Harry's 29th PICKS & PEEKS of 2013: TARZAN films, Kung Fu movies, Bakshi, EVIL DEAD, SOLOMON KANE, 42, Stallone + more!
Hey folks, Harry here with this week’s PICKS & PEEKS which has a whole bunch of great releases! As usual the images and titles link to Amazon where you can learn more or even purchase the title in question, which gives a small portion of your purchase price to support this column. Thanks for those of you that do that. If you have an iPhone or iPad, the linked Picks & Peeks site above offers the full version of this 10 year plus column. Thousands of write ups and ways to add things straight to your Netflix queue, your iTunes account or even looking up more information. Now, let’s get into the column, shall we?
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN Blu Ray
As a boy brought up upon Johnny Weissmuller TARZAN movies and even having been babysat by the man, himself, once upon a time… I LOVE GREYSTOKE! This film holds my favorite Christopher Lambert and Andie MacDowell performances ever. Lambert’s Tarzan is phenomenal. The cast for this film is just the top class. Sir Ralph Richardson as Lord Greystoke. Ian Holm… SO AMAZING! But for me… Rick Baker and his team… Just wow. You’ll never quite see apes like these, but that’s because these were the apes that raised Tarzan. This film feels absolutely right to me. Blu Ray is totally the way to go. It enhances your appreciation of this incredibly crafted film. The Baker APE work is the soul of this film! This is what the director of CHARIOTS OF FIRE did next. This movie is so much cooler than CHARIOTS OF FIRE… Man, had audiences at the time pulled their heads out, we could have had the greatest TARZAN series ever – and Lambert was perfect. Love this! Lambert is just a completely different Tarzan than we’ve ever seen before – and it is a magnificent take on the character. Truer to the books than Johnny’s. It was a travesty to see this and RETURN TO OZ underperform but be creatively brilliant. It happens some times.
HEAVY TRAFFIC Blu Ray
My parents took me to Bakshi toons as much as the Disney’s… But ya know… My parents were Hippie Comic Book and Movie memorabilia dealers… So Robert Crumb, Jack Jaxon, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton… They were known to me. So the extreme worlds that Bakshi animated, it was an extension of a cultural fascination with really obscene material and vile behavior – and as animated, it was an absurdist expression of artistic celebration. I love the whole of Bakshi – and here he’s at his darkest and most experimental. He’s pushing the edge of adult animation. Really outstanding work!
BLACK SABBATH Blu Ray
This is the original Italian language edition of BLACK SABBATH with English Subtitles. The transfer is gorgeous, and if you know color Bava, you know what I mean. His use of color and design make the beauty blu ray feel like the best 35mm print. This is a trilogy of terror tales hosted by the great Boris Karloff. If you’ve never experienced this, you’re really in for a treat. There is seriously nothing like a good Bava bit of horror. He’s a master and this film can get under your skin. Especially if you’re alone and the air con is a little too low and it’s score will send a shiver before making you bop around like you want to spout some beat. This is a “Darkened theater movie… that has absolute silent scenes that make the skin crawl. If any horror in the past 20 years has impressed you… give BLACK SABBATH a stab. It really is great scary awesome – that just doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. For Horror fans, this is a great one to have. If you want to glimpse Guillermo Del Toro’s dreams and nightmarescape – watch BLACK SABBATH! Don’t go into it thinking you’re watching something hokey… you’re not, these are supernatural stories to be feared. Live in the moments they have on screen, let the melodrama sweep over you and drink some wine with BLACK SABBATH – it’s perfect for that! You shouldn’t make a horror film without seeing this. You can learn a lot by everything this film does so bleeding right. Lurid and a bit psychedelic. Study the use of color, so so sooo so GOOD!
EVIL DEAD Blu Ray
Intensely gory and scary expedition into the modern EVIL DEAD universe. Bruce Campbell and Raimi over saw Fede Alvarez as he mined their universe for the things that terrify about the series. Essentially it’s an origin story for a new EVIL DEAD hero, but how Fede tells the story is in a half recalled nightmarish fashion. This film doesn’t toy with you so much as it takes you apart. It is a great scary movie. The things it does that are the same are done in a completely different manner… that also hurts. Great to see with friends. I’m gonna do a double feature of the original and this just to see what that’s like.
BULLET TO THE HEAD Blu Ray
Feels like a late 80’s or 90’s Walter Hill film… had he made one with Sylvester Stallone… He made great ones, both of these guys, but they’d never worked together till this and I love it. Stallone plays a cooler than cool assassin who ends up using a cop that seeks him out to nail some top bad guys… and that guy is Sung Kang, who plays Han in the FAST & FURIOUS universe. Now, I’ve come to be a fan of Sung Kang, so all the little bits of business he’s doing on his cel phone I find absolutely riveting. I like how beat up these guys get. This is Hill doing Peckinpah and he’s having fun. I also like Jason Momoa’s relish eating rival assassin who really loves his work. I had a lot of fun with this. And if you collect BNAT films, this is another!
SOLOMON KANE Blu Ray
If you’re a Robert E Howard fan and want to see his world brought to about 85% perfection… then you’ve got to see SOLOMON KANE. His Pre-American adventure… his origin story – and it most certainly does not suck. In fact, I dig the hell out of this movie. James Purefoy is note perfect. Just perfect in the role. I would have preferred an enhanced CG budget so that stuff could be as great as everything else, but it is completely livable. The supporting cast has Max Von Sydow as Kane’s father and Pete Postlethwaite in a wonderful role as usual. Again if there were any justice in this sad pathetic world we live in, this would be a series. One that I would be looking forward to greatly. C’mon. Everyone on the planet buy the Blu Ray so they will suddenly make more of these with a bigger budget. So glad to have this on Blu!
42 Blu Ray
Brian Helgeland knocked this one out of the park. I found Chadwick Boseman to be an exceptional Jackie Robinson and I loved Harrison Ford’s bushy browed Branch Rickey, who plucked Jackie Robinson and threw him into the Major Leagues and changed baseball and some would say America too. Really a great bit of filmmaking. Keep your eye on Chadwick Boseman, he’s going to do something big real soon! He’s absolutely terrific in this film! I’m a sucker for a good sports story and this is one of the best.
LORD OF THE FLIES Criterion Collection
Chilling. This is a classic for a reason. This is about as great as it can get. Watch the evil inside the British child unleashed. All those manners and intellect… they’re savages… all of em. This is the movie that makes you fear groups of British children. William Golding’s novel has never been brought to life better than this. The film is as I said, chilling. The Blu Ray looks amazing and the extras are truly great this time:
New, restored 4K digital film transfer, supervised by Gerald Feil Uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Audio commentary featuring director Peter Brook and more
Audio recordings of William Golding reading from his novel Lord of the Flies
Deleted scene, with optional commentary and reading by Golding
Interview with Brook from 2008
Collection of behind-the-scenes material
New interview with Feil
Excerpt from Feil's 1972 documentary The Empty Space
Something Queer in the Warehouse, a piece composed of never-before-seen footage
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey Macnab
Criterion really did do a bang up job on this release.
GODZILLA 4K Blu Ray
The film that proved giant CG monsters could look completely not like GODZILLA. The creature would be fine in just about any film, just so long as that film isn’t called GODZILLA. I hope for the absolute best from Legendary’s. Because looking at this with a sharper image… well it really is shining a turd. And yes, I realize I was delusional for a bit of time after an astonishing premiere event, but man… I will say, TEMPORARY INSANITY brought on by meeting Muhammad Ali and the Taco Bell Dog. And bouncing giant beach balls during a premiere. Ya just had to be there. None of that is upon this Blu Ray. The Taco Bell Dog will not watch the movie with you on a pillow in a super model’s lap. Weirdest fucking thing to be sitting next to ever. But yeah… that is not included. But a Godzilla fan takes the good and the bad. We honor our battle scars with clarity. Lest we forget.
Jackie Chan: BATTLE CREEK BRAWL / CITY HUNTER Blu Ray
I mainly knew this first film as THE BIG BRAWL which was on cable ALL THE TIME when I was a kid. Jackie Chan starred with Jose Ferrer and Mako and H.B. Haggerty! It’s a hoot! That’s actually the correct word for THE BIG BRAWL, it’s a Hoot! As for CITY HUNTER, it’s from 1993, and is one of those heavy on the comedy and light on the action Jackie Chan films, but I love Jackie’s comedy work and it’s excellent in this. Neither of these films should be bought under the pretense of being GREAT JACKIE CHAN films. That’s not these. These are just fun ones.
KIDNAPPED Blu Ray
This has been a legendary film for most of my life. Horror fans love Mario Bava – and KIDNAPPED had an infamous production history, where the one unfinished work print was seized by Italian courts for 23 years. The Drafthouse and I had one of the very first screenings in the United States of the film – and it is just tremendous. The final masterpiece of Mario Bava’s career. Now… Now you can own the film on Blu Ray – as though it had never been stolen from the public’s eyes for over two decades. That’s ok, it’s a better world for having KIDNAPPED in it.
DRAGON KNIGHT DVD
I think this might be a fantastic film, but… the dubbing on the film is just rotten, but I am someone that really does love Daniel Auteuil as an actor. He’s a great face. But that is not his voice and it annoys the living hell out of me. However, just watching the film and not allowing the dub to destroy the whole of the film, I watched and it’s a pretty great story. It feels mythic. I just wish there was an original language track with subtitles. I really do.
FLYING FISTS OF KUNG FU 12 Movie Set ( 7 STEPS OF KUNG FU / NINJA FISTS OF FIRE / 18 FATAL STRIKES / 5 PATTERN DRAGON CLAWS / CRANE FIGHTER / WU TANG MAGIC KICK / TIGER AT THE TOP / TAI CHI SHADOW BOXING / DRUNKEN TAI CHI / CRAZY HORSE, INTELLIGENT MONKEY / PHANTOM KUNG FU / MANTIS UNDER FALCON’S CLAWS ) DVD
For under $8 – you get 12 old school kung fu movies from the seventies and eighties. Now I know – is there anything good here? Well, what they’re calling 7 STEPS OF KUNG FU, is actually KUNG FU OF SEVEN STEPS from 1979. It’s an action packed seventies flick. NINJA FISTS OF FIRE was known to me as THE FIST THAT KILLS from 1974. Rest assured, there are no ninjas in this movie. It is an alright film, but not close to owning NINJA FISTS OF FIRE for a title. Where do they get off? That brings us to 18 FATAL STRIKES which kicks ass. Trust me, you’ll dig the hell out of that one. 5 PATTERN DRAGON CLAWS is actually FISTS OF LIGHTNING, which is a Korean Kung Fu film from 1983 – it’s actually pretty entertaining, but isn’t remarkable. Still, I dug it. CRANE FIGHTER is actually the quite well regarded CHAMP OF CHAMPS from 1979 which has a hunchbacked martial artist… so it is a must, obviously. No need to expound there. You get it, or don’t. In which case I have sadness. Now WU TANG MAGIC KICK is actually some really high grade stuff! Stars John Liu, who kicks so much ass in INVINCIBLE ARMOUR and unleashes more here. Quite a treasure. So that right there is easily 8 bucks worth of Kung Fu!
KICKIN’ IT SHAOLIN STYLE 12 Movie Set ( DYNAMITE SHAOLIN HEROES / SHAOLIN INVINCIBLE GUYS / THE CAVALIER / 18 SHAOLIN RIDERS / STRANGER FROM SHAOLIN / SHAOLIN KUNG FU / FIST FROM SHAOLIN / SHAOLIN BROTHERS / SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD / SHAOLIN SUPER DRAGON / THE MAGNIFICENT ) DVD
Like the above set – this features 12 Kung Fu flicks, but has a couple from the 90s. But mainly 80s with a few seventies. Again, for under 8 bucks! What a deal! I have to admit most of these I’m completely unfamiliar with, which is what makes this exciting to me. I know DYNAMITE SHAOLIN HEROES is a good one. But I remember SHAOLIN BROTHERS as being a bit of a stinker. Something fun to dive into!
ADVENTURES OF TARZAN Feature Version (1921) DVD
Elmo Lincoln’s Tarzan was actually the first Tarzan I ever saw… but not in this form. In the 1960’s Jay Ward was making Fractured Fairy Tales – and on one of them was TARFOOT OF THE APES. It was the greatest thing ever when you’re a young boy. My dad had it in 16mm, but this was actually the first time I’ve been able to get my hands on the whole 92 year old movie. I’d love to see someone do a real score with this. Something perfect. Make it come to life a bit more.
That’s all for this week, see you back next Tuesday for TRANCE, THE ICE STORM Criterion Blu, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH, BABETTE’S FEAST Criterion Blu, NEW WORLD Blu, TWIXT Blu, GRACELAND Blu, HARLOW Blu, THE SILENCE Blu, KISS OF THE DAMNED Blu, WUSA Blu, ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH Blu,
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