HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

FLYTRAP -- Movie Review by Porfle



I don't exactly know the full extent of Stephen David Brooks' filmmaking skills, but for his second feature as both writer and director he took about the same budget as your average home video of a kid's birthday party and managed to come up with a quirky, intriguing, and delightfully different sci-fi tale called FLYTRAP (2015). 

When I say "low budget", I mean that almost the entire film takes place inside a house in the suburbs of L.A., with no SPFX (even though Brooks has worked with John Dykstra himself as a visual effects supervisor) and precious few props or other major production elements--just a nicely-written script and a cast of actors who know how to get the best out of it. 

One of them is Jeremy Crutchley ("Black Sails") in a deftly wry performance as British college professor James Pond ("My parents had a sense of humor"), whose car breaks down in front of a house in a sleepy Los Angeles neighborhood while he's on his way to a new job as an astronomy professor at UCLA.


Knocking on the nearest door for help, he meets Mary Ann (Ina-Alice Kopp), a beautiful but odd young woman who's not only socially awkward but seems unfamiliar with even the most basic human interactions.  In fact, the first thing she does after offering James a huge glass of wine is to lower the shoulder strap of her dress and inquire as to whether he is now ready to "reproduce." 

James' earlier voiceover about how "they" are among us comes to mind and we begin to suspect Mary Ann's earlier admission that she's from Venus (James assumes she means Venus, Texas) might not be all that far-fetched. 

He also finds it odd that she mentions a housemate named Gilligan (Jonah Blechman) and another known as The Skipper (Jason Duplissea), who is, not surprisingly, their "leader."  (Mary Ann also mentions a "Ginger" who, for some reason, didn't work out.) But are they indeed aliens...or just members of a weird religious cult?



FLYTRAP keeps us in the dark about all of this in the most teasing ways, maintaining a nice level of suspense as James, now a prisoner in the house, keeps trying to escape (an electronic collar prevents him from crossing the threshold) while also facing the fact that Mary Ann's seemingly insatiable desire for him doesn't appear feigned. 

So, along with him, we keep wondering just exactly what the heck's going on even as The Skipper's behavior grows more punitive and hostile toward James (jealousy, perhaps?) and whether or not James will be disposed of when his purpose (something to do with "reproducing", perhaps?) is fulfilled. 

There are some nice moments between James and Mary Ann as he warms up to her and she seems eager to learn how humans interact romantically.  While Crutchley maintains James' likability with little effort, Ina-Alice Kopp gives Mary Ann a yearning innocence that's quite disarming.  We feel for her when she expresses a desire to leave the house and experience the outside world, even though we know she's merely part of the "flytrap" keeping James prisoner.


Despite some talk about being trapped by fear of the unknown, or by "an unknown or invisible god", the story thankfully doesn't try to get too mired in metaphor.  The narrative is refreshingly lean and straightforward, with a nifty ending that leaves just enough unresolved to fade out on a tantalizingly unsettling note.

Sometimes we wake up in the middle of a sticky situation from which we can't escape, this movie seems to be telling us, and there's nothing for us to do besides hang in there and try to reclaim our autonomy.  As for me, I found FLYTRAP just as sticky and just as inescapable. 

Order FLYTRAP on Amazon Instant
Order FLYTRAP on iTunes



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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS -- Movie Review by Porfle



With 1991's THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Anthony Hopkins burst onto the horror film scene with a Hannibal Lecter whose rich theatricality and giddy delight in his own unfathomable evil captured the imaginations of filmgoers, including many in the mainstream, like few such characters before or since.

Approaching his dark, Gothic lair in the bowels of a castle-like hospital for the criminally insane where he lurks like some medieval gargoyle, we share the trepidation of the young FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who has been sent to consult with Lecter regarding another serial killer on the loose (known as "Buffalo Bill" due to his penchant for skinning his victims).

Hopkins plays Lecter to the hilt, relishing each perverse aspect of the character just as Lecter enjoyed feasting upon the organs of those he killed--sometimes with "fava beans and a nice Chianti...fthfthfthfth!"


His version of the silken-voiced psycho, unlike that of MANHUNTER's equally fine Brian Cox, is a creation that would fit comfortably in any rogue's gallery of horror film icons.

One of the pleasures of this film is watching him toy with the callow Starling (excellently portrayed by Foster) on a purely emotional and intellectual level in which she has no defense, then growing to admire her courage, convictions, and strength of will.

Also unlike the Lecter of MANHUNTER, we get to see this monster at his full power once he's broken free in a terrifying sequence that is beautifully-directed by Jonathan Demme. When Lecter's brilliant escape plan goes into motion, it's a thrill to watch Hopkins turn into one of the most cunning and terrifying killers the screen has ever known.


Compared to his mad-dog antics, the film's wrap-up of the Buffalo Bill story is almost anti-climactic, although Demme does stage a nailbiting finale with Starling taking on the killer by herself in his pitch-dark cellar of death.

Still, Bill delivers a line to one of his captives that has since become one of the most oft-heard quotes in recent film history: "It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again." And his naked dance will become seared in your memory whether you like it or not.

With a level of excellence that garnered it Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS remains one of the finest and most popular horror films ever made.


Read our review of MANHUNTER
Read our review of HANNIBAL


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!" The Movie -- Starring 40 Former "STAR TREK" Actors -- World Premiere



"UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!"
A FEATURE-LENGTH SCI-FI PARODY ADVENTURE
STARRING 40 FORMER "STAR TREK" ACTORS
WILL HAVE ITS SNEAK PEEK WORLD PREMIERE ON
THE EVE OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF "STAR TREK"

In What May Be One of the Largest Historic Gatherings of Former "Star Trek" Actors, Over 25 Stars and Guest-Stars from All Five of the "Star Trek" Series Will Be in Attendance at the Private Industry Screening


Los Angeles, CA (August 30, 2016) - The Sci-Fi Parody Adventure feature film "Unbelievable!!!!!" will have its World Premiere at a Sneak Peek Industry Screening in Hollywood. Red Carpet arrivals will begin at 6:15pm, and the screening will start at 7:30pm Wednesday, September 7, at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres at Hollywood & Highland, in Hollywood, CA, announced husband and wife filmmakers, Steven L. Fawcette and Angelique Fawcette today. The film was written and directed by Steven and produced by Angelique under their Archangel Films banner.

The star of the film, Kirk Stillwood, a puppet created by the Chiodo Brothers, who created all of the "Team America: World Police" puppets, will be in attendance at the screening and will do interviews on the Red Carpet. Kirk Stillwood is voiced by Kevin Carlson. The film also stars forty former "Star Trek" actors from all the "Trek" series and two movies!

"We wanted to create a unique and original film that sci-fi fans can watch again and again, celebrating their love for this iconic TV show. It is a Sci-Fi Parody Adventure, which uses none of 'Star Trek's' intellectual property, with a cast of over forty former stars of the shows in a zany parody, along the lines of 'Airplane!' and 'Mars Attacks!'," said Steven L. Fawcette. "I hope the five exclamation points in the title "Unbelievable!!!!!" convey the film's comedic sensibilities," he added.

'Unbelievable!!!!!" stars 40 actors who starred or guest-starred on one of the five "Star Trek" TV series, includingChase Masterson, Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, Nichelle Nichols, Robert Picardo, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Nana Visitor, Walter Koenig, Linda Park, Connor Trinneer, Manu Intiraymi, Dina Meyer, Olivia d'Abo, Julie Warner, Armin Shimerman, Jeffrey Combs, John Billingsley, Dominic Keating, Max Grodenchik, Casey Biggs, Brenda Bakke, Patti Yasutake, McKenzie Westmore, Anthony Montgomery, Vaughn Armstrong, Gary Graham, Steve Rankin, Michael Dante, Jack Donner, Michael Forest, Sean Kenney, Gary Lockwood, BarBara Luna, Beverly Washburn, Celeste Yarnall, Bobby Clark, Jasmine Anthony, Crystal Allen, Menina Fortunato, along with Gilbert Gottfried and Michael Madsen, and introducing Katarina Van Derham, Producer/Actress Angelique Fawcette, and Singer/Songwriter Emily L. Stanton.

                           Watch the trailer:


"As an Independent Film Company, we at Archangel Films have worked tremendously hard on this film, and that work has been a gift. Working with the talented cast of 40 'Trek' stars as well as two 'Trek" -- The Original Series iconic musical talents was an amazing experience," said Angelique Fawcette.  "I hope that fans, who are used to seeing these actors in more dramatic roles, will have some fun and laughs watching the exploits of a Puppet hero and dozens of their favorite stars in our slapstick parody adventure," she added.

In addition to the many recognizable faces in "Unbelievable!!!!!," most "Star Trek" and sci-fi fans will recognize the name Gerald Fried from watching the TV credits roll by countless times. Fried, an Emmy-Award winning composer, scored the film. Fried was a composer for the original "Star Trek" and has written some of its most iconic musical themes, including "Amok Time's" Fight Music. Fried won his Emmy for his Composition work on the 1970's TV Series "Roots."

Additionally, Tommy Morgan, was the Lead Bass Harmonia player on the film's score. Morgan also worked on the original "Star Trek" series episode "Spectre of the Gun." Multi -Grammy and Academy Award winner Dave Grusin is the Pianist on the score. Grusin is known for his work on "The Graduate", "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and "On Golden Pond" and "Tootsie." Also joining the musical talent is Ross Garren who plays the Slider Harmonica.

"Unbelievable!!!!!" is a Sci-Fi Parody Adventure. The movie follows the crazy exploits of four astronauts (one is an animatronic marionette which resembles the character "Captain Kirk" from the 1960s TV show "Star Trek") who travel to the Moon on a rescue mission to determine the fate of two NASA comrades who have not been heard from in several days. The individuals they find at the Lunar Base are not whom they appear to be and, through acts of trickery and deception, nearly succeed in killing our heroes. The four return to find that everyone on the planet has been transformed into a variant life-form. Aliens from Mars have conquered Earth and now seek to destroy the last remnants of humanity. The astronauts fight back and soon discover how to rid themselves of the alien threat.




DIRECTED & WRITTEN BY - Steven L. Fawcette
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS - Steven L. Fawcette, Angelique Fawcette, Buster Pelster, Susan Waters, John L. Strauss, John Rexroth
PRODUCER - Angelique Fawcette
CO-PRODUCER - Nichelle Nichols
CINEMATOGRAPHER - Thor Wixom
EDITOR - Thor Wixom
ASSISTANT EDITOR - Nick Brosco
TRAILER EDITOR - Nick Brosco
SOUNDTRACK COMPOSED BY - Gerald Fried

ABOUT ARCHANGEL FILMS LA, LLC
ARCHANGEL FILMS LA, LLC is an independent film company based in Los Angeles, California, looking to create quality action and comedy films with an esoteric and a thought-provoking edge.

http://www.archangelfilmsllcla.com/
https://twitter.com/ADiffKindaTrek/
https://business.facebook.com/officialunbelievablethemovie/
https://www.instagram.com/unbelievablemv/



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Monday, August 29, 2016

DARK COVE -- Movie Review by Porfle



It seems there's this thing called "delayed gratification" which heightens one's anticipation of an impending pleasure by temporarily denying it.  DARK COVE (2016) stretches this concept to its limit.

It eventually morphs into a mildly interesting thriller at some point during its second half, but really makes us earn that (very) mild interest by being one of the most boring movies ever for at least a full 45 minutes or so.

During that time, we're treated to what amounts to a painfully uneventful camping trip in the Canadian wilds (you know, just like those camping trips that neither you nor any of your friends ever wanted to go on in real life) by a group of five young people so obnoxious that we thoroughly despise them all less than five minutes into the film and want to see them get killed as soon and as horribly as possible.


"Joey", the party-hearty cut-up who's supposed to be funny, is especially horrible-death-worthy.  But we also learn to loathe their full-of-himself leader Quinn (director and co-writer Rob Willey), Quinn's bland girfriend Lacey (Jules Cotton), her equally bland friend Jen (Montanna McNalley), and Quinn's alpha-male buddy Donnie (Cameron Crosby). 

What really makes these people so insufferable is the fact that, for the first three quarters of the film, they never shut up.  It seems that some screenwriters these days are still having their characters jabber away about mundane crap (much of it sounds improvised) in hopes that they'll accidentally come up with another "Royale with cheese" exchange or something. But in this case it's just endless drivel that you wouldn't even be interested in if you knew these people.

As we watch them drinking beer and ingesting various illicit substances around the campfire--and wait patiently for them to start dying--we keep wondering which variation of the "city kids on an ill-fated camping trip" movie this is going to be.


That is, we wonder whether they'll get stalked by a slasher-killer or urban legend boogeyman, or run into some local yokels who are up to no good, or just have it out amongst themselves due to bad interpersonal vibes or a violent reaction to shrooms or something. 

(Strangely, the script is devoid of the usual ominous foreshadowing save for a minor musical sting here and there.)

The plot starts to thicken (finally!) when they encounter three Australians camping right down the beach from them--a couple of brawny surfers in wet suits and their hippy-dippy friend--and we wonder if one of these guys is going to take offense at some slight and go haywire with an axe or whatever.


We're especially suspicious of Chase (Ty Stokoe), the muscular bald-pated surfer who looks as though he might be a hair's breadth from flaking out. 

Naturally, something does eventually occur which leads to a big-time flake-out by one or more of the principal characters, and it's here that I'm loath to divulge any more details.  Suffice it to say that bloody axe-murder death and other unpleasantries ensue, bodies are disposed of, a concerned forest ranger shows up, and everybody get stalked. 

But none of it ever really goes anywhere storywise, and just when you think things might be getting more interesting the whole thing comes to an abrupt end. 

DARK COVE wants to be a suspenseful, nail-biting thriller, but there just isn't much "there" there.  While it's markedly superior to many I've seen along the same lines (THE EVIL WOODS and MOTOR HOME MASSACRE skulk to mind) and much of the photography is quite good, it's the sort of time-waster that really does make you feel as though you've wasted your time. 

Now on Digital HD and Canadian Cable VOD

Order  Dark Cove on iTunes
Order Dark Cove on Amazon Instant
Order Dark Cove on Google Play
Order Dark Cove on Vimeo

The iTunes release of Dark Cove exclusively includes a feature-length commentary with writer-director Rob Willey, a gag reel and audition footage.



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Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION) -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



I watched an awful lot of afternoon TV back in the 80s, but I somehow missed out on "Transformers."  (Although I did buy my nephew one of the toys for Christmas once.) 

This half-hour cartoon series--some would call it an extended toy commercial--about the never-ending war for planet Earth between two opposing factions of intelligent shape-shifting robots named the Autobots and the Decepticons, who can all turn into various high-powered vehicles or cyber-creatures, ran from 1984-87 and garnered a fervent cult following for which it rated a feature-film treatment in 1986. 

Thus, THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION) (Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios, 2-disc Blu-ray) is a great way not only to catch up on what all the nostalgia's about but also to see it at what I assume to be its very best.


Even for a "Transformers" novice like myself, the 80s nostalgia that this rollicking animated space adventure radiates is intoxicating.  It's old-school anime-style cel animation without the CGI gimmicks.  Even if it sometimes betrays its TV origins, it looks fantastic.  And it has a voice cast that's to short-circuit for. 

The film opens with a pretty spectacular sequence in which a renegade planet-sized robot named Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles in his final film appearance) attacks a peaceful world populated by robots and ingests it for fuel.  The artistic depiction of this massive global devastation is stunning, the first of several more upcoming scenes that will dazzle the viewer.

After a "Superman: The Movie"-style main titles sequence featuring the show's familiar theme song, we then settle into the story proper as our mechanical heroes, the Autobots, thunder into action to stave off an attack from the evil Decepticons in the far-off year of 2005.


No sooner is this action-packed battle over than Unicron shows up and transforms some of the surviving Decepticons into his own personal army with which to defeat the Autobots and steal from them an all-powerful device known as the Matrix of Leadership.  Leonard Nimoy himself provides the voice for Unicron's duplicitous number-one, Galvatron (formerly Megatron), who covets the Matrix for himself.

An interesting side note: the deaths and transformations of several regular characters during this sequence are a result of the scripters' instructions to retire the old line of toys and replace them with new ones for young viewers to covet.  This proved to be more traumatic for fans than anyone expected, especially the intensely dramatic death of the Autobots' leader, Optimus Prime, who passed the Matrix on to new leader Ultra Magnus (voiced by Robert Stack.) 

The rest of the film is a robot vs. robot free-for-all with several cool detours along the way, including a visit to a junk planet with "Monty Python" alum Eric Idle voicing a comedic bot named "Wreck-Gar" who listens to too much Earth television, and an encounter with a race of grotesque mecha-beings whose main form of entertainment is to conduct kangaroo courts in which to sentence strangers such as Hot Rod (Judd Nelson) and Kup (Lionel Stander) to "death-by-sharkticon."


Dealing with these foes leads to the ultimate battle with Unicron (who turns out to be one huge transformer himself) and his dark forces which provides the film with its thrilling finale. By this time, I was finally starting to sort out all the many characters including good guys Hot Rod, Kup (he turns into a pickup--get it?), female robot Arcee, human Spike and his plucky son Daniel--both of whom also get to be transformers by wearing exo-suits--Bumblebee, Blurr, and the diminutive Wheelie.

Much comedy relief is provided by the Dinobots, who lack all social graces, talk in Bizarro-Speak ("Me, Grimlock, want to munch metal!"), and live for the times in which old soldier Kup regales them all with oft-told war stories ("Tell Grimlock about petro-rabbits again!") The Decepticons are also good for a few laughs when their inter-family squabbles escalate into all-out fights for dominance among the different robot clans. 

Character design is good and the backgrounds are often beautiful.  The musical score is okay when we aren't assaulted by bad 80s arena rock (I did enjoy hearing "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Dare to Be Stupid" at one point).


Dialogue ranges from likably dumb ("Your days are numbered now, Decepti-creeps!") to quite good, as in the numerous exchanges between Welles and Nimoy.  Celebrity voice talent also includes Scatman Crothers ("Jazz"), Casey Kasem ("Cliffjumper"), Clive Revill ("Kickback"), Norm Alden ("Kranix"), and Roger C. Carmel ("Cyclonus"). Legendary voice performer Frank Welker takes on no less than six different roles.

The 2-disc Blu-ray set from Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios gives us both the 1.85:1 widescreen version (disc 1) and the full screen version (disc 2) with English stereo and 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Remastered from a brand-new 4k transfer of original film elements.  (A steelbook edition and a single-disc DVD edition with only the widescreen version plus digital copy are also available.)

Special features include a lengthy and highly-informative behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "'Til All Are One" (the segment on voice talent is especially fun), several other short featurettes, animated storyboards, trailers and TV spots, and an audio commentary with director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dill, and star Susan Blu ("Arcee").  The cover illustration is reversible.  Also contains the code for downloading a digital copy.

THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION) is good old bombastic meat-and-potatoes space opera for kids and adults alike, with a welcome anime flavor.  It should rocket original fans of the show right back to their childhoods (or teenhoods, as the case may be) while gaining new ones such as myself who just love a good mind-expanding sci-fi adventure.  

Street date: Sept. 13, 2016

Pre-order now:

Limited Edition Steelbook
Blu-ray
DVD

www.shoutfactory.com
www.hasbro.com

Images shown are not taken from the Blu-ray disc.


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Friday, August 26, 2016

I WILL WALK LIKE A CRAZY HORSE -- DVD Review by Porfle



I WILL WALK LIKE A CRAZY HORSE, aka J'irai comme un cheval fou (1973), features yet another warped mother-son relationship (a la VIVA LA MUERTE) that makes me wonder how much of it is also drawn from Arrabal's own experiences and/or hangups, and how much is just him messing with us. The main part of the story, however, is like a wish-fulfillment dream that mixes the surrealism of his other work with the childlike fantasy of THE EMPEROR OF PERU, building to a bizarre yet oddly optimistic ending.

After apparently murdering his rich, clinging mother and fleeing with her cash and jewels into the desert, Aden Ray (American actor George Shannon) encounters a primitive Pan-like troll named Marvel. This naive and gentle soul lives in a cave with his goat Theresa and various snakes, scorpions, and insects, and knows nothing of the outside world. When asked if he can read, Marvel responds, "What does 'read' mean?"

Marvel asks about civilization, and as Aden tells him how wonderful it is we see people in gas masks making joyless love and racing around with shopping carts. Television, he explains, is "a blind woman who teaches philosophy and caresses the foulest recesses of our brains."
Every time Aden describes the wonders of his world his words seem hollow and meaningless, although the naive Marvel finds them intriguing and funny.


Fascinated by Marvel's utterly guileless innocence and mystical communion with nature, and reveling in the first taste of freedom that he's ever known, Aden nevertheless can't wait to introduce the eager naif to the big city, which, of course, will have consequences both delightful and dire. All the while, police continue to close in on the fugitive Aden, and his newfound happiness with his soulmate Marvel proves fleeting.

While VIVA LA MUERTE was unrelentingly downbeat, this time Arrabal renders dreamlike images both dark and enchanting. The former dominates early on as we see some of the traumas that warped Aden's childhood, including the time he stumbled upon his mother (Emmanuelle Riva) being willingly sexually abused and degraded by the handyman. While she gets what is commonly known as a "facial", a distraught and confused Aden masturbates himself into a frothing epileptic seizure.

Heavily symbolic scenes include the boy Aden as Baby Jesus, mouth taped shut, as his Virgin Mary mother drives needles into his penis, and the older Aden lying catatonic in his mother's arms as she lights his erect member like a candle. Yikes. It's no wonder that he fantasizes about nailing her outstretched tongue to a table.

On a lighter note--traditionally handsome Aden and childlike dwarf Marvel make quite a pair. Their first meeting is hilarious--Marvel offers Aden some food, which he likes. What is it, he asks. "I wrapped it in rose petals," Marvel says proudly. "A little flour...mixed with goat shit." Aden watches in wonder as Marvel greets the morning by twirling ecstatically like a top beneath the rising sun until he levitates. Some blind desert dwellers arrive and implore him to heal them, which he does by dabbing their eyes with his saliva.

Hachemi Marzouk is perfect in the role--you can't help but be captivated by this grotesque little bundle of joy as he scurries around with no ambition whatsoever except to know and give happiness, and dispensing miracles without a second thought. "What is happiness?" he asks, and while Aden ponders the question, Marvel answers it himself by scampering down a sand dune with joyful abandon.


When the two arrive in the city, we fear that the awestruck Marvel will be corrupted by its sin and temptation. Yet it's as though he has a force-field of innocence that prevents this from happening. When a scheming circus owner tricks him into dancing around in boxer shorts for paying customers, Marvel not only enjoys the experience but shares his joy with everyone else by releasing some lions from their cages, causing a panic. Aden keeps trying to get unwilling hookers to give him his first sexual experience, yet Marvel, with his sweet personality, manages to snag a beautiful woman into a whirlwind marriage ceremony presided over by his goat.

One of the most vividly moving sequences takes place in a church after Marvel impulsively insists on attending mass. As a dour priest haranges his flock about their impending damnation, the tearful Marvel approaches a large crucifix and gently removes the crown of thorns and a nail from one hand, magically drawing blood. "Blasphemer!" everyone angrily accuses, yet for a moment we see the image of a loving Christ smiling down upon him.

The DVD from Cult Epics is in 1.78:1 widescreen with French soundtrack and English subtitles. Extras include a lobbycard gallery, the trailer for VIVA LA MUERTE, a six-page foldout booklet with liner notes by Rayo Casablanca, and another interesting interview with Arrabal.

After the on-the-nose autobiographical odyssey of VIVA LA MUERTE, I WILL WALK LIKE A CRAZY HORSE finds Arrabal beginning to express other feelings in other ways. The final gripping minutes are both horrifying--some will find them utterly disgusting--and inspirational, climaxing in a thrilling moment of hard-earned transcendence. The horror has barely faded before a happy ending leaves us smiling, and the swirling maelstrom of Arrabal's imagination seems to have been allowed a brief moment of peace.

Read our review of THE FERNANDO ARRABAL COLLECTION



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Thursday, August 25, 2016

"TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL" Now Available on Blu-Ray & DVD



Read our review

Tab Hunter Confidential Now on Blu-Ray & DVD

Revealing True Story of a 1950s Hollywood Heartthrob
Autographed Copies Available from TabHunter.com

"A savvy, rollicking, eye-popping film" -- Vanity Fair

"Tells a story that defies expectations" -- Village Voice

"One of the 10 Best LGBT Documentaries of 2015" -- The Advocate

   
Los Angeles, CA - After an incredible year on the film festival circuit and a theatrical run across fifty cities in the United States, the acclaimed documentary Tab Hunter Confidential is available to rent or own on Blu-Ray and DVD from FilmRise.   Based on Tab's New York Times best-selling memoir, producer Allan Glaser and director Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine) have assembled dozens of past and present Hollywood stars, and most importantly the man himself, to talk frankly about being a survivor of the Hollywood roller coaster.

Throughout the 1950s, Tab Hunter reigned as Hollywood's ultimate heartthrob. In dozens of films, and in the pages of countless magazines, Tab's astonishing looks and golden-boy sex appeal drove his fans to screaming, delirious frenzy, solidifying him the prototype for all young matinee idols to come. 


Tab Hunter Confidential is available on iTunes with exclusive bonus features and also on Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu and more.   The Blu-Ray & DVD is available nationwide, with autographed copies only available on Tab Hunter's official website, www.tabhunter.com.

Bristling against being just another pretty face and wanting to be taken seriously, Tab was one of the few to be able to transcend pin-up boy status. He earned his stripes as an actor to become a major movie star and recording artist.

But throughout his years of stardom, Tab had a secret. Tab Hunter was gay, and spent his Hollywood years in a precarious closet that repeatedly threatened to implode and destroy him. Decades later, Tab's dramatic, turbulent and ultimately inspiring life story has become an explosive documentary feature.

Tab Hunter Confidential offers unprecedented access to the man behind the marquee smile, who shares first hand what it was like to be a manufactured movie star during the Golden Age of Hollywood and the consequences of being someone totally different from his studio image. The film traces Tab's dizzying rise to Hollywood super-stardom, his secret life in an era when being openly gay was unthinkable, and his ultimate triumph when the limelight finally passed him by and true love won.

Punctuating Tab's on-screen presence are rare film clips and provocative interviews with friends and co-stars including John Waters, Clint Eastwood, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Portia de Rossi, Noah Wyle, Connie Stevens, Robert Osborne, and dozens more.

             Tab Hunter Confidential (Official Trailer)


Order Tab Hunter Confidential on iTunes

Order Tab Hunter Confidential on Blu-Ray & DVD (Optional Autograph)

Order Tab Hunter Confidential (Blu-Ray) on Amazon

Order Tab Hunter Confidential (DVD) on Amazon

The Blu-ray (SRP $19.95) and DVD (SRP $14.95) release of Tab Hunter Confidential includes extended interviews with Tab Hunter, Hollywood legends John Waters, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Osborne, Robert Wagner and many others.



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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Olive Films Releases Long-Lost DeMille Silent, Gems of 1950's Sci-Fi



Olive Films Releases Once-Lost DeMille Silent and Sci-Fi B-Movie Classics

Chicago, IL – Olive Films, a boutique theatrical and home entertainment distribution label dedicated to bringing independent, foreign, and classic films to DVD and Blu-ray, is excited to announce that September 13th will be the release date of seven new titles, including Cecil B. DeMille’s once-lost silent The Captive (1915), monster movie gem The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1958), and beloved (but controversial among purists) Republic serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (1955).


THE CAPTIVE (1915)
Thought to be lost for many years, this early Cecil B. DeMille feature was thankfully discovered in Paramount’s vault in 1970. Olive Films’ DVD and Blu-ray release on September 13th will mark the film’s first availability on home media. In addition to being from one of the all-time great American directors, the film was also produced by Jesse L. Lasky, who would form the prolific Famous Players-Lasky Corporation responsible for 731 features and 363 shorts from 1916 to 1919.

The film also boasts a somewhat storied production history. According to rumor, DeMille and his co-writer Jeannie MacPherson engaged in an affair during writing and shooting. If one believes this story, indications of their relationship can be found in the subtexts of the film itself. On a darker turn, an extra was unfortunately killed during filming. According to star Blanche Sweet, this was a result of real, loaded guns being used as props. More tragedy followed shortly after filming ended, as Page Peters, who was just rising to fame as an actor, drowned in 1916.

For the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Captive, Olive Films has commissioned a brand-new score by composer Lucy Duke. “The opportunity to create an original score to a DeMille silent film is a singular opportunity– a musician’s dream come true!” said composer Lucy Duke. “I hope that the music is true to the era while remaining valid in a contemporary context, shining a new light on this film.”

THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1958)

The Monster of Piedras Blancas, previously unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray, has become a sort of Holy Grail of monster b-movies. Shot over the course of two weeks, the film was produced with a final budget of $29,000. This micro-budget necessitated a resourceful craftsmanship from the filmmakers that resulted in the endearingly campy monster flick that fans know and love. For example, the monster’s costume supposedly recycled the hands from The Mole People (1956) and the feet from This Island Earth (1955). Many people note its similarities to the Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) creature, and indeed producer Jack Kevan had a hand in the costume and makeup of both films. Science Fiction fans will also recognize prolific actor Les Tremayne (The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet) and pin-up queen Jeanne Carmen (The Devil’s Hand). At the time of its original release, its shocking gore earned it a place in the hearts of many young horror fans. This b-movie monster gem arrives on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time ever on September 13th.

COMMANDO CODY: SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE (1955)

Another title coming to DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films on September 13th is the Republic Serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. A debate exists among serial purists as to whether or not it can truly be counted as part of the serial canon. Originally, its 12 episodes were intended for a weekly television series. Its premiere, however, was as a weekly theatrical serial in 1953, with it finally airing on television in 1955. Episodes do not end with the traditional cliffhanger, but they do share many other themes and even characters in common with the canonical serials. In fact, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe can be considered a prequel to Radar Men from the Moon, in which the titular character first appeared. According to rumor, the character always wore a mask because producers wanted the actor playing him to be more dispensable.



Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

Blu-ray debut of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), directed by Melville Shavelson, starring Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, Van Johnson, Tim Matheson, and Tom Bosley.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1964)

Blu-ray debut of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1964), directed by Robert Hampton (aka Riccardo Freda), starring Barbara Steele, Robert Flemyng, Montgomery Glenn (aka Silvano Tranquili), and Teresa Fitzgerald (aka Maria Teresa Vianello).

Note: Olive Films will be presenting the 77-minute US cut, as it is currently the only version available for licensing. Contrary to popular opinion, the US cut is not censored to be less explicit– the cuts affect mostly the pacing.

Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again (1982)

Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again (1982), directed by Jerry Belson, starring Mark Blankfield, Bess Armstrong, Tim Thomerson, Krista Errickson.

Mankillers (1987)

DVD and Blu-ray debut of Mankillers (1987), directed by David A. Prior, starring Edd Byrnes, Gail Fisher, Edy Williams, Lynda Aldon, William Zipp, Suzanne Tegmann, and Christine Lunde.

About Olive Films
Olive Films is a Chicago-based boutique theatrical and home entertainment distribution label dedicated to bringing independent, foreign, documentary, and classic films to life. Its catalog boasts over 500 titles ranging from Hollywood classics to contemporary titles. More information about Olive Films may be found at olivefilms.com.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

AMERICAN NINJA -- DVD Review by Porfle



If movies like DIE HARD, RAMBO, and LETHAL WEAPON are the filet mignon of 80s action flicks, then movies like 1985's AMERICAN NINJA (Olive Films, Blu-ray and DVD) are the Hungry Man TV dinners.  Cheaper and not as fancy, perhaps, but tasty and filling nonetheless.

That pretty much describes most of the Cannon Group's output at the time, with producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus filling a definite niche audience's needs with low-budget action blockbusters such as ENTER THE NINJA and its sequels, with the occasional breakdancing comedy thrown in for good measure. 

Here, we get the saga of a mysterious young soldier named Joe (Michael Dudikoff, BLOODY BIRTHDAY, TRON), stationed at an American army base in the Philippines, who springs into action when his convoy is attacked by ninjas and he must defend the colonel's daughter Judie (Patricia Hickock, WEIRD SCIENCE, F13: THE FINAL CHAPTER), resulting in his being blamed for the deaths of some of his fellow soldiers. 


At first ostracized by his own platoon, Joe gains their respect when he defeats another private named Curtis Jackson in hand-to-hand combat.  Curtis is played by my man Steve James who would take on Willem Dafoe the same year in William Friedkin's renegade-cop classic TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.

With Jackson's help, Joe goes on to get the goods on a conspiracy between certain military officers and a local crime kingpin named Ortega (soap opera star Don Taylor, "The Young and the Restless") to supply stolen weapons to local rebels for a big profit. 

As you might guess, this endeavor will result in frequent bouts of intense action, and lots of it.  The likable Dudikoff isn't the most expressive of actors but this seems to fit his withdrawn and socially awkward character (Joe doesn't remember his childhood or how he learned his ninja skills) and his considerable physical prowess fully compensating for any shortcomings.  The same goes for Steve James' "muscular" performance, which adds zing to every scene he's in even when the script gives him some pretty silly lines. 


Of course there's the standard romantic angle when the initially bitchy Judie (I really wanted her to get blown away by the bad guys during her more insufferable early scenes) warms up to her rescuer Joe and eventually falls for him.  Judie will keep the plot interesting by continuing to get kidnapped throughout the film, making it necessary for Joe and Curtis to rescue her repeatedly. 

But what really makes AMERICAN NINJA so watchable are the many action sequences, which are fun and exciting despite the fact that the low budget necessitated a very quick shooting schedule with less rehearsal time than was needed to fine-tune the stunt choreography and other action elements. 

Still, Polish director Sam Firstenberg--who also gave us the dual Lucinda Dickey classics NINJA III: THE DOMINATION and BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO--overcomes his limited resources and packs the story with as much martial arts mayhem (ninja battles abound), shoot-em-up scenes, and vehicular destruction that we could hope for. 


The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with mono sound and subtitles in English.  "A Rumble in the Jungle: The Making of 'American Ninja'" is a fascinating featurette that recounts the making of the film in detail with several of its cast and crew members on hand.  A commentary track with director Firstenberg and the featurette's co-producer Elijah Drenner of Olive Films is just like I like them--scene specific, enthusiastic, and loaded with information and anecdotes.  The film's trailer is also included.

A final free-for-all battle between the good guys and the ninjas tops off AMERICAN NINJA in relatively grand style as this Golan-Globus production pushes its modest budget to the limit.  It may not be filet mignon, but it is a heaping helping of meat and potatoes with all the trimmings. 

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Horror Soap Opera "HELL TOWN" Now Available on Cable VOD & Digital HD from Gravitas Ventures



Steve Balderson's Horror Soap Opera Hell Town
Presented by Scream Queen Debbie Rochon
Now Available on Cable VOD and Digital HD
From Gravitas Ventures
                                                       
"Directors Steve Balderson and Elizabeth Spear take the typical soap opera and spoof it until it bleeds profusely."-Dread Central

Read our review


Watch the trailer
   
Los Angeles, CA - Steve Balderson's festival favorite Hell Town is now available to rent or own starting August 23rd on Dish Network, Cox, Charter, Verizon Fios, iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu and more from Gravitas Ventures.  Presented as three episodes of a sadistic twist on Masterpiece Theater, Balderson (Firecracker, The Casserole Club) and co-director Elizabeth Spear have carved up a serialized story filled with catfights, cliffhangers, broken hearts and murder. 

Order Hell Town on iTunes


Since the world premiere sponsored by the Austin Horror Society and Alamo Drafthouse, Hell Town has made audiences and critics laugh and scream, picking up awards for Best Feature at Colorado Horror-Con, as well as a Best Feature and Best Actress win for Amanda Deibert, with nominations for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography, at the Crimson Scream Horror Film Festival.

Debbie Rochon (Model Hunger, Return to Nuke 'Em High, The Theater Bizarre) headlines as the hostess of the three surviving episodes of "Hell Town", following the melodramatic, small-town and potentially short-lived lives of Krysten Day, Amanda Deibert, Owen Lawless, Ben Windholz, Jennifer Grace and Balderson muse Pleasant Gehman.

Hell Town follows the melodramatic antics of high school seniors clashing over love, sex, and betrayal.  In the middle of all the everyday drama of one-sided infatuations, backstabbing bitchiness, bottled-up sexuality, sibling rivalry and general small-town angst, the Letter Jacket Killer is killing students in a variety of sadistic ways.  As the body count rises and the blood pools closer to home, it becomes clear that one of our main characters is the killer.  Everyone, from the prom queen and shirtless jock to the nosey geek and the super bitch, are all suspects in the carnage.



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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

WILD IN THE STREETS -- DVD Review by Porfle



What would happen if a rock-singing hippie in his early 20s could run for President?  And 14-year-olds could vote for him?  And Shelley Winters was his mom? 

These and hundreds of other questions are answered in goofy and sometimes scary psychedelic splashes of cinematic wonderfulness in the 1968 American-International classic WILD IN THE STREETS (Olive Films, Blu-ray and DVD). 

The film vividly depicts a Hollywoodized view of the 60s counter-culture era with its constant clashes between the younger and older generations--represented by bellbottoms, long hair, groovy lingo, and drug use on one side, and either straitlaced moral rigidity or sad attempts to remain "relevant" to the younger set, despite encroaching age, on the other--and is packed to the gills with knowing satire that skewers them both to the very core at every delightfully hokey turn.


If it seems dumb, it's deliberately so, almost in the same way that the "Batman" TV series with Adam West risked looking stupid to deliver its payload of delicious deadpan humor.  (Minus, that is, the more farcical elements of that show and plus a stern voiceover by Paul Frees.)

And yet, it's this quality that allows the story at times to sneak up on the unsuspecting viewer with a powerful emotional wallop which, especially during the film's downbeat climax, turns the improbable fantasy into a too-close-for-comfort Orwellian nightmare. 

The film's nominal "hero", Max Frost (James Dean lookalike Christopher Jones), who mass-produces LSD in the basement of his family home, rebels against his conservative father (Bert Freed) and dippy, clinging mother (Shelley Winters at her overpowering, self-deprecating best), leaving them to become a millionaire rock star with a loyal entourage that includes Richard Pryor, Larry Bishop (HELL RIDE, KILL BILL VOL. 2), and Diane Varsi as sexy acid-head "Sally LeRoy."


Ambitious senatorial candidate John Fergus (Hal Holbrook) makes the mistake of enlisting Max and his band to help him court the youth vote, but Max uses it as an opportunity to rouse his frenzied followers into a movement to lower the voting age to fourteen. 

When this (improbably) occurs, Max then rides his superstardom all the way to the presidency itself, whereupon he declares thirty to be the new mandatory retirement age.  At thirty-five, all citizens are to be interned in concentration camps where they'll be fed LSD to keep them docile and out of the younger generation's way.

Along the way, we're treated to some really great scenes that run the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Winters is hilarious in her bull-in-a-china-closet efforts--doomed from the start--to ingratiate herself with her newly-moneyed son and appear young and hip.  She's really amazing to watch.


Max's rise to power, taunting disrespect for the establishment, and easy manipulation of the masses are potent fantasy, while seasoned actors such as Hal Holbrook and Ed Begley, Sr. lend needed dramatic weight to their scenes.  (Seeing Begley and the rest of Congress tripping out on LSD after Max and his "troops" have spiked Washington, D.C.'s water supply is a trip in itself.)

The songs aren't half bad, either, including the haunting "The Shape of Things to Come" which follows a Kent State-style shooting during a massive protest rally. 

Director Barry Shear worked mainly in television and gives WILD IN THE STREETS the look of a gilt-edged TV movie with welcome bursts of color and style.  Scripter Robert Thom adds another winner to a body of work that also includes DEATH RACE 2000, BLOODY MAMA, THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, and ALL THE FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS. Importantly, his "generation gap" screenplay doesn't choose sides--it's a wickedly satirical putdown of both. Composer Les Baxter contributes his usual lively musical score. 


In addition to the rest of the standout cast, a major part of the film's appeal is its star, Christopher Jones, whose uncanny resemblance to James Dean (in looks if not acting skill) is of constant visual interest.  He carries the picture as its charismatic focal point and makes us feel a dramatic involvement in scenes that might otherwise seem insubstantial while deftly revealing to us his "Angel of Light" character's inner corruptness. 

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with 2.0 mono sound and English subtitles.  A trailer is the sole extra.

My older sister used to take me to grown-up movies all the time back in the pre-ratings-system days when such films, as does this one, carried a "suggested for mature audiences" disclaimer.  (It has since been rated "R" mainly for its depiction of drug use.)  I vividly remember watching WILD IN THE STREETS with her in our local movie theater then, and now, 48 years later, I still find it just as disturbing, just as crazy, and just as wildly whacked-out--but a whole lot funnier. 

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Twitter: @OliveFilms

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"THE NEON DEAD" Lights Up on DVD and Digital HD September 13th



VFX Artist Torey Haas Climbs into the Director's Chair
The Neon Dead Available on DVD & Digital HD September 13th from Wild Eye Releasing

"Imaginative, fun and strongly recommended."

--Daily Grindhouse


"This is the most fun I have had with a movie in a long time."
--Horror Society


New York, NY - Wild Eye Releasing is flipping the switch with the DVD and Digital HD release of The Neon Dead.  The directorial debut from visual effects artist Torey Haas (V/H/S Viral, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie), The Neon Dead stars Marie Barker, Mark Ashworth (The Magnificent Seven, Cell, "Sleepy Hollow"), Greg Garrison, Dylan Schettina, Nathan DeRussy and Candace Mabry (Restoration, Too Many Cooks).   The Neon Dead will be available to rent or own on DVD and Digital HD nationwide on September 13th.

An unemployed college graduate hires two paranormal exterminators to combat a monster infestation in her new home. But their prodding into an evil out of their depth unleashes an ancient demon.  He and his army of monsters quickly overrun the home, intent on possessing every human they make contact with.

The DVD release of The Neon Dead (SRP $19.95) will exclusively include a feature-length commentary with director Torey Haas, bonus scenes, two monster shorts (First Date, Troll Picnic) by director Torey Haas and a creature profile

                            The Neon Dead (Official Trailer)


Order The Neon Dead on Amazon



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FSLC and Disney Announce a 25th Anniversary Screening of "Beauty and the Beast"



THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER AND DISNEY
ANNOUNCE A 25th ANNIVERSARY SCREENING OF
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST ON SEPTEMBER 18

Featuring original voice cast members Robby Benson, Paige O’Hara,
Angela Lansbury, and Richard White in person


New York, NY (August 16, 2016) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Disney are pleased to announce a 25th anniversary screening of Beauty and the Beast, presented Sunday, September 18 at Alice Tully Hall.

In September 1991, two months before its theatrical release, Disney’s animated masterpiece Beauty and the Beast screened as a “Work in Progress” at the 29th New York Film Festival in Alice Tully Hall. Even though a third of the film consisted of storyboard art and black-and-white animation tests, the screening garnered a standing ovation.

When it was released, it became an instant classic. Visually lavish and musically exuberant, the fairy-tale adaptation was one of the first Disney features to incorporate elements of computer-generated imagery with hand-drawn animation, and it would be the first animated film to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, winning awards for best score and original song.

In anticipation of the 54th New York Film Festival, Beauty and the Beast returns to Alice Tully Hall for a special 25th anniversary screening for Film Society members to celebrate the film and its vibrant cultural legacy.

“One of the most vivid memories I have of a rousing New York Film Festival evening was the 1991 screening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” said Wendy Keys, former NYFF Selection Committee member and FSLC Executive Producer. “Because we showed it in a somewhat unfinished form—we saw animation in all its different phases—we were invited to examine the process without losing any of the narrative power or emotional impact. Astonishing!”

Original voice cast members Robby Benson (Beast), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), and Richard White (Gaston) will appear in person for an extended introduction.

Tickets are $20 and on sale now at filmlinc.org. This special event is available exclusively to Film Society members and patrons. Learn more about Film Society membership at filmlinc.org/membership.

ABOUT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Walt Disney Pictures’ magical animated classic Beauty and the Beast captures the magical journey of Belle, an independent and intelligent modern-day heroine who’s taken prisoner by a hideous Beast in his castle. Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff—a teapot, a candelabra, and a mantel clock, among others—and ultimately learns to see beneath the Beast’s exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince.

ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY SIGNATURE COLLECTION
The Walt Disney Signature Collection includes groundbreaking films created or inspired by the imagination and legacy of Walt Disney, featuring timeless stories and characters that have touched generations. Each release will offer special features for every member of your family plus a unique digital experience.

ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
For over 90 years, the Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which the Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music, and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; Lucasfilm; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live-action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!

FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema. The only branch of the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center to shine a light on the everlasting yet evolving importance of the moving image, this nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film. Via year-round programming and discussions; its annual New York Film Festival; and its publications, including Film Comment, the U.S.’s premier magazine about films and film culture, the Film Society endeavors to make the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broader audience, as well as to ensure that it will remain an essential art form for years to come.

The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from American Airlines, The New York Times, HBO, The Kobal Collection, Variety, Loews Regency Hotel, Row NYC Hotel, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.



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Monday, August 15, 2016

THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION -- DVD Review by Porfle



While not quite the epic you might expect from the title, THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (1957) is a good example of how a great director's lesser efforts (in this case, Stanley Kramer) can still make for a fun and rewarding watch. 

Here, in fact, the unintentional hokiness in this C.S. Forester adaptation by husband and wife team Edna and Edward Anhalt (PANIC IN THE STREETS) and performances by some miscast yet likable stars make the film way more watchable than it would've been without it. 

The mercifully simple story is a 19th-century military yarn about a huge cannon that's pushed over a cliff by retreating Spanish soldiers to keep it out of the hands of a conquering Napoleon.  The English army sends naval captain Cary Grant (TO CATCH A THIEF) to recover it with the help of the Spanish, but local rebel leader Frank Sinatra (as "Miguel") insists that Cary first help them transport the great cannon to the walled city of Avila and retake it from the French.



Lugging that big heavy cannon across the Spanish terrain with the French army searching all over for their ragtag group is no easy task, and the journey gives Cary and Frank plenty of time to clash, not only over their own vast differences (Cary's a proper, by-the-book officer while Frank's peasant rebel is brash, cocky, and headstrong) but also over Sophia Loren as an improbably sexy country babe whose impetuous beauty gives the men even more reason to compete.

Most of the action and suspense in the film's first half involve their efforts to raise the cannon out of the deep gorge in which it was pushed, hiding it from passing French troops (who somehow miss the deep grooves that the cannon's wheels must be carving into the landscape), crossing rivers and blowing up bridges, and engaging the enemy in combat while trying to rouse the local Spaniards to their aid. 

In addition to this are the usual romantic complications that follow when Sophia starts to fall for the irresistible Cary while agonizing over her loyalty for long-time beau Frank, with whom she's lived for many years.  (In one touching scene, cobbler Frank makes her a pair of shoes, compounding her emotional dilemma.)



Meanwhile, Theodore Bikel (who would later play the doggedly pursuing sheriff in Kramer's THE DEFIANT ONES) is the French general overseeing the occupation of Avila and hanging ten of its citizens per day to punish the errant rebels.  Also getting relatively juicy parts as French officers are familiar character actors Jay Novello and Philip Van Zandt, who previously popped up in such things as Three Stooges comedies and Universal monster movies. 

As you might expect, Cary and Frank eventually form a grudging respect for each other that transcends their differences, although none of these are entirely resolved when the final siege on the city of Avila begins.  It's like THE ALAMO in reverse, with a ragtag group of citizen soldiers taking on a superior military force in a seemingly hopeless battle, but on different sides of the wall this time.

It's at this point that THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION's ambitions come closest to fruition, with a cast of thousands taking part in a furious, explosive battle that's highlighted by an impressive full-scale mockup of the city's immense wall.  For the patient viewer the sequence serves as a reward for enduring all the film's slower and more melodramatic passages.


Cary Grant, of course, is as effortlessly appealing as ever, while the stunning Sophia Loren's impetuous beauty seems somewhat out of place--although welcome just the same--on the Spanish plains. 

Hardest to swallow, though, is "Ol' Blue Eyes" as a brown-eyed Spanish peasant whose inner Nathan Detroit seems ready to burst out at any moment.  Frank filled in for Marlon Brando in the role (I can't see him as "Miguel" either, but who knows?) and came to dislike Spain so much that he left location filming early, making it necessary to shoot some scenes on very obvious studio sets.  His lack of enthusiasm for the project is all too obvious.

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.78:1 widescreen with 2.0 Dolby sound and English subtitles.  No extras.

For director Stanley Kramer, the film is, as stated before, a lesser yet worthwhile effort.  Even his epic comedy IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD has more sweep, and his serious message films such as THE DEFIANT ONES and JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG are deeper, more convincing human dramas.  But for all its faults, I found THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION an absorbing, appealing, and just plain entertaining volley that doesn't quite hit the target. 

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Twitter: @OliveFilms

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Get Caught in the "FLYTRAP" on Digital HD August 23rd



Stephen David Brooks Invites Audiences Into Flytrap
Available Now on Amazon Instant Video
Available August 23rd on iTunes and Vudu

                                                       
"A hint of Kubrick, a soupçon of Tarkovsky, all expertly mixed into an intoxicating cocktail by master barman and writer/director Stephen's very own intriguing brand of dark humour and clever writing. All extremely well lit, shot and acted - Jeremy Crutchley and the rest of the cast are brilliant."
-- International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema London
   
Los Angeles, CA - My Man Productions has announced the rollout release of Stephen David Brooks' Flytrap on Digital HD.  Following an impressive year on the international film festival circuit, Flytrap is now streaming on Amazon Instant Video and Google Play.  It will be available to rent or own starting August 23rd on iTunes, Vudu and more.

Order Flytrap on Amazon Instant

Preorder Flytrap on iTunes


Since its debut on the film festival circuit, Flytrap has consistently won acclaim and awards around the world.  Among the awards won are Best Non-European Indie Feature at the European Independent Film Festival in France, Best Low Budget Feature at Worldfest Houston, Special Jury Prize at the Chelsea Film Festival as well as Best Feature, Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Blechman) and Best Ensemble at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

Jeremy Crutchley ("Salem", "Black Sails") centers the film as a stranger in a strange land held at the whims of peculiar housemates Ina-Alice Kopp (Big Gay Love), Jonah Blechman (This Boy's Life, Another Gay Movie), Gabrielle Stone (Cut!) and Jason Duplissea ("Parks and Recreation").

On the day he arrives in the U.S. to teach at UCLA, paranoia roots itself into James Pond, a reserved English astronomer, who is seduced and quickly trapped in a suburban Los Angeles house by the mysterious and alluring Mary Ann and her equally bizarre housemates.  Are these people in a doomsday cult?  What do they want?  Are they even human?  This psychological, sci-fi thriller hybrid unfolds as James attempts to escape his freakishly foreign captors.  Even if he could escape, would the world believe his crazy story?

Flytrap (Official Trailer)

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Horror Thriller "Don't Breathe" From the Creators of "Evil Dead" Coming Aug. 26




From the Creators of "The Evil Dead"
"DON'T BREATHE"
Coming August 26, 2016

A trio of friends breaks into the house of a blind recluse confident of an easy score only to find themselves in a terrifying life-or-death struggle in Don’t Breathe, the second feature film from writer and director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) and legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi. In his sophomore feature, Alvarez goes for the jugular with an unapologetically brutal and twisted horror-thriller that pits a trio of thieves against an unexpectedly dangerous adversary. 

Determined to escape her abusive mother and save her younger sister from the dead-end existence that seems inevitable for them both, Rocky (Jane Levy) will do whatever it takes to get away.  She and friends Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) have pulled off a series of elaborately planned burglaries in order to come up with enough cash to escape their dire Detroit hometown. Their petty crimes have netted meager rewards, however, so when the trio learns that a blind man (Stephen Lang) living in an abandoned neighborhood has a small fortune stashed in his house, they agree to go for their biggest and final heist.

But their plan goes dangerously wrong when their intended victim turns out to be more frightening than they ever anticipated. As he stalks them relentlessly through his heavily fortified house, they are horrified to discover that he has more than just money hidden away. Shocking and enthralling, Alvarez’s masterful, visually stunning thriller maintains a frenzied pace to the last chilling minute. 

Don’t Breathe stars Jane Levy (Evil Dead), Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps), Daniel Zovatto (It Follows) and Stephen Lang (Avatar, the upcoming Avatars 2, 3 and 4). Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) directs from a script co-written with Rodo Sayagues (Evil Dead). Producers are Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Fede Alvarez. Nathan Kahane, Joe Drake, Erin Westerman, J. R. Young, and Mathew Hart are the executive producers. Director of photography is Pedro Luque (The Silent House). Production designer is Naaman Marshall (The Visit).  Editors are Eric L. Beason, ACE, and Louise Ford (The Witch). Composer is Roque Baños (Evil Dead). Costume designer is Carlos Rosario (Boulevard). Casting by Rich Delia, CSA.     


ABOUT THE PRODUCTION 
In 2013, writer and director Fede Alvarez made his mark in the horror movie world with a bone-chilling reboot of Sam Raimi’s classic, Evil Dead. In his new film, Don’t Breathe, he explores different but equally terrifying territory in a shocking, suspense-driven tale. Alvarez once again joins forces with producers Raimi and Rob Tapert of Ghost House Pictures for a homeinvasion story that blurs the line between horror and thriller. 

“It has elements of both,” says the director. “I wouldn’t call it a hundred percent horror or thriller. But it has a bunch of very scary moments for sure.”

In Don’t Breathe, three friends who commit a string of perfectly planned robberies decide to pull off one final heist when they hear about a blind man living alone in a deserted Detroit neighborhood. “But they are missing some crucial information,” Alvarez says. “This man is unusually resourceful and completely ruthless, to the point where he seems almost superhuman. He’s not going to let them get the money without a fight to the finish.”

Making Evil Dead, his first full-length feature, with Raimi and Tapert’s guidance was an unforgettable experience, says Alvarez. “So we decided to do it again. Sam has been a great mentor. He is not just a great director and producer. He is really a fanboy himself with a firm grasp of his audience.”

Raimi says Alvarez is not only a visionary director, but a consummate collaborator as well. “He possesses a rare combination of great storytelling instincts and the craftsmanship to execute his ideas,” says the prolific filmmaker, whose directing credits include the blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy as well as A Simple Plan, Drag Me to Hell, and the original Evil Dead Trilogy.  “When he brought us this project, we jumped at the opportunity to work with him again. From the beginning, Fede had a distinct vision of an edgy, character-driven thriller for a modern audience. And introducing a blind character opened doors for him to build tension through both visuals and sound design.”  

Alvarez and his co-writer, Rodo Sayagues, set out to script a movie that was nail-bitingly suspenseful, but without an abundance of blood or gore. “Horror is a genre that I love,” the director says. “But this is more complex. The scares are one hundred percent based on the situation and on things that could really happen. To me, that’s much more frightening.” 

Tapert agrees, adding, “Don’t Breathe puts a new spin on the suspense thriller by creating a scenario where the characters’ senses are heightened. It avoids cliché by engaging the audience in a moral quandary. Who is right and who is wrong? And you don’t know exactly how the story will end, which only adds to the tension.”

The script’s three fully fleshed-out protagonists appealed to executive producer Mathew Hart. “They are each at a dead end and desperate to change their lives,” he says. “That leads them to a house where they believe there is enough money to help them do that. In a sense it’s a morality play about decision making set in a great thriller environment.” 

None of the characters is completely admirable, and that is by design, says Alvarez. “I don’t like it when filmmakers force me to pick a side. A lot of the stories I see are very manipulative. I don’t need to be spoon-fed who is good or bad. Let me choose who I like. We show you an array of characters and let you decide. No one is a saint here. Everyone has shady motives. You have to pick the one that you connect with.”

Working with a co-writer with skills that complemented Alvarez’s was key to the creative process. The director estimates that he and Sayagues agree about 50 percent of the time. “That means that another 50 percent we do not, which works great for us. He goes places I would never think of and vice versa. That creates unique material. I create order and he brings in the anarchy. The goriest, most over-the-top moments always come from Rodo.” 

Alvarez’ collaborators all agree that the filmmaker gives every idea due consideration. “Because he is also the writer, he knows the beats of the story intimately,” says Hart. “He seems to effortlessly get the right performances out of the cast, and he’s never indecisive or unsure. But he welcomes input and quite often will incorporate other people’s ideas. And he is always very quick to give credit. It’s a great environment to work in.

Directed by                Fede Alvarez

Written by                Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues

Produced by                                          Sam Raimi
                    Rob Tapert
                    Fede Alvarez

Executive Producers            Nathan Kahane
                    Joe Drake
                    Erin Westerman
                    J.R. Young
                    Mathew Hart

Cast                    Jane Levy
Dylan Minnette
                    Daniel Zovatto
                    and Stephen Lang

The film has a running time of 88 minutes.

This film is rated R by the MPAA for the following reasons: terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references.
 
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