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Moriarty's DVD SHELF! Halloween Movies!

Published at: Oct. 14, 2008, 6:49 p.m. CST

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

The e-mail I got after this weekend’s column in response to the question, “What’s the first film that scared the hell out of you?” has been great, and the talkbacks were, too. A lot of you had the same answers, with THE EXORCIST being a real milestone. That one and HALLOWEEN were the first two I remember as being truly defining in how scared I could be by a movie. There were some great oddball answers, too. EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS was one guy’s pick, and I think a lot of that had to do with when he saw it. It’s certainly not what I’d call “scary” now. I understand, though... when we’re young, we really do a lot of the work for these films. We turn everything up in our minds. I have friends who swore that THE CAR was this awesome thrill ride until it finally came out on DVD recently and we all rewatched it. Oooooops. I saw BURNT OFFERINGS on a lot of your lists. Have you seen it lately? You probably shouldn’t if you still have fond memories of it. Sometimes, horror films don’t bear rewatching, because as we get older, we lose touch with that part of ourselves that believes, and we just aren’t able to enjoy the fear anymore. One of the things I’m doing with the Horrorthon is watching some of these “great horror movies” with the critical eye of an adult instead of the wide-eyed acceptance of a child. I may learn that there’s no room for truly scary movies in an adult’s world. Or I may uncover some gems that I’d forgotten. We’ll see as this thing progresses. Also, I’ve noticed many of you griping if I don’t review this title or that. Let me reiterate... this is not meant to be an end-all be-all DVD review column. This is not meant to just be me running down new releases. I buy new stuff and old stuff all the time, and sometimes, I’ll have something on the shelf for six months before I put it in and watch it. The point is that I’m writing about my personal experience as a DVD addict, and I’m hoping it encourages us to share back and forth. If there’s something I haven’t seen or talked about that you think is worthwhile, tell me. That’s why I started the column in the first place.

After all, I went out and finally got CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL because you kept telling me how great the commentary was. And you were right. I finally found JADE CLAW on DVD because you told me it was out there. And you were right. So for the dude who freaked out and got all pissy because I’m not writing about THE THIN MAN on DVD, relax, okay? I adore THE THIN MAN and all the sequels, even the not-so-good ones, just because of how much I love Powell and Loy together. And sooner or later, I’m sure I’ll write about it. Especially if MGM ever gets their shit together and puts out a box of all the films like they used to have on laserdisc. First up, though, I was so eager to get through my reviews the other day that I totally forgot about browsing. That’s downright goofy of me, considering how much interesting news and how many great reviews there are out there right now. So, let’s quit yakkin’ and get those browsers open, eh?

BROWSING

Looks like Bill Chambers on Film Freak Central may be the first person to review the upcoming special edition of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., and I cannot wait. I love this film. I think it’s one of the best jet black cop films ever made, pessimistic and scuzzy and all sorts of stylish. And that car chase... oh, man. I’m looking forward to any extras at all, since this film’s always been treated so shabby in the past. A Friedkin commentary delights me to no end in theory, and as soon as this one ends up in the house, it’s going in the machine. No time on the stack at all. Guaranteed. It’s a good review, too, by the way, and you should spend some time poking around Bill’s site if you haven’t already. He’s a smart man with an appetite for movies that seems to dwarf even my own, and there’s some great stuff on his site. I’m also ready to watch the LOONEY TUNES box set that just came out, and the review at The Digital Bits only makes it harder to wait. Sounds like a really nice edition of these cartoons, and any of the classic Warner Bros. stuff on DVD is a good thing. A very good thing. I picked it up this morning, and the only reason I haven’t started mainlining it so far is because of my work schedule.

I’m finding that I really like DVD File when it comes to new release info. It’s just something about their layout or the way they update their stuff. It’s pretty much my first stop now for that stuff. Today they’ve got details on the UNDERWORLD DVD that’s coming on January 6th, the same day Columbia puts out two GODZILLA films I saw at FanTasia this past summer... GOZDILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS and GMK: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK... both of which were loads of fun. Actually, I guess that’s a big day overall. Carl Franklin’s OUT OF TIME is set for that day, as well, and since I haven’t seen it yet, that may be where I finally catch up with the film. The news that Universal’s putting out AIRPORT, AIRPORT ’75, AIRPORT ’77, and THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT ’79, all on the same day, should make disaster movie fans very happy. I know one guy who will view that as a bigger deal than the INDIANA JONES box that was just released. Seriously. January’s also got OPEN RANGE set for the 20th, and that’s good news for fans of this very old-fashioned western. Looks like a nice special edition, too. I’m glad February will finally see the release of a special edition of RAIN MAN. About time. I’m not sure what the date is on Mark Hamill’s COMIC BOOK: THE MOVIE, which Miramax is releasing, but I’ve seen a rough cut of the film, and it’s a lot of fun, featuring onscreen work from almost every major voice-over actor in town, and loaded with jokes about the world of SF and comic book fandom. The two-disc set looks like it’s packed, and it should be interesting to see the final version of the film. I’ll definitely be writing more about this as it gets closer to release. And speaking of comic books, I feel like a grade-A dink for still not having seen AMERICAN SPLENDOR. I sincerely hope I don’t wait until February 3rd to finally see it, but if I do, it looks like it’ll be packed with extras. I was surprised to see it’s Warner Home Video and not Fine Line, but I guess there’s a reason for that.

DVD Journal, which features the work of our own Mr. Beaks and Alexandra DuPont from time to time, has January 6th earmarked as the day Warner puts out some of their classic titles as recently voted on by consumers through an online poll. Missed the poll, but the results are interesting. DAYS OF WINE & ROSES, the 1946 THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, and John Milius’s THE WIND & THE LION are all coming home with me that day, and they’re all long overdue.

Blaxploitation fans are going to love January, since we’ll finally get SUPERFLY, BLACULA, SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM!, HAMMER, and the wonderful collaborations of Poitier and Cosby (A PIECE OF THE ACTION, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT, and LET’S DO IT AGAIN) that month. And if you want bloodspoitation instead, then January’s also when New Line’s putting FREDDY VS. JASON on disc for you. And if all those titles end up making you feel a little bit lowbrow, then assuage your guilty conscience by picking up Criterion’s January releases for THE RULES OF THE GAME, IKIRU, or the re-issued MON ONCLE and M. HULOT’S HOLIDAY. You’ll feel better if you do. Trust me.

FEATURED REVIEW: MILLENNIUM ACTRESS










I first saw this film over two years ago. I was at the FanTasia Film Festival in Montreal, and the only reason I didn’t go totally batshit ga-ga crazy for this film was because I had already lost my heart to NEKOJIRU-SO, an animated short I saw the day before. Don’t get me wrong... as I wrote in my original review, I thought MILLENNIUM ACTRESS was striking and beautiful and totally worthwhile. In fact, it’s a bit of a masterpiece, and the chance to finally see it again really reminded me of why I was impressed in the first place. It would have been very easy for Satoshi Kon to make a film that was a rehash of his PERFECT BLUE. The audience that devoured that film would have been perfectly happy with another trippy suspense thriller. There was something wonderful about seeing an anime director embrace the giallo genre and turn it inside out in a way that was uniquely Japanese.

Instead, the director went in a totally different direction creatively, and the result is a film that expands the boundaries of what stories we’re “allowed” to tell using animation. The film traces the life and career of Chiyoko, one of the most famous actresses in Japan’s history. The arc of her career is the evolution of the entire Japanese film industry and, to some extent, the social history of Japan in the 20th century. The framework of the story hinges on a documentary crew trying to track the retired Chiyoko down for an interview as the studio she worked for celebrates an anniversary. Despite her once-enormous fame, Chiyoko has essentially vanished, leaving behind a mystery and her movies. Eventually, the film uses the interview and the research they do to tell her story, and to weave a powerful emotional spell.

Unlocking the puzzles of the film is just one way to enjoy it. As a work of visual art, this is one of the richest treats you could ask for. The sound and picture quality of the disc is exceptional, a crisp anamorphic widescreen reproduction of the full 1.78:1 image. If all you want to do is savor the craftsmanship of the film, this disc allows you to do so with perfect clarity. If you want, though, you can also try to figure out what films and filmmakers are referenced in the various movies Chiyoko makes, a game that should tax the knowledge of even the most rabid fan of Japanese film. But if you really open yourself up to the movie, you’re in for something special, a beautiful movie about the way films are part of the lives, part of our shared history and our common dreams. Yes, Chiyoko’s personal journey is melodramatic, but it’s like when Todd Haynes morphed into Douglas Sirk before making FAR FROM HEAVEN. Satoshi Kon is using familiar forms to do something new. This is a film that simply wouldn’t work as well in live-action. You’d have to get different actresses for Chiyoko at different ages, or you’d have to use make-up to an elaborate extent. Here, we believe in Chiyoko. She ages, yes. She changes. But she’s still always recognizably Chiyoko, and there is the sense of a real life lived.

There’s a great making-of featurette on the disc that runs 40 minutes, and it’s pretty wonderful. There’s a sweet, poetic quality to it. This is no simple EPK footage. It’s a surprisingly in-depth interview with the director as well as his co-screenwriter, Sadayuki Murai, his remarkable art director Nobutaka Ike, and Takeshi Honda, his character designer, whose work is so good that the only name he’s ever known by to most of the crew is “Master.”

And if you’re an anime snob sitting out there reading this right now, grumbling about how Dreamworks didn’t release this to enough screens, then stop grumbling and go buy this disc. Now. Today. Because you’re not just buying this film. You’re also sending Dreamworks a message. “Yes, thanks, I’d like more smart, well-written anime, and I’d like it on the bigscreen, please.” Thanks to the creation of Go Fish, their anime label, we may see GHOST IN THE SHELL 2 in theaters in 2004, and the more you support this disc, the louder the message is that you’re sending. The anime audience always complains that they are marginalized, that no one listens to them.

Well, here’s a case of someone actually offering you exactly what you’ve been asking for, and so far, fandom doesn’t seem terribly excited. Prove me wrong. Prove the naysayers who claim there’s no money in anime wrong. Show them that anime fans are a financial block who can mobilize if properly motivated, and maybe you increase the changes of that GITS2 release, or maybe we’ll get the chance to see the American dub of NAUSICAA in theaters next year. I’d love to see Go Fish turn into a real pipeline for anime to North American audiences. And if all you can do is bitterly complain, “It’ll never happen,” then you’re part of the problem yourselves, and you’ll probably end up being right.










FROM THE SHELF: HORRORTHON EDITION, PART ONE

One of my favorite childhood memories is the way pay cable channels used to program their Halloween nights. HBO... Showtime... in the early to mid-‘80s, they would pack the schedule with back to back to back slasher films, and some of the best times I ever had with my friends were those nights where we’d watch all those films in a row, freaking out over every gore effect and driving some poor pair of parents crazy with the noise we’d make. I remember the first time I saw Jason Voorhees pop out of that lake and grab Adrienne King, and Don De Los Reyes, a chubby kid with arthritis, managed to do a complete backflip over the couch and run upstairs in one fluid move. I remember watching THE SILENT PARTNER by Curtis Hanson late one night, and when Elliott Gould found the present in the fish tank, I remember having to hide under the couch. There was something so great, so pure, and so much larger than life about those nights of one horror film after another. That’s how I first saw SCANNERS. That’s where I first saw THE HOWLING. That’s how I first saw WHEN A STRANGER CALLS and TERROR TRAIN and so many more.

Digging into my own horror marathon this last week or so, I haven’t been scared out of my mind once, and I think part of it is what I was talking about at the start of the column... I’m just different now. I’ve seen so many horror films, and the really seminal images were burnt into my grey matter years ago. Still... I’m having a blast, and today, I’ve got five titles to write about...

I’m not sure why Paramount dumped a bunch of great titles like PAPER MOON and THE TENANT recently priced at around $10 a pop, but I’d like to thank them. Because of that deal, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up Peter Bogdanovich’s 1968 film TARGETS, pretty much the perfect choice to kick off the Horrorthon. And I know some might argue that TARGETS isn’t a traditional horror film, but I think it’s important, a classic of the genre that represents a shift from one generation to the next, and that also serves as a canny commentary on that shift.

When Bogdanovich was working for Roger Corman, he was given an interesting challenge: use almost a half-hour of film originally shot for the movie THE TERROR and somehow construct a new film around it, featuring the star of the film, Boris Karloff. Whatever Corman expected to see as a result, it’s a safe bet it wasn’t TARGETS. Bogdanovich cast Karloff as Orlok, an aging horror film star on the verge of retirement. Orlok isn’t the main character in the film, though. Instead, Tim O’Kelly plays Bobby Thompson, an average, nearly invisible young man who we end up following. At first, he seems to be normal, if somewhat withdrawn. But we see that he has a preoccupation with both rifles and pistols, and he’s putting together a stockpile. His eventual shooting spree was inspired in no small part by the actions of Charles Whitman, the University of Texas sniper. It still freaks me out a little when I go to visit Harry in Austin and I see the tower where Whitman perched, shooting those people down, random and horrible. An incident like that, unheard of in the still-new age of television, was the Columbine of its day. Bogdanovich, obviously engrossed in the details of the case, even works in actual quotes from Whitman’s trial, and it’s chilling precisely because of how banal it is. Whitman was a new kind of boogeyman, and by making him the real monster in a film starring now less than the man who brought the classic Frankenstein’s monster to life, Bogdanovich suggested that the time of old monsters was past. After all, how scary is the idea of a shambling beast sewn together from the parts of dead people compared to the notion of an unexpected bullet in the head, something that could even kill a President?

In 1968, you didn’t have to create monsters; they were all around. Even now, the notion of a Manson or a Son of Sam or a Zodiac scares us in a way that no vampire or zombie can. Bogdanovich’s film can be seen as a headstone for the innocence of the classic horror film. At the conclusion of the film, there’s only one brief moment bringing Karloff and O’Kelly together, a very smart choice. It’s a great scene, a very real and human moment, and it also provides Karloff with a much more graceful exit from movies than the undignified end afforded his peer and rival, Bela Lugosi. If there’s anything negative I’d say about the film, it’s that it may be too clinical about its goals. Too stark. It recoils completely from anything that might be considered hopeful or entertaining. It’s grim and ugly stuff, unvarnished. That might make it a turn-off for viewers looking for a little fun with their scares.

Considering how cheap the disc is, it’s a good one. Best print I’ve ever seen of the film, easily, and the feature-length commentary by Bogdanovich is great, a conversational glimpse at how he feels now, reflecting back on the start of his career. He’s an enormously entertaining speaker about film in general, and he seems free of ego when talking about the movie. This is one of those great titles at the right price that would make a nice addition to any horror fan’s library.

I like Rob Schmidt’s first film, SATURN. I think he’s got real promise as a filmmaker. I just don’t think he did himself any favors by directing WRONG TURN, another in a long line of knock-offs of the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, this time with the added benefit of having Stan Winston-designed inbred hillbilly mutants as the bad guys. Don’t get me wrong... I’m not about to start ranting and raving about how awful the film is, because it’s not. Awful, that is. It’s more mediocre than anything. There’s a perfunctory set-up where Desmond Harrington gets lost on the back roads of West Virginia. That’s where he literally runs into the van of some young friends played by Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chiriqui, and Jeremy Sisto

And then the mutant hillbillies show up and the running and the screaming and the dying starts. And that’s pretty much all there is for the rest of the film. It’s odd, though... the movie never feels like it’s willing to play rough, even in its most graphic moments. Instead, it’s got all the emotional heft of a very special episode of anything on the WB. It all feels antiseptic... safe. That’s the best word for it. You know from the poster that Dushku’s the big name, so she’s not going to die, and you know from the first five minutes of the film that Harrington’s the star, and he’s not going to die, either. There are only two more main kids, so it’s just a question of how, not if, for the rest of the cast. The mutants aren’t scary, their faces are revealed way too early and don’t pack the punch you’d think a Winston creation might, and they remain such vaguely defined characters that they never really become frightening. Forget the always-unfair CHAINSAW comparison, which this film can’t survive. This is just a pale shadow of an excellent X-FILES episode called “Home,” which managed to be truly dangerous and disturbing within the restrictive creative confines of a network TV show. Here, even with the freedom of an R-rating and one of the best make-up houses in the business, the film never manages to become something alive or interesting, remaining a hollow rough sketch of a genre homage.

Fox did a nice job with the disc, at least. I haven’t listened to the commentary with Schmidt and his two leads, and I haven’t watched the four “making-of” featurettes, but if I ever get a hankering for more information on how they half-assed the movie, there it is, ready to go. Sound and picture on the widescreen transfer are solid, not great, and I’ll say this for the film... at least the words “Marcus” and “Nispel” don’t appear in the credits. Thank god for small miracles.

The notion of remaking a horror classic is a tricky thing, and when Paul Schrader took on the considerable burden of trying to better the Lewton/Tourneur CAT PEOPLE, it was an unwinnable proposition. To his credit, Schrader did the smartest thing you can do under those circumstances... he made something totally different. I don’t think the film ultimately adds up, but it’s a noble sort of near-miss.

Schrader was at the end of the most fertile creative period of his career in 1982, even if he didn’t know it yet. He wanted to continue working with Ferdinando Scarfiotti, his production designer from AMERICAN GIGOLO. Universal was remake crazy at the time. This was the same summer they released Carpenter’s THE THING, and they weren’t just pimping these out as cheap knockoffs, either. CAT PEOPLE is a fairly big studio movie with some elaborate set work (that zoo street set is a thing of beauty), make-up effects that were, at the time, state-of-the-art, and it ended up being the last film that Schrader directed for a studio for quite a while when it bombed upon release. There are some cool ideas in the story of a mysterious brother and sister (Malcolm McDowell and Natassia Kinski), separated for decades, then finally reunited. Seems Paul’s been searching for Irena for decades, convinced she’s the only one who can free him from their family’s curse. Schrader tiptoes around exposition in the film’s first half, never really putting a name on things, and it’s nice... keeps the viewer engaged. If you’re watching a werewolf film, chances are you already know the basic rules, so you can tune out when it’s all being explained to the characters onscreen. Here, you really don’t get a handle on things right away, and Alan Ormsby’s script only drops a few clues at a time. Everything does get all kinky and overt by the end of the movie, but even so, the ideas that do work are provocative, and I found it intriguing upon rewatching. Doesn’t hurt that Kinski gets very naked, and often, or that Annette O’Toole has a great topless scene in one of the few moments lifted directly from the original film. The ending is bleak, but it feels earned, and it certainly tries to be something more than “just” a monster movie. Watching it, more than anything, it made me want to see Schrader’s cut of EXORCIST IV before Renny Harlin drools all over it.

Universal’s widescreen release of CAT PEOPLE is a better-than-average special edition. There’s a feature-length commentary by Schrader, and there’s also an excellent behind-the-scenes documentary produced by Laurent Bouzereau. I met Laurent once, back in ’94 or ’95, to talk about doing this kind of work. It was obvious right away that he is the real deal, a rabid movie nerd, and he spent much of the meeting ranting about the unsung genius of MOONRAKER. His unbridled geek enthusiasm for certain titles is what enables him to do really good work on these discs, and the infatuation shines through loud and clear on this one. There are several short featurettes in addition to the main documentary, and Schrader has ample opportunity to defend his movie and explain it. Sound and picture is as good as can be, and overall, it’s an impressive disc.

Certain directors are going to show up several times on this marathon list, and Wes Craven is one of those repeat offenders. THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS is one of his flat-out weirdest misfires, and I hardly know what to say after watching Universal’s recent anamorphic reissue. I know Craven’s explained that this was his parody of the Reagan era, with Everett McGill and Grace Zabriskie playing “Daddy” and “Mommy,” shameless slumlords with psychotic tendancies. THEY LIVE ripped the Reagan years much more effectively, and still managed to entertain as a SF story in its own right. Here, the parody is witless and obvious, and nothing works as a story. A young boy, called Fool by his tarot-loving older sister, is ushered into a life of crime by the sinister Lester (Ving Rhames). Fool doesn’t see any way out, since his mother’s sick with cancer and his family has 24 hours to either come up with an exorbitant late rent fee or end up on the street. Fool goes into the strange, fortress-like house of his landlords in search of a rumored gold coin collection. What he finds is... well... not particularly scary. There are some creepy pale kids in the basement, a very young AJ Langer as the daughter of the creepy couple, and some other supposedly creepy stuff stacked on as well. Problem is, all that creepy gets ladled on to no real point. The big threats in the film turn out to be a cranky guard dog and a dude in a zipper fetish mask.

Universal’s new disc is a bare bones edition, but after sitting through the film, I can’t imagine what extras I would want to see, or what anyone would hope to get out of any further discussion of this miserable, muddled misfire.

One of my favorite horror filmmakers is Dario Argento, and slowly but surely, I’m filling out my collection of his work. Even though it’s an older disc, the Anchor Bay OPERA is new to me, and it was a welcome addition to the line-up. I don’t know what version of this I saw in the past, but I always thought of it as one of his lesser films. Seeing it now, though, I’m very fond of it. Set against the backdrop of a troubled production of Verdi’s MACBETH, this is one of Argento’s pumped-up giallos, a murder mystery, and not one of his whacked-out supernatural nightmares. When a young understudy is given a chance to sing the lead in a controversial, avant-garde staging of the opera, she finds herself the subject of instant adulation as well as the unwanted attention of a particularly creative psychopath.

It’s hard to explain just what it is about Argento’s work (or Carpenter’s work, or Cronenberg’s work) that elevates them above so much of the genre. It’s an innate something, the way they are able to summon just the right mood, their command of composition, the rhythm of their editing. Argento’s one of those guys who doesn’t even remotely seem interested in making films about reality, but that’s fine. I like his world, the way it looks, the way he uses color and shadow, the way sound works in his films, and his scores. Like fellow countryman and occasional collaborator Sergio Leone, Argento is all about the score. You shouldn’t just listen to his movies. You should turn them all the way up so they assault you, which is the whole point.

There are some great images here, like the special eyepieces the killer uses to make the singer watch as he murders her friends. It’s a clever visual riff off A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and it’s one of those things that really sticks with you after you see it. Anchor Bay did their typical great work putting together a nice edition for fans, complete with a 40 minute documentary about the making-of, and a crisp, clean THX transfer that really popped off my widescreen set. If you like the director in general, or if you have a particular jones for this film, either way you’d do well to look around and find a copy of this title now, since Anchor Bay has discontinued it and it’s technically out of print.

I’ll be back this weekend with more of the Horrorthon, including two Gary Sherman films, another Wes Craven title, and one of the great horror movies of the ‘80s, a textbook example of how to ruin a great film’s reputation through endless shitty sequels. I’m also going to be seeing THE TWO TOWERS: EXTENDED EDITION and all the documentaries off the disc tomorrow, so I’ll be taking notes for a special column next week. Until then, Happy Halloween, everybody.

QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION

Who do you think does the best special editions for DVD right now, and why?

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 31, 2003, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Hard Rock Save The Space!

    by Balaabaribibo

    Yeah.

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 6:13 p.m. CST

    Yeah but Mori - the thing about "Burnt Offerings" is....

    by RobinP

    ...the final scene, when Oliver reed goes back in to the house and comes up behind Karen Black. The look of total, sheer evil on her face stayed with me for a long, loooong time after seeing the movie. (And this was around '79, I'd been regulary scaring the shit out of myself for seven or eight years before that, and Ms Black freaked me out more that Linda Blair ever could. Sure, the rest of the movie is pretty generic, the chauffeur was pretty spooky, but the ending.... Okay, I got that off my chest I'm going back to read the rest of the column.

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 6:16 p.m. CST

    Best Special Editions ?

    by RobinP

    Seeing that I've just finished watching the 25th Anniversary Special Edition of "Halloween" - I guess that my vote goes to Anchor Bay. You have to hand it to 'em, especially after the Evil Dead trilogy box.

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Paramount do the worst DVDs

    by Rex Manning

    Dunno who does the best, but Paramount are crap! You want Extras? Mission Impossible? Nothing! Truman Show? Nothing! Trading Palces? Nothing! etc, etc...

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 6:54 p.m. CST

    RE: Rex Manning

    by symon

    To be fair, Paramount has done a great job with their two-disc editions of the first six Star Trek movies. Tons of new and old interviews, commentaries, interviews with scientists, featurettes, etc. Guess they only roll out the red carpet for Star Trek, though, which might not be your thing...

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Happy Halloween

    by DukeDeMondo

    Hey folks. Mori, great column, which i'm new to, and i look forward to reading in the future. Man, i've kept all my horror DVD purchases over the last couple of weeks or so for this weekend. It's now midnight and i havent got a single one on yet. so, over the next three days i shall watch; Two Michael Reeves films (Witchfinder General and The Sorcerers), The Incredible Melting Man, Mountain Of The Cannibal God, The Beyond, Versus (zombies vs yakuza! Fuck yeah!!) The Honeymoon Killers, Argento's Profondo Rosso, Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom, Zombie Nosh, plus two non-horrors if i get time (Jesus Of Montreal and Chuck & Buck) Can't wait. Gonna get started right away with The Incredible Melting Man and Mountain Of The Cannibal God. Plus, shit man, i've got a few things ordered off the net which will hopefully arrive sometime in the next five or so days (Nakata's Dark Waters, the Criterion edition of Kwaidan, Kairo (pulse) and The House That Dripped Blood) But, Ed, you ask, how can you afford all this? Well, let us never underestimate the value of student loans. Plus, since i stopped drinking (six months this time next week), all that money spent on cider and beer gets put to proper use, like the above. Tonight, though, my fiancee and I watched Darkness Falls, which started well, then got really pedestrian and mundane really quickly. Awful, awful script. I also hired out Session 9, which i'm looking forward to. Wow. I love Halloween!!!!!

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 7:11 p.m. CST

    I love the Back to the Future Special Edition Trilogy

    by HardcoreRocker

    The extras are great, and the commentaries extremely insightful and informative. I wish Crispin would've done one, but there's enough about Crispin without him, so it's all gravy. www.rockithardcore.com

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 7:52 p.m. CST

    OPERA is a masterpiece up until that bullshit ending.

    by Cash Bailey

    Hated, hated, HATED it!

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 8:43 p.m. CST

    You can't go past Anchor Bay.

    by Cash Bailey

    The quality and care they lavish their titles with is second-to-none. Mind you, they're sure to remind you of that when you go to pay for the discs. Phew!

  • Oct. 31, 2003, 8:52 p.m. CST

    85 minutes of pus-spewing wonderment

    by DukeDeMondo

    Just finished watching William Sach's The Incredible Melting Man. Whilst Rick Baker's stunning SFX were in danger of being overshadowed by the awe-inspiring levels of aesthetic inadequacy on display, the film was hugely enjoyable, and not only in a sneering "ha ha, how shit" kind of way, either (although that played some part.) Very interesting, actually, especially in the final third, when the whole affair becomes almost Brechtian. (Never thought i'd live to describe The Incredible Melting Man as Brechtian!) The idea that however much of a monster a man may become, theres still a glimmer of humanity in there somewhere. The thought that we might be better served looking at ourselves than creating a demon for our collective outpourings of contempt is especially relevant at the moment. The real villains of the piece are the authorities, and those damn old NASA maniacs, who start the whole thing off again by sending another group of astronauts to Saturn at the film's close, the very location were our poor hero was afflicted in the first place. Well, just outside it. ("You've never seen anything until you've seen the sun through the rings of saturn") Or, failing that, just look out for the severed head over a makeshift waterfall moment, or the criminally underexplored area of cannibalized pensioners, which gets a showing here. Hurrah to Vipco for this uncut slightly-cleaned up print, which only costs 5.99, but some extras would have been nice. Next up, Matthew Hopkins : Witchfinder General!!!!

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 3 a.m. CST

    Best DVD out there: FOTR: E.E

    by thx777b

    Best overall dvd till now is still FOTR:E.E has a dvd had more hours of special features than this thing? i doubt it. A close second is FIGHT CLUB because lets be honest it was the first REAL 2-discer or at least the one that started the fashion. After 3 years its still one of the best dvd's around... 2004: YEAR OF THE STAR WARS DVDs, lets hope the O.T's not the S.E's!

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 7:17 a.m. CST

    Burnt Offerings

    by Derek1227

    I recall seeing this on network TV when I was a kid, probably '77 or '78 (haven't seen it since), and the hearse driver scared the shit out of me! I kept expecting to hear that thing drive up to my house, and ol' pale face slam a casket through my bedroom door. I also recall thinking that Godzilla movies had cool f/x back then. ;^)

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 12:32 p.m. CST

    yes, Paramount is really lagging behind on DVD's

    by beamish13

    I can't believe they're still releasing discs without so much as a fucking trailer (which Universal did unforgivably with THREE O'CLOCK HIGH recently).

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 12:53 p.m. CST

    GITS: Innocence

    by talbuckin

    People, check this teaser trailer of Ghost in the shell sequel: http://www.innocence-movie.jp/information/trailer/tokuho1.html , and then buy Millennium Actress. no problem

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 4:06 p.m. CST

    Speaking of Horror DVDs

    by Halloween68

    Has anyone heard of when there might be a release of NIGHT OF THE CREEPS on DVD? This is one of those films that would benefit a whole lot from DVD availabilty because of all of the alternate material from the TV footage of the film. Also, why hasn't FROM BEYOND made it to DVD yet? RE-ANIMATOR has had 2 releases already. And Bride of R-A is already out. What give there. Stuart Gordon needs to be pushing his films more. Try to get them out there to his fans. Come on, Stuey. Let's get crackin'.

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Clint Eastwood

    by Cincy Vigilante

    Why does ALL the Eastwood classics get the shitty dvd releases? Man With no name trilogy? PATHETIC! What the hell? All the Dirty Harry stuff? Sad sad sad...

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Above and beyond...

    by skitch

    Anyone else, it's Anchor Bay. I just watched the Halloween 25th anniversary edition and the documentaries, behind the scenes and the whole package was well worth it. I always look forward to almost anything they release since the VHS Dawn of the Dead package a few years back. I think the worst, by far is MGM as they have such a great thing going with the Midnight Movies collections yet they fail to add anything of any consequence. And on one final note, have to agree on the notion that some horror movies are better left to memory. There are several that I have watched over again and they don't conjure up the same scares as Exorcist, Halloween ot the Dead movies do...but I think if you watch them in a non nostalgic haze, they turn out to be ok movies and have to be accepted for what they are.

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Right now...

    by Cap'n Chaos!

    I'd say, probably 20th Century, even if they have the occassional misfire. The fact that they did so much for Donnie Darko when it was an unknown film alone helped make them a favorite with me. The Star Wars discs are great... the studio started out pretty crappy, but since they made a real commitment I think they probably have the highest average. Also, while Disney still has some problems, they've been getting much better. Some of the latest releases have been a bit of a step backwards forgetting about a lot of the adult fans of their work, but most of their 2 disc editions are among the best out there. They've been putting out some decent stuff with their subsidiaries as well with some wonderful packages recently for classics like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Tarantino films. Just too bad they're double dipping a great deal of what they're releasing. I suppose I'll have to sell off my old Alice in Wonderland come next year...

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Opera, random thoughts, etc

    by Blacklist

    I was really put off by the decision to use heavy metal to accompany the murder scenes in Opera, which is the same problem I had with Phenomena. Totally threw the horror out the window for me. That said, I adore every score by the immortal Goblin for Argento's movies, especially for Deep Red. THAT's one to blast through your speakers. Mori, I'm on the verge of agreeing with you on the difficulty of getting frightened at horror movies anymore. Though, I don't think adults lose the ability to 'fill in the blanks' as much as their definitions of what's frightening change. From a personal standpoint, fear of the unknown is something that resonates with me at this point in my life, at least more than say, serial killers or loud shadows. Ju-On is probably the first movie in a long time that has really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, along with similar movies that come close like Uzumaki. I generally consider myself a jaded horror fan, and find it difficult to get scared at much nowadays, not suggesting I can't still appreciate a good horror movie. But it's movies like Ju-On that give me hope that there are filmmakers out there that really grasp the things that scare adults.

  • Adventures of Robin Hood. Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Singin' in the Rain. True Romance. Unforgiven. Amadeus. The Mission. And who knows how many others in the pipeline. They're fucking kicking ASS right now, and nobody else is even coming close (though the best single special edition dvd of all time, I'd have to say, is BLACK HAWK DOWN, and that's Columbia).

  • Nov. 1, 2003, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Cat People

    by RenoNevada2000

    I remember sitting in the theatre (Eric Twin outside of Harrisburg, PA) with folks for some movie back in 1982 when the trailer for CAT PEOPLE came on and the whole auditorium burst into laughter at how bad the movie looked.

  • Nov. 2, 2003, 1:50 a.m. CST

    I saw the original b&w CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) when I was 6 and

    by FrankDrebin

    It's out in one of those deluxe Criterion dvd's, but I don't feel like paying $40 for it. Also, beware of the 1998 remake, starring--of all people--standup comic Larry Miller.

  • Nov. 2, 2003, 3:21 a.m. CST

    You're too kind, Mori

    by Renata

    WRONG TURN was miserable. Just an insulting, lazy, unimaginative work. I watched it with ZERO expectations and the movie failed to even live up to that. I listened to a bit of the commentary and couldn't believe Schmidt compared this crap to CHAINSAW and, even, DELIVERANCE. What an ego. Based on this and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN SUBURBIA, this is another example of a guy who got lucky and got to make movies, despite a complete absence of talent and originality.

  • Nov. 2, 2003, 3:38 a.m. CST

    Satan's triangle

    by Gorgomel

    The scariest film I've ever seen ! I would like a special DVD edition of this one with an audio commentary by Kim Novak.

  • Nov. 2, 2003, 2:42 p.m. CST

    pulp_dusk

    by DocPazuzu

    You're right, it's not a horror movie. It's more like a documentary on the social practices of West Virginia.

  • Nov. 3, 2003, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Is the Nausicaa DVD coming out DEC 5 of this year?

    by Drath

    I thought Nausicaa.net said the DVD was recently pushed back to Dec 5 from sometime in November. Don't tell me it's December 5 of 2004! Ack, that hurts. A theatrical release would be good though, even with a dub so long as it's not the Warriors of the Wind version.