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Monday, April 30, 2012

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW: CARL REINER'S FAVORITES -- DVD review by porfle




Back in the early 60s, probably the one sitcom that came closest to being that era's equivalent to "Seinfeld" was "The Dick Van Dyke Show."  Winner of 15 Emmy awards, it was the pinnacle of razor-sharp, sophisticated, yet sometimes delightfully lowbrow television comedy from 1961-66, running for 158 episodes before bowing out while the show was still a success. 

Twenty of those episodes, spanning the show's five-year run, have been chosen by creator-producer Carl Reiner for Image Entertainment's 3-disc DVD set THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW: CARL REINER'S FAVORITES.  While the series has already been mined for other collections of this type, you could probably pick any number of episodes at random and still come up with a worthwhile set. 

Here, Carl Reiner (who plays the abrasive and egotistical TV comedy star "Alan Brady") has assembled a solid lineup of comedy gems, most of which he wrote himself, which tell the story of TV comedy writer and family man Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) and his zany experiences both at work and at home. 

As a writer for "The Alan Brady Show" Rob's workday is already a gagfest as he sits around the office trading barbs and ad-libs with  his co-workers, joke machine Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and brassy broad Sally Rogers (Rose Marie).  At home, he never knows what complications will pop up next with his beautiful but flighty wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and mischievous son Richie (Larry Mathews), with neighbors Jerry and Millie Helper (Jerry Paris, Anne Morgan Guilbert) always getting into the act.

The pairing of the two leads was a match made in TV heaven.  Moore, who would go on to star in yet another long-running classic of her own, is not only gorgeous to look at here but is an expert comedienne who can evoke howls of laughter from the show's live audience not only with her expert line delivery but her facial expressions and body language as well. 

Dick Van Dyke, of course, is quite simply one of the most brilliant comic actors of all time.  A consummate performer, he never fails to amaze with his great depth of talent and ability and seems to bring something new and exciting to every scene.  His talent for rubber-jointed physical comedy and slapstick is on par with the great silent comedians, while his knack for verbal humor enables him to get laughs even from the less outstanding gags.  When he and Moore are together, their perfectly-matched performances are like the comedy equivalent of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

"Never Name a Duck" starts things off with one of the series' kookier episodes when Rob gets stuck with two baby ducks that grow up to be big trouble.  "The Attempted Marriage" is one of several flashback episodes dealing with Rob and Laura's early romantic difficulties.  Dabbs Greer, Sandy Kenyon, and director Ray Kellogg appear along with the great Allan Melvin as Rob's old Army buddy.  "A Bird in the Head Hurts" focuses on Richie's claims that a giant woodpecker is stalking him.  This is followed by one of the best episodes in the set, "Hustling the Hustler", in which Buddy's pool-shark brother Blackie (Phil Leeds) takes an unsuspecting Rob to the cleaners.  "Gesundheit, Darling" finds Rob in fear that he's suddenly become allergic to Laura.

"Will You Two Be My Wife?", another flashback episode, forces Rob to break off his engagement with a volatile Barbara Bain ("Mission: Impossible", "Space: 1999").  In "Ray Murdoch's X-Ray", Rob's nervous revelations about Laura's private goof-ups on a TV interview show has her steaming.  "Don't Trip Over That Mountain" features one of Dick Van Dyke's funniest performancs when Rob "bruises his body" during a skiing trip and must pretend to Laura that he's uninjured.  "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals" is the inevitable "let's put on a show" episode, with Rob and the gang filling in for the injured headliner at a friend's new nightclub.  "Divorce" gives Morey Amsterdam center stage with a sudden crisis in his marriage to Pickles (Joan Shawlee, THE RELUCTANT ASTRONAUT).

"Laura's Little Lie" and "Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice" form a two-parter in which a fib Laura told Rob many years earlier could mean that they aren't legally married.  Rob runs into one of Laura's old flames (Michael Forest, "Apollo" in ST:TOS' "Who Mourns for Adonis?") in "The Life and Love of Joe Coogan", but his jealousy turns to shock when he makes an unexpected discovery. "The Plots Thicken" concerns a blow-up between Rob and Laura's parents about whom their offspring will be buried alongside when the time comes.  Rob has an idea for an episode of "The Alan Brady Show" featuring old-time radio stars in "The Return of Edwin Carp" but his plans go awry when Carp (Richard Haydn) refuses to go on at the last minute due to stage fright.

Flashback episode "Pink Pills and Purple Parents", has Mary Tyler Moore slaying the audience with her hysterical antics when a nervous Laura takes some of friend Millie's nerve pills to get her through an awkward dinner with Rob's parents and goes bonkers.  Carl Reiner appears as Alan Brady in "Baby Fat", in which Rob must punch up the script of a play Alan's appearing in by a famous but untalented playwright (Strother Martin). 

"The Green Hornet" star Van Williams guests as a handsome soldier who has Laura questioning her engagement to Rob in the final flashback episode,  "No Rice at My Wedding."  In "A Day in the Life of Alan Brady", Alan crashes Millie and Jerry Helper's anniversary party with a documentary film crew.  "Obnoxious, Offensive, Egomaniac, Etc." ends the set with more great physical comedy when Alan is inadvertently given a private copy of his next show's script which the writers loaded with insults aimed at him.  Their attempts to steal it back from him before he reads it are hilarious.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is full screen with Dolby mono sound.  No subtitles or extras.  Image quality is good with only the occasional specks and scratches. 

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" reconstructs rather than deconstructs the traditional sitcom--it was still too early to start being all ironic and self-aware about the whole thing as later shows would do.  So what Reiner, Van Dyke, and company did was to create an example of the form that was as sleek, contemporary, sharply written, slightly quirky, and expertly performed as was humanly possible.  THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW: CARL REINER'S FAVORITES gives us a pretty good idea of how successful they were. 


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

MADISON COUNTY -- DVD review by porfle




A group of young people venture into the backwoods, have the usual ominous encounters with some hostile local-yokels, and then run into a masked serial killer who starts jabbing pointy things at them.  The fact that this synopsis describes not only MADISON COUNTY (2011) but an endless parade of slasher flicks churned out like sausage since the 80s pretty much lets you know what you're in for here. 

This time, the youngsters a-goin' where they oughtn't to are best buds James (Colley Bailey) and Will (Matt Mercer), Will's girlfriend Brooke (Joanna Sotomura), and her friend Jenna (Natalie Scheetz).  Brooke's surly big brother Lyle (Ace Marrero) also insists on coming along to make sure there's no hanky-panky between her and Will, whom he can't stand.  Their reason for traveling into the deep, dark backwoods of Arkansas is to track down the author of a book about a local serial killer so that Will can interview him for his college thesis. 

The mysterious killer, Damien Ewell, is said to have murdered dozens during his reign although a ditzy old lady named Erma (Adrienne Harrell), who runs the general store, insists he's merely an urban legend.  After locating the author's secluded house and finding it empty, the kids naturally split up and go off into the woods looking for him.  What happens to them after that isn't too hard to guess.  

What makes a movie like this interesting as opposed to just being more of the same is a script that adds something clever and new to the formula.  Unfortunately, MADISON COUNTY simply recycles the most basic elements of the slasher genre to come up with one of its less memorable entries.

After an interesting opening that almost looks like a continuation of the last scene in THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (a film this one would like very much to be), the story moves at a snail's pace establishing its main characters and getting them where they need to be in order to get killed.  There are a couple of jump scares early on, although it's mainly the ear-splitting musical stings that make us wince. 

Dialogue is functional at best, and the characters seem to wander around forever before getting offed in rather cursory fashion.  Gorehounds will be disappointed by the lack of inventive FX, while those looking for titillation will have to settle for a brief long shot of two topless girls swimming in a lake.  (Surprisingly, none of the main characters have sex, smoke weed, or utter the word "Party!", so I guess that could count as original.)

The killer--a lanky hillbilly wearing an oversized pig mask--looks and acts tiresomely familiar (Nick Principe fared much better as "Chromeskull" in the LAID TO REST movies), and, like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and their indestructible ilk, he just keeps getting back up no matter how many times he's stabbed or bashed over the head.  The rest of the cast gamely do what they can with their characters, with Adrienne Harrell as "Erma" delivering an otherwise non-scary film's one truly creepy moment.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.  No subtitles.  Extras consist of a commentary with director Eric England, producer Daniel F. Dunn, and actor Ace Merrero, plus the film's trailer and a cast and crew Q & A which took place at the 2011 ScreamFest. 

MADISON COUNTY is competently made, especially for a first-time director, and it's still way better than such dreck as MOTOR HOME MASSACRE, DARK FIELDS, or THE EVIL WOODS.  But it's just more of the same, and pretty dull at that.  Hopefully, next time these guys head out into the woods to shoot a slasher flick, they'll take a better script along with them.


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Friday, April 27, 2012

CHRONICLE -- DVD review by porfle





Most cinema verite' flicks since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT have a few things in common.  For example, they have to show characters reacting to someone in their midst who's going around doggedly and obsessively filming everything until it's established that everyone's finally used to the ever-present camera (although they'll occasionally say "turn that damn thing off!").  They have to have several shots from the passenger's POV of someone driving a car and spouting exposition.  And they all have to start out happy until something ominous happens and things start getting progressively worse.

CHRONICLE (2012), while not actually a "found footage" movie, has all of that familiar stuff.  But once the set-up is done it explores some pretty intriguing territory.  And unlike most films of this nature, the home video thing isn't a means of disguising a low budget, because this sci-fi thriller has good production values and is loaded with both practical effects and, better still, tons of CGI that's actually pretty well-handled and convincing for a change. 

Before it's over--to paraphrase SUPERMAN's undying tagline--you will believe three high school boys can fly.  And scare little girls in toy stores by making stuffed animals come after them while barking out Mr. T-isms.  And almost destroy downtown Seattle.

The toy store scene is part of the "happy" segment of CHRONICLE, when the boys' newfound telekinetic powers (which they develop after exploring a mysterious tunnel and stumbling across...something) are a source of prankish fun.  Granted, the videographer, a shy, troubled boy named Andrew (Dane DeHaan) isn't all that happy--he bought the camera to gather evidence of his drunken father's daily beatings and to record his dying mother's final days.  Taking it to school just invites noogie-laced ridicule from bullies, and even the more athletic and outgoing Matt (Alex Russell), Andrew's cousin and best pal, thinks it's a pretty geeky thing to do. 

Later, though, when they and their "Mr. Popular" friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) are in the middle of their telekinetic prank rampage, they're glad to have someone recording such historic hilarity as mentally moving a woman's parked car to another space across the lot and the aforementioned toy store hijinks. 

The ominous part comes when Matt and Steve begin to realize two things--one, Andrew is becoming a lot more powerful than them, and two, Andrew is already a lot more mentally and emotionally unstable (you might even say volatile) than them.  Naturally, we expect something along the lines of CARRIE after seeing Andrew being tormented by bullies, rejected by popular girls, and generally treated like an outcast. 

But the results of his paranormal "acting out" go way beyond disrupting the senior prom.  I found shades of both AKIRA and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND in the thrillingly-staged climactic scenes of chaos and destruction, along with sort of a KICK-ASS vibe in regard to ordinary people suddenly doing the things that only comic book superheroes usually do.  The aerial battle between two opposing super-powered forces also recalls SUPERMAN II and MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS, but with a much more realistic tone that's helped by having much of it appear in the form of live TV news bulletins. 

Yet with all of these "shades" and "vibes" of other films, CHRONICLE is a pretty original story that is consistently involving and inventive.  Dane DeHaan, resembling a young Leonardo de Caprio circa WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE?, does a good job with Andrew's evolution from a simple troubled boy to a frighteningly powerful menace. 

Director Josh Trank manages to overcome the built-in restrictions that his script (co-written with Max Landis) places on him, mainly by giving Andrew one heck of a great home video camera and bestowing it with the ability to fly around wherever Andrew wills it to.

The DVD from 20-Century Fox Home Entertainment (also available as a 2-disc Blu-Ray/DVD+Digital Copy combo) is in widescreen with Dolby 5.1 English and 2.0 French and Spanish sound.  Subtitles are in English, Spanish, and French, and there's also one of those spoken-word descriptive tracks for the sight-impaired.  Extras include "Pre-Viz" animatics of the flying scenes, camera tests of certain scenes with a different cast, and trailers for this and other 20-Century Fox releases. 

I was instantly intrigued by the trailer for CHRONICLE and the film didn't let me down.  As derivative as it may be--you'll probably be picking out the various elements from other movies the whole time as I did--everything has been distilled into a well-crafted and enjoyably entertaining little sci-fi flick with its own unique charm. 



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W.E. -- DVD review by porfle



With Madonna directing her first big-budget feature (after a more modest debut with 2008's "Filth and Wisdom") I can imagine the two main reactions were her fans hoping that she would succeed and her detractors gleefully waiting for her to fall on her face.  For those of us in the middle, however, her film W.E. (2011) is just a dull, plodding, and, despite all the bells and whistles, rather ordinary affair. 

Those most disappointed will probably be viewers interested in seeing a movie about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, namely the former King Edward VIII and American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson, for whom he abdicated the throne.  Their story (told with much more feeling despite much less screen time in THE KING'S SPEECH) is merely a backdrop for the modern-day tale of Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), an unhappily married woman obsessed with what she sees as the famous couple's storybook romance. 

While haunting a major memorabilia auction at Sotherby's, Wally meets and is courted by handsome Russian immigrant Evgeni (Oscar Isaac) who works security.  When her turbulent relationship with husband William (Richard Coyle) turns violent, Evgeni is there to pick up the pieces.  Meanwhile, Wally's search for information about "W.E." (Wallis and Edward) leads to some personal letters which reveal that even a storybook romance has its downside and that poor Mrs. Simpson had to sacrifice much more than Edward did for their love.  (Not sure why, but that's what Madonna says and so that's the way it is.)

What these two stories have to do with each other is tentative at best, and at worst they don't really compliment each other at all.  The modern-day scenes have the air of an opulently-mounted Lifetime TV-movie which tends to be either maudlin or romance-novel unreal.  They also stop whatever forward momentum the "W.E." scenes manage to generate dead in its tracks just as we start to get mildly interested in what Eddie and Wallis are up to during their intermittent screen time. 

We never get a sense of why this celebrated couple were so irresistible to each other--when they meet at a royal to-do, she's not all that dynamic and he's hardly the most dashing man in the room.  In fact, as played by James D'Arcy, Edward seems neither distinguished nor charismatic.  As Wallis, Andrea Riseborough looks the part yet never convinces us that she's fascinating enough to give up a kingdom for.  An early scene in which Edward discovers that Wallis reads books and follows politics is about all it takes for him to go bananas over her.

Once we realize that Wally is the film's main focus and that "W.E." are merely there as a counterpoint to her story, the main question is "why?"  Wally's fixation on the Windsors, her problems with an impotent and possibly unfaithful husband who doesn't want kids like she does, and her budding romance with Evgeni are like unflavored yogurt with a few raisins mixed in.  And even the raisins taste a little funny. 

When Wally pops up in some of the period flashbacks to observe history firsthand, Wallis catches sight of her and barks "Get a life!"  Wally also starts seeing and conversing with the Duchess in the modern-day scenes the way Christian Slater conjures up Elvis in TRUE ROMANCE and Woody Allen consults with a ghostly Bogart in PLAY IT AGAIN , SAM.  Saying that such quirks take us out of the movie is putting it mildly.  Another thing that had me wondering was when Wally's doctor husband explains his absence the night before by saying that he was called in to the emergency room at the hospital.  This would be fine, except he's supposed to be a child psychologist.

With Madonna both helming and co-scripting, the men are all either handsome princes, evil bastards, or wimps (after meeting Edward, Wallis dumps her current hubby like a used Kleenex and the poor slob dutifully crawls off into oblivion), while the women are self-sacrificing and "strong" yet oppressed and unfulfilled.  Madge herself fulfills the directing imperative like a kid rummaging around in a toybox, greeting each new scene as an opportunity to be overly-creative and "expressive" with a non-stop barrage of music-video editing, unnecessarily busy camera movements, and a hyperactive musical score which at one point even has Mrs. Simpson bopping to the Sex Pistols.
 
Even late in this rather long film, Wally's visit to Paris to view the Simpson letters is padded with an extended montage of her roaming the streets while the camera makes sweeping circles around her. Interesting moments such as Wallis inadvertently calling Edward "David" (a name reserved for his lovers and family) in front of his then-girlfriend during a dinner party are few and far between. 

The DVD (also available as a 3-disc Blu-Ray/DVD+Digital Copy set) from Anchor Bay and the Weinsteins is in 2.35:1 widescreen with 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  The sole extra is a 23-minute "making of" featurette.

With period flashbacks that come off as a "greatest hits" package with little or no depth, and a contemporary story that overwhelms the proceedings with its resolute blandness, W.E. is hardly the major historical romance one might have expected.  Thus, Madonna's leap over to the other side of the camera after years of unsuccessfully courting movie stardom is best described as a perversely interesting misfire.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HBO - "Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season" Arriving on June 5, 2012



"Spectacular" - NYTimes.com

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM®: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON

 Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning Series available on DVD and Digital Download from HBO Home Entertainment® June 5, 2012, in time for Father's Day

Includes Bonus Features "Leon's Guide to NYC" & a roundtable discussion with Larry David and Cast


Coast to coast, from Manhattan Island to Manhattan Beach, there's nobody who compares to Larry David when it comes to social inappropriateness. In Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season, Larry travels to the Big Apple and finds himself battling new girlfriends, politicians and even Michael J. Fox. Featuring all ten episodes along with bonus features, the two-disc DVD set will hit stores on June 5, 2012, with an SRP of $39.98, just in time for Father's Day.

"Hilarious...masterfully crafted" (TV Guide) and "flat-out funny" (Variety), the latest season of "the funniest series on television" (San Francisco Chronicle) finds Larry newly divorced, living the bachelor life and navigating the LA dating scene. However, when a faulty alibi ends up landing him in New York City for an extended stay, he proves that faux-pas and character assassinations can occur just as easily in Manhattan as in Hollywood. Will New York change Larry, or is it the other way around?

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season includes the bonus features "Leon's Guide to NYC," in which the character Leon offers his unique and entertaining take on what to do in the Big Apple, along with a roundtable discussion with Larry David and the cast recorded live at the 92nd Street Y.

Candid, unsparing and self-deprecating, Curb Your Enthusiasm is driven by the off-kilter comic vision of its star and co-creator Larry David. A true HBO® signature series, the show blurs the line between reality and fiction and is shot with only scene outlines in cinema verité-style, giving it an uproariously fresh and spontaneous narrative and improvisational quality.

Series regulars include Jeff Garlin as Larry's manager Jeff and Susie Essman as Jeff's wife Susie. Guest stars this season include series veterans Bob Einstein, Richard Lewis, Rosie O'Donnell, J.B. Smoove and Wanda Sykes, as well as Jonathan Ames, Bill Buckner, Rebecca Creskoff, Gary Cole, Michael J. Fox, Ana Gasteyer, Ricky Gervais, Michael Gross, Harry Hamlin, Larry Miller, Robert Smigel, Aida Turturro, Mookie Wilson and Jo Anne Worley. The series is executive produced by Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Gavin Polone, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer, Tim Gibbons, Erin O'Malley and Larry Charles.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season DVD
Street Date:                      June 5, 2012
Rating:                             TV-MA
Runtime:                          Approx. 406 minutes (including extra features)
Price:                               $39.98 DVD SRP

About HBO Home Entertainment® 
HBO Home Entertainment markets an extensive array of programs ranging from the critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking series The Sopranos®, Sex and the City® and True Blood® to the multiple Emmy Award-winning mini-series The Pacific and Band of Brothers®.  The company's catalog contains hundreds of titles including the Peabody Award-winning children's program Classical Baby, provocative programs from HBO Documentary Films including When the Levees Broke, innovative movies from HBO Films including Temple Grandin, and comedy specials featuring stand-up performers like Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais.  The division distributes programs to the home entertainment market in three formats: DVD, Blu-ray disc and digital download.  Launched in 1984, HBO Home Entertainment has offices in New York, London and Toronto and the company's releases are marketed in over 70 countries around the world. 
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

THE RED HOUSE -- DVD review by porfle




It's great to finally discover an older film that proves to be a real pleasure from start to finish.  That's what it was like watching the 1947 suspense thriller THE RED HOUSE for the first time after hearing about it for all these years from people who rated it as one of their favorite movies.

Edward G. Robinson is very effective in what is, for him, a fairly restrained performance (for most of the film, anyway) as reclusive farmer Pete Morgan, who lives with his sister Ellen (Judith Anderson before she was a Dame) and their teenage stepdaughter Meg (Allene Roberts).  When schoolboy Nath (Lon McCallister), for whom Meg carries a torch, comes to work for Pete part-time, he's intrigued by the older man's admonitions to stay out of the mysterious tangled forest that borders the farm, and to especially avoid the old red house that's nestled somewhere within. 

Naturally, Nath is compelled to explore the woods and finds more than he bargained for, drawing Meg along with him into a tangled web of fear, deception, and long-buried secrets that threaten to destroy all of their lives.  Adding to this is the presence of a swaggering, gun-toting yokel named Keller (Rory Calhoun, looking like Li'l Abner's evil twin) who seems determined to keep trespassers out of the woods by any means necessary while developing an unhealthy interest in Nath's girlfriend Tibby (a ravishing Julie London).

Director Delmer Daves (3:10 TO YUMA, DARK PASSAGE) establishes a wonderfully bucolic pastoral mood that captures the easygoing innocence of early 20th-century country life without resorting to the usual "Tobacco Road" caricatures.  The lovely black-and-white photography (nicely restored for the DVD) compliments the elegant simplicity of Daves' direction while turning effectively nightmarish in the nocturnal forest sequences. 

Nath's first chilling foray into Ox Head Woods, with its swirling shadows and tangled branches restlessly stirring in the wind, is as breathlessly unsettling in its own way as a similar scene in Disney's SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.  Light and shadow are deftly used in the interiors as well, lending an eerie, noirish air to scenes in which familiar characters suddenly begin to exhibit disturbingly uncharacteristic behavior.  A wall-to-wall musical score by Miklos Rozsa is lush and evocative.

Lon McCallister is earnestly convincing as the well-meaning but somewhat cocky young Nath, whose stubborn curiosity threatens to be his undoing.  As Tibby, his preening girlfriend, Julie London is the quintessential backwoods heartbreaker and is dazzlingly cute.  In comparison, a 19-year-old Allene Roberts seems plain and almost childlike at first, yet she seems to grow more beautiful as the story progresses and her character matures.  It's easy to see why Nath eventually starts to tire of the manipulative Tibby and responds to sweet, soulful Meg, who has loved him all along.

Meg faces the most life-changing circumstances of all when the shadow of the red house begins to fall between her and adoptive father Pete, who becomes increasingly irrational as its secrets come closer to being revealed.  The aura of menace connected to Pete's urgent warnings about Ox Head Woods generates a strong underlying suspense which is deeply absorbing throughout.  Alternately contemplative, moody, and rivetingly suspenseful, the story moves inexorably toward a nail-biting climax that takes place, as one might suspect, within the cobwebbed shadows of the red house itself. 

The Blu-Ray/DVD combo from Film Chest is in 4:3 full screen with Dolby Digital sound and Spanish subtitles.  Extras consist of a trailer, an amiable commentary track by film author William Hare, and a brief "before and after" restoration demo.

With a great young cast mixing it up with some seasoned pros in a finely-rendered Hollywood thriller, THE RED HOUSE is a classic film fan's delight.  Anyone who's tired of the same old loud, ADD-edited CGI fest should try settling in with this gem for an evening of old-school entertainment the likes of which they just don't make anymore. 


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Anchor Bay Films is focused on "SEEKING JUSTICE" coming Blu-ray and DVD June 19th



ANCHOR BAY FILMS AND ENDGAME ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY PROUDLY PRESENT "SEEKING JUSTICE" STARRING NICOLAS CAGE, JANUARY JONES, AND GUY PEARCE

"Seeking Justice is an intense thriller so full of shocks it keeps you wired from start to finish." –Rex Reed, New York Observer

Available on DVD, Blu-ray™+DVD Combo Pack, and Digital Download June 19th, 2012


BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Anchor Bay Films is proud to announce the release of Seeking Justice on DVD, Blu-ray™+DVD combo pack, and Digital Download, available June 19th.  In this revenge thriller, Seeking Justice star Nicolas Cage is an average family man pushed to the edge trying to protect his loved ones from harm. The release also contains a behind-the-scenes look at Nicolas Cage and Director Roger Donaldson on set and intimate one-on-one interviews with cast and crew. 

Will Gerard, (Academy-Award® winner Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) is a happily married man whose quiet life is turned upside-down when his wife, Laura (January Jones, AMC’s “Mad Men,” X-Men First Class), is brutally attacked while leaving work.

At the hospital, waiting for news about his wife’s condition, Will meets Simon, (Golden Globe® nominee Guy Pearce, The King’s Speech, LA Confidential) a concerned stranger who offers to aid Will’s family in finding her attacker, in exchange for a favor, sometime in the future.  Overcome with grief and fear, Will consents to the deal, unwittingly pulling himself into a vigilante organization that will lead to frightening and deadly consequences.

Directed by Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, The Recruit) from a story by Robert Tannen and Todd Hickey with a screenplay by Robert Tannen, the film features Harold Perrineau (ABC’s “Lost”, Transit) and Jennifer Carpenter (SHO’s “Dexter,” Quarantine). Seeking Justice is unforgettable and unstoppable - an intense and action-packed thriller that proves vengeance always has its price.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Anchor Bay Entertainment predicts the "DOOMSDAY PROPHECY" arriving on Blu-ray and DVD July 17th




Even if you know what is coming, can you manipulate destiny? 

On July 17th, Anchor Bay Entertainment presents a nail-biting race to prevent the world’s ultimate cataclysm with Doomsday Prophecy.  Starring Syfy channel leads from some of the networks’ hit shows including A.J. Buckley (“CSI:NY”, “Supernatural”), Jewel Staite (“Stargate: Atlantis”, “Firefly”) and co-starring Alan Dale (“Lost”, “Entourage”), Doomsday Prophecy  hits Blu-ray™ for an SRP of $24.99 and DVD for an SRP of $19.98.  Pre-book is June 20th.

It all begins with massive earthquakes, The Black Sea disappearing into the earth and vast chasms swallowing up populated areas.  Eric Fox (A.J. Buckley) finds himself running for his life when a reclusive writer gives him a rod that shows him bleak visions of the future.  As this celestial phenomenon occurs where the Earth’s solar system aligns with the Milky Way’s galactic equator, previously unseen forces begin to pull the Earth apart at the seams.  Eric must use this rod to uncover an age-old mystery and save the planet from imminent destruction.

Doomsday Prophecy Blu-ray™
Street Date:                 July 17, 2012
Pre-Book:                   June 20, 2012
UPC #:                        0 1313 24189-9 5
Catalog:                       BD24189
Aspect Ratio:              Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 1080p
Audio:                         Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles:                     Spanish, English SDH
Retail Price:                 $24.99
Genre:                         Sci-fi/Horror
Rating:                         PG-13
Run Time:                   92 minutes
Year:                           2011
Bonus feature:             Doomsday Prophecy: The Stories are True

Doomsday Prophecy DVD
Street Date:                 July 17, 2012
Pre-Book:                    June 20, 2012
Catalog #:                    0 1313 24184-9 0
UPC #:                        DV24184
Aspect Ratio:              Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Subtitles:                     Spanish, English SDH
Audio:                         Dolby Digital 5.1
Retail Price:                 $19.98
Genre:                         Sci-fi/Horror
Rating:                         PG-13
Run Time:                    92 minutes
Year:                          2011
Bonus feature:             Doomsday Prophecy: The Stories are True
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"Jules Verne's Mysterious Island" Lands on DVD May 29



Green Apple Entertainment Proudly Presents Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" -- An Adventure Tale for the Entire Family

Drawing 2 Million Viewers During its Feb. Premiere on the SyFy Channel, Re-Imagining of Beloved Literary Classic Lands on DVD May 29th


BOCA RATON - May 1, 2012 - For Immediate Release - American history meets fantasy in one of the greatest action-adventure tales of all time, Jules Verne's Mysterious Island, a newly updated cinematic adaptation of the beloved literary classic, The Mysterious Island (1874), landing on DVD May 29 from Green Apple Entertainment.

As famine and death ravage Richmond, Va., five northern Civil War POWs, including Emmy Award-winner, Pruitt Taylor Vince (AMC's The Walking Dead, JFK, Drive Angry, Constantine) and Lochlyn Munro (Dead Man on Campus, White Chicks), plan a daring escape by hijacking a hot air balloon. Drifting through the night, they wake to find themselves marooned on a desert island … but they're not alone.

Littered with wreckage, the island is home to a cast of survivors who have been lost in space and time, including Abby and Jules Fogg (Susie Arbromeit, Battle: Los Angeles, and Gina Holden, Saw 3-D, Alien vs. Predator), two young women from modern times who become stranded while flying over the Bermuda Triangle.

Forced to defend themselves against vicious pirates, terrifying creatures and a volcano that's ready to blow, they must find a way to survive. Their only hope to escape the island lies with its longest resident, Captain Nemo (W. Morgan Sheppard, Star Trek, Transformers, Gods and Generals). With his help, they craft another plan … But will they make it before the island claims them all forever?

Directed by Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, Firefly, Warehouse 13), who makes a cameo appearance as a young Nemo (the adult role portrayed by his real-life father).

Jules Verne's  Mysterious Island is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16 x 9 (2.35:1) and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

Green Apple Entertainment is a leading international distributor of quality, independent entertainment on DVD, Blu-ray, download and streaming platforms and cable VOD. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., Green Apple works directly with filmmakers to cultivate superior filmmaking for a variety of genres - including action, drama, romance, thrillers, horror/sci-fi, documentaries, family and animation - and fresh new viewing experiences for a diverse array of audiences. Green Apple was founded in 2005 by industry veteran Tim Warren.

Jules Verne's  Mysterious Island
Green Apple Entertainment
Genre:  Sci-Fi
Not Rated
Format:  DVD Only
Running Time:  Approx. 91 Minutes
Suggested Retail Price:  $26.98
Pre-Order Date:  May 1, 2012
Street Date:  May 29, 2012
Catalog #:  GAE-F41
UPC Code:  #855982002425

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fandango Survey Unmasks "Avengers" as Most Anticipated Summer Movie



While Men Rank “The Dark Knight Rises” High on the List of Must-Sees,

Women Choose “Snow White and the Huntsman” as Their Top Summer Pick;

Heartthrob Chris Hemsworth Figures Prominently as a Summer Favorite


LOS ANGELES -- April 17, 2012 --  Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, today revealed the results of its “Most Anticipated Summer Movie Survey,” in which Marvel’s “The Avengers” grabbed the top spot among all films picked by both men and women.  The poll – which surveyed thousands of moviegoers on their must-see list for the biggest movie season of the year – also revealed that this may be a huge summer for Australian newcomer Chris Hemsworth, who stars in two of the summer’s most anticipated releases.

Male and female moviegoers offer a decidedly different perspective on the can’t-miss films of the summer.  While women gravitated to the revisionist Kristen Stewart fairy tale drama, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” men stuck to their guns with action adventures -- like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” which ranked number one and two on the most anticipated summer movie list.

“It’s clear from the Fandango survey that there’s something for both men and women at the movies this summer,” says Fandango Editor-in-Chief Chuck Walton. “After an incredible first quarter, Hollywood is delivering even more spectacular choices for moviegoers in what’s shaping up to be one of the biggest summers in years.  As our survey indicates, all eyes will be on Chris Hemsworth.  The Australian heartthrob,  who stars as ‘Thor’ in ‘The Avengers,’ and as the male lead in ‘Snow White and The Huntsman’, sits atop both the men’s and women’s ‘Most Anticipated’ lists.”

According to Fandango moviegoers, below are the top picks among men and women:

Men’s Picks for Most Anticipated Summer Movie:

1.            “The Avengers” 31%

2.            “The Dark Knight Rises” 23%

3.            “The Bourne Legacy” 14%

4.            “Men in Black 3” 8%

5.            “Prometheus” 7%

Women’s Picks for Most Anticipated Summer Movie:

1.            “Snow White and the Huntsman” 22%

2.            “The Avengers” 16%

3.            “Men in Black 3” 13%

4.            “The Dark Knight Rises” 10%

5.            “Dark Shadows” 8%

A complete list of results for Fandango’s Summers Most Anticipated survey can be found at http://www.fandango.com/moviephotos.

Fandango is geared up for the summer, the busiest moviegoing season of the year, on the heels of its most successful first quarter in the company’s nearly 12-year history. As Fandango’s ticket sales surged 127% over last year, the company also partnered with AMC Theatres, Regency Theatres and other chains to expand its theater network reach by 19%.   The quarter also included Fandango’s newly-signed ticketing deal with Yahoo, and the launch of Fandango’s enormously popular Facebook Timeline app, “Movies with Friends.”

About Fandango
Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, sells tickets to nearly 20,000 screens nationwide. Fandango entertains and informs consumers with reviews, commentary, celebrity interviews and trailers, and offers the ability to quickly select a film, plan where and when to see it, and conveniently buy tickets in advance. At many theaters, fans can print their tickets at home or receive them as a paperless Mobile Ticket on their smartphones.

Fandango is available online at http://www.fandango.com, via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, and at 1-800-FANDANGO. Fandango's top-ranking movie ticketing apps, with 24 million downloads, are available on the iPhone and iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and many other platforms. Fandango is enjoyed by 33 million online and mobile visitors per month. Film fans find Fandango on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/fandango and on Twitter @Fandango.


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

AVERSION -- movie review by porfle




A simple but fun story, some neat monster FX, and something of a poor man's "X-Files" vibe make writer-director GF "Jeffrey" Roberts' feature film debut AVERSION (2009) worth watching if you have a taste for low-budget indy horrors.

A good cast is headed by Andrew Roth as seedy P.I. Alex Stokes, hired by Mr. Belial (Richard Flight) to keep tabs on his gorgeous blonde wife Claire (Melantha Blackthorne).  Things get personal when Alex is forced to rescue Claire from an attempted suicide, leading to an illicit affair.  As if that weren't bad enough, complications arise when Claire begins to occasionally turn into a hideous, sharktoothed creature who disembowels people. 

There's a hint of film noir in Alex's rumpled gumshoe whose involvement with a beautiful but deadly dame threatens his undoing.  Roth plays him with just the right amount of false bravado tempered by a yellow streak; this medium-boiled detective looks genuinely scared when a gorilla he serves a subpoena to attacks him, and his attempts at tough-guy dialogue sometimes backfire on him ("My mother told me not to trust a man who doesn't drink."  "I didn't hire your mother.") 

Aside from a couple of seductive moments, the role of "Claire" is definitely on the softer side for the incomparable actress-stuntwoman-filmmaker Melantha Blackthorne (co-founder of Robomonkey Productions) compared to her appearances in such whacked-out romps as SINNERS AND SAINTS and PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED.  That is, until her character's true nature emerges and she becomes progressively more freaky, which suits the actress to a tee. 

Thanks to her delightfully bugged-out performance and some cool monster makeup that gets worse every time we see it--along with some clever film-speed tricks that make her movements jerky and unreal--Claire develops into the kind of old-school, EVIL DEAD-type movie monster that horror fans should take to heart. 

Subtle and not-so-subtle humor (a fistfight between Alex and his beer-swilling buddy Neil features an Indian burn and a painful punch to the buttocks) helps us through some of the slower stretches as the plot meanders through elements of government conspiracy and something about temporal displacement experiments gone wrong. 

The latter results in a whole town full of people getting possessed and turning on each other in a nightmare of carnage--all economically offscreen, that is.  What we do see is a lively and sometimes creepy series of attacks on Alex by Claire and various townsfolk, including a cutely demonic baby who launches itself at our hapless hero like the killer rabbit in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL.  (One POV shot of baby feet flying toward Alex's head humorously recalls KILL BILL VOL. 2.)

Direction and editing fluctuate between iffy and inspired, with shot-on-16mm photography that's a tad murky at times but still nicely watchable.  As mentioned before, the SPFX are mostly in-camera stuff that works exceedingly well at giving the creatures' movements a disturbingly unnatural look.  Some of the jump scares are pretty effective, as is a very listenable synthesizer score that's dotted with cool songs (particularly during the end titles). I viewed a screener of the film so I can't comment on any DVD specs or extras.

The cast also features Marc Raco as rotund comic-relief sidekick Neil and co-scripter Ted Spencer as the reluctant Dr. Cliff, a veterinarian enlisted by Alex to help deal with the Claire situation (which doesn't go well).  In addition to Melantha Blackthorne, the film's babe quotient is nicely augmented by Janette Temerian as Mr. Belial's imposing black-garbed driver, Liz. 

I didn't have an aversion to AVERSION; in fact, watching it was a fairly pleasant diversion.  (See what I did there?)  Most genre fans with a higher tolerance for lower budget fare should find something to their liking here.  And the ending leaves things open for a sequel--will we see "Aversion 2.0"? 


aversionthemovie.com
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Image Entertainment dares you to enter "THE THEATRE BIZARRE" on DVD April 24th



IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS YOU A TWISTED HORROR ANTHOLOGY FROM THE GENRE’S MOST DISTURBING MINDS -- "THE THEATRE BIZARRE"

Now on VOD and Available on DVD April  24, 2012


Chatsworth, CA – Image Entertainment presents a horror anthology like no other with its release of The Theatre Bizarre.  The film was directed by seven veterans of the horror genre including Richard Stanley (Hardware), Buddy Giovinazzo (No Way Home), Tom Savini (Night of the Living Dead (1990)), Douglas Buck (Sisters), Karim Hussain (Ascension), David Gregory (Plague Town) and Jeremy Kasten (The Wizard of Gore (2007)).

This boundary-pushing film featuring stories of ancient evil, love, obsession, addiction, gluttony, sexual nightmares, pain, brutality and of course, death, is now available On Demand with cable and satellite providers, and will be available on DVD April 24, 2012.

Down a seedy city street, a young woman is obsessed with what appears to be a long abandoned theatre. One night, she sees the front door slightly ajar and impulsively decides to sneak inside.  But there in the vast, eerie auditorium, a show unlike any other unfolds before her eyes.

Its host is an odd marionette-like man who will introduce her to six tales of the bizarre: A couple traveling in a remote part of the French Pyrenees crosses paths with a lustful witch; A paranoid lover faces the wrath of a partner who has been pushed to her limit; The Freudian dreams of an unfaithful husband blur the lines between fantasy and reality; The horrors of the real world are interpreted through the mind of a child; A woman addicted to other people's memories gets her fix through the fluid of her victims’ eyeballs; And a perverse obsession with sweets turns sour for a couple in too deep. 

But as the stories unfold, something strange is happening to the woman. Something irreversible and horrific.  Something that awaits its next audience in The Theatre Bizarre.

The Theatre Bizarre enjoyed a successful 2011 festival run, screening at Fantasia International Film Festival, Frightfest, Sitges Festival De Cine Fantastic and Toronto After Dark.  The film began its theatrical release in the U.S. on January 27, 2012 in seven markets including NY & LA, expanding to additional cities across the country.

About Image Entertainment
Image Entertainment, Inc. is a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, with approximately 3,700 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 300 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and more than 450 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights, as well as digital download rights to approximately 2,200 video programs and approximately 500 audio titles containing more than 5,700 individual tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California. For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to www.image-entertainment.com.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

THE WICKER TREE -- DVD review by porfle



I feel kind of backward admitting that I have yet to see either the original THE WICKER MAN from 1973 or its 2006 remake with Nicolas Cage.  Now, the first film's director, Robin Hardy, returns as both director and screenwriter of THE WICKER TREE (2010), a dull, dreary, and surprisingly dumb effort that can only make the previous films look better in comparison. 

Based on Hardy's book "Cowboys For Christ", the story concerns a couple of young Christians--Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol in an inauspicious acting debut) and her goat-ropin' hubby-to-be Steve (Henry Garrett)--traveling from Texas to Scotland in order to spread the Gospel to all the heathens that, for some unexplained reason, they believe the country to be overrun with.  Unfortunately, they wind up smack dab in the middle of the most coo-coo bunch of sun-worshippin' pagans they ever slapped eyeballs on, and the next big sacrifices to the ancient gods of whatever will be the unsuspecting Beth and Steve.

Beth is a former slutty pop diva whose biggest hit was a sex-soaked ode to trailer trash, yet we're supposed to believe that being "born again" (a term which the film seems to equate with "brain dead") has somehow regressed her into such an innocent naif that she's practically infantile.  As Steve, Henry Garrett exudes the same puppy-dog earnestness of Michael Palin's Sir Galahad in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL but without the excuse of being intentionally funny. 

Worst of all, the two are about as authentically Texan as a Nathan's hot dog, with the actors seemingly researching their roles by watching a couple of "Deputy Dawg" cartoons.  Wearing one of the dopiest cowboy hats in film history, Steve ambles around spouting lines like "You're quite the famous dude around here, sir...how comes that?" and referring to his daddy as "Pa-PA." 

I can't speak for the realism of the Scottish characters, but I'm going to assume that Robin Hardy is a bit more familiar with the denizens of that neck of the woods.  Anyway, as you might suspect, the pagans--led by Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife Delia (Jacqueline Leonard)--are way more sophisticated and confident in their faith than the childlike Christians, easily gaining their trust and duping them into participating in their upcoming Mayday rituals. 

After a brief montage in which Beth and Steve fail at converting any "city folk"--Hardy seems to equate evangelicals with door-to-door salesmen who get easily discouraged if they don't make their daily sales quota of souls--they accept Sir Lachlan's invitation to ply their wares in his amenable little village.  Naturally, Delia delights in tripping up Beth with a few loaded questions about the Bible, smirking malevolently as the poor girl sputters in confusion, while Steve wows some entertainment-starved pub crawlers with the old "deck of cards" routine. 

Meanwhile, the McTavishes' sexually voracious horse groomer, Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks), has zero trouble obliterating Steve's vow of pre-marital abstinence and soon has him ridin' her like a buckin' bronco.  While this throws a monkey wrench into their wedding plans, Beth and Steve agree to fulfill their obligations as May Queen and Laddie, respectively, which means that while Beth is being skinned and mounted by the McTavish family's hulking manservant, Steve is to be hunted down by the local populace and eaten alive.  With a quality brand of barbecue sauce, one would hope. 

Reportedly, Hardy prefaced a screening of THE WICKER TREE by telling the audience, "It's okay to laugh."  There is, in fact, some intentional humor, such as a guy getting a broken drinking glass shoved into his nards, a cat being accidentally poisoned, and Lolly literally screwing the town's constable to death.  But I don't think we were meant to find the rest of the film quite so laughable, particularly the scenes that are intended to terrify us.  Bad acting and embarrassingly cartoonish caricatures don't help, nor do technical standards that fall short of the usual rural dramas found on British TV.  Christopher Lee, a veteran of the first film, is brought in to validate things a bit, but his brief green-screen cameo is almost negligible. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with English 5.1 and Spanish mono sound, and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras consist of a 15-minute "making of" featurette, some deleted scenes, and a trailer. 

Fans of the original film and/or its remake may want to check this one out just to say they did, or to satisfy their curiosity.  Some may even like it for reasons that I would no doubt find unfathomable.  For me, though, the scariest thing about THE WICKER TREE is the prospect of yet another sequel, this time involving evil wicker patio furniture. 


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Acorn's Best Brit TV on DVD/Blu-ray - Featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Liam Neeson, Anthony Hopkins, Alec Guinness, Martin Clunes, Jason Robards




Acorn Media (British TV) and Athena (Best Documentaries) DVD Release Calendar

“Acorn Media, chief curators of the best Brit TV” –TIME Magazine

*Acorn Media on Facebook and Twitter



April 17

SECRET WAR (DVD Debut) - “Incredible tales of top-secret espionage missions”(The Times) - From the producers of Churchill’s Bodyguard and Hitler’s Bodyguard, this riveting 13-part series tells the story of the spies who went behind enemy lines to conduct intelligence-gathering, sabotage, and assassination during World War II. Premiered on Discovery’s Military Channel in Jan. 2012. Includes a 20-page viewer’s guide with a chronology of World War II, articles on Winston Churchill, Fortress Europe, resistance movements, the SAS, and MI6.

BILL MOYERS: CAPITOL CRIMES - Hard-hitting examination of the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Seen on PBS. DVD features more than three hours of bonus materials, including 83-minute Buying the War bonus. A tale of politics, greed, and the buying and selling of influence at the highest levels of power. Moyers explores how “super lobbyist” Jack Abramoff rode a wave of corruption to enrich himself and promote his causes – from Indian casinos in Louisiana to the Moscow offices of Russia’s new oligarchs – taking down other Washington heavyweights in the process.

MURDOCH MYSTERIES, Season 1 (Now on Blu-ray) - Award-winning period detective drama features forensic sleuthing in the age of invention. The first season of the acclaimed Canadian series won two Geminis® and was nominated for 12 more, including Best Dramatic Series. The hit, ongoing series is now in production on its fifth season. Season 1 was released on DVD in 2009 and is now on Blu-ray.

April 24

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (Now on Blu-ray) - “The greatest spy show ever made” —NPR’s Fresh Air from WHYY. Alec Guinness stars in John le Carré’s classic Cold War spy drama. Blu-ray debut includes an exclusive new 29-minute interview with the director and deleted scenes. In the 1979 BBC miniseries, Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia) leads an all-star ensemble cast with the performance of a lifetime in his BAFTA-winning role as George Smiley, a retired spymaster recruited to find a mole in the British intelligence service. Release coincides with the recent DVD release of the two-time Oscar nominated feature film starring Gary Oldman.

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT, Series 4 (Blu-ray debut, DVD) - Fourth series of Agatha Christie’s beloved mysteries debuts on Blu-ray, newly remastered and in original U.K broadcast order. The endearingly eccentric detective Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is back on the case in these three mysteries from the hit series.  Brimming with beguiling 1930s period details and pitch-perfect performances, these lavish adaptations look better than ever in this remastered edition.

May 1

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE TRILOGY - New edition of the star-studded miniseries. Casts include Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr, Jenny Seagrove, and Anthony Hopkins. Trilogy brings to vivid life two of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s most unforgettable heroines from her bestselling trilogy. Nominated for an Emmy® in 1985 for outstanding limited series and broadcast in the 1980s and ‘90s. Bradford’s books have sold over 82 million copies in 40 languages. Includes the three complete miniseries: A Woman of Substance, Hold the Dream, and To Be the Best, plus bonus interviews with Bradford (59 min). The trilogy that begins with Emma Harte’s remarkable rise from servant girl to international retailing magnate comes full circle when Emma’s granddaughter must struggle against powerful enemies to keep the family’s corporate empire from collapsing.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Season 2 (DVD Debut) – The second season of NBC and Lisa Kudrow’s celebrity family history series features Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Steve Buscemi, Lionel Richie, and Ashley Judd. Working alongside genealogists, researchers and historians, the stars excavates stories from their families’ past. The fascinating series paints an intimate portrait of how a journey through history can change everything – including one’s idea of self. Season 3 premiered on NBC in Feb. 2012.

May 15

TIME TEAM: UNEARTHING THE ROMAN INVASION (U.S. Debut) - The popular British science-reality series presented by Blackadder’s Tony Robinson makes its U.S. debut. Go along as archaeologists dig up the past in this long-running U.K. hit. Accompanied by an eclectic band of historians and experts, Robinson travels across Britain to unearth secrets from the era of the Roman occupation. With just three days at each site to complete their excavations, they race against time to reveal Britain’s buried history. Includes 12 collected episodes about Britain’s Roman past from Series 2-18 (1995-2011), plus a 16-page viewer’s guide.

TREASURE HOUSES OF BRITAIN (DVD Debut) - New documentary offers intimate tours of England’s most magnificent homes. Accompanied by their owners, distinguished journalist Selina Scott (BBC, ITV, CBS, NBC) explores the properties, learning their history and examining the architectural wonders, paintings, furniture, tapestries, and sculptures accumulated over the centuries. Broadcast on DirecTV and public television in 2011, the program features intimate tours of Burghley House, Chatsworth, Blenheim Palace, Holkham Hall, and Boughton House.

May 29

MONROE, Series 1 (U. S. Debut) - James Nesbitt (Murphy’s Law, Woody Allen’s Match Point, and the upcoming Hobbit films) stars in new medical drama described as a dose of House’s dark humor mixed with an infusion of humanity and warmth. Nesbitt stars as Dr. Monroe, a neurosurgical genius with a quick wit and a heart to match his titanic ego. Following no rules but his own, Monroe infuriates colleagues and terrifies interns with his glib repartee and arrogant self-regard. Series 1 premiered on ITV in March 2011; a second season has been commissioned. Monroe made its U.S. debut on Acorn’s streaming service, Acorn TV, earlier this year but has not aired on U.S. television. Co-stars Jenny Bremner (Sarah Parish, The Pillars of the Earth) and Tom Riley (Lost in Austen).

MURDOCH MYSTERIES, Season 4 (U.S. Debut, DVD/Blu-ray) - Forensic sleuthing in the Age of Invention with the charming period mystery available to U.S. audiences for the first time. Based on the characters from award-winning author Maureen Jennings’ Detective Murdoch novels, the acclaimed Canadian series has garnered 25 Gemini® nominations to its credit, including Best Writing and Best Dramatic Series. Set in Victorian-era Toronto, this smart, compelling series follows Yannick Bisson as Detective William Murdoch as he pushes the boundaries of criminal science to solve the city’s most baffling murders. A fifth season has already been produced, and a sixth season begins production in spring 2012. Season 4 guest stars include: Victor Garber (Alias, Titanic), Simon Williams (Upstairs, Downstairs), Peter Keleghan (The Red Green Show), and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper in a cameo.

June 5

DOC MARTIN, Series 5 (DVD Debut) - “Sweet, stirring, and completely addictive” (Slate) - Smash-hit British dramedy currently airs on public television. Akin to House and Northern Exposure, BAFTA Winner Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly, Shakespeare in Love, Reggie Perrin) stars in the series as a misanthropic, socially maladjusted doctor forced to relocate to a rustic seaside village, where he immediately clashes with the town’s eccentric citizens. Emmy® winner Eileen Atkins (Cranford, co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs) joins the cast in Series 5. The DVD 2-disc set includes eight episodes, plus 62-minutes of behind-the-scenes segments. Doc Martin is a huge hit in the U.K. with 10 million viewers, and its gaining momentum on public television; it’s the highest-rated program on KCET/Los Angeles. A sixth season will begin production in 2013.

WASHINGTON: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (Home Video Debut) –Star-studded, Emmy-winning political drama seen on ABC in 1977. Showcasing high-stakes political intrigue at its best, the miniseries inspired by the Nixon presidency, makes its long-awaited home video debut. Based on the post-Watergate novel, The Company, by former Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman, the seven-time Emmy® nominated program stars Cliff Robertson (Falcon Crest, Spider-Man, and Best Actor Academy Award for Charly), two-time Oscar winner Jason Robards (All the President’s Men), two-time Emmy nominee Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart), and Robert Vaughn (The Magnificent Seven), who won for outstanding supporting actor. Co-stars Andy Griffith and John Houseman (The Paper Chase). Against the backdrop of a war in Southeast Asia and antiwar protests at home, this political drama tells the story of an increasingly paranoid president, an administration under siege, and a reckless group of White House aides desperate to hold on to power.

NEW TRICKS, Season 7 (DVD Debut) - One of the most-watched shows on British television. Seen on BBC and PBS. Featuring strong writing and wry humor, the long-running, award-winning series stars Amanda Redman (Sexy Beast), Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, Circles of Deceit), Alun Armstrong (Garrow’s Law, Bleak House, Patriot Games), and James Bolam (The Beiderbecke Affair) as a team of semi-retired and somewhat curmudgeonly detectives investigating cold cases. New Tricks has run on the BBC for eight seasons since 2003 and has already been renewed for a ninth and tenth season. The series has enjoyed ongoing broadcast exposure in North America on public television. Guest stars include Rupert Graves (Death at a Funeral), Paul Rhys (Chaplin), Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey), and Siân Phillips (I, Claudius).

Coming in June/July

From Acorn - The Best of Foyle’s War, Love in a Cold Climate, George Gently Series 4, Trial & Retribution Set 5, Casting the Runes, The Kent Chronicles, The Story of Costume Drama, and John Nettles final episodes with Midsomer Murders, Set 20. From Athena - This is Civilization, The Code, James May’s 20th Century, and Bill Moyers on Addiction.

January – April 3, 2012 DVDs:

I, CLAUDIUS: 35th Anniversary Edition (bonus packed with many previously unavailable extras); IN THEIR OWN WORDS (Athena, U.S. Debut) includes J. R.R. Tolkien, Sigmund Freud, George Orwell, Jane Goodall, Salman Rushdie, Evelyn Waugh, Margaret Mead, and the only surviving voice recording of Virginia Woolf; SINGLE-HANDED, Set 2 (U.S. Debut); THE COMMANDER, Set 2 (DVD Debut); ABOVE SUSPICION, Set 1 (U.S. Debut), from the creator of Prime Suspect and starring Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter); AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT Series 1-3 (Blu-ray debut, DVD); MIDSOMER MURDERS, Set 19 (U.S. debut, DVD, Blu-ray debut of series); BATTLEFIELD DETECTIVES (Athena, DVD Debut); THE WINDSORS (U.S. Debut, Athena); and POLDARK: The Complete Collection (Value-priced collection), a must-see for costume drama fans.

Acorn TV, the first British TV focused streaming service, offers a full season of 10 critically acclaimed, classic and contemporary British series to watch online for just $24.99 a year. The first episode of each series is free. For press access to the full 70+ hours of programming, please contact me. Streaming now are Upstairs, Downstairs, Cracker, Doc Martin, and Brideshead Revisited, among several others. Site: http://acornonline.com/TV

About Acorn:

Headquartered in suburban Washington, D.C., Acorn Media U.S. releases the best of British television on DVD/Blu-ray. 2011 releases featured Upstairs, Downstairs: 40th Anniversary, Case Histories, and Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary. 2012 releases include a bonus packed collector’s edition of I, Claudius; the Blu-ray debuts for the original Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the first six series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot; the U.S. debuts of Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion and Monroe starring James Nesbitt; Love in a Cold Climate; The Best of Foyle’s War; The Story of Costume Drama; Damian Lewis in The Forsyte Saga; and more episodes from Midsomer Murders, Murdoch Mysteries, Doc Martin, George Gently, Garrow’s Law, and NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?. Select series are available for streaming at Acorn TV, http://acornonline.com/TV

Athena releases provide an authoritative and entertaining learning experience through high quality, informative, non-fiction programming. 2011 Athena releases included: The Making of the President: The 1960s, Discovering Hamlet, The Battle for Marjah, Joseph Campbell: Mythos III, and Art of the Western World. Early 2012 releases include The Windsors: From George to Kate, Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace and Capital Crimes, Battlefield Detectives, and In Their Own Words. Clips are available at www.athenalearning.com.

Acorn’s and Athena’s DVD sets are available from select retailers, catalog companies, and direct from Acorn Media at (888) 870-8047 or www.acornonline.com and www.athenalearning.com. For the complete press releases, please visit: www.acornmedia.com
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WILDERNESS -- movie review by porfle




(Note: this review originally appeared online in 2006.)

WILDERNESS (2006) begins in the Moorgate Young Offenders Institution somewhere in the UK, where two cowering milquetoasts named David (Owen McHugh) and Lindsay (Ben McKay) are constantly terrorized and degraded by a sadistic psycho-punk named Steve (Stephen Wight) and his musclebound, dimwitted toady, Lewis (Luke Neal). When Steve and Lewis corner their victims in a closet one day and gleefully urinate all over them, David quite understandably considers this the last straw and slits his wrists that night. The warden regards everyone in David's unit to be equally guilty of driving him to suicide, so they're all sent off for a stretch on "the island."

I don't know if this is meant to punish them by depriving these city boys of the relative comforts of "home", or to help rehabilitate the lads by turning them into Boy Scouts, but basically what it entails is hiking and camping on a goverment-owned island under the watchful eye of their group leader, Jed (Sean Pertwee, EVENT HORIZON, SOLDIER). But they find that they're not alone on the island--a group of young girls, led by Louise (Alex Reed, THE DESCENT), are there for a similar purpose. The adults agree that it would be best for the two groups to stay on opposite sides of the island, but Lewis and one of the girls, Jo (Karly Greene), form an instant attraction and meet later that night in the woods for some hot, sweaty "Uhh! Uhh!" while a slasher-style POV camera eavesdrops from a distance. We know somebody's out there, and it's a sure bet he ain't Jeff Probst.

The next day, a homeless man who's been living in the nearby ruins of a monastery is found brutally killed, and everyone blames the mysterious, sullen new inmate, Callum (Toby Kebbell, DEAD MAN'S SHOES), who found the body--until Louise notices that the dead man appears to have been ravaged by a wild animal. Later, when Jethro (Richie Campbell) goes to the river to get water and fails to return, two boys sent to retrieve him discover a bloody, ripped-off arm floating by. (Thus, Jethro fulfills the old horror movie tradition of The Black Guy Who Gets Killed First.) After the boys make haste back to camp to tell Jed and Louise, all hell breaks loose when one of the main characters suddenly begins to sprout crossbow arrows in his chest and a pack of vicious, bloodthirsty dogs descends upon them from out of the woods. Everyone who is still ambulatory hauls ass at top speed in the other direction while the dogs, prompted by the whistled commands of an unseen master, proceed to chow down on Victim #2 like he was a giant Beggin' Strip.

This is the point where we are shown in no uncertain terms that WILDERNESS is, ultimately, an all-stops-out gory horror flick. We watch as the camera records in loving detail the dogs feasting upon face, fingers, and innards as gouts of blood lavishly decorate our view. And if you're a gorehound who finds delight in such goings-on, there's more to come as our youthful protagonists flee for their lives while being relentlessly hunted by their unknown assailant and his killer canines. They're shot, set on fire, beheaded, chewed on some more by the dogs, and one of them even gets his face caught in a bear trap. Yee-owch! That's gotta hurt.

Callum takes command of the group (mainly because he's the one with the knife) and leads them toward the shore in search of the boat. But just when they could all benefit from a little teamwork, perpetually-psychotic Steve continues to do just what his wacky li'l id tells him to do and screws everything up for everyone else. Callum, meanwhile, finally gets fed up with being a human doggy treat and gives full vent to his feral side, counter-stalking the stalker and setting the stage for a bloody showdown.

The best thing about all of this is that director Michael J. Bassett (DEATHWATCH) and screenwriters Ryan Hendrick and Dario Poloni have finally taken the old worn-out stalker/slasher formula, which has been ineptly rehashed so many times over the years, and shown us and all the would-be Sean Cunninghams out there how to do it right. There are no long, boring sequences of the next victim wandering around aimlessly while we wait for the killer to strike, which nine times out of ten are a clumsily-handled yawn anyway. This is one of those films that really lives up to all the old blurbs like "pulse-pounding!" and "edge-of-your-seat suspense!" The action scenes, augmented by a "pulse-pounding!" musical score by Mark Thomas that will keep your heart racing like a bunny rabbit, are genuinely thrilling.

Who is the mysterious killer, and why is he hunting these people down in the WILDERNESS and slaughtering them? Well, he ain't no lame Gorton's Fisherman, but he does know what they did last summer. Or last week, anyway. And he's not too happy about it.



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Monday, April 9, 2012

WALKING TALL: LONE JUSTICE --movie review by porfle




(Note: this review originally appeared online in 2007.)


Back in the 70s, there was this no-nonsense Tennessee lawman named Buford Pusser who got fed up with the rampant crime and corruption in his home of McNairy County and vowed to take decisive action against it, despite the cost--which eventually included his wife being killed and his jaw being shot off. Hollywood made a hit movie out of the story called WALKING TALL, which starred Joe Don Baker as Sheriff Pusser. Bo Svenson took over the role in two follow-ups, PART 2: WALKING TALL and FINAL CHAPTER: WALKING TALL, and in '04 the original movie was remade starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Since MGM knows a good property when they own it, they've decided to keep making WALKING TALL sequels regardless of the fact that they're no longer about a guy named Buford Pusser. Pusser's daughter Dwana isn't too happy about this, but Kevin Sorbo has to be thrilled since it's giving him something to do now that he isn't "Hercules" anymore. 2007 has already seen WALKING TALL:THE PAYBACK, and now we get the further adventures of Sorbo as some guy named "Nick Prescott" in WALKING TALL: LONE JUSTICE (2007).

To me, Sorbo is miscast as a hard-ass lone justice type of action hero--he's just too loose and easygoing, not exactly cut from the same material as Joe Don Baker, Bo Svenson, or The Rock. Most of the time he seems as though he'd rather be in something lighter, with more chances to toss off mildly witty lines and look bemused, and when he has to be really serious he's not all that convincing.

But the story has to give his character something to become really righteously vengeful about, of course, so it turns out his girlfriend Katie (Yvette Nipar) is a federal agent whose testimony is about to put a really bad drug kingpin named Perez (Rodrigo De La Rosa) behind bars. As you might guess, she and the other witnesses are brutally gunned down by Perez' goons, so Nick turns into a one-man killing machine and goes out looking for some "lone justice", WALKING TALL-style.

Or not. Actually, he rescues the surviving witness from another attempted hit and takes her to his mom's house in his tiny hometown in Texas to hole up and wait for the bad guy's trial to resume. So instead of going out looking for the bad guys, the bad guys come to him. And he isn't quite "lone"--there's two local lawmen and a few feds helping him out. It's not exactly the brand of heroic exploits that made Buford Pusser famous. So how does this even qualify as a "Walking Tall" movie as opposed to your usual grade-B action flick? I don't know.

Most of the cast are pretty good. Yvette Nipar is likable as Kate, and 15-year-old Haley Ramm (young Jean Grey in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) gives possibly the best performance of the movie as Kate's daughter, Samantha, who naturally ends up in the clutches of a bad guy with a gun to her head as he growls at Nick to "drop the gun!" (In an early scene, Sam's mother tells her that Nick will be walking her to school in the morning, and she quips, "Great...I'll be on a milk carton by noon.") One of the other feds looks sorta like a grown-up "Beaver" Cleaver, which is always fun. And this movie has some pretty good bad guys in it, especially De La Rosa as "Perez." He plays the part with an understated menace that lends realism to the character except for the times when the script forces him to act like the standard bugged-out villain.

The action starts early with one of the oldest cliches in the book--our hero strolls into a convenience store and finds himself in the middle of a hold-up, in which the spittle-sputtering robbers little realize that they've just stumbled into a "Walking Tall" movie and are about to confront the star of it. It's the sort of thing that happened to Dirty Harry a lot, but instead of pulling out a hand cannon and blasting away, Nick Prescott pops up from behind some shelves, throws a can of whole-kernel corn, and knocks out the clerk. Then he takes out the totally ineffective gunmen with some clumsy moves that would have Chuck Norris either laughing his ass off or setting his TV on fire just by looking at it.

Some of the scenes here and there manage to get pretty good, especially the one in which Nick is trying to hide the gravely-wounded witness as a hit squad stalks the hospital looking for her. There's a thumb-snipping bloody torture sequence later on that should set your nerves on edge. And a confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys in a remote cornfield starts out well, but soon falls victim to what proves to be this movie's ultimate downfall as a whole--the outta control non-stop stylistic freakout of its aptly-named director, Tripp Reed.

The camerawork and editing here are an ADD nightmare--Twitchy-Zoom, Shaky-Cam, speed-up/slow-down and double-image effects, focus fiddling, sequences that appear as though the film were simply chopped up and stuck back together at random and then sprayed with Cheez-Whiz, and every other pointlessly distracting effect you can think of.  If that kind of stuff doesn't really irritate you, great, but if it does, prepare to be really irritated.

The unfortunate thing about WALKING TALL: LONE JUSTICE is that there might actually be a fairly entertaining low-grade shoot-em-up here if you didn't have all that visual confetti flying at you from beginning to end. In the future, director Tripp Reed needs to stop trippin', settle down, and use what talent he seems to have trying to shoot a movie that doesn't fidget all over the place like a speed freak in Sunday School.


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Sunday, April 8, 2012

THE WITCHES OF OZ -- DVD review by porfle



Fans of L. Frank Baum's celebrated Oz series never know what they're going to get in the way of screen adaptations.  They're either bright and whimsical with some deliciously dark touches (like the 1939 classic THE WIZARD OF OZ) or they play up the more bizarre and nightmarish aspects of the books (as in RETURN TO OZ).  Or, in the case of THE WITCHES OF OZ (2011), you get a confusing mish-mash of both styles along with various other fantasy and comic book elements.

This rambling saga (originally televised in two parts) starts out with a LORD OF THE RINGS-style prologue which gives the impression that we're in for a more solemn, Hobbity type of myth-fantasy than the chintzy, cartoonish fairytale that follows.  I think that may be what writer-director Leigh Scott was partially aiming for here, but aside from the scenes with Lance Henriksen as Uncle Henry and Jeffrey Combs as L. Frank Baum--two actors not known for their lighthearted frivolity--it's just too goofy to take that seriously.

Paulie Rojas' Dorothy is like an even more girly and saccharine version of Marlo Thomas' "That Girl" with traces of Didi Conn and Pee Wee Herman.  Wide-eyed and wincingly naive, Dorothy moves from Kansas to New York at the request of gorgeous literary agent Billie Westbrook (Eliza Swenson, who also co-produced and, bless her heart, composed the music) in order to publish her "Oz" stories which were begun by her grandfather "Frank."  But Billie turns out to be the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy's Oz fantasies are really repressed memories of actual experiences that the witch wants to mine for information about a certain key to open a certain very powerful book of spells.

Much of the New York stuff is an awkward attempt to mix kid-friendly fantasy with real-world decadence, with references to "ass-kissing" and "sexing it up a little", terms such as "S.O.B.", and Dorothy being both leered at by a cabbie while changing clothes in the backseat and practically raped by a mugger.  At times, the effect of this clash of sensibilities is not unlike sipping on a bourbon and Kool-Aid cocktail.

During the first hour or so, Dorothy orients herself to big-city life and acquires a love interest--LOTR's Billy Boyd as funny-Scottish flake "Nick Chopper"--while Billie and her cohorts scheme to get the key from her.  With her flowing black hair, knockout bod, and what could only be described as a serious "legs" thing, Eliza Swenson owns the role and gives us an idea of what the '39 film might have been like if they'd gone ahead and cast Gale Sondergaard as the Witch instead of Margaret Hamilton (although Hamilton's likeness and acting style are closely imitated whenever Billie witches out).  The now-MILFy Mia Sara of FERRIS BUELLER fame is a hoot as Billie's wickedly cute but not-too-smart toady Princess Langwidere, who collects heads to wear the way other women collect shoes.

The story is at its best when it maintains a consistent tone for awhile, such as in the extended Kansas sequence that comes about halfway.  Here, we learn some interesting surprises about Dorothy's past as the film quits being tinny and insipid for awhile and comes closest to having an actual heart.  There's a recreation of Dorothy's journey to Oz inside the cyclone which, aside from proving that the '39 film's effects are still better than crappy CGI, finally lets us see the Wicked Witch of the East get crushed by that house while she and a Valkyrie-like Glinda the Good Witch (Noel Thurman) are trading magical destructo beams like a couple of Marvel superheroines.

A lot happens during the chaotic final hour when the Wicked Witch unleashes her evil minions, including some Flying Gorillas and, oddly, Lewis Carroll's Jabberwock, in an all-out war on New York City.  Some of it marginally cool, with the rest of the familiar Oz characters such as Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man losing their human fascades and regaining their true personas in order to engage the forces of evil in battle. 

Much of it, however, is just frenetic, confusing, and, finally, long-winded--especially when Dorothy attempts to "Oprah Winfrey" the Wicked Witch into turning away from the dark side.  Some of the more slapdash battle footage look
s like outtakes from a bad superhero flick like Shaqille O'Neal's STEEL, with the Tin Man resembling a cross between a robot and the original Iron Man.  There's even some mild gore as one of Princess Langwidere's interchangable heads explodes and another gets run over by a truck, and one mano-a-mano encounter ends, strangely enough, with a beheading that recalls the knife-to-the-chest scene in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN! 

Christopher Lloyd plays the Wizard like he's doing dinner theater for an easy-to-please audience, while Lance Henriksen's Uncle Henry comes across like an anvil on a trampoline.  Top honors go to Swenson and Sara for their wickedly winsome witches, along with Sasha Jackson as one of Princess Langwidere's alter egos.  Sean Astin and Ethan Embry earn a few laughs as the diminutive Muckadoos, ordered by Langwidere to bedevil Dorothy but more interested in raiding her refrigerator.  Billy Boyd is at his "I'm Scottish!" cutest here--whether or not that's a good thing is up to you. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras consist of a trailer and a trailer-length "behind the scenes" featurette.

While somewhat fun to watch if you can manage to settle into its goofball vibe, THE WITCHES OF OZ is "magical" in a curdled, insincere sort of way that makes it too distasteful for kids and too sickly-sweet for adults.  Oz fans who have to watch everything Oz-related will probably have to watch this, but there's a snowball's chance in Hell of it making a dent in their undying affection for a certain Judy Garland vehicle.



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Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp" Swings Onto DVD May 29!



Film Chest Proudly Presents "Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp"

Complete, Authorized Classic TV Series Available for the First Time on DVD

Proceeds From Sales of Special 3-Disc Release to Benefit
Lancelot's Retirement Home, Los Angeles' Wildlife Waystation


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - May 1, 2012 - For Immediate Release  - Monkey business takes on a whole new meaning in the live-action classic television series Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp, swinging onto DVD in a special, three-disc collector's set, May 29 from Film Chest.

In the spirit of Get Smart, ABC's action-adventure/comedy spy series (1970-72) aired Saturday mornings, starring a cast of chimpanzees whose performances were dubbed with human voices, including those of Dayton Allen, Joan Gerber, Steven Hoffman and The Love Boat's Bernie Kopell, among others. All 17 episodes have been transferred from the original studio ABC masters.

In a world inhabited by chimps instead of humans, Lancelot Link (Allen), along with partner Mata Hairi (Gerber), is one of the top agents of the Agency to Prevent Evil (APE), a secret organization led by Commander Darwin (Allen) that protects the world from wrongdoers. 

Their chief nemesis is Baron Von Butcher (Kopell), who leads the Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan (CHUMP), an evil league bent on world conquest. Assisting the Baron is a band of bad apes including Creto, Wang Fu, the Duchess, Dragon Lady, Ali Assa Seen and Dr. Strangemind.

Episodes also included musical segments featuring the psychedelic music group Evolution Revolution (even spawning the release of a soundtrack album).

Now in retirement, Lancelot has been enjoying his days at Los Angeles' Wildlife Waystation (WWS), which will receive part of the proceeds from DVD sales. A famed institution that has been assisting wild animals in need for 36 years, WWS has been hit hard by the recession and is now desperately in need of funds.

"It was very exciting to find that Lance was still around after all these years and being well cared for in his retirement at the Wildlife Waystation," commented Allan Sandler, producer of the original series and of the DVD collector's set.  "Bringing back all the memories of filming the series is a highlight for me and I am happy another generation of viewers will have the opportunity to enjoy the show."

Added Martine Colette, founder and matriarch of WWS, "The Wildlife Waystation is very pleased and grateful to receive these proceeds to help us with the ongoing costs of maintaining the care of our chimpanzees."

The only approved digital and DVD elements protected by copyright from the original producers and owners (SBM, LLC) with the approval of ABC, Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 4 x 3 and original mono sound. Special features include interviews with Sandler and musical director Bob Emenegger; live video footage of Sandler with Lancelot at the Waystation in 2011; the 1999 documentary short I Created Lancelot Link by Diane Bernard and Jeff Krulik; picture slideshow of real-life Lancelot Link (provided by Sandler and Life magazine); and complete Evolution Revolution vignettes from all 17 original episodes.

For more information, visit:
www.lancelotlinksecretchimp.com
See a clip on YouTube at:
http://ow.ly/9SFKz
Follow us on Facebook
www.facebook.com/officiallancelotlink
and Twitter
www.twitter.com/LancelotLink70 

Episode Guide

Episode #1: There's No Business Like Snow Business
While undercover as ski instructors, Lance and Mata protect the valuable Star of Karachi diamond.

Episode #2: The Lone APE / Missile Beach Party
Lance foils a chicken rustling plot. / Lance stops Baron and Dr. Strangemind from blowing up missiles.

Episode #3: The Mysterious Motorcycle Menace / The Great Beauty Contest
Baron's motorcycle gang steals APE's payroll. / A Soviet beauty queen from Siberia wants to defect.

Episode #4: CHUMP Takes a Holiday / To Tell the Tooth
Lance steals CHUMP's secret codes while they hold a convention. / A dentist working for CHUMP is putting secret radio transmitters into the teeth of military officials.

Episode #5: The Great Brain Drain / The Great Double Double Cross
Dr. Strangemind creates a potion that makes the drinker … including Lance … act like a child. / Lance and
Mata are impersonated by Baron and Dragon Lady, who infiltrate APE.

Episode #6: Lance of Arabia / The Doctor Goes APE
Lance and Mata set out to rescue an archaeologist who knows where CHUMP hides its gold. / Then they must steal back microfilm from CHUMP that contains photos of APE's agents.

Episode #7: The Surfin' Spy / The Missing Link
Lance poses as a lifeguard but his cover is blown. / Lance awaits his Uncle Mortimer, who seems to be missing.

Episode #8: Bonana / The Greatest Chase in the World
Lance and Mata go undercover at a dude ranch. / The agents then go on a race around the world to catch Baron and his cohorts.

Episode #9: The Reluctant Robot / The Royal Foil
Dr. Strangemind creates a robot to kill Lance. / Lance and Mata protect a visiting king.

Episode #10: The Great Great Race / The Great Plane Plot
APE challenges CHUMP to an auto race. / Mata goes undercover as an airline stewardess.

Episode #11: Landlubber Lance / The Temporary Thanksgiving Turkey Truce
Lance goes undercover as a sailor on Dragon Lady's boat. / On Thanksgiving, Lance searches for secret microfilm.

Episode #12: The Dreaded Hong Kong Sneeze / The Great Bank Robbery
Baron plans to infect the world with an Asian virus. / Lance decides to steal money back from bank robbers.

Episode #13: The Sour Taste of Success / The Baron's Birthday Ball
Lance discovers microfilm has been hidden in a lemon. / Lance unwittingly becomes part of a birthday present for Baron.

Episode #15: The Spy Who Went Out in the Cold / Too Many CHUMPs
Lance goes undercover as a defector to CHUMP. / Lance and Mata must stop a new wave of CHUMP agents being formed.

Episode #16: The CHUMP Code Caper / Weather or Not
CHUMP agents discover Lance and Mata transmit coded messages through their rock band. / Dr. Strangemind creates a weather-control machine.

Episode #17: The Evolution Revolution / The Great Water Robbery
CHUMP deciphers APE's coded messages. / CHUMP holds city's water supply hostage.

About Film Chest:
Founded in 2001, Film Chest offers high-quality content for a wide variety of production and distribution needs, boasting one of the world's largest libraries (10,000+ hours) of classic feature films, television, foreign imports, documentaries, special interest and audio-much of it restored and digitized in HD. Headquartered in Bridgeport, Conn., with offices in New York City, the company also produces collector's DVD sets, released on three labels. HD Cinema Classics are films painstakingly restored in HD - utilizing state-of-the art digital technology - from original film assets. American Pop Classics features classic American film and TV shows from the '30-70s. CULTRA showcases the best (and worst) of cult cinema. Film Chest releases theatrically, on DVD (through its Synergy Entertainment distribution arm) and digitally on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Verizon FIOS and more. Visit us online at www.filmchestmediagroup.com

Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp (3 Discs)
Film Chest
Genre: Television/Comedy/Family
Original Release: 1970 (Color)
Not Rated
Running Time: Approx. 600 Minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Pre-Order Date: April 20, 2012
Street Date: May 29, 2012
Catalog #:  FC-461
UPC Code:  # 874757046198
 
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