Hey folks, Harry here with the 2nd September edition of Picks & Peeks, my column dedicated to the greater glory of home video releases, which I’ve been writing for over 10 years now. Those thousands upon thousands of entries are at your fingertips upon our iDevice and Android devices at our PicksAndPeeks.Com site! This was a particularly hefty column, with an awful lot of really really fun titles! As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where you can learn more on a given title and if so moved, you can purchase it which helps keep this column and the medium of home video ownership viable! I experienced an outage of the net here at home for a 4 hour period this evening, thankfully it allowed me to watch a double bill of Criterion’s upcoming INNOCENTS Blu and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE… love those movies. Enough, let’s hop into it shall we?
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
PUMPKINHEAD Blu Ray
If you’re a horror fan that has yet to discover PUMPKINHEAD, then you’re dearly missing one of the great practical effects monster movies of the modern era… and Stan Winston’s directorial debut!!! Not just that, but one of the very best Lance Henriksen roles! I love this film with my monster loving heart beating out of my chest! I didn’t see this theatrically in 1988, because it didn’t play Wichita Falls, which was the nearest town to have a theater near me my Junior year of High School, so I didn’t discover PUMPKINHEAD till it hit Home Video. But I have seen PUMPKINHEAD projected in glorious 35mm at the Alamo Drafthouse – and other than that experience, this Blu Ray is just bleeding beautiful! Now, there’s a lot of reasons this Blu is great… the key one is the print transfer which is perfect, but the Tribute feature to Stan Winston that runs almost 50 minutes is one of my favorite special features this year. Just amazing. Same with the hour long plus PUMPKINHEAD UNEARTHED – This is how a beloved Creature feature should be presented, no exceptions. And I love the Scott Spiegel moderated Commentary with Tom Woodruff Jr and Alec Gillis. It’s a hoot. There’s a ton of special features on here – but it is the film that will keep you reaching for this one!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER 3D Blu Ray
This film plays like a lucid fantasy I might’ve had my entire life. My favorite Captain America comics personally were the Cap & Falcon stories I read growing up. I even had a Blacklight poster of the two of them on the ceiling of my bedroom – and then there’s fucking Robert Redford – who… classes the whole fucker to an entirely different level… then Zola appears on a Screen in a reel to reel computer bank system… and you can bet if there was a line out of that basement, Zola backed himself up… HAIL HYDRA!!!! I mean… this movie tickles every conspiracy spy movie loving hair on my spine! And it is in fucking 3D!!! On my home Wall Screen – and the world feels right. I mean. Look, Falcon is flying in 3D the size of that wall in front of me and I get a goofy grin and that is well fucking worth it. And when I want that goofy grin, I don’t want to hope my internet connection is working… So long as the electricity flows I have my goofy grin awaiting! We get a writers/directors commentary, some good deleted scenes and too brief extras… But there is the creepy Steve Rogers’ Notebook feature which shows how pliable cinema is to the international movie scene! The list is different in different cultural areas… to make Cap more… internationally hip. Fascinating. But really… I’m just happy to burn every frame of this 3D Joy Buzzer into my brain. This and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in the same year… so fucking awesome! Really would like a much more robust extra edition of the film at some point. I mean, like a conversation with Robert Redford regarding the paranoid thrillers that he’s so much a part of and what it is like to be playing THE MAN that we’re all afraid of. Love this film!
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. First Season Blu Ray
I am, as I often am, of two minds regarding AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1. One… Holy shit, there’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. show on TV! I mean, sure… it isn’t anything nearly as cool as an ounce of what Steranko gave us… but, they’re trying in a limited kind of 80’s TV show kinda vibe. It’s a bit A-TEAMy to me, without ever hitting that level of genuine humor… but… man. EVERY TIME something gets mentioned … like Graviton – which gets my conspiracy brain thinking that MARVEL is heading in the general direction of introducing The Beyonder eventually and a big Fox/Sony/Disney SECRET WARS cinematic epic gets unleashed… and even if it never happens… it makes my brain do the gymnastics and I dream! Yes, it is lip service to the drooling fanboy inside of me, instead of actively blowing my mind, the way a MARVEL TV show in the age of GAME OF THRONES and THE WALKING DEAD and THE STRAIN… I mean… you keep waiting for it to hit second gear… and that was THE WINTER SOLDIER, which is just at an entirely different level of effects and budget… But, I’m happily eating it up. I love all the Phil Coulson mystery stuff – and I do kinda crush on May, Skye & Simmons… And Bill Paxton just makes me giggle a whole lot! I want it to get crazy. I want the show to take off the training wheels and get Sci Fi with S.H.I.E.L.D. and AIM. I want DEATHLOK to get a paint job and chrome. More Rich Buckler… Need me some red, yellow & chrome. He’s fucking DEATHLOK, nobody is gonna say squat about him other than… RUN! And BADASS! The Howling Commandos’ spy kit rules! Lola rules! But it could get so much cooler still!!!
STAR TREK: THE COMPENDIUM Blu Ray
If you remember the clusterfuck that was the STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu Ray release, where loads of different extras were on a ton of different EXCLUSIVE to a specific retail outlet… and they were all significant cool features… we now have a release that has all that stuff together. And even more. You also get a print of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS that reflects the IMAX aspect ratio changes that reflect the IMAX format, but what annoys me, is there’s not a 3D Option on this set – and I really wish those IMAX scenes were 3D IMAX scenes… ya know… Well, that’s another release… They also have the same STAR TREK 2009 feature with the same old special features. It would have been nice if there was something more to the first film release than just putting the discs in. But if you’re a fan of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – the print and the extras are worth picking up. We Trek fans love our extras!
THE ADDAMS FAMILY Blu Ray
This release is a fucking shame. The print is ok, but there’s basically zero extras and this is a film that deserves love and presentation. I mean, who doesn’t love THE ADDAMS FAMILY? I love the original show… and Carolyn Jones and John Astin are fucking Morticia and Gomez for all time in my soul of souls. But I have mad love for the volcano that is Raul Julia and the so very Gloria Holden-esque Angelica Huston’s Morticia. And I love Christopher Lloyd’s Fester… But let’s face it. When we all saw ADDAMS FAMILY, we knew… we all knew… we’d love Wednesday Addams till the day we died… and we knew that girl was always going to be awesome, and Christina Ricci has! That said, I do prefer ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, just cuz they realized how great Ricci was and they super emphasized her… and that Camp stuff is just GOLD! There should be a better transfer and Blu presentation than this. It’s a damn shame.
PROM NIGHT Blu Ray
PROM NIGHT, for me… is the fourth best Jamie Lee Curtis horror flick. 1. HALLOWEEN, 2. THE FOG, 3. HALLOWEEN 2, then PROM NIGHT… that doesn’t mean it sucks, it’s just those first two are brilliant Carpenter flicks, and I just happen to really like HALLOWEEN 2 a whole helluva lot. But SYNAPSE has made a great transfer. The film pops like it never has before, at least to my eyes. We’re given a commentary with Director Paul Lynch and the screenwriter William Gray. The added scenes for TV Broadcast were funny! The making of is solid and I love the outtakes! This is a fun slasher flick!
LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS Blu Ray
I first saw this film when it premiered at Butt-Numb-A-Thon 6… and it was crazy cuz Emily Browning and Liam Aiken were both there, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen it since. I remember enjoying it a great deal, but then I tend to like Jude Law movies a bit more than the average viewer it seems like. Heh. Wow. That was 10 years ago and at the original Alamo Drafthouse. (Cry) Sigh. But this 10th Anniversary Blu Ray is robust from what I can tell. About 4 hours of extras, not counting two different commentaries, One with Brad Silberling by himself, and another with him and the real Lemony Snicket. That should be fun.
GODZILLA 2000 Blu Ray
I’m not a huge fan of GODZILLA 2000. It’s alright, I suppose, but watching them with these two other releases that followed, made this the most forgettable of the lot. I just don’t really have much to say about this one. You get a commentary and a real brief behind-the scenes. For completists only.
GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK / GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA Blu Ray
This is a vast improvement upon GODZILLA 2000, which had jumped the rails. Here we have a series reboot and with Mothra and Ghidorah! Excellent! I love the fun effects… and then you also get GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA, which is oddly less serious than G,MAKGGMAOA, but really what were we expecting. But here… the fan in me started really getting excited about TOHO again. Good stuff!!!
MOTHRA I,II,III Blu Ray
I absolutely friggin love this MOTHRA trilogy. The modern effects are just deliriously perfect for MOTHRA – and there’s always more pure whimsy it feels to the MOTHRA films, which have that great mythology built in – and the little girls flying on miniature Mothra is great! Perfect kid geek movies in my opinion! Eye magic! You get all three of these for under $17 – and that is a complete score!!! Merrick sharing these films with me on his Japanese Laserdiscs a lifetime ago make me wistful for those days. This is a Blu Ray to celebrate! Love it so much!
THE GREAT RACE Blu Ray
Apparently critics hated this film, I just can’t. It’s just a film, whose like we’ll never really see again, and that’s probably a good thing, but at the same time, I’d love a modern comedic director to do a love letter to the type of funny cinema they love… and if it’s slapstick, it is… watching this film in the age of situational and high concept comedies is almost a tonic. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are just so much fun – and Jack Lemmon’s Professor Fate is just one of the singularly greatest things to behold. The Blu comes with a vintage Behind the scenes that is nice and unexpected. You need the film in 1080p, cuz that’s about how many pies are thrown in this thing! Heh. Having Jack Lemmon be Snidely Whiplash evil with Peter Falk as his faithful doomed assistant… it’s kind of blissful and foreshadows Hackman and Beatty’s Lex & Otis by 15 years or so! As a lover of WACKY RACES, this is like that – but before it – and add to Tony & Jack… the beautiful Natalie Wood and both Keenan Wynn and Arthur O’Connell!!! You should check out Blake Edwards love letter to silent cinema and the realm of slapstick! But really, you just gotta see Jack Lemmon in this, he’s having so much fun being evil!
GRADUATION DAY Blu Ray
There are reasons to love this movie. One is to spy a crazy young Vanna White… The always beautiful Linnea Quigley is well represented in this 1981 Slasher. I’ve pretty much come to realize that I love the whole of 80s Horror. There’s so much pure fun in these. Now for the fun part… for this low budget 80’s slasher flick that not a whole lot of people remember, we’re getting two feature commentaries. And nearly 40 minutes worth of interviews. I say this, cuz… again, the genre companies show folks how it is done and Vinegar Syndrome has been doing a great job thus far! This is a fun slasher flick given more love than I can believe! Awesome!
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM Blu Ray
Beginning with the beautiful Jack Davis art on the cover and going through the complete film… I have complete love of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. A great deal of that love rests upon the greater glory of Zero Mostel. Zero is just one of my all time fave funny men in film. This, THE PRODUCERS and THE FRONT will forever make him a God to worship. Based upon Titus Maccius Plautus’ PSEUDOLUS, MOSTELLARIA & MILES GLORIOSUS… he was some hack writing a ton of comedies back around 205 to 184 B.C. All by way of Musical Broadway Theater. And did I mention Buster Keaton is awesome in this? I’ve always loved the film, but then, I’m completely unfamiliar with the Broadway Musical – but I’d probably love it even more. Hard to believe. Zero just kicks so much ass being directed by the great great Richard Lester and shot by Nicolas Roeg!!!! This is an amazing amazing ancient comedy! This is just a great funny flick! Sadly just a trailer for extras.
BRICK MANSIONS Blu Ray
It was odd watching this film after Paul Walker’s tragic death, but he and everyone else in this bit of Luc Besson written insanity is David Belle, who is just amazing in motion! The film is kind of hysterical – and I’d say if you have movie watching friends… this is a third film in a drinking hanging good time of film. Nothing great, but a hilariously improbable hoot. The future world where this happens is actually hilariously frightening. I love RZA’s whole evil organization/man of the people thing. It really is over the top and fun. I found it was a lot more fun on second viewing. But then I like the crazy fun Besson written/produced projects. But LUCY was fucking billion times more fun!
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN 40th Anniversary Blu Ray
Ya know… couple months back a friend of mine had one of those days where the world just felt like shit. He called me to ask what to watch, what to fix him and without missing a beat I said, “You obviously need to watch YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN!” YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is one of those absolute perfect things about the universe movies. The world doesn’t suck so long as it exists. Now, it’s the big 40th Anniversary, so they decided to celebrate by repackaging the exact wonderful Blu Ray that all us sane YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN lovers already own. But if you don’t have YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, you can get that same great release in the spiffy embossed slip cover you see before you all for just under $10. And that means guaranteed great times for the rest of your life. SO enjoy, it’s the only reasonable reaction to absolute genius that is YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN! Simple loving perfection! But really, there should’ve been at least one special something extra for the 40th Anniversary. But then they’re probably saving THE MONSTER 50th Anniversary edition that comes in a Bust of Peter Boyle as Young Frankenstein that moves life like and entertains you by singing showtunes. Boy, I tell ya those 2024 editions are crazy!!!
ACROSS 110TH STREET Blu Ray
You see that title and you’re brain hears Bobby Womack kicking your ass in through your ears. But how many of you have actually seen this outstanding urban crime film starring Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto and this film is brutally brilliant. This film is so much more than its brilliant title song, it’s really quite violent and the film commands a respect from the audience by keeping it real, sweaty and badass throughout. You will LOVE Yaphet Kotto’s Lt. Pope and Anthony Quinn’s Captain Mattelli. This is a rock solid crime flick that is beautiful on Blu Ray, why KINO didn’t offer any extras is beyond me. That said, I’m glad I own this one. I’ll get the kick to watch this one quite a few times!
JUGGERNAUT Blu Ray
I have no memory of having ever seen or heard of JUGGERNAUT, outside of X-MEN comic books. I had no idea there was an absolutely awesome movie about a luxury cruise ship that a mad bomber calling himself Juggernaut has placed a series of bombs on the ship and is trying to ransom the passengers, while leading the investigators in circles. The cast on this is just Top Shelf! Richard Harris and David Hemmings play a buddy team of bomb experts flown in to help disable the devious devices upon the ship. The defusing sequences are incredibly tense thanks to the amazing direction of the always awesome Richard Lester! You’ve also got Omar Sharif, Anthony Hopkins, Ian Holm, Shirley Knight and more! This is a taut thriller about a mad bomber. Really loved seeing this one at last!
SEIZURE! Blu Ray
There’s something utterly fantastic about SEIZURE! Being Oliver Stone’s debut film. Starring Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabus Collins) and Herve Villechaize as an evil dwarf named Spider!!! Then there’s Mary Woronov! Martine Beswick’s insane Queen of Evil… and all for the purpose of making a horror film way back in 1973! This is so in my wheelhouse it wasn’t funny! The transfer is just frankly amazing. There’s interviews with Mary Woronov and Richard Cox… and I would kill for an Oliver Stone commentary on this sucker! The stories would be epic! The film is as batshit crazy as the cover. Really, Oliver Stone made this first!
COTTON COMES TO HARLEM Blu Ray
Ossie Davis directed this key successful early masterpiece of Blaxploitation which is just outstanding. And it has Redd Foxx in it – and if you know Redd Foxx you know you must own this! The film is a completely great time! A lost Bale of Cotton that gets lost in Harlem creates a whirlwind of fun crazy antics – and the film has an attitude and a vibe that is all its own. Kino released this sans extras, but I have to say, the transfer on this film is beautiful. It is amazing that I have this film on this format looking this sharp. So cool!
That’s all for this wonderful day of release. Next Tuesday we’ll be looking at GHOSTBUSTERS 1 & 2 on Blu, GODZILLA 3D Blu, Criterion’s ERASERHEAD Blu, 40th Anniversary Blu of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, ARROW’s 2nd Season Blu, HANNIBAL Season 2 Blu, SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT Unrated Blu, CONGO Blu, DREAMCATCHER Blu, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS Blu, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY Blu, THE PARTY Blu, METEOR Blu, FLESH+BLOOD Blu, THE BATTERY Blu, SPARTACUS THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu, AVALANCHE Blu, THE DEAD 2 Blu, JUAN OF THE DEAD Blu, THE BIG OPERATOR Blu, THE PERFECT WAVE Blu and more!!! Till then, keep watching your screens!!!