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Friday, September 30, 2016
Olive Films Releases Classic Aviation Film, Rare Counterculture Gem, and New Anime Discoveries
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, has announced that October 18th will be the release date of eight new titles, including a canonical aviation film, and a rare counterculture gem from 1970, and the long-awaited launch of Oribu Anime.
“This Autumn is a very exciting time for us,” said Alex Kopecky of Olive Films. “We’re thrilled by the outpouring of positive responses we’ve received for the debut of our new Olive Signature line. Moreover, we’re also releasing four titles that have never had legitimate DVD releases in the US: The Fake, The King of Pigs, Strategic Air Command, and Little Fauss and Big Halsy as well as four other films new to Blu-ray.”
THE KING OF PIGS (2011) and THE FAKE (2013)
With the DVD and Blu-ray debut of The King of Pigs and The Fake, Olive Films proudly launches Oribu Anime, an exciting new voice in modern animation. Showcasing some of the world’s most provocative animators, Oribu Anime aims to push towards the outer reaches of modern, sophisticated anime. Oribu’s first two titles come from rising Korean director Yeon Sang-ho, whose recent live-action film Train to Busan (2016) has been called the best zombie movie in years. With the director’s international reputation growing every day, audiences are primed to enjoy his earlier animated films.
Both The King of Pigs and The Fake are unflinching, dark, cynical films that comment on Korean society as a whole. The King of Pigs opens moments after a once-successful businessman has brutally murdered his wife. From there, the film flashes back to his school days and the abusive events that shaped his own life. In The Fake, religious figures Elder Choi and Pastor Sung plan to swindle their faithful village out of the money they’re about to receive from a project that involves the whole village being flooded to build a new dam. When a local outcast realizes that their plan will not only steal from the villagers but also put them in danger, he is left with no option but to unleash all hell on the con artists.
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955)
Strategic Air Command is also scheduled to debut on DVD and Blu-ray. Directed by the great Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, June Allyson, and Frank Lovejoy, its absence on disc has left a gaping hole in the collections of aviation film fans, and Olive Films happily fills that void on October 18th. The film’s greatest claim to fame is its stunning aerial photography, which was filmed in Vistavision and is presented here in 1.66:1.
Notably, Strategic Air Command reflects James Stewart’s love of aviation as well as his military background. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941, and after flying 20 combat missions, he became one of few Americans to rise from private to colonel in just four years. When he retired in 1968, he held the rank of Brigadier General. Filmed with cooperation from the Air Force, Strategic Air Command also has the distinction of being the only feature film to ever focus on the B-36 Peacemaker.
LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSY (1970)
Olive Films has also announced the first legitimate DVD and Blu-ray release of Little Fauss and Big Halsy, a film directed by Sidney J. Furie starring Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard, and supermodel Lauren Hutton. Following the motorcycle racing circuit, the film provides an interesting take on the counterculture bike films of its time. It boasts a soundtrack of songs by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Bob Dylan and a screenplay by Charles Eastman that was one of the first film scripts to be published as a hardcover book.
People may also remember the film for the on-set tensions between Robert Redford and Michael J. Pollard, who were rumored to strongly dislike each other. Also, although Redford chose the project in part to undercut his clean, likeable image, he supposedly grew to dislike the film because of the sleazy, caddish character he plays.
It’s unfortunate that Little Fauss and Big Halsy has been so neglected on home media, but Olive Films is proud to change that with their October 18th DVD and Blu-ray release.
Other Olive Films
Blu-ray debut of Villa Rides (1968), directed by Buzz Kulik; starring Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Charles Bronson, Herbert Lom, Robert Viharo, Fernando Rey, Alexander Knox, and Grazia Buccella.
Blu-ray debut of Gas-s-s-s (1970), directed by Roger Corman; starring Cindy Williams, Bud Cort, Ben Vereen, Elain Giftos, and Bob Corff.
Blu-ray debut of The Return of Dracula (1958), directed by Paul Landres; starring Francis Lederer, Norma Eberhardt, Ray Stricklyn, Virginia Vincent, John Wengraf, Gage Clarke, Jimmy Baird, and Greta Granstedt.
Blu-ray debut of Special Effects (1984); directed by Larry Cohen; starring Zoe Tamerlis, Eric Bogosian, Brad Rijn, and Kevin O'Connor.
Bonus Features: New Audio Commentary with director Larry Cohen and filmmaker Steve Mitchell.
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.
Wild Eye Releasing Signs Brett DeJager's
Throwback Horror Slasher Arrives in 2017 on Home Video
New York, NY - Wild Eye Releasing has acquired worldwide distribution rights for Brett DeJager's Bonejangles. "We signed with Wild Eye because we wanted to work with a distributor that understands what good horror movies are all about and had the capacity to get Bonejangles in the hands of as many horror fans as possible.
"You can tell they love a good horror flick just as much as the rest of us, and that is exactly why we trusted them to deliver Bonejangles to the world," DeJager said after the deal was inked.
Over the past year, Bonejangles has made audiences and critics scream, screening at the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival, Scare-A-Con Film Festival and The Indie Horror Drive-In Film Festival.
While transporting the unstoppable killer Bonejangles to an asylum, a group of police officers encounter a hellish pit stop: a cursed town where the dead rise from their graves. Now the only way to save their lives and the town is to release Bonejangles and fight the curse...with something much worse.
Bonejangles (Teaser Trailer)
Rob Hauschild, President of Wild Eye Releasing negotiated the deal with Shaun O'Connell of Labyrinth Films. Hauschild shared, "Bonejangles perfectly captures the 80s horror sensibility, and we are thrilled to be unleashing it to the fans." A digital and physical release is planned for 2017.
In Theaters and on Digital HD October 28, 2016 from Starz Digital, and on
DVD December 6, 2016 from Anchor Bay Entertainment
Opens theatrically on October 28 in New York (Cinema Village), Los Angeles (Noho 7) and regional territories including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Orlando and more.
From the Executive Producer of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS comes THE UNSPOKEN, starring Neal McDonough (Suits, Arrow) and Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill). Directed by Award-winning filmmaker Sheldon Wilson (Kaw, Shallow Ground), THE UNSPOKEN is an eerie thrill ride into the horror that lurks in an unsuspecting small town.
In 1997 the close-knit Anderson family vanished from their country home without a trace without an explanation. No bodies were ever found and for 17 years the house has remained undisturbed...until now. A sinister tale of haunting and murder, THE UNSPOKEN is a refreshing twist on the horror genre just in time for Halloween.
Executive Producer: Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity, Insidious)
Written & Directed by: Sheldon Wilson (Kaw, Shallow Ground)
Starring: Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill), Neal McDonough (Suits, Arrow)
Sunny Suljic and Matt Bellefleur.
Not rated, Runtime 90 minutes (Canada/USA)
(THE CROOKED MAN premieres Saturday, October 1st on the Syfy Channel, kicking off their "31 Days of Halloween.")
There's an old saying: "If you build a website about a song that kills you after you sing it, they will come."
Well, maybe those aren't the exact words, but in the Syfy Channel original movie THE CROOKED MAN (2016), somebody does build it, and, sure enough, some little girls who are having a sleepover stumble upon it while searching for some creepy fun.
What happens after one of the girls sings the song is creepy all right, but it isn't fun when the Crooked Man himself shows up and kills one of them in a rather horrible way, leaving behind a crooked corpse with one of the other girls standing over it holding a bloody knife.
But with her return comes a new series of horrific deaths, the victims consisting of anyone who was in the house along with Olivia six years before. When the truth becomes clear to her, she takes on the task of warning her dubious former friends who are marked for death and, if possible, finding a way to end the curse of the Crooked Man.
As Olivia gains allies such as old sleepover pal Charlotte (Reilly Stith) and a handsome young town cop named Noah (Cameron Jebo, WALKER PAYNE, "Power Rangers Megaforce") who becomes her obligatory romantic interest, people continue to die in scenes that don't exactly terrify us but do deliver a few chills and a fair amount of icky gore effects as the victims are mauled, broken, and even beheaded.
There's a decent jump scare here and there, especially with the Crooked Man skittering in and out of the shadows and looking like a spindly, skeletal apparition not unlike the fabled Slender Man with a hint of Freddy Krueger (minus the wisecracks), but with jerky movements and a hideous rictus for a face.
After the opening sleepover sequence sets the appropriate tone, THE CROOKED MAN settles into an autumnal, somber atmosphere that's the antithesis of the jokey and satirical horror stylings of films such as SCREAM.
The script is terse and serious, which fits this story perfectly and adds to an overall sense of unease that keeps us on edge despite a few slow spots.
Lead performances are adequate, with my favorites being familiar faces such as Marco Rodríguez (THE CROW, INTERNAL AFFAIRS) as Olivia's dad and Dina Meyer (STARSHIP TROOPERS, STAR TREK: NEMESIS) as the obsessively overprotective mother of one of the potential sleepover victims. Michael Jai White (THE DARK KNIGHT, SPAWN) also appears as a mystery man with a secret connection to the case.
Production values are good for a Syfy flick, and thankfully devoid of the usual fake-looking CGI. Director Jesse Holland does a good job of staging scenes of shuddery mayhem and maintaining a decent level of mystery and suspense.
The big finale itself (which, incidentally, contains the film's only cringe-inducing one-liners) is decidedly short on terror, but I found it eventful enough to avoid being a disappointment.
If you're looking for genuine EXORCIST-style terror, you're howling up the wrong tree here. But for a pleasantly spooky experience to put you in the Halloween mood, THE CROOKED MAN might be just the thing to make you feel like a kid shivering through scary sleepover stories again.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Hosted by Joe Bob Briggs
The Little Theatre
240 East Avenue, Rochester, N.Y.
Saturday, October 1
(Come early for signing and schmoozing.)
Joe Bob will be appearing for one night only at the historic Little Theatre in downtown Rochester. The Little Theatre was part of the Little Cinema movement of the 1920s, part of the revolt against canned Hollywood product, meaning they’ve been showing independent films and foreign films since the silent era—87 years, to be precise.
We’re celebrating the Walter Hill cult classic The Warriors, based on the 1965 Sol Yurick about New York gangs, which was in turn based on the Anabasis by the Greek soldier Xenophon, which was an account of the 10,000 Greek mercenaries who got stranded near Baghdad and had to fight their way all the way back to Greece—1200 miles!
After the screening we’ll have a question and answer session. Before the screening Joe Bob will be signing posters, books, shirts, photos, whatever.
This event is being sponsored by the guys who run Fright-Rags, and there’s a possibility that they’ll still have a few of the MonsterVision shirts that went on sale earlier this week. (The posters sold out in 30 minutes.)
GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
DATE CHANGE: 4K Restoration of "PRIVATE PROPERTY" Starring Warren Oates Available on Blu-Ray Oct. 25
CINELICIOUS PICS PRESENTS
4K Digital Restoration of
Starring Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch)
Available on Blu-Ray & DVD October 25
As previously announced, Cinelicious Pics will release on Blu-ray and DVD its new 4k digital restoration of director Leslie Stevens' long-missing 1960 thriller PRIVATE PROPERTY, starring iconic American character actor Warren Oates (TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, THE WILD BUNCH) in his first significant screen role.
The Blu-ray will be available on October 25.
A major rediscovery for noir and crime fans, PRIVATE PROPERTY had essentially vanished following a very brief release in the early 1960s -- until now.
Watch the trailer
PRIVATE PROPERTY begins as two homicidal Southern California drifters (played to creepy, Peeping Tom perfection by Warren Oates and Corey Allen) wander off the beach and into the seemingly-perfect Beverly Hills home of an unhappy housewife (Leslie Stevens' real-life spouse, Kate Manx). Shimmering with sexual tension and lensed in stunning B&W by master cameraman Ted McCord (THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, EAST OF EDEN), PRIVATE PROPERTY is both an eerie, neo-Hitchcockian thriller and a savage critique of the hollowness of the Playboy-era American Dream.
Warren Oates delivers his first great screen performance here as one of the murderous vagabonds, years before he emerged as one of the finest character actors of his generation; his bizarre, voyeuristic Lennie-and-George relationship with the underrated Corey Allen (James Dean's hot rod rival in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) is fueled by a barely-suppressed homoeroticism. Shot almost entirely in the Beverly Hills home where director Stevens and lead actress Manx lived at the time, PRIVATE PROPERTY is a simmering thriller tinged with deeply unnerving elements of autobiography--and all the voyeurism anyone could ask for.
"Private Property qualifies as a genuine rediscovery"
-- Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
"This lost treasure has to rank as one of the richest and
fearlessly gnarly of its kind"
--Steve Macfarlane, Slant
"...brimming with suggestions of sexual dysfunction that seems shocking
even for the year Psycho was released"
--Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
About the Blu-Ray:
Dual-Format Release: Blu-ray and DVD,
New 4K restoration from previously lost film elements rediscovered and preserved by UCLA Film and Television Archive
New video interview with Still Photographer and Technical Consulant Alexander Singer
U.S. theatrical trailer
New essay by Don Malcolm
Limited Edition of 3,000
ABOUT CINELICIOUS PICS:
Cinelicious Pics is a distribution company bringing handpicked independent features & docs plus 4K-restored art house and cult classics to North American audiences via theatrical release, Video on Demand, and Blu-Ray. Past releases include Josephine Decker's Thou Wast Mild & Lovely and Butter on the Latch, Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur, John Magary's The Mend, and Agnès Varda's Jane B. Par Agnès V. and Kung-Fu Master!, among many others. Cinelicious Pics was recently voted "Best Indie Film Distributor" of 2015 by L.A. Weekly magazine. 4K restorations are lovingly brought to pristine viewing quality by sister post & digital restoration studioCinelicious, which has recently provided post services to Berlinale Silver Bear Best Director winners Boyhood(2014) by Richard Linklater, and Prince Avalanche (2013) by David Gordon Green, as well as the 4K restoration of Chris Nolan's Following. Both companies are located in the heart of Hollywood.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Some horror movies seem to be able to look right into our minds and find exactly what flat-out scares us, and then they use that to turn us into shivering, quivering, gibbering blobs of giddy terror. Others, unfortunately, don't seem to have a clue and simply throw everything but the kitchen sink at us in hopes that something scary will stick.
And then there are those fright flicks that traverse the middle ground between the two, occasionally causing a tingly chill up and down the spine but never quite hitting that elusive terror sweet spot within our delicate psyches. THE CARETAKER (2016, Level 33) is like that, although not for lack of trying. It's a respectable effort.
Sondra Blake, a familiar face for those of us who grew up watching TV in the 70s (in addition to being married to Robert Blake, she played Susan Atkins' cellmate in the TV-movie "Helter Skelter" among many other things), is a welcome presence as dotty old hag Birdy, who lives in a huge antique of a house and drives away every caretaker hired to watch over her.
Not only is Birdie stubbornly unwilling to take the meds that keep her psychoses at bay, but when she isn't behaving like an even nuttier version of Blanche DuBois from "A Streetcar Named Desire" she tends at times to be...well, scary.
The movie's first (effective) jump scare, in fact, is due to her, which finally drives away caretaker Gilberto and forces her granddaughter Mallorie (Meegan Warner, "TURN: Washington's Spies") to move back into the old house she grew up in (Birdie raised her from the age of four after her mother's mysterious disappearance) to take over as caretaker herself.
Mallorie's boyfriend August (Sean Martini) comes along for the ride--the occasional chance to ride Mallorie, that is--although he chafes at having to sleep on the dusty old couch. They'll both get more than they bargained for when Birdy turns out to be not only more unmanageable than they imagined, but also displays a tendency toward witchery that lends a growing air of creepy foreboding to the proceedings.
As the two young people learn more and more about Birdie's past--such as being expelled from her position as a circus medium, of all things, for heresy--Mallorie starts sleepwalking and seeing things. She also tells August of the time as a child when she was in the living room one dark night and thought she saw a clown standing in the corner. Okay, end of movie--I'd be outta there faster than a McDonald's employee asks "Would you like fries with that?"
Sondra Blake is pretty effective throughout, but in a relatively subtle way--she never really lays it on as thick as I thought she eventually would, even when Birdie turns the tables on her caretakers and teeters off the deep end.
In fact, the movie itself never quite goes for broke, content to maintain a decent level of interest with the mystery of what terrible things happened in the house back in Mallorie's unremembered past, what secrets are locked away in the old dark attic, and other stuff about spells and seances and such.
What's missing, ultimately, is the sense of genuine fear we anticipate and desire but which the film is never quite able to pull off. The elements are all there for an experience similar to that of, say, THE OTHERS, a movie that chilled us to the bone because it knew just how to pull our strings. Even the potential to capitalize big-time on the clownophobia most people suffer from these days goes largely unrealized.
The story does make one last stops-out attempt to end things with a bang, or rather a scream, but even this final twist is merely noteworthy (in a "hmm, that's an interesting end to the story" kind of way) rather than chilling.
Still, although I was totally unmoved by the 1980 ghost story THE CHANGELING, some of the guys I saw it with found it really disturbing. Similarly, your mileage may vary with THE CARETAKER. It does have a nice creepy atmosphere, good performances, a decent script and production values, and Sondra Blake, which I found enough for an enjoyable if mostly non-terrifying experience.
Buy it at Amazon.com
"THE CROOKED MAN" KICKS OFF SYFY'S "31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN"
THE ORIGINAL MOVIE SET TO AIR SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1 9/8c
"The Crooked Man" airs this Saturday, October 1 on Syfy 9/8c as part of "31 Days of Halloween."
This Syfy Original film, starring Michael Jai White (SPAWN), Amber Benson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Dina Meyer (STARSHIP TROOPERS) kicks off Syfy's 31 Days of Halloween.
Returning to her hometown six years later, a string of unusual deaths lead Olivia (Angelique Rivera) to believe that she's still being haunted by whatever she saw that fateful night. Once you sing the rhyme, everyone in the house is cursed to die by his hands.
Watch the Trailer
FILM MOVEMENT CLASSICS’ OCTOBER RELEASES INCLUDE “BEAT” TAKESHI KITANO’S FIRST TWO FILMS AND THE FIRST TITLES FROM THE JOE SARNO LIBRARY ON BLU-RAY & DVD
VIOLENT COP AND BOILING POINT OUT ON OCTOBER 11TH AND VAMPIRE ECSTASY/SIN YOU SINNERS AVAILABLE ON OCTOBER 25TH
September 28, 2016 (New York, NY) – Film Movement, the New York-based distributor of arthouse, independent and classic films, is pleased to announce the first home video releases by acclaimed Japanese star and filmmaker “Beat” Takeshi Kitano from its Film Movement Classics imprint. VIOLENT COP (1989), Kitano’s explosive directorial debut, is a testament to the stylized action of ‘80s cinema, and his sophomore effort, BOILING POINT (1990), is the first written and directed by the action auteur and features his signature stoic acting combined with his visionary directing. Both films, which will be available on DVD and on Blu-ray – for the first time – on October 11th, will each include exclusive bonus featurettes and cover art by renowned comic book artist Ben Marra.
On October 25th, Film Movement Classics will release the first two titles from its recently acquired Joe Sarno library, VAMPIRE ECSTASY (1973) and SIN YOU SINNERS (1963). Sarno, who was the subject of Film Movement’s 2014 documentary A LIFE IN DIRTY MOVIES, is a pioneer of sexploitation and erotic films and his work has recently experienced a resurgence in appreciation through retrospectives around the world. Partnering with Film Media, Film Movement Classics will continue to release two Sarno films at a time on Blu-ray and DVD over the next few years.
In his breakthrough classic, VIOLENT COP, “Beat” Takeshi directs and stars as vicious rogue homicide detective Azuma who takes on a sadistic crime syndicate only to discover widespread internal corruption within the police force. Kitano’s debut feature marks his transformation from motor-mouth comedic star of stage and screen to art house auteur – consciously playing with the schizophrenic nature of his public persona, both in his films and in public. The San Francisco Chronicle called VIOLENT COP “exhilarating,” and Lawrence van Gelder of The New York Times said the film “packs a punch,” when it was released in the U.S. in 1999, ten years after it was made and following the success of Kitano’s other films, HANA-BI (FIREWORKS) and SONATINE. VIOLENT COP was in the official selection of the Yokohama Film Festival, where Kitano won the Best Director award; Karlovy Vary; and Moscow Film Festival.
BOILING POINT, the second film from Renaissance man Kitano follows two members of a junior baseball team who get mixed up with yakuza gangsters, haphazardly stumbling into a journey for revenge. For the first time Kitano wrote as well as directed, carving out his unique genre blend of crime, action and comedy. The Chicago Reader observed that “Takeshi Kitano's handling of tones, which range from the grimly depressive to the irreverently hilarious, is amazing,” and Time Out called it “the funniest film to date from a key '90s filmmaker.” BOILING POINT received a Special Mention at the Torino International Film Festival and gained recognition at Karlovy Vary and Mumbai International Film Festivals.
Blu-rays and DVDs of VIOLENT COP and BOILING POINT, which will be available on October 11th, will each include an essay by Tom Vick of The Smithsonian Institution, as well as a 20-minute bonus featurette. THAT MAN IS DANGEROUS: THE BIRTH OF TAKESHI KITANO will be paired with VIOLENT COP, and OKINAWA DAYS: TAKESHI’S SECOND DEBUT will be included with BOILING POINT. The featurettes will include interviews with the filmmakers, actors and producers; clips from the films; and a survey of graphic images and posters.
Called “an undercurrent of poetic melancholia and surrealism” (Offscreen.com) and dripping with gothic atmosphere, VAMPIRE ECSTASY is Joe Sarno’s mesmerizing foray into the horror genre. When a trio of beautiful young women journey to their ancestral home to claim an inheritance, they fall prey to a coven of witches, intent on trying to reincarnate their deceased vampire leader.
Meanwhile, SIN YOU SINNERS, from the first wave of sexploitation films by Sarno, the “Chekhov of soft-core” (The Village Voice) is a hypnotic noir about a medallion forged in a voodoo ritual that preserves an exotic dancer’s youth and beauty. When the dancer’s jealous daughter and employer hatch plots to steal the amulet for themselves, it sets off a chain of events ending in murder. “SIN YOU SINNERS….finds (Sarno) already occupying the unconscious position of a genuine grindhouse auteur,” wrote film critic Tim Lucas. This inaugural home video release will also include a bonus essay by Lucas.
DVDs and Blu-rays of VIOLENT COP, BOILING POINT and VAMPIRE ECSTASY/SIN YOU SINNERS will be available to own from FilmMovement.com, Amazon.com and other retailers.
VIOLENT COP (1989, 103 mins) Directed by Takeshi Kitano. Written by Hisashi Nozawa. Starring Takeshi Kitano, Maiko Kawakami, Makoto Ashikawa. Japan. Japanese with English subtitles. A Film Movement Classics Release. Trailer, stills, and synopsis available here.
BOILING POINT (1990, 97 mins) Directed by Takeshi Kitano. Written by Takeshi Kitano. Starring Takeshi Kitano, Yurei Yanagi, Yuriko Ishida. Japan. Japanese with English subtitles. A Film Movement Classics Release. Trailer, stills, and synopsis available here.
VAMPIRE ECSTASY (aka THE DEVIL’S PLAYTHING, 1973, 103 mins) Directed by Joseph W. Sarno. Written by Takeshi Kitano. Starring Maria Forsa, Nadia Henkowa, and Anke Syring. A Film Movement Classics Release. Additional information available here.
SIN YOU SINNERS (1963, 73 mins) Directed by Joseph W. Sarno. Starring June Colbourne, Dian Lloyd, Derek Murcott. A Film Movement Classics Release. Additional information available here.
About Film Movement Classics
Launched in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide, and this year it had its first Academy Award-nominated film, THEEB. Film Movement’s theatrical distribution strategy has evolved to include promising American independent films, documentaries, and an even stronger slate of foreign art house titles. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors including Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris and Takeshi Kitano. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
In the latter part of the 20th century there was a brief but wonderful phenomenon in which people took their camcorders, which were designed for Mom, Dad, and the kids to shoot their own crappy-looking home videos, and started making crappy-looking "movies" with them.
As the technology progressed, the homegrown charm of these crude do-it-yourself productions began to fade, leaving us with a precious few memorable examples of the camcorder genre which are noteworthy for being either surprisingly watchable (as is David A. Prior's SLEDGEHAMMER, the first shot-on-video horror movie) or just jaw-droppingly awful (and thus, perversely, still just as watchable, as in the case of Barry J. Gillis' mindboggling THINGS).
The 1995 sci-fi opus PHOBE: THE XENOPHOBIC EXPERIMENTS (Intervision, DVD) falls into the former category thanks to the competent direction of Erica Benedikty (also a co-writer, among other things) which, amazingly enough, even includes a crane shot or two (!).
The script involves a cop from the planet Mondora who's been tasked to track down an escaped cyborg creature known as a "Phobe." The Phobes (short for "Xenophobe") were originally created as super-warriors in an interplanetary war but are now on the loose.
When one of them steals a spaceship and hightails it to Earth, Sgt. Gregory Dapp (John Rubick) is ordered to bring it back alive. This he attempts to do with the help of a high school cheerleader named Jennifer (Tina Dumoulin) after she is inadvertently drawn into the whole potentially bloody mess while walking home from school through the woods.
While both are rather lacking in acting skills, if they'd actually been good I would have been severely disappointed. Besides, the dialogue is so amusingly banal and unsophisticated that their unpolished acting style fits it perfectly.
The Phobe itself is like a shaggy cross between the Terminator and Swamp Thing, the costume being not too bad at all when photographed right. Sgt. Dapp seems to alternate between actively tracking the beast and being tracked down by it so that the film can emulate various scenes from THE TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, and other similar sci-fi/action films.
Naturally, it's pretty much irrelevent in this case to notice things like bad acting, gaping plot holes, inept production values, bad sound, or, in short, bad anything. These are to be fully expected and, as such, are as normal and natural as whiskers on a kitten. You like kittens, don't you? Sure you do.
The DVD from Intervision is in 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby 2.0 sound, remastered and greatly improved from its original form. No subtitles. In addition to a pleasant director's commentary plus Benedikty's first feature-length movie, the supernatural adventure BACK IN BLACK, we get a lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "The Making of PHOBE", a recent cast and crew Q & A which followed the remastered film's first actual theatrical screening, a comparison of FX shots between the original TV broadcast and the new improved version, outtakes, and a rendition of the film's catchy theme music by the group Gribble Hell.
When talking about camcorder films, the two most basic questions are: (1) does it vaguely resemble an actual movie?, and (2) is it watchable? With PHOBE: THE XENOPHOBIC EXPERIMENTS, the answer to both questions is a cheerful "yes." While it didn't exactly blow me away or anything, the fact that it's effortlessly charming and just plain fun to watch in its own amateurish way is enough for me to recommend it. Unless, of course, you simply insist on being a camcorder-phobe.
Buy it at Amazon.com
HKCFN fave Melantha Blackthorne (SINNERS AND SAINTS, ORDER OF ONE, AVERSION, PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED) tells us that she has officially joined Debbie Rochon (MODEL HUNGER, THE THEATER BIZARRE), Aaron Smolinski (SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE), and the rest of the great cast of Reno Anastasio's "Astronomy Walkers" that is set to shoot on Easter Island next year.
She'll be playing the titular role of the Spirit Guide who is an Astronomy Walker.
The character is a combination of ghost and angel and lives in the supernatural realm. She is the spiritual embodiment of an unborn human soul with thousands of years of supernatural experience and can affect change in our human world with telepathic ability.
"It's my understanding that there has only been one studio movie made on Easter Island back in the 1990s called 'Rapa Nui'," says Melantha. "It will be quite the adventure."
Struggling theater actress Taylor Murdoch finally gets her big break on London's West End. The part calls for her to be in peak physical condition. However, the day after landing the role, she has a positive pregnancy test. With rehearsals beginning in less than two weeks, she decides to have an abortion. Towards the end of her nine month tour, she tells her boyfriend Anthony about the abortion and the recurring nightmare that haunts her. Anthony invites her to Easter Island so they can rekindle their relationship. While the Island works its magic on both of them, he shares his views about life, family, meditation, and the unborn souls that he calls the Astronomy Walkers. With Anthony's help, can Taylor overcome her nightmare and mystically connect with the soul of her unborn child?
Astronomy Walkers stars Aaron Smolinski, Melantha Blackthorne, Debbie Rochon and Troy Fromin. It is the first indie movie to be shot in HD on Easter Island, with additional footage shot in Canada. Principal Photography began in 2016, with film festival release slated for 2019.
Monday, September 26, 2016
I've never read anything by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky of "Crime and Punishment" fame, but I'm willing to bet that his novella "White Nights" was in a somewhat more serious vein than STRANGELY IN LOVE (2014), the wacked-out romantic comedy that has been based upon it. Because even for a rom-com, this is one seriously nutty little flick.
I didn't like it at first because I thought it was intended to be a standard cutsey-pie relationship weeper with "quirky" characters doing "offbeat" things. It only gradually dawned on me that the movie wanted me to think this at first so that it could all the more effectively put me on with how wickedly satirical and off-the-wall it turned out to be. And make no mistake, this movie is a total, and one might even say exquisite, put on from start to finish.
It starts out with a wimpy but calculatedly lovable little loser named Fyo (Jemuel Morris) who sweeps up in a printing factory and vainly tries, in a small-voiced, passive little way, to make friends with the people around him, to whom he may as well be invisible.
Fyo's one of those socially awkward movie nobodies you'd consider off-puttingly weird in real life although here, since he's cutely childlike, doesn't smell bad, means well, and is in a movie, we're meant to find him endearing.
When Fyo ends up saving the life of an attractive but wildly eccentric blind woman named Nastenka (Michelle Lang) by interrupting her attempt to hang herself from a tree in the park, he's drawn into her strange tale of lost love for a man named Steve who went to Africa as a missionary and never returned on her birthday as promised. (He's over six months overdue.)
The situation practically screams CITY LIGHTS with Chaplin's "Little Tramp" involved with a pretty blind girl who "sees" beyond the homely misfit's exterior to recognize his inner wonderfulness. In one shot there's even a direct reference to the Little Tramp, and later Quasimodo is invoked as well.
Naturally, Fyo falls madly in love with Nastenka and must try to win her in his awkward way while competing with her overwhelming grief over the missing Steve. And when I say "awkward", you can imagine the sort of sappy courtship montages and sickly-sweet romance tropes that the usual chick flick would heap on with a trowel, which STRANGELY IN LOVE is only too happy to do. Except that here, it's all done with a soft-peddled but knowingly sly "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" attitude that deftly hovers between outright satire and an almost sincere pathos.
In fact, the deeper we get into Fyo and Nastenka's up-and-down love story, which is inevitably thrown into utter turmoil by the return of none other than Steve himself, the more we actually start to respond to them in real emotional terms that go beyond simple kooky comedy. In this way, STRANGELY IN LOVE seamlessly goes from wickedly spoofing sensitive, emotional love stories to actually being one without losing any of its delicately-rendered weirdness.
The leads are ideal for their roles--at least, that's what I thought after it dawned on me what they and director/co-writer Amin Matalqa were going for here. Sean Carrigan also scores as Steve, and, in a wonderful cameo, Amanda Plummer (PULP FICTION, FREEWAY) is ideal as Sister Sarah, a nun who's been keeping up with Steve's whereabouts in Africa and tends to get somewhat crazed when the subject comes up.
STRANGELY IN LOVE oozes with meet-cutes, melodrama, neck-wrenching plot twists, and enough willfully sappy lovey-dovey stuff to make Erich Segal look like Mickey Spillane. And, strangely enough, that's exactly why I liked it. It takes all those ingredients, throws them into a blender, and whips them into a yummy comedy smoothie.
Buy it at Amazon.com
TRT: 89 minutes
Format: 1:78 FF
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Sunday, September 25, 2016
She Who Must Burn Debuts on Cable VOD
Digital HD & DVD October 11
Cult Provocateur Larry Kent Turns Up the Heat
On the Red-Hot Debate over Women's Choice
"She Who Must Burn is strong meat." --Variety
"Emotional and intentionally baiting...a horror-siege-witchhunt with no punches withheld" --Coming Soon
"An extraordinary piece of filmmaking that digs past the headlines which make us shake our heads over coffee in the morning."--Film Thrills
Los Angeles, CA - Midnight Releasing has announced the October 11th Cable VOD, Digital HD and DVD release of She Who Must Burn, Canadian cinema provocateur Larry Kent's latest feature. Kent and co-writer Shane Twerdun have crafted a thought-provoking and violent horror story centered around the all-too-real battle between personal choice, state-sanctioned law and religious dogma. She Who Must Burn will be available to rent or own starting October 11th on Dish Network, Cox, Charter, Verizon Fios, DirecTV, iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, XBox and more.
Sarah Smyth ("Cedar Cove", 50/50, "Supernatural") headlines as a healthcare provider at odds with the evangelical family in her small town. When she refuses to stop seeing women in need and even helps a desperate member of their own family (sci-fi icon Jewel Staite, "Firefly", "Stargate: Atlantis", "The LA Complex"), they decide she is to blame for the mysterious deaths in the community and must pay.
A deadly storm heads towards a small mining village as the local preacher feeds the dark resentments seething in the souls of its citizens. Angela is the only medical resource for women in this unfortunate town where stillbirths and cancer have become disturbingly common. The local preacher and his followers blame Angela for the miscarriages and deaths, and even her Deputy Sheriff boyfriend can't protect her from their wrath. Dark clouds gather as the preacher's followers, infected with religious fervor and inflamed with passionate righteousness, seek to cleanse their community. Those who sin against the Lord must pay.
She Who Must Burn (Official Trailer)
The DVD release of She Who Must Burn (SRP $17.98) will be available exclusively from Amazon.com.
Posted by Porfle Popnecker at 6:25 PM
Friday, September 23, 2016
Slasher.com Hits the Web
New Trailer, Art & Stills Launch for Horror Film
Los Angeles, CA - MuchoMuchoMucho Productions and Firefly Films have uploaded a new trailer and art for their new film Slasher.com. The latest feature from horror director Chip Gubera (Song of the Dead, Academy of Doom), Slasher.com puts a gruesome twist on the perils of modern dating.
Co-written by Gubera and Chelsea Andes, Slasher.com combines the time-honored tradition of young people facing unfathomable horrors in the wilderness with the every day horror of meeting people online.
At a time where online dating could prove fatal, Jack and Kristy decide they're ready meet in person. Aiming for an adventurous first date, they plan a weekend getaway to the woodlands of rural Missouri. While discovering each other, they soon learn of the terrorizing horrors that the forest has in store.
Slasher.com (Official Trailer)
Slasher.com will tour on the festival circuit, screening next at the Bloody Horror International Film Festival in Ottawa and Grindhouse Planet Film Festival in the UK.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Hoo boy, is this movie ever harder than a greased pig to get a critical grasp on. On one hand, producer Stanley Kramer's HIGH NOON (1952, Olive Signature) is a widely-recognized classic that deserves its place in film history for a number of reasons. And yet, for the most part, I really, really don't like it very much.
This is just the second time I've seen it--I rented it way back in the 80s expecting to be blown away due to its reputation, only to find myself reacting to it with the same cool indifference its protagonist, Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper), encounters while attempting to enlist the help of his fellow citizens to fight the trio of outlaws waiting to get revenge on him as soon as their leader, Frank Miller, whom Kane previously sent to prison, arrives on the noon train.
I was hoping this new viewing would make all the film's wonderfulness clear to me at last, and yet my appreciation of it remains as jumbled as a bag of trail mix. Cooper, of course, is a joy to watch as the aging lawman (Coop himself, no longer a "pretty boy", was maturing nicely), retired and set to leave town right after his wedding to young Quaker girl Amy (Grace Kelly) when the news of his old nemesis' impending arrival throws a monkey wrench into their plans.
Kane's first impulse, at his wedding guests' urging, is to hustle his new bride into their buckboard and hightail it out of town. While he thinks better of it a few miles down the road and returns, this still isn't a very good sign. His change of heart causes his brand new pacifist wife to abandon him and buy a ticket out of town on the very train that her husband's prospective killer is coming in on, also not something which I found endearing.
As she waits for the train along with everyone else, Kane then undertakes the hopeless task of drafting various men in town as deputies, men who are, quite understandably, keenly reticent to wade into a blazing gun battle against hardened kill-crazy psychos with a score to settle.
This series of disheartening encounters (the film is deeply pessimistic) portrays everyone Kane comes into contact with--former deputy Harvey (young Lloyd Bridges playing a dislikable rat as only he could), members of the local church, officious town officials--as self-centered cowards and hypocrites ready to sell him out when the chips are down.
Here we get a lot of screenwriter and former communist Carl Foreman's hashing out of his troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee in fictional form as the story's downtrodden hero embodies his own embattled nobility and feelings of abandonment on the screen.
My main misgivings with the film involve Kane himself, a man hired to protect the town and yet gradually crumbling into a tearful mess when faced with the prospect of doing it alone as he galumphs up one barren street and down the next. The image of him being reduced to barging into a church during Sunday service to beg for help from a bunch of men who are hardly capable of facing down blazing six-shooters borders on the pathetic. As he passes a group of children playing outside on his way out, we almost expect him to hit them up for help as a last resort.
It's no wonder that John Wayne and Howard Hawks had such a negative reaction to HIGH NOON that it prompted them to answer it seven years later with RIO BRAVO, about a lawman facing a similar predicament but refusing to endanger the lives of unqualified civilians by involving them in a dangerous situation which he considers his own responsibility. (Wayne did accept an absent Gary Cooper's "Best Actor" statuette for his performance as Will Kane at that year's Academy Awards.)
Still, HIGH NOON is a classic that's been revered by millions since its release, so obviously a lot of fans fully sympathize with Will Kane's plight and are riveted to the screen during the suspenseful real-time buildup (several clocks can be seen onscreen keeping an accurate countdown to noon) to the final showdown we know is coming. As, truth be told, I am as well.
Skillful editing of director Fred Zinneman's exquisite black-and-white images along with a fine score by Dimitri Tiompkin (both editing and score won Oscars) also heighten the ever-present tension which keeps viewers on the edge of their seats despite the fact that, save for some punches thrown here and there, much of the film is devoid of the usual western action.
Taking its place for much of the screen time is pure old-fashioned drama, much of it involving Kane's old flame Helen Ramírez (the exotic Katy Jurado), formerly a woman of ill-repute now involved in legitimate business. Helen's previous associations with Kane as well as his craven deputy Harve and even the dreaded outlaw Frank Miller himself make her a dramatic epicenter of the story. It is Helen who will eventually help mixed-up Amy face her doubts about her new husband, which will then land her right in the middle of things when Kane and the bad guys finally clash.
The cast is studded with several other familiar faces including the great Lon Chaney, Jr. as the town's aging former marshal, a briefly-seen young Jack Elam, Thomas Mitchell, Harry Morgan ("Dragnet"), Otto Kruger, Harry Shannon, Ian McDonald as Miller, Lee Aaker (HONDO), Virginia Christine, and John Doucette. Miller's men, who spend much of their time waiting at the train station a la Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, are played by Robert Wilke, Sheb Wooley, and future Leone star Lee Van Cleef.
The DVD from Olive Films' "Olive Signature" label (also available in Blu-ray) has a 1.37:1 aspect ratio with mono sound and is mastered from a new 4K restoration. Subtitles are in English. In addition to the trailer, extras include the featurettes "A Ticking Clock" (editing), "A Stanley Kramer Production", "Imitation of Life: The Hollywood Blacklist and 'High Noon'", "Oscars and Ulcers: The Production History of 'High Noon'" (narrated by the late Anton Yelchin), and the text essay "Uncitizend Kane" by "Sight & Sound" editor Nick James which is also included as a handsome illustrated booklet insert.
One of the main reasons I wanted to love HIGH NOON is because it opens with a beautiful shot of a young, steely-eyed Lee Van Cleef--long before his breakout stardom in Italy--just leaning against a fencepost under a tree in the middle of a field, in beautiful black-and-white. Wow. The rest of the film looks terrific too, and, despite my reasons for not being all that crazy about it, some other things about it are also pretty terrific. At least, that is, enough to warrant the occasional viewing and perhaps, over time, a growing appreciation.
Buy it from Olive Films:
Buy it at Amazon.com:
National Comic Book Day Celebrates a Favorite Pastime and Lucrative Industry
The Experts at Dallas Fan Days Talk Comics
DALLAS (Sept. 22, 2016) – Every year on Sept. 25, comic book readers, collectors, lovers and fans celebrate National Comic Book Day. Comic books – are they a hobby, a pastime, a casual form of entertainment? Try a billion dollar a year industry and a powerful consumer market. According to the latest estimate by ICV2 and Comichron, total comics and graphic novel sales in North America hit $1.03 billion in 2015, the first year for the industry to ever hit over a billion dollars in sales. Comic books are no longer just a cultural experience; they are an economic powerhouse.
At first thought, comic books may not be considered a largely sought-after product; however, the demand for their colorful pages and fascinating stories continues to climb. Sales in 2014 were up 8 percent from 2013, and 2015 sales were up 10 percent from 2014. As traditional fans of the comic book age and are now adults, the primary purchasers of comic books are adults between the ages of 25 and 44 according to ICV2 – individuals who have more disposable income to spend on a treasured form of entertainment. Their deep-seated love for comics is elevating the industry.
“Comic books have continued to become a cultural unifier,” says Andrew Moyes, show director of Dallas Fan Days™. “People all over the world can connect over their love and passion for comic books, and we see that at our conventions year after year.”
Whether it’s nostalgia or excitement over new superhero movies and TV shows, fans are showing their love for the comic book industry.
“At conventions across the country, we have seen an influx of new faces that have only been exposed to these comic characters through the movies, and the attendance has swelled to record numbers because of it. In stores, we have seen older customers who had stopped collecting or reading coming back in to catch up,” says Andy McMahon, owner of Duncanville Bookstore, a shop that offers a range of comic books, graphic novels, games, toys and action figures. “The DFW area has a large number of people still trying to collect every issue of a series. Because the DFW area is so diverse, our customers are willing to branch out and try new titles, which is nice to see because there are some great non-superhero titles being produced right now.”
Dallas Fan Days – one of the best comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming events in Texas and set to return Oct. 14-16, 2016, at the Irving Convention Center – will host comic guests such as: Neal Adams, Brandon Peterson, Jim Calafiore, Ty Templeton, Joe Eisma, Jeremy Clark, Sam de la Rosa, Ben Dunn, Steve Erwin, Scott Harben, Mike Krome, Andrew Mangum, Danita Mangum, Jason Metcalf, Ande Parks, Lawrence Reynolds, Marlin Snoop, K.T. Smith, Shaun Steven Struble and Jamie Tyndall.
For the full list of appearances and family-friendly activities, tickets and other information, please visit www.dallascomiccon.com. Stay connected with the show for announcements and updates by registering for their newsletter, and following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For vendor information, please click here. Those interested in volunteering can find more information here. Accredited media can request press passes by applying for accreditation at http://dallascomiccon.com/press/.