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Thursday, October 31, 2019

WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS' DORMITORY -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

I've always loved movies about werewolves (not today's hulking CGI beasts but good old-fashioned "actors in monster makeup" ones).  So it's a special treat to discover this vintage Italian thriller WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS' DORMITORY, aka "Lycanthropus" (1961) which, up till now, I've known only via tantalizing pics in monster magazines and books. 

For a first-time viewer who's also a longtime Monster Kid, this modestly budgeted but exquisitely photographed (in luscious black and white) horror tale is something to savor, especially thanks to Severin Films' new 2-disc Blu-ray release (including a bonus CD of the musical score) which is, in their words, "newly scanned in 2k from archival elements recently discovered in a Rome lab vault."

Most of the exteriors and interiors are shot in an actual Italian mansion surrounded by stone walls, deep within a dark forest.  This adds greatly to the film's production values and atmosphere, yet doesn't detract from its charm as a modest and at times slightly hokey thriller that's nonetheless sober and intelligent enough to easily transcend the "so bad it's good" label.

The story takes place in an upper-class reform school for troubled girls, where headmaster Mr. Swift (Curt Lowens) maintains order while the school's lecherous benefactor Sir Alfred Whiteman (Maurice Marsac) pays certain students to have sex with him. Creepy groundskeeper Walter (Luciano Pigozzi of CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD as "Alan Collins") acts as his procurer.

This not only prompts a jealous Mrs. Whiteman (Annie Steinert) to take drastic measures but also opens up her husband to blackmail by a saucy young blonde (Mary McNeeran) with incriminating letters.

When the blonde is found mauled to death in the forest, suspicion wavers between vicious wolves known to roam the vicinity and a new addition to the staff, handsome Dr. Julian Olcott (Carl Schell, THE BLUE MAX), whose outwardly benign demeanor hides a shady past.

The dead girl's plucky friend Priscilla (Barbara Lass) puts her life on the line to investigate, forming an uneasy alliance with Dr. Olcott while risking a nocturnal foray or two into the forest where the carnage occurred. 

This results in some tautly suspenseful encounters with the ferocious fiend, plus a few of the more menacing human characters inhabiting the reformatory.  There's also a laboratory scene where experiments in lycanthropy management yield unfortunate results.

The fact that we aren't told who the werewolf is until near the end (unlike your usual lycanthrope tale where we know from the start) makes this a nifty whodunnit as well as a classically cool werewolf tale in which the title character is featured to very good advantage.  This uncut version includes mild gore and brief semi-nudity you probably didn't see if you caught it on TV as a kid.

The wolf man's makeup is less hairy than usual but is well-designed and looks delightfully feral, with some very effective closeups.  In fact, this fanged terror easily joins the hallowed ranks of my favorite werewolves.

Performances are fine and the film is neatly directed by Paolo Heusch (THE DAY THE SKY EXPLODED), who fashions screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi's brisk, straightforward story into a low-key but involving tour through the same sort of territory Dario Argento would explore years later with much more artistic intent. 

For me, finally getting to see WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS' DORMITORY--especially such a lovely print as this--is a distinct pleasure that really satisfies my sweet tooth for classic old-school horror in a lycanthropic vein.  I'm happy to add it to my rotation of fun Monster Kid gems to revisit whenever the morbid mood strikes.

Buy it at Severin Films

Special Features:
    Commentary Track with David Del Valle and star Curt Lowens
    Bad Moon Rising: Interview with Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
    Alternate Opening
    Italian Trailer
    US Trailer
    English Dub and Original Italian Soundtracks
    BONUS: CD Soundtrack and Special Booklet (w/rare photo-comic)


Great 3 Stooges Running Gag: "Hallelujah, Y'all!" (video)

The South is mentioned, and the Stooges respond... imitating a southern accent...

...and saying things like "Hallelujah! Yeah, man!"

HULA-LA-LA (1951)

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


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

YESTERDAY WAS A LIE -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Any modern movie that's shot in moody, darkly expressive black and white is already after my own heart, and if it's a smoky noir liberally interwoven with elements of sci-fi, weird fantasy, mind-bending metaphysics, and melancholy romance, then it really stokes my desire to come up with lots of colorful adjectives to describe it.

Writer-director James Kerwin ("Star Trek Continues") has created just such a cinematic novelty piece in the languidly compelling YESTERDAY WAS A LIE (2009), now celebrating its ten-year anniversary with a digitally remastered Blu-ray release from Indiepix.

The film is beautiful from the moment we first see Hoyle (Kipleigh Brown), a young blonde woman dressed like a 40s private detective and making her way through a black and white cityscape of steamy alleyways, mystery men in trenchcoats, and bodies with hot lead slugs in their brains (one of them played by none other than Peter "Chewbacca" Mayhew himself).

She seems anachronistic, as though snatched up from the modern era and sent back in time to replace someone else. We soon realize, though, that her entire life is a series of anachronisms that she can't fathom, as though she were unstuck in time (like Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim), unable to find where she currently belongs within the storyline of her own life.

This is also reflected by the clashing elements of different eras which surround her, with characters right out of classic film noir looking up information on their laptops (with an antique typewriter two feet away) or using old-style rotary phones one minute and cell phones the next.

Changing from her trenchcoat and fedora into an evening dress, Hoyle hits the bar circuit and encounters a gorgeous torch singer (Chase Masterson, looking way sexier now than she did back on "Deep Space 9") who is known, fittingly enough, as "The Singer."

When not crooning slow jazz ballads for the customers--Masterson does her own vocals, and very well--she reveals herself to Hoyle to be a medium, a seer, a prognosticator. In other words, just the ideal person to help sort out the scattered jigsaw pieces of Hoyle's life from a spiritual perspective.  But is the solution to her existential angst mystical or scientific?

It all hinges on an elusive guy named Dudas (John Newton) who seems to hold the key to everything if she could just find him, along with a mystery notebook that also promises to illuminate. What, we wonder, was/is her relationship to this guy? Meanwhile, the Singer does what she can to guide Hoyle through it all while remaining maddeningly enigmatic.

Definitely not one of those time-wasters one watches passively while mentally composing a grocery list, YESTERDAY WAS A LIE keeps the viewer on his or her figurative toes trying to sort out what's real and what's not during Hoyle's encounters with scientists espousing incredible theories on time and space as each plunge into the surreal has her struggling through what seems like a print of "Groundhog Day" cut up and spliced back together wrong.

I won't try to explain any more of the plot (which, admittedly, I still haven't completely deciphered) because much of the fun comes from wading through it all yourself.  What matters most to me, in fact, is that Kerwin has created such a superbly atmospheric, richly artistic work of indy cinema that one can revel in like a sumptuous indulgence.

The Blu-ray from Indiepix is in HD 1080p 1.78:1 with English Dolby 5.1 sound (English SDH subtitles available). In addition to an audio commentary featuring Kipleigh Brown, Chase Masterson, and James Kerwin, there are several making-of featurettes and interviews, camera tests and outtakes, trailers, and a Wondercon panel with cast and crew.  (Look for an Easter egg, too.)

YESTERDAY WAS A LIE is painstakingly crafted, seemingly with the same loving care that David Lynch lavished on "Eraserhead" and with much the same stunning visual impact and cerebral engagement.  And although the knotty plot never quite untangles itself before the fadeout, we're left pleasantly pondering the mysteries of the universe while still buzzing on that beautiful black and white fever dream in which we've just been immersed.

Order it from Indiepix Films


Release date: November 12, 2019


Gerard Butler to Star in Elevated Action Thriller "THE PLANE"


MadRiver International will Launch Sales at AFM

LOS ANGELES, October 30, 2019 – MadRiver Pictures and Di Bonaventura Pictures announced today that Gerard Butler (Angel Has Fallen) will star in the upcoming elevated action thriller The Plane. The script was written by Charles Cumming and JP Davis (Violence of Action), based on the book by Cumming. The film will be produced by Di Bonaventura Pictures’ Lorenzo di Bonvaventura and Mark Vahradian, MadRiver Pictures’ Marc Butan and Ara Keshishian, and Butler and Alan Siegel under their G-BASE banner.

The Plane is a real time action thriller that follows commercial pilot Ray Torrance (Butler) who after a heroic job of successfully landing his storm-damaged aircraft in a war zone, finds himself caught between the agendas of multiple militia who are planning to take the plane and its passengers’ hostage. As the world’s authorities and media search for the disappeared aircraft Ray must rise to the occasion and keep his passengers safe long enough for help to arrive.

MadRiver International will launch sales for The Plane at AFM next week and CAA Media Finance will handle the domestic rights to the film. The film is scheduled to shoot in 2Q 2020.

Butler is fresh off the box office hit, Angel Has Fallen, which is the final installment in the highly successful Fallen trilogy and recently wrapped production on Greenland for director Ric Roman Waugh. Butler is represented by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment. Davis is repped by Management 360 and Tara Kole at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman, Inc.

About MadRiver
MadRiver International is a partnership between Marc Butan’s MadRiver Pictures and Vincent Maraval’s Wild Bunch International.  Kim Fox oversees the Company’s operations.  MadRiver International’s primary focus is serving as sales agent on English language, mid and larger budgeted films for the international theatrical and streaming marketplace.

The MadRiver slate includes: What Is Life Worth starring Michael Keaton and directed by Sara Colangelo which is currently in post-production; Tim Kirkby’s Waldo starring Mel Gibson and Charlie Hunnam, also in post-production; Scott Z. Burns The Report starring Adam Driver, which Amazon is releasing on November 15th; and Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen which will be distributed by STX on January 24th.

About Di Bonaventura Pictures
Formed by Lorenzo di Bonaventura in January 2003, di Bonaventura Pictures has produced over 30 films including the Transformers, GI Joe and Red franchises; the global box-office hit The Meg for Warner Bros; the espionage thriller Salt starring Angelina Jolie; Deepwater Horizon based on the real-life disaster; American Assassin starring Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton; Shooter and the critically acclaimed thriller Side Effects, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Upcoming films include Infinite for Paramount Pictures directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Mark Wahlberg, Sophie Cookson and Chiwetel Ejofor and GI Joe spin-off, Snake Eyes directed by Robert Schwentke and starring Henry Golding.

In 2011, the company branched into television production with the formation of di Bonaventura Pictures Television, which has produced The Real O’Neals, Shooter and the forthcoming adaptation of Mark Millar’s graphic novel, Jupiters Legacy for Netflix.

About G-BASE
G-BASE, the production shingle founded by Gerard Butler and Alan Siegel, has produced fifteen feature films since opening in 2008 including Law Abiding Citizen, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, and the most recent film in the franchise Angel Has Fallen, which was number one at the box office for two weeks. Their latest films include The Vanishing and Hunter Killer starring Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, and Common. Most recently, their film Them That Follow premiered and sold at Sundance in US Dramatic Competition and stars Alice Englert and Olivia Colman. G-BASE’s heist film Den of Thieves is their latest hit in a string of box office successes. Greenland, their next production, completed filming in August and is directed by Ric Roman Waugh. In addition to film, the company continues to produce and develop a diverse slate of projects including television series, documentaries, and interactive media projects.


Shout! Factory TV's "CULT-TASTIC" With Roger & Julie Corman -- See Official Trailer / Poster HERE!




New Digital Series Explores Cinematic History of the Renowned Trail-Blazing Indie Filmmakers, Revealing Insider Stories from the Most Memorable Corman Films

Los Angeles – October 29, 2019 – Shout! Factory TV, the digital entertainment streaming service, is set to launch its first original digital docuseries CULT-TASTIC: TALES FROM THE TRENCHES WITH ROGER AND JULIE CORMAN. Created, written and co-produced by Ashley Sidaway and Robert Sidaway, the 13-part series about the life and work of Roger and Julie Corman, provides viewers an extraordinary look inside the Cormans’ cinematic universe and features extensive in-depth interviews. The series will premiere November 15th on Shout! Factory TV’s Amazon Prime Video Channel and via Roku Channel’s Premium Subscription.


In the series, the Cormans draw upon their vast filmography and footage from over 130 films spanning seven decades. Within each episode, the legendary filmmakers share insightful stories and defining moments from their movies, recall talent and young filmmakers they fostered, as well as provide behind-the-scenes perspectives on how they produced some of the smallest budget films that went on to achieve box-office gold.

Known for their acute ability to recognize young talent, the Cormans’ lasting legacy will undoubtedly be the legion of producers, directors, writers, and actors they have cultivated.  Throughout the series, Roger and Julie recount working with iconic industry talent including Jack Nicholson, Bryan Cranston, Ron Howard, James Cameron, William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Joe Dante, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tommy Lee Jones, Angie Dickenson, Francis Coppola, Will Ferrell, Sandra Bullock, among many others. 

One of the most prolific and successful film producers in the history of cinema, Roger Corman’s impact on modern American film is prodigious.  Referred to as “the King of the Cult film” and “The Pope of Pop Cinema,” Corman has produced more than 350 films and directed 60 others. Honored with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009, Corman continues to reign supreme as one of Hollywood’s most masterful and influential filmmakers.

Julie Corman’s film career spans nearly five decades, first as a producer alongside Roger Corman at New World Productions and later as co-founder and Executive Vice President of their production banner New Horizons Pictures Corporation. With over 35 film credits to her name , she has worked with industry heavyweights Martin Scorsese,Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, Catherine Hardwicke, Robert King, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Peter Billingsley, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Jason Priestley and Mario Van Peebles, among others.  Julie was previously Chair of the Graduate Film Department at NYU and is currently a member of Women in Film, where she advocates for the advancement of women in the screen industries, gender parity and inclusion, and to ultimately transform culture and policy for women in entertainment.

“It makes total sense to be Shout! Factory TV's first original streaming series,” said Roger and Julie Corman. "Over the course of seven decades, we have had the great fortune to work on incredible independent film productions with some of the most distinguished actors, writers, and filmmakers of our time. Shout! Factory TV is the perfect place to share our memories, allowing us to bring our stories to life and share them with a passionate audience. Shout! Factory TV’s focus on cult classic film and TV programming makes them the perfect home for this rich history of independent film.”

“After having worked with the Cormans for nearly a decade, we are thrilled to have Shout! Factory TV be the home for 'CULT-TASTIC.’ Roger and Julie’s influence in the independent film space is immeasurable, and the Shout! Factory TV digital streaming service was built on serving fans of cult films and television,” said Gene Pao, SVP, Digital Enterprises. “With a number of Corman films already available on our service, we pushed hard to secure the opportunity to complement existing content with a series featuring enthralling behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Roger and Julie. We see immense opportunity in developing more original programming inspired by the Cormans’ film archive.”

‘CULT-TASTIC’ joins an extensive collection of Corman cult classics available across Shout! Factory TV’s platforms. Films discussed in the series, from genre gems Battle Beyond the Stars, Suburbia and Caged Heat, to horror favorites The Slumber Party Massacre, The Wasp Woman and Forbidden World, are also available in their entirety on Shout! Factory TV.

Shout! Factory, a multi-platform media company and parent company to Shout! Factory TV, alongside China-based Ace Film HK Company Limited (ACE) acquired the New Horizons Picture library in 2018. The acquisition encompassed 270 Corman films and an action sci-fi TV series. CULT-TASTIC: TALES FROM THE TRENCHES WITH ROGER AND JULIE CORMAN is the first series to be developed from the acquisition and is produced by Ace Film in association with Friendship Films.
About Shout! Factory TV
SHOUT! FACTORY TV is a premiere digital entertainment streaming service that brings timeless and contemporary cult favorites to pop culture fans. With a uniquely curated entertainment library, the channel offers an unrivaled blend of cult TV shows, movies, comedy, original specials and more – presenting an exciting entertainment alternative to major streaming services. SHOUT! FACTORY TV’s programming leverages a distinctive library of pop culture-defining entertainment curated from Shout! Factory, Westchester Films, Timeless Media Group, Scream Factory, major studios, independent producers and other sources from around the world. Whether reliving childhood memories or discovering television series, movies and comedy specials for the first time, SHOUT! FACTORY TV provides an immersive, high-quality viewing experience across a wide variety of screens and platforms, online at on desktop, smartphone devices, and tablets; and connected TVs via apps on the Roku player, Android, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. SHOUT! FACTORY TV also is available as a branded channel on Amazon Prime Channels and Prime Video Direct, Comcast Xfinity, FailArmyTV, LG Channel Plus, Pluto TV, Popcornflix, Roku Channels, Samsung TV Plus, STIRR, Tubi, Twitch, Vewd, VRV, Watchback, and Xumo, with more to come.




Porfle's Movie Trivia #7: "Lonesome Dove" (1989) (video)

Today's quiz honors Larry McMurtry's western classic, "Lonesome Dove."

Question: What is it that Captain Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) hates in a man?

A. False intentions
B. Crude language
C. Rude behavior
D. Bullying
E. Low morals

Bonus question: What is Woodrow Call's middle initial?

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


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Enchanting News - "A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish" - Out on Blu-ray & DVD TODAY!

The day is here - and it feels just like Christmas morning! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is excited to bring you the music and the magic of the holidays with the release of A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish – Available NOW on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD!

Check out these exclusive clips and photos from the film that will get you excited to relive the timeless tale of Cinderella with a modern-day, holiday twist!

Go behind-the-scenes with a never-before-seen clip from our bonus features with Costume Designer, Valerie Halverson, speaking about the amazing dancers and choreographers in the movie – and how wardrobe was more about function vs. fashion, while remaining true to the iconic characters!

Also, check out the exclusive interview with Laura Marano (who plays Kat Decker) as she speaks to audiences really connecting with the characters in the film, and how they will love the Christmas energy mixed with the classic fairytale vibe!

Movie Synopsis:
Brimming with overtones from the classic fairytale, this contemporary musical follows Katherine “Kat” Decker (Laura Marano) dreaming of becoming a famous singer-songwriter. Her reality, however, is suffocated by her conniving and cruel stepfamily and a demoralizing job working as a singing elf at billionaire Terrence Wintergarden’s Santa Land. When she starts to fall for Nick (Gregg Sulkin), the handsome new Santa at the tree lot, things begin to look up.

 Isla (played by Isabella Gomez) and Kat (played by Laura Marano) entertain the crowd at Santaland

Unfortunately, when her stepmother and stepsisters realize Kat has been invited to the prestigious Wintergarden Christmas Gala, they’ll stop at nothing to procure their own invitation and keep Kat from attending. With the help of her attentive dog, a true friend, and a little bit of holiday magic, Kat may just make it to the gala, discover the true identity of Nick, and experience the true meaning of Christmas.

Kat (played by Laura Marano) dances in a dream sequence

This is the fifth installment in the A CINDERELLA STORY movie series, and first one with a Christmas theme. Other titles include A Cinderella Story (Hilary Duff), Another Cinderella Story (Selena Gomez), A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (Lucy Hale) and A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits (Sofia Carson).

Read our review of this brand-new release HERE.

Photo credit: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.



Porfle's Movie Trivia #7: "The French Connection" (1971) (video)

Today's trivia question is from William Friedkin's 1971 classic "The French Connection."

Question: NYPD cop "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) accuses a suspect of "picking his feet" in what city?

A. Peoria
B. Piedmont
C. Palisades Park
D. Poughkeepsie
E. Passaic

Bonus question: what did Popeye eat right before the French suspect eluded him on the subway?

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


Monday, October 28, 2019

Epic Pictures Takes Sci-Fi Thriller "THE FARE" to Blu-ray and Digital HD November 19th -- Watch Trailer HERE

Take the Ride with D.C. Hamilton's Sci-Fi Fantasy 

Epic Pictures Brings a Modern Take on a Classic Tale to Audiences

Available Nationwide on Blu-ray and VOD November 19th

"a beautifully crafted mystery" -- Nightmarish Conjurings

"the cult romantic film of 2019" -- Starburst Magazine
Los Angeles, CA - Following an acclaimed run on the independent film festival circuit, 501 Pictures and Public Displays of Affection, in a partnership with Epic Pictures and Dread, has announced the US release of D.C. Hamilton's Hitchcockian romance The Fare. 

The sophomore feature from Hamilton stars Gino Anthony Pesi ("Shades of Blue") as a weary cab driver and Brinna Kelly as his enigmatic passenger, who charms him as her ride begins over and over and over again. 

Screenwriter and star Kelly reteams with Hamilton following their work on his directorial debut The Midnight Man. Pesi, Hamilton and Kelly produced alongside Kristin Starns.

An homage to "The Twilight Zone", The Fare has screened internationally and taken home numerous awards including the Special Mention Jury Award at Fantasporto, Best Dark Fantasy/Supernatural Film at the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival, and the Director's Prize for Overall Concept and Execution at FilmQuest. 

The Fare will be available nationwide November 19th on Blu-ray and Digital HD, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu and more.

When a charming woman named Penny climbs into his taxi, Harris finds himself entranced. That is, right up until she disappears from the back seat without a trace. As he desperately tries to make sense of what happened, he resets his meter and is instantly brought back to the moment she first climbed into his cab. He and Penny find themselves trapped in an endlessly looping ride that changes their lives forever.


Order from Epic Pictures

The Fare:  82 minutes / USA / English w/ English & Spanish Subtitles

The Blu-ray (SRP $19.99) release of The Fare will exclusively include a feature length commentary with director D.C. Hamilton, a feature-length commentary with star/writer Brinna Kelly, alternate, deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel and making-of featurettes: Secrets of The Fare and The Look of The Fare.


THRILLING Stunt From Hopalong Cassidy Western "The Showdown" (1940) (video)

Sue (Jan Clayton) insists on hopping the next freight out of town.

When she runs into some trouble getting on...'s Hoppy (William Boyd) to the rescue.

The result is an amazing and dangerous stunt.

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


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Porfle's Movie Trivia #6: "The Wolf Man" (1941) (video)

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) becomes the Wolf Man when the _____ is bright:

A. Autumn moon
B. Pale moon
C. Full moon
D. Harvest moon
E. Blood moon

Bonus question: what was the name of the gypsy woman Maleva's son?

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


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Porfle's Movie Trivia #5: "Casablanca" (1942) (video)

When Captain Renault asks Rick what brought him to Casablanca, Rick says it was:

A. For the climate
B. For the local wines
C. For the waters
D. For an escape route
E. For a woman

Bonus question: Rick tells Ilsa that, in this crazy world, "the problems of three people don't amount to"...what?

A. A bag of doorknobs
B. A hill of beans
C. A plug nickel
D. A hoot and a holler

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


Friday, October 25, 2019


(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.)

Much of the success of a "Cinderella" story depends on how much we hate her wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters, while at the same time finding them perversely funny. We also have to like the title character enough to root for her to win out over those three harpies and find true love with her Prince Charming.

In that, 2019's A CINDERELLA STORY: CHRISTMAS WISH (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) fills in the blanks quite nicely, with Johannah Newmarch (POLARIS, "Stargate: SG-1") as stepmother Deirdre Decker, along with Lillian Doucet-Roche and Chanelle Peloso as the jarringly misnamed stepsisters Joy and Grace, horrify us with their selfishness, vanity, and deviousness yet still delight with their comically overdrawn characters and addlebrained bungling.

As Kat Decker, Laura Marano ("Austin & Ally", SAVING ZOE) fills the "Cinderella" role likably enough, going about the thankless task of waiting hand and foot on her step-monsters while holding down a job as a performing elf at Santa Land, all the while keeping as cheerful and upbeat as possible as she dreams of someday becoming a famous singer and performing her own songs for an adoring public.

Romance is another concern, one which is hampered by her becoming an object of internet ridicule when Joy posts a video in her vlog of Kat making a clumsy fool of herself in front of the town's most eligible bachelor, the handsome and charming Dominic Wintergarden (Gregg Sulkin, "Runaways").

As fate would have it, Dominic plays Santa at the store where Kat works, but she doesn't know it's him because he never takes off his beard at work. 

Naturally, they fall in love for all the right reasons, and as we can all guess by now Kat will get invited to a big gala thrown by Dominic's billionaire dad. But as we can also surmise, wicked stepmother finds a way to steal Kat's invitation and crash the party along with Joy and Grace, who all have designs on snaring one of the Wintergarden men as their own. 

All of this is about as lightweight and breezy as can be, and just as easy to take if one's expectations are no higher than your average teen or tween looking for something fun and vaguely identifiable to watch.

The movie looks bright and colorful, the leads are attractive and chipper, and the baddies are cartoonishly evil. (In my case, it helps that one of the wicked stepsisters resembles Miley Cyrus.)

With the help of Kat's devoted best friend Isla (Isabella Gomez, "One Day At a Time"), who assumes the "Fairy Godmother" role by making a beautiful gown for the gala and encouraging Kat every step of the way, our "Cinderella" gets her big chance for happiness when she ends up singing one of her own compositions for the high-tone audience.

Music plays a major role throughout the rest of the story as well, with Laura Marano and fellow castmembers performing a series of heavily-autotuned pop songs which, while totally forgettable, at least keep things bouncing along pleasantly enough.

Director and co-writer Michelle Johnston, an actress and dancer in such films as A CHORUS LINE and CHICAGO, ably follows up her 2016 effort entitled "A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits."

The 2-disc set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment contains both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the movie plus a code for digital download. Extras consist of two featurettes, "The Look and Costumes of 'A Christmas Wish'" and "The Mic and The Stage", as well as trailers for other releases.

As teen-oriented musical rom-coms go, this one is about as wispy as cotton candy but equally sweet and easy to swallow.  A CINDERELLA STORY: CHRISTMAS WISH does what it aims to do: make us root for "Cinderella", hate her wicked step-harpies (while laughing at them), and feel good when "Prince Charming" sweeps her off her feet.

Find out more at


Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
Number of discs: 2
Rated:PG/Parental Guidance Suggested
Studio: Warner Brothers
DVD Release Date: October 29, 2019
Run Time: 93 minutes




"The Bells of St. Mary's" On Blu-ray From Olive Signature 11/26/19




US+CANADA STREET:      11/26/19

CAT:                 OS020
UPC:       887090602006
SRP:                 $39.95

(Going My Way, White Christmas, High Society)
(Casablanca, Indiscreet, Murder on the Orient Express)
(It’s A Wonderful Life, Mrs. Miniver, Shadow of a Doubt)
(Cheers for Miss Bishop, Rain, The Canterville Ghost)
(Tomorrow, the World; Meet Me in St. Louis; Primrose Path)
(The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bride of Frankenstein, Of Human Bondage)

Directed by
(My Son John, Good Sam, The Awful Truth)

America’s favorite entertainer, Bing Crosby, shares the screen with the lovely and talented Ingrid Bergman in Leo McCarey's beloved classic. This follow-up to Going My Way, which introduced Crosby’s Father O’Malley character, co-stars Bergman as Sister Benedict, the strong-willed nun whose efforts to save the St. Mary’s school clash with O’Malley’s. An enduring audience favorite, The Bells of St. Mary's is presented in a new 4K restoration for this Olive Signature edition.

YEAR: 1945
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH (with optional English subtitles)
VIDEO: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio; B&W


    Mastered from new 4K restoration
    Audio commentary by Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins
    “Faith and Film” – Sr. Rose Pacatte on The Bells of St. Mary’s
    “Human Nature” – Steve Massa on The Bells of St. Mary’s and Leo McCarey
    “Before Sequel-itis” – Prof. Emily Carman on the film in the context of Hollywood production history
    Screen Guild Theater radio adaptations
    Essay by cultural critic Abbey Bender

Witty and heartwarming, The Bells of St. Mary’s features the unforgettable pairing of Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, in a timeless classic from Leo McCarey. Reprising his Academy Award winning role in Going My Way, Crosby stars as Father O’Malley – a priest on a mission to help revitalize the financially-strapped parochial school St. Mary’s. O’Malley’s assignment, to determine if St. Mary’s should be abandoned due to its decline, soon has him butting heads with the school’s headstrong manager, Sister Benedict (Bergman). But their squabbles are rendered inconsequential with the arrival of Horace P. Bogardus (Henry Travers), a skin-flint businessman set on seeing St. Mary’s condemned to make way for a parking lot. With tremendous warmth, this tale of a devoted pair fighting against the odds has been delighting audiences for generations.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress, The Bells of St. Mary’s features memorable supporting performances by Una O’Connor, Joan Carroll, William Gargan, Rhys Williams, and Dickie Tyler. Written for the screen by Dudley Nichols (Bringing Up Baby) from a story by McCarey, the film’s impressive technical credits include costume design by Edith Head, cinematography by George Barnes, and art direction by William Flannery.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

PAGANINI HORROR -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

If it were possible to actually O.D. on a combination of so-bad-it's-good Italian horror cinema and pure, undiluted 80s kitsch, then 1989's PAGANINI HORROR (Severin Films) from writer/director Luigi Cozzi (CONTAMINATION, STARCRASH) might be the fix that could kill us all.

You're really in for it once you start to mainline this heady concoction which begins, after a prologue in which a violin-playing little girl cutely electrocutes her mother in the bathtub, with a recording session by an all-girl trio in a recording studio belting out one of the worst 80s power ballads ever.

Lead singer Kate (Jasmine Main) is told by shrewish producer Lavinia (Maria Cristina Mastrangeli) that her music just ain't cutting the mustard anymore and she'd better find a new songwriter.

That's when Kate's drummer Daniel (Pascal Persiano) purchases a mysterious, unpublished work by famed violin virtuoso and composer Niccolò Paganini from a creepy fellow named Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasance, PHENOMENA, HALLOWEEN, THE GREAT ESCAPE), who just might be Old Scratch himself.

Naturally, it's a cursed work that Paganini sold his soul for, although you'll wonder what the big deal is when Daniel plays it on the piano for the girls. They, on the other hand, go ga-ga for it and plans are made to shoot a horror-themed music video a la Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in a rented mansion owned by a woman named Sylvia (co-writer and Argento mainstay Daria Nicolodi) which is supposedly haunted by ol' Paganini himself.

This leads to the film's most disturbing sequence--namely, the filming of the aforementioned music video, consisting of cheesy horror visuals set to yet another bland but ear-curdling bad-80s screechfest. Here's where we get our first look at the spooky mansion, which is wonderfully tacky in a Halloween funhouse sort of way.

The film then wastes no time inundating our unfortunate cast of characters with all manner of infernal misfortunes, beginning with the bloody murder of the trio's lead guitarist by a masked killer wielding a knife-sprouting Stradivarius.  While searching for her, the others enter a room where a gaping hole erupts in the floor and sucks one of them into the dark pit below.

While the masked killer continues to stalk, director Cozzi gives us more of that sweet supernatural mayhem including an invisible force field around the estate that results in a fiery car crash and a horrific, fast-acting infection which turns another of the girls into a walking fungus.

None of this is especially elegant in execution, but it all comes so fast and furious and with such verve that we're too entertained to care. While lacking finesse, the cast throw themselves into their roles with abandon, often screaming their dialogue at each other with an amusingly overheated intensity. Cozzi is equally enthusiastic as his camera scurries around and hustles to keep up with the action.

A visibly amused Pleasance, who worked for three days on the production, adds his big-name presence a few times throughout the film, finally showing up for the predictable but fun twist ending.  Nicolodi (SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED, TENEBRE), always a welcome face in any Italian horror flick, adds her own venerable appeal.

Makeup effects are low-budget but effective.  While the gore isn't all that plentiful, there are some pretty splattery scenes including one particularly notable setpiece involving a sheet of plate glass turning someone's face into Picasso's worst nightmare.

Vince Tempera's Goblin-influenced electronic musical score (available on CD for a limited time along with the movie) lends yet another layer to the 80s ambience. The print itself has been transferred in 2K from the original negative. Disc extras consist of lengthy interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and actor Pietro Genuardi, deleted scenes and alternate ending, and the trailer.

With none of the film artistry and finesse of Dario Argento but loads of enthusiasm, PAGANINI HORROR is the cinematic equivalent of someone sawing away artlessly on a Stradivarius and then smashing it over your head.  Like a funhouse of stupid, it's the sort of screamfest where you have a great time watching it even if you aren't even sure why.

Buy it at Severin Films

Street date: October 29, 2019

Special Features:

    Play It Again Paganini: Interview with Director Luigi Cozzi
    The Devil’s Music: Interview with Actor Pietro Genuardi
    Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
    BONUS: CD Soundtrack


Cult Classic + MST3K Favorite "EEGAH" (1962) Restored for Blu-ray/DVD from Film Detective

The Film Detective
Proudly Presents

‘Watch Out for Snakes!’

Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Favorite Seven-Foot-Tall Caveman as Never Seen Before in Special, Restored Collector’s Edition of 1962 Cult Classic, Available Nov. 26th

ROCKPORT, Mass. — Oct. 24, 2019 — For Immediate Release — The “name written in blood,” Eegah, returns to the spotlight for a special-edition release from The Film Detective (TFD), a leading classic media streaming network and film archive that restores classic films for today's cord-cutters.
On Nov. 26, TFD will release a must-have collector’s set for any cult fan that includes a 4K restoration of Eegah (1962); the 1993 Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) version of the film; and exclusive interviews with star Arch Hall Jr., who portrayed the local teenage hero, and MST3K creator Joel Hodgson.

Originally designed as a vehicle for his son, filmmaker Arch Hall Sr. assumed the roles of writer, producer, director, and actor to bring the film to fruition, utilizing pseudonyms like “Nicholas Merriwether” and “William Watters” to prevent his name from appearing multiple times in the credits.
Incorporating all of the rock ‘n’ roll, pop culture staples of the ‘60s, he added a  rampaging,  seven-foot-tall  Neanderthal  to  create  the  thrilling  comedy, which follows Eegah (Richard Kiel), a prehistoric caveman who is nearly run over by Roxy Miller (Marilyn Manning) on her way to  a party. Forming  a romantic interest in the young beauty, Eegah holds Roxy and her father (Hall Sr.) captive in his lair. It’s up to local gas station attendant Tom Nelson (Hall Jr.) to rescue his sweetheart from the raving brute.
Matching the whimsical tone of the movie itself, Arch Sr. once said, “It was always sort of a subject of laughter that the darned thing did so well."  

Despite its campy prehistoric origins, the legacy of Eegah has stood the test of time. In 1993, the movie was picked up for an episode of MST3K (1988-1999), a comedy series that made playful commentary on entertainment’s most-notorious B-movies, recently revived on Netflix in 2017. The episode further immortalized the film’s most famous, satirical line, “Watch out for snakes,” a comment noticeably dubbed during post-production. Eegah embedded itself so deeply into the culture of MST3K, that the show took to the road in 2017 for a live Watch Out for Snakes Tour.

MST3K is not the only organization with a longtime appreciation for the legacy of Eegah. Something Weird Video, an American film distributor dedicated to the preservation of exploitation films, has served as an integral part of Eegah’s preservation. Commented owner Lisa Petrucci, "Something Weird is pleased that Eegah is getting the deluxe Blu-ray video release that it deserves! This will be the best version of the film ever made available!" 
EXCLUSIVE  SPECIAL  FEATURES:  Joel  Hodgson,  creator  of  MST3K,  gives  his  take  on  the  Hall  family  and  his  evolving appreciation for the film following the 1993 episode; and the star himself, Arch Hall Jr., shares personal insights on his father’s spur-of-the-moment plot idea, reveals which of his family members appear in cameos throughout the film and offers behind-the-scenes details from production.

With a 4K restoration by Peter Conheim from the Cinema Preservation Alliance, Eegah is available for purchase from TFD Nov. 26 on limited-edition Blu-ray ($24.99) and on DVD ($19.99). By ordering through the Movie Zyng links below, viewers will receive a $1 discount off the suggested retail price. Eegah is presented in HD with an aspect ratio of 16x9 and original sound with English subtitles available. 

With only 1,500 Blu-rays available, fans can secure a copy before they go extinct  by pre-ordering now at:


About The Film Detective:
The Film Detective (TFD) is a leading distributor of restored classic programming, including feature films, television, foreign imports and documentaries. Launched in 2014, TFD distributes its extensive library of 3,000+ hours of film on DVD and Blu-ray  and  through such leading  broadcast  and  streaming platforms  as  Turner Classic Movies,  NBC, EPIX, Pluto  TV, Amazon, MeTV, PBS and more. In 2018, TFD released its classic movie app and has since launched its 24/7 linear channel on Sling TV, STIRR and DistroTV. Visit us at
Eegah The Film Detective
Genre:  Cult
Original Release: 1962 (Color)
Not Rated
Running Time:  Approx. 206 Minutes (Including Special Features)
Suggested Retail Price:  $24.99 (Blu-ray) / $19.99 (DVD) 
Pre-Order Date:  Oct. 14, 2019
Release Date:  Nov. 26, 2019
Catalog #:  FB1004 (Blu-ray) / FD1004 (DVD) 
UPC Code:  #810017886692 (Blu-ray) / #810017886685 (DVD)



 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.)

What could be more cutesy than a series about a daddy-daughter detective agency? And yet VERONICA MARS (2019): THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) manages to make it seem not only fresh and funny, but hard-hitting, intense, and engaging at the same time.

Of course, it's a spin-off of the popular teen-oriented series "Veronica Mars" which played from 2004-2007 on UPN and The CW. It starred Kristen Bell as a plucky young girl whose father Keith (Enrico Colantonik, GALAXY QUEST) was the sheriff of their bustling beachfront town of Neptune, California.

This gave Veronica, an amateur sleuth, the chance to solve mysteries with the help of her recurring crew of high school friends.

Now, Veronica's back in town a little older and wiser--in other words, life hasn't quite worked out as she planned--and she's joined her father in a private detective agency. 

She lives with her old boyfriend from the original show, Logan (Jason Dohring), a hunky military intelligence agent whose desire to get married has commitment-shy Veronica in a tizzy.

Meanwhile, the whole town's in a tizzy over a series of bombings that are laying waste to lucrative beachfront businesses in the middle of Spring Break.  Crooked real estate dealers, local criminal gangs, amateur murder-case sleuths, shady politicians, and a Mexican drug lord looking for revenge after one of his relatives dies in an explosion all clash while Veronica and Keith work furiously to track down the deadly serial bomber.

I never watched the original series, and thus can't make any comparisons between the two. What we have here, however, is a taut, fast-moving, and pleasingly complex detective thriller which, just like real life, wavers endlessly between the lighthearted and the deadly serious.

Much is made of Veronica's return to Neptune and her reunions with various old friends, with whom she isn't above getting falling down (and throwing up) drunk or sharing an illicit substance or two. This heroine isn't perfect, we soon discover, a fact that makes her prickly but passionate relationship with Logan all the more interesting.

There's also an irresistible rapport between Veronica and dear old dad Keith, still using a cane after a terrible auto crash years earlier and now worrying that he's gradually losing his mental faculties. Enrico Colantonik is just as appealing here as he was in GALAXY QUEST, albeit with a much more subtle affability and gentle wisdom.

The supporting cast is very good, especially J.K. Simmons as Clyde, a smooth ex-con acting as advisor and bodyguard for crooked businessman "Big Dick" Casablancas (Ryan Hansen). Patton Oswalt is Penn Epner, a pizza delivery guy and member of the Murderheads, a group of cold murder case groupies.  And Clifton Collins, Jr., is fine as Mexican hitman Alonzo Lozano, to whom murder is a casual but bloody affair.

Kristin Bell easily carries the whole thing with her energetic style, making Veronica believably tough and self-reliant but with an amusingly irreverent outlook on life even at its most grim (a quality that clearly serves as a defense mechanism to keep herself together). 

My initial fears that this would be mainly a lightweight character drama with mystery elements were soon put to rest as the season's overall story arc quickly developed into a superbly engrossing crime thriller that's full of surprises and hard-hitting, often violent action.

I'm not sure how fans of the original show will react to this new version of Veronica, her friends and family, and her not-so-sleepy little hometown, but for me, VERONICA MARS (2019): THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON was pure binge-watching fun.


    Veronica Mars at Comic Con 2019


    Spring Break Forever
    Chino and the Man
    Keep Calm and Party On
    Heads You Lose
    Losing Streak
    Entering a World of Pain
    Gods of War
    Years, Continents, Bloodshed

The first season of Veronica Mars will be available to own on Digital on August 19 (in the U.S.). Digital allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital is available from various retailers including Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, Xbox and others.

Digital Release: August 19, 2019 (in U.S.)
DVD Release: October 22, 2019
DVD Order Due Date: September 17, 2019
DVD Presented in 16x9 widescreen format
Running Time: Feature: Approx. 456 min
Enhanced Content: Approx.30 min


Price: $24.98 SRP
2 DVD-9s
Audio – English (5.1)
Subtitles – English


Price: $30.99 SRP
2 DVD-9s
Audio – English (5.1)
Subtitles – English