Ain't It Cool News (
DVD News

Harry's DVD PICKS & PEEKS - April-May 2012: THE ASPHYX, Astaire, Kelly, Rodriguez, OZU, Cardiff, SHOGUN ASSASSIN and much more!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with the catch up on my DVD PICKS & PEEKS – and yeah, I’m struggling to keep up with everything, but I’ve gotten a bit ahead on episodes of the show – so even though I personally sacrificed seen AVENGERS (which kicks an unholy continent of ass) for a 2nd time to make sure I finished this. So that tomorrow I could write my AVENGERS review – so everyone can relax – that is coming soon. As usual, the images and links take you to Amazon, which can give you more info on the title, but also you can purchase it through the link, which helps to keep this column going. For that I thank you. Here we go…

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012


I love seventies British horror – specifically, I really love just about any film that attempts to quasi-seriously examine the world of the supernatural. Be it a film like THE HAUNTING or even something as absurdly delightful as GHOSTBUSTERS… THE ASPHYX is about that fascinating time in history where photography was new thing… The film even covers the earliest days of… film photography…. And in particular – they have a chemical intense light which just happens to capture and hold The Asphyx – which is essentially our specific angel of death. They theorize that if you capture your Asphyx, you could live forever, they test it and it is accurate. I LOVE THIS STUFF. Now for a warning. There is an unfortunate truth to this film which makes it the greatest film ever to show your Beavis & Butthead-esque friends. The title. It is pronounced, “ASS-FIX” – and with a British accent – you will hear these men longing to capture and hold their ASS FIX. Yeah. So this is a serious and fascinating film – that will cause the room to explode into inappropriate giggle fits – and that’s completely ok. You’ll love it! The Blu Ray is great. HIGHLY recommended!


Ok – so this could be a problem for Universal, because when they go this awesome on BUCK PRIVATES – I’m wildly curious how they’ll top it for the even great Abbott & Costello films that are yet to come. First off, the print & transfer are outstanding. Seriously great. Then you have the whole Blu-Book presentation, which is my favorite kind of Blu-Ray. Love the Blu-book format. Then there’s the extras, beginning with the ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET JERRY SEINFELD thing, which is a whole lot of fun. From there though – they drop the ball, putting on their UNIVERSAL 100 Years propaganda pieces. I like that these exist – and I do like THE CARL LAEMMLE ERA piece and the UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS – but I could have used something more on Bud & Lou. Or THE ANDREWS SISTERS which are amazing to watch in these long uninterrupted numbers. This is a wonderful film and it is amazing to watch Bud & Lou doing there thing in this level of quality.


Now as great a Blu Ray as this is. If you really love Brad Bird’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL this Blu Ray is not the one you want. It’s great, it has great extras – but the one over at BEST BUY has a whole extra hour of behind the scenes content. And as a geek, I wanted that hour! Extras aside – GHOST PROTOCOL is a riveting action adventure – however, no home version of this film will fully reflect the awesome of seeing this on an IMAX screen. The filmmaking in Dubai is just exquisite. Brad Bird had me a long time ago, here he just makes it look breathtakingly easy. But then logic breaks down what they did – and watching the extras… you’ll crave that extra hour – so get this one at BEST BUY!


A riveting film. It is impossible to look away during this movie, the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are just electric. I just, it is hard for me to watch such broken people. They’re out there. This is absolutely real, it’s just not my reality. The guilt and self-degrading nature that they imbue sex in this film is just well… SHAMEful. Because I can tell you, this film has given a lot of talk amongst my film friends that would love to just be one more notch in Fassbender’s headboard. Steve McQueen crafts a film that focuses on some pretty, broken, charismatic & fragile souls. It isn’t an easy watch, it is one you get lost in, some will love that journey… others have found it pretentious. Personally, it is pretty great work.


This is the David Attenborough Narrated Version – which means, it is the only version worth picking up. I love Attenborough’s voice – and there’s something that makes it just note perfect when talking about the Arctic regions. In particular I really quite enjoyed the special feature on a look at the scientific wonders & work that are going on these desolate frozen corners of our planet. As is typical – the image is everything and the BBC’s folks know how to capture what seems to be absolute magic. For me, it is a must pick up – and I’m glad I did.


This is pretty much the worst case scenario. Not only is the apocalypse going on outside, but you’re surviving it in a bunker with the worst pieces of shit fuck heads the world ever decided to lodge together in a single spot. And yeah, we get to see a story in that situation. It’s fucked. Literally. If you can’t take watching the worst things that people can do to one another. Well, that’s why you may not want to watch this. But if you’ve been given an edge by the anvil of cinema, then you could eat this shit and call it German Chocolate Cake. I love German Chocolate Cake. I don’t get to very often anymore, but when those occassions come, my eyes roll over and yeah… Michael Biehn as a hardcore survivalist in the most fucked foundation bunker of all time? And I love Lauren German. But there’s stuff that happens in the dark, isolated spaces of the planet where people just go FUCK IT ALL INSANE – and that happens in this – and I kinda love it, sick shit, but I can’t deny I do. I have very specific friends that will dig the hell out of this. They know who they are.


This is a generational thing, I think. But just about every kid I knew that was my age – we collectively saw this film with our parents on a warm perfect night of childhood and we all thought that Tom Selleck was the fucking man, and this was some daring shit. There was a point in time where people thought INDIANA JONES = TOM SELLECK, this film would like to argue for that… but really in the light of day and out of the haze of nostalgia… HARRISON FORD is in fact THE MAN and Tom Selleck can go suck it. But Brian Blessed’s Suleman Khan? So awesome. Hell… Jack Weston, Robert Morley, Wilford Brimley… they were kind of perfect. And it had the chick from JAWS 3D!!! Yeah, this is a special memory to revisit.


For $15 you can gain a four movie working knowledge of the classic Corman Nurse films. This is important film geek knowledge. This is a KIND of film. A sort of movie that I feel everybody should develop a working comical knowledge of. Many of us experienced these as Skinamax late night features . I know for a fact I saw CANDY STRIPE NURSES that way – and yes, I did record it on VHS for my friends to appreciate. And yes, I’ve had a healthy love and respect for the profession. I have never developed a better appreciation for the profession after my time on deck this past year – but I’d lie if from time to time, I didn’t fantasize about the exact situations that these films had PROMISED Me. And, folks – in reality – there really are some amazingly hot nurses, though they’re all beautiful. This is one of the finest of works put to film. They were doing GOD’s work, all just so Wakoo’s HELLOOOOOOO NURSE exclamation years later… well it made me laugh very hard. These should be on Blu Ray though! The sinematography just screams for it.

LATE SPRING Criterion Blu

OZU! You know, I love film. I never grow tired of giving a new genius a bit of my time – and in return, I feel sometimes as though my soul is the better for it. As though you gained perspective, knowledge of a manner that only a film at it’s best can do. OZU is one of those filmmakers. LATE SPRING makes me crave a daughter. To have a great relationship to form. It won’t at all be as beautiful as the one OZU captures in LATE SPRING, but I hope the soul is similar. The film has a peace to it that is just invigorating. Refreshing. A film to make others feel empty, that’s LATE SPRING. Print isn’t perfect, but this is the best we’re likely to ever receive. There’s not nearly enough of us that love on OZU.


Yeah, I know – I got sent the DVD in advance of complaining about no Blu ray. Then a week later I was in Best Buy and picked up the Blu. Now that Blu is available to all. ROADRACERS has an attitude that I can’t help but want to spend some time in. There’s a swagger to it all. David Arquette is cooler than he could ever possibly really be. Rodriguez puts a bite your knuckle hot Salma Hayek next to Arquette. The bastards are bastards and the fun is fun. This is the first real Drive In film of his career – and I love that Robert is trying to keep that genre alive and kicking – and he’s doing it. ROADRACERS was made on a song, Robert made it kick ass.


The most fucked up awesome Fred Astaire movie ever made. It begins with Astaire in a cockpit gunning down a Zero over the Pacific. He returns to a Hero’s welcome back home as greatest of THE FLYING TIGERS – yes, the real group. He jumps off the Train publicity tour to enjoy his stateside leave. He then becomes the most suave and debonair stranger in a city, stalking it’s prettiest available singe girl, Joan Leslie (George M Cohan’s lady), and it is actually kinda of creepy. He stalks her. Lies to her. And when he begins openly courting her with his musical and dance abilities… FUCK EDWARD, you want Fred. This guy is the ideal person to stalk you. Watch and you’ll agree.


Gene Kelly is a soldier that returns to the front to find his “wartime’ Bride has forgotten him and returned to her well-to-do roots of high society, now believing she’s too good for this ‘soldier’. The film then becomes about torturing this dumbass that would turn her back on the absolute perfection of humanity that is Gene Kelly. The musical numbers are amazing, in particular the one with Kelly and the Kids – where you realize, this really is the best man ever. It’s outstanding, so beautiful that it elicits tears of joy. Really great Kelly musical.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

SHOGUN ASSASSIN – 5 Film Collector’s Edition Blu Ray

ACK! Ok – this isn’t the original language versions. Dagnabbit! Well, ain’t nothing terrible about the way I’ve mainly seen this series my entire life, I was just hoping to hell this set would give us that other elusive thing that needs to not be so damn elusive. So here’s what we got… The first two LONE WOLF & CUB movies edited into an English Language film called SHOGUN ASSASSIN. Then the 3rd LW&C was turned into SHOGUN ASSASSIN 2: LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH. 4th LW&C became SHOGUN ASSASSIN 3: SLASHING BLADES OF CARNAGE. 5th LW&C became SHOGUN ASSASSIN 4: FIVE FISTFULS OF GOLD, leaving the final LW&C to become SHOGUN ASSASSIN 5: COLD ROAD TO HELL. This is the series as American Audiences have been given it – and as a kid, I saw these films a lot. My father loved Ogami Itto – and they released using these ultra-violent tales to teach me of the badass bond between a father and a son. The dubbing is something I find nostalgically pleasing, but having seen the originals as they were meant – I can’t deny I long for the pure form. Though I do love this too. Can’t wait to have Massawyrm over to watch the series!


As a kid, (hey, it’s how I tell stories), my parents didn’t have Netflix, nor did they have Blu-Rays, DVD, Laserdiscs, Video Discs, Beta or VHS at the beginning. They collected FILM. 8mm, 16mm and 35mm. They were hardcore. Film prints were crazy expensive, that we could only add a few titles a year to the mix, but movie trailers in the format were very affordable. So Dad edited together these 50 minute reels of trailers on 16mm – and one of those on that I’ve seen countless times in my life, was the 60 second trailer for NAKED UNDER LEATHER, as this film was released in the United States. It was a striking trailer – there was psychedelic Circus style horseback riding as a leather costume was whipped from a girl’s body – as the horse trotted around the center ring. Strong imagery for a kid to hang on to, but years later I was in Los Angeles for something, and discovered that a 35mm print of GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE was playing at the Egyptian – and I cleared everything to be there. You see, in the time between child and that first viewing opportunity, I had read everything about this film. Those trailer reels became an odd rosetta stone for my passion to follow – trying to track down every film that I ever saw a piece of in those reels. I was ecstatic to see Jack Cardiff’s amazing GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE on 35mm. That screening was actually where I happened to meet John Williams, who knows a fine film when he sees it! Girls! This is a film for you. Jack Cardiff constructs a stunning portrait of a wife having an affair, the thoughts she thinks as she rushes to her lover, the misogynistic world that surrounds her – and the thrill of her lover. The girl is Marianne Faithfull, who is just a stunningly beautiful woman… but the man she’s rushing to be with… that’s Alain Delon – a MAN in a man’s world. Cardiff was one of our master cinematographers… capturing moments that we can never forget. Bogie & Bacall on the AFRICAN QUEEN, the ships on the fjords of THE VIKINGS, Rod Steiger & James Brown in the chainsaw fight of the millennia called DARK OF THE SUN. That Convent in the exquisite BLACK NARCISSUS or the whole of THE RED SHOES. Now I know, I named a bunch of old flicks, but he also gave us Rambo blowing that mutherfucker up in FIRST BLOOD: PART II. Every film I’ve seen from Jack Cardiff I’ve enjoyed. THE LONG SHIPS, DARK OF THE SUN, THE LIQUIDATOR and the absolutely insane THE MUTATIONS. But it is Cardiff’s THE GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE that I’m continually stunned by. I showed the film to Yoko the other day and she was absolutely riveted by it. This film gets in a girl’s head – and it is kind of wonderful to understand and discuss with your mate. This is great stuff – and the Blu-quality is fantastic! This is one not to miss!


Ti West has now earned the right to make anything he damn well wants to. I love HOUSE OF THE DEVIL – and I really do love THE INNKEEPERS. Ti West is playing with the occult genre right now – and he’s doing his own thing with it. THE INNKEEPERS is a wonderful movie just because the acting is solid – and the story telling is fun. You’ve got a very mousey and cute Sara Paxton as the only other employee in the building besides the older manager. They’re both single, he’s smitten with her. The Hotel is having it’s final weekend open. They’ve a couple of guests… and they’re Ghost Adventuring in the Hotel – as the Hotel has a legend. For quite a bit of time – the film doesn’t necessarily feel like it is going to be anything remarkable, but then things start getting introduced… a final guest… a crystal… the basement… and everything gets a shitload more intense that Mr Sharkfin deals with on TRAVEL CHANNEL. Ti West is seriously one of the classiest and scariest filmmakers working on the independent horror scene and bless him. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Already shown this to two different friends and got another lined up. Really good spooky flick.

HIT! Blu Ray

If you want to know why Lando Calrissian is such a bad ass – watch HIT! Seriously – just check this film out. Billy plays a Federal Agent assembling a team of badasses that don’t know each other for a very specific HIT! – In some ways this is a 70’s AVENGERS and he’s Nick Fury. When he recruits Richard Pryor – they have a conversation – as that conversation continued I found myself with this unmistakable shit-eating grin on my face. The dialogue was amazing. The delivery beyond perfect – and it was Lando and Pryor – and they were AWESOME! I mean, this series of scenes with them… they’re brilliant. We exist in a time and place where that conversation is on Blu Ray. Fuck Yeah!


EXCALIBUR at such a young age meant that CAMELOT would take a lifetime to come back to, everytime I tried to watch it, I took it out and put in EXCALIBUR – because when I wanted to see Arthur’s tale – that’s what I really want. But the day this disc came, I just thought – I’m gonna turn the computer and the phones and disconnect from the world. I am gonna watch the fuck out of CAMELOT. Poured some wine, relaxed and yeah… I loved it. Sometimes that’s all that stands between love and a film you’ve never quite dug. Sometimes, you just loosen up a bit and dedicate a night to it – and suddenly WOW, I love CAMELOT! I have climbed a lot of stairs to the music now. The film is just beautiful to look at – but man… Lancelot bugs the fuck out of me in this. He’s a bit Dudley Do-Right. Don’t ya think? This is a gorgeous disc.


Delmer Daves unleashes Edward G Robinson in this scary Noir – best seen alone, with all the lights turned off and perhaps turn the temperature down a little bit more. A film to shiver with. Max Steiner’s score is fantastic – and this is one of those Noirs that people don’t scream about, because they just haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully this release will change that, it is just an amazing flick. Unfortunately it has been very digitally ‘cleaned & scrubbed’ but it’s our only real choice for being able to see this great film.


Watching this taught me just how brilliant the theatrical release last year was. This is outstanding. Alec Guinness is magic… but as I was working my way through it all, I did stop for a watching of Gary Oldman’s version of Smiley – because I just missed him. But for some of you folks that somehow found that version confusing, this fully told tale is probably what you were missing. As great as Alec Guinness’ performance was – I just am genuinely in love with the Oldman’s take. I’m as shocked as anyone. But if you want a fuller telling of the Le Carre’s tale – this is absolutely the way to go!


This enormously successful Chinese film is just fantastic, mainly due to director and star Jiang Wen – who is charismatic as all hell. Chow Yun-Fat ain’t so bad himself, but this Jiang Wen – I couldn’t take my eye off of. It is a bit of a Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham tale – but all kinds of mixed up. The only thing flying faster that fists, blades or bullets is the dialogue – so be prepared to speed read like a maniac. So fair warning. But it is so funny, exciting and thrilling – you’ll be quite rewarded.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012


The very first film I ever recorded on VHS personally was JEREMIAH JOHNSON. I forget what it was that they had to leave the house for that night, but had just reached the age where they trusted me to be home alone, and I recorded JEREMIAH JOHNSON for them and even did my best to edit the commercials out. It was a big deal for me at the time, but as I sat there that night watching JEREMIAH JOHNSON – I just knew that I loved it. I didn’t see the politics of the film. I just saw Redford as a hero for my parents – and my mom really loved him. I scored huge points. BUT – as an adult looking at JEREMIAH JOHNSON, I’m amazed that it captured me the way it had. This is what a PG film used to be. Just brilliant. Breathtaking photography – this is one of Sydney Pollack’s great flicks. Love this film.


It’s just insane fucking casting – and Gina Carano… well she’s not out and out bad, but she needs to loosen up a bit on camera. I swear her jaw is locked for the entire film. But this Rogue Spy/Operative tale just isn’t in the BOURNE league – and that’s what it wants to be. That said – it isn’t bad, it just isn’t very great at all. With the talent involved, I wanted something that kicked up the charm more. There’s something missing in this film – and I think it is lead actress charisma – but goddamn is she awesome in the action scenes. It’s a curiousity that won’t leave you overly satisfied.


Alicia Silverstone bugged me too much at the time – so I chose not to see CLUELESS when it was released. But then, I’ve known a whole lot of Geek Girls and they all loved CLUELESS – so far as I can tell. That includes my own Yoko. SO – I watched CLUELESS and Amy Heckerling’s modern telling of Jane Austen’s EMMA is just kind of perfect. Fans are going to love this Blu-Ray, as CLUELESS has never looked better – everything just pops. So nice.


I fucking hate this Blu Ray art! My god, so embarrassing to own a copy of this – except this becomes a case in point about not judging a film based upon its cover. MEET JOE BLACK is a fantastic film. When the film hit the critical mass seemed loaded for a demolition job. The way it was executed had all the precision of a Richard Burton gig… The film is over 3 hours long, but for me, I don’t feel it. Not at all. MEET JOE BLACK is a great performance from Brad Pitt – and Claire Forlani is kind of magical in the movie. Hopkins was great, but the tale seemed a bit too much for some. They wanted something simpler, funnier and without the pathos. Well, fuck them I say. It is quit nice to have this lovely film on Blu!


Absolute bliss. The Technicolor on this Blu Ray – just watch the opening titles / pillow toss – those satin covers just like absolutely great. And it was while watching this the other night that I have made a commitment to watch as many Rock Hudson flicks as I can, I’d avoided his romantic comedies, mainly focusing on the action work. But damn he’s charming as hell in this. However, any film with Thelma Ritter is worth owning. RULE!


This is Tim’s WARNER BROS Collection – and it’s a helluva slate of fanciful flicks. With only CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY falling significantly short of great. You get all 7 titles for $48 via this AMAZON EXCLUSIVE – which also has a book! If you haven’t picked up the titles before – this is the cheapest way to do it – and it’s a pretty nifty box set!


Joel McCrea falls in love with Dolores Del Rio – and really who could blame him, she’s Dolores Del Rio and Native Royalty upon this island. All seems so pleasant until it’s time to sacrifice her to the Volcano God. I love King Vidor flicks – there’s a majesty to them. This is something really special! Great job Kino!


I’m waiting to crack my Blu Rays until the right group of unsavory friends assembles to watch something old school gore… by the godfather of gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis! Just $11!


I don’t know a thing about it. I put it on here because I love the cover art – the film was shot in Texas – and it is apparently set in and around a DRIVE IN – that’s enough for a cold buy for me!


See if you can out last Mr Beaks, FALSTAFF: CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT killed Mr Beaks – who snored so loudly that we all think of him as the very Chimes at Midnight themselves. All kidding aside, he had a marathon bit of travel with no sleep and was in the midst of a BNAT beyond compare – and when he realized he’d fallen asleep – he cursed himself, because the opportunity to see FALSTAFF is a rare one indeed. We had the only known 35 mm print playing and it felt like the kind of badass awesome miracle work that just makes for learning how to grow old and awesome like FALSTAFF. One of my favorite Orson Welles films – I love how he stitches the story of Falstaff together. It is brilliant – and I just can’t sing its praises high enough. This import is All Region – so world – have at ye!

Next week we’re looking at UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, THE VOW, GREMLINS 1 & 2 on Blu, WESTWARD THE WOMEN, MOTHERS DAY Blu, 42nd STREET FOREVER Blu Ray, LA HAINE Criterion Blu, FRONT LINE Blu, MURDER OBSESSION Blu, DIRTY DANCING Blu and frankly not much else… Till then…

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus