Hey folks, Harry here with the latest column of Picks & Peeks - Lots of wonderful titles this week and a few surprises! As usual, the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more about the title in question, as well as purchase an item or two. If you do, you’re helping to keep the best efforts of this column going, so thank you. Also if you like the column, you can experience 10 years of the column via our Android & iPhone friendly app, linked above. Now – let’s hop in! So many cool titles!
Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
FANTASTIC VOYAGE Blu Ray
This Blu arrived in a box with the VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA Blu Ray that appears later in this column. Father Geek was over, so we decided to start the evening with a FANTASTIC VOYAGE. Problem? Fox sent me a defective Blu Ray to review and my PS3 was having none of it. NOW – I am going to assume that this was the exception rather than the rule. I have ordered a replacement Blu Ray via this link, cuz I want to have FANTASTIC VOYAGE in 1080p something fierce. It really is… a FANTASTIC voyage through the body of a super valuable scientist’s body. Yes, that’s the mission, there’s a blood clot in the brain that is inoperable and they’re miniaturizing a team and a submarine to go into the scientist’s body and sort him out. It is an insane mission – and when you consider that they’re putting Raquel Welch in a wetsuit and injecting her into a male’s bloodstream… you know she’ll work better than Viagra for blood flow and shit goes down! Shot in 1966 and I still love watching the effects of FANTASTIC VOYAGE! Nowhere near as real as we could make it today, but instead – it is almost a psychedelic dream of the mission they’re on. If the Blu Ray plays, I imagine it’ll look as great a transfer as the VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA which was pretty spectacular! There’s a commentary by Jeff Bond about the film and it’s fantastic score. There’s also an isolated score track, and a few other extras, but as the Blu didn’t play for me, I can’t really comment.
I MARRIED A WITCH Criterion Blu Ray
Fredric March plays the “I” of the title – and if you look at that title, you might think this could be a very terrible thing. But I MARRIED A WITCH is actually far more pleasant. You see, the titular “Witch” of the film is played by none other than Veronica Lake… and Veronica Lake is a witch of a different tale. She’s a dream. Think of the TV show BEWITCHED – and just imagine the witch you married being VERONICA LAKE! Rene Clair’s 1942 I MARRIED A WITCH is one of my fave genre entries simply due the dream of it all. First of all – that pairing. Fredric March was the shit! Just a fantastic actor – one of those… HE COULD PLAY ANYTHING! And Veronica Lake was the mysterious noir vamp of the A Noirs… But here – she plays an utterly seductive witch wooing March away from a spoiled socialite – and it is spectacularly delightful. This is a great BAKE to movie… There’s something about having the scent of the stove piping as the film plays. I haven’t even mentioned how amazing Cecil Kellaway is – but you should just discover him right there in the film! It isn’t a loaded disc, but there is an audio interview with Rene’ Clair… and an essay by Guy Maddin. But really, this is quite the perfect domestic Halloween delight. Veronica Lake kicks so much ass.
CHUCKY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu Ray ( CHILD’S PLAY / CHILD’S PLAY 2 / CHILD’S PLAY 3 / BRIDE OF CHUCKY / SEED OF CHUCKY / CURSE OF CHUCKY )
I’m heading up for this year’s NEW YORK COMIC CON to host the 25th Anniverary CHUCKY Panel there – and I didn’t know that when this Blu Ray set hit the house. I also was not so acutely aware that I was married a CHUCKY freak here in my own home. Yes, tis true… Yoko demanded that we watch all 6 Chucky movies and so we spent the day with Chucky and it was great.
CHILD’S PLAY: The original. I love CHILD’S PLAY – it is a fantastic horror origin story, it just instantly nailed the tone. Alex Vincent was a great foil for Chucky – and it was genuinely scary. I adored Catherine Hicks’ mother. Chris Sarandon’s detective is so much fun – but the series cast the perfect Chucky. Brad Dourif makes me think he could possess a doll and make it killer cool!
CHILD’S PLAY 2: Brings Alex Vincent back as Andy Barclay, but he’s in the foster care of Jenny Agutter (LOGAN’S RUN/AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON/AVENGERS) and Gerrit Graham (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE/USED CARS/C.H.U.D.II-BUD THE CHUD) – so instantly I’m on the film’s side. Gerrit’s a bit freaked out by Andy’s immediate history – and meanwhile – the company that created the Good Guys toys decide to rebuild the destroyed Chucky doll to basically prove it wasn’t possessed by a serial killer and that Andy is a fucking lying brat! Only, Chucky is exactly what Andy has said and people will die. Chucky is also headed back to hop in Andy’s body! Oh – and did I mention that Agutter and Graham are… THE SIMPSONS! Yeah, I love that! This is a very solid entry into the Chucky series.
CHILD’S PLAY III: recasts Justin Whalin as Andy who is now at military school. Where the Barber is played by DIRTY HARRY’s Scorpio – Andrew Robinson! This is actually my favorite “ambient” character of the entire Chucky series. He’s obsessed with hair length… and seems to take a sadistic joy out of cutting boy’s hair… which is just freaky. And as you watch, you just pray for a showdown… cuz Chucky is a hippie kid doll – and Andrew Robinson does attempt to modify! Love it! Now – this is also the entry that really begins to dial up the silliness. It feels natural cuz… well having a Good Guy doll at Military school would seem to be a nightmare for the owner even if the doll wasn’t possessed with Brad Dourif. Though sillier, I really do love how Chucky manipulates the younger boy. Love how creepy it is to think of Chucky’s child manipulation – as much as his homicidal side.
BRIDE OF CHUCKY is the full on dive into black humor and adding a heaping helping of Jennifer Tilly to the Chucky franchise. I love Tiffany. I love the arc of her character over these three final Chucky movies (for now). She’s a serial killer’s groovy dark arts studying adorable and deadly girlfriend, who is also a Jennifer Tilly fan. This is her origin story – and it’s so much fun. Lovingly bringing Chucky back to life, to kill again and to cage in her mobile home! It’s awesome. I also happen to love the Tiffany doll character – and the way she’s working to show Chucky the real finesse moves of killing. It reminds me of a Joker/Harley Quinn sense of jet black murder and insane love.
SEED OF CHUCKY is just bugnuts insane and I love it. From that creepy ass Glen/Glenda doll to the fact that the Tiffany Doll regains human form as JENNIFER TILLY! And Chucky remains the doll boyfriend killer. At this point we’ve pretty much parodied the story as far as I’d like to see it go – but I have to say I wasn’t sure how to really continue a story after the series jumps the rails and goes completely insane. Mind you, I love it. It’s fun as hell. I laugh a lot at this one.
This brings us to the new addition to the series:
CURSE OF CHUCKY: If you’re watching all these films back to back – CURSE OF CHUCKY will be jarring, cuz it is a completely different CHUCKY story than we’ve become accustomed to being told. Chucky is in a new home. The story is going to be pretty much from the perspective of Fiona Dourif’s character. The discovery that the Good Guy doll is actually CHUCKY isn’t quickly revealed. He’s being patient. Sneaky. Kills of opportunity. He also looks a bit different, but there’s a reason for that… and the reveal is awesome. But then… there’s the cameos and what those cameos mean – and yeah, I like this new Chucky movie. It’s creepy again and not in a sexually awkward way. Chucky has developed a methodology for how to work. I enjoy the hell out of it.
MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE 30th Anniversary Blu Ray
Getting this Blu Ray in the mail was an instant euphoric gift. It meant, assuredly, I had to watch MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE and that meant The Crimson Permanent Assurance followed by 112 minutes of my favorite stuff in life. Watching this at the age of 10 – 11 after the other great Python films and shows on TV – it just meant that I would be able to be adequately equipped to handle whatever life my hurl in my direction – and I would do it with witty laughter. Seriously – these films are depression repellant. You can always tell those in the world that have yet to grasp The Meaning of Life… you have to stop being one of those people. It’s too important to ignore. With everything going on in the world how can you not know THE MEANING OF LIFE? The print is just beautiful! Warning, can cause a wicked case of the giggles. The 30th Anniversary Reunion of Monty Python extra gathers the surviving members of Monty Python – and they would like a studio to send them to the Bahamas to write for a month – and then shoot what they come up with – and I FUCKING AGREE!!!! Seriously – Somebody do this! Seriously, this talk is absolutely fantastic
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Blu Ray
One of the very best films of 2013 thus far. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING shot at Whedon’s house in black & white in modern dress… it might seem at some surface level to be silly… but it isn’t. The performances are riveting The physical comedy bits are exactly what this play needs – and emotionally I found it far more touching than Branagh’s adaptation. The film works a spell upon ya and you’ll smile throughout. There’s a Commentary by Joss Whedon, and a separate commentary with Joss and the cast. Nice Blu of this!
STALAG 17 Blu Ray
Billy Wilder’s STALAG 17 is simply brilliantly funny and powerful film that basically laid out the broadstrokes for HOGAN’S HEROES, but with William Holden and Otto Preminger as the Commandant. Holden won an Oscar for his fantastic work here. There’s a commentary – a 22 minute little doc on the making of the film – and a longer one about the real-life P.O.W.s relating their experiences. Less funny. Ranking it in Billy Wilder’s career is not something I’d care to do. To be a Billy Wilder movie is to be loved.
THE HANGOVER PART III Blu Ray
I missed the press screening earlier and when the world seemed to declare HANGOVER 3 as being D.O.A. Well, I waited for the Blu. And while I do think the film is not as out right funny as the previous two installments… I did find this to be more of a straightforward adventure film – and the extreme moments are not as extreme as we’ve seen in prior installments. But I like these characters and while this is a minor entry into the series, I still managed to enjoy it.
VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA Blu Ray
I thought I had seen this film, but I hadn’t. VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA is very much Roland Emmerich fodder. It’s the end of the world. I mean, I thought this was going to be a simple submarine tale, but in actuality – the world is burning and Walter Pidgeon and Peter Lorre have a plan on exploding a nuke in space to fix it. But I’m pretty sure the world is dead at the end of the film. If what they’re saying is real, it’s the end of mankind. That Klingon bastard, Michael Ansara is rescued from a melting ice berg. The science is wacky as hell, but it’s kind of silly fun. For me, just having Walter Pidgeon and Peter Lorre fighting the world to save it… well, it’s a blast – and Barbara Eden is crazy hot in this! Also, I’ll fess up. I love the Seaview. Submarines should have fins!
AFTER EARTH Blu Ray
M. Night Shyamalan’s AFTER EARTH commits the cardinal sin of being exceedingly boring material. Both Will Smith and Jaden Smith have charisma. You can see it in interviews and other films, but not in this one. The effects work is rock solid, but it’s all so ordinary feeling. There’s no character that actually cares about another in the whole film. The relationships are so broken that even though there are some cool survivalist action going on, it often gets nonsensical and writer convenient at times. There’s a host of small tidbit features, but nothing very enlightening. The film is lacking imagination and inspiration.
EUROPA REPORT Blu Ray
GRAVITY isn’t the only space horror of the year, we’ve also got EUROPA REPORT – made on a fraction of GRAVITY’s budget, this film about the first manned mission to Europa… well, it’s actually frightening. Fear of the unknown is at the heart of space exploration. It’s very much a docu-drama kind of feel, but it works. They fudge the science sadly – but this does feel like a genuinely solid effort. Sharlto Copley is great again. And there’s a lot of heartache here. This is a very good low budget sci-fi horror flick, hope you give it a shot.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM
This Asylum is scary – and I love that the patients aren’t insane… that their psychosis is reality based – so the guy that believes aliens got him, they did get him. The demon possession, that’s what it is. I’m about 6 episodes in, but I’ve really been liking the show so far! Love the cast and Jessica Lange is just absolutely terrific.
THE EXORCIST: 40th Anniversary Blu Ray
This is an outstanding Blu Ray of THE EXORCIST. You get great transfers on both the original theatrical release as well as Friedkin’s Director’s Cut. You get all extras from the previous release, in addition though you get a couple of special features with William Peter Blatty taking us on a tour of significant Exorcist locales. Basically – this is just a fantastic edition. I even love the cover which skews from the typical, to instead focus on those fucking stairs. Creepy damn stairs.
THE AVENGERS: THE COMPLETE EMMA PEEL Megaset
Put that terrible movie out of your mind. In fact, it doesn’t exist. Instead – focus upon the real deal… Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg… as the crime-fighting mega team of John Steed and Emma Peel. One of the greatest male/female pairings in television history and the show itself is just outstanding. On this megaset you’re getting a bonus disc with 3 lost episodes from Season one – and much more. You’ll have all 2820 minutes of this great show and for under $37! It’s such a great deal! This is one of the great British television series – and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel… you’ll never get her out of your mind.
THE PURGE Blu Ray
You’ve seen the ads. There’s a new America that has wiped out pretty much everything fucked up about our society, but on this one night – all bets are off and you can commit any crime, kill anybody and without penalty of any kind. Yeah, not necessarily the America I think any of us particularly want. We’re holding up with Ethan Hawke and his family in their super secure home, where they plan to just lock it all up and have a cozy night in. Things are never that simple. Ultimately it’s a pretty dumb flick. You feel like screaming at characters often. This could have been better.
STATIC 3D Blu Ray
Now I liked this film quite a bit. It stars Milo Ventimiglia (HEROES, ROCKY BALBOA) and Sarah Shahi as a married couple surviving the death of their very young child. This is going to be a home invasion styled thriller that actually becomes quite a bit more. When Sara Paxton wakes the couple up reporting groups of men in gas masks that were tormenting her… well… it’s great. It sets in motion what becomes a pretty intense film. Of note, I really like the depth on the 3D of this film, but also the sound design which is downright creepy at times. This film can surprise a lot of folks – don’t spoil it for them.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Deluxe Edition Blu Ray
Yes, this was released as two separate halves of Frank Miller’s classic story – here, they’ve edited it into a single sweeping film running nearly two and a half hours. There’s a huge Frank Miller doc on this edition and frankly – it’s just the way to have this film. Plays better than any Batman story yet translated to film. Probably because it is based on the best story told in the comics. I hope the DC Animated Universe will some day adapt THE KILLING JOKE. Right? This is excellent!
AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL Blu Ray
AIRPLANE II has William Shatner and my heart. The film is just so much fun. Even more absurd. So crazy. Sure it is basically a retread, but it is funny. The gags work. The transfer was great. However there’s not a single extra. Not one. That’s a shame, but I don’t imagine AIRPLANE II has a flock of supporters. However it is a solid release for the feature itself. I watched this a lot as a kid.
ZOMBIE HUNTER Blu Ray
Do not fall for it. It is terrible beyond words. So bad. So so so sooooo bad. This way lies the pain.
VAMPIRA AND ME DVD
VAMPIRA – Maila Nurmi – the infamous first goth horror host – and so much more. You’ve seen her in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE – but discover how this lady revolutionized female media roles – she’s great! I can’t wait to check this out. As a fan, I’d love to discover what all is in this doc and DVD! Sounds like it should be a nostalgic treasure.
THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA Blu Ray
So I put this on the other night and the print title came up “BUT WHO RAPED LINDA” and I was filled with dread. This is an erotic film with some twisted stuff – but the mention of rape in the print title filled me with unease. Now – there’s no rape in the movie. There’s incest and sadism and murder, but rape isn’t one of the things that happens. Instead, it is more of HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA sort of story – and when Lina Romay does her banana scene – you’ll feel the heat. It’s good stuff. Jess Franco did good here – and the Blu ray features him accepting his lifetime achievement award at FANTASTIC FEST! Such fond memories.
That’s it for this week, next week I’ll be back to chat your ear off about: PACIFIC RIM Blu, THE HEAT Blu, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Season Five, MANIAC Blu Ray, THE HAUNTING Blu Ray, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS Blu Ray, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER Blu, UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES Blu, WEIRD SCIENCE Blu, THE COLONY Blu, BEWITCHED Complete Series Blu, SLAP SHOT Blu, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED Blu, EYES WITHOUT A FACE Criterion Blu, THE STRANGER Blu, THE HITCH-HIKER Blu, WITCHBOARD 2 Blu, NIGHT TIDE Blu, 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR / ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN Blu, ATTACK OF THE B’S Blu, KING KONG 33/KING KONG 76 Double Feature,