Hey folks, Harry here with the last DVD column of June. Some pretty great stuff on here, but not a lot of titles. Same next week, some good stuff, just not a lot of it. I suppose that’s a good thing, what with budgets everyone is on these days, but if you’re gonna take a risk on a title this week – consider giving this first title on the list a go. I found it to be a surprising little horror film that got me. Neat to discover those from time to time. Titles you didn’t see back in the day that surprise you now. Anyway – the pics and links take you to Amazon like always, and if you decide to purchase a title through the link, that purchase price goes to help support this column in a small way that is quite appreciated. So thank you. Now, let’s get to it!
Tuesday, June 28th, 20011
The other day, I put this on because I had gone through just about everything of interest in the stacks that surround me everywhere, but… I had never seen THE NESTING. I looked over the box – read about it. I’d done this before, but for some reason, though I had the disc for a few weeks, I’d never put it in. It was late at night, and this film got me.
Madness horror films are the scariest to me. Like Fulci horror – where you have one of two options of interpretation… Either – you’re going mad or some serious demonic shit is fucking with you. Either way, you’re completely screwed. You’re not going to run for help – mainly because you’re in the middle of nowhere, pre-cel phones, and it’s 10 days till your new home has phone service. So when crazy shit begins happening, ordinarily – you’d run. But the crazy woman that lives in this house… she wrote a horror novel, described every facet of this house that she had never been to – and OK. Say you write a horror novel – and it is a house based horror. If you, while walking through the forest suddenly came across the exact vision of the house you imagined. Would you go in? Would you RENT the place? Would you live there all alone, before phone service? Lastly, when significant holy fuck supernatural shit begins happening… would you leave? I say YES! THE NESTING is a horror film for you to yell at the main character, but it won’t do any good. You see, she’s either going nuts or the pit of fucking hell is her home. I loved this movie. Never heard of it. Eli Roth gives the film his full endorsement and he did borrow a bit from THE NESTING. At least one good kill. BLUE UNDERGROUND has come through with another obscure grindhouse era horror flick that I just can’t wait to introduce to friends.
Earlier this month there was some hub-bub about some of the Blu Ray forums that the FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING EE Blu-Ray mastering was completely fucked with an ugly green hint over everything, oblitering any real whites and messing up the entire gorgeous color palate of the film. I wrote Peter Jackson to alert him to the rumors. Peter had Andrew Lesnie look into it – you see… of the 3 films, FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING EE was the only film of the trilogy that did not go through the extensive and expensive Digital Color Grading process. They did that for this. Peter had seen the new mastering of FELLOWSHIP – in fact anyone that had seen it on HD broadcasts recently was looking at the gorgeous master sans any tinting. In Peter’s opinion the film has simply never looked better – including theatrically, because this new digital color grading was something that Peter wanted from the very beginning.
Let’s face it, this is the version of the movies we’ve been waiting for on BLU RAY. The only thing that is missing – is a HOBBIT Teaser Behind The Scenes special feature for us all to watch about a 1000 times. To be honest, I haven’t had time to fully explore this set yet, I’ve only just received them. But I did put FELLOWSHIP on to double check to make sure there was no problems with the color – and the rumors were false. It looks stunning. We have much to celebrate with this release!
Now for the only bummer of the release. The majority of bonus features are in Standard Def and on DVDs. That said, for me, the introduction of the Expanded Editions on Blu Ray is awesome, but there is wiggle room for a future edition. With everything in High Def. But hey… That’s Big Business for us. They know when they own us.
Oh I’m afraid I really dig Zack’s director’s cut of the film. For one it puts in an absolutely bugnuts musical number, that is all kinds of trashy and fun. And in a way, completely sets the tone for the film that follows. The other scenes help quite a bit with the film – and wow does this film look spectacular on Blu Ray. BTW… my new Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 home projector that I bought to replace my 4 year old model that died on me recently… and SUCKER PUNCH was one of the very first things I put in – and the brightness, sharpness and color punch is just stunning out of this machine. SUCKER PUNCH will get its playtime, but man – when I put in SPEED RACER – jesus – my screen came to live like you wouldn’t believe. Oh yeah, back to SUCKER PUNCH, this is one of those discs with the exhaustive MAXIMUM MOVIE MODE – so you can have Zack standing in your living room taking you through his film. Well. On a screen, at least.
Ya know, it’s kind of fun to laugh at, but I didn’t want it to be that kind of film. I love the crazy awesome Nick Cage that has been cranking out over the top films as of late, but this just isn’t one of those. I mean, this is worth watching to simply add it to the list of funky Cage flicks I’ve seen, but then I also like Ron Perlman and his role is, well, obviously not his best – but watching this film, it has folks like Stephen Graham, Christopher Lee – and ya know, I make it a point to see every film I can get my hands on with Christopher Lee in it. This is not the worst – and isn’t close. Instead it’s just – if you watch in the right mood, you’ll have a lot of fun. But I kinda wanted it to be just badass. It isn’t quite that.
Right now, I’m watching Criterion’s Blu Ray release of Jean Cocteau’s BELLE ET LA BETE (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST)… This is the second time I’m watching it today – this time, as Phillip Glass’ astonishing OPERA version of the fim. Which is just stunning. This is one of the great works of cinema ever created. It has my favorite monster make-up in history. It is my very favorite fantasy film. And yet here I am, forced to talk about BEASTLY. Look at that cover. It looks like a terrible SyFy film. Right? But without their fun goofy fucking energy. This looks like a horrifying nightmare of a way to spend 86 minutes of your life. Unless you really loved RED RIDING HOOD and think I’m an old geezer completely out of touch with what is what today. I mean, there’s always that chance. That BEASTLY is astonishingly brilliant cinema. But I didn’t get a disc to check out – and have not felt duty bound to check it out. Although – I have to say… I’m morbidly curious. But you know what they said about curiousity… right?
I really wanted to like this film. I love Charles Bronson & Toshiro Mifune in RED SUN – it was a cheap film, but beyond just having those two it had the stunning Ursula Andress… oh, and Alain Delon! Essentially in a few ways this was the film I carried into the theater with me. Now I knew WARRIOR’S WAY was going to be a green screen film, with absurdist action and crazy CG sunsets – and I’m totally all about that. BUT – I challenge some super geek to get a great print of RED SUN – and create better environments for those 4 actors. The 2 years of work that it would take, in my opinion, would be better time invested, than seeing WARRIOR’S WAY even once. And btw – at the end of that hypothetical exercise – I’m betting we’d discover we ruined a great naturalistic film and turned it into a cartoon that just doesn’t work. BUT what if it were badass. That’s what the trailers made me wonder about WARRIOR’S WAY… what if it were badass. It isn’t. Kate Bosworth is a new level of fucking hell in this thing. Every moment on screen n this she makes me want to just scream. Every actor is on a different page in this film – and all those pages suck. BUT – I do know it is possible to like the movie, because Yoko and I disagree about this one, she likes it. Tim League and I did not. Just beautiful neat looking trash cinema.
I had a blast with this. But I just don’t think I’ll check out the enormity of COWBOY BEBOP the series. IMAGE has done a very good job on the transfer. The lines are extremely clean and sharp and crazy to watch. I’m used to watching these characters on VHS.
This wasn’t a very good film on initial viewing, but the digital effects look universally pretty dreadful today – and the acting and writing has just never been worse for this flick. This is one of those films that just makes me wonder what they were thinking…
Then you watch ZATHURA and ya think… OH FUCK, YES! THIS! This is the weird old game movie that I want to watch a few dozen times here and there. This was Favreau’s first film that made me wonder just what he was capable of. Fiercely imaginative. The mix of practical and digital really sells the action. The score is fantastic, but the surrealistic imagery of that house in space – it just flatly looks amazing on Blu Ray. ZATHURA was greatly overlooked at the time, but check it out now on Blu. Favreau has earned a lot of trust – and ZATHURA will get you good. Great kids flick.
The idea that ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is on Blu Ray just cracks me up. For the longest fucking time, the only way to see this notorious classic was in dupey blackmarket convention copies at HORROR SHOWS – and now it’s in the bright sparkly world of digital bliss? Sheer Insanity indeed. This is the craziest of the Italian Zombie films. It’s kinda hilarious, omg gory – and just – there’s so much. The notion of seeing this on Blu Ray – frightens me. But ya know, how can any hardcore zombie geek not love up on this Blu? It’s fucking ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST on Blu Ray. The end is nigh!
Louis Malle does a ALICE IN WONDERLAND take all his own. This is a film on the edge of a war, not sure which… it isn’t important, it is a war, it is terrible – and the young main character, the lovely Cathryn Harrison hides out in the country. The moment the film first starts getting odd – realize – it gets odder. But it is so rich with character and just oddness that isn’t entirely captivating, but it’s odd – and like most odd things, you take note. This isn’t, in my opinion, one of Malle’s greatest works, but it is surely a very interesting experience. Interesting because of just how out there it gets. Very unique film in Malle’s filmography and one I love having.
This is a wonder. I love children’s tales – and this is about a little 11 year old girl in a crazy slapstick cinematic gag filled tale of adventures in Paris – and yeah, Malle nails it. The Criterion Transfer is… well hell, there’s just no chance you’re likely to see this film in any other way. But taken in tandem with the above film by Malle – it gives you an idea of how different he could be, and boy is Louis different. Criterion extras: Video Interviews with Cast & Crew. LE PARIS DE ZAZIE Trailers. New Interviews New and Improved Translation and Subtitles And more.
I haven’t cracked this one open yet, but I fully intend to shortly. This is a silent film, that some of the most talented men in the history of cinema… well, they got together and made it before they’d made films like CRISS CROSS, DETOUR, SOME LIKE IT HOT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, HIGH NOON… well, just look up Robert Siodmak, Edgar Ulmer, Billy Wilder and Fred Zinneman. Their combined filmographies are staggering. Set in Berlin, long before WWII – the film kind of foreshadows elements of Italian NeoRealism, the French New Wave and techniques that were later used in films like GUN CRAZY and further still to Altman and even 70’s Blaxploitation. BUT – this is a silent film. This is a German Silent film – and so there are remnants of German Expressionism, fuck – you even got a good dose of Eisenstein reflected in this. I saw the film in a film history class a long time ago, The real amazing thing about the film is that it shows a Germany that just shortly after this film, never existed again. Pre-Hitler BERLIN is kind of amazing to see. Hell, pre-division. This is a time travel device as well as just a cinematic marvel. The two Malle flicks had wonderful transfers, and I have no reason to doubt this will be outstanding.
Here’s the extras:
New high-definition digital restoration, created in collaboration with the Filmmuseum Amsterdam
Two scores—a silent-era-style score by the Mont Alto Orchestra and a modern composition by Elena Kats-Chernin, performed by the Czech Film Orchestra—both presented as uncompressed stereo soundtracks
Weekend am Wannsee, Gerald Koll’s 2000 documentary about the film, featuring an interview with star Brigitte Borchert
Ins Blaue Hinein, a thirty-six-minute short from 1931 by People on Sunday cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Noah Isenberg and reprints by scriptwriter Billy Wilder and director Robert Siodmak
This film is fucking weird. It deals with an adult baby, not named Harry Knowles. This film made me confront feelings I have and realize I have problems. Just kidding. Seriously, there’s shit in this film that will damage a fragile psyche – in subtle and not-so subtle WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SEE – kinds of ways. Severin is doing good work bringing films like this out to damage future generations. So f’d up.
Having spent some time in Rotterdam – and learning from the Dutch friends I made there – the Dutch really really hate Nazis. Especially those that survived what happened in Rotterdam. So when I read that this was a Nordic Underground versus the Nazis during occupation flick… Well that's one that I'm unfamiliar with. After all, we've seen French Underground, Dutch Underground, Czech Underground, German Underground. I hadn't seen the Oslo story. And then just the sheer pulp of the title, MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR – well, I had to watch – and I fucking loved this. It tells the story from the beginning of the occupation through the end – and we follow the evolution of the real life Max Manus, saboteur – I love these kinds of stories. It is cinematic, exotic – and they fight my favorite bad guys to see get killed good. Good stuff!
Erotic Art Cinema is so fucking amazing. We really have nothing like this today. I mean, the style and look of this, it is just not like any film I can point to in the last couple of decades. Perhaps a touch of CQ, but way fucking hotter – as in, nudity and sexual activities, but with a style and a kink embedded into the odd era in which it was made. When was that? 1969. Which is right at the beginning of the erotic movement in cinema, before it just imploded into video pornography. This is nowhere near what Hardcore pornography is, but as a result – it’s something you can watch and appreciate and discuss… all while getting turned on. It is a classy, dinner coat kind of erotica. I really enjoyed this.
Directed by the notorious Ruggero Deodato, of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and JUNGLE HOLOCAUST fame, I basically know nothing more than that. Well, it’s 1976, has fantastic cover art and a title that really gets my interest. I ordered one of these before it went out of stock, haven’t received it yet, but I’m hoping it is in today’s mail. This looks like Deodato’s crime film – and since Deodato is known for no holds barred exploitive filmmaking, I’m curious to see this. It has some good reviews, was referenced in KILL BILL VOL 2. Think about eyeballs. Well, that’s all I need to know. I want to see this.
That said, I’m through with this week’s releases. And it finishes up the month of June in terms of what was released. We kick off next month with Miike’s towering 13 ASSASSINS, Wolfgang’s masterwork DAS BOOT on Blu, Jason Eisener’s first awesome flick HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, WALL-E 3 disc Blu, RATATOUILLE 2 disc Blu, Hammer’s WAKE WOOD, FOUR WEDDINGS & A FUNERAL Blu, OVERBOARD Blu, THE SACRIFICE on Blu, CRACK IN THE WORLD Blu, HANNIE CAULDER Blu, OBLIVION, TRAILERS FROM HELL Vol 2, RIDER ON THE RAIN & FAREWELL FRIEND, NIGHTMARES IN RED WHITE AND BLU: THE EVOLUTION OF THE AMERICAN HORROR FILM and that’s about it. So until next week – let me say one last thing. HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT THIS SET OF BLUs?