Hey folks, Harry here with the last column for May! It’s filled with some really great releases that I can’t help but go on about. As usual the images and links take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on the title or purchase it! If you do, a small portion of the price goes to help support the best efforts of this column! Which is truly seen in our Android & iFriendly App found here!!! It has over a decade of these columns in a great searchable app, that lets you know when the title appears on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and gives you many options to enjoy the past 10 plus years of my life and this column. So thank you and enjoy this week’s titles!
Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
CHEAP THRILLS Blu Ray
As seems to be a constant unintentional habit of mine, I missed CHEAP THRILLS’ premiere at FANTASTIC FEST last year… but I remember the slap circle that I got sucked into after it screened, where I found myself in a situation of having to slap a woman that I adore, Kristen Bell (not the actress), who runs all things FANTASTIC FEST with Tim League and me… And she slapped the shit out of me – and I gave her a pretty substantial slap back… Then we hugged and told each other we love one another and – I had no idea why I was doing any of this. I hadn’t seen the film. Tim League fell madly truly for the movie, and picked it up as a DRAFTHOUSE FILMS release. Shortly after I was sent a screener to watch at home – which was DVD quality… And frankly… here’s a PERFECT LOW-BUDGET FILM that doesn’t need another penny. Pat Healy has a wife and child… wakes up to an eviction notice and being fired. He’s got to come up with over $4,500 and has no clue how. Like most desperate folks he ends up in a dive bar working up the courage to go home and tell the missus that he’s a loser and they’re fucked. When an old friend, played by Ethan Embry, shows up and buys him another drink. Then… They meet David Koechner’s character and his wife, played by Sara Paxton. They begin to play a money game with the two estranged friends that pits them into doing STUPID SHIT for CASH. Directed by first timer, E.L. Katz… CHEAP THRILLS is a lean and mean tale of economic desperation being exploited by the sick rich fucks of the world. How far would you go for $$$? This isn’t fucking Robert Redford for a Million. This begins with who can down their shot first for $50 and escalates to… well, spoilers – I don’t want to tell ya, but it gets sick, it gets squeamish! But Koechner always keeps it party, which is the scary part of the film, cuz… Koechner could probably talk you into anything, and if he couldn’t… Sara Paxton sure as hell would. Has a great… FINAL SHOT – that burns into your brain. The Drafthouse premiere at FANTASTIC FEST post-film antics are one special feature – which was hilarious and vaguely profane… like the film itself. The making of is really fun and even has Elijah Wood appearing. This could easily be a great play to put on… but works beyond perfect on film! Let’s keep our eyes on E.L. Katz… I suspect he’s headed for greatness. All the actors are PERFECT in their parts. Inky black dark with a sliver of a smile throughout. Apparently my wife really values her pinky, I found out today. Giggle.
JOURNEY TO THE WEST: CONQUERING THE DEMONS Blu Ray
Now – I’m a tad annoyed that we’re not getting a 3D Blu Ray on this one, as that was how I originally saw the film – and the 3D knocked my socks off. Of course – it is essentially the same film… but Chow directed with an eye towards its 3D conversion – and the heightened reality of the canvas he paints here is stunning, however you watch. The film is Chow’s greatest work yet in my opinion, but then… I love me some Buddha! Fantastic wisdom to be found, but when the filmmaker behind SHAOLIN SOCCER and KUNG FU HUSTLE – puts this level of fx and world building into the Monkey King legends… BLESS THIS MOVIE! It is funnier than you expect, scarier than you expect, more violent than you’d anticipate and so filled with whimsy and constant awesome that for an Eastern film fan such as me… blissful tears roll. Looks tremendous on Blu… but this is a film I crave in 3D!!!
SLEEPAWAY CAMP Blu Ray
If Quint could cuddle with a movie, he’d probably cuddle with SLEEPAWAY CAMP. And I completely get it. SLEEPAWAY CAMP snuck out under the radar in 1983, avoiding mainstream success – and finding people at video rental stores… where its legend began to grow. Way the fuck better than any Camp Crystal Lake adventures, SLEEPAWAY CAMP owns the ‘summer camp’ horror championship the second you see it for the first time. It is… so fucking weird… constantly inappropriate, hilarious, fucking creepy as hell…. And FREAKY AS ALL GET UP! Subversive horror is the best. And this thing… AWESOME! The transfer is stunningly perfect. Watching this on my huge projection screen is stunning. The colors popping! And because this is SHOUT FACTORY – the extras will fulfill you’re every dream. There’s 3 different Audio Commentaries. There’s a 45 minute Legacy of SLEEPAWAY CAMP featurette that’s terrible fun to watch. There’s a Short film called JUDY, directed by Jeff Hayse and starring the bratty girl from SLEEPAWAY CAMP played by Karen Fields! A Fun CAMP ARAWAK SCRAPBOOK and a short of rare images from the Make Up great, Ed French. This Blu is a love letter to the fans that have supported his film for the past 31 years. Sending the kids off to Summer Camp? Sit down and show them this – so they’re too fucking scared to leave their beds at night! Awesomely inappropriate film!
RED RIVER Criterion Blu Ray
There isn’t a day in my life where I don’t count my blessings for the childhood my parents gave me… Howard Hawks’ RED RIVER was a film I first saw in 16mm, then in the first two years of VHS being in our lives we recorded RED RIVER off the boob tube… and given my childhood street was RED RIVER… and my family’s Ranch in North Texas is along the banks of the RED RIVER… two facts that my parents never cease to point out. I watch this film as though it is my solemn Texan duty… as well as something that instantly puts an image in my mind about my great great grandfather who settled the region… And I imagine sometimes he was John Wayne, and other times like he’s Montgomery Clift! OK – so that’s all pure Harry fucking sentimentality and why should you give two shits? Well, Howard Hawks’ RED RIVER is considered by many to be the very best Black & White Western starring John Wayne… You talk to John Carpenter, and he’s likely to flat out call it one of the greatest movies of all time – and if there’s one thing we know about John Carpenter is… He’s right! The film is set in the era of the long Cattle Drives that often took place in the 1800s! Wayne is a tyrant of a Rancher, and Clift is his adopted son – and their relationship is… AMAZING to watch. The Cattle Drive sequences are epic… and the dialogue is so f’n sharp, it is great! It doesn’t hurt that in High School I was horseback driving cattle just a couple of miles from a field to the stockade and the idea of doing that for hundreds of miles… I can’t imagine. Speaking of unimaginable… The original 127 minute cut of the film that director Hawks preferred has been elusive for collectors for a while now – and Criterion has done a heroic job of reconstructing and restoring Howard Hawks’ original preferred vision of RED RIVER… while also providing you with a gorgeous version of the PreRelease version of the movie that runs 133 minutes. Beautiful prints! There’s a 17 minute BOGDANOVICH ON RED RIVER video piece where he recalls his time discussing RED RIVER with Howard Hawks, along with the two versions of the movie. There’s 16min of Audio from an interview Bogdanovich did in 1972 with Howard Hawks… which is to be loved! Then there’s the nearly 60 minute radio version of RED RIVER using the cast. There’s interviews with Molly Haskell and Lee Clark Mitchell discussing Hawks and his RED RIVER. But author of RED RIVER has an audio interview here talking about meeting with Hawks initially about the film/book, the editing process and more! One of the great Westerns of all time done right!
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU Criterion Blu Ray
For the better part of the 20th Century, there were a line of Men’s Adventure magazines… TRUE MEN, MEN’S ADVENTURE, MAN’S EPIC, CLIMAX, TRUE DANGER, ALL MAN, MAN’S ILLUSTRATED, STAG, REAL – and the covers always had women in peril and usually a man doing derring do to rescue her. There’s a part of LIFE AQUATIC that feels like the stories in those magazines. I know this, cuz along with every pop culture thing ever it seems, Mom & Dad had an interest in this stuff… but then… there’s JACQUES COUSTEAU which is combined with this male machismo genre and his love of the sea… and then all through the filter of Wes Anderson’s lovingly giggly sense of humor… you get THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU… I would love more of these adventures… getting increasingly exotic and spectacular. Exquisite casting as always makes this wondrous – and the color palate is beautiful, making it an excellent candidate for Blu Ray. But this is no ordinary Blu, this is Criterion: we’ve a new transfer created at 4k and supervised by Wes Anderson and Lee Kline! You get a Featurette on the Making of that’s just 15 minutes… but that’s the appetizer. You’ll get to see the Designs for the film in it’s own presentation. Photos taken throughout the production. A 16 minute Intern shot Video Journal! You get Seu Jorge, the Brazilian singer doing 10 Bowie songs in Portuguese – This is bliss btw. There’s a 20 minute interview with MARK MOTHERSBAUGH!!!! Cast and Crew interviews with everyone. A 17 minute Italian interview show with Wes and his cowriter Noah Baumbach! 9 deleted scenes! A 52 minute doc called THIS IS AN ADVENTURE directed by the brilliant Albert Maysles, Antonio Ferrera and Matthew Prinzing during the shooting of the film. Wes and Noah do the commentary and it’s great! Love me some Steve Zissou!!! Where’s my red stocking cap!?!?
DEATH SPA Blu Ray
Sadly I did not receive a screener of this title. Wish I did, because this is a 1989 flick that I missed. Never seen DEATH SPA… but since I’m friends with a horror loving movie buddy that owns and operates a SPA – I kind of have to get this. Captain Kirk’s son is in this!!! “KLINGON BASTARDS! You’ve murdered my son!!!” Such fond memories… This also has the amazing Rosalind Cash! From what I’ve found out – the Blu Ray is apparently high quality with an extensive documentary about the film along with a feature Commentary. This is one I have to pick up soon! Yes, it is about a killer spa with all sorts of killer devices! Sounds fun!
DOCTOR WHO: AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE & TIME Blu Ray
When the 50th Anniversary shindig was going on for DOCTOR WHO… BBC created this feature that takes us back in time to the curious point in history where Doctor Who was created and unleashed unto the minds of the British… and then the world… then all the fabrics of time! This is a historical drama about the BBC and how the good Doctor came to be – and it is a wonderful wonderful film. As an extra – you get AN UNEARTHLY CHILD, yup, the first Doctor Who adventure ever! The perfect extra for this Blu! This has to be in your Tardis too!
Dan Curtis’ DRACULA Blu Ray
OH… This I just ordered. I’ve seen it… back in 1974, but I only have vague memories of Jack Palance being terrifying as Dracula – but the reason this version has stuck with me is that Dad has stated repeatedly that this is one of the best DRACULA movies he ever saw. It originally aired on Television full screen, but with a screenplay by Richard Matheson (legendary great author & screenwriter) … shot by the great DP Oswald Morris… this Blu uses the original film negative to give us the film in a shape and a quality that nobody has really seen. Word is we get a bit of Jack Palance interview, an interview with Dan Curtis… and other extras. To sit with Dad and finally see this one in an exquisite presentation, it might be something I save to watch till October. Ya know?
ENDLESS LOVE Blu Ray
The 1981 Franco Zeffirelli film based upon Scott Spencer’s novel captured young High School love in a manner that I could never ever forget. It was an honest film, a beautiful film and a daring film. And most critics hated it. But I loved Brooke Shields in 1981… so the movie played me. This 2014 version of ENDLESS LOVE, adapted for the modern day from the same Scott Spencer novel… well, in many ways it is a tolerable film… less so if you have a hang up for Zeffirelli’s version… The biggest difference is that I don’t believe the new actors. Sure they’re lovely and pretty people… and I love having Robert Patrick and Bruce Greenwood in a flick where I can amuse myself by talking about how this is a story of the T1000’s son wanting to love Captain Pike’s daughter… and well… that was the only way I could enjoy the movie… because… Pike is a total dick of a father in this movie. Gabriella Wilde is lovely… but she’s no Brooke Shields… but that’s as it should be, she could very well be some kid’s Brooke Shields today… but I wish kids today would discover the one from 1981 first.
THE MAX LINDER COLLECTIONS
One of Chaplin’s idols for comedy in the ancient history of cinema was Max Linder, a French Director and Actor who was an amazing early player that worked with Georges Melies. Chaplin’s TRAMP was from the opposite end of the street… penniless poised to win the heart of the ladies and only occasionally end up happily ever after… Linder’s MAX was a wealthy Top Hat wearing ladies man in constant comedic trouble through over a 100 shorts in the 1900s. This has 3 of his features… THE THREE MUST-GET-THERES (1922), BE MY WIFE (1921) and SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK (1921). These are wonderful early comedies – and there is a bonus short in this collection. But I’d love it if we got a set of a ton of his earliest work… KINO did a great job on this! And you’ll finally get the reference to Max Linder in Tarantino’s INGLORIOUS BASTERDS!
That’s it for the month of May 2014!!! We’ll kick of June with the ROBOCOP remake, LONE SURVIVOR Blu, THE OUTSIDERS Blu, THE MAN WITH NO NAME TRILOGY Blu, RAVENOUS Blu, THE BIRDCAGE Blu, latest season of TRUE BLOOD, ALEXANDER Blu, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (original) Blu, ATTACK O N TITAN Blu, THE RINGER Blu, DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS Blu, IN THE BLOOD, SUGAR COOKIES Blu, BLOODSUCKING FREAKS Blu, THE MOTEL LIFE Blu and more! Until then, keep watching the screens!!!