HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jamie Lee Curtis Recording Session for HALLOWEEN COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu-ray Deluxe Edition



Work continues on the HALLOWEEN COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu-ray set...

Bonus features continue to be added on a daily basis, and an announcement is forthcoming outlining all the great newly produced interviews, featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage and more that will be included in the 15-disc Deluxe Edition.

So, as we near our nation's birthday, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes photo of the actress who helped launched the historic franchise -- Jamie Lee Curtis, as she sat down with HALLOWEEN H20 director Steve Miner (r) and moderator Sean Clark (c) for a new commentary track and interview that you'll hear and see starting September 23rd!

Thanks and have a safe and Happy 4th of July!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

TORMENT -- DVD review by porfle



Sometimes a movie starts out really good but then begins to suffer from something known as "Goes-On-Too-Long" syndrome. The horror-thriller TORMENT (2013) falls victim to this dreaded malady sometime after the halfway mark--which is a shame because up till then, it really had me going.

Robin Dunne (TEENAGE SPACE VAMPIRES, CRUEL INTENTIONS 2) plays Cory Morgan, a widower whose young son Liam (Peter DaCunha, THE BARRENS) is having a hard time accepting his new mom, Sarah (Katharine Isabelle, CARRIE 2002, AMERICAN MARY, GINGER SNAPS). The newlyweds hope this will change when they all spend some quality family time in Cory's rustic vacation cottage dead in the middle of Sticksville.

What they don't know is that another nearby house was the scene of some horrible murders that we got to see during the opening scene, and since Cory and Sarah just found evidence that someone else has been living in their cottage, the whole set-up starts to give us, the viewer, what various Star Wars characters usually refer to as "a bad feeling about this."


The local sheriff (played by old pro Stephen McHattie) advises them to "turn on a few lights", to which they respond by keeping one of the darkest houses I've ever seen in a film. I kept wanting to advise Cory to heed Sarah's instincts to get back in their SUV and get the hell out of Home Invasion-ville, but I've yet to find a way of getting movie characters to listen to me.

There are some great creepy touches--earlier, Sarah hears Liam playing with his talking toy robots in his room, and then that night after Liam's disappearance she hears the same toys talking in his room again. Later, after safely barricading herself in the bedroom against unknown assailants, she'll hear another sound outside the door which, again, might be the missing boy. Of course, she has to investigate, and...

Director Jordan Barker, whose earlier THE MARSH was another partially but not entirely successful horror flick that took place in a rural setting, takes his time establishing all of this, slowly building a sense of impending dread that works mainly because he doesn't tip his hand too early.


That is, at least not until things hit the fan about halfway through when the Morgans' frantic search for the missing Liam just goes from bad to worse. For ten minutes or so, TORMENT is painfully tense and frightening, and almost unbearably suspenseful. It's as though some of the scariest elements from films such as HALLOWEEN, THE STRANGERS, and even THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN were combined with the potential of terrifying us.

We get some very effectively scary glimpses of the bad guys (I'm not going to describe them any more than that except to say there's a new twist on the "mask" thing that's just way creepier than regular Halloween masks) although their identities remain a mystery to us. Unfortunately, as soon as the main bad guy opens his mouth and starts talking to a bound Cory, hinting at his rather uninteresting and even mundane motives, the film loses its buoyancy and starts settling back to earth.

After that, everything just starts following the old "elude the omnipresent stalker(s)" formula that we've seen a thousand times before until one of those big none-too-convincing showdowns. Even when the story tries to end with a big twist, it just comes off kind of flat. It's a shame too, since the initial set-up was so promising.


The cast is fine--even the youngest member, Peter DaCunha as Liam, gives an assured performance. Best of the bunch is familiar genre actress Katharine Isabelle, who just keeps getting better with time. (I remember her best as the vile Tina from the 2002 CARRIE remake while GINGER SNAPS and AMERICAN MARY fans will know her from those films.) She's convincing here as a caring young stepmom who has to "step" up to defend her kid against a terrifying menace.

The DVD from Vertical Entertainment is in 16 x 9 (2.40:1) widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. I reviewed a screener and can't comment on extras, if any.

TORMENT is worth checking out for the first half alone--it would've made a great short film if it had ended during its peak. Unfortunately, it sticks around too long like a houseguest who refuses to go home even after we've started to nod off.

Buy it at Amazon.com

Now available on VOD
DVD street date: July 15

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"HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL" Graduates to Blu-ray and DVD August 26th from Olive Films



BEWARE:IT’S A TEENAGE JUNGLE OUT THERE!

OLIVE FILMS RELEASES
HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL!

ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD AUGUST 26, 2014


Newly remastered in HD and on Blu-ray™ for the First Time!


Chicago, IL – Olive Films releases, one of the wildest, rockinest, flipped-out flicks of the ‘50s, High School Confidential!, on Blu-Ray™ and DVD August 26th. Directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man) and released in 1958, this is one of the most memorable and iconic B-movies of all time and remains a campy cult classic with its exploitation essentials of bad girls, fast cars and raunchy rock and roll. Part crime story and part teenage delinquency drama, High School Confidential! is an unforgettable piece of trashy film history that was awarded a Golden Raspberry Award as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.

Fanning the flames of Eisenhower America's growing paranoia High School Confidential! is the quintessential juvenile delinquency film that celebrates the very sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll culture it pretends to condemn. Staring Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) as Tony Baker, the new kid at Santa Bellow High, whose cocky attitude and ambitious weed-dealing enable him to infiltrate the gang of a local narcotics boss played by Jackie Coogan ("The Addams Family"). But High School Confidential! is much more than a hardboiled crime picture. It's is a pop-culture touchstone, a Rebel Without a Cause without the angst, The Wild One, but even wilder!


High School Confidential! features the sexy and shapely Mamie Van Doren in her most outrageous role wrapped in tight sweaters that would make Ed Wood jealous! The opening sequence with a piano pounding performance of the theme song by Jerry Lee Lewis on a flatbed truck is one that still sizzles and shakes. High School Confidential! is the hippest, hottest thrill ride around – and these crazy cats and kittens must be seen to be believed!

About Olive Films
 
Olive Films was founded in 2003 by Farhad Arshad as a boutique theatrical and distribution label. Currently located in Chicago, Illinois, its catalog boasts over 500 titles cultivated from the libraries of Paramount, Republic, Warner and HBO and includes such Hollywood classics as the Oscar® winners High Noon starring Gary Cooper and John Ford’s The Quiet Man starring John Wayne, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Kevin McCarthy, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 starring Robert DeNiro, the John Wayne classics Rio Grande, McLintock! and Sands of Iwo Jima, along with such contemporary classics as Stephen King’s Cujo, the Wachowski’s Bound, The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ironweed starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.

High School Confidential! Blu-ray™
Street Date: August 26, 2014
Pre-book: July 21, 2014
Cat. #: OF798
UPC: 887090079808
Run Time: 85 Minutes
Rating: N/A
SRP: $29.95
Format: 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio; B&W
Audio: Mono
Subtitles: N/A

High School Confidential! DVD
Street Date: August 26, 2014
Pre-book: July 21, 2014
Cat. #: OF797
UPC: 887090079709
Run Time: 85 Minutes
Rating: N/A
SRP: $24.95
Format: 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio; B&W
Audio: Mono
Subtitles: N/A

Buy it at Amazon.com:

Blu-ray
DVD

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Friday, June 27, 2014

INVASION OF THE SCREAM QUEENS -- DVD review by porfle




This is one of those documentaries in which you're either very interested in the subject, and thus won't mind so much sitting through eighty some-odd minutes of talking heads with the occasional film clip...OR, you have no interest whatsoever in scream queens or the movies they appear in or a documentary about them, in which case it's unlikely you'll ever find yourself watching director Donald Farmer's INVASION OF THE SCREAM QUEENS (Wild Eye Releasing, 1992) anyway.

Of course, if you're in the first group, then these are some pretty nice talking heads and chances are what most of them have to say will have you perking up your ears. This is because (a) these ladies are just plain fun to look at, and (b) anyone with a passion for B-movies, and especially low-budget horror flicks, will find inside info and anecdotes here that are quite engaging.

I wish I could say this is true of the entire film. Unfortunately, it alternates between the good and the not so good, since some of these actresses tend to be on the yakky side and it's not all riveting stuff. Plus, I was surprised to find so few film clips on display to spice up some of these monologues--indeed, although we hear about the making of several movies, we rarely actually get to see scenes from them. And a number of them aren't even what I would consider "scream queen" material anyway.


One disadvantage I had in watching this is that I never really sampled a wide variety of films of this nature, choosing instead to pick a few favorite actresses and concentrate exclusively on renting their videos (or watching heavily edited versions of them on "USA Up All Night"). So the best passages, for me, are the ones in which they're onscreen talking about movies and filmmakers that I'm familiar with. This includes Michelle Bauer (my all-time favorite scream queen), Martine Beswick, Brinke Stevens, and the venerable Mary Woronov. (Linnea Quigley is conspicuous in her absence here.)

Michelle Bauer tells us how she got started in the B-movie biz after meeting Fred Olen Ray during a "Playboy" video shoot. She's strikes me as the most talented and professional of the bunch (with the exception of Mary Woronov), although this may be entirely due to the fact that I've had the hots for her ever since the day I first rented HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS.

Always lovely Martine Beswick talks about the catfight scene with Raquel Welch from ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and also her co-starring role in another well-remembered Hammer production, DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (from which we actually get to see a lengthy film clip). Later, another familiar face, Elizabeth Kaitan, speaks at length from the balcony of her apartment.


Perky Janus Blythe is almost unrecognizable as the actress who played Ruby in THE HILLS HAVE EYES for Wes Craven and has some stories about working with snakes and meeting Jonathan Demme on the set. Soft-spoken Melissa Moore turns out to be both cute and captivating as she relates her experiences working with Roger Corman and getting to appear with BLOOD FEAST's Fuad Ramses himself, Mal Arnold.

Several other women are featured as well, including Ruth Collins (LITTLE DEVILS), Goth-y sisters Marya Gant (A POLISH VAMPIRE IN BURBANK) and Katina Garner (HALLOWEEN NIGHTS), Deborah Stern of Mark Pirro's NUDIST COLONY OF THE DEAD, and writer-star Vivian Schilling (TERROR EYES, SOULTAKER).

The stories these women tell are interesting because they're real behind-the-scenes accounts of their experiences making B-movies, rather than pre-written Bruce Vilanch-style quips for them to recite. Most of the participants speak in a warm, relaxed manner in which they let their natural charm come through rather than having to do shtick for the camera.


Video and sound quality are on par with an old VHS tape you might stick in the machine after finding it lying under a couch cushion for several years. (Some parts may have you reflexively reaching to adjust your tracking.) The videotape-level visuals don't bother me at all--in fact, they're rather appropriate even though some of the clips look like third generation dubs--but the sound made me wince a few times. (This may have been due to my watching a screener, however.) There are rough transitions and, overall, the casual, unpolished air of home video.

There's a lot to like for fans of these actresses and their movies in INVASION OF THE SCREAM QUEENS. For me, however, there just wasn't enough of it, and too much tiresome footage that threatened to yakkity-yak me to sleep. So as much as I gained from watching it, I must admit that I was a little relieved when it finally ended.


(NOTE: I reviewed a screener without the extras. The official disc should include a new 2013 interview with Donald Farmer, deleted/extended interviews from the original production, and an excerpt featuring Linnea Quigley from the out of print book that started it all, "Invasion of the Scream Queens.")

Buy it at Amazon.com


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Thursday, June 26, 2014

ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE VHS COLLECTOR -- DVD review by porfle



First of all--just as most pre-recorded VHS tapes begin with an "FBI Warning", I feel as though I should start my review of ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE VHS COLLECTOR (2013) with an "FYI Warning." In short...if you're a "normal" person who doesn't understand the obsessive nature of fandom and/or collecting, chances are this documentary about rabid VHS tape collectors will not only be uninteresting to you, but puzzling and even off-putting as well.

If, however, you share even a fraction of these guys' nostalgia for the glory days of VCRs and video stores, and can empathize with their enthusiasm due to some collecting obsession of your own, then you'll probably find this gushing fanboy love letter to VHS of more than passing interest.

As for me, I bought my first clunky top-loading Magnavox VCR in 1981, as soon as my first real job afforded me the means to do so (about $600), because for me it was the realization of a lifelong dream--the ability to actually record my favorite movies and TV shows, and to put whatever I wanted to on my TV whenever I wanted to watch it.


There were no video stores in town yet, but the appliance store where I bought my VCR had a tiny bookshelf of rental tapes. I got two free ones with my purchase and chose THE GRADUATE and WHERE'S POPPA? After setting up my new VCR at home, my excitement over pushing that big "play" button and seeing the "Magnetic Video" logo pop onto my TV screen at my own bidding was something I'll never forget. That night, I used one of my two free RCA blank tapes to record ALIEN from HBO, marveling at the fact that I could then rewind the tape and watch it again and again.

My tape collection grew quicky as those $25 RCA blank tapes (which were so solidly made that they still play well to this day) gave way to ten-dollar bundles of cheap blank tapes from Wal-Mart, and pre-recorded movies came down in price from $70-100 apiece (priced to sell mostly to video rental stores) to around $20 when a mass market for them was discovered. And the spread of the mom 'n' pop "hole in the wall" video store gave me plenty of tapes to make copies of as soon as I was able to buy a second VCR in '84.

As Troma's Lloyd Kaufman states (other commentators include Fangoria's Tony Timpone, Keith "The Bloody Ape" Crocker, Wild Eye's Rob Hauschild, and our own 42nd St. Pete, along with various authors and video store owners), video stores in those days were "like bookstores." Each one had its own individual ambience and unique selection of movies. But when big, impersonal Blockbuster came along and started driving the little guys out of business, they started selling off their stock at reduced prices. Like many others, I began buying up a lot of these tapes while they lasted.


Because of all this, I can relate to the stories told by the tape collectors in ADJUST YOUR TRACKING and easily share in their nostalgia for the medium of VHS. These guys, however, take it to a whole different, overtly obsessive level that will amuse and amaze.

Many of them, in fact, have recreated the video store experience in their own homes with massive collections displayed on shelves that take up several rooms. One guy has even created his own video store dubbed "Bradco Video" in his basement, including actual store shelves and a checkout counter. Others chatter at length about their methods of categorizing, alphabetizing, and obtaining rare titles, sometimes for hundreds of dollars (a rare piece-of-crap horror flick called TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE went for almost $700 on eBay).

The collectors bask in the physical attributes of VHS, especially the mostly cheapo-looking covers which they often value more than their contents. They talk excitedly about the different distribution companies such as Vestron, Magnetic, and the popular favorite, Wizard (I still have a few of those myself). They trade stories about rare finds at flea markets, conventions, and going-out-of-business sales, and the physical sensation derived from such "lowbrow archeology" ("It feels like getting your first boner").


While the drive to collect and preserve the medium of VHS may seem merely obsessive to many, the fact remains that many films are still available solely on tape and not on DVD and are in danger of becoming lost.

Only time will tell if these torch-carriers' efforts are in vain, or if VHS will resume its place in pop culture the way the vinyl record album has (but in which the 8-track tape has not).

As for me, I resisted the encroachment of the DVD in the late 90s until I was finally won over by the medium and allowed my once-avid interest in videotape to wane. But for the hardcore enthusiasts of ADJUST YOUR TRACKING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE VHS COLLECTOR, there is only the delirious pleasure of taking a slab of plastic out of a crudely-decorated box and inserting it into a clunky machine, and watching something which, like life itself, is full of crackles, drop-outs, and other imperfections, and for which adjusting the tracking periodically is simply part of the fun.

(NOTE: I reviewed a screener without the extras. The 2-disc set should include a co-directors' commentary, a producers' commentary, extended interviews, a behind-the-scenes documentary, three short films by the directors, deleted scenes, festival Q & A footage, trailers, and Easter eggs. )

Buy it at Amazon.com

Buy the exclusive DVD/VHS combo pack

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE -- DVD review by porfle




For those unfamiliar with the story, Severin Home Video's new 3-disc DVD set VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE should serve as a more than adequate recap of one of the strangest cultural battles ever to take place on English soil. And even if you already know all the information imparted by the collection's first disc documentary, "Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape" (2010), the barrage of trailers on discs 2 and 3 should keep you entertained for hours.

The 2010 documentary, directed by Jake West, begins as the home video craze is heating up in the early 80s. One of the hottest attractions is what would become known as the "video nasty", namely those cheap but extremely gory horror flicks that had many of us haunting our local mom 'n' pop video stores looking for anything with some of that good ol' shock value.

But when societal watchdogs in England such as aging activist Mary Whitehouse noticed that these gruesome films were bypassing theatrical age restrictions and being watched on home VCRs by little kids, something was bound to hit the fan.


With something new to censor, various members of Parliament joined Ms. Whitehouse and an indignant press in stirring up public outrage against the "sadist videos" (which Whitehouse admitted to never having watched) along with some heavy legal backlash. The first step was a widespread confiscation, with 32,000 tapes such as DRILLER KILLER and DEATH TRAP being seized and burned in London's Metropolitan area alone.

As righteous anger over these videos grew, so did the penalties for distributing and renting them, with several offenders paying large fines and even going to jail. Newspapers and police began using the films to conveniently explain all sorts of criminal behavior, accusing them of potentially "corrupting and depraving" anyone who watched them.

It wasn't long before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher jumped on the bandwagon in order to attain some much-needed moral cred, coming up with a list of 72 banned titles that could get you into big trouble if caught renting or distributing them. This list, of course, became a "must-see" menu for fans of the genre although the films were becoming increasingly difficult to find.


The documentary describes how the banned video nasties got copied and passed around by fans, and how these multi-generation tapes had a fuzziness which helped obscure bad FX and make the images seem more mysterious and realistic. One of my favorite things about "Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape", in fact, is how it delves into the nostalgia those of us from the VCR era still have for those big, clunky machines and often battered tapes that we ran through them.

The documentary--and, in fact, the DVD packaging and menus themselves--display an almost fetishistic regard for VCRs, VHS, videotape imperfections, and other quirks of the medium with which I could strongly identify. There's also a fond remembrance of those hole-in-the-wall video stores that seemed to pop up just about everywhere in the 80s, each of which had its own individual ambience and unique variety of titles both familiar and obscure.

What I didn't like so much about the documentary--and it's a small gripe--is that it leans rather heavily on talking heads (politicians, filmmakers, critics, and other interested parties from the era) and not enough film clips. However, since discs 2 and 3 more than make up for this, then disc 1 can be forgiven for being more of a history lesson than anything else.


Disc 2 features trailers for "The Final 39", or the films that were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and "deemed liable to deprave and corrupt." Retailers and distributors could be heavily fined and even imprisoned for handling these hot-button horrors. The trailers range all the way from something called ABSURD to ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS, with some of the titles in-between including: THE BEAST, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, THE DRILLER KILLER, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (I think I rented this under the shortened title NIGHTMARES), and the infamous fake-out SNUFF.

Disc 3 contains trailers for the 33 films that were initially banned but later removed from the "leper list" (as I just now decided to call it). Are they truly milder than the notorious 39 and less likely to turn viewers into gibbering sadists? It's your call as the line-up includes such blood-soaked fare as THE BOGEY MAN, DEATH TRAP, DEEP RIVER SAVAGES, THE EVIL DEAD (that one definitely warped MY mind), THE FUNHOUSE, HUMAN EXPERIMENTS, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, and ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH.

The trailers on Discs 2 and 3 can be viewed in all their uninterrupted glory, or with introductions and reviews (some pretty in-depth) from some of the talking heads seen in Disc 1's feature documentary. Cult horror presenter Emily Booth greets us at the start of each disc. Other extras include VHS box art and video logo galleries. The discs are in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby digital sound. No subtitles.

"Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape" is an interesting but slow-moving and occasionally dull account of a fascinating time in British history. Lots of yakkity-yak and not enough video clips slow things down to a creep even though this is a valuable historical document that should be seen by anyone interested in the subject. But it's that collection of "must-see list" trailers that really rates VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE a nasty niche in your own video library.

Buy it at Amazon.com


Read our review of Part Two

 
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Monday, June 23, 2014

"THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON" Comes Home August 26th from Anchor Bay Entertainment



ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS HOME THE TERROR ONCE MORE WITH

AMC’S "THE WALKING DEAD:THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON"

EXPERIENCE IT ON BLU-RAY™+ DIGITAL HD WITH ULTRAVIOLET™ AND DVD AUGUST 26, 2014;

McFARLANE TOYS UPS TERROR QUOTIENT WITH

LIMITED EDITION "TREE WALKER" BLU-RAY™ SET



BEVERLY HILLS, CA – August. Baseball season is in full swing. Barbecues have been blazing since Memorial Day. And fans can count another August tradition, when Anchor Bay Entertainment releases THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and DVD on August 26th. Each format contains five loaded discs, presenting each episode exactly as it was originally broadcast. The Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ presents the episodes in pristine 1080p high-definition and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio. As with previous season releases, THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON rewards fans with hours of bonus features, including never-before-seen production footage, deleted scenes and audio commentaries, with ultra-exclusive content only available on the Blu-ray™ release, including additional audio commentaries and several "extended" episodes seen for the first time!


Another "Walking Dead" home entertainment release tradition, started with the Season 2 Blu-ray™ set, is the unique concept packaging by renowned collectibles creator McFarlane Toys. Following in the "shuffling" footsteps of Season 2’s "Walker Head" and Season 3’s "Walker Aquarium," THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON will be available in a Blu-ray™ limited edition "Tree Walker" package. SRP is $79.99 for the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™, $69.98 for the DVD and $129.99 for the Blu-ray™ limited edition. Pre-book is July 23rd.


Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, AMC’s "The Walking Dead" enjoyed its most popular season to date, averaging 13.3 million live/same day viewers per episode and 8.6 million adults 18-49. Whether evading walkers, resisting a super flu outbreak, escaping the fall of their temporary prison haven and desperately searching for a sanctuary called Terminus, the on-going story of a group of survivors under the protective watch and leadership of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Dr. Herschel Greene (Scott Wilson) continues to capture viewers’ imaginations on a global scale.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON cast also includes Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, David Morrissey, Melissa McBride, Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green and Emily Kinney. New characters introduced this season include Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gillard, Jr.), Rosita Espinoza (Christian Serratos) and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermott).

Season 5 of "The Walking Dead" premieres on AMC this October.

About AMC
Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade, or creating acclaimed original programming, AMC brings to its audience something deeper, something richer, Something More. The network reigns as the only cable network in history ever to win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row, and boasts the most-watched drama series in basic cable history with The Walking Dead. AMC’s original drama series include Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Turn, Halt and Catch Fire and the forthcoming Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul. AMC also explores authentic worlds with bold characters through its slate of unscripted original series like Comic Book Men, Small Town Security, Talking Dead, Game of Arms and Freakshow. AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, Sundance Channel, and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC: Something More.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.


"THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON" Blu-ray™
Street Date: August 26, 2014        
Pre-book: July 23, 2014
Cat. #: BD61611
UPC: 0-1313 2616117
Run Time: 696 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $79.99
Format: Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

"THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON" DVD
Street Date: August 26, 2014        
Pre-book: July 23, 2014
Cat. #: AF61610
UPC: 0-1313 2616100
Run Time: 688 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $69.98
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

"THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON" Limited Edition Blu-ray™
Street Date: August 26, 2014        
Pre-book: July 23, 2014
Cat. #: BD61710
UPC: 0-1313 2617107
Run Time: 696 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $129.99
Format: Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Buy it at Amazon.com:

Blu-ray

DVD

Limited Edition Blu-ray

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

THE BABY -- Blu-ray review by porfle



 
As if 1973's THE BABY weren't already mind-bending enough--not to mention disturbing, perverse, subversive, borderline repulsive, and just plain coo-coo--Severin Films has made the whole horrifying experience even more vivid by releasing a spanking new version ("restored from the original film negative") on Blu-ray.

Now we get an even clearer and more high-definition view of some of the most cheerfully repellent images of all time as a full-grown man (known only as "Baby") is spoon-fed, nursed, diapered, cattle-prodded, and even sexually molested by his also-grown sisters while their overbearing psycho-mom, played by the incomparable Ruth Roman, presides over the whole sordid scenario.

What happens when this idyllic situation is encroached upon by a nosey, bleeding-heart social worker (70s TV-movie icon Anjanette Comer as "Ann") intent upon taking Baby away from them has to be seen to be believed. When Ruth and Anjanette finally clash in the movie's heated climax, it's a confrontation that must've had jaws dropping in drive-ins across America.



The Severin Films Blu-ray disc is in 1080p full HD resolution widescreen with Dolby Digital English mono sound. No subtitles.

As with Severin's 2011 DVD release of this title, extras consist of telephone interviews with director Ted Post and star David Manzy, and a trailer.

Here's our original in-depth DVD review:

If you remember "The ABC Movie of the Week" or have seen some of the low-key but weird thrillers that showed up on it during the 70s (BAD RONALD, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK), you should recognize the dingy, suburban gothic style of THE BABY (1973). Right down to the bland opening titles, mawkish musical score by Gerald Fried, and television-level production values, this looks like the typical made-for-TV chiller from that era.


Surprising, then, that not only is this a theatrical film directed by Ted Post (MAGNUM FORCE, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES), but it contains language, sexual situations, violence, and an overall air of perversion that would've had the TV censors working overtime with their scissors.

Ruth Roman does her patented "tough gal" act as swaggering single mom Mrs. Wadsworth, who, along with her grown daughters Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Suzanne Zenor), must care for her son Baby, a twenty-one-year-old with the mind of an infant. Their new social worker, the recently-widowed Ann (Anjanette Comer, a familiar TV face at the time), expresses great interest in Baby, which raises the jealous Mrs. Wadsworth's suspicions. When it appears as though Ann may be scheming to take Baby away from her, she and her deranged daughters take deadly action.

The plot of this languidly-paced tale unfolds slowly but is dotted with enough bizarre incidents to keep things interesting. The first one occurs when a babysitter (Erin O'Reilly) is caught breastfeeding Baby and is soundly thrashed by Mrs. Wadsworth and the girls. Just hearing Ruth Roman say lines like "Nothing happened? With your damn tit in his mouth and nothing happened?" is weird enough. Seeing the babysitter begin to change Baby's diaper as he's stretched out in his giant crib conjures up disturbing images of diaper service men in hazmat suits.


The attitudes of Baby's sisters toward their developmentally-challenged brother are also less than wholesome. Flaky blonde Alba, bless her, takes after him with a cattle prod when he displays too much progress (such as saying "Ma-ma") in one of my favorite scenes. "Baby doesn't walk! Baby doesn't talk!" she shrieks between zaps. The horny Germaine, meanwhile, has even more perverse uses for her "baby" brother. Nothing's explicitly shown, but it's still enough to make you go "Yuck!"

But perhaps the most off-putting thing about THE BABY is David Manzy's insipid antics in the title role. He reminds me of a porn actor who's been asked to perform beyond his range. Whether Baby's sucking on a bottle, frolicking around on the floor, or bawling and making pouty faces in his crib (with real baby noises dubbed in as he mugs it up), I just want to throttle the goofy bastard.

(On the other hand, though--how, exactly, would a better actor approach such a role? It would be interesting to see somebody like Sean Penn strap on the giant diaper and go for an Oscar.)

One of the film's key sequences is a birthday party for Baby, during which Mrs. Wadsworth and the girls make their move against Ann. This dreary, dreadfully unhip bash, with middle-aged losers in mod attire dancing to quacky "rock" music, is somebody's idea of what a wild party looked like in the 70s, and it's cheesier than a platter of movie-theater nachos.


The great Michael Pataki appears here to wincingly comic effect as a bushy-haired horndog. With the film's furious finale, THE BABY at last serves up a helping of Grand Guignol horror as Roman and Comer huff and puff their way through a hokey but bloody clash that leads to a nice little head-scratching surprise ending.

Ted Post's no-frills direction gets the job done and his two leading ladies deliver the goods. Anjanette Comer was never all that forceful as an actress, so she gives her character a suitably vulnerable quality. Hollywood veteran Ruth Roman, on the other hand, is the epitome of the brassy broad and her hot-blooded histronics are the most fun part of the whole movie. Marianna Hill (Fredo Corleone's wife in THE GODFATHER PART II) and Suzanne Zenor, who played the "Chrissy" role in the first pilot for "Three's Company", hold up their end of the film's oddball quotient.

Those seeking the balls-out bizarro shock-horror flick promised by the posters will be disappointed, since it comes off more as one of those early TV-movies with forbidden exploitation elements tacked on. But this is what makes THE BABY such a strangely interesting little curio. If you're in the mood for something unabashedly off-the-wall, then it should be worth your while to check it out.

Buy it at Amazon.com

This title will be released on July 8, 2014.


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Friday, June 20, 2014

BLOODY BIRTHDAY -- Blu-ray review by porfle




Having already released it on DVD a few years ago, Severin Films is now giving the cult classic BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981) the Blu-ray treatment with a new HD transfer "from the original vault elements."

Fans of the mind-blowing "killer kids" flick, such as myself, will be tickled pink to see it looking better than ever while still generating even more sheer, pulsating waves of "WTF?" than your usual generic stalker-killer thriller.

The Blu-ray edition is in 1080p full HD resolution, widescreen with Dolby Digital mono sound. No subtitles.

Same as with the earlier DVD, extras consist of a cheerful interview with Lori Lethin ("Don't Eat That Cake!"), a lengthy audio interview with director Ed Hunt which should be of interest to aspiring low-budget filmmakers, the entertaining featurette "A Brief History of Slasher Films", and trailers for this and other Severin Films releases.


As for the movie itself, here's my original review in all its breathless hyperbole:

In the hallowed annals of "bad seed" flicks, BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981) has to be one of the coolest. Not really a slasher, nor even a horror movie, it's basically a giddy kill-fest made novel by the fact that the three maniacs on a murder spree are just celebrating their tenth birthdays. It's kind of like GOODFELLAS with little kids, and they're more bloodthirsty than a boatload of Joe Pescis.

The movie starts out with one of those cool ideas that sets it apart from all the other similar cheapo horrors being ground out like sausage in the 80s. Three babies are born at the same time on the same day, during a solar eclipse. Somehow, a weird alignment of the planets causes each of them to be born without a conscience. Ten years later, the urge to kill hits these cute little tykes and they start racking up a body count that would make Jason proud.

Low-budget filmmaker Ed Hunt (STARSHIP INVASIONS) does a modest but efficient job of bringing his screenplay to the screen, serving up some pretty decent thrills during the film's leisurely pace. Lori Lethin (THE PREY) plays all-American girl Joyce, who's taking care of her little brother Timmy (K.C. Martel, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, E.T.) while the 'rents are away. Their house will be the scene of the film's frantic finale when our trio of homicidal cookie-grabbers descend upon them in a frenetic frenzy of rip-roarin' revenge.


Elizabeth Hoy (THE BLUES BROTHERS), who would've been perfect as the lead in THE BAD SEED, plays the role of cute little Debbie to the hilt. This angelic-looking imp has drilled a hole in the wall of her closet and sells 25-cent peeks at her big sister Beverly (MTV's Julie Brown) as she dances around naked in her bedroom. (Julie Brown fans will no doubt be willing to cough up a few quarters.) But this is nothing compared to the shocking scene in which she stages the murder of her own dad, the town sheriff (Bert Kramer), with the help of her cohorts Curtis and Steven.

Steven (Andy Freeman) is a nutty little bugger, but the bespectacled Curtis (Scott Jacoby's half brother Billy of ROAD KILL and THE BEASTMASTER) is a smirking, kill-crazy loon who fits comfortably within the ranks of the screen's most trigger-happy thrill killers.

When he isn't locking Timmy in an abandoned refrigerator in the junkyard, he's prowling around with the dead sheriff's hand cannon looking for people to blow away. This might include a playground enemy, a bossy school teacher, or the traditional teenage couple having highly gratuitous sex in the back of a van.

These kids are exhilaratingly evil without overplaying it and the murders are depicted in a matter-of-fact style that emphasizes their gleeful coldbloodedness. Debbie, whom one might refer to as "The Jump-Rope Killer", even keeps a nostalgic scrapbook of her kills and gets mad when big sis discovers it and reports it to Mom. (Big mistake!) The boys, meanwhile, are so industrious that they manage to hotwire an old car at the junkyard and attempt to run down Joyce as she searches for her missing brother.


The cast ranges all the way from the sublime to the--well, not quite sublime. Ed Hunt somehow managed not only to snag Susan Strasberg for the role of strict schoolteacher Miss Davis, but also screen veteran José Ferrer as the doctor who brings the three diabolical darlings into the world. A young Joe Penny ("Jake and the Fatman") shows up in one scene, as does Cyril O'Reilly (the anti-Semitic redneck from PORKY'S) as Joyce's boyfriend.

Familiar faces such as Ellen Geer, Michael Dudikoff, and Ward Costello can also be found here and there. The "Worst Actor" award would have to go to the guy who plays the deputy. I didn't catch his name, but you'll recognize him--he's the guy who can't act. Listening to him step all over Lori Lethin's lines is a real treat.

The kids themselves are a ball to watch throughout BLOODY BIRTHDAY, whether squeezing out crocodile tears at the funerals of friends and family members they've just offed or simply reveling in their own playful wickedness while putting on an innocent front.

The triple-header backyard birthday party of the title finds them greedily ripping open their presents as guests tuck into gooey birthday cake that may or may not be laced with ant poison. When Joyce walks in on Curtis in the kitchen with a frosting squeezer in one hand and the poison bottle in the other, it gives Lori Lethin the chance to race into the backyard knocking cake out of people's hands and screaming the film's most deathless line: "DON'T EAT THAT CAKE!"

BLOODY BIRTHDAY may be lumped in with all the other gory slice-and-dice flicks of the 80s, but don't expect a lot of blood and body parts, or an unkillable killer in a mask. Just settle back and enjoy the heartwarming antics of some cute little kids terrorizing their hometown and rapidly reducing its population.

Buy it at Amazon.com

This title will be released on July 8, 2014.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES -- arriving September 16th on Blu-ray + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment



"Pulse pounding entertainment."
Huffington Post


ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT
BRINGS YOU THE BIGGEST AND BADDEST
BOX SET OF THEM ALL!

"SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES"
ON BLU-RAY™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™
AND DVD SEPTEMBER 16, 2014


Thirteen-Disc Set Contains All 39 Episodes and New Bonus Features!
 
 

Beverly Hills, CA All hail Spartacus - his legend will live on! Anchor Bay Entertainment releases every season of the acclaimed Starz Original series in a complete muscular thirteen-disc Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and DVD box set on September 16th.
 
From executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Josh Donen and Steven S. DeKnight, here is every moment - uncut and uncensored – of the series that broke all the rules and took no prisoners! “SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES” is a beautifully packaged collection that contains a full disc of new bonus features. The Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ edition contains three new audio commentaries for the first season that are exclusive to this collection. A limited edition Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ set packaged with a Spartacus collector’s figurine will also be available with an SRP of $199.99. SRP is $149.99 for the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and $119.98 for the DVD.  Pre-book is August 13th.
 


"SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES" is the classic tale of Spartacus, the Republic’s most infamous rebel who comes alive in the first season of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." Then comes "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," the prequel that explores a deadly history before the arrival of Spartacus, and the death he now carries with him. The second season, "Spartacus: Vengeance," continues to follow Spartacus as he is faced with a choice to either satisfy his personal need for vengeance, or make the sacrifices necessary to keep his growing army from breaking apart at the seams. Finally, in "Spartacus: War of the Damned," Spartacus will carve his name into history as he plots to avenge his wife’s death and leads Batiatus' slaves in a bloody uprising that will not be forgotten or equaled.

"The gods finally bless us with the complete collection," says creator and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight. "Spartacus was a true labor of love for everyone who worked on it and I’m incredibly proud to present all 39 episodes in stunning High-def for the fans to enjoy at their leisure, but make sure you watch them in the order they first aired to revel in the experience as originally intended."

New Bonus Features:
SPARTACUS Fan Favorites With Liam McIntyre
Scoring A Hit: Composer Joseph LoDuca
An Eye Full: Roger Murray
SPARTACUS: Paul Grinder
The Last Word: John Hannah
"SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES" features Andy Whitfield in a star-making turn in the title role for season one, Liam McIntyre takes over as Spartacus for season two and three. Also featured in memorable roles are John Hannah (The Mummy, Four Weddings and A Funeral), Peter Mensah (300, The Incredible Hulk), Manu Bennett (30 Days of Night), Nick E. Tarabay ("Crash"), Dustin Clare ("Underbelly"), Dan Feuerriegel ("Home and Away"), Simon Merrells (The Wolfman), Todd Lasance ("Cloudstreet"), Cynthia Addai-Robinson ("FlashForward") and Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess," "Parks and Recreation").

This is what fans have been waiting for, the full Spartacus in one big, bold and bloody box set. "SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES" is the one to own it’s as powerful and compelling as the name it carries.


About Anchor Bay Entertainment
 
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading home entertainment company. Anchor Bay acquires and distributes feature films, original television programming including STARZ Original series, children's entertainment, anime (Manga Entertainment), fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports, and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. The company has long term distribution agreements in place for select programming with AMC Networks, RADiUS, and The Weinstein Company. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.

About Starz 
Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) is a leading integrated global media and entertainment company with operating units that provide premium subscription video programming on domestic U.S. pay television channels (Starz Networks), global content distribution (Starz Distribution) and animated television and movie production (Starz Animation), www.starz.com.

Starz Networks is a leading provider of premium subscription video programming through the flagship STARZ® and ENCORE® pay TV networks which showcase premium original programming and movies to U.S. multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, and telecommunications companies. As of March 31, 2014, STARZ and ENCORE serve a combined 56.3 million subscribers, including 21.9 million at STARZ, and 34.4 million at ENCORE, making them the largest pair of premium flagship channels in the U.S. STARZ® and ENCORE®, along with Starz Networks’ third network MOVIEPLEX®, air over 1,000 movies monthly across 17 linear networks, complemented by On Demand and authenticated online offerings through STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY. Starz Distribution develops, produces and acquires entertainment content, distributing it to consumers globally on DVD, digital formats and traditional television. Starz Distribution’s home video, digital media and worldwide distribution business units distribute original programming content produced by Starz, as well as entertainment content for itself and third parties. Starz Animation produces animated TV and movie content for studios, networks, distributors and audiences worldwide.

"SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES" Blu -ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™
Street Date: September 16, 2014
Pre-book: August 13, 2014
Cat. #: BD61758
UPC: 013132617589
Run Time: 2173 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $149.99
Format: Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish


"SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES" DVD
Street Date: September 16, 2014
Pre-book: August 13, 2014
Cat. #: ST61757
UPC: 013132617572
Run Time: 2136 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
SRP: $119.98
Format: Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE S.S. SPECIAL SECTION -- DVD review by porfle



It's always with a bit of trepidation that I watch yet another Nazisploitation flick. Am I supposed to enjoy it? How much? Or for that matter, just plain how?

DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE S.S. SPECIAL SECTION (1976) bypasses that problem by not reveling in sadism for its own sake nearly as much as the usual entries in this genre. And, slow-moving as it may be, it has a story that does more than just give the Nazis a chance to be unremittingly evil for awhile until we can enjoy seeing their violent comeuppance at the end.

We get the usual heroine, the aptly-named Tania Nobel (Lina Polito, ALL SCREWED UP), who finds herself in a camp--located in an actual castle for some great authentic atmosphere--for deported women waiting to get shuffled off to their various fates while the more attractive ones are reserved for "special duty." Tania's quiet integrity, strength, and willpower will make her an inspiration to the other women, especially the ones planning a daring escape attempt, and a thorn in the side of the S.S.


As in the recently-reviewed GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY, there's another doomed love affair between a female prisoner and a male Nazi, which resolves itself in rather Shakespearean fashion. (If Shakespeare had written Nazisploitation flicks, that is.) Of further interest is a prisoner named Trudy (Paola D'Egidio) who turns traitor and becomes a "kapo" just like the blonde Aryan bitches who are always either being coldly sadistic or unwelcomely sexual toward the captive women. (Yes, shockingly enough, this movie contains...LESBIANS!)

Also as in GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY, we have a prison camp commandant--the prancing, decadent Herr Erner (John Steiner, TENEBRE, BEYOND THE DOOR)--smitten with one of his female prisoners. In this case, Erner is still carrying a torch for Tania, whom he knew back in their old village. Her non-response to his continued come-ons, however, raises his ire as conflicting emotions cause him to act out in bursts of petulant, sometimes cartoonish overacting that's fun to watch.

Writer-director Rino Di Silvestro (HANNA D.: THE GIRL FROM VONDEL PARK) initially explores much of the exploitation value inherent in the film's premise. There's a lengthy sequence where the inevitable group strip leads to naked delousing, soapy communal showers, scalp-shearing, and the ceremonial shaving of the pubes complete with generous close-up action--which, of course, is topped off by a visit to the camp gynocologist.


Yet the film is realistic enough to be involving (albeit a bit depressing) without trying all that hard to invoke our inner sadist. A couple of the softcore sex scenes are actually somewhat erotic, while the tortures aren't lengthy or explicit enough to be anywhere near as gratuitious as other such Nazi-themed films.

In fact, the juiciest horrors, to which the languidly-paced story builds ever so slowly, are committed against the Nazis during the climactic escape attempt, with Tania coming through with an especially cunning (and satisfying) surprise for the loathesome commandant.

The DVD from Intervision is in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby digital mono sound. No subtitles. Extras include interesting interviews with both director Rino Di Silvestro and star John Steiner, plus the featurette "A Brief History Of Sadiconazista: Interview With Film Historian Marcus Stiglegger" which also appears on the GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY disc.

Without the horrifying experiments, cannibalism, and other lurid elements of the kind found in many Nazisploitation flicks, DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE S.S. SPECIAL SECTION gets by mainly on story, performances, and the earnest filmmaking skills of Rino Di Silvestro. It isn't exactly something I'd watch for pleasure, but it's good enough to be enjoyed (if one is so inclined) as more than just a guilty pleasure.

Buy it at Amazon.com


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Celebrate HALLOWEEN Early This Year With the HALLOWEEN COMPLETE COLLECTION Artwork Premiere!



Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory proudly unveil the official art for the September 23rd release of the HALLOWEEN Complete Collection Blu-ray. Please see artwork below of the 15-disc Deluxe Edition and the 10-disc set.


Stay tuned for more details, including updates on the bonus features and photos taken from behind the scenes!

#MichaelisComingHome

Our previous coverage of this upcoming release
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY -- DVD review by porfle



Unlike Blaxploitation, Ozploitation, Canucksploitation, and all the other various 'sploitations that filled video store shelves so wonderfully back in the good old VHS days, Nazisploitation is one area that I've never been able to be fully comfortable with. Even when the film is fairly well-made, as is GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977), you have to wonder if enjoying it in any way is indicative that you may be a little, well, warped.

Oh sure, some examples of the genre are just so outlandishly over-the-top that there's a deliberate "OMG" humor about them. Others, such as ILSA: SHE-WOLF OF THE S.S., have naked Dyanne Thorne in them playing Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S., which pretty much overrides everything else.

But then sometimes you get one like this which is sort of a straight-faced drama laced with horrifically perverse exploitation elements, and you don't really know how to react except to either shun it or give in to your potential warpeditude.




As usual, we find ourselves (vicariously, thank goodness) in one of those Nazi "love camps" where two things are usually going on: (a) soldiers enjoy R-and-R with prison girls whom they can, and are in fact encouraged to, degrade and abuse to their (whatever passes for) hearts' content, and (b) EXPERIMENTS!

As for the former, Commandant Conrad von Starker (Marc Loud, TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME!)--who would rather be fighting gloriously at the front than performing as a glorified pimp--exhorts his beastly soldiers just back from such battle to indulge their worst impulses with the unwilling prisoners in some weird dreamy-steamy softcore sex scenes with lots of naked bodies flailing about, which I assume we're supposed to react to with a sort of perverse fascination.

His eventual downfall will be a growing obsession with the beautiful blonde Jewish prisoner Lise (lovely Daniela Levy), who, as a defense measure, has become coldly desensitized to everything including her own fear of death. Conrad wants to reignite Lise's feelings for romantic reasons (which he, of course, must keep secret); meanwhile, gorgeous Nazi "she-wolf" Alma (Maristella Greco, SAVAGE ISLAND)--whom we first see feeding a menstruating prisoner to the Dobermans--wants Lise to feel terror and pain before killing her. It's a crazy, mixed-up situation.




Lise also gains the sympathy of the camp's young doctor, who has too many scruples for his own good, and they have a strange sexual interlude in which they roll around naked on a bed for five or ten minutes. Lise's fellow inmates don't fare as well, unfortunately, nor does another Nazi soldier who makes the mistake of falling in love with one of them, and the whole sexual ambience of the film is just plain unhealthy.

But this is nothing compared to what the resident mad scientist has going on--during an elegant dinner party for the camp's vaulted staff, this intensely warped weirdo announces what's on the menu with the unforgettable line: "There's nothing better than a pot roast of...unborn Jews!" He's beaming with pride for having found a new food source for the Third Reich, and, after some initial reticence, Conrad and his fellow sickos begin wolfing down their meals.

They then select one of the female servants as the main course by cooking her flambé-style right there on the dinner table, which, as you might have guessed, turns them on sexually. What follows is pretty close to what you might get if John Waters had added a Nazi dinner party scene to PINK FLAMINGOS. These people definitely have what it takes to compete with Babs Johnson and her family for the title of "The Filthiest People Alive."



One of the odd things about the film is that when it isn't trying to prove what a stunningly perverse shockfest it can be, it also wants to function as a florid, semi-serious melodrama with thoughtful, emotional elements, all presented with some good camera moves and other cinematic flourishes that seem inherent to Italian movies. Still, much of what happens is rather dull when not being spiced up by the more sordid stuff.

The DVD from Intervision is anamorphic widescreen with Dolby digital mono sound. No subtitles. Extras include a trailer and the featurette "A Brief History Of Sadiconazista: Interview With Film Historian Marcus Stiglegger."

With a framing device of Conrad and Lise meeting up at the now-deserted camp after the war, GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY builds up rather unexcitingly to an abrupt and totally predictable ending. Till then, though, this twisted and at times somewhat appalling tale should prove "eventful" enough to keep fans of the genre interested.

Buy it at Amazon.com



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Thursday, June 12, 2014

THE NUTTY PROFESSOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR'S EDITION -- Blu-ray/DVD review by porfle




(THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, perhaps Jerry Lewis' most celebrated comedy, is now available on Blu-ray [as of June 3rd] in a brand-new 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR'S EDITION. The set also includes DVDs of THE ERRAND BOY and CINDERFELLA, along with the CD "Phoney Phone Calls 1959-1972.")

Mention Jerry Lewis and you get some extreme reactions, and likely a few remarks along the lines of "Well, the French love him." This is mainly because some of the best French filmmakers, such as Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard , have recognized and appreciated Jerry's talent, even comparing him favorably with the great screen comedians of yore. But you don't have to be French to do that, as I and many millions of his fans worldwide have found out for ourselves over the years.

With his lavish Technicolor comedy THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963), writer-director-star Jerry Lewis made his bravest and most wildly imaginative statement as a film comic. This outlandish variation on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"--particularly the film adaptations starring Frederic March and Spencer Tracy--finds him abandoning his familiar child-friendly comic persona of "The Kid" to take on two totally different, and at times even unlikable, personalities.



As college chemistry professor Julius Kelp, he's a gawky, ineffectual uber-nerd bullied by his burly jock students and totally lacking in confidence. This prompts him to create a chemical formula to enhance his personality and physique, turning him (in a frightening transformation sequence) into the handsome, cool, and extremely debonair Buddy Love. In this guise he's able to become popular singing and playing piano for the young crowd at a local nightclub while wooing a gorgeous student, Stella Purdy (an incandescently beautiful Stella Stevens), with whom Kelp is smitten.

The trouble is, Kelp's a nice guy and Buddy Love is arrogant, vain, and insensitive. There's been much speculation over the years as to whom Lewis based the character on--is he former partner Dean Martin, or is he Lewis' own dark side? (Or, as some believe, Frank Sinatra?) Jerry himself says Buddy is simply a combination of bad traits he's seen in several showbiz types. The important thing is, however, that his performance as Buddy is so fascinating to watch, especially when brief flashes of Kelp show through whenever the formula begins to wear off.

While Lewis is definitely "saying something" about human nature here, what has always drawn me to THE NUTTY PROFESSOR are his hilarious antics as the supremely geeky Professor Julius Kelp. This, in my opinion, is his greatest comic creation, one which he would reprise in later films such as THE BIG MOUTH and THE FAMILY JEWELS.




He is most similar to the great silent comics when performing his imaginative sight gags (while working out in a gym, a heavy barbell stretches his arms all the way to the floor) but his use of sound is also brilliant. In one scene, while Kelp is sneaking into the university lab at night to continue his experiments, he removes his squeaky shoes only to discover that it is his feet which are squeaking. In another sequence, Kelp suffers the hangover from one of Buddy's drinking binges as every tiny sound in his classroom--chalk on a blackboard, gum-chewing, water dripping--is amplified to gargantuan proportions.

Besides Lewis and Stevens, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR is brimming with Lewis stock company members and other familiar faces such as Kathleen Freeman, Del Moore (hilarious as the harried college dean Dr. Warfield), the great Howard Morris (who, in a nightmarish flashback, plays Kelp's horribly henpecked father), Norm Alden, and Buddy Lester, whose performance as a bartender encountering the abrasive Buddy Love gives the film one of its most memorable comedy bits. (Lester would also score big laughs in Lewis' other truly great film THE LADIES' MAN.)



 If you look quick, you'll catch Gavin Gordon of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (in the p.o.v. introduction to Buddy Love which Lewis copped from the Frederic March version), Francine York, "Laugh-In" castmember Henry Gibson, and a young Richard "Jaws" Kiel.

The story comes to a head when Kelp is enlisted to serve as a chaperone at the senior prom where Buddy has been hired to perform. Here, Lewis stages his most daring and emotional scene yet (with some Oscar-worthy acting), skirting the boundaries of bathos without going over (which he has been known to do frequently). It's the perfect and ultimately quite cathartic capper for THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, Lewis' greatest film. Others may cringe at the sound of his name, but I consider Jerry a national treasure--no matter what nation one might happen to live in.

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

Also included in this collection are two more Lewis solo comedies on separate DVDs, THE ERRAND BOY and CINDERFELLA. THE ERRAND BOY (1961) recalls the previous year's THE BELLBOY in that we find writer-director-star Jerry shooting a low-budget black-and-white feature which is simply a plotless series of gags set in one location (in THE BELLBOY it was a busy Miami Beach hotel, while this takes place in and around a bustling movie studio).


There's a semblance of plot involving studio head Brian Donlevy and his obsequious toady, played with verve by Howard McNear (Floyd the barber from "The Andy Griffith Show") but it's just an excuse to give Lewis the run of the place once again, packing each scene with as many imaginative gags as he can devisewith a cast that also includes Stanley "Cyrano Jones" Adams, Kathleen Freeman, Doodles Weaver, Sig Ruman, Fritz Feld, Iris Adrian, and some surprise guest stars.

Much of it is as laugh-out-loud funny as you'd expect, while the rest is rather hit-and-miss. Jerry, of course, disrupts the orderly filmmaking process at every turn, at one point dubbing his own ear-splitting vocals into a lovely young actress' song interlude and elsewhere attempting to eat a quiet sidewalk lunch on the set of a war film.

The usual bathos occurs when the errand boy befriends some cute little puppets which come to life for him in a dusty storeroom--it's in these moments that Lewis tries too hard to be charming when we really want him to keep making with the funny. This he does in one of his most celebrated sequences, in which he pretends to be the chairman of the board non-verbally chewing out his underlings while broadly pantomiming the instruments in a blaring big band tune. For this scene alone THE ERRAND BOY is well worth a look for Lewis fans, but it has much more to offer as well.


1960's CINDERFELLA, as you might guess, is a gender-reversed take on the famous fairytale "Cinderella" with Jerry as the gentle soul ("Fella") harrassed by a wicked stepmother out to steal his inheritence (Dame Judith Anderson, giving the film much added class) and two hateful stepbrothers played wonderfully by exploitation film mainstay Henry Silva and Robert Hutton of THE MAN WITHOUT A BODY and THE SLIME PEOPLE.

When Dame Judith hosts a ball for a visiting princess (cute Anna Maria Alberghetti), Fella's fairy godfather Ed Wynn makes it possible for him to attend and steal the young girl's heart. The ball sequence is best known for Jerry's amazing first-take dance down the massive staircase and also includes some genuinely charming choreography as he and the princess enjoy a spirited dance together.

(There seems to be a scene missing before this, however, since we never see his goldfish being turned into a chauffeur or his bicycle into a limosine, or find out why he must flee the ball at the stroke of midnight, leaving behind one of his Italian loafers.)


Much of the rest of CINDERFELLA is of the "charming" variety, yet there's plenty of the old Lewis hilarity to enjoy as well. The film is directed by Frank Tashlin (of the superb Martin and Lewis hit ARTISTS AND MODELS as well as other of Jerry's solo ventures) and thus we get to see where some of Jerry's own directorial influences came from.

There's another musical pantomime bit, and one great sequence which has Fella trying to eat his own supper at the end of a mile-long dinner table while also scrambling to serve as waiter for his stepmother and stepbrothers. The sets and costumes are opulent, and, like THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, CINDERFELLA is in dazzling Technicolor.

Finally, this collection comes with a CD entitled "Phoney Phone Calls 1959-1972", which finds Jerry displaying his unparalleled talent for prank phone calls years before The Jerky Boys came along. Some of the gags are a little flat, but several are screamingly funny. In "The Lost Watch", he answers an ad from a woman searching for a misplaced heirloom and by the end of the track almost has her believing that it's his ad and that she called him.

One phone gag was recorded live during an appearance on "The Steve Allen Show" with an appreciative audience reaction. But it's the final cut, "Bill Lynch", in which Jerry pretends to be his own thick-headed private secretary while thoroughly exasperating some hapless guy calling for a favor, which had me almost breathless with laughter.

All three films in this collection feature some wonderfully warm and chummy (and sometimes even informative) commentary tracks with Jerry and his old pal, singer Steve Lawrence. For THE ERRAND BOY, commentary is included for selected scenes only, along with bloopers, promo spots, and theatrical trailer. CINDERFELLA comes with bloopers as well.

THE NUTTY PROFESSOR Blu-ray is packed with extras, including:
•Jerry Lewis: No Apologies NEW! An intimate look at the artist who has entertained and educated audiences for more than eight decades

•Directors Letter NEW! A letter specially written by Jerry to present this new collection

•Recreated "Being A Person" book: 96-pages made up of drawings and quotes inspired/written by Jerry Lewis and drawn by his personal illustrator. 250 copies of this book were originally made and distributed to members of the cast and crew of The Nutty Professor after the director heard of general conflicts among them.

•CD: Phoney Phone calls 1959-1972: Years before the Jerky Boys were harassing unwitting shop clerks, housewives and businessmen, Lewis perfected the art, as these recordings show. Released in 2001 on the Sin-Drome label, this is a collection of private prank calls secretly recorded by Jerry Lewis over the years.

•48-Page Storyboard Book

•44-Page Cutting Script with Jerry’s notes

•Commentary by Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence

•The Nutty Professor: Perfecting The Formula Behind-The-Scenes Footage

•Jerry Lewis at Work

•Jerry at Movieland Wax Museum with commentary by son Chris Lewis

•Deleted Scenes

•Jerry and Stella Promos

•Bloopers

•Screen Tests

•Outtakes

•Original Mono Track

•Trailers

(Pictures shown are not stills from the actual discs.)

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WB update: Warner Bros. and Jerry Lewis celebrated the 50th Anniversary of The Nutty Professor this past week in New York. Jerry Lewis, the consummate entertainer, world-renowned humanitarian, cultural icon and motion-picture innovator was celebrated in an entertaining laugh-filled tribute by his friends and peers. In attendance were Jerry Lewis, Brett Ratner, Larry King, Richard Belzer, Kerry Keagan, Danny Aiello, Ed Norton, Russell Simmons, Rosario Dawson, Dominic Chianese, Ron Raines and more.

The event took place in honor of the Blu-ray release of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR 50th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION which Lewis personally supervised, helping to compile loads of entertaining extra content for the release.

Event Sizzle Reel
 
 


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