Hey folks, Harry here... Still behind, still rushing to catch up, in fact, I'm still writing to see if I can get more finished tonight. So as usual, the images and links take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on the items in question, and if you purchase one, well a small portion of that price goes to help support this column, which will get caught up by george! Now here ya go... Last week of August and the first of September. Enjoy...
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Just one of the purest great time movies ever made. James Stewart just set such a perfect pitch as Elwood P. Dowd, apparently a 6 ft proper gentleman wascally wabbit. The true gift of this film, beyond the humor, well… it’s that when you talk and listen to Elwood’s voice and the grace upon his face as he happily goes about the endeavors of his day. He’s just happy as hell to have this glorious best buddy, he loves going out with him, and marveling at how folks react to being introduced to him. Harvey is alive throughout this film if you have the imagination to clearly see him. Vita is Elwood’s older sister, who is stark raving crazy too. Worship at the altar of Josephine Hull, she will tickle you throughout. Appreciating this film helps make you a better human being. I honestly believe that. There’s extras that will make you smile & cry wistfully. This is great stuff.
Alright, so sandwiched between a pair of the coolest of the cools, is the damn cool QUADROPHENIA from the Who! Many feel that as far as Album based movies in history go… QUADROPHENIA is the best. Sentimentally speaking, I still most love YELLOW SUBMARINE, but QUADROPHENIA and the Who are an entirely different throbbin wow of Rock. Having Criterion presenting this means the audio, it’s tip top. The image, it too is a tip top job. And here are the special features:
New high-definition digital restoration of the uncut version
New audio commentary featuring director Franc Roddam and Tufano
Interview with Bill Curbishley, the film's coproducer and the Who's comanager
New interview with the Who's sound engineer, Bob Pridden
On-set and archival footage
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick James
The film is shown to perfection – but in many ways it is the making of that I love most. Watching Glenn Strange cracking up as Costello is riffing whilst sitting in his lap… well it killed me. Or watching Lugosi be thrown off by some of Costello’s tomfoolery. I just love this film. It’s the gateway movie to introduce your children to the world of Classic Universal Monsters. My parents personally saved it for the end, so I’d learn to take the classic monsters seriously – but I don’t feel that this movie lampoons them. Dramatically, I love that the Monsters are given their due… The hilarity tends to reside solely in Abbott & Costello. You won’t see Dracula or Frankenstein cracking wise… and Larry Talbot is as desperate and playing for keeps as he ever has. The film is a blueprint for how to handle this sort of genre-mashup – treat the monsters with respect.
Well, McFarlane Toys and Greg Nicotero teamed up to present us WALKING DEAD nuts with an ideal Zombie Keepsake edition of the Season 2 Blu Ray. If you got a bit worn down by the farm at the beginning of this season and you think that without Frank Darabont, WALKING DEAD has nowhere to go. You’re wrong. By the time you get to the end of this season, I guarantee you’ll be juiced for Season 3. I’ve seen the first two episodes of Season 3 and folks – we’re hitting an entirely new level of badassery with this show. What was hinted at the end of the last season, well it’s where we start off – and this is some of the absolute best Zombie storytelling I’ve seen in any format. SEASON 3 is going to be one for the records. BUT emotionally it only works if you’ve seen the Second season. Now if you’re a fan, this set is definitely the way to go – if you just want to get caught up, all of Season 2 is now available on Netflix sans extras/commentaries/deleted scenes and this awesome Zombie Head!
The AIRPLANE comedies lampooned this enormous seventies hit, but this film is actually just fantastic. The cast is stunning – and speaking of stunning is the young Jacqueline Bisset as a stewardess having relations with a oh my god lucky Dean Martin as the pilot of this endangered plane. A while back when I was discussing SANTE FE TRAIL, I talked about a character actor I loved named Van Heflin, well in AIRPORT he plays a suicidal passenger, that takes out a life insurance policy and has made a bomb so his wife can have all the things she’s always wanted. His performance is amazing to watch. As is his seatmate, Helen Hayes, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a stowaway on the worst plane you could have ever hitched a ride upon. Great transfer, wonderful film.
Here’s a Fantastic Fest 2011 veteran, and I’ve talked about HEADHUNTERS on AICN quite a bit. This is a film about a little Napoleon of a man played by Aksel Hennie. What I mean by that is this… He’s short and married to an absolute beauty. The kind of woman that he worships, but he can’t believe that he is worthy of her as is. You see, he’s a Headhunter, finding Corporate Execs for companies seeking the best. On the side, he’s taken to being an expert art thief, so he can provide the level of comfort for his princess that he feels she deserves. When Nikolaj Coster-Waldau enters the picture, he’s an incredibly attractive exec talent, who also happens to have a multi-million dollar work of art – oh, and he’s fucking Aksel’s wife. Everything spirals wildly out of control. The film careens around white knuckle curves and by the end of this thing you’re gonna love Aksel. He’s like a handsome Steve Buscemi – and he plays desperate wonderfully. DO NOT LET THIS MOVIE MISS YOU.
This film is just fucking ridiculous. It looks like a real movie, a real expensive movie. The effects are rock solid, if wildly unimaginative. There are moments of exposition that at first feel like absolute gibberish, until you realize… oh, they just explained how to play the game of BATTLESHIP in this movie. The lengths they go through to fistfuck the game’s premise into our minds is just mind-numbingly LAME. Liam Neeson has an extended cameo. Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch are also pretty much wasted in the film. But it really does have the funniest fucking scene I’ve watched – the REHAB facility in this film is the most ridiculously over-produced sequence I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been spending an awful lot of my life in the last year and a half in a state of the art Rehab facility, but they absolutely do not reveal anything close to the soul of a place like that. In fact, it’s so fucking lame as to be insulting. Peter Berg set out to make a SUPER MOVIE, he just inserted “SHITTY” between those two words.
The magicians at Aardman are back with their particular brand of stop-frame animation with THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS – a wonderful family film about the Pirate of the Year contest – and a certain magnificently inept pirate with an amazing beard has his heart set upon winning the title. It looks beautiful on Blu Ray. Hugh Grant is the Pirate Captain, but his crew is where a lot of magic lies. Like Anton Yelchin as the Albino Pirate or the furry footed Martin Freeman as the Pirate with a Scarf. My fave is probably Brendan Gleeson’s Pirate with Gout. Though I could have seen an entire film starring Salma Hayek as Cutlass Liz. Very fun flick.
Released in 1928, this film will take you back in time to Twenties Coney Island during the Fourth of July. This is a New York City Symphony – and director Paul Fejos threw in the kitchen sink in making this film. From color tinting to early visual effects and wild choices in the editing process – you’ve got a film that is just frankly stunning. Also – be sure to check out Fejos’ THE LAST PERFORMANCE that was shot in 1929 with Conrad Veidt. Criterion deserves hugs and kisses for this release, and they’ve done great work on the extras:
New digital restoration, featuring uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Koszarski
The Last Performance, director Paul Fejos's 1929 silent starring Conrad Veidt
Reconstructed sound version of Broadway, Fejos's 1929 musical
Fejos Memorial, a 1963 visual essay produced by Paul Falkenberg
Audio excerpts about Broadway from an interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Phillip Lopate
Love this film and even though the soundtrack has been changed, it’s still the performances that keep me coming back to it. The only way to get that original soundtrack on the film is to get the “High School Reunion Collection” – which luckily I own (but not on Blu, dammit) – I can’t imagine being a teenager without this film. It and BREAKFAST CLUB & FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONE HIGH define that era for me. It is a shame that Universal has this as one of their 100th Anniversary releases and didn’t secure the right music tracks to keep this film preserved to it’s original theatrical release. Alas, that’s business for ya. Always going the cheaper route.
Here’s an amazing film from 1980, that I never saw in the era. Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, from France, and set in Scotland of the undetermined future. The film is all about the terminally ill Romy Schneider’s Katherine, who doesn’t know that Harvey Keitel’s Roddy has had a camera implanted into his brain to document her life’s end. The film also has the amazing Harry Dean Stanton, Robbie Coltrane and Max Von Sydow. If you love FANTASTIC FEST type genre films – you’re going to love this rather soulful film. It’s pretty damn outstanding.
I have so enjoyed discovering the work of Jean Rollin on Blu Ray. The titillation of these films focuses upon the lovely ladies they employ – but also just how beautifully they’re shot with a slight surreal look. Usually these things are pretty tame in terms of gore, but THE LIVING DEAD GIRL is anything but tame. Yes, expect a healthy dose of gore. We don’t get nearly enough naked zombie girl movies – Love Linnea Quigley’s naked zombie punk girl in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, she’ll always be my dream zombie to be devoured by.
Ok, I know you’ve always wanted to see a sequel to Kubrick’s SPARTACUS about the son of Spartacus played by STEVE REEVES and being directed by the father of DJANGO, that’s right SERGIO CORBUCCI! My second favorite Spaghetti Western director behind Sergio Leone, but Corbucci was more aggressive, more blood-thirsty. This film was late enough in Reeves’ career that his acting improved greatly – and this film is released in it’s original ribbon vision of 2:40-1 – yeah, that’s way wide screen! Gotta love it!
From the directors of this year’s winner for BEST HORROR film of Fantastic Fest 2012: HERE COMES THE DEVIL, comes their 2011 Fantastic Fest hit, PENUMBRA! Penumbra is a very creepy film. The lead character is a bit of an elitest snob, she’s highborn from Spain and is working in Buenos Aires, a place she is not overly fond of. She’s trying to sell or rent out her apartment, and she ends up with this group of strangers in her apartment. She’s handling various crises throughout her day, and as the day rolls on, there are more, until… well, you don’t want to know, but realize that this is very much a film about a cult – and when you have a very rare Solar Eclipse occurring, you can bet that shit is gonna get really real. I wouldn’t put it in the same league with the great Satan Cult films, mainly because at the end, I’m not quite sure I love how they wrapped it all up, whereas in films like ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE WICKER MAN – they’re exquisitely perfect endings. Still a wonderful horror effort – and HERE COMES THE DEVIL is even better, it nails its ending to such a level that it gives ya chills.
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
I own this film in 16mm and when I scored it that way – I couldn’t get it on VHS or DVD. Having the Blu of this – well, it just tickles the Monsterkid in me. One, it’s brought to life by Rankin Bass. But better than that, the designs for all the characters were done by EC & MAD Comics god, Jack Davis!!! And the story by Arthur Rankin Jr was fleshed out by the EC & MAD genius Harvey Kurtzman – and had some of its puns punched up by the ghoulish master punster, Forrest J Ackerman (for no credit). Then you have Boris Karloff as Baron Boris Von Frankenstein. The film is a marvel of monster kitsch. A perfect thing to play during a kids’ Halloween party. This is the good stuff! Amazing to watch on Blu.
I love RE-ANIMATOR. I saw it as a teenager back in the 80’s and can’t believe I’ve met everybody associated with the making of this classic. How great is it on Blu Ray? Well, that stylized lighting just pops beautifully. Starring the great Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton and Bruce Abbott… well it’s a lean quick tale of Lovecraftian woe. Gross & awesome! You get multiple commentaries, cast interviews, extended scenes and more. If you’ve never seen this, worship along with all of it’s notable fans! It has never looked better.
For sale at $344.99 at Amazon is this 31 Disc Blu-ray/3D Blu Ray/DVD release of the whole of HARRY POTTER. There is some new behind the scenes material, but nothing that I could in good conscience tell you to pick this set up, if you have the previous released Ultimate Editions… unless you’re being a completist. The best thing one could say about it is it does have a neat tapestry looking map of the area about Hoggswart. For this sort of price you’d expect some sort of accompanying sculptural something, but yeah, no.
I love TITANIC. Always have, always will. I loved it from the point in which I read James Cameron’s script and saw that he was making a grand Hollywood melodrama out of TITANIC. When he cast Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – I couldn’t have been happier. I loved Leo in BASKETBALL DIARIES and ROMEO & JULIET… and Kate Winslet sure was a HEAVENLY CREATURE. You wouldn’t believe the amount of pre-release negativity that the industry stacked up against TITANIC. The L.A. Times was out for Cameron’s blood it seemed and everyone felt it would be an economic disaster on par with the human tragedy of the original tale. Instead, it became Cameron’s greatest triumph… until his next one. TITANIC is probably the dearest to his heart due to the Academy Wins and the sheer struggle it took to get it to the screen, but for me – I just see it as a story about a young man falling in love above his class standing. The film has a beating heart in their tale. Once I upgrade to 3D projection, I will give that disc a shot – I know it’ll look amazing.
John Gulager’s follow up to Aja’s original remake of Joe Dante’s classic is just a shitload of fun. Taking place at a Wet & Wild like water park that unfortunately for those coming to party down… well it’s water is fed by a reserve that has prehistoric Piranha… and Gulager does things with these fish that will have you in stitches and busting some. The film is sexy, gory and funny. Chief amongst the funny is David Hasselhoff, yup, The Hoff is playing himself in this film – and it is a hilarious lampoon. Also you’ll enjoy David Koechner and Gary Busey as well as Clu Gulager. Yup, this film has everything you’d want in a movie called PIRANHA 3DD.
Boaz Yakin has directed one of Jason Statham’s best action films in a long time. SAFE is a story about a little girl with a gift, a gift for numbers. The numbers will lead to a great deal of money – and she ends up under the protection of a badass Jason Statham (is there any other kind?) So you basically have Statham vs the Russian Mob. If you love this sort of action, this film has it for you to enjoy. I just can’t get enough of Statham kicking ass, very much looking forward to his take on PARKER.
Before AICN, all the way back in 1993, Father Geek & I took my lil Sister Satan on a tour of the western half of the United States and we saw HOCUS POCUS at Disney’s big premiere, purely by chance. The film is a fun playful flick for kids, but I never could stand Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy or Sarah Jessica Parker in this movie. Except in spots. Like I love Midler’s musical number with all the parents. I love Sarah’s Pied Piper song to gather all the children. And yeah, I just don’t like Najimy. I love Doug Jones’ cadaverous outing in the film. But it doesn’t completely come together for me. Give me MONSTER SQUAD or SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES or THE WITCHES or gosh.. there’s so much more. INVADERS FROM MARS!
Directed by Nicholas Stoller and starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple that have been engaged for 5 years. We see the whole thing. From right before they get engaged… til what happens 5 years later. The film shows how the couple prioritize things ahead of the wedding, the fear and denial. All of this I don’t understand, because once I found the girl to get engaged, we had the date and began moving immediately in that direction… but that doesn’t matter because at the heart of this film are two actors that I just love to watch on screen. I like Jason Segel and I just love Emily Blunt. As a result I enjoyed this light weight romantic comedy.
You know the bald chick from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE? Persis Khambatta? Well, if you wanted more of her awesome, serve up a plate of MEGAFORCE – a movie that might be lacking in some glaucoma victims out there. I suggest smoking pot, it will help you see clearly that MEGAFORCE is the GI JOE movie that every kid that was playing with those toys wanted in 1982. Hal Needham directed the living shit out of this. WARRIORS’ Michael Beck – and then… fucking Barry Bostwick as Ace Hunter. The funky vehicles with their colored smoke trails, fucking Killer Kane is aboard. And man, I wanted that flying motorcycle, bad special fx and all. MEGAFORCE is about the attitude it professes. You either get DEEDS NOT WORDS or you suck. Join the children of 1982 in owning this disasterpiece! And please. BLU RAY! Come Hither! I will alert you on that amazing day.
Here’s a crazy 80’s horror classic! It has been hitting me with it’s particular brand of violence and gore since 1980. Now if you don’t want a movie that gets quite “rapey” – stay away from this film. BUT if that’s an area of horror that you can stomach, MOTHER’S DAY features 3 girls going on a weekend of relaxation out in the woods. Never a good idea for horror film girls. They get captured by the inbred woods folks, that bring the three beauties back to their mother, who encourages her sons to. Well, misbehave badly. But there is a comeuppance – and it’s a doozy. So go in knowing that all the worst is a setup for the revenge. And it is a great one. The perfect horror flick to watch with mom? Not really.
Remember this one? 20 years ago – hard to imagine it has been that long, but this was a bit of a guilty pleasure. Rebecca De Mornay was just flat out hot and evil in this. And ol Ernie Hudson, when I was rewatching it, I just wanted to offer him an early exit. A remake of Bette Davis’ THE NANNY, this Nanny is the stuff of kinky nightmares!
Vittorio De Sica, the master of Italian Neorealism creates one hell of a Shirley Temple tale… That’s my way of saying this movie is a tear jerking whimper fest. The film is one of the hardest and most emotional stories you’ll ever see. De Sica knew how to twist a knife. This along with BICYCLE THIEVES make up the essential De Sica masterpieces. And Criterion has done this film right. Here’s the extras:
High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
That’s Life: Vittorio De Sica, a fifty-five-minute documentary made for Italian television in 2001
Video interview with actress Maria Pia Casilio from 2003
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Stuart Klawans and reprinted recollections by De Sica and Carlo Battisti, who plays Umberto D.
One of the great bizarre film noirs. Starring Maid Marion from ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, that’s right Melanie as a pair of murderous twins, well, that’s what Olivia De Havilland’s Twin performance is being accused of. Filled with great talent, like Thomas Mitchell as the Detective – and Lew Ayers as the Psychiatrist that analyzes the twins. I’m a huge fan of director Robert Siodmak and his brother’s contributions to cinema and this film is no exception. Classy from all angles and was nominated for best original screenplay. If you love Noir, don’t miss it.
The other day on Twitter I wrote how much I wish Rod Taylor had played James Bond. At the time, I was fully aware of this picture, and while Taylor is playing a British Secret Agent, it’s a very spoofy affair – so isn’t a straight spy flick. That said, the wonderful Jack Cardiff directed this very fun spy flick. Rod Taylor is a spy of questionable integrity, sub-letting his killing assignments to hit men, as he is a bit squeamish. Like I said, it isn’t a straight spy flick. Although it has the babes, in particular Jill St John, that busty babe from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER! It’s nice to be able to own this!
This Fritz Lang Noir is surreal and moody as can be. Stylized to a jaw-dropping level. Stars Joan Bennett and Sir Michael Redgrave. There’s two additional credits you should be aware of. When I state that the film is a surreal noir – it is fitting that Stanley Cortez, who shot the brilliant NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, shot it – and then it has a powerful score by Miklos Rozsa. I most love noir when cinematically it goes way over the top. Films like MURDER MY SWEET and this are just shots of adrenaline. Love it. A must for Noir fans.
This is an incredibly fucked up film from director Sidney Lumet. Set in a Catholic Boy’s School. The film gets started as former alumni / returning to teach athletics, played by a very youthful Beau Bridges. Wait till you see some of his gymnastics. Anyway, he comes back and finds he still loves his old teacher Robert Preston (MUSIC MAN / LAST STARFIGHTER) and is still dreadfully frightened by James Mason, an exceedingly sadistic Greek & Latin teacher. Their two mega-personalities loom over everything at the school – so when violence starts breaking out. Bizarre cult behavior from the students that ends in the mutilation and possible deaths of some… well, the film just holds your attention throughout. This film will surprise you, I guarantee.
Emily Hagins’ first film to achieve theatrical distribution is a wonderful story about teenagers that go to a local fan convention where it becomes apparent vampires are freely roaming the con taking advantage of naïve vampire loving innocents. The film has a sharp wit and delivers so far above my personal expectations that I can only sit and await Emily’s next outing with even greater anticipation. I also kind of laugh at my own cameo in this flick.