HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Saturday, March 31, 2018

DOWNSIZING -- Blu-ray/DVD Review by Porfle

For a movie that I originally thought was going to be a lightweight sci-fi comedy--sort of a modern-day THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN, or a variation on HONEY, I SHRANK WHATEVER--director/co-writer Alexander Payne's DOWNSIZING (2017) starts out as a fun indulgence and then, before you know it, develops into something much more substantial and meaningful.

The premise is instantly intriguing as scientists create a way to shrink humans to action-figure size, which will both greatly increase their financial wealth (little stuff costs a lot less) and decrease their negative collective impact upon the global eco-system. 

The actual shrinking part is where DOWNSIZING offers viewers the most enjoyable wallow in the story's sci-fi potential. We follow everyman Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) through the process after they've gone through much soul-searching over this major (and permanent) change in their lives, submitting themselves to what amounts to a fascinating and suspenseful shrinking sequence inside a cold, impersonal laboratory environment.

This part of the movie is filled with wonderful sights such as tiny people traveling by bus or airplane in seperate sections with tiny seats, interacting with their fellow giant-sized alumni at a class reunion, etc. 

Naturally the effects are first-rate--with CGI currently at so advanced a stage it would practically be a disgrace if they weren't--giving the illusion a sense of dreamlike reality that's irresistible.

It's right around this point, however, that the story takes a more serious turn when something jarringly distressing happens to Paul.  He's suddenly left in his tiny new home in a tiny new city without a tiny wife, and facing the prospect of a lonely, meaningless tiny new life.

With Paul's arrival in the spotlessly clean mini-metropolis, the film shifts from the "ooh, ahh" sense-of-wonder of its premise to more down-to-earth social and interpersonal matters. 

We see Paul stumbling through the singles' scene until he runs into his almost freakishly outgoing new neighbor Dusan (an ebullient Christoph Waltz) who opens up a whole new world of experience on the wild side of life.

As Paul tastes the bohemian lifestyle he's brought back down to earth by Dusan's impishly abrasive housekeeper Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese political refugee who was force-shrunken by her government and shipped out of the country in a TV box, losing a leg in the process. 

Ngoc introduces Paul to the lower class of little people on the fringes of small society, giving him a sense of purpose when she shows him what a positive impact he can have on their lives.

While all of this is going on, Paul's new environment becomes so familiar that it gradually loses its miniature charm and starts to feel like the real world apart from the occasional giant-sized reminder.

The simple premise also gives way to a more political undercurrent that will result in Paul experiencing an even more drastic, life-changing event when he encounters the original downsized colonists and their elaborate plan to abandon the doomed outer world for a new life underground.  This is in addition to even more social concerns about how "normal" sized people begin to regard the ever-growing "small" population.

It's deep stuff--not excessively so but enough to provide ample food for thought until, before we realize it, DOWNSIZING has transcended its simple, lighthearted premise and evolved into almost an epic of emotional and philosophical import.  Yet this remains grounded by its small personal stories, not the least of which is an unexpectedly sweet sort of romance between Paul and Ngoc. 

Alexander Payne's deliberately subtle direction gives the cast a lot of room to excell, which they do. Damon has the "regular guy" thing nailed, while Waltz gets to be as flamboyantly outgoing as I've seen him.  Hong Chau is a delight as Ngoc, her flighty exterior masking both inner pain and a life-affirming resolve.

Cult favorite Udo Kier appears as Dusan's ship captain friend who still sails tiny ships that he has Fed-Ex'd to various bodies of water around the world. Kristen Wiig's part is small, but she makes the most of it.

Paramount Home Entertainment's Combo Pack includes the film on both Blu-ray and DVD discs, with access to a digital copy as well.  The DVD contains only the feature film in standard definition, while the Blu-ray has it in HD with the following featurettes: "Working with Alexander", "The Cast", "A Visual Journey", "A Matter of Perspective", "That Smile", and "A Global Concern."

I was initially dubious of DOWNSIZING's running time of two hours and fifteen minutes, but that was when I thought it was just going to be a comedy.  As it became sort of an epic, albeit a rather downsized one, that time was well filled. 

DOWNSIZING DVD  The DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.

Street Date:      March 20, 2018 (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD)    March 6, 2018 (Digital)
U.S. Rating:    R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use
Canadian Rating: 14A, nudity, coarse language


Walter Brennan Cracks Up Dean Martin In "RIO BRAVO" (John Wayne, 1959) (video)

Walter Brennan's "Stumpy" is the comic highpoint of the John Wayne classic "Rio Bravo."

In one of the end scenes Stumpy and Dude (Dean Martin) discuss Wayne's woman troubles.

Brennan suddenly improvises a John Wayne impression that catches Dean Martin by surprise.

Martin watches intently, with obvious delight...

...until he can stand no more and breaks into joyful laughter.

Watch his face as the scene plays out... 

Dean's genuine laughter is infectuous!

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


Friday, March 30, 2018

Casper van Dien, Wes Ramsey, and Shawn Christian Star in Action Thriller "LAST SEEN IN IDAHO" on DVD/VOD (4/24)


Cast: Casper van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), Wes Ramsey ('General Hospital'), Shawn Christian ('Days of our Lives'), Hallie Shepherd

Synopsis: A young woman named Summer witnesses a crime and flees the scene, wrecking her car as she tries to escape. Days later at the hospital, Summer awakens from a coma but has no recollection of the events that put her there. 

However, she is having some very strange aftereffects…. when the doctors brought her back from the brink of death, she brought back a little something extra: she’s having visions of her future kidnapping and murder!

It’s a race against the clock as Summer tries to figure out who she can trust and who is trying to kill her. The most important question of all is: Can she solve her own murder before it happens and save herself?

Release Date: April 24, 2018 - DVD/VOD



"BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE" Star Charms Johnny Carson (1959)(video)

In 1959, actress and model Lola Mason played "Donna Williams" in the film "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

(It wouldn't be released until 1962.)

That same year, Lola was a contestant on the game show "Who Do You Trust?"

It was hosted by a young Johnny Carson.

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


Thursday, March 29, 2018

"THE ATONING" is Pure Nightmare Fuel

Director Michael Williams Talks About His Horror Thriller 'The Atoning' With Samera Entertainment

LOS ANGELES, March 29, 2018 ( - MANY people are born with talent but only a small few can be called the "complete package." Michael Williams is one of them.

A triple threat (writer, director, cinematographer), Williams' newest offering The Atoning is pure nightmare fuel and something that doesn't leave the mind long after the final epic conclusion.

Led by a stellar cast that includes Virginia Newcomb, Cannon Bosarge and Michael LaCour, The Atoning is the story of a family that is being haunted by ghosts. The parents are trying to protect their child from the darkest secret of their past that can destroy their family when chaos ensues.

"One of my driving forces with filmmaking is to create experiences you can't have in real life," said Williams. "This film does that and more!"

The film is distributed by Gravitas Ventures and for those looking to track it down, the movie is currently available on Amazon, iTunes, DVD/Blu-ray, Redbox, Hulu and all other VOD and cable/satellite, yet for Williams there is no sign of slowing.

To read more about "The Atoning," click on the link to read the exclusive article with Samera Entertainment's Nocturnal Newz. ​



"FRANKENSTEIN" (1931): The Infamous Censored Scenes (video)

In 1931, individual state censor boards demanded various cuts to "Frankenstein."

But two passages in particular were universally condemned.

One was a quote by Henry Frankenstein at the end of the creation scene.

The second occurs when the Monster meets little Maria.

The confused Monster believes that Maria will float like the flowers.
The censored version ends with him reaching for her. 

The two censored scenes were finally rediscovered and restored in the 1980s.

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


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"FRANKENSTEIN" (1931): The Original Ending (video)

Director James Whale had a downbeat ending planned for his film, which included the death of Henry Frankenstein.

It would have looked something like this.

But the studio preferred a happier ending...and filmed one using stand-ins for Colin Clive (Henry) and Mae Clarke (Elizabeth).

James Whale is said to have liked the new ending, which he felt was fitting for his dark fairytale.  

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


Monday, March 26, 2018

Sexy Eddie Pool Scene (Fast Times/ Christmas Vacation)(video)

If you've seen FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), chances are you remember "that" scene with Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhold.

And if you've seen any of the VACATION movies (CHRISTMAS VACATION in particular) you're also probably familiar with Randy Quaid as Clark Griswold's cousin "Eddie."

So, we thought: why not combine the two? seemed like a good idea at the time.

(caution: adult content)

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



Jacob (Sam Heughan, "Outlander", "Doctors") begins his voiceover by waxing philosophical about existence and purpose and such, and then steering it into an account of how he met Cassandra (Arabella Oz, JIGSAW), fell in love, and split with her exactly five years, seven months, and eleven days later. 

We see them breaking up, which is an interesting start for a love story, and kinda get the feeling that writer-director Adam Sigal's WHEN THE STARLIGHT ENDS (Cinedigm, 2016) may not be your usual boring romantic comedy-drama.

But then we come to realize that there isn't much between the meeting and the break-up. At least, hardly anything for us to get emotionally invested in.

Cassandra sacrifices and works harder so that Jacob can quit his job and write full time, and then when he makes it and they're set for life, she decides that "successful writer" Jacob isn't the Jacob she wants, and leaves. It's just as maddeningly arbitrary as it sounds.

Of course, Jacob as a character is never very interesting even though almost everything he says is some kind of half-baked philosophical tangent. After Cassandra leaves, his mind is always occupied with flights of fancy in which she plays different characters in his fantasy scenarios.

These include Jacob having sex with his neighbor Ralph's wife (Cassandra as "Carli"), Jacob meeting a famous movie star in a diner (Cassandra as "Chelsea"),  and Jacob picking up a sexy hitchhiker who turns out to be an "X-Files"-type agent (Cassandra again).

These attempts at light comedy are what we get in place of actual meaningful interaction between the principal lovers in this love story, so that what happens between them in real life ends up coming off as rather cursory.  The fact that they're acted sort of like drama class exercises doesn't help.

And Jake starts out as a space-case rather than becoming one due to circumstances, so there's never any interesting growth or evolution of him as a person.  He's one of those writer characters that writers like to write about because it makes their profession seem more interesting. 

The acting is adequate, including David Arquette (SCREAM 4, SLINGSHOT, BLACK LIMOUSINE) as Jacob's editor, sitting in a bar and pretending to be interested in Jake's ramblings.  Sean Patrick Flanery (AGENDA: PAYBACK, SINNERS AND SAINTS, DEADLY IMPACT) is one of the film's few bright spots as funny neighbor Ralph.

Jake and Cassandra don't have the usual "meet-cute", but WHEN THE STARLIGHT ENDS ends up being sort of a "life-cute" as Jake fantasizes and philosophizes his way through the chaotic world of his imagination.  The final scene manages to generate some genuine pathos at last, but it may not be enough to make viewers feel the journey was worth it.
Buy it at Amazon

Format: DVD (Single)/Digital HD (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and more)
SRP: DVD $19.97
Running Time: 86 mins.
Genre: Romance/Drama
Audio: Dolby 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 (1.78:1)


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hammiest Death Scene Of All Time: "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (1962)(video)

When it comes to hammy death scenes, nobody can touch Leslie Daniel in "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

Lurching histrionically from room to room...

Painting the walls red with his own blood...

Groaning in agony like a dying jungle beast...

...he's truly a wonder to behold.

(contains spoilers/violence)

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


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Trigger Smashes Outlaw's Skull (GRAPHIC!) in Roy Rogers' "Under California Stars" (1948)(video)

Outlaws kidnap Roy Rogers' prized horse Trigger for ransom. 

But Trigger proves to be quite a handful.

Especially for the "dummy" who gets a hoof right through his head!

He may need to lie down for awhile after that.

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


Friday, March 23, 2018

"SUPERFLY" Teaser Trailer, One Sheet and Photos -- See Them Here NOW!

Sony Pictures Presents


Action Thriller
June 15, 2018

Superfly – the film that helped define a genre in its characters, look, sound, and feel – is reimagined with Director X, director of legendary music videos (Drake, Rihanna), introducing it to a new generation.  The screenplay is by Alex Tse.

                                  WATCH THE TRAILER:
Cast:      Trevor Jackson
Jason Mitchell
Michael Kenneth Williams
Lex Scott Davis
Jennifer Morrison

Directed by:    Director X
Screenplay by:   Alex Tse
Produced by:    Joel Silver
Executive Producer:   Hal Sadoff
Aaron Auch
Matthew Hirsch
Steven R. Shore

This film is not yet rated by the MPAA.
For future ratings information refer to
Credits not final


John Wayne's Magic Bullet in "THE MAN FROM UTAH" (1934) (video)

That lowdown polecat is about to bushwack Gabby Hayes.

But not if John Wayne can help it.

Hold on thar!

Now that's what you call a "hip-shot"!

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




"Long live the Rondos!" - Ain't It Cool News
"I love Rondo!" - Guillermo del Toro

Forget the Oscars--forget the Emmys--it's time to cast your vote for the awards that really matter. Namely, the 2018 (for the year 2017) Rondos!

Voting ends midnight, April 8, 2018.

Growing in popularity by leaps and bounds is this increasingly prestigious annual award which was created by fans (David Colton and Kerry Gammill) for fans (this means you!) and is a fond tribute to the one and only Rondo Hatton of THE BRUTE MAN and HOUSE OF HORRORS fame.

The eerily lifelike bust itself was sculpted by illustrator Gammill, and cast by modeler Tim Lindsey.

Everything you need to know about the Rondos, including nominees, past winners, upcoming unsanity, and tons of other stuff, can be found at The Classic Horror Film Board. 

All together now: "Da doo ron Rondo, da doo ron ron!"

Official Ballot

Here's our own parallel-view 3D rendering of the Great One himself (click to enlarge):


SINFONIA EROTICA -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Spanish director Jess Franco burned his way through cinema like a fuse, voracious and volatile, leaving the ashes of his endeavor in his wake for us to sift through.

Much of it is of mere passing note to me, interesting only to see what such a prolific filmmaker produces when free to work fast and furious and pour out his id on film with little or no restraint.
But with this outpouring comes the occasional work that demands my attention and admiration (VAMPYROS LESBOS, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY, COUNT DRACULA), and one such example is his 1980 anti-romantic, anti-erotic sexual nightmare SINFONIA EROTICA (Severin Films), based upon the writings of the Marquis de Sade. 

Franco's real-life love and muse Lina Romay (THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA, PAULA-PAULA) plays Martine de Bressac, returning home after months of confinement to a sanitarium by her husband, the Marqués Armando de Bressac (Armando Borges).

During her absence Armando has acquired and become addicted to a seductive, effeminate male lover named Flor (Mel Rodrigo), both of whom taunt and torture poor Martine with their flagrant contempt for both her emotional needs and urgent sexual desires.

Norma (Susan Hemingway), a timid young escapee from a nunnery, is found lying unconscious on the grounds during one of Armando and Flor's nature romps, and is taken in to become a part of their cruel sexual games. 

She ends up falling in love with Flor, and the two of them plan to not only aid in Armando's plan to murder Martine but to then get rid of Armando himself, leaving them free to run away together. Martine's only allies during all this are a sympathetic maid and a psychiatrist who may or may not believe her story.

Needless to say, SINFONIA EROTICA belies its opulent Victorian romance novel setting--Franco shot it in Portugal using gorgeous mansion interiors and magnificent exterior locations--with fervid, disturbing images of mental and physical cruelty in the form of ugly, non-erotic sex. 

When Franco makes a sex movie instead of a horror movie, the sex seems to replace the horror, or rather it becomes another kind of horror, of a deeper and more Freudian kind.

Here, he gives us a perversely erotic thriller that hates sex even as it's preoccupied with exploring Lina Romay's offbeat beauty and ample breasts as well as showing various joyless lovers rutting like animals in scenes that waver between softcore and hardcore action.

Although involved in several projects at the time (including THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME and TWO FEMALE SPIES WITH FLOWERED PANTIES), Franco seems neither rushed nor slapdash here, despite his usual shakily handheld camera. 

He lingers over his finely-rendered, sometimes impressionistic imagery as though following a deeply-pondered train of thought, and many of the shots are arranged with both a painter's sensibilities and a perceptive filmmaker's orchestration of character and movement.

Romay is at her best as Martine, looking strangely enticing at all times while also surrendering to the role with an intensity that evokes excitement and sympathy for her character. 

As Armando, Borges plays the heartless cad to a tee, relishing his own sadistic impulses which will eventually include coldblooded murder, which Franco depicts in non-graphic yet chilling style.

But the lack of graphic violence is made up for by the horrific depiction of sex and sexual desire as a Freudian nightmare that leads to madness when infused with malevolence and perversion.

Severin's Blu-ray disc (also available in DVD) is a 4k restoration of an uncut 35mm print which is the only known copy of this cut to exist.  There are some rough spots here and there, but, as I've often said, I prefer for a wizened exploitation print such as this to look like it's been around the block a few times. Otherwise, picture quality is fine. The soundtrack is in Spanish with English captions.

The visually rich fever dream that is SINFONIA EROTICA draws us into Martine's dark, corrupting psycho-sexual ordeal and has its way with us until somebody dies.

Special Features:
Jess Franco On First Wife Nicole Guettard – Interview With Director Jess Franco
Stephen Thrower On Sinfonia Erotica – Interview With The Author Of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jesus Franco’

Pre-order it from Severin Films
Release date: April 3, 2018


Thursday, March 22, 2018

VERY Risque' Joke in 1934 John Wayne Western "BLUE STEEL" (video)

It may not seem like much now, but in 1934...

...this would've been a pretty daring scene.

The punchline DEFINITELY would've raised a few eyebrows.

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


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Beverly Garland Replaced Mid-Scene in "THE NEANDERTHAL MAN" (1953) (video)

Popular genre actress Beverly Garland goes behind some bushes to change into her bathing suit...

...and changes into a different person!

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


Matt Damon Gets Small in "DOWNSIZING" Now On 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ & DVD and Digital

An Ingenious Comedy” - Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Downsizing Is Wildly Imaginative” - Ann Hornaday, Washington Post   


On 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ & DVD March 20, 2018 On Digital March 6 

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  – Hailed as “a tremendously entertaining heart-felt comedy” (Julian Roman, Movieweb), director Alexander Payne’s (The Descendants, Nebraska) hilarious DOWNSIZING arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD  March 20, 2018 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The film arrives on Digital March 6.

When scientists find a way to shrink humans to five inches tall, Paul Safranek (Academy Award winner** Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to ditch their stressed out lives in order to get small and live large in a luxurious downsized community.  Filled with life-changing adventures and endless possibilities, Leisureland offers more than riches, as Paul discovers a whole new world and realizes that we are meant for something bigger.  “Brilliant and daring” (Shawn Edwards,  Fox-TV) and “full of surprises” (Noah Gittell, Nerdist), DOWNSIZING also stars Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz*** and Hong Chau in a breakthrough performance that earned her Golden Globe® and SAG nominations.

The DOWNSIZING 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include nearly an hour of fascinating bonus content with six behind-the-scenes featurettes. Join the incredible cast including Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, plus Academy Award-winning director Alexander Payne to see how his unique vision was brought to life. Take a journey on set and check out the production design and visual effects behind the miniaturized world of Leisureland, and much more! 
DOWNSIZING Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Downsizing Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 DTSHD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles. 
The DVD in the Combo Pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  
The Combo Pack includes access to a Digital copy of the film as well as the following:   Blu-ray • Feature film in high definition • Bonus Content: o working with Alexander o the cast o a visual journey o a matter of perspective o that smile o a global concern DVD • Feature film in standard definition    

DOWNSIZING 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack 
Fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes the Blu-ray Disc™ detailed above, as well as an Ultra HD Disc presented in 4K Ultra HD and English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French - Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, French - Parisian 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese - Brazilian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish - Castilian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish - Latin American 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description with English, English SDH, Arabic, Bahasa – Malaysian, Cantonese, Simplified Chinese, Mandarin, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French - Canadian, French - Parisian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese - Brazilian, Portuguese - European, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Spanish - Castilian, Spanish - Latin American, Swedish, Thai and Turkish subtitles. The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film.

The DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.


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

Street Date:      March 20, 2018 (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD)    March 6, 2018 (Digital)
U.S. Rating:    R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use
Canadian Rating: 14A, nudity, coarse language


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

By now, I've seen a fair amount of Spanish cult director Jess Franco's films, and, despite his popularity among countless ardent fans, I've always found his works to be a great big grab bag of good and bad all swirling around together like socks in a dryer--mostly mismatched and full of holes, but occasionally wearable.

With 1979's THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME, we see the result of Franco taking his earlier sex-and-horror film EXORCISM (already the result of much tinkering and consisting of various different cuts including a XXX-rated one), re-arranging and repurposing the existing footage, and adding several minutes of new footage to create what he himself considered the definitive version.

Franco stars as Mathis Vogel, who once studied for the priesthood at Notre Dame but ultimately failed the final audition, so to speak, due to the fact that he was a raving loon. 

Now, after years in institutional exile, he returns crazier than ever as your stereotypical "religious fanatic" intent on punishing "sinful women" and becomes a dreaded Jack the Ripper-style serial killer.

Vogel's twisted mind is a maelstrom of conflicting impulses as he stalks and murders women he considers whores (promising that this will purify their souls) while being irresistibly aroused by them.

Franco succeeds in portraying him as a sick, pathetic troll of a man tormented by his own desires while even his former friend in the priesthood denies him the absolution for his crimes that he desperately craves.

He meets and is obsessed by pretty Anne (Franco's lifelong lover and muse Lina Romay) who works for a lurid sex magazine where he submits autobiographical sex stories, and, through her, stumbles upon a group of upper-class swingers who meet regularly in a castle for perverted S&M sex shows followed by intense orgies. 

The rest of the film follows Vogel's stalking and killing of members of the group, usually after he has voyeuristically observed them having sex involving dominant-submissive roleplay.  Romay's fans will enjoy seeing her romping about in various stages, although I found most of the other anonymous, undulating nudes somewhat less appealing.

Much of the violence is surprisingly non-graphic while still managing to be deeply disturbing, especially when juxtaposed with ample amounts of nudity and fevered Freudian sexuality. 

Occasionally, however, there are flashes of more graphic violence that increase the shock value, and, taken as a whole, this must've presented late 70s audiences with quite a heady concoction.

Meanwhile, there's a subplot (mostly from the original version, I think) involving some bickering police detectives on Vogel's trail.  This is meant mainly to show us that the net is indeed tightening around our perverted protagonist as he goes about his murderous ways, although some of the conflict between the veteran French detective and a young hot-shot cop on loan from Switzerland is interesting.


Technically, THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME is the wildly-prolific Franco's standard rushed production--he often burned through several projects at once--filled with quick set-ups, lots of zooming and meandering camerawork, and the occasional evidence of a talented film visualist at work. 

Often Franco simply allows his cinematic mind to wander, resulting in long stretches that may delight his fans while lulling others to sleep.  The story itself is pretty threadbare and dependant upon its outlandish, grotesque imagery and themes for whatever impact it may have on individual viewers.

The new Blu-ray and DVD release by Severin Films is taken from the only known existing copy of the film, a 35mm print scanned in 4K after reportedly being discovered "in the crawlspace of a Montparnasse nunnery."  The various resulting imperfections only add to its visual appeal for me since I find perfect, flawless clarity in a film to be off-putting.  When it comes to old-style exploitation such as this, I like a print that looks like it has been around the block a few times.

I found THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME sporadically interesting but never particularly appealing for either its horrific or erotic qualities. Francophiles, I assume, will find it fascinating.  And still others will doubtless agree with the Spanish film board's assessment of it--proudly touted in the film's publicity--as "an absolute abomination."

Special Features:
The Gory Days Of Le Brady – Documentary Short On The Legendary Parisian Horror Cinema
Stephen Thrower On Sadist Of Notre Dame – Interview With The Author Of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jesus Franco’
Selected Scenes Commentary With ‘I’m In A Jess Franco State Of Mind’ Webmaster Robert Monell
Treblemakers: Interview With Alain Petit, Author Of ‘Jess Franco Ou Les Prosperites Des Bis’
Spanish language or English dubbed with subtitles

Pre-order it at Severin Films
(Release date: April 3, 2018)


Worst Special Effect Ever? "THE NEANDERTHAL MAN" (1953) (video)

Mad scientist Robert Shayne invents a reverse-evolution formula...which he first tries out on his kitty cat.

And then...

Tell me I didn't just see a giant plush toy with fangs.

It is!  It's a giant plush toy with fangs!

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


Monday, March 19, 2018

ART OF THE HEIST -- DVD Review by Porfle

I'm not a particular fan of the typical heist film, but some of them really do it for me--really good ones such as the original OCEAN'S ELEVEN, the remake of THE ITALIAN JOB (yes, the remake), and now the exciting, suspenseful, and funny ART OF THE HEIST, aka "Fakers" (Indican Pictures, 2004).

I wasn't that thrilled at first during the opening scene in 1911 Sicily when a young artist goes from sketching a nude girl to having sex with her just as her Mafia Don father and his thugs break the door down and turn him into a historical footnote. 

But give this one five minutes or so, because after some opening titles that look like something out of a 60s TV series like "I Spy", the story jumps ahead to present-day England and starts getting interesting.

That's when small-time hustler Nick Edwards (Matthew Rhys) is given five days to pay back $50,000 to urbane but unbalanced baddie Foster Wright (Art Malik in fine form) or have his internal organs rearranged.

Nick stumbles across the Sicilian artist's unfinished sketch (now worth tens of thousands), then hatches a scheme to sell forgeries of it to various art dealers (including Rula Lenska herself) quickly enough so that they don't have time to compare notes. 

This will involve a shy, insecure young artist named Tony (Tom Chambers) and his big sister Eve (Kate Ashfield), a brash bartender for whom Nick carries a torch. 

But when she finds out about the deal, she blackmails Nick for half the take, forcing him to persuade Tony to make more copies to sell to more art dealers, making the whole scheme more likely to explode in their faces. 

Rhys' "Nick" is a likable lowlife with such an optimistic attitude (he's even gotten used to getting beaten up) that when things get messed up enough to make him sweat, we get nervous too. 

In fact, Paul Gerstenberger's keenly-written script is such a slow-burning fuse of nailbiting suspense that the middle third of the film doesn't ease up for a second. Richard Janes' direction is top-notch as well, making the whole thing effortlessly entertaining.

I won't give away just what happens next (not as much as the trailer and DVD notes do, anyway), but suffice it to say that, as in just about all heist films, the intial success of the clockwork perfect undertaking is then quickly and disastrously unraveled. 

In short, Nick loses the money he needs to pay off Foster Wright, the police show up and start arresting people, brawny gangster types show up and threaten to break people in half, and, worst of all, Nick loses Eve.

Can't there ever be a heist flick where they get the money and get to keep it?  Every time I watch one, I'm on edge the whole time just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the good guys--that is, the good bad guys--to lose everything they've worked so hard for at the last minute.  Like that's supposed to teach us a lesson just as we're vicariously enjoying their sudden incredible financial success.

But in this case, their total success would mean a shorter and less exciting movie.  ART OF THE HEIST is at its best once things start to go wrong, making us care about the characters, keeping us in suspense until the very end, and playing the story out just right.  As heist movies go, this one pulls it off like clockwork.

Tech Specs
Runtime: 85 mins.
Format: 2:35 Scope (35mm)
Sound: Dolby Digital/5.1
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Romance/Comedy
Bonus: audio commentary, cast interviews, trailers, captions

Amazon video
Amazon DVD


Phantom Henchman in "GOLDFINGER" (James Bond, 1964) (video)

James Bond, Goldfinger, and pilot Pussy Galore are supposed to be the only ones on the plane.

So who's that guy standing behind Goldfinger in the doorway?

There are further glimpses of him during the scene, but his presence is never acknowledged.

He is, without a doubt, one of the most useless henchmen in movie history.

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


Sunday, March 18, 2018

5TH STREET -- DVD Review by Porfle

It looks like it's going to be yet another variation on the classic revenge thriller, but 5TH STREET (Indican Pictures, 2013) veers its way through enough unexpected twists and turns to keep us both guessing and thinking.

Writer Eric Arthur Martinez stars as Joe Montoya, a chiropractor whose loving relationship with wife Sarah (Anne Leighton) is about to be blessed with child.  But while hunting for a new house, they enter a way-wrong neighborhood where Sarah is shot down in the middle of a sudden gang hit.

Before you can say "Death Wish" the newly-widowed Joe, now mad with grief, gets armed and forms a plan to find out who was responsible for the killing so that we can enjoy some good old-fashioned bloody payback.  He even enlists a couple of dads who've suffered similar unavenged losses as his crew.

The story chugs along as expected for awhile.  It's a slowburn that we know is building to something while keeping us pretty occupied even during a few slightly draggy spots.  Making it all the more watchable is the solid direction by Alex Meader, who delivers a quality indy film that looks good.

While Joe and his guys work their way up the criminal food chain, we see the big fish Beto (Christian Monzon), a cold-blooded narcissist who does business in sadistic fashion that even has his own men in fear of what he'll do next. 

But even Beto is a loving father, which is just one of the ways 5TH STREET screws around with our expectations.  Joe himself meets a vivacious young lady named Jessica (Annie Fetchu) who works with troubled kids, and from her he's reminded of how even the good ones can go bad due to unfortunate circumstances rather than some inherent evil. (A flashback to Joe's own childhood is harrowing enough.)

So at just about the point where the usual revenge flick would be shifting into top gear, violence-wise, this one eases back and offers some food for thought.  Mind you, there's still some satisfying (though mainly non-graphic) violence against the bad guys here and there, without which I'd have felt really cheated.  But the causes and consequences of it all are thoughtfully explored as well. 

Making things more interesting is the presence of a cop, Detective Gonzalez (Joe Voltierra), who suspects Joe of being behind some recent bad-guy deaths and starts shadowing him and his friends. 
This subplot conjures still more legal and moral ambiguity for both us and the characters to ponder.

Performances are fine and, for the most part, pleasingly realistic.  The film is above-average in all technical aspects including good production design and an effective musical score.

I'll admit, there will always be a place in my DVD player for a bit of the old mindless ultra-violence as far as revenge tales go.  But in the case of 5TH STREET, it's nice to see how such a loaded premise can develop in ways other than the usual lather-rinse-repeat fashion.

Tech Specs
Runtime: 93 minutes
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Action/Crime
Country: USA
Language: English


VERY Visible Cameraman in "Bad Boys" (Sean Penn, 1983) (video)

I watched "Bad Boys" a bunch of times on cable in the 80s. 

But I never noticed this until it was pointed out to me.

It's during the big fight between Sean Penn and Esai Morales.

VERY Visible Cameraman!

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


Saturday, March 17, 2018


IMDb calls it "the original rapid fire sketch comedy show." Which is exactly what drew me to the first season when I was a kid--one relentlessly silly joke after another, coming at us pretty much non-stop until the very last second of the show.  No guest vocalist singing sappy love songs, no June Taylor dancers, and best of all, no discernible bounds of taste or restraint.

ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON, a 7-disc DVD set from Time-Life, shows us how the free-form, surreal, unstructured, utterly and unabashedly silly conglomeration of sight gags and creaky one-liners continued with even more abandon into the show's third year without any sign of running out of steam.

If anything, by this time the show had really found its footing and established a solid basis from which to go off in any direction they chose at any time. None of the show's regular features are ever in the same order, and sometimes the intro doesn't occur until five minutes in or more.

Running gags intentionally drive already-flimsy jokes into the ground during the course of an episode.  One-liners that would've had vaudeville audiences groaning are delivered in quick succession as though they were comedy gold, scoring the occasional bullseye. 

Bloopers abound; like Red Skelton before them, these people realize that the mistakes are often funnier than the scripted material, and their performances are so loose and uninhibited it's often hard to tell the difference.

Comedy duo Dan Rowan (straight man) and Dick Martin (giggling sex-crazed wacko) are a couple of straight-looking but silly guys in suits who co-opt just enough of a seemingly modern attitude to appeal to the "kids" while also playing up to the older drink-in-hand, wife-swapper crowd as seen in the regular "Party" segment that plays like an episode of "Playboy After Dark." 

It's all a weird combination of pseudo-hip and cringe-inducingly corny humor that pretends to be "with it" but really pokes fun at the counterculture, hippies, etc.  Still, there's a distinctly liberal slant to the show's humor although today much of that humor would be considered very politically-incorrect.  Topical references to such then-trending things as "Myra Breckinridge", the Viet Nam war, air pollution, and the space program abound. 

Other familiar segments are "Mod, Mod World" (where we see the famous bikini girls with one-liners painted on their bodies), "Laugh-In Salutes", "The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award" (usually awarded to some current political or social pariah), "The Joke Wall", and "Laugh-In News of the Past, Present, and Future."  These offer an excuse to have jokes follow a particular theme for awhile until chaos takes over again.

The returning cast is comprised of solid comedy pros such as Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, deadpan announcer Gary Owens, Judy Carne, Ruth Buzzi, and the hilarious Jo Anne Worley (the "Laugh-In" women are way more talented than the ones on the later SNL, save perhaps for Gilda Radner). Flip Wilson is such a frequent guest as to be a semi-regular. 

Newer cast members include kewpie doll Pamela Rodgers, mildly amusing Brit comic Jeremy Lloyd, and token black castmembers Teresa Graves and Byron Gilliam, who are consigned to doing the usual 70s "jive" humor most of the time.  (Graves would later score her own classic series "Get Christie Love!")

My favorite newer castmember is the wacky, eye-rolling Alan Sues, thanks to his aggressive, flamboyantly-gay persona and regular characters consisting of perpetually hungover kids' show host Uncle Al ("The Kiddies' Pal") and bell-ringing sportscaster Big Al ("Oh, I just love my tinkle!").
The show scored lots of big and not-so-big guest stars eager for a chance to look hip and be silly, including Ringo Starr, Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson, Diana Ross, Carol Channing, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Debbie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Monkees Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Mickey Dolenz, comic Jackie Leonard (a natural for the show with his old-style burlesque humor), Sonny and Cher, Lana Wood, Peter Sellers, Buddy Hackett, Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Phyllis Diller, Michael Caine, Romy Schneider, Mitzi Gaynor, and many more.

Especially noteworthy in this, the third season, is the debut of Lily Tomlin and her trademark characters, precocious little girl Edith Ann ("And that's the truth") and brash, snort-laughing telephone operator Ernestine ("Is this the party to whom I am speaking?")  Tomlin went on to become a post-"Laugh-In" comedy superstar, but those of us who remember her debut here will find these episodes quite nostalgic. 

One thing that appealed to me about the show as a kid is its similarity to a live-action issue of MAD Magazine with its grab-bag abundance of satires, parodies, song spoofs, running gags, and blackout comedy bits reminiscent of Sergio Aragones' cartoons that filled the margins of every page. 

ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON is just such an immersive experience in sublime silliness that you'll want to watch from cover to cover. 

Format: DVD/7 Discs
Running Time: 1413 minutes
Genre: TV DVD/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo
Street Date: March 20, 2018
DVD SRP: $39.95
Bonus features: exclusive new interview with Lily Tomlin, and the featurette "Still Laugh-In -- A Tribute to George Schlatter".

Read our original coverage HERE

Read our review of the complete first season HERE