HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"Matrix" Trinity's Escape Set to Janet Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes"




I don't own or claim any rights to any of these materials--just having a little fun with them.

If you like this, please check out the entire movie, "The Matrix", as well as other music by Janet Jackson!





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Friday, December 29, 2017

"Sex Madness" (1938) Falling Window Blooper




Dwayne Esper's vintage exploitation films were done on very low budgets--too low for needless retakes.

And so, when a window falls down in the background during an early scene from "Sex Madness" (1938), watch the two actresses keep right on going.

And notice how the startled blonde stumbles her line a bit. But NO RETAKES!






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Dallas Film Festivals' Directors and Programmers Name Their Top Ten Films of 2017



DALLAS AND NORTH TEXAS FILM FESTIVALS’ DIRECTORS AND PROGRAMMERS ANNOUNCE THEIR CHOICES FOR 2017’s TOP TEN FILMS

BABY DRIVER, GET OUT, AND THE SHAPE OF WATER RANK 1-2-3 AMONG THE TOP CHOICES


DALLAS, TX (December 29, 2017) – The heads of prominent Dallas and North Texas Film Festivals announced their selections for the Top Ten Films of 2017 during WFAA’s Midday at 8 news broadcast today with Edgar Wright’s BABY DRIVER, Jordan Peele’s GET OUT, and Guillermo del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER taking the top three spots among films released in 2017.

Justina Walford (Artistic Director, Women Texas Film Festival), Michael Cain (Director, EARTHxFilm), and Studio Movie Grill Programmer Todd Donnell announced the list of films on the broadcast with WFAA’s Jason Wheeler.


The films were chosen by representatives of Dallas and North Texas-based film festivals, and Studio Movie Grill (which served as a sponsor and host for both the Dallas Video Fest and the Women Texas Film Festival this past year), including Walford, Cain, and Donnell, along with Bart Weiss (Director, Dallas Video Fest, Artistic Director, 3 Stars Cinema), Maverick Moore (Director, Deep in the Heart FF), Thomas Schubert (Festival Liaison, Asian Film Festival of Dallas), Susan Kandell (Programmer, 3 Stars Cinema), and John Wildman (Publicist and Programming Consultant, WTxFF).

Dallas and North Texas film festivals’ Top 10 Films of 2017:

1.                     BABY DRIVER (DIR: Edgar Wright)
2.                     GET OUT (DIR: Jordan Peele)
3.                     THE SHAPE OF WATER (DIR: Guillermo del Toro)
4.                     THE BIG SICK (DIR: Michael Showalter)
5.                     DUNKIRK (DIR: Christopher Nolan)
6.                     LADY BIRD (DIR: Greta Gerwig)
7.                     THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (DIR: Martin McDonagh)
8. (TIE)            MOTHER! (DIR: Darren Aronofsky)
                        JIM AND ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND (DIR: Chris Smith)
9.                     COLOSSAL (DIR: Nacho Vigalondo)
10. (TIE)          THE DISASTER ARTIST (DIR: James Franco)
                        STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (DIR: Rian Johnson)
            
Other films cited by the group included: Dee Rees’s MUDBOUND; Patty Jenkins’s WONDER WOMAN; Denis Villeneuve’s BLADE RUNNER 2049; Frederick Wiseman’s EX LIBRIS: NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY; Agnieszka Smoczynska’s THE LURE; David Lowery’s A GHOST STORY; Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO; Sean Baker’s THE FLORIDA PROJECT; Jeff Orlowski’s CHASING CORAL; Trey Edward Shults’s IT COMES AT NIGHT; and Macon Blair’s I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE.



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"DEN OF THIEVES" With Gerard Butler and 50 Cent -- Watch the Trailer NOW!



"DEN OF THIEVES"

In Theaters from STXfilms January 19, 2018

DEN OF THIEVES is a gritty Los Angeles crime saga which follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and the state's most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.

                                    WATCH THE TRAILER:


Official Website 

https://www.facebook.com/DenOfThieves
https://www.instagram.com/DenOfThieves/
https://twitter.com/den_of_thieves
#DenOfThieves




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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Phantom Hand Blooper in "From Russia With Love" (1963)



When Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) greets Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) at the door in the second James Bond movie "From Russia With Love" (1963, with Sean Connery), something odd happens--a phantom hand appears where you might least expect it.  See if you can spot it!


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material. Just having some fun with it. Hope you enjoy it!





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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parking Lot On Mars? Classic Blooper from "Assignment: Outer Space" (1960)




In the 1960 Italian sci-fi flick "Assignment: Outer Space" (originally "Space Men") a spaceship crashes on Mars. 

But the explosion is clearly just a fireball filmed in a parking lot--complete with building, telephone pole, and Chevy...




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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"KING KONG VS. FRANKENSTEIN" Main Titles (What If?)



There was a time when famed "King Kong" animator Willis O'Brien pondered the possibility of pitting the giant ape King Kong against an oversized Frankenstein monster in what would certainly have been quite a rumble. (The idea was later "borrowed" for KING KONG VS. GODZILLA.) 

Not sure exactly what the movie would've looked like, but here--just for fun--is our version of what the opening credits might have looked like. (One of Willis O'Brien's actual preliminary drawings appears at the end.)

We neither own nor claim any rights to any of this material. Just having a little Monster Kid fun with it!




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Thursday, December 21, 2017

SHOCK WAVE -- DVD Review by Porfle



Bomb squad and hostage crisis stories are always inherently tense to some degree, but SHOCK WAVE, aka "Chai dan zhuan jia" (Cinedigm, 2017), takes things to a whole new level.  It's one of those "through the wringer" experiences that just leaves you...well, wrung out.

Chinese action superstar Andy Lau (THE WARLORDS, BATTLE OF THE WARRIORS) plays veteran bomb defuser extraordinaire J.S. Cheung, whose nerves of steel don't keep him from having a warm heart, as his girlfriend Carmen Li (Jia Song, RED CLIFF) will attest.

They have a nice meet-cute under odd circumstances that lead to a deep relationship which might or might not lead to marriage.  What we're already certain of, if movies like this have taught us anything, is that if there's a big bomb crisis later on in the movie then eventually the girlfriend will get mixed up in it.


Naturally, there's a big bomb crisis later on in the movie, thanks to Cheung's mortal enemy and top bad-guy bomb expert Peng Hong (Wu Jiang), whose brother was sent to prison by Cheung during an undercover assignment. 

Nursing a big, festering grudge against Cheung, Peng Hong plans a massive attack in which Hong Kong's Cross-Harbor Tunnel is taken over and its thousands of hostages threatened with explosive doom unless the imprisoned brother is set free.

What sets SHOCK WAVE apart from most of the other hostage-crisis films is its scale--it looks as though the filmmakers have full use of an actual tunnel filled with automobiles, and the mayhem that occurs inside it will involve all manner of full-scale gun battles, car crashes, and explosions. 


This isn't just some direct-to-video yarn here, but epic, heart-pounding action that exploits every facet of bomb-defusing, hostage negotiating, and all-around shoot-em-up chaos while also exploring all the emotional human elements.  Hostages get killed as do brave cops, and Cheung's character must suffer every tragic loss while feeling partly responsible for it. 

The film begins with a sustained action sequence involving a bank robbery that ends badly.  That leads us into the drawn-out suspense of the tunnel situation which will take up the rest of the film. 

Things slow down in the second half to concentrate on the human side of Cheung's ordeal (including the "girlfriend" part that we knew was coming) as well as exploring other peripheral aspects of the situation, but this just gears us up for one of the most calamitous finales imaginable for a film like this.  I'm talking "intense" in the full sense of the word.


Andy Lau is great as the heroic, likable cop, while Wu Jiang makes an ideal non-cliche' bad guy who loves putting Cheung and the city of Hong Kong through hell.  The rest of the cast are fine as well.
 
Director Herman Yau (THE WOMAN KNIGHT OF MIRROR LAKE, THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN) is in top form throughout, staging it all with brisk bravado and clearly aiming to knock our socks off.  My only complaint is the obvious use of CGI for many of the explosions, which had me yearning for the good old days when they just blew everything up for real. 

Still, SHOCK WAVE is mind-boggling in its mix of human drama with the most nail-biting suspense and explosive, car-crashing, bullet-spraying carnage one could ask for in an action flick.  And after all that, it ends on a note of genuine emotional resonance.  Well done.


SHOCK WAVE DVD BASICS              
Street Date:         January 2, 2018
Language:           Cantonese, Mandarin                      
Runtime:             119 minutes             
Rating:                Not Rated
Subtitles:            English
(Also available in Blu-Ray+DVD)

EXTRAS:
Making-of featurette
Trailer




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THE AMICUS COLLECTION -- Four Blu-ray Reviews by Porfle




"THE AMICUS COLLECTION" is a Blu-ray box set from Severin Films which contains the following titles: And Now the Screaming Starts/Asylum/The Beast Must Die!/The Vault of Amicus.  Here are our collected reviews of each separate title.


ASYLUM (1973)



I missed out on most of the cool-looking Amicus productions covered in "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine when I was a kid. Except TALES FROM THE CRYPT, which I did get to see at the drive-in when it came out and was duly impressed and entertained. 

Which is exactly my reaction to finally getting to see another quintessential Amicus anthology feature, ASYLUM (Severin Films, 1973), surely just as aptly representative of the small but hard-working studio that seemed to rival Hammer in its own modest way, but with a personality all its own, back in the 60s and 70s.

With super-efficient producing partners Max Rosenberg and Milt Subotsky handling the business end of things while hiring the best artistic and technical people for the actual filmmaking duties, ASYLUM ranks as one of their finer efforts thanks to a tight script by Robert Bloch ("Psycho") and what amounts to a pretty impressive all-star cast.



Robert Powell, best known by me from such films as TOMMY, THE SURVIVOR, and the TV mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth" (in the title role, no less), is Dr. Martin, a psychiatrist applying for a position in an asylum for the criminally insane. (I especially enjoyed the robust rendition of Mussorgsky's "A Night On Bald Mountain" that accompanied his country drive to the secluded location.)

The institute's eccentric boss, Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), informs him that his predecessor, Dr. Starr, recently went violently mad himself and is now a patient with an entirely different personality.  Rutherford tells Martin that he has the job if he can interview the patients and ascertain which of them is actually Dr. Starr.

Thus hangs the anthology aspect of the film as Martin visits each patient in turn and listens to their stories, which we see in flashback.  They amount to a potent mix of spine-chilling horror tales, each boasting a kind of slow, deliberate storytelling that I find quite satisfying as well as an atmospheric British ambience with that pleasing 70s vibe. 


Things start out with a bang when patient Bonnie (Barbara Parkins, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS) tells the story of "Frozen Fear", the most lurid and visceral tale in the collection.  In it, she and her lover Walter (Richard Todd, THE LONGEST DAY) plan to do away with his wife Ruth (Sylvia Syms) via dismemberment. 

Ruth, however, has been dabbling in voodoo and, even in death, turns out to be more than just the sum of her...parts.  It's the liveliest and most grotesque entry, and my favorite. (The film's spoileriffic trailer dwells particularly upon this segment.)

The next story, "The Weird Tailor", has the debt-ridden title character (Barry Morse of "The Fugitive" and "Space: 1999") accepting a lucrative commission for a very strange suit of clothes by a mysterious stranger (played by the great Peter Cushing).  The purpose of the odd suit of clothes turns out to be quite a shock for the old man, and for us when the supernatural tale reaches its violent end.


"Lucy Comes To Stay" offers a two-fer of great leading ladies with Charlotte Rampling (THE NIGHT PORTER, "The Avengers") and Britt Eklund (THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN) in a story of overbearing husband George (James Villiers, REPULSION) plotting against his mentally-unstable wife while her friend Lucy stops at nothing, including murder, to protect her.  It's the most low-key entry with a predictable twist, yet I found it involving enough, especially with such an appealing cast.

The fourth tale, "Mannikins of Horror", takes place right there in the asylum with Herbert Lom as patient Dr. Byron, a man whose hobby is fashioning doll likenesses of his friends and colleagues.  He claims that he can project his soul into his own miniature self, animate it, and use it as a weapon of vengeance against his most hated enemy, who happens to be one of the asylum's inhabitants. Which, in a delightfully staged sequence, is exactly what he does.

The individual flashback tales are involving to various degrees, while the framing story inside that big, Gothic asylum ultimately delivers the goods for a twisty, satisfying finish. 

Direction by Roy Ward Baker (A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS) is solid and thoroughly professional as are all other aspects of the production, and, while not really gory, it's still strong stuff for its time.

The Blu-ray from Severin contains their usual lavish bonus menu beginning with "Two's A Company", a 70s-produced BBC report on the making of the film which, in addition to cast and crew interviews, features fascinating thoughts on filmmaking from Amicus co-producer Milt Subotsky himself.  Recent interviews of David J. Schow (regarding his friend Robert Bloch) and Fiona Subotsky (about her husband Milt) yield much information and insight. 

The featurette "Inside the Fear Factory" offers directors Roy Ward Baker and Freddie Francis and producer Max J. Rosenberg talking about Amicus. There's also an informative commentary track with Baker and camera operator Neil Binney, reversible cover art, and two trailers.
 
ASYLUM is solidly made, nicely atmospheric, and just plain fun genre filmmaking that this horror fan considers time very well spent.  


AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS (1973)



The title of the original novel by David Case was "Fengriffen", with Roger Marshall's screenplay similarly dubbed "The Bride of Fengriffen."  To the actors' dismay and my delight, the title of this 1973 Amicus production ultimately became AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS (Severin Films). 

I find this not only more interesting-sounding but quite apt, as leading lady Stephanie Beacham (DRACULA A.D. 1972, "The Colbys") and various of her co-stars emit piercing, full-bodied screams every five minutes or so in reaction to some unbearable horror visited upon them by the script.

It all starts when 18th-century British nobleman Charles Fengriffen (genre stalwart Ian Ogilvy) brings his new bride Catherine (Beacham) home to the rustic but extravagantly elegant family estate in the country.  (Perennial film location Oakley Court provides the lavish exteriors, with equally elaborate interiors constructed and shot at Shepperton Studios.)


What Catherine doesn't realize--and which both Charles and everyone else take pains to hide from her--is that due to the heinous crimes of Charles' grandfather Henry against his woodsman Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead), there's a terrible curse on the house of Fengriffen that's to be visited upon the first virginal bride to reside there.  (For which she, to her grave misfortune, qualifies.)

This offers director Roy Ward Baker a chance to punctuate the formal, richly Gothic atmosphere with shocking flashes of lurid imagery as the horrified Catherine is subjected to ghostly visions such as a bloody hand plunging through Henry's portrait and glimpses of the disembodied but ambulatory hand making its way around inside the house while a spectral Silas appears intermittently at the window with gory holes for eyes. 

We're led to wonder if such visions are real or merely figments of her heated imagination--that is, until various household staff and others connected with the Fengriffens begin to die off in violent ways.  Catherine herself needs no more convincing after a spectral presence seems to force itself upon her sexually on her very wedding night, setting into motion what will become the eventual ghastly fruition of the curse.


Baker's surehanded directorial experience on such classics as A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, ASYLUM, and FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH comes into play as he moves the camera fluidly within the spacious indoor sets.  Lighting, costumes, and other production details also contribute to give this film a look beyond its relatively modest budget.

This look is similar to that of the earlier Gothic-tinged Hammer films, and indeed seems to be trying to fill the gap left by Hammer's move at the time toward a more modern image.  Yet it somehow retains what I think of as the distinctive, perhaps indefinable visual ambience of an Amicus production.

Even with its R-rating, gore is kept to a minimum although that severed hand stays quite busy and Silas' bloody axe gets its chance to swing as well.  A couple of implied rape scenes (one featuring second-billed Herbert Lom in a revelatory flashback as the evil Henry Fengriffen) and some brief nudity add to the adult content.

The closing minutes also contain a scene in which a grave is desecrated in such a violent way that it comes off as shockingly morbid, and almost makes everything that came before seem sedate in comparison.  The final twist is no less effective for its predictability--the fact that what we expected all along finally comes to pass is, in fact, somewhat satisfying.


Performances are fine, with the always-reliable Ogilvy and the wonderfully expressive Beacham aided by supporting castmembers such as Patrick Magee (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, ASYLUM) as a family doctor all too familiar with the curse, and the aforementioned Lom in his brief but effective flashback scenes. 

Distinguished genre legend Peter Cushing doesn't make his appearance until around the halfway mark or later, but he makes the most of his role as a psychiatrist who tries to make scientific sense of what's happening to Catherine and those around her.  Even in those moments when the film's stately pace begins to lag, he and the other leads are always interesting to watch.

The Blu-ray from Severin Films offers a lovely remastered print with only the occasional rough patch.  The bonus menu is nicely stocked as usual, with a lengthy, clip-filled featurette about Oakley Court hosted by horror authors Allan Bryce and David Flint, an audio interview with Peter Cushing (with accompanying photo montage), a review of the film by horror author Denis Meikle, plus a trailer and radio spot.  Two seperate commentary tracks are available, one with Roy Ward Baker and Stephanie Beacham, the other with Ian Ogilvie, and both are marvelous fun to listen to.

AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS is one of those simmering Gothic tales that might've been a bit slow for me in my younger days, but now it's just the thing for me to settle into and enjoy like a good book. Only turn the pages in this book and you never know when a bloody hand or an eyeless woodsman with an axe are going to jump out at you.   


THE BEAST MUST DIE! (1974)



One of the most hard-and-fast rules of cinema is that any movie is worth watching if it has a "Werewolf Break." 

Okay, I made that up, but I do find it to be true in the case of the 1974 Amicus werewolf thriller THE BEAST MUST DIE! (Severin Films), which not only does have a "Werewolf Break" but happens to be the only film I can think of to boast such a distinction.

It opens with a lively title sequence featuring eccentric millionaire Tom Newcliffe (American actor Calvin Lockhart, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT) being hunted by his own ex-military security staff in order to test their capabilities. This is in preparation for an antipated guest--namely, a werewolf. 


Newcliffe, in fact, has invited a varied array of men and women to his secluded estate for the weekend, believing one of them to be a werewolf and looking forward to the opportunity of hunting it down to satisfy his sadistic lusts for sport and blood, as he does every other kind of wild beast he comes in contact with.

Thus, we already get a strong THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME vibe, especially when Newcliffe makes it clear that none of the guests--that is, werewolf suspects--is free to leave the grounds until one of them has been exposed and terminated. 

There's also sort of a low-rent Agatha Christie flavor a la "And Then There Were None" and "Ten Little Indians", including even the traditional gathering of the suspects and surprise reveal at the end. (The script is actually adapted from a short story by James Blish, author of the very first Star Trek novel "Spock Must Die!")


What makes this variation on the old saw so much fun--besides, of course, the werewolf angle, which will have the attention of old-school monster fans from frame one--is the pure, undiluted 70s-era cheesiness of the whole thing. 

While capable enough, the direction by Paul Annett, as well as cinematography,  editing, and some rather broad acting, give the film the look and feel of a quickie TV-movie of the era. 

The original score by Douglas Gamley is perfectly fine and even somewhat reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann until he tries for a 70s funk-rock effect, which recalls the old thwacka-wacka 70s porn-movie backing tracks.

This, however, by no means hampers one's enjoyment of the film.  Rather, it increases it for viewers with a taste for fine cheese who revel in seeing such a cast, including Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring, Michael Gambon, and Charles Gray, taking part in such goings on. 


Calvin Lockhart himself overacts his role with such magnificent abandon that I kept wishing he could skip the werewolf and go up against Rod Steiger in a ham-actor cage match. 

With three successive nights of full moons, THE BEAST MUST DIE! gives us plenty of furious action (although the murky day-for-night photography sometimes makes it hard to see just what's going on) as well as lots of ensemble drama pitting the hot-blooded hunter against his own reluctant guests as he tries to trick each into revealing his or her hidden lycanthropy.  This includes even his wife, Caroline (Marlene Clark, who also tends to emote rather robustly).

When we see the werewolf itself, it's rather disappointingly played by an actual canine rather than a person in werewolf makeup (which I, being a lifelong fan of such films as THE WOLF MAN and CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, would much prefer). 

I got used to this, however, and was primed when the film finally paused for its delightfully hokey "Werewolf Break", a gimmick harkening back to the days of William Castle in which we're given thirty seconds to weigh the clues and decide the true identity of the werewolf.  (I was wrong, and you probably will be, too.)


The Blu-ray from Severin Films looks good despite occasional imperfections in the source material.  Personally, I prefer my vintage monster flicks with a hint of the old grindhouse look since that's the way they used to look running through a theater projector for the thousandth time back in the good old days.  So to my eyes, the film looks just fine.

Special features include an audio essay by horror historian Troy Howarth, an informative commentary track with director Paul Arnett, the featurette "Directing the Beast" with Arnett again, and the theatrical trailer.  These extras, like the film itself, are exclusive only to the Severin 4-volume set "The Amicus Collection", which also includes "Asylum", "And Now the Screaming Starts", and "The Vault of Amicus."  Both English and Spanish soundtracks are available, with English subtitles.

There are those, of course, who will find this  practically unwatchable if they require their horror films to be more costly, refined, and sophisticated.  That's fine for them, but I'm one of many who can watch a movie like THE BEAST MUST DIE! and relish it every bit as much as those other ones--and, occasionally, even more. 


THE VAULT OF AMICUS (2017)



So you like Amicus Pictures, and you also like trailer compilations, eh?  Well then, Severin Films has just the thing for you--namely, their new Blu-ray collection entitled THE VAULT OF AMICUS (B&W/color, 63 min.), which gathers 30 or so Amicus trailers from 1960-81 together into one nice, watchable batch and also adds a commentary track and a couple of lengthy interviews with the company's founders, Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky, for good measure.

It's exclusive to Severin's new 4-volume boxed set, THE AMICUS COLLECTION, which also contains Amicus classics ASYLUM, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS, and THE BEAST MUST DIE!  The trailers for these show up later, of course, but the disc begins with Rosenberg and Subotsky's pioneer foray into film, a pre-Beatles teen music show called "Ring-a-Ding Rhythm" which is delightfully out of touch with where pop music was headed at the time.


What follows is an account of how the producing partners followed trends, tried new things, learned their craft through trial and error, and ended up putting out a widely-varied body of work which happened to concentrate mainly upon horror and science-fiction, the two most lucrative genres for the independent filmmakers. 

Some of the more familiar titles in the latter category are "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "Dr. Who and the Daleks", "The Skull", "Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.", Robert Bloch's "The Psychopath", "The Terrornauts", "They Came From Beyond Space", "The Mind of Dr. Soames", "Torture Garden", and one of their least successful efforts, "The Deadly Bees." 

A departure for them was the spy thriller "Danger Route" with Richard Johnson.  Forays into more high-brow and/or experimental territory would come with such films as "The Birthday Party" with a young Robert Shaw (who would later play Quint in "Jaws"), "What Became of Jack and Jill" (a psychological thriller), and "Thank You All Very Much" with Sandy Dennis.


But it's the good stuff (as far as I'm concerned, anyway) that Rosenberg and Subotsky kept coming back to.  As the commentary points out, experience taught them what worked and what didn't, so they just kept doing what worked as well as they could.

This resulted in a string of classics and near-classics that gave Hammer Studios a run for their money in the 60s and 70s, with such titles as "The House That Dripped Blood", "Scream and Scream Again", "I, Monster" (Christopher Lee doing Jekyll and Hyde), "Asylum", "And Now the Screaming Starts", "The Beast Must Die!", "From Beyond the Grave", "Madhouse", and that beloved duo of EC Comics adaptations, "Tales From the Crypt" and "The Vault of Horror."

Later, Amicus would venture into Edgar Rice Burroughs fantasy-adventure romps with "The Land That Time Forgot", "At the Earth's Core", and "The People That Time Forgot."  Rosenberg and Subotsky's partnership would conclude with "The Uncanny" and "The Monster Club."


This is the stuff I read about in "Famous Monsters" magazine as a kid and was occasionally lucky enough to see on the big screen. I particularly recall seeing "Dr. Who and the Daleks" as the second half of a double bill with "Night of the Living Dead."  The colorful and relatively cheerful "Daleks" came as quite a relief for a kid who just endured Romero's grueling nightmare of terror for the first time.
 
The trailers, as usual for a collection such as this, are a mixed bag with some more interesting than others, but all in all it's a splendidly entertaining set.  Casting was an Amicus strong point, so many of them are jam-packed with familiar faces such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Patrick Magee, Caroline Munro, Ingrid Pitt, Diana Dors, Harry Andrews, Carol Lynley, Robert Vaughn, Nigel Davenport, Patrick Wymark, Doug McClure, Robert Powell, Terence Stamp, and many others.

The commentary track by horror authors Kim Newman and David Flint is knowledgeable and fun, with nary a dead spot.  The bonus menu consists of very lengthy, in-depth interviews and remembrances by Rosenberg and Subotsky themselves (with accompanying pictures) which should prove absolutely invaluable to any interested parties. 


The trailers themselves have that wonderful grindhouse look that fills me with nostalgia--most of them look like they've been around the block a few times. (Look for the really cool Easter Egg for some fun TV spots.)

THE VAULT OF AMICUS, like any good trailer compilation, is a treasure trove of juicy clips from lots of great movies, in this case the best of a legendary production duo whose solid genre output kept us horror and sci-fi fans going back in the days before such things became mainstream and plentiful.  It's the kind of nostalgia that you just want to settle into and wallow around in for awhile.


Order THE AMICUS COLLECTION (Blu-ray 4-volume box set) from Severin Films

Asylum and And Now The Screaming Starts can be ordered separately.





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Helen Mirren in "WINCHESTER": The Ghost House Based On a True Story In Theaters Feb. 2nd -- New One Sheet!



"WINCHESTER"

Coming to Theaters February 2nd

The Ghost House -- Inspired by true events

On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end.


Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness.

But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook) or for the troubled Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters...  


Directed By: 
The Spierig Brothers (Jigsaw, Predestination)
Produced By:
Tim McGahan (Predestination) and Brett Tomberlin
Written By:
Tom Vaughan, The Spierig Brothers (Jigsaw, Predestination)

Cast:
Helen Mirren (Eye In The Sky, The Queen), Jason Clarke (Mudbound, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes), Sarah Snook (Steve Jobs, Jessabelle), Angus Sampson (Insidious, Mad Max: Fury Road), Finn Scicluna-O'Prey (True Story with Hamish & Andy, The Secret River)

IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE FEBRUARY 2, 2018


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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"HOSTILES" New Western Opens Dec. 22 (Christian Bale, Wes Studi, Rosamund Pike) -- See Trailer and Pics Here!




HOSTILES

In Theaters December 22

Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of a legendary Army Captain (Christian Bale), who after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche and vicious outliers that they encounter along the way.

Hostiles was directed by Scott Cooper from his screenplay based on a manuscript by Donald E. Stewart.

WATCH THE TRAILER

Hostiles opens on December 22nd in New York & Los Angeles, expands into top 10 US markets and the U.K. on January 5th.  The film opens nationwide on January 19th.

It features a cast that also includes Q'Orianka Kilcher, Adam Beach, Timothée Chalamet, Ben Foster, Tanaya Beatty, Jonathan Majors, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Ryan Bingham, David Midthunder and John Benjamin Hickey.

Hostiles is being distributed by Entertainment Studios Motion Picture in the US.

A Waypoint Entertainment Film
In Association with BLOOM

A Le Grisbi Production
A Film by Scott Cooper

Christian Bale
Rosamund Pike
Wes Studi
Jesse Plemons
Adam Beach
Rory Cochrane
and Ben Foster


Writer, Director, Producer   Scott Cooper
Based upon the Manuscript by  Donald Stewart
Producer     John Lesher
Producer      Ken Kao
Executive Producer    Will Weiske
Executive Producer     Donald Stewart
Director of Photography   Masanobu Takayanagi
Production Designer    Donald Graham Burt
Film Editor     Tom Cross
Costume Designer    Jenny Eagan
Composer     Max Richter
Casting Director     Francine Maisler

Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of a legendary Army Captain (Christian Bale), who after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche and vicious outliers that they encounter along the way.


Hostiles is directed by Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart) and produced by John Lesher (Black Mass, Birdman, Fury) and Ken Kao (The Nice Guys, Knight of Cups).
The film stars: Christian Bale (The Big Short, American Hustle, The Dark Knight), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Jack Reacher), Wes Studi (Avatar, Heat, Geronimo), Adam Beach (Suicide Squad, Flags of Our Fathers), Ben Foster (Hell or High Water, 3:10 to Yuma), Q’orianka Kilcher (Unnatural), Tanaya Beatty (Twilight), Jonathan Majors (Do Not Disturb), Rory Cochrane (Black Mass, Argo), Jesse Plemons (Black Mass, Bridge of Spies), Timothée Chalamet (Love the Coopers, Interstellar), Paul Anderson (The Revenant, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Ryan Bingham (Crazy Heart), David Midthunder (Comanche Moon), John Benjamin Hickey (Get on Up, Pitch Perfect), Stephen Lang (Avatar, The Nut Job), Bill Camp (12 years a Slave, Birdman)

SYNOPSIS

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
D.H. Lawrence

Set in 1892 at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, the buffalo gone, America’s indigenous population vanquished and the frontier rapidly disappearing into settlements and cities, two bitter adversaries of the Indian Wars are forced into a final, unexpected encounter.

Cavalry Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a former war hero, now jailer, and Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a Northern Cheyenne war chief, now prisoner, are forced to partake in a hollow publicity stunt to bolster the personal and political fortunes of Blocker’s commanding officer.


Stuck in Fort Berringer, a miserable New Mexican prison outpost, Yellow Hawk is to be released to Blocker and returned to the Cheyenne homeland in Montana. It’s a particularly cynical gambit, as Yellow Hawk is dying and upon his death, his family will be imprisoned on a reservation. A belligerent Blocker believes the Chief should die in prison and is threatened with court martial when he refuses to accompany his enemy home.

The plan is set in motion and Blocker and his men and Yellow Hawk and his family become complicated traveling companions. Not long after their departure, the group happens upon Rosalee Quaid, a traumatized survivor of a Comanche massacre, and she reluctantly joins the group.
Blocker, Yellow Hawk and Quaid turn into the unlikely heart of Hostiles. They are tenacious fighters who have been shaped by suffering, violence and loss and it’s created in them no end of suspicion and anger.

Compelled to work together to endure and survive a 1,000-mile journey of Odyssey-like proportions, they’re forced to confront their preconceived notions of one another, and realize that the worst of their differences were created by forces beyond their control. Their transformation from a place of antagonism and fear to one of compassion and tolerance is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and our capacity for change.


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SHATTERED -- DVD Review by Porfle



Sometimes it's a chore to watch one of those Lifetime Channel-type dramas that gets a female protagonist into an untenable situation and then pulls out all the predictable stops to get her out of it.

Every once in a while, though, I find myself in the middle of one and stop and think: "Hmm...I'm enjoying this."  It's such a pleasant surprise that I'm compelled to regard the movie in a much more charitable light rather than wincing at every tired plot turn or turgid dialogue exchange.

In the case of SHATTERED (2017), the surprise doesn't stop there. In fact, it's full of surprises.  Just when things seem headed in the old familiar directions and we settle in to see them played out, the movie deftly sidesteps expectations and heads down an entirely different avenue.  Not just once, but several times--enough to keep us not just interested, but intrigued.


Molly Burnett (THE WEDDING PARTY, "Days of Our Lives") stars as Maureen, a smalltown single girl who meets, falls for, and marries Ken (Tom Malloy, HERO OF THE UNDERWORLD), the son of the town's wealthiest man.  They adopt a son named Logan, have a daughter named Emma, and start living the happy, carefree lives of the upper-class married.

But not is all as it seems.  Tom's father, Forest Burnett (the venerable Ray Wise, "Twin Peaks", THE AGGRESSION SCALE, HALLOWEED, CHILLERAMA), is an aspiring big fish/little pond politician whose fake smile masks a volatile demeanor as well as some deep, dark secrets.  His trophy wife Kate (Arianne Zucker) knows the secrets, but is trapped by fear and dependence. 

Maureen's trapped too but she just doesn't know it yet. Things start to go wrong when her adopted son Logan turns out to be a deeply troubled mental case who wields sharp instruments and mutters "Kill!"  Attempts to find out about his real parents and get professional help for him are blocked by the Burnetts, who fear the bad publicity. 


Or, in Forest's case, is there even more to it than that?  Of course there is, and thereby hinges the inevitable morass of marital and parental disaster that we're about to watch Maureen wade through like a leech-infested swamp for the next 90 minutes or so.

As I said, it all sounds so comfortingly yet tiresomely predictable, until something happens that comes right out of left field and changes everything. This messes with all our predictions to a degree that we're never quite sure what's going to come out of left field next. 

Not that any of it is particularly world-shaking, mind you.  The story progresses at a leisurely pace, with none of the dramatic intensity or thriller-type incidents usually found in these films (thus thwarting expectations yet again), and plays itself out with a sort of off-kilter calm. 


I was halfway through the big climactic scene before I realized it was the big climactic scene--that's how deceptively unsensational this story is.  It's just engaging enough to hold our attention and make us want to stick around to see how it all plays out. 

Direction by Natasha Kermani (IMITATION GIRL) is capable, with adequate-to-good performances.  Old pro Ray Wise comes off best, naturally, as does Arianne Zucker (once a co-star with Molly Burnett on "Days of Our Lives") as Forest's morally-conflicted wife.  Morgan Freeman's son Alfonso appears briefly as a mental health doctor.

I haven't revealed much about the plot (madness, infidelity, scandal, etc.) because finding out is the fun part.  SHATTERED is like a passable TV-movie that gradually evolves from dull to interesting and manages to stay that way until the end, which is more than I can say for a lot of movies I've seen.


Official site



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On 1/9, Time Life Socks it to Home Audiences with "LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON!"




THIS JANUARY, TIME LIFE SOCKS IT TO HOME VIEWERS WITH THE LATEST DVD INSTALLMENT OF TV'S LEGENDARY, STAR-STUDDED, POP CULTURE VARIETY SHOW

ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

Street Date: January 9, 2018
DVD SRP: $39.95


The Hilarious 6-Disc Set, Available for the Very First Time at Retail

Features 26 Complete, Remastered Episodes from the Iconic and Groundbreaking Emmy® And Golden Globe®-Winning Series

Guest Stars Including Mel Brooks, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr., Kirk Douglas, Hugh Hefner, Jack Lemmon, Liberace, Bob Newhart, Richard Nixon, Don Rickles, and Many More!

PROGRAM SYNOPSIS

When, in 1968, presidential nominee Richard Nixon rhetorically queried "Sock it to me?" on "Laugh-In," it helped to elevate him to the White House and was named by Time Magazine as one of the "Top 10 Presidential Pop Culture Moments."  That's just one of the many unforgettable pop culture highlights in a transformative season full of them.  Home audiences are sure to laugh along with ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON when it arrives on DVD this January, courtesy of the TV DVD archivists at Time Life.


The '60s gave us "in-crowds," "be-ins" and "love-ins," and starting in 1968, the happening place for free-form comedy was "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," broadcast from beautiful downtown Burbank. Straight man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin led a gaggle of goofballs including Goldie Hawn, Judy Carne, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Gary Owens, Jo Anne Worley and Alan Sues through a rapid-fire assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief.

ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON includes such classic,long-running features as "Sock It to Me," "Cocktail Party," "The Fickle Finger of Fate" and "Gladys and Tyrone,"; lighthearted salutes to higher education, machines, pollution, dancing class, police, the telephone company, the post office, and Raquel Welch; Pigmeat Markham, reclaiming his "Here Comes the Judge" routine, dispensing justice with a large rubber gavel to the noggin; Tiny Tim singing and exploring Burbank and more.

Following its boffo inaugural season, all of Hollywood got in line to appear on TV's must-see variety show, and THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON features an astounding line-up of guest stars - some of the 20th century's most talented performers and outsized personalities.  Home audiences will thrill to the appearances of Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Mel Brooks, Johnny Carson, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., Phyllis Diller, Kirk Douglas, Peter Falk, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hugh Hefner, Rock Hudson, Davy Jones, Peter Lawford, Jack Lemmon, Liberace, Rich Little, Marcel Marceau, Bob Newhart, Richard Nixon, Vincent Price, Don Rickles, Rod Serling, Nancy Sinatra, The Smothers Brothers, John Wayne, Flip Wilson, Henny Youngman, and many more.

For LAUGH-IN aficionados, Time Life also offers LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE SERIES, available exclusively at TimeLife.com/Laugh-In.  Perfect for holiday gift giving, the attractively-packaged deluxe DVD collection - never before available together on any format - includes all 140 episodes from all six seasons on 38 discs.  Loaded with specially-produced and exclusive extras including all-new interviews with Executive Producer and Creator, George Schlater and Lily Tomlin, the rarely-seen pilot-episode, as well as Laugh-In Memories, a collectible memory book filled with jokes, pictures from the show, behind-the-scenes photos, and more!


CAST

Dan Rowan
Dick Martin
Ruth Buzzi
Judy Carne
Henry Gibson
Goldie Hawn
Arte Johnson
Gary Owens
Jo Anne Worley
Pigmeat Markham
Chelsea Brown
Dave Madden
Alan Sues

BONUS FEATURES

Dick Martin Interview
Gary Owens Interview
Ruth Buzzi Interview

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Format: DVD/6 Discs
Running Time: 1425 minutes
Genre:  TV DVD/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo



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John Wayne Body-Surfs Down a Water Chute in "The Lawless Frontier" and "The Lucky Texan" (1934)




John Wayne (and stuntman Yakima Canutt) body-surfs down a water chute tunnel in THE LAWLESS FRONTIER... ...and slides down it again on a tree limb in THE LUCKY TEXAN (both 1934).

The bad guys he's chasing are played by Earl Dwire and Eddie Parker, respectively.




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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THE VAULT OF AMICUS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




THE VAULT OF AMICUS is exclusive to "THE AMICUS COLLECTION" (Blu-ray 4-volume box set) from Severin Films.
(And Now the Screaming Starts/Asylum/The Beast Must Die!/The Vault of Amicus)



So you like Amicus Pictures, and you also like trailer compilations, eh?  Well then, Severin Films has just the thing for you--namely, their new Blu-ray collection entitled THE VAULT OF AMICUS (B&W/color, 63 min.), which gathers 30 or so Amicus trailers from 1960-81 together into one nice, watchable batch and also adds a commentary track and a couple of lengthy interviews with the company's founders, Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky, for good measure.

It's exclusive to Severin's new 4-volume boxed set, THE AMICUS COLLECTION, which also contains Amicus classics ASYLUM, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS, and THE BEAST MUST DIE!  The trailers for these show up later, of course, but the disc begins with Rosenberg and Subotsky's pioneer foray into film, a pre-Beatles teen music show called "Ring-a-Ding Rhythm" which is delightfully out of touch with where pop music was headed at the time.


What follows is an account of how the producing partners followed trends, tried new things, learned their craft through trial and error, and ended up putting out a widely-varied body of work which happened to concentrate mainly upon horror and science-fiction, the two most lucrative genres for the independent filmmakers. 

Some of the more familiar titles in the latter category are "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "Dr. Who and the Daleks", "The Skull", "Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.", Robert Bloch's "The Psychopath", "The Terrornauts", "They Came From Beyond Space", "The Mind of Dr. Soames", "Torture Garden", and one of their least successful efforts, "The Deadly Bees." 

A departure for them was the spy thriller "Danger Route" with Richard Johnson.  Forays into more high-brow and/or experimental territory would come with such films as "The Birthday Party" with a young Robert Shaw (who would later play Quint in "Jaws"), "What Became of Jack and Jill" (a psychological thriller), and "Thank You All Very Much" with Sandy Dennis.


But it's the good stuff (as far as I'm concerned, anyway) that Rosenberg and Subotsky kept coming back to.  As the commentary points out, experience taught them what worked and what didn't, so they just kept doing what worked as well as they could.

This resulted in a string of classics and near-classics that gave Hammer Studios a run for their money in the 60s and 70s, with such titles as "The House That Dripped Blood", "Scream and Scream Again", "I, Monster" (Christopher Lee doing Jekyll and Hyde), "Asylum", "And Now the Screaming Starts", "The Beast Must Die!", "From Beyond the Grave", "Madhouse", and that beloved duo of EC Comics adaptations, "Tales From the Crypt" and "The Vault of Horror."

Later, Amicus would venture into Edgar Rice Burroughs fantasy-adventure romps with "The Land That Time Forgot", "At the Earth's Core", and "The People That Time Forgot."  Rosenberg and Subotsky's partnership would conclude with "The Uncanny" and "The Monster Club."


This is the stuff I read about in "Famous Monsters" magazine as a kid and was occasionally lucky enough to see on the big screen. I particularly recall seeing "Dr. Who and the Daleks" as the second half of a double bill with "Night of the Living Dead."  The colorful and relatively cheerful "Daleks" came as quite a relief for a kid who just endured Romero's grueling nightmare of terror for the first time.
 
The trailers, as usual for a collection such as this, are a mixed bag with some more interesting than others, but all in all it's a splendidly entertaining set.  Casting was an Amicus strong point, so many of them are jam-packed with familiar faces such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Patrick Magee, Caroline Munro, Ingrid Pitt, Diana Dors, Harry Andrews, Carol Lynley, Robert Vaughn, Nigel Davenport, Patrick Wymark, Doug McClure, Robert Powell, Terence Stamp, and many others.

The commentary track by horror authors Kim Newman and David Flint is knowledgeable and fun, with nary a dead spot.  The bonus menu consists of very lengthy, in-depth interviews and remembrances by Rosenberg and Subotsky themselves (with accompanying pictures) which should prove absolutely invaluable to any interested parties. 


The trailers themselves have that wonderful grindhouse look that fills me with nostalgia--most of them look like they've been around the block a few times. (Look for the really cool Easter Egg for some fun TV spots.)

THE VAULT OF AMICUS, like any good trailer compilation, is a treasure trove of juicy clips from lots of great movies, in this case the best of a legendary production duo whose solid genre output kept us horror and sci-fi fans going back in the days before such things became mainstream and plentiful.  It's the kind of nostalgia that you just want to settle into and wallow around in for awhile.


THE VAULT OF AMICUS is exclusive to "THE AMICUS COLLECTION" (Blu-ray 4-volume box set) from Severin Films.
(And Now the Screaming Starts/Asylum/The Beast Must Die!/The Vault of Amicus)


Order THE AMICUS COLLECTION (Blu-ray 4-volume box set) from Severin Films

Read our reviews of:
ASYLUM
AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS
THE BEAST MUST DIE!









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