HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"We're past that, brother."
Val Kilmer's character, Det. Andy Devereaux, is referring to the fact that he and his fellow cops in STREETS OF BLOOD (2009) have ventured far beyond the bounds of acceptable police procedure in their quest to stem the rising tide of drug-related crime in the hurricane-ravaged Big Easy. But seeing that Kilmer, Sharon Stone, and Michael Biehn are appearing in this tacky, low-grade potboiler, the question he's answering might as well have been "Are we even movie stars anymore?"
Somehow, though, once I got past the possibility that this was going to be a classy, top-notch movie and lowered my expectations accordingly, I actually started to enjoy it. It's fast-moving, action-packed, and rather colorful in its depiction of the dark underbelly of New Orleans, with plenty of sleazy sex and violence to give it that neo-grindhouse appeal. Big names aside, it's not all that different from the cheap, direct-to-video action flicks I used to rent from hole-in-the-wall video stores back in the 80s.
Val Kilmer is an actor I like in just about anything, so I cut him some slack here even though he isn't all that successful at making me think he's from anywhere near Louisiana. As Andy Devereaux, a hardboiled narc trying to live up to his hero-cop father's legacy, he's a true blue cop even though he'll bend the hell out of the rules to make a bust. Curtis "Fifty Cent" Jackson plays his partner, Stan, a family man having trouble making ends meet and feeling the temptation to pocket some of the stacks of drug money they come across. Jackson seems more comfortable playing gangstas than cops, but he does a pretty good job here even though he could still use a few more acting lessons.
Andy and Stan often butt heads with Pepe (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Barney (Brian Presley), two really out-of-control cops who like to kill bad guys, take their cash, do their drugs, and screw their girlfriends. But the two disparate duos find themselves working together when FBI agent Brown (Michael Biehn) launches an investigation that threatens to bring them all down just as they're starting to close in on the biggest drug gang in the city, the Latin Kings, run by a stone cold killer named Chamorro (Luis Rolon).
While all this is going on, a police psychologist named Nina (Sharon Stone) is conducting interviews with the main cops in order to find out why they have such a penchant for extreme violence, including Andy's four lethal shootings in three years ("I'm a good shot," he tells her). Stone comes off like a cross between Daisy Duke on 'ludes and a slow-drawlin' Mae West, with one of the worst southern accents in film history--I live about sixty miles from where this was filmed, and I don't think I've ever met anyone who talks like her. What, did she base her entire performance on a "Deputy Dawg" cartoon she saw when she was a kid? Anyway, she's just plain awful here, but it's kinda funny so that might actually be a plus.
The action scenes are somewhat artlessly staged, the photography looks like the cameramen were hopping around barefoot on a hot sidewalk, and the editing is less than exquisite. Those minor quibbles aside, however, the movie still manages to be exciting and fun to watch. Some scenes even generate a certain raw power, such as Kilmer's blow-up during an interrogation scene with Biehn and a trigger-happy exchange between Pepe and Barney and a pimpin' lowlife named Ray Delacroix (Davi Jay) who turns out to be working with the DEA. Several of the snappy dialogue scenes crackle with tension. Jose Pablo Cantillo is a standout as Pepe, and Biehn, as usual, turns in a solid performance. The post-Katrina flood sequence is atmospheric, while good use is made of locations in and around the city of Shreveport.
The DVD from Anchor Bay is bonus-less except for the film's trailer and English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image and Dolby Surround 5.1 are good.
Technically, STREETS OF BLOOD is a pretty slapdash affair, but that didn't keep me from enjoying it. I even watched it again and liked it better the second time because I knew what to expect and what not to expect. Even when the surprise ending was entirely unbelievable, I just accepted it as part of the film's cheapo charm. And when it was over, I almost felt like I needed to rewind the tape, pop it out of the VCR, and get it back to the mom-and-pop video store where I rented it in time to avoid a late fee. After dubbing a copy, of course.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Sunday, June 28, 2009
MATLOCK: THE THIRD SEASON has converted me. This 5-disc set of twenty episodes has turned me into a certified "Matlock" addict, marvelling at the sharp, clever writing and hanging on every nuance of Andy Griffith's brilliant performance as the title character. Griffith milks the role for all it's worth, with such a relaxed, natural style that it barely looks like he's working at all. Which, of course, is a testament to the effort, skill, and devious intelligence behind the creation of his onscreen persona.
Ben Matlock has the soul of a cantankerous country lawyer in the big city (Atlanta, Georgia) with the kind of clientele that reflects his exhorbitant fee. He's not a big spender, though--he lives in a modest suburban house, his favorite food is hot dogs, and he wears the same light gray suit every day. Although possessing an easygoing sense of humor most of the time, he's still a crotchety old coot who's set in his ways. This sometimes lulls suspects into underestimating until he gets them on the witness stand and goes in for the kill.
Griffith's co-stars changed a lot over the show's nine seasons (1986-1995); in year three, he's ably supported by regulars Nancy Stafford, Julie Sommars, and Kene Holliday. The statuesque Stafford plays Matlock's assistant, Michelle Thomas, and aside from being a knockout she's good at giving the star someone to trade dialogue with. Even more appealing is Sommar's character Julie March, a district attorney who has some sweetly romantic interplay with Matlock when she isn't opposing him in court. Unfortunately, her character is sparsely seen, probably to give Ben more combative courtroom opponents like APOCALYPSE NOW's Albert Hall, who makes numerous guest appearances as a no-nonsense D.A. Holliday is great as private investigator Tyler Hudson, taking care of Matlock's legwork in addition to handling most of the show's infrequent action scenes.
One of the best things about season three is that it introduces Andy Griffith's old pal Don Knotts as his bothersome new neighbor, Les "Ace" Calhoun. Similar to their relationship as Mayberry's sheriff Andy Taylor and deputy Barney Fife, Ben and Les are an odd couple who have a warm affection for each other even though Les can often be an insufferable, self-important screw-up who gets in the way a lot--in other words, he's not much different from Barney Fife. Knotts is his usual excellent self in the role and his appearances on the show are always a cause for celebration.
Some of the other noteworthy guest stars to appear in season three include Seymore Cassell, Cindy Morgan (TRON), Lisa Hartman, Dorian Harewood, David Ogden Stiers, Georg Stanford Brown, Mitchell Laurance, Richard Herd, Dennis Franz, Ford Rainey, Nana Visitor ("Deep Space Nine"), Peter Mark Richman, John Harkins, Dirk Blocker, Frances Fisher, Claude Akins, Don Swayze, Fran Ryan, Heidi Swedberg (the ill-fated Susan from "Seinfeld"), former "Andy Griffith Show" regular Jack Dodson, Roger Davis, Anne Francis, Thomas "Tiny" Lister, Roddy McDowall, Sam McMurray, Nia Peeples, and John Rubinstein. Daniel Roebuck would join the cast a few years later but shows up a couple of times here as aspiring attorney Alex Winter.
Like "Perry Mason", each episode begins with a murder and offers several suspects besides the one actually charged with the crime (whom we know is innocent, or else Matlock wouldn't be defending them). Then it's up to Matlock to investigate and uncover the evidence that the police missed, mull it all over in his mind until he comes up with some brilliant deduction, and then do his stuff in the courtroom. One thing's for sure--Matlock gets away with a lot more than Perry Mason ever did. He's often given such free reign while grilling a witness that you expect to hear an objection after every other sentence, and when it doesn't come you wonder if the judge and D.A. have fallen asleep or something. The only thing that I don't like about this show is that once Matlock gets that final witness/suspect on the stand, his prolonged and barely-contested dismantling of the poor sap is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel. Still, Griffith is always able to play each of these scenes to the hilt.
Be that as it may, this collection is filled with sharply-written, well-mounted episodes that rarely fail to entertain. Some of them are directed by formerly blacklisted Leo Penn (father of Sean and Chris), who also appears onscreen as a murdered priest in the aptly-titled "The Priest." Don Knotts' series debut is in the episode "The Lemon", in which he gets gypped by a crooked car salesman who later turns up underneath one of his own cars, with Les himself as the main suspect. "The Black Widow" is an intriguing look at one of the rare cases Matlock lost, after which the wrongly-convicted man is paroled after seven years only to discover that the wife he's supposed to have killed is still alive--whereupon he gets charged with murdering her again!
In "The Model", Matlock is hit by a car just as he makes a mental breakthrough in a case, then must struggle to remember it while lying in a hospital bed. "The Vendetta" guest-stars Mitchell Laurance as a revenge-seeking man who holds Michelle, Julie, and Tyler hostage in Ben's office until he arrives. This turns out to be a clip show, but it's one of the best I've ever seen and ends on a delightfully hilarious note. The set also features three 2-part episodes that are consistently involving.
All in all, this is a superb collection. Aside from being Grandpa Simpson's favorite show, MATLOCK is one of the most entertaining series I've ever watched--it fully qualifies as "classic television" in every sense of the term. And as a showcase for the great Andy Griffith's remarkable skill as an actor, it's in a class by itself.
Buy it at Amazon.com
With CBS/Paramount's 5-disc, 36-episode DVD set PETTICOAT JUNCTION: THE OFFICIAL SECOND SEASON, I'm finding out that I don't mind it all that much myself. Talk about laidback--watching this show is almost like actually taking a vacation at the Shady Rest. Where "Green Acres" is frenetic and cartoonlike, this show is about as relaxing and down-to-earth as a barefoot stroll to the old fishin' hole. When the opening titles roll, the urban jungle might as well be on Mars as the Cannonball, an antique train that placidly shuttles Hooterville's scattered inhabitants to and fro, pulls up to the water tank where Kate's daughters Billie Jo, Bobbi Jo, and Betty Jo are taking a swim with their petticoats hanging over the side as Curt Massey's familiar theme song sets the mood.
One of the advantages of a show like this is that its main stars are great comic actors who play this stuff with the skill and timing of seasoned pros. Bea Benederet preceeded June Foray as the go-to female voice artist in the early Warner Brothers cartoons and later supplied the voice of Betty Rubble in "The Flintstones", in addition to playing George Burns and Gracie Allen's next-door neighbor Blanche on radio and television. "The Beverly Hillbillies" creator Paul Henning cast her as Jed Clampett's cousin Pearl Bodine in that show's early seasons, where her comic talents were sharper than ever. So it was only natural that when Henning created "Petticoat Junction" he would envision Bea Benederet in the lead role of Kate Bradley.
Kate's lazy Uncle Joe is played by screen veteran Edgar Buchanan (SHANE, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY), who is a pleasure to watch as his character constantly schemes to avoid work and get rich quick. He claims to be an expert on everything, such as the time he boasts to a visiting commercial director of the acclaim he once received for his "eight milligram" film of a sackrace at the local picnic. In another episode, he buys a flea-bitten buffalo (actually a bull in a buffalo suit) and convinces an English lord that the Shady Rest is a hunting lodge where he can shoot all the buffalos he wants for the right price. Then he arranges for the girls to hustle the buffalo to different stops along the Cannonball's line so that the Englishman (whose gun is loaded with blanks) will think he's bagging his limit. When he starts to smell a rat, he exclaims, "This situation demands an explanation!", to which the ever-crafty Uncle Joe responds, "It sure does. Let's hear it!"
Various supporting characters common to both shows appear regularly, although they're not quite as bizarre here as they are on "Green Acres." They include Frank Cady's genial general store owner Sam Drucker and Hank Patterson as pig farmer Fred Ziffel, who dotes on his beloved pig Arnold. Playing the Bradley girls are original "Billie Jo" and "Bobbie Jo" Jeannine Riley and Pat Woodell (Riley would later be replaced by Gunilla Hutton and Meredith MacRae, while Lori Saunders would soon take Pat Woodell's place) and Paul Henning's daughter Linda Kaye Henning as tomboy Betty Jo. Despite their more limited comedic skills, they're a major asset to the show on a visual level, especially the stunning Woodell. (For some reason, she's absent from certain episodes and is replaced by an obvious stand-in, as in "Smoke Eaters.")
Another great film veteran, the ubiquitous Charles Lane, plays villainous Homer Bedloe, a railroad executive whose main goal in life is to shut down the Cannonball and put Kate out of business. ("I wouldn't trust him within a ten-foot pole," Uncle Joe remarks.) Rufe Davis is the tiny train's delightfully dimwitted conductor, Floyd Smoot, while the slightly-less-stupid engineer, Charley Pratt, is played by none other than the great B-western sidekick, Smiley Burnette. Last but not least, the amazing canine performer Higgins, who would go on to become the immortal BENJI, is introduced in the first episode of the set, "Betty Jo's Dog", a variation on the classic "But it just followed me home!" story. As Uncle Joe puts it in a later episode, "he incinerated himself into our affections."
At times the show skirts the boundaries of "Green Acres"-style surrealism. "A Matter of Communication" has Uncle Joe trying to create his own telephone company using the farmers' barbed wire fences as phone wires, which results in some of the biggest laughs of the season. "The Curse of Chester W. Farnsworth" is a ghost story about a former guest (Doodles Weaver) whose spirit can't rest until he's replaced all the towels he stole from various hotels during his life.
In "Bedloe's Nightmare", Kate Bradley's nemesis actually ends up tied to the front of the speeding Cannonball and terrorized until he agrees to drop his latest dastardly scheme. "For the Birds", which features the age-old sitcom device of a bird unexpectedly building its nest in an inconvenient place (in this case, the Cannonball's smokestack), zips through a lot of exposition in amusing style when the episode suddenly turns into a silent movie for a few minutes, complete with speeded-up film, melodramatic acting, and intertitles.
Marc Lawrence and former Ted Healy replacement-stooge Mousie Garner guest star in "The Hooterville Crime Wave" as escaped killers who take the Bradleys hostage. Other notable guests during this season include Bert Freed, Sig Ruman, Alan Mowbray, Grady Sutton, Dick Wessell, Stanley Adams, Lurene Tuttle, Parley Baer, Percy Helton, Willis Bouchey (THE HORSE SOLDIERS), Milt Frome, Iris Adrian, George "George Jetson" O'Hanlon, and Don Megowan. Semi-regulars include Frank Ferguson (ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN) as Doc Stuart, Virginia Sale as Kate's hatchet-faced rival Selma Plout, and the always creepy William O'Connell as Homer Bedloe's slimy toady, Evans.
These episodes are in gorgeous black-and-white and look just about pristine. The photography is exquisite, and is quite a stark contrast to the garish color episodes that would begin immediately after this season. As a bonus, each episode is introduced by original stars Linda Kaye Henning ("Betty Jo") and Pat Woodell ("Bobbie Jo") as they appear today. The two also take part in a 38-minute interview session in which they reminisce about the making of the show. A brief photo montage follows.
The opening lyric to the show's theme song goes: "Forget about your cares, it is time to relax at the junction." Watching PETTICOAT JUNCTION: THE OFFICIAL SECOND SEASON is like sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the Shady Rest, listening for the Cannonball's whistle coming around the bend. Not really all that exciting, but a very nice way to pass the time.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Lilith Noir is a hardboiled freelance enforcer for the shadow government that keeps watch over the city of Fable, a mythical realm that exists just beneath the surface of our awareness. When a fast talking private detective shows up on her doorstep, Lilith is faced with the case of a lifetime.
A new drug has hit the streets of Fable, black market Ouija boards are everywhere, victims of bizarre murders are choking the city morgue, and the prime suspect is an ancient demon masquerading as an urban vagrant. Witchcraft. Guns. The Occult. Never a dull day in the twilight city.
Also be on the lookout for--"AVERSION"Aversion is an action-packed tale of a private investigator who discovers too late that the woman that he's hired to follow is possessed by a demon. Alex Stokes (Andrew Roth) is a down and out, self-destructive PI who takes cases wherever he can. When he's offered a healthy sum by a mysterious man to follow his beautiful wife (Melantha Blackthorne), he can't resist.
Her seemingly mundane day to day activities take a strange turn when she tries to kill herself. After Alex saves her, their chemistry is too much to resist and the two become romantically entangled. This is only the beginning as his friends and acquaintances begin to fall into a vortex of evil, leaving him alone to save mankind.
Watch the trailer here: AVERSION website
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Infinity Entertainment Group in Association With Retromedia Entertainment Proudly Presents MAD MONSTER RALLY--A Big Box of Scary!
LOS ANGELES — July 1, 2009 — Get ready for a monstrous midnight marathon as Morella, the Ghost Hostess with the Mostest, unveils a haunting collection of terror-ific goodness in Mad Monster Rally, on DVD July 21 from Infinity Entertainment Group.
The Mad Monster Rally box set includes three volumes – eight big films – guaranteed to keep you awake at night!
Morella’s All-Nite Spooktacular – Sit back and thrill to a chill-filled double-feature, The Cremators (1972) and House of Blood (1973).
Morella’s Blood Vision – This delightfully wicked offering featuring the walking dead includes Zombies (1964), The Blood Seekers (1965) and Blood Stalkers (1978).
Sci-Fi Trash-O-Rama – This trilogy of terror classics includes Creature of Destruction (1967), The Flying Saucer Mystery (1950) and UFO: Target Earth (1974)
The Cremators, House of Blood, Blood Seekers, Creature of Destruction, The Flying Saucer Mystery and UFO: Target Earth are presented in full frame with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Zombies is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Blood Stalkers is presented in letterbox with an aspect ration of 1.85:1.
Retromedia Entertainment was launched in 2001 by CEO Fred Olen Ray, a well-known writer, director and producer of films across a broad range of genres. Among his most successful works are the award-winning films Invisible Mom, starring Dee Wallace, and Inner Sanctum, starring Tanya Roberts and Margaux Hemingway, both of which became "The Number One Most Rented" DVD titles in the U.S., according to the RIAA. The latter film earned Ray the Wall Street Journal headline "B Movie Makes A-Movie Money." Ray also directed the award-winning Black Horizon, starring Michael Dudikoff and Ice-T; Armed Response, starring David Carradine; and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, called the "4th Coolest B Movie of All Time" by Maxim magazine.
Infinity Entertainment Group, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., is a multi-service home entertainment retail distributor specializing in independent films, television programming, special-interest, documentaries, anime and music. Clients include Smithsonian Networks, MOJO HD, Falcon Picture Group, Bandai Entertainment, Roxbury Entertainment, SJ2 Entertainment and Retromedia. Hit titles include the iconic Route 66 television series, now available on DVD for the first time, and Spike Jones: The Legend. The company was launched in 2006 and is a division of Infinity Resources, Inc., a privately-held, multi-channel marketing and service enterprise with general offices based in suburban Chicago, Ill.
Mad Monster Rally
Infinity Entertainment Group
Format: DVD Only
Running Time: Approx. 640 Minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Pre-Order Date: June 16, 2009
Street Date: July 21, 2009
Catalog #: IEG2132
UPC Code: #617742213294
Buy it at Amazon.com
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The #1 Action Video Game Of All Time Battles On To Unleashed & Unrated Three-Disc Blu-ray And Two-Disc DVD June 30 From Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Includes Bonus Disc With Full-Length Animated Comic Movie About Genesis Of Street Fighter Universe
CENTURY CITY, CA -- Based on one of the most successful and popularvideo game franchises of all time, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li takes its acclaimed heroine on an action-packed quest for justice when it debuts on Unleashed & Unrated three-disc Blu-ray and two-disc DVD June 30 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Featuring for a limited time the full-length animated comic movie, Street Fighter Round One: FIGHT!, the film delves deeper into the origins of the Street Fighter universe.
Starring five-time Teen Choice Award nominee Kristen Kreuk ("Smallville") in the iconic title role, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is a pulse-pounding, non-stop thrill ride. In this classic story of good vs. evil, Chun-Li (Kreuk) must stand strong against the Shadaloo syndicate who is determined to take over Bangkok slums already teeming with a dangerous criminal element. Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, who also directed the hit video game feature Doom, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li also features high-impact performances from stars including Screen Actors Guild award nominee Neil McDonough ("Desperate Housewives"), two-time Teen Choice Award nominee Chris Klein (American Pie), Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City), Moon Goodblood (Terminator Salvation) and Taboo (musical group Black Eyed Peas).
Featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the #1 all-time coin operated video game, and a brand new Street Fighter next-gen counsel video game released in February 2009, the Street Fighter name has stood the test of time with its lasting appeal. The Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Unleashed & Unrated Blu-ray Disc with Digital Copy and two-disc DVD editions include a bonus disc with the full-length animated comic movie, Street Fighter Round One: FIGHT!, commentary by producers Patrick Aiello and Ashok Amritraj and cast members Neal McDonough and Chris Klein, behind-the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and more, and will be available for $39.99 U.S. / $49.99 Canada (BD w/ DC) and $29.98 U.S. / $43.48 Canada (DVD). Prebook date is June 3.
Brace yourself for the hard-hitting action and high-flying excitement of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. including an all new unrated cut! Based on the wildly popular Street Fighter video game series, this powerful martial arts adventure explores the origins of the Street Fighter universe through Chun-Li (Kristen Kreuk), who avenges her father’s death at the hands of Bison (Neil McDonough) and his evil Shadaloo Empire. Now the stage is set, the challenge is clear, the legend will be forged...but who will prevail? Round One. Fight!
Blu-ray Disc With Digital Copy Specs The Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Unleashed & Unrated three-disc Blu-ray will be presented in widescreen format (2.35:1 aspect ratio) with English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio with English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Bonus features include:
Theatricaland Unrated feature Audio Commentary by Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj, Neal McDonough and Chris Klein Street Fighter: In Movie Enlightenment 14 Deleted Scenes Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Sneak Peek Becoming a Street Fighter Chun Li: Bringing the Legend to Life Fox Movie Channel Presents Making A Scene Recreating the Game: Arcade to Film Comparisons The Fight in Black and White: Storyboard Gallery Behind the Fight: Production Gallery
Street Fighter Round One: FIGHT! Animated comic movie
DVD Specs Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Unleashed & Unrated two-disc DVD will be presented in widescreen format (2.35:1 aspect ratio) withEnglish 5.1 Dolby Surround with English, French and Spanish subtitles. Bonus features include:
Theatrical and Unrated feature Audio Commentary by Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj, Neal McDonough and Chris Klein 14 Deleted Scenes Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Sneak Peek Becoming a Street Fighter Chun Li: Bringing the Legend to Life Fox Movie Channel Presents Making A Scene Recreating the Game: Arcade to Film Comparisons The Fight in Black and White: Storyboard Gallery Behind the Fight: Production Gallery
A recognized global industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on DVD, Blu-ray Disc (BD) and Digital Copy as well as acquisitions and original productions. The company also releases all products around the globe for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets -- from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce - throughout the world. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC is a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
OWN IT ON BLU-RAY™ HI-DEF AND DVD AUGUST 18, 2009 FROM UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT
IF SOMEONE HURT SOMEONE YOU LOVE, HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET REVENGE?
“HARSH, DARK AND ADMIRABLY UNFLINCHING.”
–Scott Weinberg, Fearnet.com
There’s a place where evil gets what it deserves. Legendary masters of horror Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham revisit the landmark film that launched Craven's directing career and influenced decades of horror films to follow: The Last House on the Left. Bringing one of the most notorious thrillers of all time to a new generation, they produce a shocking and thrilling re-imagination of the story that explores how far two ordinary people will go to exact revenge on the sociopaths who harmed their child. Includes two versions of the movie - the unrated cut too terrifying for theaters and the theatrical version. Starring Monica Potter (Saw), Tony Goldwyn (The Last Samurai), and Sara Paxton (Sydney White).
Blu-rayTM Hi-Def: LIMITED TIME ONLY!
Experience pure terror in perfect picture and purest digital sound available! Available for a limited time only, the 2-disc Blu-ray version plays on your Blu-ray player or Playstation® 3 and includes exclusive additional features!
· DIGITAL COPY OF THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT unrated: Transfer the included digital copy to your iPod, Mac or PC and experience The Last House on the Left anywhere, anytime!
· BD-LIVETM: Access the BD-LiveTM Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers, and more!
o MY SCENES SHARING: Pick your favorite scenes from the film to create your own video montage, then share with your buddies via BD-LiveTM.
BONUS FEATURES ( DVD and BLU- RAY ™ HI-DEF):
A LOOK INSIDE - FEATURETTE
SYNOPSIS: Renowned horror director Wes Craven returns to the scene of one of the most notorious thrillers of all time in this darkly disturbing reimagining of The Last House on the Left. After kidnapping and ruthlessly assaulting two teen girls, a sadistic killer and his gang unknowingly find shelter from a storm at the home of one of the victim’s parents – two ordinary people who will go to increasingly gruesome extremes to get revenge. Loaded with shocking twists guaranteed to leave you on edge, it’s an ominous film critics call “pure terror” (Victoria Alexander, Filmsinreview.com). How far would you go to get revenge?
TECHNICAL INFORMATION – BLU-RAY™ HI-DEF:
Street Date: August 18, 2009
Copyright: 2009 Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 61110488
Price: $39.98 SRP
Running Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes (Theatrical), 1 Hour, 54 Minutes (Unrated Edition)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use / unrated
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Includes digital copy (unrated version)
TECHNICAL INFORMATION – DVD:
Street Date: August 18, 2009
Copyright: 2009 Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 61110437
Price: $29.98 SRP
Running time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes (Theatrical), 1 Hour, 54 Minutes (Unrated Edition)
Layers: Dual layer
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Rating: R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use / unrated
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
CAST AND FILMMAKERS:
Cast: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Sara Paxton, Garret Dillahunt, Martha MacIsaac, Riki Lindhome
Directed By: Dennis Iliadis
Written By: Adam Alleca, Carl Ellsworth
Produced By: Wes Craven, Sean Cunningham, Marianne Maddalena
Co-Producers: Jonathan Craven, Cody Zwieg
Director of Photography: Sharone Meir
Production Designer: Johnny Breedt
Editor: Peter McNulty
Music By: John Murphy
Costume Designer: Katherine Jane Bryant
Casting By: Nancy Nayor Battino, C.S.A., Scout Masterson, C.S.A.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
A Morgan J.Freeman Film
Starring Mischa Barton, Jessica Stroup and Matt Long
Mike (Matt Long) is a small-town star athlete who is the first in his family to attend college, receiving a football scholarship to prestigious Northwestern University . When he returns home over Christmas break to the people he left behind - his family and friends - they are all surprised to see him with a new girlfriend, Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup), a pretty rich girl from Chicago . No one is more shocked than Mike's homecoming queen ex-girlfriend, Shelby (Mischa Barton), who immediately wants to be rid of Elizabeth and plots to take care of the problem. Our story takes many twists and turns as Shelby does everything it takes to get Mike back.
Starring Shiloh Fernandez (Red, United States of Tara), Noah Segan (Brick), Michael Bowen (Kill Bill, Jackie Brown) and Candice Accola (Juno)
Daringly original, genre-busting and certain to cause debate, Deadgirl is an odyssey into the soul of our alienated youth. But by injecting universal teen moral moorings into something fantastical and terrifying, the film takes the conventions of the horror and coming-of-age movies and turns them on their heads.
When high school misfits Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) decide to cut school and find themselves lost in the crumbling facility of a nearby abandoned hospital, they come face-to-face with a gruesome discovery: a woman whose body has been stripped naked, chained to a table and covered in plastic. When both react to the situation in extremely different ways, the boys soon find themselves embarking on a twisted yet poignant journey that forces them to decide just how far they're willing to stretch their understanding of right and wrong.
A no-holds-barred look at the horror of growing up.
"The Untouchables" chronicles the campaign of Eliot Ness (Robert Stack), the young U.S. Prohibition Bureau agent, to smash the beer and booze empire of Al Capone in 1920s Chicago.
NCIS: THE SIXTH SEASON
NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a former Marine gunnery sergeant, whose skills as an investigator are unmatched, formerly led this troupe of colorful personalities. Gibbs, a man of few words, only needs a look to explain it all. The team includes NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, an ex-homicide detective who may come off as the world's oldest frat boy, but whose instincts in the field are unparalled; forensic specialist Abby Sciuto, a talented scientist whose dark wit matches her Goth style and eclectic tastes; NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee, an MIT graduate whose brilliance with computers far overshadows his insecurities in the field; and Ziva David, a former Moussad agent who shares a bond with Gibbs over the death of his arch nemesis, Ari, the terrorist who killed former NCIS Special Agent Kate Todd. Assisting the team is medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, who knows it all because he's seen it all, and he's not afraid to let you know. Rounding out the team is NCIS director Jennifer Shepard, who has a romantic history with Gibbs. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents travel the globe to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties.
Actors: Mark Harmon, Cote de Pablo, Lauren Holly, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly
Each week, passengers looking for romance board the beautiful Pacific Princess cruise ship as it sails to tropical and exotic lands. Captain Stubing, Julie, Gopher, Doc, and Isaac help them to get the most out of their trips and do their best to help them fall in love.
DEXTER: THE THIRD SEASON DVD AND BLU-RAY
"Dexter" is back and more killer than ever. The Emmy-nominated Showtime Original Series (Best Drama Series, Lead Actor in a Drama Series) returns for an all-new season--and this time Dexter's got a new take on taking life. Having faced some of his darkest demons, Dexter's ready to put the past behind him. Now, with family life, a day job catching killers and an uncontrollable urge to do away with the ones that get away, Dexter's got his work cut out for him. And when a high-profile cases sides him with powerful Assistant DA Miguel Prado, the pressure might be too great for even our beloved Dexter to hack.
TV SETS: BEYOND THE ORDINARY
Enjoy a sampling of the very first episodes from four of the greatest Sci-Fi dramas of all time! Go back to the beginning with the classic Sci-Fi phenomenon, "Star Trek", to contemporary fantasy favorites like "4400", "Joan of Arcadia", and "Medium."
Actors: Patricia Arquette, Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Amber Tamblyn
Enjoy a sampling of the very first episodes from four of the greatest crime shows of all time! Go back to the beginning with your favorite crime busters from classic shows like "Streets of San Francisco" and "Hawaii Five-O" to contemporary favorites like "CSI NY" and Dexter."
Actors: Michael Douglas, Gary Sinise, Jack Lord, Michael C. Hall, Karl Malden
90210: THE FIRST SEASON
An edgy, contemporary spin-off of the iconic drama "Beverly Hills, 90210", the new "90210" looks at life through the eyes of Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes) and her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds), whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves no doubt they're not in Kansas anymore.
Actors: Tristan Wilds, Shenae Grimes, AnnaLynne McCord, Michael Steger, Jessica Stroup Format: Anamorphic, Color, Digital Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
Sophisticated and unique, this comedy centers on novelist Hank Moody who struggles to raise his teenage daughter with his on-again/off-again girlfriend in Southern California. His obsession with truth-telling and self destructive behavior--drinks, drugs, and relationships--are both destroying and enriching to his career.
Actors: David Duchovny, Evan Handler, Madeleine Martin, Natascha McElhone, Madeline Zima
Inspired by his childhood experiences, comedian Chris Rock narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of three children in Brooklyn, New York during the 1980s. Uprooted to a new neighborhood and bused into a predominantly white middle school two hours away by his strict, hard-working parents, Chris struggles to find his place while keeping his siblings in line at home and surmounting the challenges of junior high. This responsible, resilient adolescent brings a distinct, funny spin to his everyday trials and traumas in this single-camera comedy.
Actors: Chris Rock, Tichina Arnold, Terry Crews, Imani Hakim, Vincent Martella, Tequan Richmond, Tyler Williams
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Walking Dead (1936)
Special Feature: Commentary by historian Greg Mank
Special Feature: Commentary by historians Charlotte Austin and Tom Weaver
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
Monday, June 15, 2009
I, myself, would add a fourth rule, which is: if you go to work as a housekeeper for a mysterious Chinese woman and her creepy aunt and you find out that their house contains an open gateway to Hell that has malevolent ghosts pouring out if it, you might want to consider finding another job.
The idiot who not only can't take a ghostly hint but manages to break all the rules in nothing flat is Alyssa, played by likable actress Marina Resa. Alyssa gets more interesting as the movie goes along, but at first the most exciting things she does are smiling real nice and neatly tucking her hair behind her ears. I have to admire Alyssa's calm demeanor--in one scene she'll have an intensely frightening ghostly experience, and in the next scene she's whistling cheerfully through her housework again. The ghosts often scare her into passing out, and Mrs. Wu and her aunt find her lying on the floor. This becomes such a frequent occurrence that Miss Wu finding Alyssa passed out cold on the floor almost becomes a household routine.
The main reason Alyssa keeps on working at Ghost Central is that she's being stalked by a scary former boyfriend, Jacob (Jerod Edington), so working for Miss Wu (Shirley To) in her beautiful Southwest-style mansion in the middle of the Nevada desert is a perfect hiding place. Until he tracks her down, that is, giving Alyssa even more to worry about than jack-in-the-box ghosts flying at her at an alarming rate. Miss Wu's enigmatic neighbor Blake (Rick Irvin), who knows more than he's telling about the disappearance of her previous housekeeper, is another concern.
What makes GHOST MONTH different from the standard cheapo scare flick, besides being well-directed and having some superb cinematography and locations, is that writer-director Danny Draven is trying his best to give us some of the same jolts that we get from Asian horror cinema. And for much of the film, he does this quite well. The movie has some really scary ghosts in it, appearing suddenly along with the usual loud musical stings and making us jump. Even when we expect it, such as the times Alyssa opens a door and we just know something will be behind it when she closes it again, these ghosts can still give us a real fright. I like the fact that this is achieved mainly through clever directing rather than tricky editing.
The biggest drawback to the film, in my opinion, is a tiresomely persistent musical score. Occasional silence can be an effective tool in this sort of film, and having non-stop music telling us what to feel at every turn is distracting. As for DVD extras, I watched a screener that didn't have any but I can list them--behind-the-scenes footage, a cast commentary track with Marina Resa, Shirley To, and Rick Irvin, an "Origins of Ghost Month" featurette, an interview with director Draven, bloopers, still gallery, and closed captioning. The film is presented in 16 x 9 anamorphic widescreen with 2.0 stereo sound. The closing credits look particularly cool.
Having Miss Wu and her aunt constantly praying and making burnt offerings to ward off the ghosts gives Draven a chance to introduce some familiar Asian elements, such as people being wrapped up in yards of long, black ghost hair. Revenge is a motivating factor for these restless spirits, and some of the characters get what's coming to them in interesting ways (one of which is a treat for Poe fans). Unfortunately, the story starts to run out of steam, as well as logic, towards the end and there's perhaps one climax too many. But for the most part I found GHOST MONTH to be a worthy effort that held my attention and managed to generate a respectable amount of bloodcurdling shocks. And it's nice to see someone create an original Asian-style ghost story instead of just knocking off another remake of one.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Friday, June 12, 2009
It's hard to say how successful he is at this because at times I couldn't tell if I was supposed to think his Ted Bundy was scary or funny. This is especially true of the scene in which Ted, after murdering a young woman in some isolated location, gets down on all fours and starts howling like a coyote. Sometimes he seems to be still playing perennial loser Harold Lauder, striking out romantically while trying to pass himself off as a normal, dynamic guy. Nemec's theatrical portrayal is occasionally interesting, but rarely convincing.
Some effort is made by writer-director Michael Feifer to show some of the possible reasons for Bundy's warped personality. He had a troubled childhood during which he thought his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister (his father's identity being the subject of some dubious speculation). He grew up reading violent horror comics. And he was devastated when his college sweetheart dumped him after she realized that the socially-stunted young man would never grow up. Immediately after this, however, we're shown a montage of brutal abduction-murders with the now totally bonkers Ted having suddenly morphed into a savage, bloodthirsty animal. None of it really comes together to show the evolution of Bundy from troubled youth to psycho.
I read Wikipedia's page on Ted Bundy and found that much of the film's story is fairly accurate, although we still don't get an idea of the sheer number of victims he managed to do away with. The murder sequences themselves are disturbing mainly because the actresses are so convincing--their screams and pleas for mercy are heartrending. Nemec does his best to convey the unhinged monstrousness required, yet his emoting seems overly calculated. He's at his best in the quieter scenes, such as the ones between Bundy and the warden (Kane Hodder) who's about to lead him to the electric chair in the film's bookending segments, or the gripping courtroom sequence in which Bundy serves as his own defense lawyer and makes a mockery of the proceedings.
Michael Feifer, who directed Hodder that same year in B.T.K. and has made a number of other fact-based serial killer films, gives this one the look of an above-average made-for-TV movie. Interestingly, he shoots the early 70s stuff in a way that makes it seem to actually have come from that era, right down to the film stock and cheesy soundtrack songs. This segment of the movie looks as though it could've come right out of a Joe Sarno flick. Artistically, that's the most noteworthy thing about BUNDY: A LEGACY OF EVIL--otherwise, it's capably done but relatively unremarkable.
Other details of Bundy's story are sketched in, including an impromptu jailbreak, a brush with political activism, a stint manning a suicide hotline (where the real Bundy would meet future true-crime author Ann Rule), and a reunion with his college flame Stephanie (the very cute Jen Nikolaisen) which, though fictionalized, results in one of the film's most effective moments. Bundy's infamous rampage through a girls' dormitory is documented in predictably bloody fashion. The final act, of course, consists of Bundy's execution in the electric chair. Feifer, I suspect, was trying for some of the impact of the last minutes of IN COLD BLOOD here. The results are much less effective, yet the sequence does come off pretty well.
How much of Bundy's behavior was simply a deliberate choice to do evil as opposed to the actions of someone incapable of controlling his warped impulses? In the film, a Ted Bundy still hoping for a reprieve puts much of the blame on pornography and other outside influences. Hodder's warden doesn't buy it: "You're not mental. You're not deranged. You're the most normal, intelligent man I've ever had on death row." I think Corin Nemec's performance would have been more effective if he'd played Bundy more like that instead of always trying to make it obvious to us that the guy's a total loon, because we already know that.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
After a brief New York prologue in which nerdy Charlie Banks (Jesse Eisenberg) secretly rats to the cops on neighborhood tough guy Mick Leary (Jason Ritter) for almost killing a couple of guys at a party, we get transported to a nice ivy-covered university campus somewhere in Rhode Island. It's here that Charlie and his childhood buddy Danny (Chris Marquette) are going about their lives as studious dorm mates, when suddenly Mick shows up looking for a place to lay low for a few days.
Charlie, worried that this brawny, unstable mook might smell a rat, finds Mick's presence even more unpleasant when he starts moving in on the girl of his dreams, Mary (Eva Amurri), and she responds to Mick's bad-boy charms. Making things worse is the fact that Mick hates rich kids, and of course Charlie and Danny have just started hanging out with the poster boy for the idle rich, Leo (Sebastian Stan), who thinks it's fun to spend 200 grand on a small yacht so that they can all play pirates.
Thus, we wait on pins and needles for this volatile situation to erupt into shocking and needless violence, which, of course, it eventually does, just as Charlie and Mary very obviously foreshadow while discussing "The Great Gatsby." Until then, we observe Mick interacting with these normal college kids and try to understand what makes Mick tick. We know he's had a rough upbringing--"no father, sketchy mother" as the police describe it--and that he's got a serious anger management problem. When we first see him back in New York he's admired by the other guys and fawned over by the girls, but only for his ability to cripple anyone who crosses him.
The sad thing is, he can be a pretty charming guy when he isn't enraged. Not only does he seem to yearn to fit in with Charlie's wealthy, intelligent friends, but he apparently wants to be friends with normal, nerdy Charlie. During all of this, though, he's like a wolf palling around with a flock of sheep, and Charlie knows it as well as we do.
Jason Ritter wisely plays Mick without the standard tough-guy act, which makes the character a lot more interesting and unpredictable. The movie takes place in the 70s and 80s, and the first time we see him he looks more like he just stepped off the disco floor than out of an alleyway. Later he adopts the preppy look after Leo gives him some of his old clothes. Ritter is good at conveying Mick's hair-trigger demeanor and keeping us on edge every time a drunken Leo gets too annoying or a romantic encounter with Mary starts to get too physical. Jesse Eisenberg, who reminds me a little of a young Mike Kellin, is also very good as Charlie, and the rest of the cast does a great job with their characters as well.
The DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment is 1.78: 1 anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound. Subtitles are available in both English for the hearing-impaired and Spanish. There's an interview featurette, "Conversations Behind 'The Education of Charlie Banks'", and a commentary track featuring Durst and Ritter, which is interesting although they sometimes have a little trouble articulating what they want to say.
Much of the movie is about Mick's efforts to be a part of this group of people for whom he also feels a deep-seated resentment. It's sad that under different circumstances, he might very well have been a bright college student with a future instead of a blunt instrument with a bad attitude. Charlie's education, thanks to Mick, is a tortured process of dealing with complex emotions and relationships, and doing the right thing despite grave risks. THE EDUCATION OF CHARLIE BANKS is a mature work that bodes well for everyone involved--especially Fred Durst, who doesn't just have to be that guy from Limp Bizkit anymore.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Here's a full-on Exclusive
Alright, not only are BU releasing NY RIPPER in the future, they're releasing a whole host more onto Blu-Ray. In the latest issue of Fangoria (30th Anniversary Edition), the back cover contains a huge spread from BLUE UNDERGROUND saluting Fangoria on their 30th Anniversary. They discuss a variety of things, including their forthcoming Blu-Ray titles. The releases announced are the following:
Let Sleeping Corpses Die
Daughters of Darkness
Blood Splattered Bride
Maniac: 30th Anniversary SE
Seems like its going to be a FANTASTIC lineup!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Looking for a Good Horror Movie For Only 10 Bucks? Check Out Andy Copp's Quiet Nights of Pain and Blood!
Monday, June 1, 2009
James Callis and Laura Harris star in a new and exciting interpretation of a classic fantasy
The age of knights was one of chivalry and honor, of magic and mystery, of passion and betrayal. And now that age has passed -- perhaps forever. What remains is a shadowy world of fear and terror.
Anchor Bay Entertainment, the undisputed leader in cult and classic horror home entertainment, will release the much-anticipated SciFi Channel premiere Merlin and the Book of Beasts, starring James Callis and Laura Harris, on DVD on Aug. 25, 2009. Pre-book is July 23, 2009, with an SRP of $19.97.
Welcome to the dark side of Camelot. King Arthur is gone. The Round Table is in ruins, and a rogue sorcerer has unleashed a reign of monstrous terror upon the land. For the court’s last remaining knights, their only hope lay in the powers of the now-bitter and broken wizard Merlin (James Callis, “Battlestar Galactica,” Bridget Jones’ Diary). But can a once-great man of magic defeat a legion of creatures that includes Dragon Soldiers, Death Hawks and Gorgons, and reclaim the land? Merlin and the Book of Beasts is directed by Warren P. Sonoda (Sleeptalkers, 5ive Girls, Coopers’ Camera).
Laura Harris (“Dead Like Me,” “24”) co-stars in this head-spinning epic adventure that puts a savage new spin on the saga of Excalibur, Mordred, and the ultimate battle between Merlin and the Book of Beasts.
Street Date: August 25, 2009
Pre-Book: July 23, 2009
Catalog #: P2353
UPC #: 0 1313 82353-8 1
Run Time: 92 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Buy it at Amazon.com