowley's (Intermission) Boy A earned six BAFTA nominations in addition to Garfield's win for Best Actor. The DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.95.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Fast-Paced, Adrenaline-Fueled Titles Debut on DVD October 14

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
THE EIGHTH SEASON(10/14)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a fast-paced drama about a passionate team of forensic investigators trained to solve crimes the old-fashioned way - by examining the evidence. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is on the case 24-7, scouring the scene, collecting irrefutable evidence and finding the missing pieces that will solve the mystery. Making its DVD debut October 14, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Eighth Season will be available to enjoy all over again from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.

Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
anguage: English
Number of discs: 5
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Paramount DVD
Release Date: October 14, 2008

NASH BRIDGES
THE FIRST SEASON(10/14)

Revisit the adrenaline-fueled weekly adventures of a smart-alec San Francisco private detective and his trusted partner as they fight to bring in the bad guys when NASH BRIDGES: The First Season debuts on DVD October 14 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment. With guest stars including Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) and celebrated drag performer RuPaul, NASH BRIDGES: The First Season includes digitally-retouched versions of the season's eight episodes, plus on-set interviews with Johnson and Marin and all-new audio commentary from Marin and series creator Carlton Cuse (Executive Producer, "Lost"). The DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $42.99.

Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 2
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008 Run Time: 374 minutes
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GROWING UP WILDERNESS Comes to DVD 10/7 From Genius Products and Animal Planet

Dive into the wild, and experience the heartwarming story of a pack of wolf pups, a fawn, a black bear and a baby moose when Growing Up Wilderness debuts on DVD October 7 from Genius Products and Animal Planet. Growing Up Wilderness features four complete episodes from Animal Planet’s Growing Up series, a popular program that follows the lives of wild animals growing up in captivity.

Follow a pack of six lively grey timber wolf pups in Growing Up Wolf; travel to Alaska and witness the first days of ‘Jewelie,’ a baby deer that lost its mother in Growing Up Sitka Deer; meet ‘Charlie,’ a bear cub that struggles to find its innate desire to hibernate in Growing Up Black Bear; and learn about Mush, the baby moose raised at St-Félicien Zoo in Quebec in Growing Up Moose. Available for the first time on DVD, these episodes follow the vulnerable lives of wild baby animals as they learn how to survive and put their past behind them as they venture into adulthood. The Growing Up Wilderness DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.95.

Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 1
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Genius Products (TVN)
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
Run Time: 168 minutes
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Interview with the Creator of Duckman Everett Peck (MP3)

We had the chance to interview Everett Peck the creator of Duckman in preparation for the recent DVD release of Duckman Seasons One and Two from CBS DVD. We talked about characters, voice casting, the rare Duckman video game, and even some of Duckman's strange time slots and much more so enjoy!


http://www.megaupload.com/?d=5XESTQA8
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MOTHER OF TEARS -- DVD review by porfle

After hearing all of the, shall we say, "mixed" reviews for MOTHER OF TEARS, Dario Argento's belated final entry in his "The Three Mothers" trilogy, I spent its entire running time expecting the worst. Not only did I not get the worst, but I actually got one of the most awesome horror flicks I've seen in years. And one which I consider quite worthy of the great Italian director and his highly-regarded body of work.

In 1977's SUSPIRIA and 1980's INFERNO, we were introduced to Mater Suspiriorum (The Mother of Sighs) and Mater Tenebrarum (The Mother of Pain). Here, the title character is the third and final member of the unholy trinity of witches which have plagued mankind for over a thousand years. When a centuries-old casket is accidentally unearthed, it contains talismans which will allow Mater Lachrymarum to regain her former power and begin the downfall of Rome, and eventually the world, by causing an ever-increasing number of people to commit extreme acts of violence and perversion as her evil influence spreads.

At Rome's museum of ancient art, a young art restoration student named Sarah (Asia Argento) witnesses the outlandishly gory and horrifying murder of an associate by hideous creatures which abscond with the talismans. When the head curator's son is kidnapped to ensure his silence, he also disappears soon after beginning a frantic search for the boy. Before long, Sarah herself is drawn into the maelstrom of horror when hundreds of witches from around the world, who naturally look like a bunch of freaky goths, descend upon Rome to celebrate the Mother of Tears' ascent to power--and soon mark Sarah for death after sensing her own latent supernatural powers, which she inherited from her mother. One by one the people from whom she seeks help die violent deaths, while her mother's spirit guides her through peril as the entire city goes mad.

Sarah meets a succession of interesting characters during the story, few of which are spared a flamboyant Argento death scene. The first murder in SUSPIRIA was memorably extreme, yet little of what followed ever reached that level again. Here, each murder is brutal and shocking, some of them enough to startle even the most jaded gorehound.

The instruments of death are also strange and arcane, such as a really painful-looking device administered orally to the first victim and a handy little eye-poking gadget that's used to blinding effect later on. One victim is impaled from stem to stern by an iron spear, while another suffers a smashing demise when she sticks her head through the wrong sliding door. And then there's the usual stuff like the old meat cleaver to the face and various other slashings and dismemberings, all of which are reasonably well executed (so to speak) and are effective even when the effects themselves aren't totally convincing. Suffice it to say, this movie definitely doesn't skimp on the gore--it's probably the most violent Argento film ever.

Once again, Dario Argento has created a nightmare world where he can indulge his most morbid and extravagantly cinematic musings, which he does so here to a degree rarely before seen. He still displays that unique sensibility and style which draw us into highly strange situations in which anything can happen, often evoking an oppressive aura of forboding and decadent evil. While not as richly photographed (or, admittedly, as good) as SUSPIRIA, MOTHER OF TEARS still has that distinctive Argento look, imaginatively-staged setpieces, and baroque atmosphere, along with a lively musical score by ex-Goblin Claudio Simonetti which includes a cool "Mater Lachrymarum" theme song by Daemonia during the closing credits.

MOTHER OF TEARS is a family affair with Dario directing both his daughter Asia in a wonderfully compelling performance as Sarah and his ex-lover and frequent collaborator Daria Nicolodi as her spectral mother. As Asia states during the making-of featurette, she specifically asked her dad to cast Daria in this role in order to reunite her parents, if only for a while. Daria's presence also gives the film a more vintage Argento feel. Interestingly, it is this character who, we're told, once did battle with Mater Suspiriorum and weakened her enough to allow Suzy Banyon to kill her later on in SUSPIRIA.

Also giving the film some nostalgic appeal is the casting of Udo Kier as an exorcising priest who fills Sarah in on the whole story of the Three Mothers and later learns to regret ever laying eyes on her. Valeria Cavalli is fine as Marta, the woman who befriends Sarah and makes her aware of her latent powers. The rest of the cast is good, with the possible exception of Moran Atias as Mater Lachrymarum herself. She's beautiful and looks great in the buff, but her character ultimately doesn't make as strong an impression as I expected. However, the robust lunacy of the film's finale more than makes up for this.

Aside from the lengthy (33 minutes) and very interesting making-of featurette, the disc also includes an eight-minute conversation with Dario Argento, US and Italian trailers, and subtitles in English and Spanish. The DVD is in letterboxed widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 sound, both of which are fine.

So--what's wrong with MOTHER OF TEARS? The same things that are wrong with just about any other Argento film, really. It gets a little silly now and then. Some of the special effects are a bit iffy, especially now that we're in the digital age (although surprisingly little of the CGI is actually all that bad, and one such effect during the film's subterranean climax is a real doozy). And sometimes the story doesn't make perfect sense, but that's practically an Argento trademark.

None of this matters to me anyway, when the overall combination of elements adds up to such a full-blooded and wildly entertaining horror experience. Though MOTHER OF TEARS may fall somewhat short of being exactly what I wanted to see in a new Argento film, I must say without reservation that I enjoyed the hell out of it.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

MIDNIGHT MARQUEE Magazine Makes the Jump Into Hyperspace

When Gary J. Svehla was 13-years-old in 1963, an avid fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland, he decided to publish his own "fanzine," a carbon-copied mishmash where only 20 copies were circulated of issue one.

Today, 41 years later, that original fanzine (Gore Creatures) has evolved into Midnight Marquee and is still going strong. And now, the venerable print mag is available online.

To download the latest fear-filled issue, visit the Midnight Marquee website here. For an ongoing discussion of this development check out the Classic Horror Film Board thread by clicking here.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Beware -- THE STRANGERS Are Coming Oct. 21

OWN 2 MOVIES IN 1 WITH THE THEATRICAL VERSION INCLUDING THE UNRATED VERSION TOO TERRIFYING FOR THEATERS!

ON DVD AND BLU-RAY (TM) HI-DEF FROM UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT OCTOBER 21, 2008


Lock the doors. Ignore the knocking. Don’t let them in…no matter what. Inspired by true events, this heart pounding, nail-biting frightener mercilessly explores our most universal fears, where simply opening the door to a stranger leads to a grueling night of terror one could never imagine. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star in this relentless suspense thriller that will keep you up at night and make you never want to answer the door again!


SYNOPSIS:

The horrifying events that took place in the Hoyt family's vacation home 1801 Clark Road on February 11, 2005 are still not entirely known. Champagne . Rose Petals. Candlelight. It was supposed to be a night of celebration for Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler ) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman). But after leaving a friend's wedding and returning to the house, everything had collapsed for the happy couple. Then came a 4 a.m. knock on the door and a haunting voice. “Is Tamara here?” Writer/director Bryan Bertino explores our most universal fears in The Strangers, a terrifying suspense thriller about a couple whose remote getaway becomes a place of terror when masked strangers invade. The confrontation forces Kristen and James to go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive. The Strangers comes to DVD October 21st!


“Unbelievably Scary!”
–Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV
“…may prevent you from ever going home again.”
–Mark Peikert, The New York Press



BONUS FEATURES: The following bonus features appear on the DVD and Blu-rayTM :


  • DELETED SCENES
  • THE ELEMENTS OF TERROR - A look at the production process of The Strangers. The influence of locations, sets and sounds to create fear are discussed by the crew, with anecdotes from Liv Tyler about the physical challenges of being terrorized.

BONUS FEATURES- EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY ™:

· BD-LIVE: My Scenes Sharing – Create your own movie clips, then view and share your favorite clips with your best buddies at any time!

TECHNICAL INFORMATION SD:

Street Date: October 21, 2008
Price:
$29.98
Rating:
R for violence/terror and language
Selection Number:
62033302
Running Time:
1 Hour 26 Minutes (Theatrical) / 1 Hour 28 Minutes (Unrated)
Layers:
Dual Layers
Aspect Ratio:
Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Languages:
EnglishSubtitles: English, Spanish, French
Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1

TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™ HI-DEF:

Street Date: October 21, 2008
Price:
$39.98
Rating:
R for violence/terror and language
Selection Number:
62106176
Running Time:
1 Hour 26 Minutes (Theatrical) / 1 Hour 28 Minutes (Unrated)
Layers:
BD 25
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English, Spanish, French
Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

LARRY FLYNT: THE RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE -- DVD review by porfle

I've never been a big Larry Flynt fan. He always struck me as an opportunistic smartass who loves to stir up trouble. After watching the 2008 documentary, LARRY FLYNT: THE RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE, my opinion of him has softened somewhat. He's still opportunistic, but let's face it--what smut peddler isn't? He's still a smartass, but that's his medium and he works it like a fine artist. And although he does like to stir up trouble, a lot of that trouble was laid on his own doorstep by people trying to send him to prison in 1977 for publishing a dirty magazine.

Nowadays, Larry Flynt has achieved a level of respectability that finds him giving lectures at places like Harvard. Here, we see him before a crowd composed largely of admiring liberals who might regard him with disdain if he hadn't become the poster boy for free speech over the years. His dirty magazine and its politically-incorrect contents are now reluctantly tolerated by those fascinated by his various exploits in the defense of the First Amendment and the advancement of left-wing ideology. Fortunately, you don't have to agree with his politics or be an avid reader of his colorful publication--or even particularly like the guy--to share in their fascination, which is why I found this documentary so involving.

Flynt's reminiscences during his various speaking venues are augmented by lots of old footage from his vigorous younger days, when he first gained national attention by receiving a 25-year prison sentence for obscenity. He may come off as a soft-spoken old sage now, but back then he was hell on wheels (figuratively speaking). The younger Flynt faces news cameras with fearless conviction and backs down to no one. At his sentencing, we're told, he said to the judge: "You haven't made an intelligent decision in this case, and I don't expect one now." Tales of subsequent courtroom antics over the years provide further entertainment later on, including his infamous run-ins with Reverend Jerry Falwell.

We're introduced to Flynt's young wife, Althea, who was a driving force behind "Hustler" and equally outspoken. One of the tragedies of this film is watching her swift decline after becoming addicted to heroin, leading to her death in 1987. The other is, of course, an assassination attempt on Flynt which left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Losing the ability to walk, however, did nothing to quell Flynt's fiery indignation and his ability to face down any opponent; as we see in some riveting jailhouse deposition footage, he's still the ultimate smartass.

The film documents Flynt's further exploits before the Supreme Court, as a Presidential candidate, and as an object of fear and loathing in the hallowed halls of government, where his ability to find the skeletons in certain Republican politician's closets led to the resignation of House speaker Bob Livingston. Now, seemingly a much more sedate and contemplative figure, the older Flynt is no less opinionated and passionate in his political beliefs.

I don't share many of them, and I never really bought the notion of Larry Flynt as the noble, heroic martyr for free speech, but there's no denying that he is one fascinating character with unshakable convictions. Director Joan Brooker-Marks has deftly assembled a mix of recent interview and lecture footage along with archival material to concoct a consistently interesting story which, despite the volatility of the subject, is low-key and thoughtful, and lacking the circus atmosphere of Flynt's Woody Harrelson-starring biopic.

Presented in 16x9 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, the DVD contains an informative director commentary, a trailer, some additional interview footage, and over fifteen minutes of extra material from the aforementioned deposition which is just about as irreverent as anything you'll ever see.

Like him or not, agree with his politics or not, LARRY FLYNT: THE RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE is a richly compelling documentary about one of the most unusual maverick figures of our time. I'm still not a fan, but I can say that I understand the guy a lot better now.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Kidnapping of the President DVD Review from BCI

Well after Deathshow Gameshow and thoughts of SHATNER, I went in with low expectations for the Kidnapping of the President and I have to say I was happily surprised. TKOTP turned out to be a really nice blend of action, political thriller, and man in the control room disaster movie. Usually when you toss a bunch of sub-genres in the blender the results turn out to be well Deathrow Gameshow. This film on the other hand was a very nice thriller that made good use of the Toronto cityscape and making it more than just bland scenery. One reviewer even stated that the street names and buildings were all accurate which helped give an always nice realism boost to the project.

The pacing is very nicely down and you rarely find yourself checking your watch as the movie never spends too much time dwelling on a particular plot thread (and there are a couple of sub-plots at work) that it becomes boring, but never becoming confusing either. The movie serves as a nice predecessor to 24 and the story would fit perfectly at home with that show and its story of the President being kidnapped and held for ransom in a armored car in the middle of a square in full public view.

The acting is also good, with people going more for a realistic approach to the characters with the exception of the VP's wife (which is a thread that sort of ends randomly, but not illogically) and not a super charged action hero or overly melodramatic. Shatner even stays clam and does a nice job that doesn't cause one to think of his acting excesses.

The last 10 minutes are also very fast paced and don't fall victim to the one minute countdown becomes two hours, quite the opposite. Another couple of pluses are some super gory killings in the jungle during the beginning (it makes sense later on), Shatner going FUCK!, and some very nice camera work which helps give an almost documentary feel to the film.

The print used by BCI is excellent and looks great while still maintaining a gritty and realistic feel to the movie. The audio is also clear and free of any distortion.

This little known political/action thriller is well worth the purchase and even if you don't like it there is always Deathshow Gameshow!
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Deathrow Gameshow DVD Review from BCI

The movie was directed by a man named Mark Pirro and released by Piromount Pictures (no I'm not kidding) and whose company logo is a boob. Really it’s a boob with a nipple. This movie is one of those 80s crapfests with tons of boobs, teased hair, humor that isn't really funny, but sort of in the offensive stupid way, and a lot of super obvious puns. It's certainly not good in the right way, in the evil sort of 80s brand humor. It reminds of what the guy who made Hobgoblins would have made if he had more money. It maybe funny, but I’m not sure. It is really fun 80s sleaze crap that’s worth watching. If anything it is certainly not the horror themed movie the old Media VHS tape cover suggested. Thrill at a stuntman hanging from a car at speeds of up to 5 MPH. There is also tons of 80s cheese and a Deathrow Gameshow theme song. Really Rick Sloane may have made this.

It's paired with The Kidnapping of the President From BCI and is anamorphically enhanced and the print looks mint, the audio is clean and free of any problems. It’s an easy recommendation for fans of 80s sleaze crap.
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PULSE 2 -- Technology Can Be Deadly!

Horrifying Sequel Featuring "Battlestar Galactica" Star Jaime Bamber Debuts On DVD September 30 From The Weinstein Company And Genius Products


SANTA MONICA, CA – Phantoms lurking among digital frequencies return to haunt the living in the heart-pounding thriller PULSE 2 premiering on DVD September 30th under the Dimension Extreme label from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company. In the spine-chilling supernatural sequel, technology has engulfed the human race to near extinction, morphing individuals into soulless ghosts who continue to haunt those that have not crossed over to the other side.

Starring Jaime Bamber ("Battlestar Galactica"), and Boti Bliss ("CSI: Miami"), PULSE 2 follows divorced parents Stephen and Michelle as they frantically search for their young daughter in a desperate and grave world. From director Joel Soisson, whose writing and producing credits include Feast, Phantoms and Hellraiser: Hellseeker, among others, PULSE 2 palpitates with terrifying thrills and gruesome special effects and will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.97.


Synopsis
The world has been reshaped by the invasion of ghosts via the wireless internet. Cities are deserted, technology has been destroyed and the few remaining human beings eschew anything electrical in order to avoid a confrontation with the soulless ghosts that wander the planet.

Bonus Materials:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Joel Soisson, Producer Michael Leahy, Co-Producer Christian Agypt, Line Producer Ron Vecchiarelli, Editor Kirk Morri, Makeup Effects Supervisor Gary J. Tunnicliffe & Visual Effects Supervisor Kevin O’Neill

Basics:
Price: $19.97
Street Date: September 30, 2008
Catalog Number: 81530
Rating: R
Run time: 89 minutes
Language: English Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Closed Captioned
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IMPACT Magazine--New Issue Now On Stands

The new issue of Impact has just hit the shelves, and it's loaded with features such as a "Kickboxer" series retrospective which includes the full Dennis Chan "Kickboxer" related interview and soundbites from Albert Pyun about "KB 2 & 4", reviews of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor", John Woo's "The Red Cliff", interviews with Hong Kong hero Simon Yam, Jackie Chan Stunt-Teamer Brad Allan about the action of "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army', Japanime, Korean action in "The Chaser', a look at the recent "Phantasamogoria' festival and the US version of "Life On Mars", and much more. Log onto http://www.impactmoviemagazine.co.uk/

Subscriptions and Back issues available from site as either printed or digital copies.
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Monday, September 8, 2008

MONSTER KID Magazine Number 7 -- Online Now!

Monster Kids rejoice! Issue number 7 of Kerry "Count Gamula" Gammill's onerous online monster mag "Monster Kid" is lurking inside your computer at this very moment, just waiting to trap the unwary web-surfer in its sinister clutches. With an eye-bulging Cyclops cover by none other than Rick "Rick Baker" Baker himself, this id-numbing ish is chock full of goodies for all of us weirdies who grew up with monsters on the brain and always had a copy of Uncle Forry's "Famous Monsters of Filmland" within claw's reach.

Check out this titanic table of Kong-tents:

RAY HARRYHAUSEN: MASTER OF THE MAJICKS
A look at the new in-depth book on the master of stop-motion effects.

FILMING THE VOYAGE WITHOUT LEAVING THE DOCK
From the new Harryhausen book - filming the live action for 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.

JAMES BAMA - LEGENDS OF FILM AND FANTASY
The Witch's Dungeon crew interview the Aurora monster artist for a new documentary.

IS THE CYCLOPS THE GREATEST MOVIE MONSTER EVER?
Two experts give their opinions. Do you agree?

MONSTERS FROM THE THIRD DIMENSION
More 3-D pics from classic creature features.

DIETZ'S DUNGEON
Another "caricreature" from the sketchpad of Frank Dietz.

HEY, KIDS! BUILD YOUR OWN TORTURE CHAMBER ... AGAIN!
Some long gone '70s model kits are coming back to outrage parents once again.

STOP-MOTION MONSTER MANIA
Beyond Harryhausen. What other stop-motion monsters stack up?

MONSTERMEDIA REVIEWS
Reviews of the recent books, DVDs and CDs for classic horror fans.

All of this and more is available for your palpitatin' perusal just by clicking here. Release your inner Monster Kid NOW!
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Friday, September 5, 2008

For Ian and Jess

Ian, the creator and keeper of the blog, just got married over the Labor Day weekend. And although I was not chosen to give a speech at the wedding, I decided to write one for him. Given that it is built on MST3K references, I wanted to share it with everyone. So without further ado:

-----------------

Every year of my life, I grow more and more convinced that the wisest and the best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful, if you just take the time to look at it. Over the weekend, we got to celebrate something as elusive as Robert Denby, as powerful as sodium. Waffles. No - of course, I am speaking of love. Someone that makes you proclaim, "I'm not going back, Jim!" Someone that makes you feel compelled to "STAY!!!!" Someone to show where the fish lives.

Yes! To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in our plans more often? To find it, you must be like the sargassumfish, hiding, waiting, stalking your prey. And at just the right moment.... ATTACK! Then nine times out of ten, suddenly, there is no one. There is no joy, no passion, no thing called love to be followed. We learn almost too late that man is a feeling creature... and because of it, the greatest in the universe.

But if you just stay mellow, because that's what being Ben Murphy is all about, you'll find that someone. The sun and the moon will collide. You will be able to fly like the mighty puma!

At time for go to bed, there will be someone to hold, someone who will remain at your side through good times and deep hurting. The person in your dreams of blood! What an enormous change love brings! It can make you want to laugh or cry. None of us are ever ready for move it. You think you can take marriage? Go 'head on. It's your move.

Jess, as the wife, it will be your duty to take care of the place while the Master is away. Even if he's the laziest man on Mars, keep your gold boots movin'.

Ian, as the husband, you must always watch out for snakes. When she's been hittin' the booze again, do not burn the witch. Do not sell your soul to Gorgo. Be her Roll Fizzlebeef and Punch Rockgroin.

Together, you will ride that train to mundo fine. Together, you can make that long arduous journey through Canada to the promise land! As you grow old, do not use your wedding rings to gouge out each other's precious pineal juices! Instead, shine them as you would your love. Just remember, hahaha, you're stuck here! And in the future, when all psychiatrists are aging lesbian nuns, all kids are gay agents, all of us are snacking on Flavo Fives and washing them down with Reconst, and when I am running my giant corporation and then the world from the mezzanine of a public library, your love will still be vibrant and exuberant and sparkling. And when, because of earth you are made, to earth you shall return, your love will endure as a guiding light, a flag on the moon, inspiring future generations to find how it got there.
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L.A. CONFIDENTIAL SE Hits the Street 9/23

Modern film noir fans have something to look forward to on September 23. That's when Warner Home Video will release their new 2-disc special edition of director Curtis Hanson's masterful 1997 crime drama L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. Hardboiled, action-packed, and thoroughly riveting, the film ranks in the estimation of many as the equal of Roman Polanski's classic CHINATOWN in giving the dark fascination of the old Hollywood noir thrillers a modern touch while still retaining the aura of the originals.

The list price for this special edition is $20.97, but Amazon is offering it at $14.99, which has a much nicer ring to it. Also available in Blu-ray (SRP $28.99) L.A. CONFIDENTIAL SE promises the following bonus features:

Disc 1
Commentary by Andrew Sarris
Music Only TrackTrailers and TV Spots
Showest
Nite Owl Action
Hollywood
Theatrical Trailer
Soundtrack Promo

Disc 2
Whatever You Desire: Making L.A. Confidential
Sunlight and Shadow: The Visual Style of L.A. Confidential
A True Ensemble: The Cast of L.A. Confidential
L.A. Confidential: From Book to Screen
Off the Record
Photo Pitch
The L.A. of L.A. Confidential
Hollywood Center Motel
Formosa Café
Sid Hudgen's Office
Victory Motel
Bidwell's Office
Nick's Liquor
Lynn Bracken's House
Frolic's Room
Pierce Patchett's House
Movie Premiere Pot Bust
Mrs. Leffert's House
Nite Owl Café
Navarette's Hole-up
Fitch House
City Hall
L.A. Confidential [2000 TV Pilot]
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

MOTHER OF TEARS -- From the Director of SUSPIRIA Comes the Final Chapter in the Three Mothers Trilogy

Horror Legend Dario Argento’s Supernatural Thriller Debuts On DVD
September 23 From The Weinstein Company And Genius Products

- “A return to slam-bang hard-core filmmaking.”
Horrorreview.com

SANTA MONICA, CA – Intense and disturbing, Mother of Tears, the last installment in Italian horror icon Dario Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy, arrives on unrated DVD September 23 from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company under the Dimension Extreme Label. The follow-up to Argento’s horror classics, Suspiria and Inferno, both of which follow the havoc and unrest ignited by a beautiful yet cruel sorceress, Mother of Tears gives life to the last evil mother. When an American student studying art restoration in Rome unknowingly breaks the seal of a decrepit grave, it heralds the return of the smoky-eyed temptress Mater Lachrymarum, who is hell-bent on destroying humanity. As the city is consumed by chaos and terror, the lone art student is forced to confront the diabolical witch with her own supernatural abilities.

Argento’s cinematic style – known as giallo - invokes a mixture of thrill, mystery and suspense teamed with scenes of violence and excess. Often referred to as the “Italian Hitchcock” for his ‘black glove’ cameos in his own films, Argento’s influence has been felt among contemporary directors including George A. Romero and Brian DePalma.

Featuring bone-chilling performances from Argento’s daughter Asia Argento (Land of the Dead, Transylvania) and Udo Kier (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Mother of Tears premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Mother of Tears DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.97.


Synopsis
A wave of suicide and crime sweeps over the holy city as witches congregate to pay homage to their reborn queen, Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears), the last of three powerful witches who have been spreading terror and death for centuries. Alone against an army of demons, an art student who seems to have supernatural abilities of her own, is the only person left to prevent the destruction of Rome.

Special Features
The Making Of Mother of Tears
A Conversation With Legendary Filmmaker Dario Argento

Basics
Price: $19.97
Street Date: September 23, 2008
Catalog Number: 81527
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 102 minutes
Language: English Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Closed Captioned
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

THE VISITOR -- DVD review

Richard Jenkins is one of those solid actors whose face you always recognize even if you don't know his name. "Six Feet Under" viewers will know him, as will anyone who's seen such movies as THE CORE, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE, BURN AFTER READING, STEP BROTHERS, and many more. What's really cool is seeing one of these stalwart character actors given a juicy lead role and making the most of it, as Jenkins does here in writer-director Thomas McCarthy's emotionally-resonant 2007 film THE VISITOR.

Jenkins plays Walter Vale, a widowed college professor in Connecticut for whom life has lost all meaning. He wanders sad and zombielike through his daily responsibilities, dealing with people and situations with a kind of empty politeness and resigned tolerance. What he needs is something exotic and unexpected to jolt him back into life, right? Well, that's what he gets when he's sent to New York City on college business and discovers a young couple living in the apartment he keeps there. (It's one of those THE GOODBYE GIRL-type subletting mixups.) Being a basically decent sort, Walter allows Syrian immigrant Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his African girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira) to stay until they find other accomodations.

With this set-up, we just know that Tarek and Zainab are going to breathe new life into stuffy old Walter, but the question is how unrealistic and predictably "zany" will it all get? Surprisingly, not at all. Every step of the way, THE VISITOR remains a thoughtful, introspective, compassionate character study that delights by keeping its characters real despite its sitcom potential. Tarek, we find, plays an African drum called a "Djembe" in small jazz clubs and sidewalk jam sessions, and when the instrument and the African beats eminating from it begin to fascinate Walter and draw him ever so slowly out of his shell, the process is amusingly subtle..

The turning point in the story comes when Tarek is arrested for a minor infraction and placed in detention. Walter discovers that Tarek and Zainab are illegal aliens, and, with his old life becoming less important to him by the minute, he starts to focus his attention on getting Tarek out and preventing his imminent deportation. But there's more--Tarek's mother Mouna (a very effective Hiam Abbass, MUNICH) shows up, and thus begins a wonderfully genteel romance between her and Walter that achieves remarkable depth by its very subtlety and restraint.

Since Walter is such a lifeless stiff when we first meet him, every little thing that puts a spark into his demeanor comes as a small joy. Richard Jenkins pulls it off by keeping the character under total control the whole time. His tentative efforts to learn to play the Djembe, letting down his reserve ever so gradually each time, lead to some great moments such as his taking part in a sidewalk percussion circle or simply drumming absently on the desk during a boring college conference. His relationship with Tarek is natural and unforced, with none of the usual contrived nonsense that would usually result from such an odd-couple pairing. Best of all, the romance between Walter and Mouna is so delicately handled and sweet, their final moment together brims with an emotional depth that may leave you holding back the sniffles.

Available in both full-screen and anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, the DVD looks and sounds fine. Extras include an interesting commentary with Jenkins and McCarthy, a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, some minor deleted stuff, a trailer, and a look at the Djembe.

"I have waited my entire professional career to be part of something like this," Richard Jenkins reveals during the featurette, and it's easy to see why. Low-key to the point of being almost no-key at first, THE VISITOR slowly draws us into its deliberate pace and rewards us for our patience by paying off in all sorts of ways. It won't bust your gut with laughter, deluge you with melodrama, or blow you through the back wall of your livingroom, but it doesn't have to.
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