Hey folks, Harry here with the 25th Picks & Peeks of 2013! There’s some really great titles here including some that will be sure to rivet your attention that you’ve never heard of – so go through with a fine toothed comb! Also, if you haven’t already picked up the Picks & Peeks App for iDevices you really should. It has over a decade of my columns searchable every which way and allowing you to instantly see if it is on Netflix or Amazon or iTunes and get immediate satisfaction! As usual, the links and pics on the column take you to Amazon, where if you’re interested you can purchase the title and a small portion of that price goes to keep this column going. Or, you can click and just learn more about the title in question. Really is your call! Thanks for being the best readers out there! Here’s the column…
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Behold Sinbad and the guy from THIS ISLAND EARTH deal with a hysterical man in suit that we’ve come to know as OCTAMAN – they determine it to be a mutant species of Octopus… This is not a great film, that said, it’s a pretty great funky flick that you can laugh in a manner befitting a movie titled OCTAMAN. However, you have been warned, tis a very funky flick – if you like the funk, join the party.
THINGS TO COME Criterion Blu
My father has always been the kind of man that introduced me to all the classic sci-fi hits – and THINGS TO COME is one that as a kid, I dug the deco future stuff, but most of this was a bit heady for me. However, once I got into college, I revisted the film and discovered the incredible soothsaying of Wells and appreciated the film on it’s more socio-political fronts. Btw – the film is still worth watching simply to be in awe of what we do not yet have, that was predicted in 1936 when this film came out. Alexander Korda and William Cameron Menzies teamed up to create a film that for many of you that have never seen it – you’ll most closely associate the film with CLOUD ATLAS as you have actors playing generations of their own progeny throughout the story. This is ludicrous scale filmmaking. World building in a model and paint kind of age and it will dazzle you. One of the great production designed movies ever made. Just stunning. Criterion’s print is perfect. Just beautiful. You have a film historian commentary, an interview with a cultural historian regarding the design of the film, and Bruce Eder discussing Bliss’s score. Criterion did a bang up job on this – and I love the cover art!
STOKER Blu Ray
Currently my pick for best film of 2013 falls upon either STOKER of BEFORE MIDNIGHT. We’ve got a long way to go, but Park Chan-Wook’s first English language film is just masterful. Watching his framing and sense of editing and upon this film… the AMAZING sound design. Its subtle and powerful. For me, this is the film that really grew Mia Wasikowska up as an actress for me. She’s made some great films, but her India Stoker is a classic film character – and as you learn more about her and more about her uncle it just becomes so incredibly tense. This is a psychological thriller unlike anything we’ve seen since the Heyday of Brian DePalma on his Hitchcock kick. It isn’t as subtle as Hitchcock and it is far more adult in the story it is telling, but when you see a crap film, this is like the antidote. Also, Matthew Goode is so great in this film that it actually makes his Ozymandias better upon reflection, because he’s so damn creepy in STOKER - that I can’t separate that creepiness from Ozy – and that actually helps that film for me – and yes, I already loved it, just not so much with Goode’s part. Now… I’m fine. Park Chan-Wook has another masterpiece and this time you don’t have to read it or wait for the remake.
THE HOWLING Blu Ray
Directed by Joe Dante, Written by John Sayles with fucking incredibly makeup by Rob Bottin comes the original HOWLING. At the time it came out, this was the definitive Werewolf transformation work. And it pushed Rick Baker to kick it up to an even cooler level – but this work is still incredible and disturbing. THE HOWLING is funny when it wants to be, scary when it needs to be and it actually has a haunting quality that Dee Wallace brings the film that has never left me. I know everyone loves NETWORK, but Wallace’s end monologue is my favorite Actor newscast ever. Peter Finch just needed a little Rob Bottin to make his perfect. Giggle. SHOUT! Does another great job with this disc. Not only has the film never looked better, but the extras just don’t quit. You get two commentaries, one with Dante, Dee Wallace, Robert Picardo and the now dearly departed Christopher Stone. We have a nearly 50 minute making of documentary. 9 minutes with David Allen, an 8 minute vintage INSIDE THE HOWLING. 12 minutes of Location looks, and just more fun interviews, deleted scenes, outtakes and trailers. This is a great release!
LIFEFORCE Blu Ray
I am an absolutely unapologetic lover of LIFEFORCE – and it isn’t just because of Mathilda May’s astonishingly exposed performance, although that has certainly never kept me from paying extra attention to this wondrously bizarre Space Psychic Alien Vampires / Armageddon salute to Hammer films. It’s really and truly unlike anything else. Steve Railsback is an Astronaut commander that discovers an enormous alien vessel hidden in the tail of Haley’s Comet… Then he brings back 3 naked alien bodies – 2 men and Mathilda May. She gets into his head and he has a hard time getting her out of his. I love that this was a 70mm film. I love that Patrick Stewart has a make out scene in Steve Railsback – with the funniest last second edit ever. It’s kind of funky, but I love the score, the effects, the entire bloody cast and most of all when the movie speeds off the rails in the third act, I’m sky surfing on its hood, because it commits to the big crazy and I salute that. Now – as if SHOUT! Is deciding to flip off most of the industry – they not only have the extended cut, but also provide the original US release as a bonus, there’s a present day Mathilda May, clothed and looking fantastic talking about the making of the film. Tobe Hooper contributes a commentary and an Interview, Steve Railsback has a 7 minute recollection of the making of the film. And Make Up Effects man Nick Maley has a commentary that has him going into his career along with the making of LIFEFORCE – it is still good stuff. Most importantly – the film looks great.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER 3D Blu
I watched this last Movie night and I liked the film even more on second viewing. Tonally, the film is a happy adventure story for kids. The 3D works very well with the film, which becomes quite the adventure by the end – plus you learn the best possible use of a magic bean. Truly spectacular moment. I love the cheer of Ewan McGregor just tickles me throughout. And I love the voices of Bill Nighy and John Kassir make that main doubleheaded baddy fun enough to sell me on Fee, Fie, Foe and Fum. If you fight the film, it will make you miserable, but if you’re willing to give it a shot and go with the goofy it delivers, you’ll find yourself really caught up in the bugnuts insane ending. Not nearly the disaster that some made it out to be. I bet this film grows in estimation over time.
SAFETY LAST! Criterion Blu Ray
The famous shot of Harold Lloyd hanging off the hands of a clock a dazzling height above the streets is iconic cinema history. I often try to score Harold Lloyd memorabilia, but the collectors of that man’s work are voracious and never let me win. Seems everybody focuses on Chaplin and Keaton and they never give a second thought to Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chase or Fatty Arbuckle – but of the non-Chaplin/Keaton Society of Silent LOLers, Lloyd is the most well known – again for that shot. But he’s better than a sight gag. Leonard Maltin provides a commentary with Lloyd archivist Richard Correll. Harold’s granddaughter does an introduction. HAROLD LLOYD: THE THIRD GENIUS documentary from 1989 is on here. 3 Lloyd shorts are restored and on here: TAKE A CHANCE, HIS ROYAL SLYNESS and YOUNG MR. JAZZ. Lloyd rocks this film as he does in most of his films. Now to get me one of them Hobby Horses he made. Heh. This is his best known film but if you love this as much as I know you will, seek out his other work – including the shorts. Harold Lloyd is a genius.
THE LAST EXORCISM Part II Blu Ray
Sadly this just doesn’t live up to the what the fuck of the original film, which I just love. It’s still fun because Ashley Bell is just adorably creepy in the film. And I do kind of love the folks that are trying to help her in this one. But Nell’s got some problems and it isn’t tayaaing in da wind, if you get my meaning. Personally I’m not sure if this is a buy. Unless you’re a horror collector, in which case… yeah, we have to have them all.
MARKETA LAZAROVA Criterion Blu Ray
This was the discovery of the year for me film wise thus far. Somehow I’d never tracked this title. I was wantonly unawares of MARKETA LAZAROVA, didn’t know it’d be a stunning b&w scope Czech masterpiece from 1967 – that has more in common with GAME OF THRONES than you would immediately think. Criterion describes it as an experimental action film… I would call it a wildly successful experimental action film. It takes place in that DRAGONSLAYER time when Paganism and Christianity were butting heads and this film is a stunning film about that conflict – the rapes and murders, the choices for a low-born gal at the time. It’s less of a drama and more of recreation of a space and a time that had to be like this. The cinematography is breathtaking, the sound design marvelous… It moves your mind and heart and soul and it does it out of the blue. Criterion has some very scholarly extras upon this disc, but the real jewel is this epic film. If you love medieval eras done right – this will strike you immediately as one of the best. Truly stunning work and I can not possibly highly recommend it enough.
WONDER WOMEN dvd
Because you are required to discover EVERY film ever made by Sid Haig, you’re gonna check WONDER WOMEN out. Now – just hear me out. This is one of the great grindhouse films and you’re gonna fucking love it if you give it the right chance. First off, this is a veteran of the QT FESTS that Tarantino threw at the Alamo Drafthouse! Sid Haig plays the sidekick to the always awesome Nancy Kwan, who is the evil Dr. Tsu – she’s got an organ transplant business on the side, but it’s her all girl army that has my interest. This dvd has director Robert V O’Neill’s commentary as well as 8mm home movies taken on the set!!! The movie is fun enough for your brain and all too easy on the eyes.
OF HUMAN BONDAGE Kino Blu Ray
Bette Davis plays a great tramp that treats Leslie Howard like a life preserver in a sea of misery. One that she’s determined to take down with her. Misery loves company and this film wallows in it. Leslie truly believes he loves her, even when he sees her as the Gold Digger that she is. Bette Davis is not the woman you’re looking for in OF HUMAN BONDAGE – she’s like a Roach Motel, once you come in, she’ll never let you pull out. Davis pulled down an Oscar nomination for this film and it is easy to see why. She’s just amazing. Meanwhile, poor Ashley Wilkes can’t catch a break. He’s such a grass is always greener kinda guy. KINO did a wonderful remaster on this absolute classic melodrama. For years this film has been maligned as being in the Public Domain, which unfortunately results in the dupiest shit transfers in history – but KINO did the right work and now film fans that have exquisite taste will be rewarded for their waiting!
RETREAT HELL Blu Ray
There’s too few Korean War films and this may be the best non- Sam Fuller or Korean produced Korean War film made. It stars Richard Carlson from THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and Russ Tamblyn from TOM THUMB and WEST SIDE STORY. The film tells an amazing story about the Marines at Chosin Reservoir. This film isn’t well known, but the director of GUN CRAZY does damn good on this one. Give it a shot if you’re a war movie fan or if you’re curious what Richard Carlson is like when he isn’t tormenting that poor horny Lagoonie!
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE LIVING CORPSE Blu-Ray
So you have a kid that’s afraid of Daddy becoming a zombie and eating him and the rest of the family – now we have the perfect cure. THE LIVING CORPSE. There’s all kinds of weird stuff going on in this tale of a dead father that comes back from the dead with other zombies and eats his wife, but stops she of eating his son… they get separated and suddenly the Zombie father must enter the underworld to rescue his progeny. The film kind of works, but I really wish they’d had a bigger budget for the animation, which is just a little to dodgy for me. Check it out if you’re a fan of low budget genre efforts – it sometimes works well, but just isn’t great.
COME OUT AND PLAY Blu Ray
The masked and mysterious Makinov directed this remake of the great 70’s WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? Here a husband and his pregnant wife make a really rather terrible vacation choice to an island that has just experienced mass homicidal children outbreak. Think LORD OF THE FLIES, if the kids took over a town and killed all the adults. These adults have to fight back, but… could you kill a child? Brutal film – played at Fantastic Fest and I for one really liked the movie! Give it a shot.
Well, that’s it for this week… next, we’ll be looking at HELP! Blu, UPSIDE DOWN 3D Blu, SHAUN OF THE DEAD Steelbook Blu, The Call Blu, THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE, HOT FUZZ Steelbook Blu, SERENITY Steelbook Blu, PAUL Steelbook Blu, SHOAH Criterion Blu, NO, SCARFACE Steelbook Blu, THE BIG LEBOWSKI Blu Ray, PITCH BLACK Blu, CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK Steelbook Blu, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD Steelbook Blu, TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL Season 2, HELLBOY II Steelbook Blu, HANGER 18 Blu Ray, NORTH FACE Blu Ray, SHARK Blu Ray, HANSEL & GRETEL GET BACKED, WILD BILL: HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK, KEEP YOUR RIGHT UP Blu, RAY HARRYHAUSEN SPECIAL EFFECTS TITAN Blu Ray and that’s it!