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Monday, October 31, 2016

THE TRAIL OF DRACULA -- DVD Review by Porfle



You know him...you love him...you want to know all about him.  And when we follow THE TRAIL OF DRACULA--a 2013 documentary now available on a brand-new DVD release from Intervision--we pretty much get the whole story, and more, about our favorite bloodsucking Transylvanian count, who just happens to be one of the most famous fictional characters of all time.

Writer-director David Mitchell has put together a history of the D-Man that's chock full of historical drawings, photographs, and film clips.  To augment the visual aspect of the story, we hear it told in exhaustive detail by a number of authors, historians, film critics, and other people who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject.  

The story begins at the beginning, with the birth of vampire folklore in Middle Europe and tales of vile undead creatures who stalked the night feasting upon the blood of the living.  Then we trace the evolution and refinement of the vampire character into a more suave and sophisticated figure, thanks mainly to writer Bram Stoker and his novel "Dracula."


 
It's Stoker, we find, who is responsible for devising many of the modern variations of the ancient folklore as well as giving the character his birthplace (Transylvania would forever become known as Vampire Central).  The documentary also touches upon the influence upon the character of a certain Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes, or Vlad Dracul, a Romanian folk hero whose countrymen regarded his association with the evil Count to be rather less than flattering.

While the first half of THE TRAIL OF DRACULA is definitely interesting, it's a bit dry and "History Channel"-like compared to the second half when we finally delve into Dracula's many film incarnations.  That's where this documentary really comes to life for me, with a wealth of clips from early adaptations such as Murnau's incredible silent epic NOSFERATU starring Max Shreck, and of course arguably the greatest version of all, 1931's DRACULA with Bela Lugosi.

Many of the sequels and offshoots from the 30s to the 70s are covered, of which there are literally hundreds ranging from drama to Gothic horror to low comedy to, finally, pornography (DRACULA SUCKS, SEXCULA).  


Scenes from the original trailers are used whenever possible, giving us tantalizing glimpses of such films as DRACULA'S DAUGHTER with Gloria Holden, SON OF DRACULA with Lon Chaney, Jr., Bela Lugosi's Columbia outing RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE, Universal monster rallies HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HOUSE OF DRACULA with John Carradine as the Count, and Francis Lederer's excellent turn in the role in THE RETURN OF DRACULA. 

Lesser and sometimes obscure examples of the sub-genre include David Niven as OLD DRACULA, Andy Warhol's BLOOD FOR DRACULA, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS with Ingrid Pitt, ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA, Al Adamson's abominable (but fun) DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, drive-in favorite BLACULA, 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA, LADY DRACULA, Jess Franco's VAMPYROS LESBOS, and several more.

Special attention is paid, of course, to Hammer Studios' game-changing Dracula series starring Christopher Lee in what many feel rivals Lugosi's immortal interpretation of the character. 

Hammer's heavily atmospheric and relatively lavish 1958 adaptation of Stoker's novel, DRACULA (known in the U.S. as "Horror of Dracula") sparked a phenomenon that made a reluctant horror superstar out of Lee (as well as his frequent co-star Peter Cushing, already known as the new Dr. Frankenstein) and led to a lucrative, highly popular series.


Sequels would include BRIDES OF DRACULA (without Lee, but excellent nonetheless), DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, SCARS OF DRACULA, THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA, and DRACULA A.D. 1972.  The films would gradually decline in quality with each installment until finally the cycle had played itself out. 

The DVD from Intervision is in widescreen with 2.0 sound. No subtitles.  Extras include audio interviews with Christopher Lee and Francis Lederer and video interviews with director Werner Herzog talking about his NOSFERATU remake with Klaus Kinski and BLOOD FOR DRACULA's ever-charming Udo Kier. 

My favorite bonus feature is a collection of all those wonderful trailers referred to in the documentary.  There are dozens of them--a full 94 minutes worth--ranging from DRACULA '31 and on into the 1970s.  Not just a bonus, this collection is equal to a full-length companion feature.

The uninitiated--those poor, mundane souls--may not get much out of THE TRAIL OF DRACULA.  But those of us who are devoted lifelong fans of the Count, no matter which incarnation of him may be our own personal favorite, will find plenty here to sink our fangs into.    

Buy it at Amazon.com



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New Genre Fest -- THE OVERLOOK FILM FESTIVAL!



THE OVERLOOK FILM FESTIVAL
BRAND NEW GENRE FEST IN MT.HOOD, OREGON TO LAUNCH ON APRIL 27, 2017
A 4-day celebration at horror's most iconic hotel

Packages and Passes On Sale Now
www.overlookfilmfest.com


(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, October 31, 2016) – The Overlook Film Festival, a four-day celebration at horror’s most iconic hotel The Timberline Lodge – the hotel used as the exterior setting of the infamous Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece THE SHINING - will kickoff for the first time from April 27 through April 30, 2017. The festivity is expected to showcase experiential events, exciting work in new and classic horror cinema, and interactive activities where attendees can be fully immersed in the diverse world of the genre space. Located just one hour east of Portland, Oregon, The Overlook Film Festival will attract genre fans and cinephiles from all over the world along with major press and industry members who are excited for this unique experience.

The annual four-day celebration is created by veteran festival organizers Michael Lerman and Landon Zakheim, both sharing a passion and a vision for providing a rare experience for fans to not just watch the latest work from emerging genre filmmakers but to also connect with each other in order to foster a creative and engaging community.  The duo plan to bring their signature events to the festival, including a full weekend long immersive game from interactive company Bottleneck Immersive and an original live version of radio play “Tales From Beyond The Pale” by Glass Eye Pix.

"We're incredibly excited to bring the film community and enthusiastic audiences we've been cultivating over the last few years to The Overlook Film Festival" said festival co-director Landon Zakheim. "We're so grateful to the Timberline Lodge for providing such a gorgeous iconic venue in the beautiful location of Mt. Hood, Oregon where our unique, experiential celebration of all things genre can thrive."

"It's a truly inspiring time for horror cinema," said festival co-director Michael Lerman. "Our jam-packed program of festival favorites, fresh discoveries and bonafide classics from features to shorts to live events will be presented in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere we've built through our various other genre projects. We really can't wait to announce our lineup next year."


The Overlook Film Festival advisory board is comprised of: Kristen Bell (Festival Director, Fantastic Fest), Nate Bolotin (Partner, XYZ Films), Joe Dante (Filmmaker), Larry Fessenden (Filmmaker), Colin Geddes (Midnight Madness & Vanguard Programmer, Toronto Intl. Film Festival), Mick Garris (Filmmaker), Stuart Gordon (Filmmaker), Trevor Groth (Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival), Tim League (Founder & CEO, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Drafthouse Films, Fantastic Fest), Daniel Noah (Founding Partner, SpectreVision), Lindsay Peters (Market & Industry Director, Frontieres Intl. Co-Production Market, Fantasia Intl. Film Festival), Tom Quinn (Distribution Executive), Alix Taylor (Producer), Ryan Turek (Director of Development, Blumhouse Productions), Josh C. Waller (Founding Partner, SpectreVision), Leigh Whannell (Actor/Writer/Filmmaker), Diana Williams (Creative Development lead, ILMxLab, LucasFilm Story Group), and Elijah Wood (Founding Partner, SpectreVision)

Genre fans and festival attendees can start purchasing packages and passes now through www.overlookfilmfest.com.

Film Submissions are now open until February 3rd, 2017. For more information, please visit www.overlookfilmfest.com.

Facebook: facebook.com/OverlookFilmFestival
Twitter: @TheOverlookFest
Instagram: @OverLookFilmFest

MISSION STATEMENT
The Overlook Film Festival is a 4-day celebration of horror held on Mt. Hood in Oregon at the Timberline Lodge, featured in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece THE SHINING as the location of the infamous Overlook Hotel. Presenting superior film programming with an expanded focus on experiential events, the festival showcases exciting work in new and classic horror cinema alongside the latest in interactive and live shows for a fully immersive weekend. As a summer camp for genre fans, The Overlook is a community event bringing the best of horror in all its forms to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience within an intimate and inspirational environment.

ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The Overlook Film Festival runs from April 24 - 30, 2017 at the historic Timberline Lodge located in Mt. Hood Oregon. The festival is committed to screening a highly curated selection of the best in world genre cinema, alongside secret screenings, world premiere discoveries, midnight shows, family programming, and a robust short film lineup. The festival will honor a living legend with the Master of Horror Award presented by Mick Garris. The Visionary Award will go to an innovator making strides to preserve the genre's future and the recipient will be invited to present a film of their choosing. The live programming will include one-of-a-kind musical performances, an original production of live radio play TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE presented by Glass Eye Pix and read by actors with films in the program, unique panel presentations, live podcasts, escape room challenges, magic shows, games, brunches, an interactive gallery, virtual reality installations, and the festival’s signature event - the horror immersive game produced by Bottleneck Immersive, an opt-in real-time mystery that encompasses the entire festival weekend in which players become the story’s the main characters.

FESTIVAL HEADQUARTERS - THE TIMBERLINE LODGE
Constructed in 1937, Timberline Lodge stands on the south slope of Mt Hood at an elevation of 6,000 feet. This beautiful 55,000 square foot National Historic Landmark is still being used for its original intent – a magnificent ski lodge and mountain retreat for everyone to enjoy. As one of Oregon’s most-visited destinations, hospitality is their specialty. The hotel provides exciting, family-friendly skiing, snowboarding and year-round recreation. They offer the best in historic lodging, fine dining, meaningful souvenirs, and memorable experiences, and practices historic preservation and environmental stewardship, while providing a safe and warm family atmosphere. Historic Timberline Lodge isn’t just a hotel and ski resort, it’s a legacy.

DIRECTIONS TO THE OVERLOOK FILM FESTIVAL
The Overlook Film Festival is located approximately 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon and Portland International Airport. Out of town patrons can fly into Portland International Airport (PDX) and are encouraged to rent cars or order shuttles or car services. Local Ticket and badge holders are encouraged to drive (please check weather conditions for snow chain recommendations) or take public transportation. Shuttles will be provided to all guests from the base of Government Camp, Oregon to the Timberline Lodge where the festival is held. For more information on getting to the Timberline Lodge please visit: http://www.timberlinelodge.com/plan-your-visit/travel-and-transportation/

WHERE TO STAY
The best way to enjoy the festival is to stay at the festival’s host venue, The Timberline Lodge, available only to those who purchase festival packages. Additional lodging can be found in nearby Government Camp at The Lodge at Government Camp, Best Western Mt. Hood, Mt. Hood SkiBowl, and Collins Lake Resort, alongside a large number of cabin and condo rental options. Located about 20 minutes away from Government Camp are Mt. Hood Meadows and The Resort At The Mountain.



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STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY -- Movie Review by Porfle



There are really great westerns and there are really awful westerns.  And in the very middle between the two, there are pretty good westerns.  These are the ones that tide you over while you're waiting for the next really great one to come along.

STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY (2016) is one of those pretty good ones, and, having watched it, I feel sufficiently tided over for awhile. 

Country crooner Trace Adkins (TRADED), who has that long-haired, gravelly-voiced "outlaw country" thing down pat, plays former stagecoach bandit Nathaniel Reed.  Nate's been trying to make a go at the straight and narrow life with his schoolmarm wife, Laura Lee (Michelle Harrison, "The Flash"), although times are hard for the small-time rancher.


They get a lot harder when renegade lawman Woody Calhoun (Kim Coates), sporting an eye patch thanks to one of Nate's bullets years before, catches up with him along with his female deputy, a sadistic, trigger-happy blonde named Bonnie Mudd (Helena Marie, "Supernatural").  One of Nate's old cohorts, Frank (Claude Duhamel), shows up first to warn him and before we know it, the air around Nate's ranch is filled with bullets.

When it's over, Nate's beloved Laura Lee has apparently been killed and, in desperation, he returns to what he knows best--robbing stagecoachs with Frank and another old saddle pal, the likable Sid (Judd Nelson, THE BREAKFAST CLUB).  But the vengeful Calhoun and Mudd are now more determined than ever to get them and will leave no dastardly deed undone until Nate and his gang are dead.

While there are some nice plot twists along the way, this is a pretty straightforward story that's well told and gives us a decent amount of the no-frills western shoot 'em up action that we're looking for.


Editing is a bit clunky at times, but the direction by Terry Miles (DAWN RIDER, LONESOME DOVE CHURCH) is capable enough, with photography that's consistently eye-pleasing.  It does seem rather odd seeing stagecoaches rumbling through dense green forests instead of deserts (the film was shot in Canada), but there's a richly authentic feel to the settings and costumes. 

As Nate (aka "Texas Jack"), Adkins is no Olivier, yet he's a decent enough actor with the right presence for this sort of role.  He works well alongside Judd Nelson, who's fun to watch as good-natured stagecoach robber Sid (let's face it, Judd Nelson has always been fun to watch, even in clunkers like STEEL). 

Kim Coates, whom I will always think of as "Chet" in THE LAST BOY SCOUT, just does what he does best--playing a sneering bad guy who revels in being bad--and gives the film some of its best moments, particularly during an extended, tension-filled saloon scene between him and Duhamel that is quite simply one of my favorite scenes from a western in years.


Coates also has a terrific co-star in Helena Marie as Calhoun's deputy, Bonnie Mudd, one of the best female gunslinger characters I've ever seen.  She plays the role to perfection, a character who's equal parts realism and fantasy, yet entirely convincing.  Other cast standouts are Duhamel as the duplicitous Frank, and Michelle Harrison as Nate's devoted wife Laura Lee.

Dialogue is a bit on the corny side at times, with the occasional gem such as when Judd Nelson's character boasts, "It's gonna take a lot more than dyin' to kill Sid Dalton."  An offhand reference to UNFORGIVEN's "we've all got it comin', kid" speech is also nicely done.  Most of the really juicy lines are delivered by Coates and Marie, who, truth be told, are the main reasons for watching this movie.

While hardly a new classic, STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY serves up a decent helping of good old meat-and-potatoes western fun that should please fans of the genre until the next blockbuster horse opera comes galloping into town. 

Amazon video

Pre-order it at Amazon.com (release date: December 13th):
Blu-ray
DVD

Opens Theatrically on November 4 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Orlando, Tampa-St.Petersburg and Kansas City, and Day-and-Date On Demand & Digital HD

Read our original coverage HERE



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Saturday, October 29, 2016

AFM: Tom Hardy to Star as Al Capone in "FONZO" for BLOOM



ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINEE TOM HARDY TO star as 
AL CAPONE in

"FONZO"

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOSH TRANK

BLOOM to Commence Sales at the AFM


LOS ANGELES (October 29, 2016) –– Academy Award® nominee Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road and upcoming Dunkirk) will star as the infamous Al Capone in Fonzo.  The film was written and will be directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle). 

The film will be produced by Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder (Tau) for Addictive Pictures alongside Academy Award® nominee Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction). Fonzo is currently in pre-production.  BLOOM will commence international sales at the upcoming American Film Market.  CAA and WME are handling US rights.

Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore.  At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present as harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. 

BLOOM’s Alex Walton said, “Fonzo brings together the myth and lore of notorious American Gangster Al Capone, with the undeniable talent of Tom Hardy and Josh Trank.  We are thrilled to bring this film to buyers at the AFM. ”

This is the next project from writer/director Josh Trank who burst onto the scene with Chronicle.  Tom Hardy will next star in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk marking his third film collaboration with the director and Taboo, a new 8-part TV series produced by Ridley Scott.

Josh Trank is represented by WME, Management 360 and attorney Mitch Smelkinson.  Tom Hardy is repped by CAA and Lindy King at United Agents.

About BLOOM
BLOOM is a sales, production and financing outfit. The company represents and curates a diversified slate of films ranging from commercial, talent-driven, wide release movies, to specialty films from proven and trusted filmmakers, all the while keeping an eye towards fresh and emerging talent.

The BLOOM slate includes: Scott Cooper’s Hostiles starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike; Paul Weitz’s Bel Canto starring Julianne Moore and Ken Watanbe; Federico D’ Alessandro’s Tau starring Maika Monroe and Ed Skrein; Danny Strong’s Rebel in the Rye starring Nicholas Hoult; George Clooney’s Suburbicon starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore; Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Woodshock starring Kirsten Dunst; Michael Apted’s Unlocked starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom.



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Friday, October 28, 2016

Matthew Malek and Anita Gou Team to Launch Foxtail Entertainment



MATTHEW MALEK AND ANITA GOU TEAM TO LAUNCH FOXTAIL ENTERTAINMENT

First Foxtail Co-Production Will be “Assassination Nation” With David Goyer and Kevin Turen’s Phantom Four

Foxtail Also Inks Deal With Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii To Write Original Feature Thriller “Dream Logic”


Los Angeles, CA – October 28, 2016 --- A significant new player in the world of independent film development, finance and production has emerged as producers Matthew Malek (Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Silence”) and Anita Gou (Marti Noxon’s “To the Bone”) have partnered to launch the multinational independent label Foxtail Entertainment.

Gou and Malek met and worked together during Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “Silence” for Paramount. Malek is executive producer of the movie, having brought together a majority of the financing, while Gou was managing her family-owned studio, Central Motion Picture Corp., in Taipei, Taiwan, where the production was based.

Their collaboration and likeminded creative visions and business philosophies led to the formation of Foxtail Entertainment, which will be dually led by Malek and Gou.

Headquartered in Los Angeles with ties and resources in Taiwan and China, Foxtail Entertainment will develop/finance/produce anywhere from three to six projects a year, with a mandate to serve as a top-tier supplier of mainstream projects for both the studios and major independent distributors worldwide. The company will also develop, finance and produce television, digital and VR content, and champion stories and projects that highlight diversity. Courtney Turk has been hired as a production executive at the company to oversee day-to-day operations of the production slate.

Budget ranges of the films on the Foxtail slate will vary depending on the size and scope of the individual projects. Above the financing of material, the company will be devoted to fostering an artist-friendly environment for top filmmakers and talent and willing to explore original stories and edgy material featuring inter-cultural concepts and heavily promote diversity.

"The first project that Foxtail will finance and produce is “Assassination Nation” – a film that follows three teenage girls in a small suburb after an anonymous hacker begins to leak inflammatory personal information about it’s residents and soon becomes the focus of unwanted, world-wide media attention.

Sam Levinson (“‪Another Happy Day” / upcoming HBO “Wizard of Lies”) wrote the original screenplay and will direct. David Goyer and Kevin Turen will produce the film through their Phantom Four banner, with Foxtail Entertainment. Principal photography will begin in Q1 2017.

Foxtail has also made a deal with Academy Award® nominated writer Terry Rossio (“Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Shrek”) and Bill Marsilii (“Déjà Vu,”) to write the feature screenplay for a hallucinatory thriller titled “Dream Logic.” Details of this project are being kept under wraps.

Pre-existing films produced by Gou and Malek that will fold into the new company’s feature film slate include Marti Noxon’s the upcoming film “To the Bone” starring Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins; and “The Last Animals” – a documentary about the illegal ivory trade and the impending extinction of the Northern White Rhino, directed by award-winning photojournalist Kate Brooks.

Said Gou, “Although Matt and I come from very different backgrounds and traveled different roads to get to where we are today, we feel like we are cut from the same fabric and have a shared sense of values that make this venture very meaningful to both of us. The structure and global nature of our company reflects how the industry is working today. We are thrilled to take on this exciting new endeavor together and work creatively and collaboratively to build something very special, alongside such gifted collaborators as the Phantom Four team, as well as writers Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii.”

“We are a company that puts material first and will develop and explore original and unique themes and subject matters that can be fully exploited,” said Malek. “We have developed a solid business strategy encompassing a diverse portfolio of projects with worldwide appeal. We have, by design, a lot of flexibility in sourcing projects and material and collaborating with various filmmakers and distribution partners around the globe to build a diverse slate. To this point, we’re thrilled to have such accomplished partners like David and Kevin for ‘Assassination Nation,’ and beyond excited to immerse ourselves in the screenplay that Terry and Bill are crafting for ‘Dream Logic.’”

About Anita Gou
 
After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a bachelor degree in film and anthropology, Gou began her career in the entertainment industry working in visual effects production on films such as “Focus,” “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction,” and Martin Scorsese’s “Vinyl.” During this time, Gou also produced the feature length documentary “To the Moon”, and was a Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Beijing International Screenwriting Competition for her script “Plight of the Honeybee.”

When Gou returned to her home in Taipei, Taiwan in 2014, she became a producer at Central Motion Picture Corp. - the largest film studio in Taiwan where filmmakers such as Ang Lee and Edward Yang started their prolific careers. While at Central Motion Picture Corp., Gou produced, on behalf of the studio, numerous Taiwanese films, including Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “The Assassin,” which won him the best director award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Gou also helped oversee for the studio the production of Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” which was based and shot in the studio and throughout Taiwan. It was there that Gou met business partner Matthew Malek, with whom she founded Foxtail Entertainment.

About Matthew Malek
 
To date, Matthew Malek has facilitated over $100 million dollars in film investments in his career.

Malek started in the entertainment industry with the feature film “Bella” in 2004, for which he procured $3 million dollars to fully finance and it would go on to be a winner at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006. This began Malek’s career in consulting for individuals and companies looking to invest in the film and entertainment space.

In 2012 Malek was the lead executive producer on “Max Rose,” Jerry Lewis' first film since “The King of Comedy” in 1982, which was an official selection at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. This lead him to help finance and facilitate the deal for Tom Hank's first ever independently financed film “A Hologram for the King,” which was released worldwide by Lionsgate in May 2016. In the summer of 2014, Malek fully financed and was a lead producer on the independent film “The Ticket” with Dan Stevens, Malin Akerman, and Oliver Platt, which world-premiered to critical acclaim at the 2016 Tribeca International Film Festival.

Everything changed shortly after “The Ticket” wrapped production when Malek saw an opportunity to lead a consortium of investors to help make Martin Scorsese's passion project a reality- the film adaptation of “Silence,” the classic Japanese novel which the director had optioned 25 years prior. Malek worked from September 2014 until February 2015 to devise and execute the financing structure for the film, which commenced principle photography on February 5th and wrapped May 15th 2015.  Paramount Pictures is releasing the picture on December 23rd.

About Phantom Four
 
David Goyer’s Phantom Four is an entertainment production company focused on producing powerful, provocative, and innovative visual narrative in film, television, and emerging media. Most recently, Phantom Four’s Kevin Turen produced Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of A Nation, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and swept top prizes, including the Audience award and Grand Jury prize, Goyer served as executive producer on the project.  Up next for Phantom Four is Open Road and Lakeshore Entertainment's Miles, a feature film written and directed by Oliver Daly based on his original short which started a bidding war amongst producers last year,  won by Goyer and Phantom Four who then developed the script with Daly. Also upcoming is Max Landis’ Deeper, starring Bradley Cooper, 20th Century Fox’s The First Omen directed by Antonio Campos, Mike Cahill’s Doctors, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for New Line, and Lionsgate’s The Breach, which Goyer will direct with Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing.



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THE QUIET MAN -- DVD Review by Porfle



A dream, a theme park, a veritable phantasmagoria of idealized Irishness--John Ford's 1952 classic THE QUIET MAN (Olive Signature, Blu-ray and DVD) has quite likely turned more people temporarily Irish than any other film ever made.  It's the sweetly stereotypical Ireland that people like Ford himself imagined in his fondest fantasies whenever he yearned to return to the emerald isle of his parents' birth.

Here, of course, is the beautiful Irish countryside in all its verdant glory, made even more lush through the Technicolor process--none of Republic Pictures' trademark "Trucolor" for Ford--along with the usual cast of character types one might expect. 

There's the diminutive town tippler who's also its matchmaker, Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald); big, strapping farmer Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) and his spinster sister, the impetuous redhead Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara); imperious, wealthy widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick), on whom Danaher has his sights set; and the town's Catholic and Protestant spiritual leaders, Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond) and Reverend Cyril Playfair (Arthur Shields).


Ford renders his fantasy vision of rural Irish life with an artist's eye and a poet's heart, providing a backdrop of purity and contentment that the outside world can scarcely touch.  Custom is observed at all times--a scenic seaside horse race in which the riders vie for their ladies' bonnets, primly proper courtships whose etiquette seems unduly unyielding, and, at every opportunity, a pint or two in the local pub.

Into this seemingly timeless world comes childhood resident Sean Thornton (John Wayne), long Americanized but yearning to return to his pastoral roots to escape the haunting memory of killing a man in the boxing ring.  This gives him a reticence to fight that appears as cowardice when Danaher challenges him over Thornton's brazen courting of his sister Mary Kate.  Only later, after much tortured, hopeless struggle against Irish tradition, will Thornton relent.

Meanwhile, THE QUIET MAN seethes with fiery romance between Sean and Mary Kate, he brashly forward and unequivocal, she primly conservative on the outside while barely containing her inner passion.  A chaste, chaperoned outing with matchmaker Michaleen turns into a stolen tryst in a secluded hilltop cemetery as the lovers, buffeted by wind and rain, succumb to a desire as uncontrollable as the elements.


It's Ford at his most achingly romantic, his actors playing their roles with heartrending conviction.  This is also true of the couple's tempestuous marital relations--for marry they finally do, although a stubborn Danaher, tricked into allowing the marriage, refuses to give Mary Kate her dowry. 

Robbed of what is rightfully hers, she rejects Sean when he fails to understand its symbolic importance to her (independence, validation, self-worth) rendering their marriage a shambles from the start. 

Ford and co-writers Frank S. Nugent and Maurice Walsh fashioned the screenplay for THE QUIET MAN as though concocting a full-course meal.  No sooner do we think we're being served a lighthearted comedy of quaint customs and sexual mores than the course changes to deeply emotional yet sexually-charged romance.


With the ill-fated wedding scene, one thinks the film has crossed over into more complex social satire, and yet here it abruptly veers into the achingly tragic when Sean's agonizing guilt returns in full force. 

How the film not only rebounds from this low point but becomes more emotionally resonant and ultimately more joyous than ever is what makes it such an engaging and thoroughly satisfying experience. 

All the while, THE QUIET MAN is filled with little moments of grace and sweetness which lighten whatever darkness sometimes threatens to overcome it.  Barry Fitzgerald is a joy as Michaleen, the impish cupid who's also the town's bookmaker and most ardent drunkard.  The mutually-supportive relationship between Catholic (Bond) and Protestant (Shields) men of God is disarmingly sweet-spirited.  Danaher, for all his bluster, is a lovable ogre whose weaknesses are pride and a hopeless love for the widow Tillane which he lacks the charm to express.


But it's John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, both incredibly effective and appealing actors at their best here, who give THE QUIET MAN its true heart and soul.  Seldom has there been a screen couple with such combustive chemistry.  Theirs is a wonderfully adult romance even in its most childlike and playful moments--we feel that once their unbridled passions are released, it will indeed be, as Michaleen surmises, "Homeric." 

The DVD from Olive Films' "Olive Signature" label is in 1.37:1 with mono sound and English subtitles.  Mastered from a 4K scan of the original camera negative.  There's a commentary by John Ford biographer Joseph McBride that's wall-to-wall and loaded with information.  Other extras include: a tribute to Maureen O'Hara featuring Juliet Mills, Hayley Mills, and Ally Sheedy; a visual essay by historian and Ford expert Tag Gallagher; a biography of Republic Pictures president Herbert J. Yates; a fond remembrance by Ford friend and biographer Peter Bogdanovich; and Leonard Maltin's 1992 featurette "The Making of 'The Quiet Man'."  The keepcase contains an illustrated 8-page booklet.

THE QUIET MAN reaches its climax with a near-breakup of a marriage and the manly settling of a heated dispute through Queensberry-ruled fisticuffs (which becomes a joyful cause célèbre for the entire village and its surroundings), and ends with a curtain call that not only allows the actors to take a bow but their characters to break the fourth wall and warmly acknowledge our presence. (This part is just so cheerful and uplifting that it always chokes me up.)

And, at Ford's behest, Maureen O'Hara playfully whispers something into John Wayne's ear that elicits a genuinely shocked reaction before their characters skip happily into the privacy of their idyllic cottage like a couple of naughty kids.  We'll never know what she says to him, and that's okay. 

Buy it at Amazon.com:
Blu-ray
DVD




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Thursday, October 27, 2016

"STAR TREK BEYOND" - Available Nov. 1 on Digital HD and Blu-ray Combo Pack



Star Trek Beyond is a knockout
–Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

A total blast!
–Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”

FROM DIRECTOR JUSTIN LIN AND PRODUCER J.J. ABRAMS COMES ONE OF THE BEST-REVIEWED ACTION MOVIES OF THE YEAR

The All-New Star Trek Adventure Takes Off on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 3D™ Combo Packs November 1, 2016 


HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  – The intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise returns in “the best action movie of the year” (Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”).  The “highly entertaining” (David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter) new installment in the iconic franchise, STAR TREK BEYOND sets a course on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray Combo Packs, DVD and On Demand November 1, 2016 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The sci-fi adventure will also be available as part of the STAR TREK TRILOGY Blu-ray Collection.  The film warp speeds to Digital HD four weeks early on October 4, 2016.

Director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) delivers “a fun and thrilling adventure” (Eric Eisenberg, Cinemablend) with an incredible all-star cast including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, as well as newcomers to the STAR TREK universe Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Idris Elba (Pacific Rim).  In STAR TREK BEYOND, the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
   
The STAR TREK BEYOND 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray Combo Packs are loaded with over an hour of action-packed bonus content, with featurettes from filmmakers and cast, including J.J. Abrams, Justin Lin, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Go beyond the movie’s incredible edge-of-your-seat action and see how an unprecedented 50 new alien species were created, including STAR TREK’s newest villain Krall and the rebellious warrior Jaylah.  Journey through the iconic franchise in celebration of STAR TREK's 50th Anniversary, enjoy a hilarious gag reel and explore deleted scenes you didn’t see in theaters.  In addition, the sets include tributes to actors Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.  The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack* remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.
   
Star Trek Beyond Blu-ray Combo Pack
The STAR TREK BEYOND Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following:

Blu-ray
Feature film in high definition
Bonus Content:
Deleted Scenes - Go Beyond the final cut of the movie with scenes you didn't see in theaters.
Beyond the Darkness - Meet visionary producer J.J. Abrams, director Justin Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as they discuss the inspiration for the Star Trek Beyond storyline and how it came to life.
Enterprise Takedown - Experience edge-of-your-seat action and see how a shocking attack destroys the USS Enterprise.
Divided and Conquered - Learn how filmmakers pushed the boundaries in Star Trek Beyond by forcing the Enterprise crew into their most challenging situations yet.
A Warped Sense of Revenge - Meet Star Trek's newest villain, Krall, as actor Idris Elba reveals the backstory behind his character's terrifying ambitions.
Trekking in the Desert - Go on set to Dubai and discover how its futuristic architecture became the foundation for the most innovative Starbase yet.
Exploring Strange New Worlds - Tour the incredible production sets of Star Trek Beyond with director Justin Lin.
New Life, New Civilizations - See how special effects designers met the challenge to create an unprecedented 50 new alien species for the film to celebrate Star Trek's 50th Anniversary.
To Live Long and Prosper - Journey through the past 50 years of Star Trek with J.J. Abrams and the cast as they reflect on the evolution of this iconic sci-fi series.
For Leonard and Anton - Watch a touching tribute to the legendary Leonard Nimoy and beloved crew member Anton Yelchin.
Gag Reel - Join in on the fun with this hilarious gag reel of on-set bloopers.
DVD
Feature film in standard definition

Star Trek Beyond Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack
    The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack includes all of the above, as well as a Blu-ray 3D presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The Blu-ray 3D disc includes the feature film in high definition and 3D. The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film.

Star Trek Beyond 4K Ultra HD( Combo Pack
    Fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes the Blu-ray detailed above, as well as an Ultra HD Disc presented in 4K Ultra HD with English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film.

Star Trek Trilogy Blu-ray Collection
The STAR TREK TRILOGY Blu-ray Collection includes Blu-ray Discs™ of STAR TREK (2009), STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and STAR TREK BEYOND with access to a Digital HD copy of each film.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack available for purchase include a Digital Version of the film that can be accessed through UltraViolet™, a way to collect, access and enjoy movies.  With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them—reliably and securely—to a variety of devices.   

Star Trek Beyond Single-Disc DVD
The single-disc DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.



http://www.StarTrekMovie.com/
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StarTrekMovie
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iTunes: http://j.mp/STBWebsite
Amazon: http://j.mp/OwnSTBeyond

Paramount Pictures and Skydance present a Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment production of a Justin Lin film: “Star Trek Beyond.”  Starring John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba.  Music by Michael Giacchino. Costume designer Sanja Hays.  Edited by Kelly Matsumoto, Dylan Highsmith, Greg D’Auria and Steven Sprung, A.C.E.  Production designer Thomas Sanders.  Director of photography Stephen F. Windon, ACS, ASC.  Executive producers Jeffrey Chernov, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Tommy Harper.  Produced by J.J. Abrams, p.g.a., Roberto Orci, Lindsey Weber, p.g.a. and Justin Lin, p.g.a.  Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry.  Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung.  Directed by Justin Lin.

About Paramount Home Media Distribution
Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.  PPC is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), home to premier media brands that create television programs, motion pictures, consumer products, and digital content for audiences in 180 countries and territories.  The PHMD division oversees PPC’s home entertainment and transactional digital distribution activities worldwide. The division is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment content on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and CBS and applicable licensing and servicing of certain DreamWorks Animation titles.  PHMD additionally manages global licensing of studio content and transactional distribution across worldwide digital distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices and emerging technologies. 

STAR TREK BEYOND
Street Date:            October 4, 2016 (Digital HD)
November 1, 2016 (Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D, Trilogy Blu-ray Collection and VOD)       
U.S. Rating:       PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Canadian Rating:    PG for violence, coarse language

* To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar; however, Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.


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Ice-T Overthrows Law & Order in the First Trailer for "BLOODRUNNERS"



SVU's Ice-T Sinks His Fangs Into the First Trailer For Dan Lantz's Bloodrunners
Stars as an Ancient Vampire Hellbent on Conquering a Prohibition-Era Town

   
Los Angeles, CA - Speakeasy Pictures and IMPULSE-FX have released the first trailer for the period action thriller Bloodrunners.  The latest feature from writer-director Dan Lantz (Blind Love, Felix Melman), Bloodrunners centers on a turf war between a crooked cop and a power-hungry vampire (Ice-T, "Law and Order: SVU") over a small town soaked in illegal hooch during the height of Prohibition.

Bloodrunners combines the action of crime dramas with the otherworldly gore of vampire legends.  Michael McFadden (The Networker) headlines as a cop living large on looking the other way as booze flows through his protectorate.  When he discovers that Chesterfield, the owner of the latest speakeasy has a thirst for warm blood as well as cold hard cash, he must find a way to save his town before it dries up.


By 1933, Prohibition has proven a booming enterprise, where average citizens break the law, hide in the shadows and operate at night. The new world order has even lined the pockets of corrupt cops like Jack Malone (McFadden). He collects a 'luxury tax' from every bootlegger and scofflaw in the small town he has sworn to protect. While shaking down the newest speakeasy in the local underground, Jack and his men uncover a clan of vampires hell bent on taking over the town.

Now Chesterfield (Ice-T), an ancient vampire, and his horde must hide their secret at any cost. The bloody result leaves several bodies and innocent townsfolk taken as lambs to await the slaughter. With nowhere else to turn, Jack joins forces with a busboy and a crazy preacher to save the town and make a final stand against Chesterfield and his vampires

                Bloodrunners (Official Trailer)


Bloodrunners is expected to premiere in 2017.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

M. Night Shyamalan's "SPLIT" In Theaters January 20, 2017



Writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan returns to the captivating grip of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs with Split, an original thriller that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind.

Following last year’s breakout hit The Visit, Shyamalan reunites with producer Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series, The Gift) for the film.

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.


Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others.

Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

For Split, Shyamalan and Blum reassemble their core team from The Visit, the No. 1-grossing horror film of 2015. Their fellow collaborators include producer Marc Bienstock and executive producers Ashwin Rajan and Steven Schneider.


 www.splitmovie.com

Genre:        Thriller       
Cast:        James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley,
Jessica Sula, Haley Lu Richardson
Written and Directed by:    M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by:    M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock
Executive Producers:        Ashwin Rajan, Steven Schneider


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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

RAZORS -- Movie Review by Porfle



One thing that can really benefit a low-budget indy horror flick is a great found location.  We saw that with PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED, which took excellent advantage of New York's massive and extremely spooky old Buffalo Central Terminal, and more recently with the Italian zombie fest BURIAL GROUND

RAZORS (2016) gets the same kind of mileage out of a big dark old Victorian building (The Electrowerkz in London, England), without which, unfortunately, there would be little to recommend it.

An oddball screenwriting mentor, Professor Richard Wise (Thomas Thoroe), invites six young aspiring authors to the site in order to collaborate on the ultimate horror film script with the crumbling, labyrinthian building as their inspiration. 


One of them, Ruth (Kelby Keenan), has an added writer's aid--she claims to be in possession of a wooden case containing several razor-sharp knives that were the original killing instruments of none other than Jack the Ripper.

Naturally, they begin to experience strange, ghostly happenings and, in Ruth's case, weird dreams foretelling the murders of certain members of the party. Some of them encounter the ghost of a young girl from the Ripper's era who seems to be asking for their help. 

Others see Jack the Ripper himself, dressed in black slouch hat and cloak and in full kill-mode.  As the horror escalates, some of the group begin to suspect Professor Wise of being up to something sinister.


Along with its choice location, RAZORS benefits from good cinematography and a capable cast.  What ultimately does it in, however--besides a disjointed story that never really goes anywhere--is the editing. 

Seldom does a horror film contain such a jumble of montages, collages, and clumps of random images that look more like the editor having fun and making "art" than actually crafting a coherent narrative. 

And despite the film's inherent Gothic atmosphere, there's not much of a scare factor either.  The ghost girl, first seen only in brief glimpses, loses her creepiness when revealed up-close as a chatty costumed child actress in stagey makeup.


Frequent attempts at jump-scares seldom have the desired effect, nor do lots of screaming and occasional indulgences in gore.

Jack himself seems more of an ogrish working-class brute than the usual Victorian gentleman-gone-bad we're used to, and is even less effective when seen as a convulsive shirtless maniac covered in blood. 

I had high hopes for RAZORS due to the poster and stills, which gradually dissipated during the film's less-than-riveting running time.  It's apparently intended as the first in a projected horror franchise, but after the abrupt, lackluster ending, I wasn't exactly yearning for more. 

Buy it at Amazon.com

Amazon video





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Monday, October 24, 2016

THE ID -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



Some movies are a slow, gradual, tortured descent into the depths of insanity.  THE ID (2015) is a fat guy doing a cannonball into the backyard swimming pool of insanity and then splashing around in it like a water buffalo.

Okay, maybe the first twenty minutes or so start off as though this just might be a sensitive "Lifetime Channel"-type portrait of how difficult life can be for the full-time caregiver tending an invalid loved one. 

There are even elements that anyone who's been through a similar situation will readily identify with--the helplessness, hopelessness, frequent despair, anxiety, fear, frustration, the soul-wracking inability to cope.  Meridith (Amanda Wyss, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SILVERADO) exhibits it all, and we immediately begin to feel for her.


But this is no tender exploration of feelings nor an emotional journey of spiritual yearning. Because Meridith's wheelchair-bound father (Patrick Peduto) is an irredeemable son of a bitch who doesn't even have the saving grace of being a once-sane person with a deteriorating mind--we get the impression, mainly from Meridith's frequent flashbacks, that he's always been a bitter and hateful wretch. 

Thus, THE ID isn't softening us up for a touchy-feeling empathy session between Meredith and Dad and a mourning of the tragic incremental demise of his lucidity. Instead, it's setting us up for a long, painful look at her own sanity getting the old rubber-hose workover for an hour and a half until her head finally starts to fly apart at the seams and her life becomes a nightmarish, delusional death wish.

A phone call from an old high-school beau, Ted (Malcolm Matthews), requesting a reunion is the impetus for her to begin indulging in a fantasy scenario in which he returns to her life buffed, bronzed, and devilishly handsome, sweeping her off her feet and carrying her away.  Dad, of course, shatters this illusion with cruel, cackling glee, reminding her that she's an aging nobody who's going nowhere except right there with him for the rest of her worthless life.


With this set-up duly set up, the film becomes an all-out suspense thriller as Meredith's thoughts turn ever more toward murder even as we fear what the old man might be capable of himself.  As per Sean H. Stewart's taut, lean script, Peduto plays Dad with a distinct edge of deliberate villainy, so much so that we almost forgive Meridith for physically attacking him after being goaded into it. 

Amanda Wyss, on the other hand, invests her character with so much deep-seated sadness and utter despair, as well as occasional bouts of sheer, primal frenzy, that we sympathize with her poignant yearning even as we fear her.  Wyss really puts herself through the ringer for this part and is definitely exploring some scary emotional territory to pull it off. 

In addition to the clashes with Dad come Meridith's not-so-smooth dealings with the "normal" outside people she encounters such as nosy young social worker Tricia (Jamye Grant), whose maddeningly chipper demeanor hides a growing suspicion of Meridith's treatment of her father (she'll eventually bring the police into it).


Former boyfriend Ted finally does show up for a visit one afternoon, and the way Meridith's fairytale vision of the occasion plays out in real life is one of the most deliciously cringeworthy scenes you're likely to see in a while.

There's more to the story, of course, which I can't go into.  Suffice it to say, however, that THE ID truly does bleed its way into horror-movie territory, not only with the usual gotcha-type scares but with some genuinely morbid imagery.

The majority of the story is told from Meridith's point of view so almost all of the camerawork is loose and unbalanced, but--thanks to the skill and good instincts of first-time director Hutson--never obvious or out of control.


The Blu-ray from Hutson Ranch and Panic Ventures is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound.  No subtitles.  Extras include the featurette "Needs, Wants, and Desires: Behind the Scenes of The Id", more behind-the-scenes footage, a commentary with Hutson and Wyss, deleted and alternate scenes, audition clips, a photo gallery, and a trailer.

I didn't find THE ID to be a 100% fulfilling experience, mainly because the father was such a one-dimensional bad guy, but I would still rate it very highly as an effective, involving suspense thriller rife with touches of creeping horror.  Most of all, it's an acting tour-de-force for Amanda Wyss, whose character is lost in a desert of crazy and every potential oasis is a maddening mirage.

Buy it at Amazon.com


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Sunday, October 23, 2016

TALES OF POE -- DVD Review by Porfle



For Edgar Allan Poe fans, film adaptations of his works have always been a mixed bag.  Even the most faithful ones can fail to capture the author's unique essence, while others take his familiar name and story titles in completely different, often inferior directions. 

Any feature-length screenplay based on his short stories, such as in the celebrated Roger Corman films, must use Poe's ideas as a starting point to be built upon and/or padded out, for better or worse.  This is sometimes true even for the anthologies such as TALES OF TERROR and TWO EVIL EYES.

TALES OF POE (2014) is an anthology made up of three short films which, while not strictly adhering to the original stories as written, do a great job of retaining their mood and feeling--along with certain basic plot points--while offering up a wealth of fascinating surprises.  The adaptations conjure a richly atmospheric mood that combines the subtlety of Poe's prose with moments that go shockingly over the top.


Directors Alan Rowe Kelly (director and co-star of THE BLOOD SHED)and Bart Mastronardi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Varrati, have come up with three totally fresh, creative adaptations that breathe new life into these oft-told tales without straying too far from the qualities that made them memorable in the first place.  A  once-in-a-lifetime cast of genre favorites and lavish production values (despite a low budget) help make the experience all the richer. 

"The Tell-Tale Heart" gets a sex change, with scream queen Debbie Rochon (MODEL HUNGER, THE THEATER BIZARRE) outstanding as a nurse-for-hire tending to wealthy invalid and former silent screen star Miss Lamarr (Kelly) in her spacious, museum-like estate.  Poe fans will know that the eccentric but otherwise harmless Miss Lamarr sports one blind, milky-white eye which the mentally-unstable nurse finds utterly repulsive to the point of plotting the old woman's murder in the dead of night. 

Rochon's character tells the story in flashback to her fellow inmates in an insane asylum, retaining much of Poe's original prose and adding just enough to keep things enticingly unexpected for the viewer.  Some well-rendered sex and violence also adds just the right measure of visceral impact for modern audiences.  Desiree Gould (SLEEPAWAY CAMP's "Aunt Martha") makes a strong impression as a malicious nurse.



Once again centering around one or two particular events that stoked Poe's imagination enough to create a story around them, "The Cask" takes the horror of being imprisoned alive behind a brick wall--while watching it being constructed brick by brick--and fleshes it out into a whole new yet equally chilling story.

This time, wealthy wine connoisseur Fortunato Montresor (Randy Jones, better known as the cowboy from The Village People) and his blowsy new bride Gogo (Alan Rowe Kelly again) are leading a flamboyant assemblage of wedding guests through his vast wine cellar when suddenly one of the women (Zoe Daelman Chlanda), a psychic, starts hugging the cold stone wall and having convulsions.  Apparently, she's foreseeing the horror that's in store for one of the newlyweds when the other proves to be, shall we say, "unfaithful."

Where "The Tell-Tale Heart" is unrelievedly Gothic and dark, "The Cask" mixes a bit more humor (nice and dry, like a good wine) with its chills, bringing to mind the "Something To Tide You Over" episode of CREEPSHOW.  Jones acquits himself very well, as do Brewster McCall as family friend Marco Lechresi and genre stalwart Susan Adriensen (PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED, THE BLOOD SHED), always a pleasure to watch, as their creepy housemaid Morella.  But it's Kelly who once again impresses the most by playing the role of an overbearing woman to the point of caricature without going over.


The third and final story, "Dreams", is based on various poems by Poe and "A Dream Within a Dream" in particular.  Here, we get the most surreal and non-linear interpretation of his works in the story of a young woman (Bette Cassatt, MODEL HUNGER) whose dreamlike delirium while on her deathbed provides an endless flow of free-form imagery steeped in symbolism that's both poetic and repellent.  

Like a moribund Alice whose wonderland is the twilight world of her own life and death, The Dreamer wanders through ever-changing landscapes of her mind under the guidance of a benevolent Angel of Dreams (Caroline Williams, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) while being plagued by an evil woman in black (Lesleh Donaldson, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, CURTAINS) who represents negativity and fear.

Even the woman's hospital room is a dark and foreboding place presided over by a scary nurse (Adrienne King of FRIDAY THE 13TH).  Other odds and ends from Poe's repertoire appear such as characters Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether.


Just as the plotless succession of images seems to be going nowhere, it's brought to a poignant conclusion thanks in part to a moving performance by Amy Steel (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) as The Dreamer's careworn mother.

The DVD from WildEye Releasing is in widescreen with 2.0 sound. No subtitles.  Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interview with director Bart Mastronardi, some very intriguing deleted scenes, and trailers.  

The perversely delightful TALES OF POE is brilliantly rendered by all involved and serves as an excellent primer for any contemporary viewer unfamiliar with Poe who might be wondering what the big deal is.  Dark, mesmerizing, sometimes intoxicatingly nightmarish, it's absolutely top-drawer indy filmmaking which I believe many devotees of the original author will find irresistible.

Buy it at Amazon.com



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FSLC announces "Total Verhoeven" November 9-23 -- Complete Paul Verhoeven Retrospective



THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER ANNOUNCES TOTAL VERHOEVEN, NOVEMBER 9-23

Complete retrospective of the provocative director’s work, including rare early Dutch films and sneak preview of Elle

Verhoeven in person November 15 and 16!


New York, NY (October 20, 2016) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces Total Verhoeven, a complete retrospective of the fearless director’s work, on the occasion of the U.S. release of his acclaimed new film Elle (NYFF54), November 9-23.

"It's about surviving in a world populated by assholes, that's Verhoeven’s philosophy.”
—Jacques Rivette

Few contemporary directors have inspired more debate than Paul Verhoeven, whose smartly entertaining films push the boundaries of sex, violence, and accepted good taste to daringly subversive ends. After a string of groundbreaking works in the Netherlands, Verhoeven eventually found his way to Hollywood, where he lent his complex, morally ambiguous worldview and facility for action spectacle to some of the most fascinating—and often controversial—studio films of the eighties and nineties.

An ironist who frequently works in so-called “disreputable” genres—science fiction, erotic thriller, melodrama—he combines a formal mastery with a satirist’s sensibility, delivering visceral thrills alongside provocative critiques of capitalism, militarism, and masculinity.

Total Verhoeven opens November 9 with a sneak preview of the director’s latest, NYFF54 selection Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert. Highlights of the retrospective include Verhoeven’s early Dutch films, rarely shown in the U.S. and all on 35mm, from his first feature, Business Is Business, to the last film he made before coming to Hollywood, The 4th Man; a 4K restoration of the uncut version of RoboCop; Basic Instinct and Showgirls on 35mm; as well as Verhoeven’s early short films, each centered around youths in school, which foreshadow the themes he would explore throughout his career: female dominance, technology, and war.

Verhoeven will appear in person for the retrospective, participating in Q&As after screenings of RoboCop on November 15 and his second Dutch feature, Turkish Delight, on November 16. Additionally, he will introduce Starship Troopers on November 15 and Showgirls on November 16.

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, October 27 and are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for members. Tickets for the sneak preview of Elle are $18; $13 for members. See more and save with 3+ film discount package (Elle excluded) and $125 All Access Pass (Elle included).

Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan

Acknowledgments:
EYE Film Institute Netherlands; Sony Pictures Classics; Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screening at Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street)

Sneak Preview:

Elle
Paul Verhoeven, France/Germany, 2016, 131m
French with English subtitles
Paul Verhoeven’s first feature in a decade—and his first in French—ranks among his most incendiary, improbable concoctions: a wry, almost-screwball comedy of manners about a woman who responds to a rape by refusing the mantle of victimhood. As the film opens, Parisian heroine Michèle (a brilliant Isabelle Huppert) is brutally violated in her kitchen by a hooded intruder. Rather than report the crime, Michèle, the CEO of a video game company and daughter of a notorious mass murderer, calmly sweeps up the mess and proceeds to engage her assailant in a dangerous game of domination and submission in which her motivations remain a constant source of mystery, humor, and tension. A Sony Pictures Classics release. An NYFF54 selection.
Wednesday, November 9, 6:30pm

Basic Instinct
Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1992, 35mm, 128m
Verhoeven’s sleek, sexually daring thriller is Vertigo for the 1990s. Michael Douglas is the troubled police detective seduced into a series of cat-and-mouse mind games by Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell, a cool, Hitchcock-blonde crime novelist with a penchant for sleeping with murderers and who may or may not be one herself. Throughout, Verhoeven revels in the story’s ambiguity, creating a world in which sex is both unbelievably hot and charged with menace, and nearly everyone is guilty of something. Even the ending is a tease.
Wednesday, November 9, 9:15pm
Tuesday, November 15, 3:45pm
Saturday, November 19, 6:45pm

Black Book / Zwartboek
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2006, 35mm, 145m
English, Dutch, German, and Hebrew with English subtitles
Working in the Netherlands again after two decades in Hollywood, Verhoeven seized the opportunity to make an unusually complex World War II thriller. After her family is gunned down by the SS, a Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) goes undercover as a spy for the Dutch resistance, risking everything when she becomes romantically involved with a Nazi officer (Sebastian Koch). Shifting loyalties, double crosses, and Mata Hari-esque sexual intrigue abound, but what’s most striking is Verhoeven’s characteristic ambivalence: as in so many of his films he creates a finely shaded world in which everyone must make tough moral compromises to survive.
Monday, November 14, 3:00pm
Friday, November 18, 6:15pm

Business Is Business / Wat zien ik
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1971, 35mm, 90m
English-dubbed version
Verhoeven’s first feature is unmistakably his: outrageous, satiric, erotic, and gleefully unrespectable. It’s a chaotic comic portrait of two enterprising prostitutes (Ronnie Bierman and Sylvia de Leur) looking for love in between rendezvous with clients. (Their specialty: role-playing everything from chickens to corpses for their kinky customers.) A goofy, groovy tour through the red light district of swinging ‘70s Amsterdam, Business Is Business may be the most high-spirited, relatively untroubled film of Verhoeven’s career thus far, but it’s also the first iteration of one of his key themes: we do what we must to survive.
Thursday, November 10, 7:00pm
Sunday, November 13, 6:30pm


The 4th Man / De vierde man
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1983, 35mm, 102m
Dutch with English subtitles
While most of Verhoeven’s works can be read as subversive genre exercises, the last Dutch film he made before decamping for Hollywood plays like a feverish satire of a Serious European Art Film. Haunted by surreal visions of death and violence, a Catholic, alcoholic, bisexual writer (Jeroen Krabbé) is seduced by and shacks up with a suspiciously thrice-widowed beauty salon owner (Renée Soutendijk)—but he really has eyes for her sexy, would-be boyfriend (Thom Hoffman). One of the director’s most outlandish and inspired films is an alternately funny and freaky hothouse blend of oneiric symbolism, homoeroticism, religious iconography, and witchcraft.
Thursday, November 10, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 13, 4:15pm

Flesh+Blood
Paul Verhoeven, USA/Spain/Netherlands, 1985, 35mm, 126m
Though it was Verhoeven’s first English-language film, Flesh+Blood is in many ways an extension of his Dutch work: it’s shot by regular cinematographer Jan de Bont, stars frequent leading man Rutger Hauer, and is marked by the director’s typically thorny sensibility. Italy, 1501: after they’re swindled by a nobleman, a band of mercenaries headed by the savage Martin (Hauer) get their revenge by kidnapping his son’s young bride-to-be (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Worlds removed from the chivalrous romance of Hollywood legends, this is a muddy, bloody, brutal vision of the Middle Ages, with a rapist-kidnapper antihero at its center. Little wonder it was met with indifference by American audiences unprepared for Verhoeven’s uncompromising worldview.
Saturday, November 12, 1:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 3:30pm

Hollow Man
Paul Verhoeven, USA/Germany, 2000, 35mm, 112m
Verhoeven’s last Hollywood film to date is this underrated, twisted take on The Invisible Man. Kevin Bacon is an egomaniac scientist who makes himself the human guinea pig in a top-secret, government-funded invisibility experiment—but this newly acquired “power” unleashes his inner homicidal maniac. Verhoeven makes inventive use of state-of-the-art special effects (ever wondered what an invisible man looks like underwater?) in this satisfyingly pulpy thriller, which is, “like his other films, the work of a macabre moralist who's fascinated by the shape of our worst impulses” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).
Friday, November 18, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 20, 8:30pm

Katie Tippel / Keetje Tippel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1975, 35mm, 107m
Dutch with English subtitles
One of Verhoeven’s most visually beautiful films depicts both the squalor and opulence of 19th-century Europe. Born into extreme poverty, Katie (Turkish Delight’s Monique van de Ven)—something like the great-grandmother of Showgirls’ ruthless Nomi—must rely on her tenacity to get ahead, as she goes from prostitute to artist’s model to fine lady in turn-of-the-century Amsterdam. Verhoeven twists this earthy, up-from-the-gutter tale—based on the memoirs of Dutch realist writer Neel Doff—into an indictment of capitalist exploitation.
Sunday, November 13, 8:30pm
Wednesday, November 16, 4:00pm

RoboCop
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1987, 101m
Verhoeven demonstrated his ability to deliver both genre thrills and serious social commentary in this prescient and disturbing look at the rise of the corporate police state. In a dystopian, futuristic Detroit, a nefarious mega-conglomerate unveils the latest in crime-fighting technology: part cyborg, part revivified corpse of a police officer (Peter Weller) slain in the line of duty, RoboCop at first seems a surefire success—until he rebels against his programming. This sci-fi pulp masterpiece is packed with both inventive filmmaking—a grimy, cyberpunk look; satiric news broadcasts; chilling point-of-view shots—and provocative ideas about corporate takeover, the militarization of the police force, and the relationship between man and machine. 4K restoration of the uncut version!
Friday, November 11, 7:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)
Thursday, November 17, 4:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 9:30pm

Showgirls
Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1995, 35mm, 131m
Unbound by musty notions of “good taste,” Showgirls goes further than any other film of the 1990s in its orgiastic depiction of consumerism, crass spectacle, and the dark side of the American Dream. Elizabeth Berkley (in a tour-de-force of hysterical excess) stars as Nomi, a tough-as-nails drifter with a go-it-alone attitude and a murky past, who arrives in Las Vegas and sets about trampling on everyone around her—including Gina Gershon’s evil-seductive nightclub diva—as she fights her way up from stripper in a sleazy club to star showgirl. With its deliciously overripe dialogue and nigh-unhinged performances, Showgirls is both a delirious star-is-born satire and a terrifying vision of capitalism’s corruption of the soul.
Friday, November 11, 4:15pm
Saturday, November 12, 9:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Friday, November 18, 3:30pm

Soldier of Orange / Soldaat van Oranje
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1977, 35mm, 150m
English, German, and Dutch with English subtitles
This bracing World War II epic was the film that brought Verhoeven to Hollywood’s attention. It follows a group of college friends through the Nazi occupation of Holland, as two (Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé) becomes heroes of the resistance movement, while another (Derek de Lint) turns traitor. As usual, Verhoeven’s moral ambiguity and skewed sensibility keep things complicated: far from a patriotic flag-waver, Soldier of Orange is as knotty, subversive, and gonzo as war movies get (witness the hero performing a homoerotic tango), while demonstrating Verhoeven’s ability to balance action with involving human drama.
Tuesday, November 22, 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 23, 3:00pm

Spetters
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1980, 35mm, 120m
Dutch with English subtitles
Something of a male-driven precursor to Showgirls: as he would do in that film fifteen years later, Verhoeven takes a lurid soap opera premise, subverts it with deadly dark humor, and dials up the emotional intensity to create a funhouse-mirror reflection of a sick society. Playing like a biker exploitation film as directed by Cassavetes, Spetters is a sexually charged psychodrama that charts the coming-of-age of three blue-collar, motocross-obsessed young men. Hopped up on testosterone, the boys live to race their dirt bikes and dream of one day becoming as famous as the world champion, Gerrit Witkamp (Rutger Hauer)—but fate has other things in store. Homosexuality, religion, suicide, misogyny, and empty-headed macho posturing are all addressed with an unflinching frankness and a razor-sharp satiric edge.
Thursday, November 10, 4:30pm
Saturday, November 12, 4:00pm


Starship Troopers
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997, 129m
Part comic book–style action adventure, part scathing satire of the military-industrial complex, Starship Troopers is one of the most subversive artistic acts ever perpetrated with a $100 million budget. Welcome to the 24th century, where fresh-faced, idealistic teens are encouraged to join up and become “citizens” by enlisting in the intergalactic army. They’ll grow up, see the universe, and, oh yeah, be slaughtered by the thousands as they battle giant, mutant insects threatening to wipe out mankind. Abetted by seamless special effects and impressively gory CGI carnage, Verhoeven delivers both a thrilling science fiction spectacle and a devastating takedown of jingoistic militarism.
Friday, November 11, 9:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Saturday, November 19, 9:30pm

Total Recall
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1990, 113m
2084: Arnold Schwarzenegger is construction worker Douglas Quaid, whose virtual reality vacation to Mars turns into the ultimate head-trip when he discovers that his entire life (including wife Sharon Stone) is a sham based on implanted memories. Jetting off to the real Red Planet to find out the truth, he finds himself on the run through a grungy, capitalist dystopia populated by proletarian mutants. Verhoeven’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” is like RoboCop played at hyper-speed, with its themes of corporate control, memory, and identity delivered in an even faster, funnier, and (thanks to Rob Bottin’s impressively icky makeup effects) gorier package.
Saturday, November 12, 6:30pm
Saturday, November 19, 2:00pm

Tricked / Steekspel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2012, 55m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
In a daring online experiment, over 400 people contributed to a crowd-sourced script that resulted in what Verhoeven describes as “my 14½, like Fellini's 8½.” It’s a darkly comic family farce in which a Dutch husband and father’s fiftieth birthday celebration is dampened when his ex-flame shows up pregnant with his baby. Meanwhile, he’s got a pervy son, alcoholic daughter, and two business partners planning to push him out of his company to contend with. The exquisite corpse–style writing process results in an hour jam-packed with plot twists, all held together by Verhoeven’s tongue-in-cheek, un-self-serious approach.
Sunday, November 20, 2:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 5:00pm

Turkish Delight / Turks fruit
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1973, 35mm, 108m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
Named the Best Dutch Film of the Century by the Netherlands Film Festival, Verhoeven’s hugely successful, Academy Award–nominated sophomore feature opens with a giallo-style jolt, develops into a kinky, blackly comic sexploitation romp, and finally blossoms into an alternately sweet and perverse romance. In the first of his many collaborations with Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer stars as a temperamental sculptor who hitches a ride with a free-spirited young woman (Monique van de Ven). In short order they hook up on the side of the road, get married, and settle into a life of round-the-clock lovemaking in his art-strewn studio—but, alas, nothing lasts forever.

Sunday, November 13, 2:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)

Shorts Program (TRT: 112m)
Each made by Verhoeven before his first feature, these five short films center around youth and school life, and provide a glimpse into the director’s early fascinations with female dominance, technology, and war.
Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 6:00pm

A Lizard Too Much / Eén Hagedis te veel
Paul Verhoeven, 1960, Netherlands, 32m
Dutch with English subtitles
In Verhoeven’s first film, an artist’s wife has an affair with one of her students, who has a mistress of his own.

Nothing Special / Niets Bijzonders
Paul Verhoeven, 1961, Netherlands, 9m
Dutch with English subtitles
This improvised short involves a man sitting in a bar, considering his relationship with his girlfriend as he watches a different woman nearby.

Let’s Have a Party / Feest!
Paul Verhoeven, 1963, Netherlands, 28m
Dutch with English subtitles
A shy student falls in love with a girl from another class. After he works up the courage to ask her to the school dance, something unexpected happens.

The Royal Dutch Marine Corps / Het Korps Mariniers
Paul Verhoeven, 1965, Netherlands, 23m
Dutch with English subtitles
Made while Verhoeven was in the military, this propaganda film follows various exercises carried out by the Royal Dutch Marine Corps.

The Wrestler / De Worstelaar
Paul Verhoeven, 1971, Netherlands, 20m
Dutch with English subtitles
A concerned father follows his son and the boy’s lover—the wife of a wrestler—in an attempt to end the relationship before the wrestler finds out.

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.

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Paul Verhoeven interview

Photos: Turkish Delight, RoboCop, Showgirls, Starship Troopers




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