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Friday, January 29, 2010


As great as Universal Studios' classic "Frankenstein" movies of the 30s and 40s are, there was always one key ingredient curiously missing from all of them--beautiful naked babes having sex. Whether this was merely an oversight or, for some inexplicable reason, directors such as James Whale and Rowland V. Lee intentionally omitted this vital element, legendary "B" moviemaker Fred Olen Ray's Retromedia Entertainment has finally corrected this problem with the release of BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN (2009).

And rest assured, there's a veritable buttload of steamy softcore, simulated sex scenes in this film, with the story serving as a sort of connective tissue between them. It's kind of a shame, in fact, that we don't get to see more of that story since it's really fun and the actors all give exceptional comic performances. Unlike some preening 70s porno stud like Randy West donning a pair of glasses and trying to be "funny", Frankie Cullen is genuinely, cartoonishly amusing as Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a nebbishy scientist who gets booted (yes, "booted") out of his university teaching job for banging a buxom cheerleader on his desk.

Tony Marino is also funny as Victor's rival, Clive, who gleefully reports the Doc's carnal activities to Professor Van Sloane (actor-filmmaker Ted Newsom in fine comic form). As it happens, both Cullen and Marino happen to be a couple of pretty buffed-out hunks, which should keep the straight chicks and gay dudes in the audience occupied while the heterosexual males get an eyefull of the gorgeous female-type characters. These include voluptuous blonde knockout Brandin Rackley as Dr. Frankenstein's ditzy lab assistant Ingrid, exotic Christine Nguyen as Clive's sexy wife Claudia, and the delightfully winsome Alexis Texas as the aforementioned cheerleader, Debbie.

Retreating to his castle in Transylvania, Victor vows to prove his theories to his skeptical colleagues by bringing life to the dead, which in this case is the tall, lissom Jayden Cole as "Eve." She doesn't actually wear a bikini--more like two strips of gauze--but that doesn't matter since she gets naked pretty quick anyway. A carnal encounter with Ingrid reveals Eve's tendency to crackle with electricity whenever they connect the minus to the minus, so to speak.

Later, Victor returns to the States along with Eve and Ingrid, where, at a cocktail party attended by Clive, Claudia, Professor Van Sloane, and Dr. Waldman (Ron Ford with an enormous fake moustache), he plans to reveal Eve as his triumphant creation after she's sufficiently impressed everyone. Eve does this by having sex with Clive and then engaging in a three-way with Ingrid and Claudia (Claudia also finds time to get it on with Victor as well) which ultimately comes to an unfortunate and, to me, rather abrupt conclusion.

Nicholas Medina's direction is quite good and Sherman Scott's screenplay is stocked with fun references to the classic Frankenstein films. Aside from all the obvious name-dropping, the opening scene has Victor illustrating a scientific procedure that seems inspired by a certain Dr. Neimann from HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (dog included) and Ingrid is obviously inspired by Teri Garr's character in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, albeit with even more impressive "knockers." One of the film's best features is its cinematography, which looks just plain great, and the musical score is also easy on the ears.

Personally, I find long, drawn-out sex scenes to be pretty boring after the first minute or so, but the ones in this film benefit from truly great-looking performers and skillful execution. Add to this a nutty cast, lighthearted script, and pleasing production values, and BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN, while lacking a satisfactory ending, is a creation that's more than the sum of its parts.

TWILIGHT VAMPS (2009), on the other hand, isn't quite as enjoyable comedy-wise but maintains the same high standards in regard to the sex scenes while boasting pretty much the same cast. This time Frankie Cullen and Tony Marino play Jack and Roger, a couple of office drones who decide to unwind at a flashy new strip club called Shadows, which just happens to be a front for a bunch of beautiful vampires who drain male customers of their money, sexual energies, and blood.

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend Louise after discovering that she was a dyke interested only in banging her girlfriends and emptying his bank account, Jack falls for sexy blonde dancer Tabitha (Brandin Rackley) while Roger is smitten with Angela (Christine Nguyen). Before long, however, Jack discovers the blood-splattered truth and is forced to become an amateur vampire hunter armed only with a bottle of holy water that's gone past its expiration date.

With the same above-average production values, cinematography, and performances as BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN, TWILIGHT VAMPS is breezy low-budget entertainment that's pleasing to the eye. In addition to the usual plethora of simulated sex scenes which are equally well-done, the strip club setting affords lucky viewers the opportunity to watch the leading ladies show off their considerable poledancing skills. Ultra-fabulous babe Brandin Rackley, who has instantly leapt into the top five of my favorite actresses of this week, is especially awesome in this department (although the exquisite Christine Nguyen offers her close competition in terms of hotness). The opposite of her goofy "Ingrid" character from BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN, Brandin's "Tabitha" is sublimely gorgeous and seductive. In fact, she should be receiving my marriage proposal in the mail any day now, and my fingers are crossed that she'll check the "yes" box. Wish me luck!

Ron Ford returns as Jack's unappreciative boss, Mr. Cartwright, this time sporting an outlandishly fake beard, while Ted Newsom shows up again as a terse, suspicious police detective who questions Jack in regard to one of the vampire murders. In addition to giving his usual solid performance, Ted gets to reprise one of the most celebrated quotes from Ed Wood's classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, and delivers the line with much relish. (Or whatever the craft services people were serving that day.)

Once again, Nicholas Medina handles the directing chores while also contributing the screenplay, which, according to the opening titles, is "based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe." What poem by Edgar Allen Poe? I don't remember him writing anything called "Twilight Vamps." Maybe it's one of his lesser-known works. The associate producer is identified as one "Thorn Sherman", although it's unclear whether or not this is the same Thorn Sherman portrayed by actor James Best in THE KILLER SHREWS. If so, my hat's off to the guy for defeating those horrible monsters and scoring Miss Universe 1957 in the bargain.

Infinity Entertainment Group's DVDs of TWILIGHT VAMPS and BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN are presented in 16 x 9 widescreen and 2.0 Dolby Stereo. Special features include original trailers.

TWILIGHT VAMPS is filled with visual delights and, while not quite as much giddy fun, makes a fitting companion piece to BIKINI FRANKENSTEIN. Both films are worth checking out for the sex scenes alone, with the added benefit of talented actors and production values that are clearly superior to the usual low-budget fare. So the next time the guys are over at your place for the usual Saturday night drunken wing-ding, leave GIRLS GONE WILD on the shelf and pop one of these babies into the DVD player, and go nuts.

Buy "Bikini Frankenstein" at
Buy "Twilight Vamps" at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

THE KEEPER -- DVD review by porfle

You have to hand it to Steven Seagal--he's managed to maintain a fairly popular action-hero persona that barely requires him to either move or speak intelligibly. These days, his movies don't even have to be very good at all as long as he's in them. His latest, THE KEEPER (2009), dog-paddles in the DTV end of the pool with the rest of his recent output, neither sinking all the way to the bottom nor demonstrating any fancy strokes to speak of.

The first ten minutes are a mini-movie in which Steven, as L.A. cop Roland Sallinger, is shot by his two-timing partner during a drug bust. He survives, then manages to kill the rat from his hospital bed when he comes to finish the job. Forced to retire due to his injuries, Roland then accepts an offer from his old friend Connor Wells, an ex-cop who's now a Texas oil millionaire, to play bodyguard for his daughter Nikita. She's in danger because a rival millionaire named Jason Cross wants to kidnap her in order to force Wells to sign over some land on which uranium has been discovered. Complicating things is the fact that Nikita's weaselly boyfriend Mason, a two-bit boxer, is in league with Cross.

I'm sure you'd like for me to skip the preliminaries and get to the action scenes, because we don't watch Steven Seagal movies for the acting and dialogue, right? Well, he hasn't been in town for five minutes before he sees a young Mexican woman in distress and has his limo driver pull over so he can whoop a few bad-guy butts. As most of us are aware by now, his fighting style now consists mainly of standing in one spot while flailing his arms wildly, disarming his opponents and bending their arms the wrong way until the bones crack.

Occasionally, he'll let loose with a low kick--his days of planting a flying foot in somebody's face are long past. And even with this limited mobility, a stand-in is often used for the shots in which his character is required to move with some semblance of agility. These fight scenes consist of many short shots and rapid-fire editing to give the illusion that our hero is a lightning-fast flurry of movement.

That said, it's still Steven Seagal, and somehow that's enough. I like the way he strolls into a heated situation and makes the bad guys suffer for being stupid enough to take him on. I'd love to be able to do that myself. And he's so damn sure of himself, mixing it up with multiple opponents with a supreme confidence that's bracing. It's especially fun when he screws around with them a little first, pretending to be intimidated, before giving them that patented Steven Seagal scowl and laying into them. And on the plus side, he seems to have shed some weight since the last time I saw him, so he no longer resembles a giant burrito or appears to be wearing his car instead of just driving it.

Later, there's a kidnapping attempt involving a car chase, and a couple of minor shoot-em-ups on the streets. A few more quick hand-to-hand battles lead up to the final confrontation between Steve and the kidnappers, with Nikita's life in the balance. It's all passable stuff, but none of it is in any way memorable or outstanding. The big guy does put his hand through somebody's throat at one point, which fulfills the requirement that he do something really overtly violent at least once per movie to whatever bad guy wins the honor of deserving it.

Technically, THE KEEPER is your basic meat-and-potatoes job with some irritating stylistic touches thrown in. There's the speed-up-slow-down effect, the appeal of which I never understood, mixed with quick camera moves that make a whooshing noise. Even a brief pan of some trophies Steve has amassed during his cop career does the speed-up-slow-down thing and makes a whooshing noise. Oh yeah, and some of the transitions are accompanied by a flashing white light that also makes a whooshing noise. I guess it's all meant to make the movie look more hip and contemporary, but that kind of stuff just has DTV written all over it. Seagal's 2007 film URBAN JUSTICE eschewed all of that crap for a leaner and more old-school, Don Siegel-type visual style and is all the better for it. To his credit, though, director Keoni Waxman spares us the usual Shaky-Cam overload.

As for the cast, most are capable performers. Steph DuVall as Wells and Luce Rains as Cross are a couple of old pros who know their stuff (although DuVall slips up and calls Seagal's character "Ballinger" at one point), while Arron Shiver does a good job as the slimeball Mason. As Nikita, Liezl Carstens handles the screaming and being scared parts well. When paired with Seagal for a dialogue scene, however, it's as though they're competing in a slow race to see who can underplay the other, and they may have you wondering which one will simply keel over unconscious first.

Seagal, as usual, emotes as though his meds just kicked in and his lines are being fed to him through an earpiece. This time around, he doesn't have any good lines such as "I'm gunna kill the muhfuh that killed mah son", nor the kind of vengeance-driven motivation that a dead wife or family member can provide, both of which are missed. And also unlike URBAN JUSTICE, which had a fadeout that was just cool as hell, this movie just ends when it runs out of stuff to do.

The DVD from 20-Century Fox is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish Dolby Surround, subtitled in English and Spanish. There are no extras.

With THE KEEPER, you get pretty much what you might expect by now--standard latter-day Seagal with just enough of the old magic to keep it from being totally dispensible, yet little to make it of any interest to anyone but his most loyal fans. If you're among that number, check it out. Otherwise, why bother?

Buy it at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A resounding critical and popular success upon its BBC debut in 1985, the six-part serial EDGE OF DARKNESS is an intelligent thriller that will bore those looking for superficial sensation while offering more patient viewers a richly rewarding experience.

Yorkshire detective and widower Ronald Craven (Ben Peck) has just arrived home one rainy night with his political activist daughter Emma (Joanne Whalley, WILLOW) when a gunman steps out of the shadows with a shotgun and opens fire. Emma leaps in front of her father and is killed before the gunman escapes. Heartbroken, Craven journeys to London on a quest to track down what he and his boss believe to be one of his old enemies. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to believe that his daughter was the prime target due to the efforts of her group, GAIA, to expose a nearby nuclear waste facility called Northmoor which has been illegally storing plutonium.

I honestly thought this was going to be one of those violent "father's revenge" stories and was pleasantly surprised to find how wrong I was at every turn. Rather than turning into an inhuman killing machine wiping out easy targets left and right (not that there's anything wrong with that), Craven's humanity comes increasingly to the fore as his daughter's cause begins to resonate with him and his main goal becomes a desire to finish what she started. This involves duplicating an ill-fated raid by her anti-nuclear group GAIA on Northmoor's subterranean storage facility and successfully recovering the plutonium, at the risk of his own life.

To this end, Craven begins to receive help from a couple of government insiders with similar interests, Pendleton (Charles Kay) and Harcourt (Ian McNeice, ACE VENTURE: WHEN NATURE CALLS), whose prissy characters supply some of the story's droll comic touches. His main ally, however, is CIA agent Darius Jedburgh (Joe Don Baker), a brash Texan who loves the cloak-and-dagger stuff almost as much as a good game of golf. Representing Washington's interests in the matter, Jedburgh accompanies Craven on the daring underground search for Northmoor's plutonium "hot cell" (still littered with the corpses of irradiated workers and GAIA members murdered by the plant's security) which takes up most of episode five and gives the series some of its most riveting moments.

Bob Peck, who played the steely-eyed game warden in JURASSIC PARK, is fascinating to watch because his performance as Ronald Craven is so subtle and intense. Rarely demonstrative in demeanor, there's always a lot going on in his deceptively placid face and wary eyes, making even the slightest emotional outburst all the more effective. His character is allowed much screen time after his daughter's death to actually deal with his grief in a believable way, and it's through that perspective that we view all subsequent events.

As a lead character, Craven's an intriguingly odd duck. While going through Emma's things after her death, he comes across her "personal vibrator" and wistfully kisses it. For him, questioning a suspect is a slow process which includes holding his hand in a loving manner and forming an almost affectionate bond that helps to facilitate a willing candor. His mental state is in question as well, particularly when he begins to see and converse with Emma on a regular basis. His growing fanaticism as the story unfolds--or "greening", one might say--makes him more and more unpredictable in his quest to bring down the rich, power-hungry despoilers of the earth responsible for Emma's death.

Troy Kennedy Martin's screenplay is filled with interesting characters, witty dialogue, and political intrigue, with occasional bursts of suspenseful action. Future "Bond" director Martin Campbell's direction is good--a bit claustrophobic at times, though likely intentionally so--and early signs of his later style are evident here. It's easy to see why, ten years later, Campbell would cast Joe Don Baker as CIA agent Jake Wade in GOLDENEYE. Baker gives perhaps the finest performance of his career as Darius Jedburgh--as often as I've seen him in various things over the years, I still had no idea he was capable of being this good.

Most impressive is a later scene in which he addresses a gathering of business and military bigwigs during a conference on nuclear energy, working himself into a blustering, bellowing frenzy with a block of plutonium in each hand and turning the event into a panic-stricken stampede. Baker also relishes delivering some of the film's headiest dialogue such as the following:

"You ever been to Dallas, Craven?"
"No, sir."
"It's where we shoot our presidents. The Jews got their Calvary, but we got Dealey Plaza!"

The rest of the cast is dotted with familiar faces and fine performances. I recognized Jack Watson and Allan Cuthbertson from British shows such as "The Avengers" and "Fawlty Towers", and Zoe Wanamaker, who plays Jedburgh's associate and Craven's fleeting love interest Clementine, has recently appeared in the "Harry Potter" films. Fans of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON will instantly recognize white-haired actor John Woodvine as Craven's boss. I was especially pleased to see Kenneth Nelson, so effective as the star of William Friedkin's classic BOYS IN THE BAND, as the evil corporate executive Grogan.

The two-disc DVD set from BBC Warner in in 4.3 full-screen with an English mono soundtrack and English subtitles. Extras include: a slightly-different alternate ending; a music-only track to highlight the fine score by Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen; a photo gallery; a lengthy featurette with cast and crew interviews; and some dry but informative British TV segments featuring interviews, reviews, and scenes from the BAFTA and Broadcasting Press Guild award shows where EDGE OF DARKNESS was a big winner.

Slow doesn't always mean boring, especially when a story has the substance this one has, and the deliberate pace with which EDGE OF DARKNESS unfolds is highly satisfying. I'll admit, I had trouble following some of the intricacies of the plot, but as Steward Lane of the Broadcasting Press Guild puts it in one of the DVD extras, "It was so marvelous 'cause you didn't really know what was going on most of the time...which made it most compulsive viewing." And although it didn't leave me with as strong a fadeout as I'd hoped, I was still thinking about those black flowers for quite awhile afterward.




Sean Patrick Flanery And Joe Pantoliano Star In The White-Knuckle Action Thriller Crashing Onto Unrated DVD April 20

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (January 27, 2010) – When a police officer’s life collides with a powerful assassin the result is lethal in Deadly Impact, debuting on unrated DVD April 20 from MGM Home Entertainment. Directed by special effects guru Robert Kurtzman, best known for his work in City Slickers and Cabin Fever, the film stars Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints franchise) and Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, The Matrix franchise).

In an explosive game of cat and mouse, Deadly Impact follows hard-nosed cop Thomas Armstrong (Flanery) whose life was shattered when he became the helpless target of a mastermind murderer. Returning home after a much-needed break, Armstrong joins the FBI to seek revenge and help track down the same killer that threatened his existence, however this time the assassin is back to terrorize not just a single person, but the entire city. In an exhilarating race against time, Armstrong must stay one step ahead to capture the madman and save innocent lives before time runs out.

Turning up the heat with extreme stunt work the Deadly Impact DVD is filled with non-stop action and suspense and will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.98 US and $26.98 Canadian. Prebook is March 24.

Follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) on Twitter @foxhomeent

Street Date: April 20, 2010
Prebook Date: March 24, 2010
Screen Format: Widescreen – 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English subtitles
Total Run Time: 96 minutes
U.S. Rating: NR
Closed Captioned: Yes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ROBIN HOOD: SEASON THREE -- DVD review by porfle

I like a good retelling of an old story, as long as it's done right. ROBIN HOOD: SEASON THREE takes the classic legend of Sir Robin of Locksley, the noble outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and gives it a lavish presentation that's quite rightly-done indeed.

Filmed in Hungary but looking pretty much as I'd imagine medieval England to look (like I'd know), the third season of this popular BBC series continues the story of an England in turmoil during the absence of the benevolent King Richard, who's off fighting in the Holy Land. His power-mad brother, Prince John, is making a mess of things while local government goes to hell. This is especially true in Nottingham, where the cruel Sheriff and his evil lackey, Sir Guy of Gisborne, tax the citizens to the hilt and rule with cruelty and brute force.

The only thing standing between these crumbs and the common folk is ace bowman Robin Hood, once a nobleman but now an outlaw living in the forest with his motley gang and constantly relieving the rich of their riches for the benefit of the poor. He's aided in his quest by two brave but occasionally inept lads, Much (Sam Troughton) and Alan A Dale (Joe Armstrong), and the gentle giant Little John (Gordon Kennedy).

Some important new characters are introduced early on--the courageous and wise warrior-priest Friar Tuck, who encourages Robin to keep up the good fight after Maid Marian's death in season two plunges him into despair, and a spirited young lass named Kate who joins the outlaw band after her brother is murdered by Sir Guy. Casting a black actor, David Harewood, as Tuck is an interesting choice which pays off handsomely since it soon becomes hard to imagine anyone better suited to the role. Joanne Frogatt is appealing as Kate and adds a feminine element to the group in the absence of Maid Marian.

It took me awhile to get used to Jason Armstrong as Robin Hood, since his decidedly un-dashing looks hardly fit the traditional Errol Flynn-type image we're used to. I began to accept him in the role after awhile, however, as this interpretation is an interesting change from the norm. He and his band of outlaws actually look like a bunch of scruffy forest dwellers instead of refugees from a Renaissance fair, and the actors playing them also have a believably common and earthy look.

My initial impression that this was a lightweight show without much substance--sort of a medieval "Dukes of Hazzard"--faded as the early stand-alone episodes gave way to an increasingly involving overall narrative. As the storyline gets deeper and more intricate, it begins to take on the feel of a long, engrossing novel filled with suspense, intrigue, and excitement. By the time Robin and his followers finally take over Nottingham--at the cost of at least one of their dearest members--and brace themselves for a bloody siege against a mighty attacking army, the saga has assumed almost epic proportions. (By television standards, anyway.)

One of the main things that make this show so entertaining are the hissable villains. Keith Allen is wonderful as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, who alternates between being unyieldingly cruel and playfully droll. Toby Stephens, who menaced Pierce Brosnan's James Bond in DIE ANOTHER DAY, is absolutely delightful as the monstrously narcissistic Prince John. Stephens has a field day in the role and is an utter joy to watch, whether preening like a rock star before his not-so-admiring public or ordering mass executions out of petulant boredom. Always insecure about his image, he has the following conversation after an unfortunate encounter with the villagers of Locksley:

"Why do the people not love me as you love me, Isabella?"
"You burned their church to the ground with them in it!"
"Yes? And?"

Best of all, the dark, tormented Sir Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage, who resembles a demented Ray Davies) is like the Darth Vader of the series and makes an exciting and dangerous nemesis for Robin Hood. He'll undergo some fascinating character development as the season progresses, especially after two major events occur. One is a surprise reunion with his sister Isabella (the beautiful and exciting Lara Pulver), who despises him for selling her into an abusive marriage in her youth and now has her sights set on becoming Sheriff of Nottingham herself. (She'll also become quite a fascinating and formidable character.) The other is the stunning revelation that he and Robin share a half-brother, Archer (Clive Standen), a devil-may-care arms dealer and all-around scoundrel whose allegiances are uncertain.

The series is handsomely mounted, with warm, glowing photography which evokes the period and consistently solid production values. Only seldom does the CGI look noticeably bad. The musical score by Andy Price, which often resembles something out of the LORD OF THE RINGS films, is sufficiently rousing. Direction and editing are good and the stories are well-paced, colorful, and exciting, leading up to an explosive and emotional series finale that you won't soon forget.

This five-disc, thirteen-episode DVD set from the BBC has a 16.9 enhanced aspect ratio and 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound, with English subtitles. The fifth disc contains a 32-minute "making of" documentary; two featurettes exploring the series' costumes and the trebuchets created for the final battle sequence; character profiles; and a couple of interesting video diaries by castmembers Lara Pulver and Clive Standen.

Even if you missed the first two seasons as I did, it doesn't take long to catch up with the story and get swept along with ROBIN HOOD: SEASON THREE's scintillating drama and swashbuckling adventure. Rendered in that uniquely British fashion which has a special appeal all its own, it's one hell of a ripping yarn.

Buy it at

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Gentleman Broncos" - On Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 2


“Flight Of The Conchords’” Jemaine Clement Stars In The Hilarious Comedy Available On Blu-ray Disc And DVD March 2 -- Loaded With Special Features Including Outtakes, Deleted Scenes And Commentary

LOS ANGELES, CA. – (January 22, 2010) – Mount your battle stag, grab your popcorn balls and get ready to laugh your gonads off as Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents Gentlemen Broncos on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 2. The director of Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess) and co-star of HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” (Jemaine Clement) team up to bring you the story of Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano), a lovable loner whose life is turned upside down when a pretentious fantasy author steals his story at a writers camp. Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Mike White (School of Rock) join a hysterical cast of oddball characters in this “fun, quirky comedy.” (People)

The Gentlemen Broncos Blu-ray Disc and DVD are loaded with special features including outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary from director Jared Hess and his wife/writing-partner Jerusha Hess, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. The Blu-ray Disc will be available for a suggested retail price of $39.99 U.S. and the standard DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $27.98 U.S. Prebook is February 3.

Blu-ray Disc Special Features: (Catalog # 2266733)
--BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE: 16 mini-documentaries featuring the cast of Gentlemen Broncos
--Outtakes Reel: A Buttload of Keepsakes
--Five deleted scenes
--Feature commentary with Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess
--One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos

DVD Special Features: (Catalog # 2260254)
--Outtakes Reel: A Buttload of Keepsakes
--Five deleted scenes
--Feature commentary with Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess
--One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
A recognized global industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on DVD, Blu-ray Disc (BD) and Digital Copy as well as acquisitions and original productions. The company also releases all products around the globe for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets -- from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce - throughout the world. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC is a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company.

Follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Twitter @FoxHomeEnt

Street Date: March 3, 2010
Prebook Date: February 3, 2010
Screen Format: Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish & French Dolby Surround (DVD) English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Spanish & French Dolby Digital (BD)
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish (All)
U.S. Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 90 minutes
Closed Captioned: Yes

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Carter Steven's Guide To TCM This Week (1/25-1/31)

Jan 25

12:15am (To be technical Jan 26th) Diary of Anne Frank, The (1959)
A young girl comes of age while hiding from the Nazis.
Cast: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer Dir: George Stevens BW-171 mins, TV-PG

A nice little film. But it wasn't till I stood in the attic of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that it's power hit me hard and I cried like a baby. The film just can't make that room small and claustrophobic enough to match the reality.

Jan 26

9:30am Outrage, The (1964)
A Mexican bandit's crimes receive wildly different interpretations from four witnesses.
Cast: Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson Dir: Martin Ritt BW-96 mins, TV-PG

I love Paul Newman and Martin Ritt's work but Rashomon was still a whole lot better.

1:00pm Prize, The (1963)
An American Nobel Prize-winner mixes it up with spies when he travels to Stockholm to collect his award.
Cast: Paul Newman, Edward G. Robinson, Elke Sommer, Diane Baker Dir: Mark Robson C-135 mins, TV-PG

Shlock, Pure Shlock, Pure enjoyable escapist shlock. And Elke Sommer never looked better.

5:15pm Cat On A Hot Tin Roof(1958)
A dying plantation owner tries to help his alcoholic son solve his problems.
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson Dir: Richard Brooks C-108 mins, TV-PG

Am I the only person who does NOT like Paul Newman in this film? He's pretty enough to be a closet “homo” but he just doesn't carry it off.

Jan 27

12:00am (again in reality the 28th) Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
A Korean War hero doesn't realize he's been programmed to kill by the enemy.
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury Dir: John Frankenheimer BW-127 mins, TV-PG

A good film made great by Angela Lansbury's bone chilling performance of the Mommy from Hell.

Jan 28

11:45am Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
A team of flyers risks their lives to deliver the mail in a mountainous South American country.
Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth Dir: Howard Hawks BW-121 mins, TV-PG

See what made Cary Grant, CARY (fuckin') GRANT. Directed by the great Howard Hawks.

8:00pm Road to Singapore (1940)

9:30pm Road to Zanzibar (1941)

11:15pm Road to Morocco (1942)

12:45am Road to Utopia, The (1946)

2:30am Road to Bali (1952)

See why the movie going public kept Hope and Crosby on the road for so many years.

Jan 29

6:30pm Cariboo Trail, The (1950)
A cattleman fights to establish a ranch in the middle of gold country.
Cast: Randolph Scott, George "Gabby" Hayes, Bill Williams, Karin Booth Dir: Edwin L. Marin C-81 mins, TV-G

Old Stone face rides again. And I'm not talking about Gabby Hayes.

Jan 30

12:00pm Operation Petticoat(1959)
During World War II, the crew of a decrepit submarine takes on a team of Navy nurses.
Cast: Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Joan O'Brien, Dina Merrill Dir: Blake Edwards C-121 mins, TV-G

See what Tony Curtis later channeled in Some Like It Hot.

10:00pm Murder At The Gallop (1963)
Elderly sleuth Miss Marple suspects foul play when an old friend is supposedly scared to death by a cat.
Cast: Margaret Rutherford, Robert Morley, Flora Robson, Charles Tingwell Dir: George Pollock BW-81 mins, TV-G

Margaret Rutherford, Miss Marple...enough said.

Jan 31

11:30am South Pacific (1958)
A Navy nurse must choose between love and prejudice during World War II.
Cast: Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr, Ray Walston Dir: Joshua Logan C-157 mins, TV-G

A terrible version of this musical with “tinted” scenes to evoke the feeling of the songs (that doesn't work at all) but when all is said and done it's still Rogers and Hammerstein and Some Enchanted Evening.

4:00pm Alfie(1966)
A British womanizer refuses to grow up until tragedy strikes.
Cast: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Julia Foster Dir: Lewis Gilbert C-114 mins, TV-14

See why Michael Caine is not just a great actor but a Movie Star as well.

10:00pm Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Fanciful musical biography of wild West sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
Cast: Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Naish Dir: George Sidney C-107 mins, TV-G

Double duty musical day at TCM. Again not a great film (J. Carrol Nash as an Indian chief...please) but great music. (have you noticed I'm a sucker for musicals, unusual in a straight guy.)

3:45am Ordinary People (1980)
When a young man drowns, his family fights to recover from the trauma.
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Judd Hirsch Dir: Robert Redford C-124 mins, TV-MA

A depressing film, artfully directed by Robert Redford on his first time out and beautifully acted by a somber Mary Tyler Moore.


Friday, January 22, 2010

ART OF LOVE -- DVD review by porfle

If nothing else, Walerian Borowczyk's French-Italian historical sex film ART OF LOVE (1983) is worth watching simply to gaze upon the voluptuous, Rubenesque beauty Marina Pierro in various forms of undress. The film grabbed my attention right off the bat by showing her luxuriating in a clear glass bathtub during the titles, an image we'll get to see several more times along with other arresting views of her ample and curvaceous physique. Unfortunately, in order to do so, you have to watch the movie.

It's the year 8 A.D., and Roman poet and love-advice expert Ovid (Massimo Girotti) is holding lectures for men and women based on his three-part poem of seduction and love, Ars Amandi ("The Art of Love"). During these lengthy, rambling monologues, we see his teachings being followed by his various students, including Claudia, the unfaithful wife of Roman soldier Macarius (Michele Placido), and her young lover Cornelius, who looks like a late-60s pop idol.

Their heated trysts offer most of the entertainment to be found in this rambling, often incoherent narrative. In one scene, a sick Claudia is tended to by Cornelius according to Ovid's sage advice: "Bring to her at times an old lady who, with trembling hands, will carry eggs and sulfur to purify the room and bed." I think the movie is trying to be funny when Claudia chokes and gags on the sulfur smoke as the old lady starts throwing eggs at the walls. But it's played so straight I'm just not sure.

Other characters include Claudia's faithful African servant and confidant Sepora (Mireille Pame), who likes to fellate a bronze phallus that she keeps in a cabinet, and Macarius' porky mom Clio (Laura Betti), who likes to poke her servants with pins despite Ovid's explicit admonitions and sometimes has the blonde fright wig snatched off her head by a pesky cockatoo. And then there's the barbaric Roman general Laurentius, whose abuse of his cowering wife Modestina includes beating her and locking her in a dog cage.

That highly unpleasant subplot doesn't have much to do with anything, but neither does most of the seemingly random action that occurs during the course of the film. There's a tame orgy sequence about midway through that consists of people running around half-naked and what appears to be scenes from another film spliced in (apparently this is the "restored" orgy footage mentioned in the DVD notes).

The sparse plot is padded to the gills with whatever footage director Borowczyk felt like shooting at the time, including endless stolen moments between forbidden lovers and several sequences that don't make a whole lot of sense (a man gleefully chomps a live goldfish, a woman fondles a marble horse's genitals, etc). One of these is Ovid's story of a love-starved woman who disguises herself as a cow in order to be serviced by a bull. No, I'm not making that up.

Besides a number of lovely vignettes in which Marina Pierro is meticulously photographed with the care and attention of an ardent admirer--my favorite parts of the movie--the camerawork and editing are often as shaky and choppy as the plot. To make things worse, Luis Bacalov's musical score sounds like the same enervating snatch of elevator music played over and over. I do like the natural lighting and the authentic Roman locations, and some of the performances are pretty good if you can get past the bad dubbing.

Ovid's endless blather quickly wears thin, though, as most of the film is accompanied by such turgid poetry as: "Do not allow useless modesty to withhold the magic of your caresses. You will see your beloved's eyes film over with a sheen of tremulous and dainty lust, as the sun's rays rise back from the surface of the placid pond." The rest of the dialogue is littered with such gems as "Are you happy with your parrot, Claudia?" and "Swear on the privates of your favorite god!", and while the action often resembles "A Mediterranean Night's Sex Comedy", the overall mood of the film is rather dire.

The DVD from Severin Films is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, dubbed in English. Image quality is fair, though somewhat washed-out. The sole extra is a trailer.

After trudging my way through ART OF LOVE, which seems much longer than it is, I felt as though I'd escaped from it. The final minutes do boast an unexpected twist that flies in from out of left field, but like the rest of the story it has little impact. (A couple of shots in this sequence contain a strange, unidentified shape silhouetted at the bottom of the screen--what the hell is it?) As for Ovid--in accordance with history, he finally has his act shut down by the Roman government for promoting adultery, with the resulting raid coming none too soon to suit me.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Looking like a taboo-smashing relic from the late 60s but actually shot in 1984, the French-Italian co-production HANNA D.: THE GIRL FROM VONDEL PARK is an artsy exploitation flick with one foot in the sublime and the other knee-deep in the ridiculous.

Although twenty years old when she starred as Hanna, French actress Ann-Gisel Glass is playing sixteen and looks like thirteen. Writer-director Rino Di Silvestro (WEREWOLF WOMAN, WOMEN IN CELL BLOCK 7) chose her for her angelic looks so that her descent into porn, prostitution, and drug addiction would be more affecting, and indeed she alternates between brief flashes of little-girl innocence and a deer-in-the-headlights emotional withdrawal from the reality of her downward spiral. But when she's in a train compartment with an older gentleman who has paid to watch her slowly slither out of her schoolgirl uniform, there's a deliberate, knowing seductiveness in her eyes that's anything but innocent.

That's the first scene in the film, and it's beautifully shot and edited with a simple but haunting musical theme, and neither the film nor Glass' performance will be this hypnotic again. But it won't be Di Silvestro's last stylistic flourish--minutes later, Hanna encounters her mother's latest young lover Hans (who has the hots for Hanna) on the stairway to their apartment, and in an exquisitely-staged moment offers him a peek up her skirt through the steps before sticking her tongue out at him and scampering away. (Even a later scene in which Hans sneaks into Hanna's bedroom and ogles her as she sleeps creates its own perverse enchantment.)

This leads to the first clash between Hanna and her resentful, alcoholic mother (Karin Schubert), who depends on Hanna's illicit income to keep her in booze. Schubert plays the role of the wilted flower to the ditzy hilt and their scenes together evoke a giddy hilarity that's made more so by Glass' clumsy emoting and the film's horrible dubbing ("Don't you touch me! Or else I will spit in your face!" Mom warns Hans during one of their many spats).

When she isn't hooking for cash, Hanna wanders in a daze through condemned buildings where people are shooting up in every filthy room (a glimpse of her own future) and shares drugs with her equally lost friend Jeanette. It's here that she runs afoul of some prostitutes by horning in on their territory (more awful dubbing includes the lines "Tell her to go cool it!" and "You'd better beat it forever!") and makes her escape on the back of a motorcycle driven by the darkly-handsome Miguel (Tony Serrano).

This unscrupulous opportunist wins her over with his sleazy charm and soon puts her to work making money for him in the sex trade while introducing her to the needle, hastening her eventual ruin. Before long, Hanna is shooting up via her arms, scalp, tongue, and eyelids in an increasingly disturbing series of images and finally hits bottom in a reformatory. Her only hope comes in the form of Axel (Sebastiano Somma), a dashing young man who falls madly in love with her and risks his life against Miguel and his thugs in an attempt to pull Hanna out of the pit.

The DVD from Severin Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 English mono, and the print quality is very good. Extras include a trailer and a 42-minute interview with Rino Di Silvestro which offers some fascinating insights into his creative processes and filmmaking philosophies. ("Cinema is suffering and I used to transmit this distress to the crew," he reveals.) Listening to him speak at length about the film actually increased my appreciation of it on second viewing.

Filmed on a low budget and a tight schedule in Amsterdam and Italy, HANNA D.: THE GIRL FROM VONDEL PARK is Rino Di Silvestro's update of the old cautionary films such as REEFER MADNESS which warned society of certain tragic realities while wallowing in their inherent exploitation potential. Thus, Hanna's sad tale is packed with more nudity and softcore sex scenes than you can shake your stick at, while offering up plenty of gratuitous drug-related degredation as well. Add to this Silvestro's knack for the occasional display of dazzling style and some of the most unintentionally funny acting and dialogue this side of MST3K (again, due mainly to the dubbing), and you've got a pretty good recipe for entertainment. Di Silvestro's staging and editing tend to look increasingly slapdash as the film draws to its hyperventilating climax, and the more he expects of his star the less she's able to give. Nevertheless, she's always interesting to watch.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


When I first heard of DEFYING GRAVITY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2009), I wondered--how in the world could a sci-fi show with such a great premise get cancelled during its first season? After seeing all that there is of the show--and, apparently, all there ever will be--I'm at a loss to explain why the hell it didn't catch on with viewers.

Creator James Parriott's premise is pretty intriguing, with a crew of four men and four women embarking on a trip around the solar system in the Antares, a massive ship that looks like an updated version of the "Discovery" in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The plan is for them to touch down on seven planets during their journey, but what they don't know yet is that they'll also be seeking a number of mysterious glowing, living objects that have suddenly started communicating with a similar object found on Earth, known as "Beta." The initial attempt by the International Space Organization (ISO) to retrieve the first object, "Alpha", from Mars resulted in a failed mission and two stranded astronauts.

Maddux Donner (Ron Livingston, OFFICE SPACE, "Band of Brothers") and Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba), two surviving astronauts from the ill-fated Mars mission, find themselves among the Antares crew because Beta seems to want them there. Beta, in fact, appears to be pretty much in charge of everything, exerting its influence to manipulate the crew selection process and every step of the voyage later on. While in deep space, certain crewmembers begin having bizarre hallucinations based on traumatic incidents in their past. The closer they get to their first destination, Venus, the more Beta seems to be wielding total control over the mission's outcome as the beleaguered astronauts try to deal with situations that increasingly make no sense.

Each of the series' thirteen episodes shifts from the present mission to past incidents from the grueling selection and training process, with the subplots complimenting each other according to various themes. What I initially feared would be a bunch of contrived soap opera nonsense turned out to be rich character interaction that contributes to the emotional impact of the overall story arc. (Much of it is still soap opera, but damn good soap opera.)

Romantic entanglements and other dramatic developments have meaning beyond the usual titillation; the astronauts and their Earthbound allies, including two married couples separated by millions of miles, are portrayed as believable three-dimensional characters that we get to know and whose interactions we care about. In particular, veteran astronaut Donner and fresh-faced hopeful Zoe Barnes (the beautiful Laura Harris of SyFy's MERLIN AND THE BOOK OF BEASTS) have a complicated and increasingly touching relationship that becomes the emotional core of the entire season.

As sci-fi, DEFYING GRAVITY is a fascinating and plausible extrapolation of where the space program might be in fifty years, with beautiful set design and special effects that are both convincing and awe-inspiring. The premise--a mysterious alien race seemingly leaving guideposts for an evolving human race to follow to the stars--is reminiscent of 2001, but without the pessimistic outlook or the robotic humans who appear to have reached an evolutionary dead-end. And while the metaphysical stuff is consistently compelling, the show could exist without it as a straight, non-fantastical view of the future of space exploration. The way these two sensibilities are skillfully intertwined makes for some riveting viewing.

The show has a large cast and all are very good in their roles. Livingston makes a great flawed hero, with Harris endlessly appealing as Zoe. Other crewmembers include: Jen Crane (Christina Cox), a biologist whose husband was removed from the crew at the last minute; Nadia Schilling (Florentine Lahme), the hot-blooded German pilot who can't keep her hands off Donner; Steve Wassenfelder (Dylan Taylor), a clumsy, overweight physicist with no idea why Beta wants him on the mission; Dr. Evram Mintz (Eyal Podell), ship's doctor and psychologist whose old war wounds run deep; and Paula Morales (Paula Garcés), the landing vehicle pilot who finds her faith in God tested as the mission grows more and more bizarre.

The cast also features several key characters on Earth too numerous to mention, including duplicitous mission control chief Goss (Andrew Airlie) and Karen LeBlanc as Eve Weller-Shaw, the woman who first discovered Beta and remains inextricably linked to it.

Everyday life on the Antares is depicted in realistic fashion while the increasingly supernatural elements become downright creepy at times. SPFX are consistently convincing. The season climaxes with the Venus landing and its potentially disastrous outcome as the landing vehicle touches down far beyond safe walking distance to the "object" while one crewmember, driven by what seems to be yet another baffling hallucination, embarks on a suicidal course of action. The last moments of this episode--and thus the series itself--are quite moving. But the voyage is far from over and there are many loose ends, which is frustrating.

The four-disc DVD set from 20th-Century Fox is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and English, French, and Spanish subtitles. The eight episodes that were actually aired are followed by the five unaired ones (I still can't believe this show got whacked mid-season). Disc four's extras include the featurette "Mission Accomplished--A Look at 'Defying Gravity'", several deleted scenes, and a photo slide show.

Really good TV sci-fi like this doesn't come along every day, and the fact that there will be no more episodes of this outstanding series is highly regrettable. Would it have maintained such a high level of interest as the story developed further during the rest of their six-year mission? I guess we'll never know. DEFYING GRAVITY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is a richly rewarding blend of soap opera and sensawunda, and it left me wanting more.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

George Clooney leads "THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS" from Anchor Baaay Entertainment -- coming to DVD and Blu-raaay March 23rd


On DVD and Blu-ray™ Tuesday, March 23rd From Anchor Bay Entertainment

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Academy Award® winner George Clooney (Up in the Air), Academy Award® nominee Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Golden Globe® and SAG Award® nominee Ewan McGregor (Angels & Demons), and two-time Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) star in Overture Films’ The Men Who Stare At Goats, a comedic look at real life events that are almost too bizarre to believe, available on DVD and Blu-ray™ Tuesday, February 23rd from Anchor Bay Entertainment (Pre-Book February 18, 2010).

Directed by Academy Award® nominee Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck) from a screenplay by Peter Straughan (How to Lose Friends & Alienate People), The Men Who Stare At Goats follows a reporter (McGregor) who gets way more than he bargained for when he accompanies an enigmatic Special Forces operator (Clooney) on a mind-boggling mission.

Featuring a supporting cast that includes Robert Patrick ("The Unit"), Stephen Root (The Soloist), Stephen Lang (Avatar) and Rebecca Mader ("Lost"), The Men Who Stare At Goats was inspired by Jon Ronson's non-fiction bestseller of the same name, an eye-opening and often hilarious exploration of the government's attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies. The Men Who Stare At Goats was produced by Clooney, Heslov and Paul Lister. SRP is $29.98 for the DVD and $39.98 for the Blu-ray™ edition.

Michael Sragow of the Baltimore Sun called The Men Who Stare At Goats “refreshingly unpredictable.” Said Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post, The Men Who Stare At Goats “taps into the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson.” Added E! Entertainment’s Ben Lyons, “Clooney and his pals are clearly having fun in this offbeat, yet effective political comedy,” while Screen International’s Mike Goodridge said “Bridges revisits his ‘Dude’ character from The Big Lebowski with enthusiasm.”

In The Men Who Stare At Goats, reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought; they are a legion of “Warrior Monks” with psychic powers who can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it.

When the program’s founder, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), goes missing, Bob decides to tag along on Cassady’s mission to find him. The pair track Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) and the reporter becomes trapped in a grudge match between Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers.

The Men Who Stare At Goats standard definition DVD bonus features include Goats Declassified: The Real Men Of The First Earth Battalion; Project "Hollywood": A Classified Report From The Set; audio commentary with director Grant Heslov; audio commentary with book author Jon Ronson; character bios; deleted scenes; and the theatrical trailer. The Men Who Stare At Goats Blu-ray™ edition includes the same bonus features, plus a digital copy of the film.

Street Date: March 23rd, 2010
Pre-book: February 18, 2010
Cat. #: OV21370
UPC: 0 1313 21370-9 4
Run Time: 94 minutes
Rating: R
SRP: $29.98
Format: 2.35:1 / 16x9
Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Bonus Features:
Goats Declassified: The Real Men Of The First Earth Battalion
Project "Hollywood": A Classified Report From The Set
Audio Commentary with Director Grant Heslov
Audio Commentary with Book Author Jon Ronson
Character Bios
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer

Street Date: March 23rd, 2010
Pre-book: February 18, 2010
Cat. #: BD21373
UPC: 0 1313 21373-9 1
Run Time: 94 minutes
Rating: R
SRP: $39.98
Format: 2.35:1 / 16x9
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Bonus Features:
Goats Declassified: The Real Men Of The First Earth Battalion
Project "Hollywood": A Classified Report From The Set
Audio Commentary with Director Grant Heslov
Audio Commentary with Book Author Jon Ronson
Character Bios
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
A Digital Copy of the Film

Buy it at