HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Friday, November 30, 2018

AGONY -- DVD Review by Porfle




We know from the opening foreword that a murder will be committed--a young Viennese man will kill and dismember a girl and distribute the parts in various places.  But the film immediately begins to follow the lives of not one, but two disaffected young Viennese men, Christian and Alex, and it's up to us to figure out not just who the murderer will be, but his motive as well.

Which makes the 2016 German/Austrian production AGONY (aka "Agonie"), by talented director and co-writer David Clay Diaz in his feature debut, not just a whodunnit but a whydunnit.

We first meet Alex (Alexander Srtschin), an angry young man just sprung from either the military or juvenile prison (I wasn't sure which) and dumped back into lower-class society to return to a troubled family and few prospects.


He's hostile and endlessly aggressive, always working out and practicing his boxing skills, always wishing there were someone there for his flashing fists to connect with.

Then there's Christian (Samuel Schneider), a law student living unhappily with his single mother. Unlike Alex, Christian is quiet, reserved, restrained, and painfully repressed.  A concession stand worker in a theater, he studiously attends legal classes with high hopes of becoming a judge.  We're not so sure how realistic these hopes are.

Christian meets a girl from his class named Sandra (Alexandra Schmidt) and they form a relationship which features rough, mutually abusive sex.  Also unlike Alex, this seems to be Christian's only avenue for releasing the pent-up aggression that comes from desperation and a growing sense that he will never succeed in any of his goals.


The film shows us chunks of each man's life in turn, each unrelated to the other save for their potential to reach that breaking point which will lead to irrational violence.  Alex strikes out against romantic rivals, the police, his gruff father (who tries clumsily to help him but already has one foot out the door), girls who taunt and reject him, and even his best friend, Julian, the only person in his life with whom he feels comfortable.

Christian, meanwhile, is the quiet one who gives us pause when we fear what roiling emotions may lurk behind his passive demeanor.  He's belittled by inferiors at work (a pimply nerd orders him around in front of Sandra and her friends while he's on the job) and treated as a child by his mother. Sex with Sandra seems urgent, joyless, and physically threatening.

In other words, AGONY keeps us in suspense the whole time as it makes us suffer through the dreary lives of these two unrelated dead-end characters (the monotony of which is broken only by unfortunate events) as each heads for what appears to be a sad end.  Which, for one of them, will include an unimaginably heinous crime.


AGONY makes us gaze into the abyss of their lives to try and discern which of these apparent sociopaths will turn psychopath and what will provoke it. It's a fascinating, finely-wrought film, yet joyless, and we never really become invested enough in Christian or Alex to care deeply what happens to them beyond a sour feeling of lingering sadness.  That, and a curdled, disheartening pessimism. 


TECH SPECS:
Format: 2:1, Stereo, Color, NTSC
Language: German
Subtitles: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
Number of discs: 1
Not Rated
Studio: Indiepix Films
DVD Release Date: November 27, 2018
Run Time: 93 minutes
Extras: Trailer




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All The Cucumber Creature Scenes From "It Conquered The World" (1956) (video)




Roger Corman's low-budget classic about a Venusian invader was shot in ten days.
It stars Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, and Lee Van Cleef.

The creature and its batlike minions were designed by Paul Blaisdell.

When Beverly first saw the creature, she said "THAT conquered the world?" and kicked it over.

It has been compared to a cucumber, a squash, and other vegetables.

Beverly's robust performance in this film is a fan favorite.

Corman regular Dick Miller plays an Army sergeant.

Critic Leonard Maltin deemed the film "... well acted and interesting but awkwardly plotted."

It was remade by Larry Buchanan in 1966  as "Zontar, The Thing From Venus."


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

ZILLA AND ZOE -- Movie Review by Porfle




If you were (and perhaps still are) a Monster Kid, you can identify with 10-year-old Zoe (Aida Valentine), who loves and lives for horror movies.  You might also identify with the fact that parents don't always understand this and might even regard such an avid interest with a fair amount of disdain bordering on hostility.

In writer-director Jessica Scalise's ZILLA AND ZOE (2017), Zoe's morbid preoccupations get her into trouble when her attempts to shoot a horror home movie for a local contest results in chaos during the hectic preparations for the wedding of her older sister Zilla (Sam Kamerman).

Thus, Zoe's dad Sal (Greg James), who has raised his two daughters alone after the family was abandoned by their mother, forbids further horror pursuits and orders her to record the wedding activities instead.  Then Zoe hits upon a bright idea--she'll turn the wedding itself into a horror movie and kill two birds with one stone.


It sounds like a springboard for raucous, unrestrained hilarity, which the film struggles to achieve with a plethora of odd characters and borderline farcical situations (such as the entire wedding party getting arrested during bridal gown shopping after Zoe's friend Francis attacks them dressed as a werewolf).

The clash between families yields lots of potential comedy as well, with the reserved Sal and his unkempt unemployed brother Oscar clashing with their upper-class future in-laws. These include Zilla's lesbian fiancee Lu (Mia Allen), Lu's pushy, wedding-crazy mother Cora (Julie Elizabeth Knell) and terminally cynical father, and their three eccentric sons, one of whom is a flamboyantly gay transvestite.

There's an amusing sequence in which the two families try to pick a church that will accomodate their unconventional nuptials, and some of the dinnertime conversation is fun to listen to.  Little of this is sharply funny, though, most of it coming off like an episode of a mild Netflix comedy or something.


The film also has its dramedy elements, with the whole messy shebang threatening to come between the betrothed women and Zoe's conflict with her father over all that "horror stuff"--including her dragging around a coffin that she's bought at a magic store and shaving the neighbor's dog to obtain hair for Francis' werewolf makeup--leading to hurt feelings that will have Zoe feeling unloved and Sal plagued with guilt and remorse.

Through it all, ZILLA AND ZOE keeps gamely plugging away at being both a breezy, frothy comedy and a sweetly emotional character play and sorta pulls it off even though neither effort scores an unqualified success. The best part is the ending, which is so brimming with good-natured positivity and fun that I ended up liking the film despite not really enjoying it all that much.



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Saban Films Nabs Psychological Thriller "NOMIS" Starring Henry Cavill and Ben Kingsley




SABAN FILMS NABS PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER “NOMIS” STARRING HENRY CAVILL AND BEN KINGSLEY

LOS ANGELES (November 28, 2018) – Saban Films announced today that they have acquired U.S. distribution rights to David Raymond’s directorial debut Nomis starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Academy Award® Winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi).  Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch), Academy Award® Nominee Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Minka Kelly (“Friday Night Lights”) and Nathan Fillion (“Castle”) also star in the psychological thriller.  Raymond penned the script, and also produced alongside Robert Ogden Barnum, Arise Pictures’ Chris Pettit and Buffalo Gals’ Jeff Beesley, and Rick Dugdale.

Nomis, which made its World Premiere as the Closing Night film at the Los Angeles Film Festival, follows Marshall (Cavill), a weathered Lieutenant, and his police force as they investigate a string of female abductions and murders linked to an online predator.  As new leads emerge and the case unravels, Marshall teams with local vigilante (Kingsley) in pursuit of vengeance.

Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley commented, “This is a beautifully crafted tension-filled thriller with a cast that, undeniably, our audiences will love.  Nomis is a fun and entertaining ride and we’re very excited to be onboard.” 

Bill Bromiley and Jonathan Saba negotiated the deal for Saban Films, along with CAA on behalf of filmmakers.  Fortitude International is handling international rights.

Most recently at the American Film Market, Saban Films acquired The Haunting of Sharon Tate starring Hilary Duff and Derrick Borte’s American Dreamer starring Jim Gaffigan.  The company continues to be active in the acquisition and distribution space, with upcoming titles including:  James Marsh’s King of Thieves starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon; Richard Says Goodbye, the Wayne Roberts-directed drama starring Johnny Depp; and Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s A Vigilante starring Olivia Wilde.  

Saban Films’ recent titles also includes: Stephan Rick’s elevated genre film The Super starring Val Kilmer; Between Worlds starring Nicolas Cage; the anthology Berlin, I Love You with Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Jim Sturgess; the Gerard Butler starrer The Vanishing; David L.G. Hughes’ Viking Destiny; Alexandre Moors’ The Yellow Birds starring Tye Sheridan, Alden Ehrenreich, Toni Collette, Jason Patric, Jack Huston and Jennifer Aniston; Eshom and Ian Nelms’ lauded feature Small Town Crime starring John Hawkes and Octavia Spencer; and Ivan Kavanagh’s Never Grow Old starring John Cusack and Emile Hirsch.

Since the company’s launch in 2014, Saban Films has released over 40 films with successes that have run the gamut from critically acclaimed theatrical films such as The Homesman, to one of the biggest Fathom events in 2016 with Rob Zombie’s horror thriller 31.  Saban Films, in partnership with Roadside Attractions, most recently released Craig William Macneill’s racy drama Lizzie, starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart. Other recent releases include: Brad Silberling’s war thriller An Ordinary Man starring Academy Award® Winner Ben Kingsley; and Alexandros Avranas’ Dark Crimes starring Jim Carrey and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

About Saban Films
Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company which acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America.  Focusing on commercial, talent driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as President, Shanan Becker, Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Vice President of Business Development.


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Yvette Vickers At Her Sexiest: "Attack Of The Giant Leeches" (1959) (video)




Yvette Vickers At Her Sexiest: "Attack Of The Giant Leeches" (1959)

In this late 50s horror/sci-fi thriller, Yvette is menaced by giant mutated bloodsuckers.

But not before she gets to play Bruno VeSota's flagrantly unfaithful wife...

...in this juicy slice of old-fashioned Southern Gothic.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

VIRGINIA MINNESOTA -- Movie Review by Porfle




A single movie can be chick-flick heaven or hell, depending on your point of view, and VIRGINIA MINNESOTA (2017) is plenty of both.  I could easily imagine many viewers thoroughly enjoying, on a deep emotional and intellectual level, the very same sequences I found hard to endure.

That's just the way these things work sometimes, and if the movie's really well-made, as this one is, then both reactions tend to be even more extreme and conflicting.  I found myself going from gag response to wonderment within minutes, aghast at how sappy and indulgent it was one moment before melting with genuine sentiment the next.

Rachel Hendrix plays Lyle, a young woman journeying back to the boarding school where she grew up because the woman who ran it has died and put four of her former charges in her will.  All must be present for the reading, however, and sure enough, the most headstrong and troublesome of the bunch, Addison (Aurora Perrineau), fails to show.


It falls to Lyle to go and fetch her, and, as you might guess, their trip back to the home becomes one of mutual and self discovery during which they encounter lots of eccentric people and situations and have weighty discussions leading to the searching and baring of souls.

Old wounds are reopened, especially concerning the death of little Virginia, a former housemate who drowned mysteriously one night while out with Addison.  Guilt and recriminations fly, and we begin to understand why Lyle naturally assumes a more levelheaded and sensible demeanor while Addison is so insufferably obnoxious and anti-social most of the time.

Their trip lapses into an improbably odd sort of "Alice in Wonderland" experience that's steeped in finely-aged quirk.  (For a few minutes there, it even turns into a monster movie.)

After Addison breaks up with her fiance by setting fire to his boat, they flee in a stolen car and end up with a traveling theater troup traversing the forest in a horse-drawn wagon before ending up at a dance party at the foot of a lighthouse where Addison runs into an old lesbian lover.  Whew.


Helping to make all this more fun is the presence of "Mister", a GPS-tracking robot who's supposed to be passed from traveler to traveler across the USA but whom Rachel won't give up since he's become a surrogate companion for her.  This friendly little robot is like the film's R2D2 and is actually its most likable character.

Returning to that great, dark old mansion for the reading of the will brings on a series of touchy-feely scenes as the former housemates gush over each other until it's time for a dramatic resolve of old issues.  Here, writer-director Daniel Stine manages to draw everything together into some potent melodrama which is played to the hilt by the two leads.

Beautifully photographed and directed with understated flair, VIRGINIA MINNESOTA isn't anywhere near the kind of movie I would normally watch, but finding myself doing so gradually went from a chore to a surprisingly tolerable experience.  All that finely-aged quirk aside, it's an engaging story that's well acted and technically superb.



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John Wayne's Coolest Scenes #16: Steak, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) (video)




Pacifist lawyer Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) is helping wait tables for his keep.

Enter a dreaded adversary--local gunslinger and outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).

Valance humiliates Stoddard. But Tom Donaphin (John Wayne) stands up to the bully.

The result is a tense, life-or-death stand-off over a dropped steak.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

MADE ME DO IT -- DVD Review by Porfle




A quick, down and dirty shoot (as described by the filmmakers) on a very low budget sometimes yields surprisingly good results, as it has in the case of the horror-thriller MADE ME DO IT (Indican Pictures, 2017).

What director and co-writer (with Matthew John Koppin) Benjamin Ironside Koppin set out to do was to get some talented people together and "Frankenstein" (his word) a movie together taking the old FRIDAY THE 13TH and HALLOWEEN slasher templates and doing an homage with a few curves and angles thrown in.

The main victims aren't the usual rowdy, party-hardy bunch--just pensive college student Ali Hooper (Anna B. Shaffer), her younger brother Nick (Jason Gregory London), and her boyfriend Jason (Liston Spence).


Ali's home for the weekend (no keg party or summer camp in the woods this time) but her estranged parents are gone, leaving just her and the guys having a quiet, unpleasantly introspective time of things.

It's just the right situation to be crashed by the standard masked serial killer, but this time he's a stringy, weepy nerd named Thomas (Kyle Van Vonderen) who spends most of his time banished to his bedroom by a sadistic, abusive aunt and living in a fantasy world of funny drawings that come to life and masks that he makes out of paper plates.

Thomas is a "special needs" sort of kid who couldn't hurt a fly--that is, until he puts on his "Barbara" mask, because "Barbara" is just the take-charge, take-no-prisoners sort of person Thomas could never be.  And "Barbara" is angry at the world.  Very angry.


That's the set-up, and from there MADE ME DO IT takes us into a scary campfire tale where Thomas silently stalks the night in his creepy mask and wields his bloody axe, leaving a trail of bodies all the way to Ali and Nick's house.

Much of the subsequent action is similar to what happens in THE STRANGERS, in which masked killers home-invaded a young couple and terrorized them for no apparent reason.

Here, we get just the same spooky ambience with the inhabitants of the dark, shadowy house (the electricity, alas, has gone off) cowering in fear as they try to elude the unknown stalker, who keeps popping up where they least expect him.


The director builds the suspense well for most of the film, although some scenes tend to meander a bit as Ali gets contemplative about the whole thing.  The film spends a lot of time pondering Thomas' psychological state and how he got that way, and our interest in this runs hot and cold.

Meanwhile, Thomas goes off on several freaky mind-trips involving his dead parents, his imaginary animal friends, his horrible aunt, "Barbara" (of course), and other images that come flying at us via various media such as 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm film, scratchy VHS tape, and crude animations--all of which are quite well-done and fun to look at.  (These are explored in more detail in one of several making-of featurettes included on the DVD.)

With a rousing final confrontation and a pretty keen twist right at the fadeout, MADE ME DO IT stacks up as one of the more interesting modestly-mounted slasher flicks of recent years, and is way better than watching the usual teen campers getting sliced and diced in the woods by some Jason wannabe.






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"Goldfinger": Bond's Atomic Bomb Countdown Blooper (video)




(spoilers)

In the exciting climax of "Goldfinger", the atomic bomb is deactivated...

...with only 007 seconds (get it?) to spare.

But apparently the bomb was originally intended to stop at three seconds.

Thus, this discrepancy in the dialogue which still remains...

"Three more ticks"


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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Monday, November 26, 2018

DICK DICKSTER -- DVD Review by Porfle




If you have ninety minutes or so to kill, the comedy mockumentary DICK DICKSTER (Indican Pictures, 2018) will definitely kill them for you.  Whether or not they die with a smile on their face is entirely up to your tolerance for crude, lowbrow humor that runs hot and cold in the laugh department but is never boring.

Co-writer (with Nick Bird) Robert R. Shafer of "The Office" stars as Dick Dickster, the most obnoxious, rude, pushy, irresponsible, foulmouthed, lecherous, egomaniacal, and permanently plastered director in Hollywood.

This fat slob has hit the skids, with nothing to his name but a sometimes well-remembered cheapo horror flick called "Cult of Doom" which he watches repeatedly in the privacy of his livingroom like Howard Hughes solo-screening "The Conqueror." 


When a student filmmaker decides to do a documentary on Dick, we get a sycophant's eye view of this colossal bastard's everyday life, which includes dealing with a witchy ex-wife he met during a lap dance, an Italian loan shark who wants either his nads or a juicy part in his next picture, and an offer from porn star-turned-producer Coco Hart (Jan Broberg) to direct her creepy son's script, which is a porn spoof of "Cult of Doom" entitled "Cult of Poon."

Dick is offended by the offer (he urinates on the script in Coco's office) but his manager, Sammy Davas Jr. (Tim Russ of "Star Trek: Voyager"), urges him to bite the bullet and do it lest Dick's mob debts get him killed, leaving Sammy with 10% of nothing.  But when the perpetually horny and hostile Dick is let loose in the world of porn filmmaking, the result is non-stop chaos.

But chaotic as it is, DICK DICKSTER isn't all that funny most of the time.  With the exception of a few amusing gags here and there, it's mostly just a series of outrageous incidents in which Dick does the most shocking and antisocial things possible in response to whatever situation he finds himself in. 


The thing is, though, that after a while it doesn't really matter that the movie isn't totally belly-laugh funny, because gradually Dick's character becomes rather interesting and even somewhat fascinating to observe as Shafer plays his "obnoxious bastard" qualities to the disgusting hilt.  Watching him run roughshod over various porn-business types and other leeches is even somewhat gratifying, even if you can't stand the man himself. 

The story gets rather interesting as well, with one auditioning actress named Peaches Ripen (Cela Scott) hinting that Dick may in fact be her illegitimate father, and colorful conflicts between the director and other actors, as well as growing bad feelings between him and Coco, begin to resolve themselves in satisying ways until finally the story's surprise climax is both shocking and entertaining.


Direction is by Christopher Ray (aka Christopher Douglas Olen Ray), whose father Fred shows up in interview segments along with such familiar faces as Richard Grieco (FORGET ABOUT IT) and Richard Gabai (BIKINI DRIVE-IN, NIGHTMARE SISTERS).

The cast is also stocked with what I understand are several actual current porn stars such as Bonnie Rotten.  The Italian loan shark, Tony Baritoni, is played by Tim Abell of WE WERE SOLDIERS, INHERITANCE, and ATTACK OF THE 60-FOOT CENTERFOLD.

But DICK DICKSTER is Robert R. Shafer's show, and although he lacks the comedy timing and finesse of a skilled comedian, he blusters and bullies his way though this well-mounted comedy documentary like a bull in a china closet, with equally destructive yet perversely watchable results. 


Tech Specs
Runtime: 90 mins
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English
Country: USA
Language: English
Website: http://theywantdickdickster.wixsite.com/twdd
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Extras: Deleted scene, Indican trailers






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John Wayne: The Singing Cowboy (video)




John Wayne as "Singin' Sandy"?

Here are some of the attempts by various movie studios in the 30s to turn John Wayne into a singing cowboy.  (Dubbed, that is.)

Scenes used are from:

"Riders of Destiny" (1933)
"Westward Ho!" (1935)
"Lawless Range" (1935)
"Man From Utah" (1934)


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!


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Sunday, November 25, 2018

UGLY SWEATER PARTY -- Movie Review by Porfle




I don't usually do this, but I'm going to leave it up to IMDb to describe UGLY SWEATER PARTY (2018) to you.

"An ugly sweater party turns into a bloodbath when an evil Christmas sweater possesses one of the partygoers." There, that's it!  I'm outta here!

Okay, not really, but that's a pretty concise summary of this movie for starters.  After that, writer-director Aaron Mento simply piles on as much graphic gore, extreme gross-out humor, and unbridled sacriledge as can be heaped like a ton of bird droppings onto a low-budget 81-minute horror comedy.


Going into more detail: horny but shy Cliff (Charles Chudabala) and his comically (?) crude friend Jody (Hunter Johnson) drive deep into the woods after receiving an email invitation to an "ugly sweater party" from two sisters, Samantha and Susan, whom they previously sorta had sex with at another party. (The first time we see Jody, he's in the john shaving his nads, and that's one of the more tasteful scenes.)

When they get there, however, they discover that they're in a backwoods Bible camp and that the girls, since born again, just got baptized that day. Their parents are total weirdos, especially their horny mom, Mrs. Mandix (Felissa Rose, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, DARK CHAMBER, CAESAR & OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE), and the girls are still pretty flaky, so the guys hang around in hopes of still getting laid.

What they don't know is that the ugly sweater that Cliff stole from a roadside drifter is haunted by the evil spirit of dead serial killer Declan Rains (Sean Whalen, LAID TO REST, ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE, THE FP), and before long the possessed Cliff will be trying to stab, strangle, and chainsaw everyone in sight, including a passel of secondary characters who are so obnoxious that we can't wait for it to happen.

Overall, the film is like a Robin Williams stand-up routine in that it keeps launching oozing gobs of hit-and-miss humor at your face until, if you're like me, you just want to start batting it away with a cricket bat.


Add to that enough splattery mayhem to keep gorehounds in seizures of bliss and the less discerning viewer will stay well occupied until fadeout.

Finally, the sacriledge quotient of this film is off the charts, so if that bugs you (as it does me), you're going to find UGLY SWEATER PARTY about as much fun as dental work without novacaine.  And if  in addition to that, you also despise death metal (really, this flick seems to have it out for me),  then you're going to hate the fact that this movie has a death metal band and it plays a whole lot of, yes, death metal.

But if you and those no-good friends of yours get off on all that vile, repellant stuff, then this is the movie to watch during your next keg party or mutual toenail clipping circle or whatever.


In fact, I can imagine certain people jumping up and down with joy and leaping out of windows due to their extremely positive reaction to the utter, unrestrained crudeness (which, surprisingly, is very nicely shot with several sweeping aerial views and other drone-camera effects) and gleeful offensiveness generated by this cinematic affront.

There's also some nudity (mostly hairy guys), some death-ray carnage from an ousted groundskeeper out for revenge against Mr. and Mrs. Mandix, and some other assorted amusements.

So if you're like me, you're going to enthusiastically refrain from wholeheartedly endorsing UGLY SWEATER PARTY, but if you're not like me, you're just as likely to think it's the most delightful film you've seen all afternoon.  Choose wisely!


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Nudity In The Sean Connery "James Bond" Films? (video)




Connery's Bond operated in the less-permissive 60s.  

Thus, little or no nudity was seen.

Ursula Andress seems to briefly bare all in "Dr. No."
But a closer look reveals her dignity remains intact.

As for the bedroom shot of Daniela Bianchi in "From Russia With Love"...
...is she, or isn't she?

"Goldfinger" comes close a couple of times.

Most of the time, however, a bit of suggestion was enough.

(Note: the emphasis here is on shots intentionally staged by the director, not accidental slips.)


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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Saturday, November 24, 2018

OUTRAGE CODA -- DVD Review by Porfle




Here's another intense, violent, and utterly no-nonsense Yakuza thriller from writer-director-star Beat Takeshi (HANA-BI, BOILING POINT, VIOLENT COP), who makes these films with the skill and determination of a fine artist wielding a sledgehammer.

OUTRAGE CODA (Film Movement, 2017) takes us into the heart of the Yakuza organization once again, and it's a really scary place to be.

When they aren't sitting around bleak, joyless offices intimidating each other with their power and position, maneuvering themselves up the ladder while always keeping an eye out for treachery and deception from all sides, they're in constant fear of making a wrong move that some boss or rival group will perceive as a capital offense.


Takeshi (who you may also know from BATTLE ROYALE, MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE, and the TV series MXC) knows his way around this kind of filmmaking like a master, but he also knows when to break through all these complicated plot machinations with the occasional burst of blood-curdling violence, which is also a way of life with the Yakuza.

To this end, he stars as Otomo, a former big shot in the organization (whom we met back in OUTRAGE: WAY OF THE YAKUZA) now spending his mellower years working in South Korea for the Chang family.

Otomo is the kind of guy you don't mess with, even when you're his friend and you go fishing together. If he gets mad, he just might pull out his gun and shoot up the fish that you're reeling in.


Otomo is also the kind of guy that the scary guys in the organization are afraid of--with good reason--and when a blustery young would-be underboss of the Hanabishi family offends both Otomo and the Chang family on their own turf, killing one of Otomo's men in the bargain, Otomo takes it personally.  Very personally.

That's the set-up of OUTRAGE CODA, and despite how intricate and plot-heavy the story may seem at times, it's all just an excuse for Otomo's growing outrage to channel itself into those bursts of action and violence which make Kitano's crime dramas so exhilarating and even frightening to watch.

Until that happens, though, the dramatic interactions between rivals within and without the two warring factions grow increasingly absorbing as relationships gel between various characters, all of whom are expertly played by an outstanding cast.


There are no good guys here--as in the original OUTRAGE: WAY OF THE YAKUZA, there are only varying degrees of bad guys, some of whom we begin to root for over the others if they show even a hint of loyalty or integrity.

Somehow, Otomo earns our respect and support because he's (a) a straight dealer, and (b) is the baddest of the bad despite an almost placid demeanor.  Once he goes into action, though, he has no qualms about laying waste to an entire roomful of the opposition's most well-armed and well-heeled assassins.

The DVD from Film Movement is in 2.40:1 widescreen with 5.1 and 2.0 sound. Japanese with English subtitles.  Bonuses consist of an interesting making-of featurette and trailers for other Takeshi films.


I missed the middle entry in the trilogy, but I can only assume that OUTRAGE CODA is a fitting end to it because the finality comes as a shock.  It sends this gritty and uncompromising crime thriller off on a haunting, melancholy note, and serves as another feather in the cap of the fascinating filmmaker known as Beat Takeshi.




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Stan Laurel Turns Into A Monster In "Dr. Pyckle And Mr. Pryde" (1925) (video)




Before teaming up with Oliver Hardy...

...Stan Laurel did a solo series of silent comedies.

"Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde" spoofs the Jekyll and Hyde story...
...particularly the 1920 John Barrymore version.

Fortunately, this "Hyde" is more interested in mischief than murder.

Our Gang's "Pete the Pup" guest stars.

The original ending seems to be lost, as the existing one is rather abrupt. 


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Friday, November 23, 2018

"Ghost of Frankenstein" Ending Reused In "House of Dracula" (video)




At the end of "Ghost of Frankenstein" (1942), Lon Chaney's Monster perishes in a fiery rampage.

In "House of Dracula" three years later, the Monster is played by Glenn Strange...

...but in that film's blazing finale, the Chaney footage from "Ghost" is reused.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!




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Thursday, November 22, 2018

All The Best Monster Scenes In "Frankenstein's Daughter" (1958) (video)





Sinister "Dr. Frank" has been experimenting on young Trudy (Sandra Knight). 

Sandra would later marry Jack Nicholson and co-star with him in "The Terror" (1963).

Trudy becomes the first of the movie's two "monsters."

Later, Dr. Frank murders Suzie (Sally Todd) and turns her into the title monster...

...played by actor Harry Wilson.

Trudy's boyfriend Johnny (John Ashley) comes to her rescue, and...


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it. 
Thanks for watching!


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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Global Sensation Jay Chou Boards "xXx 4" With Vin Diesel -- From The H Collective and One Race Films




GLOBAL SENSATION JAY CHOU BOARDS “xXx 4”
FROM THE H COLLECTIVE AND ONE RACE FILMS
 

Vin Diesel to Star, D.J. Caruso to Direct with Production Eyeing a 2019 Start Date

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2018) – The H Collective announced today that renowned musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor and director Jay Chou (The Green Hornet, Now You See Me 2) will star alongside Vin Diesel in the latest installment of the “xXx” franchise directed by D.J. Caruso.

Chou is an Asian superstar who has won the World Music Award four times and appeared on soundtracks for films, including: The Green Hornet, Now You See Me 2, and Kung Fu Panda 3.  With multiple world tours under his belt, the “King of Mandopop” has acted as a mentor for the past two seasons of “The Voice” in China.  In Hollywood, Chou is known for appearing alongside Seth Rogen in the action comedy The Green Hornet and Jon Chu’s Adventure-Comedy Now You See Me 2.

The H Collective, who will finance xXx 4 alongside investment partners including Sparkle Roll Media, iQiyi Pictures, Dadi Huarui, Star League Media and Fulcrum Management Co., acquired the xXx franchise rights from Revolution Studios alongside its star and producer, Vin Diesel and his One Race Films banner. The xXx franchise, which includes: xXx, xXx: State of the Union, and xXx: Return of Xander Cage has collectively grossed nearly $1 billion at the worldwide box-office.  In 2017, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, generated $168 million at the Chinese box-office making it one of the top-grossing U.S. films in China.

The H Collective CEO Nic Crawley commented: “We are very excited to be working on the fourth installment of xXx, which has always been such a fun, action-packed, global franchise.  We are looking to build a well-rounded international cast and introduce bold new characters that are sure to have longevity in the continued franchise.”

“I’ve met DJ a number of times over the past few months and it’s very clear how talented he is as a director. I am looking forward to working with him and Vin in bringing this film to global audiences,” said Chou.  “This is an incredibly exciting film which I’m beyond happy to join.”

The H Collective is also introducing Chinese actress Zoe Zhang (Chinese Zodiac), a frequent collaborator of Jackie Chan, to the already diverse cast of international talent.  Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce with Diesel, Samantha Vincent for One Race Films and The H Collective. Production is slated to begin in 2019.

ABOUT THE H COLLECTIVE
Launched in 2017, and with offices in Los Angeles, The H Collective is a global film finance, production, marketing and distribution company that producing and financing a diversified slate of high-quality films including horror, action comedy and franchise IP.  The slate includes BrightBurn starring Elizabeth Banks which Sony will release on May 24th and Christopher Cantwell’s thriller The Parts You Lose starring Aaron Paul. The H Collective acquired the rights to Aaron W. Sala’s horror thriller spec The Beast and is developing mainstream action-comedy Counter Spy. For further information, visit: www.thehcollectivefilms.com.

ABOUT ONE RACE FILMS / ONE RACE TV
One Race Films, founded in 1995 by writer, director, producer and actor Vin Diesel, has produced the five highest-grossing films in the “Fast” franchise — Fate of the Furious, Furious 7, Fast and Furious 6, “Fast Five as well as Fast & Furious. He has directed Multifacial, Strays and Los Bandoleros. Previously, ORF launched multiple franchises in the action genre, including the science-fiction thriller Pitch Black and the two follow-up films, Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick, along with the hit xXx. In addition to a thriving film production company, ORF launched One Race Television and has the existing gaming company Tigon Studios.  One Race has a multi-year overall deal with Universal Television, through which the company is developing a reboot of “Miami Vice” for NBC, as well as “Get Christie Love,” which received a pilot production commitment from ABC.  Tigon Studios has produced three critically acclaimed console titles including Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and original property The Wheelman.
 
ABOUT REVOLUTION STUDIOS
Revolution Studios is a diversified entertainment company that owns, acquires and exploits film, television and stage productions.  Led by CEO Vince Totino and President and COO Scott Hemming, the company boasts one of the largest independent libraries of premium content, including 126 motion pictures which collectively earned more than $7.1 billion in box office receipts, as well as 240 television episodes.   Revolution recently produced xXx: Return of Xander Cage, as well as 46 of the motion pictures in its library, including Maid in Manhattan, Anger Management, Daddy Day Care, America’s Sweethearts, Hellboy, xXx, White Chicks and the Academy Award®-winning Black Hawk Down.  More recently, Revolution has acquired 80 movies through library acquisitions, including those of Morgan Creek International, Cold Spring Pictures and GK Films.  Originally founded by Joe Roth in 2000, the company was acquired by Content Partners in 2017



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John Wayne's Coolest Scenes #15: Ransom, "Big Jake" (1971) (video)




Jake McCandles (John Wayne) enters a vile den of killers...

...to pay the million-dollar ransom for his kidnapped grandson.

Their leader (Richard Boone) issues a stern warning.

Jake counters with a warning of his own.


I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ERNIE KOVACS: THE CENTENNIAL EDITION -- DVD Review by Porfle




While he was always known as one of the great technical innovators of early television, one thing Shout! Factory's 9-disc DVD set ERNIE KOVACS: THE CENTENNIAL EDITION really brings home for me is the fact that it was just plain fun to hang out with the guy for awhile.

Early TV viewers had plenty of opportunity to do so, since Ernie had a number of different shows throughout the 50s and early 60s, several of which are sampled in this collection. 

Whether live via kinescope or recorded on early videotape, these shows glow with Ernie's childlike and often giddily enthusiastic attitude as he delights in spending time with us, entertaining with jokes, informal patter, bits of business, and, most of all, mindboggling bursts of surreal humor done on the fly with a shoestring budget.


The earliest examples of this are from a live morning series that resembles a "Howdy Doody"-type kids' show for grown-ups, the studio barely containing Ernie as he demolishes the fourth wall (as well as the other three) and shows us the cameras, the hallway outside the studio door, and every other aspect of TV production through which he can romp and play with us as his "peanut gallery."

Much of this helps lay the groundwork for just about every other television comedy show to follow.  His influence is unmistakable on, for example, "The Soupy Sales Show", "Pee Wee's Playhouse", comedy segments with talk show hosts such as Johnny Carson, Conan O'Brien, and David Letterman, "The Uncle Floyd Show", and even "Saturday Night Live" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus." 

All are touched in some way by Kovacs' groundbreaking and imaginative style even when they don't consciously realize it.  When Ernie goes up into the audience to interact with the people, or jokes around with his gregarious bandmembers and audibly guffawing crew, we're seeing the inspirations of practically every TV comic and talk show host to come.


Later shows would continue to serve as experiments for Ernie's innovative use of the television medium and, as in "Kovacs On the Corner", a delightful parody of the medium itself.  A "Mad Magazine" brand of satire (pre-dating "Mad Magazine") infuses much of his comedy and its witty jabs at commercials, movies, and other aspects of popular culture at the time.

Even when he hosts a game show, as in the episodes of "Take a Good Look" seen here, he can't help making it the most confusing and obtuse game show ever created.  Later network specials take advantage of video to present extended, intricately-conceived comedy pieces that boggle the mind while showing off Ernie's sweetly cockeyed sense of humor at every twist and turn.

Sight (and sound gags) abound.  He passes a statue of "The Thinker" and notices it humming to itself. He demonstrates how to adjust the horizontal and vertical dials (remember those?) on your TV by using his contorted facial expressions as a guide.  He interacts with his friend Howard, the world's strongest ant, who drives a tiny minature car and plays tiny miniature golf. 


He even puts on bad puppet shows such as "The Kapusta Kid In Outer Space" and helps his pet turtle cure its hiccups by feeding it sips of water.  Whatever tickles his childlike fancy at the time, he indulges in for our enjoyment. 

Ernie's characters are a joy, especially (my favorite) the endearingly prissy poet Percy Dovetonsils, whose poems boast such titles as "Ode to Stanley's Pussycat."  His hardluck character Eugene stars in Ernie's famous all-silent special, which consists of nothing but sight gags with sound effects and, of course, his own inimitable comedy style.  This one really uses the television medium with its tilted sets, weird optical illusions, and disorienting indulgence in undiluted surrealism. 

The supporting players are headed by Ernie's adorable and talented wife Edie Adams, who has her own stock characters as well as an operatic voice perfectly suited for the occasional serious musical segment (Kovacs loved music and often showcased it).  Edie is particularly adorable whether playing a dowdy housewife, vamping as Zsa Zsa Gabor, or doing a stunningly kittenish send-up of Marilyn Monroe as she shows off her knack for impressions.

My favorite moment is a bizarre sketch about a white-haired old conductor (Ernie) recording a commercial jingle with an orchestra and three difficult singers.  These include Edie Adams, Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter, one of my favorite actors), and, displaying a keen sense of off-the-wall comedy, Louis Jordan as an odd fellow whose pants lengths keep changing.  It's one of the most belly-laugh segments in the set if your mind's off-kilter enough to appreciate it.


The 9 discs in this set from Shout! Factory feature the following:

* Episodes From His Local And National Morning Shows
* Episodes From His NBC Prime-Time Show
* Kovacs On Music
* Five ABC TV Specials
* The Color Version of His Legendary Silent Show, "Eugene"
* His Award-Winning Commercials For Dutch Masters Cigars
* Short Films, Tributes, Rarities
* 18 Bonus Sketches Featuring Many Of His Most Beloved Characters
* 3 Complete Episodes Of His Offbeat Game Show Take A Good Look
* "A Pony For Chris" – His Rare TV Pilot For Medicine Man Co-Starring Buster Keaton
* The Lively Arts Featuring The Only Existing Filmed Solo Interview With Ernie Kovacs
* 2011 American Cinematheque Panel



The generous bonus menus include:

1987 ATAS Hall Of Fame Induction
Remembering Ernie With George Schlatter And Jolene Brand
"Baseball Film"
Making Of "Baseball Film"
"The Mysterious Knockwurst"
Andy McKay 8mm Home Movies
Percy Dovetonsils: "Ode To Stanley’s Pussycat"
Martin Krutch, Public Eye
Rock Mississippi In "Fingers Under Weskit"
Howard, The World's Strongest Ant
J. Burlington Gearshift
"Superclod" Test
"Take A Good Look" Clues
"Take A Good Look" Sales Film
"Silents Please"
"Our Man In Havana" Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Dutch Masters Commercials
Trailer For "Operation Mad Ball" – "It Happened To Ernie"
Muriel Cigars Commercials Featuring Edie Adams
Interview: Algernon Gerard, Archaeologist
Howard, The World's Strongest Ant: A Hot Date
Strangely Believe It: Writers To Blame
The Kapusta Kid In Outer Space Meets Olivia Scilloscope
Charlie Clod In Brazil
Ernie's Opening Monologue
Miklos Molnar's Glue
Percy Dovetonsils: "Ode To Electricity"
Interview: The World At Your Doorstep
Irving Wong: Tin Pan Alley Songwriter
Percy Dovetonsils : "Ode To A Housefly”
Introducing Coloratura Mimi Cosnowski
Howard, The World's Strongest Ant: Howard's Campground
Skodney Silsky, Hollywood Reporter
Ernie's Opening Monologue
Surprise Audience Member
Audio Lost
Matzoh Hepplewhite
Interview With Ernie Kovacs On The Lively Arts
"A Pony For Chris" – Pilot For Series Medicine Man
Ernie Kovacs Panel Discussion (August 27, 2011) At The American Cinematheque In Hollywood, CA
Home Movies: Golf With Edie And Ernie
Original Theatrical Trailers: "Wake Me When It's Over" And "Five Golden Hours"


Having only seen a smattering of his work in past years, I eagerly delved into ERNIE KOVACS: THE CENTENNIAL EDITION and binge-watched these delightful shows to my heart's content.  There's a wealth of wild comedy here, but even in its simplest moments, it's nice just to hang out with Ernie and listen to him chat as he puffs away on his ever-present cigar.  For a short, wonderful time before his tragic death, he was a fearless pioneer of television comedy and seemed to love every minute of it.



TECH SPECS
Discs 9
Run-time 22 hrs
Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Color/Black & White
Language English
Region 1
Rating Various
Production Date Various
Closed-Captioned ? No
Subtitles None


Buy it from Shout! Factory
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Mystery Film Clip From "Ghost Of Frankenstein" (1942) (video)




At the climax of "Ghost Of Frankenstein", Ygor's brain has been transplanted into the Monster's skull...

...but this results in blindness for the Monster.
He goes on a rampage, and dies a fiery death in the blazing laboratory.

A photo exists of the scorched Monster outside the burning house.
It was thought to be simply a posed publicity still.  However...

...on a 1959 episode of "The Steve Allen Show", a joke montage featured this mysterious clip.
It's actual film footage of the Monster staggering away from the burning building.

Is this part of an entirely different ending that was filmed, but never used?

(Thanks to Don Glut for finding this)

I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Keanu Reeves in Sci-Fi Drama "REPLICAS" -- Watch the Trailer Here!




Keanu Reeves in

"REPLICAS"


RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2019


Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Screenplay: Chad St. John

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch and John Ortiz
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama

Synopsis: After a car accident kills his family, a daring synthetic biologist (Reeves) will stop at nothing to bring them back, even if it means pitting himself against a government-controlled laboratory, a police task force, and the physical laws of science.

WATCH THE TRAILER





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Monday, November 19, 2018

"Dragnet": The Two Times Joe Friday Had To Shoot To Kill (video)




In both decades of "Dragnet", Joe Friday (Jack Webb) only had to shoot to kill twice.

("The Big Thief", 1953)
("The Shooting Board", 1967) 


The first time he was forced to kill an armed suspect, it hit Friday hard.
He was wracked with guilt and regret afterward.

The second time occurred when Friday interrupted a robbery in progress.

This time, Friday's main concern was clearing his name...
...after his story was called into question.

I neither own nor claim any rights to this material.  Just having some fun with it.  Thanks for watching!



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Sunday, November 18, 2018

THE THIRD MURDER -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




More than just a courtroom drama--the actual trial takes up relatively little running time--THE THIRD MURDER, aka "Sandome no satsujin" (Film Movement Classics, 2017) is an intense character study as well as a somber morality play which eschews the usual thriller elements in order to put us into a deeply contemplative mood.

We witness a shocking murder--Misumi (Kôji Yakusho), still on parole after serving a lengthy prison sentence for double murder, bludgeons a man to death one night by the river and sets his body on fire.
 
After being apprehended, he fully confesses to the crime and is charged with robbery-murder.  The only question is whether or not he'll get the death penalty.


Enter his three lawyers--an idealist young novice, a jaded old courtroom veteran, and, in between, Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama), whose years of experience have yet to dull his conscience or desire to do the right thing.

They decide the best path is to lessen the charges against Misumi and seek life imprisonment, but with him changing his story with every interview, even this modest goal proves elusive.

Moreover, Shigemori's investigation into the case keeps turning up information that clouds the issue at every turn.  Misumi is an enigma, almost eager to be found guilty even as evidence of extenuating circumstances continues to come to light.


He even seems to have a friendly relationship with the victim's disabled daughter Sakie (Suzu Hirose), who reminds him of his own long-estranged daughter. For her part, Sakie seems mysteriously conflicted regarding her father's killer, while her mother's behavior becomes increasingly suspect.

Thus, as the story becomes an engrossing, unpredictable legal procedural, the emotional elements give it a depth far beyond the usual crime dramas of this nature.  All manner of questions about the human condition are subtly and quietly explored, with Shigemori's two partners representing the yin and yang of his moral dilemma in dealing with Misumi.

Performances are all fine, as nuanced and subdued as writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda's deceptively simple visual style.  The story never resorts to melodrama or sensation, keeping a stately pace and somber, autumnal air of melancholy throughout.


The Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics is in 2.35:1 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo.  Japanese with English subtitles.  Bonus features include a Palme d'Or-winning Chinese short film, "A Gentle Night", directed by Qiu Yang, along with a making-of featurette, messages from the cast, and a trailer.

Realistic and introspective, THE THIRD MURDER eschews cheap thrills for a slowburn series of revelations that keep us emotionally involved.  It's absorbing, adult entertainment for both the heart and mind.




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