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Friday, January 31, 2014
This spoof of slasher flicks is supposed to be an homage to Hitchcock--whose movies bear no resemblance to it whatsoever--but it's more of an homage to homages to slasher flick homages. In other words, it's an homage of an homage of a tribute to an homage of a spoof of two tributes to a spoof of an homage. You might even call it "Not Another Teen Slasher Flick." You might call it that, but comedian Dan Fogler calls his writing and directing debut HYSTERICAL PSYCHO (2009).
Whatever it is, it starts out with a terrific animated segment that looks like something out of Rob Zombie's THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO, with Fogler imitating Hitchcock explaining how the Moon is on a revenge kick against the Earth resulting in a crater which became Moon Lake which is buzzing with lunar radioactivity that drives the people who go there insane. Well, there has to be some kind of motivation to get the story going, so I guess that's as good as any.
Skipping right along exposition-wise, there's an intertitle which says something like "Two years ago a theater troupe went into the wilderness to find themselves. They never came back." This motley group is made up of the usual slasher flick stereotypes (except for the black guy who dies first and the jock), all made even more insufferable than usual because they're ack-taaahs.
There's Lenny the nerdy mama's boy (Randy Baruh), sex kitten Sara (Kate Gersten), wacky stoner dude Steve (Ariel Shafir), wacky stoner chick Sarah (Sarah Saltzberg), another chick, a chick and a dude who are always having sex, and another dude. They all die. Yay! Okay, maybe not all of them. Boo!
Anyway, their weekend trip to Moon Lake Inn, which is sort of a rustic lodge in the snowy woods, quickly turns from a half-assed party to a fully-assed killfest when a bloodthirsty psycho starts hacking them up one by one. By now, HYSTERICAL PSYCHO has already labored so hard to be quirky-funny that you can almost hear it hyperventilating.
Director Fogler tries to ratchet up the mostly bland comedy by keeping the camera moving, bobbing and weaving incessantly amongst the cast--not, it would seem, because of any deliberate visual style but because other movies do it. It's often as though the camera is strapped to Mary Lou Retton while she's performing her Olympic floor exercise on the set.
This, coupled with relentlessly rapid-fire editing and an ear-bludgeoning musical score (which, admittedly, does include some stirring use of "Swan Lake"), and the overall belief that unbridled kineticism and lots of screaming will improve the gags, makes for a sometimes tiresome experience.
On the plus side, Fogler's movie looks swell for the budget and does have its directorial moments along with some genuine laughs. Probably the funniest scene for me (besides the Gilbert Gottfried cameo early on) is when the gang find one of the girls in the shower covered with blood, the words "Ha Ha" written in crimson all over the walls, and conclude that she's been attacked by a bear.
Still, HYSTERICAL PSYCHO alternates between being sporadically amusing and nightmarishly unfunny, with a prolonged climactic sequence (during which the surprising secret identity of the killer is revealed) that goes off the deep end into senses-numbing incoherence. Gorehounds will find some sustenace here and there, while horndogs are warned that the sexiest babe dies early and there is no nudity. Comedy fans, unfortunately, will find little here to excite them as well.
The DVD from Indican Pictures is in anamorphic widescreen with both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. No subtitles. Extras include a superb trailer along with three brief behind-the-scenes featurettes. Oddly, a commentary feature with director Fogler and two others involved in the film is split into three continuing segments with them sitting in a dark room watching the movie on TV. (Don't stop watching when the closing credits begin!)
While certainly not a total loss--I found it a good-natured, well-meaning mess from which brief nuggets of entertainment could be gleaned--HYSTERICAL PSYCHO is just a tad too much "hysterical" and not enough "Psycho." It's as though they started out doing an homage to Hitchcock until someone secretly slipped LSD into everybody's water bottles.
Get it on Amazon Instant Video
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 10:03 PM
Film Chest Proudly Presents
The Foulest Passion of Them All!
HD Restoration of Cult Classic From Original 35mm Film Elements
Available on DVD March 4th
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — March 1, 2014 — For Immediate Release — A wealthy hunter meets his new prey when two couples dock their boat on his private island in Bloodlust – available for the first time in full HD restoration from the original 35mm film elements – coming to DVD March 4 from Film Chest Media Group.
Filmed in 1959 and released in 1961, Bloodlust – starring Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch, The Defenders), June Kenney (Earth vs. the Spider), Joan Lora (Sorority Girl) and Eugene Persson (Earth vs. the Spider, The Party Crashers) – was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1994, quickly becoming a cult classic.
In this thrilling drama, a group of young adults on a boat excursion become the prey of a sadistic hunter when the two couples come across an uncharted tropical island, which they soon find is inhabited by a wealthy recluse and his staff.
While their host is initially hospitable, the four investigate and find themselves in the clutches of Dr. Albert Balleau (Wilton Graff, Lili, Lust for Life), whose hobby is hunting both animals and humans. He quickly reveals his true purpose … to hunt down and kill each of his visitors, as he has done with everyone unlucky enough to set foot on his island.
Bloodlust is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 4 x 3 and original sound.
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 and distributes collector’s DVD sets for its American Pop Classics, CULTRA and HD Cinema Classics labels. Visit us online: www.filmchestmediagroup.com
Original Release: 1961 (B&W)
Running Time: Approx. 68 Minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $11.98
Pre-Order Date: February 4, 2014
Street Date: March 4, 2014
Catalog #: FC-492
UPC Code: #874757049298
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 9:49 AM
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
(NOTE: This interview was originally posted at Bumscorner.com in 2006. References to that site--which is still up as of 1-30-14 but not posting new content--and Mr. Wilbanks' upcoming film projects are, of course, out of date.)
What--filmmakers are real people? That's what I was reminded of when I got an email from Allen
Wilbanks, the writer-director of MOTOR HOME MASSACRE, a new release that I pretty much panned recently. Allen didn't want to argue, trade insults, or otherwise engage in anything other than a friendly conversation about his movie and what I found wrong with it. He even asked me for my thoughts on how he could have made it better! (What the heck do I know about making movies? I just watch 'em!)
Anyway, he seemed like a really nice guy, and I gotta respect anyone who can put a low-budget movie together and get it released by Lion's Gate Films in the first place, even if it doesn't set off my own personal joy buzzer. So I asked him if he'd like to be interviewed here at Bum's Corner, and give us his inside (and very informative) perspective on the world of independent filmmaking, and he said "Okay!", and I said "Cool!"
porfle: First of all, I gave MOTOR HOME MASSACRE one can out of five--although I did confess to enjoying it to a certain degree. Where would you say I missed the boat on MHM in my review?
ALLEN: Ah ha! You enjoyed it! I knew it! I'm putting that on the website ;)
Seriously, we've gotten very positive reviews. In your defense you did not have the benefit of seeing it with a live audience, which I think makes a big difference especially for a film like MOTOR HOME MASSACRE. It was designed to be a much campier film than a spine tingling fright fest. It's a film that you pop in the DVD player and watch with a bunch of friends. Can you imagine if everyone saw SHAUN OF THE DEAD for the first time on DVD without an audience? I love that film but I've got to wonder if it would have had the same impact as a DVD-only release?
porfle: Part of the reason for my low rating was that I felt MHM to be a standard variation on the old slasher film template. But you clearly feel there is still a substantial audience for this type of horror film?
ALLEN: That's a very good point. In a way I think movies are kind of like the fashion industry; styles go in and out of cycles. The first time I realized this was when I was a kid and STAR WARS came out. Before that film I don't think I'd ever seen a space movie but after it came out there was a new one every month. Funny thing is that some 30 years earlier WAR OF THE WORLDS was a huge blockbuster hit with a completely different generation. So I guess it depends on how you look at it. Either MHM is way behind the curve or maybe a little ahead of it. Either way you don't have to be doing the same movies that everyone else is doing just because it's "hot".
porfle: The movie had its premiere at the LaFont theater in Atlanta. How did that go? Did you get the audience response you'd hoped for?
ALLEN: The premiere went way beyond my wildest expectations. The Lefont Plaza Theater in Atlanta is a 400-seat old style theater and I have to admit I was more than a little nervous.
Unbelievably, we sold out the first show in less than a week selling tickets on the Internet. When the second show was added it sold out too and we barely had enough places for the cast and crew to sit! The Atlanta fans have really stepped up and made this film the success it is, without them it would not have been possible.
As far as the movie goes the crowd picked up on the humor very quickly. We put a couple of continuity errors in there to see if the crowd would pick up on them, and boy did they. A few people busted out laughing then it spread like wildfire in the theater, by the time another one of the planted errors came up everybody roared.
To top it off the weather was absolutely insane, the power actually went off in the building several times during the second show but nobody left and most of them stuck around for the after party. People came up to me and told me they were genuinely scared during several parts but were very entertained throughout.
porfle: Of all the independent filmmakers trying to get their work sold and distributed, you managed to land a deal with a major outfit like Lion's Gate Films. That couldn't have been easy, right?
ALLEN: My main goal from the very beginning was getting distribution. Just about everyone that worked on this film either worked for free or very, very little pay. My promise to them was to try my best and get their names on a movie that would be on the shelves at Blockbuster. Being on the Lion's Gate label has surpassed all expectations. While I wish I could take all the credit I really can't, Stan Wertlieb in conjunction with Barry Brooker of Silver Nitrate Entertainment really pushed the film to get to the level it is today. Without Stan and Barry, MOTOR HOME MASSACRE would not have been released with Lion's Gate.
I would like to add that if anyone is attempting to do something like this they should definitely do their homework. One thing I did was talk to all the filmmakers I could find who have been through the process. The list is very long but I would like to mention Bill Burton (BEYOND THE WALL OF SLEEP), Michael Valverde (NO WITNESS), Marc Fratto (STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN), Patrick Jones and Eric Saperston (THE JOURNEY) for all their advice and guidance.
They gave me a lot of things to think about as well as encouragement along the way. Also, I talked to several distributors before I ever wrote the screenplay. Darrin Ramage of Brain Damage Films took a lot of time and explained to me what he looks for in a good horror film. His advice helped me out tremendously in the script writing, casting and well just about everything else. That's the main reason we are going to the Cannes Film Market in France next month with Brain Damage Films as our foreign distributor.
porfle: Are you happy with the way MHM is being promoted?
ALLEN: Well, I really don't know how the underpinnings of Hollywood works nor do I know exactly how Lion's Gate does their marketing. If you were to ask if Oprah's calling then I would have to say no, but the movie is picking up steam. A few months ago before the announcement of the May 23rd release I did a search for "Motor Home Massacre" and it turned up 20 hits. I just did another search and got a return of 120,000 references. In my little world that's a big improvement.
porfle: How did you hit upon the idea for it? What was the scriptwriting process like?
ALLEN: The idea was pretty easy. I already had this beat up old motor home (more about that later) and I had just been dumped by a live-in girlfriend, so I had a lot of time to write. Pathetically, I started writing a horror film, which would include these two basic elements, the motor home and an Evil Shedevil. People say to write about things you know so that's what I did.
The scriptwriting process itself is probably one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences of my life. The main idea came pretty quick and I wrote the synopsis down first. Then I built that into the feature-length script (about 90 or so pages). Then I re-wrote it 11 more times. That whole process took about 9 months.
porfle: Did your actors have much film experience? How did you go about casting them?
ALLEN: Many of the actors had a lot of experience. Shan Holleman (Sabrina), Nelson Bonilla (Roger), Tanya Fraser (Nicole), West Cummings (Jake) and Greg Corbett (Nick) all have several films under their belts and Justin Geer (Benji) actually has a degree in theater from UNC-Wilimington. We did have a few newcomers like the very beautiful FHM models Breanne Ashley (Brooke) and Diana Picallo (Melanie) as well as several more top-notch actors. I wish I could mention everybody but if you really want to see them pop over to the website where we've got everyone's picture and description at the MOTOR HOME MASSACRE official website.
We cast several of the girls and guys in a unique way. We held a scream queen casting call at a local brewery. We had over 80 girls show up and we ended up having to have another casting call because of the overwhelming response. There were over 300 girls who tried out for various roles and I think we got the best talent to be in MHM. I wish I could mention all the girls who tried out but if you want to see them you can see all their pictures and video of them screaming at
MOTOR HOME MASSACRE official Scream Queens.
porfle: Can you tell us what kind of budget you had to work with, how you managed to get it together, and how you went about using it to the fullest extent?
ALLEN: Well, I can't tell you the budget. From early on we made the decision not to tell anyone how much we spent to make the film. We did this for a couple of reason. One--Hollywood has tried its best to convince people that the bigger the budget, the better the movie. Even though we all know this is not true they continue to tell people that "such and such" movie cost $200+ million to make because they know people will go and see it. They do this for a reason, to keep indie films (with much more modest budgets) out of the mainstream. If they spend enough money they are hoping that the average moviegoer will think that anything under $50 million is automatically a crappy film.
What they don't tell you is that 1/2 of their "budgets" go to advertising. So that $200 million film is only $100 million on screen. And that doesn't take into account the salaries of the stars, producers, directors and so on. So MHM can't compete with this so we simply don't tell people what we made it for. My thought is, what does it matter how much we spent to entertain you? Two--we are still in negotiations with foreign distributors. Selling a film is not unlike selling anything else. If someone knows how much you spent on it (and believe me the distributors ask) then they are in a very nice negotiating position. So I show people the film and let them figure it out for themselves.
porfle: Was it shot strictly on real locations?
ALLEN: Yes and no. Many of the interior scenes of the motor home were shot in a warehouse. It's too dangerous to drive down the road and shoot this type of thing so we improvised quite a bit with that. The rest of the film was shot on location.
porfle: Were there any mishaps or unforeseen difficulties during shooting?
ALLEN: Safety was our number one concern. Knock on wood, nobody was seriously injured in the filming. However, Breanne Ashley (Brooke) took a very nasty fall during a running scene down a gravel road. Her knee was bashed up which is not ideal for a bikini model.
porfle: There are a couple of nice makeup effects that I neglected to mention in my review--the splayed-open back of Greg Corbett, and Breanne Ashley's advanced case of "road rash." What can you tell us about these?
ALLEN: Roy Wooly did a great job with the special effects. The "splayed-open" scene that you mentioned was all Roy. We were on set and he came over and said, "What do you want me to do for this back cutting scene?" I said "I don't know, what do you think it would look like if you cut someone's back open?" I'm sure he was frustrated with me (as usual) but he went off and did that very cool effect. He's a genius in my book.
porfle: Where did you do the post-production work on the film? And how long did it take to edit it and put the soundtrack together?
ALLEN: We did the post on Final Cut 5.0. My friends at Right Mind Media helped out quite a bit with this. We used all sound from location so you can imagine we had a lot of extra stuff in there like cars, planes and generators. Final Cut has this new way to export audio over to Soundtrack to clean it up. It was a very tedious process but it came out really nice. No one has said anything negative about the audio, which is a huge part in any film.
We used all local bands for the soundtrack. Subject2Change, Brass Knuckle Surfers, Don Aaron, The Truckadelics, Scott Roberts, The Acres, Buttonhook, Rae Ven Rae, and Tapestry all donated their music to the film. I think that is one reason why so many people love it; they really get into the music.
porfle: This was your first feature-length film. What's it like to take on the responsibility of directing such a project?
ALLEN: It's a huge responsibility that doesn't seem to end. I know that sounds negative but just because the shooting is over doesn't mean the picture is finished. As a director your job is just beginning. I actually miss those 17-degree nights when I'm filling out all the paperwork that comes with doing something on this scale.
porfle: What did you learn while making it that will come in handy on later films?
ALLEN: Probably the biggest hurdle is the paperwork. That may not sound very artistic but I'm sure that's probably why much more talented directors than myself never get a film through the distribution process. It's absolutely brutal dealing with it. At times I just wanted to say forget I can't do this anymore. But that's all part of the game I guess. Now that I've done this once, I know much more about how to get the legal stuff together before we get anything on film. So that's the biggest thing that I've learned.
porfle: What's the story behind the main star of MHM--that big, beautiful "woody"?
ALLEN: My friend Mark Boomershine talked me into buying the same model and year motor home that he had. We thought it would be fun to take it on trips with him and his wife Cinda and my ex-girlfriend--let's call her the Evil Shedevil for this article. Well, not long after I bought this 26-foot monstrosity (about a month actually) the Evil Shedevil decided to break up with me and move out. Well, that was great, here I was a young single dude with a 1975 motor home (that pulls in the babes let me tell ya).
Strangely enough a few months later the producers of TBS' "Movie and a Makeover" heard about my movie and my really ugly RV and offered to do a complete makeover on the thing. They did an amazing job fixing it up, plus I was featured on national television talking about the upcoming movie. Again check out the website if you want to see the pics of the motor home.
porfle: What kind of movies did you like growing up? And which ones were the most influential to you later on?
ALLEN: Me and a million other kids loved STAR WARS. I had the action figures, Millenium Falcon, X-Wing Fighters, Darth Vader's space ship and tons of baseball style cards with Princess Leia and the rest of the cast. I didn't know why I liked it then but now that I'm older I can appreciate the timeless storyline that George Lucas put together. It's all Greek Mythology in space. That goes to show you how important the story is. Now that I've done my own movie I can appreciate far better how incredibly hard it is to put together a movie that makes sense much less tells a great story. My hat is off to you, Obi-Wan George Lucas.
My influence in my later years has been Robert Rodriguez. He's inspired a whole legion of do-it-yourself filmmakers, for better or worse.
porfle: How did you get into the movie business?
ALLEN: Not sure if I'm in the movie business yet. When I get there I'll send you my card with "filmmaker" on it.
porfle: Can you tell us about your next project?
ALLEN: My next project is called EVIL KEG. Not sure if your readers need much more than that as a description but if they do have them email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put them on our email list for the scream queen casting calls and all the other nonsense we've been known to do to promote a movie.
porfle: What sort of ideas do you have in mind for future films?
ALLEN: I have ideas all the time about films, unfortunately I'm just too lazy to pursue them. I have a little ritual where I go to the movies every Sunday and see a new film at the theater. This will often inspire me to write some stuff down. I wish I had the discipline to write all of these ideas into script format.
porfle: It's one thing to watch and review a movie, but another thing entirely to actually write and direct one and get it released. I know this is a dumb question, but how frustrating is it to read a bad review of your work?
ALLEN: You've probably heard this a million times but you have to be somewhat thick-skinned to do this type of thing. You and several other people have taken the time to actually watch my movie and for that I'm grateful. You didn't really like it and you were honest, although I think an audience would have influenced you a little. Everyone's first reaction to a bad review is a somewhat stinging sensation but after you calm down and re-read it you can pick out things that are very valid. I then realize that hey, this guy is doing me a huge favor--he's trying to help me make a better film.
How many people get that honest feedback at their job? Not many. If you can use the negative things that happen in your life for the positive then you are guaranteed to survive in not only this business but any other thing you decide to do.
porfle: Thanks very much for stopping by the Corner to share your thoughts and experiences about independent filmmaking with us. But most of all, thanks for not throwing a brick at me!
ALLEN: You're very welcome. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my thoughts with you and your readers. I don't know if you have any acting experience but I would love it if you could come to Atlanta to be in my next film. I have this entire scene dedicated to blowing off the heads of film critics ;)
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 10:09 PM
Monday, January 27, 2014
"RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH, VOL. 1" Coming March 18th to Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Films and Troma Entertainment!
“B-movie pandemonium” – New York Times
“Very guilty pleasure.” – New York Post
ANCHOR BAY FILMS PRESENTS TROMA LEGEND
LLOYD KAUFMAN’S RETURN TO DIRECTING WITH
RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH, VOL. 1
Oozing on Blu-ray™ and DVD March 18th!
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – His name is legendary. He’s created some of the most iconic films and characters in all cinema, including the Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD. His name is Lloyd Kaufman and Anchor Bay’s got him! Anchor Bay Films proudly announces the return of Lloyd Kaufman to the theatrical feature director’s chair with the March 18th Blu-ray™ and DVD release of Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1.
The cast includes Catherine Corcoran (The Lovely Bones), Asta Paredes (Occupy Cannes!), Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliet), Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and introducing Kevin the Wonder Duck! Fresh from exclusive theatrical engagements in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets, and still playing in exclusive theatrical engagements all over the world (while receiving excellent mainstream reviews http://return2nukeemhigh.com/press), Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1 – presented in all its director-approved, unrated glory -- graduates with an SRP of $24.99 for the Blu-ray™ and $19.98 for the DVD. Pre-book date is February 19th.
Welcome to Tromaville High School. Your typical high school populated with your basic football jocks, wannabe prom queens and glee club hopefuls. Did I say “typical?” After all, this is Tromaville High, where the glee club has mutated into the hideous Cretins after eating tainted tacos courtesy of the Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate.
Chrissy and Lauren, two innocent lovers/bloggers, must not only fight the adolescent beasts and freaks, they must also defeat the evil Conglomerate. Will they, along with their mutant pet duck, save Tromaville High and the rest of society?
Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1 has it all – satire, sci-fi, plenty of Troma’s world famous green goo, themes of anti-bullying and LGBT rights. If that isn’t enough, how about death by glee club, high falls, meltdowns and fiery explosions?
Wait there’s more! There’s plenty of exposed teen viscera (and breasts!) and love triumphing over prejudice. Just like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and “Glee” – only 100% Troma style!
Return to Nuke’Em High, Vol. 1 was selected by the Museum of Modern Art as part of their prestigious 2013 “Contenders Series,” an annual collection of visionary cinema, selecting influential, innovative films made and released during the year. 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of Troma Entertainment, the longest surviving independent film label.
Fans have come to expect in-depth and plentiful bonus features on Troma Entertainment DVD releases. Not to worry, as Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1 Blu-ray™ and DVD boasts the following “Troma-tic” extras:
· Audio Commentary with Actors Zac Amico, Clay von Carlowitz, Catherine Corcoran, Stuart Kiczek and Asta Parades;
· Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Lloyd Kaufman, Producer Justin A. Martell, Executive Producer Matt Manjourides, Associate Producer Regina Katz and Writer Travis Campbell;
· Casting Conundrum;
· Pre-Production Hell with Mein-Kauf (Man);
· Special (Ed) Effects;
· Cell-U-Lloyd Kaufman: 40 Years of TROMAtising The World;
· “Architects of Fear – Edison Device” Music Video
· Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 2 trailer
For more information about Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1, check out: http://return2nukeemhigh.com/
About Anchor Bay Films:
Anchor Bay Films is a division of Anchor Bay Entertainment and provides quality distribution with operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and offers distribution capabilities in other key territories. Anchor Bay Films uniquely offers the creative community a fully integrated distribution capability on all platforms and an international solution extending beyond the United States. The company focuses on a platform release strategy for its films with an eye toward maximizing their potential across all ancillary distribution platforms. Upcoming theatrical releases include Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car starring Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon and Ray Stevenson and No One Lives with Luke Evans. Films in its library include the recent theatrical release of Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem starring Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison and genre favorite Ken Foree, 10 Years starring Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson, the critically-acclaimed comedy City Island starring Andy Garcia and Solitary Man starring Michael Douglas as well as Kill the Irishman starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken, Toronto Film Festival award-winner Beautiful Boy with Maria Bello and Michael Sheen and Cannes 2011 premiere Corman’s World. Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.
Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1 Blu-ray™
Street Date: March 18, 2014
Pre-book Date: February 19, 2014
Catalog #: BD60173
UPC: 0 1313 26017-3 1
Run Time: 85 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Format: 1.78:1/16x9 1080p
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Return To Nuke ‘Em High, Vol. 1 DVD
Street Date: March 18, 2014
Pre-book Date: February 19, 2014
Catalog #: AF60171
UPC: 0 1313 26017-1 7
Run Time: 85 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 9:53 PM
Sunday, January 26, 2014
On April 15, orange blossoms will be replaced by bloody roses when Anchor Bay Entertainment releases a story of shattered trust and broken vows: Death Do Us Part.
From writer/producers Julia Benson, Peter Benson and Ryan Copple, the film was nominated for three Leo Awards and directed by award-winner Nicholas Humphries (Screamfest, Best Short Film: The Little Mermaid) Death Do Us Part tells of two people on the threshold of beginning a new life together: a threshold that turns into a precipice of death!
Death Do Us Part, will be available on DVD for an MSRP of $19.98. Pre-book is March 19.
Kennedy Jamieson (Julia Benson, Stargate Universe, That Burning Feeling) has waited her whole life for her perfect wedding. Engaged to the charming Ryan Harris (Peter Benson, The Killing, Arrow), it looks like her dream is about to come true. Except for one thing - the young couple hasn’t had a chance to celebrate their respective bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Ryan’s best man Chet (Kyle Cassie, True Justice, Lost Boys 2: The Tribe) books a remote cabin in the woods to throw them a “Jack and Jill” party that they’ll never forget. It doesn’t take long before things take a horrifying turn as members of the group are brutally picked off one by one. Kennedy and Ryan had planned for the celebration of a lifetime – but how long will that lifetime last?
So prepare for a deadly reception from where there is no escape; not until ‘Death Do Us Part’!
Death Do Us Part DVD
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Street Date: April 15, 2014
Pre-Book: March 19, 2014
Length: 89 minutes
Bonus Feature: Death Do Us Part: Behind the Scenes
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 3:37 PM
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Normal people can look at a movie like KUNG FU JOE (2009) and immediately recognize how stupid and silly it is. I don't know how they do it but they can. They can also gauge how low the budget is at a single glance, thus saving themselves from wasting time on something which lacks the minimum level of production values they demand for their viewing pleasure and, thus, is worthless.
And then there are people like me, for whom movies like KUNG FU JOE are made. One minute into it and I was already thinking, "How wonderfully stupid and silly this is! And whoa, check out how good they made it look on such a low budget! Why, this is way better than GONE WITH THE WIND."
Okay, that last part may have been a slight exaggeration. Still, I enjoyed this movie very much right from the opening credits, which feature Kung Fu Joe (Zak VanWinkle) strutting his stuff down an alleyway like something out of a 70s white-sploitation flick while Darius Holbert's delightfully retro musical score sets the mood.
Joe is a private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks, including Miss Gittes (the gorgeous Victoria Maurette of LEFT FOR DEAD and THE THEATER BIZARRE), a femme fatale who really needs him to find someone for her because, well, I didn't really pay attention to the plot because it neither made much sense nor was important to me in any way. Their loopy dialogue and odd behavior during her first visit to Joe's office lets us know that he's totally worthless as a detective while giving us an indication of just how nutty writer-director Glen Barry (BULLETFACE) can be when he wants to.
The clueless Joe teams up with an old love-hate pal from his past, an equally-clueless police detective (Jeremy Parrish as "The Detective") who happens to be working on a related case. This mismatched crimefighting duo continue to engage in ridiculous dialogue which allows their extreme stupidity free and unfettered expression. Doughnuts figure importantly in the case, so naturally they find themselves beating up a pastry chef for information.
The term "Soylent Green" is invoked; doughnuts filled with the vile chemical are selling like hotcakes and turning ordinary citizens into slaves for a mysterious mad doctor whose hench-persons include a hideous female hunchback, a musclebound freak with a giant flower pot for a head, and a French guy who was supposed to be a Bruce Lee clone but the hunchback used the wrong brain during the operation. The Detective, being a cop, naturally gets hooked on the tainted doughnuts and becomes one of the mad doctor's mindnumbed robots.
Action, you want, and violence? KUNG FU JOE has them up to here (I'm holding my hand up to my Adam's apple) but they're stupid action and violence. One scene finds Joe and the detective surrounded by ninjas in the forest, whom Joe defeats without any proper choreography whatsoever. In fact, he barely moves, that's how good he is. It's kind of like one of those recent Steven Seagal movies where he beats guys up by moving his arm up and down.
There's a bad attempt at some of that "speed-up/slow-down" editing like in 300 which is funny because it's so bad, just like everything else in this movie. Homages to other action classics abound, such as when Joe confronts the mad doctor's hench-creeps as they terrorize a store clerk. "I don't think it's nice, you laughin'," Joe intones. "My afro doesn't think it's nice, either. Gives it the strange idea that you're laughin' at it."
I should mention Joe's afro, which is part of his Samson-like power. (He also drives an Afro Romeo.) As you might guess, he gets a forced haircut during the film's most heartwrenching scene and must struggle back to his former strength by learning pirate kung fu. From a pirate. A pirate who has a chicken instead of a parrot. Joe will know that he's ready to get back into action when he can beat the chicken--at chess. This is one of the film's most inspiring sequences.
I'm not going to spoil any more of the story for you because I have a TV dinner in the oven and it's almost done. I will say that Glen Berry's low-budget filmmaking fu is strong, and his stars VanWinkle and Parrish are so exquisitely deadpan that you could use their faces to iron shirts. Victoria Maurette is, of course, about a hundred times more enchanting than any movie she's ever been in. The other actors are pretty good, especially this one guy who plays, like, five or ten different characters. The film's exciting, suspenseful climax in the mad doctor's lair will have you on the edge of your seat. Ehh.
The DVD from Indican Pictures is in 1.33:1 anamorphic widescreen. I know that because it says so on Amazon. I'm not sure exactly what kind of sound it has except that it sounded pretty good. No subtitles because the world doesn't really care all that much about how bad my hearing is. Extras include a trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette, previews for other Indican releases, and a laidback commentary track with Berry and VanWinkle. There are also some bloopers during the closing credits.
Remember how, way back in the first paragraph, I came right out and told you how stupid and silly KUNG FU JOE is? That was to cover my ass with normal people who would say things like "I can't believe you gave this piece of (beep) a good review, you big, fat (beep)." But if you like low-budget, high-concept flicks that are just as willfully and sometimes hilariously silly as they can possibly get, then you should enjoy KUNG FU JOE almost as much as the Hungry Man Salisbury Steak TV dinner I'm about to eat.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 6:44 PM
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
(NOTE: This review was originally posted at Bumscorner.com in July 2007. I didn't mention the unrestored picture and sound quality of these public-domain episodes, because I mainly just wanted an excuse to talk about Ozzie and Harriet.)
Ozzie Nelson was a bandleader and Harriet Hilliard was his lead singer, and when they got married in 1935 they also teamed up to create a popular radio show which made the transition to television in 1952. With the addition of their real-life sons David and Ricky, the Nelson family stayed on the air for sixteen years (1952-66) and 435 episodes.
Until recently, my only memory of "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" was that it was a boring, corny old show that existed only to give old fogeys something to watch. But thanks to my recent rediscovery of the show through some episodes included on a couple of those fifty-cent DVDs that I dug out of a budget bin, I found that it was anything but boring and corny. In fact, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" was one of the funniest and--dare I say it--hippest sitcoms of all time.
Now, with Mill Creek's 4-disc, 38-episode set, FUN WITH OZZIE AND HARRIET, you can enjoy several hours of their best episodes for less than ten bucks. (A 100-episode set from Mill Creek is due out in October.) Most of them focus on Ozzie, who had an amazingly restrained, laid-back, and exquisitely deadpan comedy style that never seems forced or false but is always funny. Hardly the perfect, know-it-all TV Dad people seem to remember him as, Ozzie is actually more of a kinder, gentler version of Homer Simpson. His main goals in life are to enjoy his family (we never find out where he works), have fun with his friends, and get out of doing household chores whenever possible.
Harriet, who seems to have acquired a reputation as one of those "yes, dear" Stepford wives of the 50s, is anything but. She may be the perfect wife and mother, and dress impeccably to perform her duties as a homemaker, but she also has a sharp sense of humor and a well of common sense that must often be relied upon to keep Ozzie out of trouble.
Rounding out the family are Dave and Ricky, who were 16 and 13 respectively at the show's inception and grew up on the air. Dave is the sensible, conservative older brother who has more in common with Ozzie, while Ricky is the little wiseacre with a burgeoning passion for rock and roll. Both are natural actors, never coming off as though they're reciting lines or "performing."
Ricky, in particular, is so preternaturally relaxed and unaffected in his demeanor that he comes off as one of the coolest characters in television history. As a kid, he could skillfully toss off snappy wisecracks and one-liners without seeming like a brat or a smartass, and in later years, his totally natural coolness puts the exaggerated, artificial greaser act of "The Fonz" to shame. Rarely does a TV performer have this much presence without having to expend the slightest conscious effort to do so.
When he began to develop as a singer and Ozzie started featuring his performances on the show--debuting with a rockabilly-tinged cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" in the episode "Ricky the Drummer"--it was the first time many viewers had ever seen real rock and roll presented in a positive light back in the days when many still considered it a harbinger of the downfall of America's youth. Ozzie caught a lot of flack for this, but as a music lover he was determined to present all kinds of music to the public with equal enthusiasm, whether it be big band, barbershop, cool jazz, or rock and roll.
And unlike other musical sitcom characters like the Bradys or the Partidge Family, the Nelsons were the real thing. (Ricky, in fact, would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.) Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky, and even David, who wasn't quite as musically inclined as the others, were frequently given the opportunity to display their talents, and their genuine love for music and performing always made it entertaining.
But what of the plots for these creaky old sitcom episodes? That's where a contemporary reassessment of the show yields its most pleasant surprises. "Seinfeld" may have become famous as "the show about nothing", but Ozzie and Harriet beat them to it by a few decades. The most inconsequential things, such as Ozzie having to clean out the garage or send back a couple of chairs that have been delivered to his house by mistake, can lead to a mind-boggling series of non-stop gags and one-liners.
"Tutti Frutti Ice Cream" finds Ozzie waking up in the middle of the night with such an intense craving for some tutti-frutti ice cream that he wakes up his next door neighbor Darby (Parley Baer) and they embark on a desperate all-night search for it all over town. Recalling a newspaper story in which a little lost boy was given tutti-frutti ice cream at the police station until his parents came to pick him up, Ozzie and Darby declare themselves lost and turn themselves in to the police, where they finally get some tutti-frutti ice cream. (Little Richard's hit song of the same name was actually inspired by viewing this episode!)
In "The Odd Bolt", Ozzie is going through a box that he uses to deposit odds and ends that he might need later, and comes across an unidentified bolt. His need to find out where the bolt is supposed to go becomes an all-day obsession as he tries to fit it into various things, until he ends up taking the motor of the family car apart. Still no luck. At last he goes to bed in defeat, and when the bed caves in, he finally realizes where the bolt was supposed to go.
Probably the most surreal story in the collection, "Ozzie's Triple Banana Surprise", is a stupefying trip through Ozzie's subconscious mind which begins when he devours two triple banana splits right before going to bed. The resulting nightmare is a labyrinth of baffling twists and turns in which Oz is never sure whether he's awake or asleep, or what's real and what's part of the dream. It could almost qualify as a comedy episode of "The Twilight Zone."
The one that really had me rolling on the floor, though, was "The Pajama Game." This one features Don Defore ("Hazel") as Ozzie's mischievous neighbor Thorny, a great character from the earlier years of the show. Oz and Thorny are planning an early fishing trip but the 5:00 a.m. wakeup time is making it hard for them to get to sleep. Somehow they each get locked out of their houses in their pajamas in the wee hours of the morning and have to sack out in the back of Ozzie's station wagon.
The next morning, Harriet, unaware that they are asleep in the back, drives to town to go shopping. When they wake up, they're in the middle of downtown in their pajamas and end up being chased by a cop and an indignant mob. While laughing my rear end off, I could just imagine the very same thing happening to Cosmo Kramer and George Costanza.
Amazingly, Ozzie Nelson produced and directed almost every episode of this show himself. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, he shot the show on 35mm film to give it a quality lacking in most other TV product of the time, and previewed the episodes in a rented movie theater so he could place laugh track cues according to actual audience responses.
Ozzie and his brother Don also co-wrote the scripts along with the likes of Jay Sommers, Perry Grant, and Dick Bensfield, who would go on to write for such classic comedies as "Green Acres", "The Andy Griffith Show", and "The Odd Couple."
In addition to Don Defore and Parley Baer, the supporting cast often features such familiar faces as Frank Cady (Sam Drucker of "Green Acres"), Hal Smith ("The Andy Griffith Show"s Otis Campbell), Lyle Talbot, James Stacy, and, of course, Skip Young as "Wally", plus the likes of John Carradine and Ben Johnson as guest stars. The DVD set includes many of the original commercials, some of which in addition to being fun to watch are just plain odd, and feature products like the "Prophylactic Toothbrush." (Make up your own joke.)
Despite the genial, easygoing nature of this show and its stars (I actually think watching it might lower your blood pressure), it's one of the funniest and downright wackiest comedy series I've ever seen. The Nelsons are like the flip side of the Simpsons, but in their own inimitable way they're just as funny and lovable as their cartoon counterparts.
Even if you're a fan of more off-the-hook stuff like "The Simpsons" and "Married w/Children", as I am, there's no reason not to derive equal delight from the homespun, family-oriented hijinks of Ozzie and Harriet. I'm glad I rediscovered them, and if you've yet to do so, FUN WITH OZZIE AND HARRIET is a great place to start.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 1:56 PM
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Watching THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958) for the first time since my initial afternoon-TV viewing as a kid, I was bowled over by what a finely-wrought and effective low-budget vampire thriller it is. The stage is set by its spooky opening titles (Dracula's eyes stare out at us during the familiar strains of "Dies Irae") and it only gets better.
In the midst of all the the giant radioactive creatures, alien invaders, and revisionist updates of old classic horror themes which dominated 50s genre films, this atmospheric black-and-white chiller seems like a holdover from the fabulous 40s and lacks only the production gloss of the Universals (although it still beats the likes of SHE-WOLF OF LONDON by a country mile).
Directed by Paul Landres and written by Pat Fielder (THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD), both of whom also gave us the creepy John Beal shocker THE VAMPIRE, the story begins with an enigmatic Count Dracula (Francis Lederer) escaping pursuit in Europe by assuming the identity of an artist named Bellac Gordal who is traveling to the United States to live with American relatives. (Norbert Schiller, who played "Shuter" in FRANKENSTEIN 1970 and also appeared in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, is seen briefly as the real Bellac.)
Once there, the sinister impostor's curdled charm will entrance the kindly and vivacious young Rachel Mayberry (Norma Eberhardt, surprisingly effective in the role) who finds him dashing and worldly despite his odd behavior (he disappears during daylight hours and refuses to participate in any social activites).
This elicits jealousy and suspicion from Rachel's hot-rodder boyfriend Tim (Ray Stricklyn) although her naive, trusting mother Cora (Greta Granstedt) and kid brother Mickey (Jimmy Baird) are much slower on the uptake.
Never having seen Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT, to which this is often compared, I see THE RETURN OF DRACULA as sort of a companion piece to Universal's 1943 Lon Chaney, Jr. classic, SON OF DRACULA. In both films, the Count takes up residence in smalltown America (in SON, it's the bayou country of Louisiana) and wreaks havoc with the locals while a vampire expert joins forces with a resident authority figure (in this case a priest) to combat the encroaching evil.
Francis Lederer makes a very imposing Dracula with his commanding yet subtle presence and his air of dark continental decadence, clearly taking a perverse relish in the act of corrupting the innocent. In fact, as soon as Rachel tells him about Jennie (THE HILLS HAVE EYES' Virginia Vincent), the poor, bed-ridden blind girl she's been taking care of at the parish house run by Reverend Whitfield (Gage Clarke), this vile creature of darkness wastes no time making her his first victim.
The hapless Jennie's violation as Dracula enters her bedroom shrouded in mist is nightmarish--Dracula bestows on her the ability to "see" him advancing toward her as she lies helpless--but nothing compared to Jennie's fate when, after transforming into the living dead herself, she's followed by relentless vampire hunter John Merriman (John Wengraf) back to her crypt to be staked in a shocking color insert.
Along with some good jump scares, several scenes are memorably eerie and disturbing. The opening scenes with Merriman and company closing in on Dracula in a shadowy European cemetery at dawn are so tense and well-staged it's almost as though Quentin Tarantino were guest director.
Later, Rachel's ongoing seduction by "Cousin Bellac" results in several chilling scenes and close calls--in one, the blare of Tim's car horn snaps her out of a hypnotic reverie and prevents her from joining Dracula in the nearby cave where his coffin resides. It's here that the teen lovers will fight a losing battle against the Lord of the Undead in a suspenseful climax.
THE RETURN OF DRACULA is highly recommended for anyone who appreciates classic horror. In my opinion, this superior 50s effort--be it ever so humble--is one of the finest Dracula/vampire movies ever made.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 3:55 PM
Saturday, January 18, 2014
In THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1944), it's great to see Bela Lugosi playing Dracula again (his name, technically, is Armand Tesla, but I choose to pretty much disregard that particular detail), and he obviously relishes the chance to don the old cape once more.
The wartime England setting is effective in this relatively fast-paced film, and there's a lot of spooky atmosphere. Frieda Inescort makes a strong impression as a female Van Helsing equivalent, doing her best to track down the vampire before he ruins the lives of her son and his fiancee, played by a cute young Nina Foch. Matt Willis is Tesla's werewolf slave, Andreas, who gets a couple of cool Chaney-like transformation scenes.
[spoiler] It's a little strange to see Tesla knocked cold by a bomb blast in the final scenes, but when Andreas drags him out into the sunlight soon afterward he decomposes rather nicely. [/spoiler]
While Tesla no doubt lacks some of the class of the original Dracula character, I like to think of him as Dracula gone to seed, as though time and trevails have finally started wearing away his immortality and suave veneer, and made him a little more desperate -- not unlike the state of Lugosi's career at that point.
The story is dead serious (barring a strangely whimsical, fourth-wall-breaking ending) and filled with atmospheric sets (the cemetery is outstanding) and spooky situations. A scene between Inescort and Lugosi's characters about midway through the film is one of the most startling and excitingly staged encounters in any classic vampire film.
THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE is also considered by many to be as close to a "Dracula vs. the Wolf Man" movie as we ever got except for the climax of "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" which briefly pits the two Universal monsters against each other.
Matt Willis' Andreas gains audience sympathy as the unwilling werewolf slave to Tesla, while the lovely Nina Foch is quite endearing as the object of the vampire's perverse lust. A young Jeanne Bates is seen briefly as Tesla's first victim.
Although a comparatively minor production released by Columbia, THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE is a good companion to the Universal "Dracula" films and should prove to be a very satisfying viewing experience for any fan of classic horror. What's more, it's really fun to see Lugosi hamming it up once again in a part that's as close to a genuine sequel to DRACULA as he was ever allowed to play.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 1:29 PM
Friday, January 17, 2014
If you're going to make a movie in which one-third of the world's population dies of a plague, you might as well make them zombies, too.
KNIGHT OF THE DEAD (2013) does just that--and not too badly, either, for a low-budget flick with a no-name cast and a director whose biggest credits so far are the JACK THE GIANT KILLER remake and assorted SyFy Channel titles. Many of Mark Atkins' other films, in fact, are so wretchedly-reviewed on IMDb that I fear this one may have gotten sucked into the same black hole generated by them (with a current score of less than three out of ten) even though it doesn't quite deserve to be.
The year is 1349, the Black Death is in full swing in medieval Great Britain, and four knights and a priest have just been tasked to deliver no less than the Holy Grail itself to--well, Priest Central, I guess. Since the Black Plague was the most fun and exciting of all the plagues, we're guaranteed no end of boils and pustules and an overall air of absolute squalor, sort of like in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL but without the fun and frivolity.
Fortunately for monster fans, though--and especially those who look forward to each new zombie flick that comes off the conveyor belt these days--KNIGHT OF THE DEAD goes the plague one better by having a goodly number of its victims come back as flesh-eating ghouls, who are then banished by the thousands to a desolate valley that just happens to be right in the middle of the route our hero priest Leuthar (Feth Greenwood) and his four swashbuckling companions--Anzo, Raphael, Gabriel, and Bjorn--must take in order to complete their quest.
This results in an elegant sufficiency of full-scale zombie attacks on Leuthar and the knights which deliver the goods right down to the traditional gang-chomps and entrail feasts you'll find in Romero's works as well as those of his successors. (The only difference besides the costumes is the fact that we can be pretty sure this zombie plague wasn't caused by a satellite returning from Venus.)
Director Atkins stages these sword-slinging, blood-gushing battles in an uneven style that looks pretty cool one moment but slapdash and poorly edited the next. Still, things are kept mostly at a nice brisk pace save for a few lags during the dialogue scenes. But even these maintain our interest fairly well due to some fairly good performances, interesting characters, and some dramatic situations involving people being bitten and facing the prospect of returning as undead creatures themselves.
Further conflict is generated when the knights rescue a boil-bedecked damsel from the clutches of a molesting cad and, in killing him, raise the ire of his ruthlessly vengeful clan led by the not-very-nice Calon (George McCluskey) and his toady Cybron (Alf Thompson). While these hostile characters on on their trail, they also run across a relatively winsome young woman named Badriyah (the appealing Vivien Vilela in her debut) whom they must decide is either an ally leading them safely through the valley or a witch leading them to their doom.
Even with all of this going on, screenwriters Atkins (who also is credited with the cinematography) and Jeffrey Giles find time to squeeze in an odd (in a nice sort of way) love scene between two characters who become unexpectedly smitten with each other. This final two (in reality-TV lingo) must fight to the death in the modestly rousing finale, against both the living and the dead, with bleak and desolate Welsh locations serving as a terrific backdrop which the filmmakers use to excellent advantage.
Production values are always passable (barring a floppy rubber sword here and there among other gaffes) and often richly atmospheric, including a nifty pre-titles sequence which gives us a quick rundown of the Black Death highlights leading up to our current events. The film is never slick-looking but the visuals have a gritty realism and rhythm that compels our interest for most of the running time.
Zombie makeup effects and even some CGI shots are well done. As for the score, it's dynamic and exciting despite being assembled from myriad sources including library cues.
The DVD from Inception Media Group is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16 x 9 (1.78:1) and 5.1 digital surround sound. No subtitles, but closed captions are available. The barebones menu offers only two selections--"Play Movie" and "Play Trailer."
I enjoyed KNIGHT OF THE DEAD for what it is--a well-rendered B movie that impresses by being considerably better than it could have, or perhaps even should have been. Several IMDb users seem to totally disagree, but I'm going to go along with me on this one.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 10:25 PM
FEAR AND PARANOIA ARE JUST THE BEGINNING IN “THE INSOMNIAC” STARRING DANNY TREJO, CLARE GRANT & JOHN HEARD
On January 21, Grand Entertainment Releases The Psychological Thriller From Eddy Salazar On DVD
Hot off its nationwide theatrical run, Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), an independent multi-platform content and distribution company, will release the much anticipated indie thriller “The Insomniac” on DVD January 21.
Winner of Best Screenplay at Breckenridge Festival of Film and Action on Film, and Official Selection at both Fort Lauderdale and Dances with Films, “The Insomniac” is directed by Monty Miranda, stars Eddy Salazar (Mansion of Blood); Clare Grant (Black Snake Moan); John Heard (Assault on Wall Streets); Keith Szarabajka (Argo); Alimi Ballard (Fast Five); Romina (Stealing Roses); Brett DelBuono (The Cleaner); Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Project), and Danny Trejo (Machete).
Only in Hollywood, would a real-life nightmare turn into an acclaimed independent film. After experiencing traumatic events in his own life, a home invasion and the tragic loss of both his parents, actor and author Eddy Salazar, was inspired to write the psychological thriller “The Insomniac.”
The film taps into the psychological torment of John Figg (Eddy Salazar), after someone breaks into his home and takes all of his material and sentimental possessions. This turn of events drives him to a place of desperation and he develops a severe case of insomnia. Blinded by the insomnia-induced madness, he learns that the people around him are not as trustworthy as they appear to be. From that incident on, his life follows only one theme: “When you don’t know who to trust, sleep with both eyes open.
The DVD will include bonus features and will be available at most major retailers and Amazon.com for $19.98 MSRP.
Grand Entertainment Group (GEG), launched in early 2012, as a complete destination for programming. With the ability to distribute DVD; digital; streaming; television and limited theatricals, Grand Entertainment gives filmmakers and their films the platform they deserve. GEG is a subsidiary of Grand Distribution Group, which produces and distributes diversified products, services, and technologies. With a line-up of films slated for 2014, GEG is moving forward in a "Grand Way.”
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 12:16 PM
Saturday, January 11, 2014
(NOTE: This review originally appeared online at Bumscorner in 2006.)
Celia's mother died giving birth to her, so she doesn't exactly celebrate birthdays. When her milestone 21st rolls around, her friend Justine convinces her to attend a frat party. "C'mon, your birthday isn't cursed," she assures her. Suuure it isn't. Celia doesn't know it yet, but she's about to enter a nightmare world in which she may be eternally--here it comes--LEFT IN DARKNESS (2006).
I didn't know what to expect when I started watching this, so my first impression after a few minutes was "I'm not going to like this movie." The party scenes are harsh and loud, filled with shallow people I wouldn't want to be around and obnoxiously shot and edited.
Then it dawned on me that they were supposed to have this effect--this is one of those parties you have to be drunk, stoned, and stupid to enjoy.
Celia isn't having a very good time, especially after some kids playing with a Ouija board come up with the message "GO HOME CELIA." But then she meets Doug (Chris Engen), a handsome, charming young fellow who seems really nice. He gives her a tour of the frat house which winds up in an old wine cellar.
But when she begins to feel woozy, it dawns on her that she's been drugged. She passes out, then comes to just long enough to find Doug on top of her, humping away, and hears a voice say, "Hey, dude--I think she's O.D.in'!" Happy 21st birthday...
Some time later Celia wakes up on the floor of a shower stall in a dingy bathroom. She groggily gets to her feet and goes to the door, but it won't open. When she turns around, she sees something rather startling--her own dead body, lying in the shower stall.
This is where LEFT IN DARKNESS suddenly takes a sharp turn into "Twilight Zone" territory and finally begins to reveal itself as an intriguing and very well-made supernatural thriller.
When Celia makes her way into the rest of the house, she finds it empty, although distant music can still be heard. She runs outside and comes face-to-face with her dear, departed Grandpa (Tim Thomerson), who died a year earlier after having raised her since birth. How wonderful! That is, until he turns into a grotesque, slavering monster and starts coming after her.
She runs back into the house, where she meets Donovan (David Anders), whom she remembers from childhood as her mysterious "guardian angel." He explains that she's dead, and that creatures called "soul eaters" are after her. They require a steady diet of fresh souls to stay out of Hell, and once they've eaten your soul, they can take on your appearance, as in the case of good ol' Grandpa.
But for the next two hours, Celia will be protected by a heavenly light that the soul eaters can't enter. And if she can locate "the source", which is somewhere inside the house, it will take her to Heaven. If not, she will eventually become a soul-eater Scooby-snack and end up in the bad place for eternity.
This isn't your usual low-budget horror flick made by people who just want to stick something together to make a buck. It looks great--the camerawork, lighting, and set design are excellent, as is the score by Corey A. Jackson--and Steven Monroe (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake, 12 DISASTERS) is a skilled director working with a screenplay that is full of imaginative ideas.
The story keeps getting more interesting as it goes along, introducing new elements such as Celia's ability to observe the events of the "real" world in mirrors--which is where she sees one of Doug's creepy friends trying to get Justine to drink some beer spiked with the same stuff that killed her earlier. Celia also discovers that she can now manipulate the Ouija board and send messages to the living--one of the perks of being dead.
But her two hours are almost up, and suspense mounts as she tries to find the source while her protective light begins to dim and the soul eaters break into the house. Donovan tells her that her only salvation is to enter the old wine cellar, which now appears as the most dark and forboding room in the entire house. But can she trust him?
This is the sort of story that could've turned out pretty bad in less competent hands, but the talents behind LEFT IN DARKNESS keep it on track all the way. The cast is particularly good, especially Monica Keena (FREDDY VS. JASON) as Celia. She doesn't make much of an impression at first, but as soon as the story moves into the spirit realm, she's awesome.
David Anders plays Donovan with a great deal of subtlety and is eerily effective where a lesser actor might have gone over the top--you're never really sure what Donovan's thinking or what his true motives may be. And Tim Thomerson, of course, is the gift that just keeps on giving. Warm and comforting as Grandpa, then terrifying when revealed to be a soul eater, Tim moves from one extreme to the other with ease.
Surprisingly, as revealed in the highly entertaining commentary track which features director Monroe and line producer John Duffy, this is the first film in which Tim ever had to wear extensive makeup, and he was less than thrilled by the process.
I wasn't expecting a great movie when I popped this into the DVD player, but for a straight-to-video chiller, LEFT IN DARKNESS comes close enough to make me glad I did. I'll definitely be revisiting this one from time to time in the future.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 6:06 PM
Thursday, January 9, 2014
ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT and THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY PRESENT "THE GRANDMASTER" ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD
Wong Kar Wai’s latest film, THE GRANDMASTER, stars Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang and kicks into retail on March 4, 2014 for an SRP of $29.99 for the Blu-ray™ and $24.98 for the DVD
“A hypnotically beautiful dream” - Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES
“Tony Leung gives a magnetic performance. Ziyi Zhang is luminous.”- Stephanie Zacharek, VILLAGE VOICE
“Visually exquisite” - John Anderson, NEWSDAY
“Wong doesn’t make movies that evaporate as you watch them. He crafts movies you live and breathe in until they’re absorbed in your system. In short, his movies are the stuff that dreams are made of.” -Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company announced today the Blu-ray™ and DVD release of THE GRANDMASTER from writer and director Wong Kar Wai (HAPPY TOGETHER, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE AND MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS). Presented by Martin Scorsese, THE GRANDMASTER, recently made the Oscar Best Foreign-Language Film Shortlist as Hong Kong's submission. The film is currently available on all major digital retailers, Video On-Demand and on Pay-Per-View services.
From acclaimed director/writer Wong Kar Wai comes an epic tale inspired by the life of the warrior hero who taught Bruce Lee. Asian superstar Tony Leung (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE) portrays legendary Kung Fu master Ip Man, who survived the turmoil of 1930s China to change the world of martial arts forever. Ziyi Zhang (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) and Chang Chen (RED CLIFF) co-star in this visually stunning saga of love, honor and vengeance, featuring breathtaking action choreography by Yuen Wo Ping (THE MATRIX, KILL BILL).
THE GRANDMASTER Blu-ray™ and DVD special features include THE GRANDMASTER: From Ip Man to Bruce Lee, A Conversation with Shannon Lee (Daughter of Bruce Lee), THE GRANDMASTER: According to RZA and Behind the Scenes footage.
THE GRANDMASTER BLU-RAY™
Street date: March 4, 2014
Catalog #: BD61155
Run time: 108 Minutes
Audio: 5.1 DTSHD-MA
Languages: Mandarin Chinese with English Subtitles, English, English Subtitles For The Deaf &
Hearing Impaired & Spanish Subtitles
THE GRANDMASTER DVD
Street date: March 4, 2014
Catalog #: WC61154
Run time: 108 Minutes
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: Mandarin Chinese with English Subtitles, English, English Subtitles For The Deaf &
Hearing Impaired & Spanish Subtitles
Learn more about THE GRANDMASTER at: www.thegrandmasterfilm.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 9:50 AM
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
If one disaster makes for an exciting movie, then twelve of them would be twelve times more exciting, right? Well...we're talking about the SyFy Channel here, and 12 DISASTERS (2012) is just the same old story they've been rehashing for years only with some slightly different but equally rinky-dink CGI.
Ed Quinn (BEHEMOTH) heads a cast dotted with several SyFy vets as rugged family man Joseph, whose 18-year-old daughter Jacey (Magda Apanowicz, SNOWMAGEDDON) turns out to be the "chosen one" in a long line of mystical women going all the way back to the Mayans. She's the one who will have to stop the ancient Mayan prediction of the end of the world on 12/21/2012, as foretold in--brace yourselves--the Christmas carol "The 12 Days of Christmas." (The film's original title, as you might guess, was "The 12 Disasters of Christmas.")
You're probably singing that to yourself right now but it won't really help until you get to the part about the "five gold rings", which Jacey and her dad must locate and which are buried (for some damn reason I couldn't figure out) in secret locations all around their remote, rustic town (the usual Canadian location subbing for the U.S. Northwest). Only with all five rings can Jacey ward off the impending twelve disasters which will destroy the earth.
We never really understand what the rest of the world has to fear since the disasters only affect their own small town, and most of them don't even qualify as "disasters." There's a bad-CGI tornado, a mild earthquake, and some pretty cool giant ice shards that rain down out of the sky and skewer a few citizens (including Joseph's mom).
At one point, a crack in the earth releases some red gas that disintegrates a few bad guys who are under the impression that they can save themselves by sacrificing Jacey by fire (including the typical evil industrialist played by Roark Critchlow of EARTH'S FINAL HOURS).
Another fissure in the earth's crust releases a sort of heat force-field that fries anything that tries to pass through it, including some really poorly-rendered rescue helicopters. The most interesting "disaster", for me anyway, is a rapidly-spreading cold wave that flash-freezes everything in its path, but we only get to see a few selected townspeople get turned into ice statues. This is mainly due to the fact that these scenes don't feature a whole lot of extras.
Probably the dumbest-looking of the various deadly perils is a string of out-of-control Christmas lights that wrap themselves around a hapless victims and zap him to death in what might be Clark Griswold's worst nightmare.
The final and supposedly deadliest disaster occurs, as it so often does in these flicks, up in the mountains, where some meager volcanic effects billow and spew as Jacey and her dad scramble to locate the last ring.
Their quest to do so gets decidedly tiresome in the film's second half, as Critchlow's character menaces them while his cowardly cohort Jude (Andrew Airlie, APOLLO 18, "Defying Gravity") holds Joseph's wife Mary (Holly Elissa, ICE QUAKE) and son Peter (Ryan Grantham, ICE QUAKE) hostage. (But at least you can pass the time picking out all of the script's obvious Biblical references.)
Director Steven R. Monroe of 2010's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and its sequel (as well as 2006's LEFT IN DARKNESS) turns in a passable but rushed job of bringing the screenplay by writer Rudy Thauberger (SNOWMAGEDDON) to a semblance of life. Performances range from okay to not-so-great, with Magda Apanowicz as Jacey managing to work up the most convincing displays of emotion.
As Grant, an old codger who tries in vain to warn everyone of the impending doom, is veteran actor Donnelly Rhodes, whose mile-long list of credits includes playing the gambler who accuses Robert Redford of cheating in the opening minutes of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.
The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish. No extras.
If you catch 12 DISASTERS in the right mood, you'll probably get some "bad-movie" enjoyment out of it. At any rate, most of us pretty much know just what to expect from these SyFy Channel "end-of-the-world" flicks and whether or not we want to waste precious moments of our lives watching them.
Buy it at Amazon.com
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 6:14 PM