1st wk of June 2014's PICKS & PEEKS: DEATH BED, NAZISPLOITATION, CANNIBALISM & JERRY LEWIS!!!
Hey folks, Harry here… Man, the films this week evoke a lot to write about. I love that. Films that are not easy to sum up. Films that push boundaries, styles and genres in directions you might not know that they can be stretched in. Films that can make you howl in laughter and in pain. I love this week’s column! As usual, the images and links will take you to AMAZON where you can learn more about the title in question or order it. If you do that, bless you, cuz it means you’re helping to support the best efforts of this column, which is now over 10 years old! Crazy. If you like the column but wish you could easily search the titles all beautifully upon your mobile device, give PicksandPeeks.com a click and discover the Android or iDevice app… it’s kinda nifty! Now, lets get to some awesomely weird shit!
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS Blu Ray
If all that you know of this film comes from Patton Oswalt’s hilarious standup about the film… I’m afraid you’re woefully uninformed. Before watching the Blu Ray, I looked his routine up on YouTube and it is very funny, but when you follow it up with the actual movie, you’re going to realize something quite special… the film is actually kind of brilliant. Sure, at its heart, it is about a cursed bed that consumes ravenously more than just the people that lay upon it. There’s the artist cursed to live eternity watching the bed he died upon consume innocents and the depraved. He’s the commentator for the tale and he died upon the bed of natural causes, and drew the bed as his final work of art. Now… when you discover the digestion process of the Bed that Eats… you’ll probably be disturbed. It is a foam that makes a chewing smacking sound that is actually a bit unnerving. The Bed doesn’t necessarily kill people the same way twice. It toys with people. The crucifix necklace death is… sort of amazing. Now, the tone of the film isn’t at all what I was expecting. This is a legendary midnight film from the Seventies… in an era of where those films were… particularly odd. I love the oddness. I’d say, you’ve never seen anything quite like this movie, but if you’ve seen Quentin Dupiex’s RUBBER… you’ve seen the perfect double feature to watch this movie with. Start with DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS… then watch RUBBER. Together you get an artistic bloody romp that you’ll not likely easily forget. How’s the Blu? Just amazing. Cult Epics really pulled out the stops. There’s an introduction to the film by the director George Barry, but there’s an alternative introduction by the author of NIGHTMARE USA (must read), Stephen Thrower. They combine for the Audio Commentary that’s upon the disc. There’s a special feature called NIGHTMARE USA – where the two talk about the horror films of the 1970s and 1980s that’s really interesting. Then there’s Behind the Scenes of Death Bed in Detroit that was also quite interesting. Finally the Cult Classic has the release it deserves – and you have a film you can howl laughing with. The film is a nightmarish dream existence… and makes you look at each new strange bed that beckons you to rest with a feeling of fear and uncertainty! Great release!
ROBOCOP (2014) Blu Ray
Jose Padilha is an interesting director… His two ELITE SQUAD films are tremendous movies. His two documentaries that I’ve seen, GARAPA and SECRETS OF THE TRIBE were also outstanding. His ROBOCOP is amazing, in that I don’t hate it. Not one bit. I see it as a serviceable commercial retelling and reestablishing of a character that was introduced in a singularly amazing unique movie made by Paul Verhoeven. Nothing would be better than that original film, but after ROBOCOP III, a new beginning was necessary. That Padilha managed to turn what was a director assignment to launch a new franchise… and make it a condemnation of the United States continued automation of warfare and policing. We’re entering the age of drone monitored existence. This doesn’t necessarily scare me, as I don’t plan to do anything violent or subversive. However, they might see me entering a few movie theaters, libraries and galleries. I love Sam Jackson’s mouthpiece of America character… I like Michael Keaton’s CEO… Loved Gary Oldman’s Dr. Norton. As for Joel Kinnaman’s Alex Murphy… if compared to Peter Weller… he’s going to come up completely lacking. His movements, voice and manner just are not as iconic… but as this rebooted Robocop, I liked him. He worked. I miss the more cartoonish satire of the original film, but this one is more sharply critical of our Country’s policies… and that’s always a good thing to question. The Blu looks and sounds fantastic. There’s around four minutes of deleted scenes… Some goofy product announcements for Omnicorp. Along with nearly 30 minutes of Making of stuff. I’d love a more extensive Blu that gave us a better look at Jose Padilha’s work and a commentary would be sweet. Otherwise, a solid release.
LONE SURVIVOR Blu Ray
I just do not like this movie. The composition of Action might be based on a true story and be informed by history… but as filmed and shot, it left me yawning. The characters did nothing for me. Every now and again, there’s a movie that I find where tons of people seem to embrace, praise and adore that just feels like a halfassed attempt at poignancy… But ya know… I never got a feeling about these HUMAN BEINGS that were lost in this story. I know it is true, that these are real people that died in this story, but they’re treated to me on film as stereotypes of soldiers. It just doesn’t work for me at all.
THE OUTSIDERS: Complete Novel Edition Blu Ray
The best I’ve ever seen this cut of THE OUTSIDERS, which is 22 minutes longer than the original Theatrical cut, was upon DVD. Warner Home Video did not send an advance copy to review of the Blu Ray, so I can’t comment upon what will most likely be an amazing transfer of this fantastic film from Francis Ford Coppola… Nor can I tell you if there’s a single extra on this disc… but I can tell you about THE OUTSIDERS. Released in 1983, this film assembled one of the finest young casts ever assembled for a film. For many, this was a springboard film for the rest of their careers, and we are blessed for it. C. Thomas Howell will stay golden, and Ralph Macchio will always tell him so. Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Robe Lowe, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez all shine. I can’t say enough good things about this fantastic film that embraces the exquisite book it was adapted from. Now, the film is so invested in the nostalgic era in which it came out to me, that it feels like a movie that everyone should watch with their adulthood ahead of them. It is a rite of passage.
THE MAN WITH NO NAME TRILOGY Blu Ray (FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY)
While they call this the REMASTERED EDITION, the only remastering is upon THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY – and it is outstanding. The film has seriously never looked better and the 4K remastering process has only improved what is one of the greatest westerns ever made and the very best PREQUEL ever made in my opinion. That said, I do actually love FISTFUL OF DOLLARS the absolute most. A friend of the family had it in 16mm and as a child, I saw it more times than I could possibly recall. As a result, nearly every frame is burned into my consciousness. If you have the existing Blu-Ray of the Trilogy, you’re not really going to be getting any extra extras, this is all about that print of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY – and it is outstanding. However, the reality is… at some point undetermined in the future, they will release it stand alone, I bet… but that has yet to be announced. SO… how long will you wait for perfection? That’s the question. You could always gift your old set to a friend or family member and upgrade, otherwise, I’d recommend waiting for the stand-alone disc.
RAVENOUS Blu Ray
1999 was when Antonia Bird directed this outstanding film. She died tragically last year, not having the opportunity to direct another theatrical feature. She worked, making excellent work for television, but after RAVENOUS, the gates of Hollywood should have fucking opened up for her. This film is masterful. And this is the release of this great film that its lovers have been eagerly awaiting. We get 3 Audio Commentaries. The first has Antonia joined by Damon Albarn, the great composer of the film, whose score is electrifying. Then there’s a commentary with Ted Griffin, who wrote the script, and Jeffrey Jones (Man-God). The last commentary is with Robert Carlyle. You’ll get Deleted scenes, a twenty minute interview with Jeffrey Jones and a Music and Effects track that’s fantastic! This red meat story of mountain cannibalism back in the mid-19th century will definitely liven up any dinner & a movie screening you can arrange at home. Really great release for this!
THE BIRDCAGE Blu Ray
This is a remake of the classic French comedy LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, which is one of the greatest comedies ever made. THE BIRDCAGE is the American remake and as such… it succeeds wildly due to its amazing cast. Nathan Lane is just amazing in this version. Robin Williams is perfect. Gene Hackman is outstanding and Diane Wiest is great. The film is colorful and vibrant and constantly funny, but it still lays in the shadow of the original… although, that film will never cultivate the English-speaking fanbase of this remake… that’s sad. If you love this one, give the original French film a chance. It will amaze you and make you laugh, even in French. I wish these two actually came out in a co-release, simply so folks can see how a master director like Mike Nichols adapted and modernized such a great classic comedy. Knowing both films only elevates one’s appreciation of both.
ALEXANDER Blu Ray
This was another Warner Home Video no-show. Which I found exceptionally bizarre given 10 years ago when this film was initially released in this country, I was one of the only voices giving this epic the notices that it deserved in the United States. Just about everywhere else in the world, this film is given that same level of praise, but the homo-erotic nature inherent to the telling of Alexander The Great’s story… well, it caused most US audiences to seemingly have an unavoidable case of the giggles anytime Colin shared eyes with another man in the film. 10 years later this country has begun to make great strides to embracing the Gay Community, but we still have so much further to go. We’ve had Expanded editions of the movie before, but not this cut. Oliver Stone has been cinematically tinkering with this fantastic film ever since it was released – and really, this is THAT film of his. You get the Ultimate Cut as well as the original Theatrical cut – with Unique Commentaries upon each. This has a new Documentary about the life of ALEXANDER THE GREAT, along with a Feature Length Doc by Oliver Stone’s son, Sean Stone about the struggle to make the film and apparently even more extras. You also get a 40 page Art Book with Concept Drawings, Story Boards and Photos from the behind the scenes making of the film. I’m very curious about this release.
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR Blu Ray (with DVDs for CINDERFELLA & THE ERRAND BOY)
Jerry Lewis… once, he didn’t seem controversial at all… but that has certainly changed. My father always hated him, but that’s because his comedies grated Dad like very little else. He found Lewis to be an insufferable trial as he had to take his Baby Sis to all of his films – I found Jerry Lewis to be one of the first cinematic examples that my father was not always right. Oddly enough, before Richard Linklater had made SLACKER, he came into our booth and bought a ton of Jerry Lewis Lobby Cards and convinced me to give his films a chance. I’m so glad I did, because there’s a genius to his comedies. As a performer and as a director, he saw an amazing creative soul. Take, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR for example. I may love Rick Baker’s Fat Suit in the Eddie Murphy remake, but the film is a pale comparison to Lewis’ original. For one, the gags come fast and furious – and they’re visually instantly compelling you to laughter. His use of color, music and timing are all just perfect. Eddie tended to make all the humor based upon the fat suit that Baker made around him to transform him into many characters. Lewis transforms the entire cinematic universe to bend to his particular brand of physics and reality. It is kind of irresistible. As for this special 50th anniversary edition… it is OUTSTANDING. For one, the Technicolor is vibrant and the colors coming off of the screen are pure eye candy. THE NUTTY PROFESSOR extras are also quite solid… There’s Commentary with Lewis and Steve Lawrence, there’s a great featurette called JERRY LEWIS: NO APOLOGIES… It has him doing stand up, intercut with footage of him talking about his life… which he can’t help but funny up as he always has. I find this to be hypnotic. About THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, “I dreamed about making that son of a bitch for 35 years before I made it!” – And he just keeps going. You’ve rarely seen someone this real on an Extra. I mean, telling the story about how he and Dean Martin came together… genius. I feel that everyone that plans on aging, watch this thing. If you want to be a filmmaker or performer this is also instrumental. There’s Deleted Scenes, Bloopers and a great thing at a Wax Museum that feels all too brief, but is a treat cuz it’s just… something you’d never see otherwise. ALSO in this collection you get a DVD of NUTTY PROFESSOR, but also a DVD for CINDERFELLA and THE ERRAND BOY. Now, I love CINDERFELLA, it’s directed by an old Termite Terrace alum, Frank Tashlin – and I feel he’s one of the greatest Comedy directors of all time. He’s just a genius! You’ll get another commentary on that one and some fun bloopers! But really, CINDERFELLA is just a wonder for me, but then… I’m a huge Count Basie fan and his band and him playing the big ball scene is just utterly terrific! And the color in that flick is just AMAZING! THE ERRAND BOY is a loose culmination of skits – and less thematically strong. But the humor is absolutely there. But my god the highs… like that scene at the desk when the music blares as he mimes to it… If you’re not smiling, you’re dying. Of the three, I actually prefer CINDERFELLA and wish that sucker was on Blu! Now in addition to the films – you get a 48 page book of Storyboards from NUTTY PROFESSOR. A 40 page book of script pages from Jerry’s script with personal notes and deletions made by Jerry. That’s killer btw. You also get a CD of Jerry Lewis’ prank phone call comedy selections – HILARIOUS! Then there’s this book he wrote for the Crew of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR called… INSTRUCTION BOOK FOR BEING A PERSON, filled with illustrations by a friend. It is marvelously sweet and oddly poignant. The actual featurette about THE NUTTY PROFESSOR has “fat” Jerry Lewis talking about the film! Love those Screen Tests he did! It includes Stella Stevens talking about the film! Her Deleted scene is HOT btw. If you love Jerry Lewis’ films, this is a great great great edition. If you just want THE NUTTY PROFESSOR Blu, it comes out by itself in 3 months, I’ll remind ya when it hits! Watching Lewis’ Buddy Love is to see Jerry’s criticism of the ugliness he saw in the world. Don’t let the recent ugliness tear you away from experience Jerry Lewis when he was just beautifully creative.
ATTACK ON TITAN Part 1 Blu Ray
This is the first Anime that Yoko brought to my attention. In fact, scratch that. She DEMANDED that I stop what I was doing and watch it with her. That doesn’t happen often, and when it does… I discover yet another reason to love someone I couldn’t imagine loving more. ATTACK ON TITAN is tremendous. My monkey brain sees this film as a criticism of modern America… A society under siege. We’re inundated with fear – some that end up illusions… But one that uses this fear to militarize society. Now, that’s just cuz that’s the way my brain works. The show is actually a series about a walled society that built enormous walls to keep – ENORMOUS TITANS THE HELL OUT! If you haven’t discovered this series on Netflix and if you have, but live in mortal fear of the series being removed because you love it so much… Here’s your emergency back up copy that must be on hand, when the Titans come! Tons of great extras pepper the Blu Ray… and
SUGAR COOKIES Blu Ray
In 1973, Lloyd Kaufman wrote and produced an erotic thriller set in the porn industry, that starred the exceedingly fun Mary Woronov and some of Andy Warhol’s troop – and apparently it is really really great. This is one of those films that I couldn’t track down when I went through my TROMA obsession phase… where I was desperate to find everything that Kaufman was involved in, cuz the man is a crazy genius – and I love his contribution to cinema in a giddy kind of way. When I saw this Blu Ray coming out, I literally let out a strange gleeful noise that shouldn’t be repeated, as I’m pretty sure it would bring the men with the white coat. This… I’ve GOTS TO SEE!
BLOODSUCKING FREAKS Blu Ray
This is a notorious little movie… Known under a host of names… THE INCREDIBLE TORTURE SHOW, SARDU – MASTER OF THE SCREAMING VIRGINS, THE HERITAGE OF CALIGULA: AN ORGY OF SICK MINDS… and of course… BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. My parents had a trailer for this sucker on the 3rd Horror/Sci-Fi Trailer Reel they had in 16mm – my memory conjures a goateed man, Blood dripping letters spelling out BLOODSUCKING FREAKS as some guy screams BLOOD SUCKING FREAKS!!! I also remember a shot where a woman looks to be making out with another woman and she turned around with an ADDITIONAL TONGUE she was chewing on – and it was all completely hokey and awesome! I first checked this movie out sometime in the late 80s on VHS… And… I love it. Sure, it’s third class funky filmmaking, but dammit – it makes me smile because I really don’t think we’ll see anything like this that isn’t made ironically… or DEADLY SERIOUS. But this is just a great speed of funky for me. TROMA is doing the Film God’s work by releasing it! Especially in BLU – which just tickles me thoroughly. Those images and memories propelled me to look for this movie a lot. It was an early teenage triumph of discovery. Nobody really can understand. Heh.
GESTAPO’S LAST ORGY dvd
It’s easy to dismiss this as pure Nazi Exploitation… snarl your face up and never give it a second thought. When a film like GESTAPO’S LAST ORGY arrives… I know, that’s one to watch after I’m the only one awake in the house. This came from Italy… a country that understood the horrors of Fascism unleashed. There’s a viciousness to this film that comes from a place that feels bitter, angry and well, when you read about WWII, not the battles… but The Camps… you discover truly horrible things. There’s places that Spielberg wouldn’t touch with a 2000 ft pole. Hell, there’s stuff that even Polanski wouldn’t veer near. That when you’re shooting Exploitation, you could give a shit if it is offensive – and the filmmakers that would make something like this… is it just about tits and ass? What about all those limp Nazi dicks? Then there’s the Dinner scene… a scene so outrageous that this film can never play in the UK as a result. This isn’t erotic AT ALL. Sure there’s nudity, but watching this film almost feels like a revelation… it plays as uncensored testimony. It tells the story of Lise (played by Daniela Poggi who went on to be a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador) how is a beautiful young Jewish woman that the Commandant of a Death Camp, that sometimes doubles as a bordello for Nazi soldiers. The Commandant is played by Adriano Micantoni, who I instantly recognized from TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME! So that’s fucking WEIRD AS HELL!!!! The film takes place in Flashback, as the Commandant and his fixation return to the Camp after he’d been released from his captivity… There’s a really sick psychological situation THROUGH OUT THIS MOVIE! In the end, I came away not offended, but relieved. It didn’t turn me on once! As a result, I feel like a good person. If this does turn you on, it probably means you should seek professional help. This along with FAREWELL UNCLE TOM are two of the most brutal watches I’ve had. Dealing with Slavery and the Death Camps in a pure exploitive nature is inherently disturbing because it’s one thing to read about horrors and another entirely to reenact them, even for pretend. This is not for everyone, but if you have friends like me that love to see everything that cinema has offered us… this is one that can win “What’s the most fucked up thing you’ve seen in a movie?” contests with. I still say FAREWELL UNCLE TOM is even more offensive… But that’s like saying this cadaver is more fuckable than that cadaver. Ya know?
Well that’s it for this week… Next we’ll be looking at COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY Blu, TRUE DETECTIVE Blu, JACK RYAN SHADOW RECRUIT Blu, NON-STOP Blu, L’ELISSE Criterion Blu, THE TRAIN Blu, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE Blu, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS Blu, TIGHTROPE Blu, THE MECHANIC Blu, a couple of double features of SPIKE LEE JOINTs on Blu, HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON Blu, KISMET Blu, THE VANQUISHED Blu, BUSHIDO MAN Blu, KLONDIKE Blu, AMEN Blu, VIDEO NASTIES dvd, MIRAGE MEN dvd, and more.
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