Hey folks, Harry here with the 3rd PICKS & PEEKS of this September and I think there’s some really great stuff on the list this time. Love that we’re getting closer to October meaning we start getting a ton of great genre releases. And as you’ll see in the preview of next week, it’s just getting better. Now as usual the images and the links will take you to AMAZON, where if you like or are intrigued by an item, you’ll be able to learn more and/or purchase the item, which helps to support the ongoing best efforts of this column now in it’s 10th year! Also if you like the column, but want an easy, simple way to search them and have them available, check out Our nifty iOS and Android app! Enough of that, on with the titles…
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY Blu Ray
Michael Crichton’s THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY is a film that I will watch at the drop of a hat… for a myriad of whimsical reasons. Take Donald Sutherland’s character in this… his rehearsal for the pressing of the keys. His dead makeup, his indignance. He’s amazing. Then there’s Sean Connery’s roguish criminal mastermind… Lesley-Anne Down as the impossibly adorable manipulative cinematic minxes that I’ve ever seen. I would have LOVED her to play Zatanna in my Infinity Gauntlet controlling mind. Then there’s the CONNERY BUDDY FILM connection that I for some reason – have always connected this film to John Huston’s THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING… They’re both brazen men with devil may care ambitions and balls. Manifest Destiny men. And Crichton controls this story with all the fine tuned precision of a swiss watch. It perfectly ticks along. I’m constantly amused by every proving ground. Now the good news… the film looks magnificent on Blu Ray! It also comes with a great Michael Crichton commentary. Movies are rarely this entertaining! Incredibly charming film.
THE PARTY Blu Ray
In my opinion – frame for frame, the funniest film that Peter Sellers ever made was THE PARTY. If you’ve ever been tickled into a state of helpless whimpering tears, then you may know what it is like to watch THE PARTY for me. Comedy is an intimate relationship between a film and its viewer. For me, this is an eccentric wonderland of subtle mad hilarity that renders me silly for hours. But I will not share why it is funny, the point for you is to discover if it is that funny for you. I like the PINK PANTHER flicks, think Sellers is mad brilliant in DR STRANGELOVE and I think BEING THERE is a transcendently beautiful skewering of reality. But THE PARTY… THE PARTY is a gas! The Blu also comes with some nice features on the extras side of things. Sadly though they are in Standard Def. Still, it is better than nothing. For those of you that know the sweet joys of Mancini and how to say BIRDIE NUM NUM… I know you have this already!
FLESH + BLOOD Blu Ray
I didn’t see FLESH + BLOOD in initial release. It wasn’t till I saw TOTAL RECALL, that I decided to track down every last single Paul Verhoeven film I could find and I quickly found a VHS of FLESH+BLOOD. It’s 1510, it is Europe… and this is fucking Paul Verhoeven. You see, he actually calmed down when he started making American movies. This movie is rude and crude and not at all a place any sane human would want to live and exist in. I mean. Plague. But at the time, that VHS was the edited version and I knew it. It wasn’t till sometime in late 90s that I found an unedited version – and that’s when my mind was blown. Then I saw SPETTERS, TURKISH DELIGHT and SOLDIER OF ORANGE… Verhoeven had a no bullshit hardass view of existence. Of brutal humanity. FLESH + BLOOD is a HARD film. Very unnice things are done repeatedly. He’s harder than GAME OF THRONES. Jan de Bont was the DP capturing Verhoeven’s madness! OH – did I mention the score was forged by the hands of Basil Poledouris? Yes, indeed. This is savage times, powerfully brutally told. Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Susan Tyrrell, Brion James… all GREAT!!! It does contain the DVD’s Commentary track by Paul Verhoeven! Great film!
SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu Ray
I had watched SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, but never picked up GODS OF THE ARENA or VENGEANCE or WAR OF THE DAMNED, but when this magnificent special collection arrived… I loved the statue, which absolutely captures the savagery of the show and it beckoned me to plow through the next three seasons. BLOOD AND SAND was magnificent. It isn’t REAL, it is MYTHIC. This SPARTACUS is more of an ancient world super hero… and I love it. This show is gory. This show is perverse and sexual, it was fucking ROME after all. The three following series keep raising the ante. GODS OF THE ARENA brings us Gannicus… and Gannicus is simply magnificent. He genuinely loves the savage logic of being a Gladiator. He’s great at it. Phenomenal really. His Blind Alley fight must be seen to be believed. Then you get the origin of the undefeated Gaul…. CRIXUS… by the time you’re in WAR OF THE DAMNED – you’re cheering for CRIXUS! Manu Bennett will absolutely own you. VENGEANCE introduces us to our new SPARTACUS – our leader of the Slave Revolt Army… though at this stage it is but a few men and women. It isn’t the army we discover in W.O.T.D. The way the show handled the death or original SPARTACUS star Andy Whitfield, is perfect. They took a season off of the story of SPARTACUS to introduce us to characters that will have to come to fight beside Spartacus, having not known the man – and Liam McIntyre comes in and through a series of superheroic death dealing performances, you’re ready to follow him wherever he goes. VENGEANCE is still small though. I wasn’t really expecting the scale to open up as large as it did in WAR OF THE DAMNED. Not only that, but it introduces us to Crassus, played by a Vincent Price-like Simon Merrells. He’s utterly terrific as the masterful Roman that ultimately… well, you’ll see. And there’s Todd Lasance as a young awesome Julius Caesar, this ain’t Brando. Heh. He’s kinda magic in the series too! Fantastic series, completely worth the ride!
GODZILLA 3D Blu Ray
Gareth Evans’ GODZILLA is ferociously fun in the final estimation. It takes itself terribly seriously. I mean, how else do you handle a GODZILLA situation? Point, scream the name and run is about all there is to it. The new creatures have a fun little anti-Nuke message and actually need radiation to exist… There’s also on multiple viewings a desire to see more Godzilla. I love Gareth’s dedication to the human perspective… but my base desires for GODZILLA led narrative isn’t being entirely satisfied. I mean… c’mon, show Godzilla eating a school of Blue Whales. Giggle. Actually, I have no problems with the film. I get it, it’s the first one. I just hope that for the second one, we can lose the cute M.U.T.O. society – and get some crazy science fiction going on here. America can surely compete with the Japanese in terms of crazy awesome Sci-Tech and Moonbases and teams of raygun wielding types… and classic TOHO Creatures!!! It is GODZILLA – you now have permission to skip 20 years down the road… the world has experience and we get fanciful! Watching this at home in 3D the size of that wall over there is just amazing. But, honestly… I still prefer my classic era MAN IN SUIT GODZILLA movies, probably just because of the pure fantasy of being in the suit destroying buildings. It’s like a basic desire. Don’t get me wrong, this photorealism GODZILLA… I love it, because it recasts GODZILLA in my imagination and lets me imagine incredibly gigantic movies… I really hope LEGENDARY gets there and has as much fun with this as the fans would. The extras are goofy and fun, but I could’ve had about 10 times this amount.
ERASERHEAD Criterion Blu Ray
This has been a damn good year for loving David Lynch, and getting ERASERHEAD done up by Criterion… it’s decadent. How great is ERASERHEAD? It influenced the way Kubrick did THE SHINING. And knowing that, when you watch the film and read King’s SHINING and then watch Kubrick’s film… it all makes even more sense… eventually. Jack Nance is from another planet here. This is a flexibly surreal film and it is passion! The soundtrack is beyond perfect. The film looks stunning on Blu. Also, Criterion has really gone above and beyond on this disc in the supplemental section. We get 5 Lynch short films. Period interviews. A special trailer that played at the NUART before the screenings of the film there! It rules. There’s a ton of stuff here! Between this and all the love for TWIN PEAKS… what a Lynchian feast we have on our hands!!!
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (40th Anniversary) Blu Ray
I have every copy of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE that has come out. There’s a ton of new extra stuff here, so that alone is a reason to get it. The 4K Scan and the new 7.1 surround sound mix is ferocious. Really, it’s a great release. I also really happen to love the case design. It’s pretty darn cool. You get three different commentaries. Get them all if your fandom drives ya!
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT Blu Ray
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT is pretty sick shit, and that’s why I like it. I was raised on E.C. Horror Comics so axe-wielding maniacs in Santa suits wasn’t new… but boy was it treated as though it were the end of the world when this came out in 1984. There was a huge stink. Mickey Rooney was even pissed off. Those damn filmmakers had gone too far. What I love about the movie, is that they really go out of their way to show how this killer gets so messed up – and for most of the film, he’s entirely sympathetic and you’re hoping for the best, but when his employer just frankly pushes him too far… things get nuts. Now why buy this Blu? First off, because we read HOWARD THE DUCK comics we all know that Santa sold out to Hydra long ago… so having a Santa that rapes and kills… Hail Hydra! The unrated version, I found to be a whole lot of fun. The ‘unrated’ parts are not beautiful elements, but it’s kinda fun, cuz when you seen the grain change, you know it’s about to get really gnarly. Linnea Quigley’s mounting is positively penetrating in this edit! It’s cool to see this all cut together!
ARROW: THE COMPLETE Second Season Blu Ray
I mainly love ARROW, but there are tiny things that bug me. I dislike it when it feels like SCOOBY DOO. I love it when the shit hits the fan and the plans don’t work and it is clench time, cuz that’s when ARROW is at its best. The FLASH Origin in this Season made my die waiting for the FLASH to show up – and they never did play that card, which drove me insane! I want Oliver Queen to go full on Superhero. I want the hairstyle from the comics and I want crazier arrows. But, I love me some crazy fucking Deathstroke. Really liked this season. Hope they shake the whole show up in the next season though.
HANNIBAL Season Two Blu Ray
HANNIBAL blows my mind it’s so sickly fucked up and beautiful! Fishburne is awesome, Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham is tormented and great, but I love Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter. The gore isn’t gross, it’s completely surreal. There’s a twisted magnificence to the death on this show. Grand Guignol in the finest manner. It’s one great big game of cat and mouse, but with additional threats and the whole time you marvel at what Lecter is doing and Will Graham. This show is so much better than I possibly expected. For horror fans that see beauty in the horror, you’ll never want to be far from the gore on display here. It is twisted in the best ways!
I love that we’re getting close to landing on a comet, because… frankly… that’s cool. Just like METEOR is cool. Directed by Ronald Neame, he directed the brilliant GAMBIT and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE… and he started out as a Cinematographer – amazing work in ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING and BLITHE SPIRIT is amazing to look at! But METEOR is a fantastically ridiculous movie where a comet has a collision sending an 8 mile hunk or rock headed towards Earth. Solution? The secret Space Nuclear Missile platforms of the US and the USSR! This movie has an astonishingly great cast. Henry Fonda’s PRESIDENTs scare me, I mean FAIL-SAFE didn’t work out so well… This? Well keep your fingers crossed! We have Richard Dysart, Trevor Howard, Karl Malden and Martin Landau! And the stars? Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. I love this funky flick! It’s all sorts of wacky! Love having this on Blu!
CONGO Blu Ray
There was a point in history where I hated this movie. Although, as I watched it on Blu Ray last week, I couldn’t possibly put my finger on it. Maybe it was the oddness of Amy’s computer voice freaking me out… I remember the real problem being one of adaptation. The tone of Crichton’s novel was far more epic and powerfully tense. The film was done a bit tongue in cheek, but today all I can do is laugh about magic awesome ape-slicing laser of death. This movie’s end is like nothing. And Tim Curry and Ernie Hudson means… you’re absolutely going to watch it all. This is a film I’d love a great remake on. It could be so much better today.
THE DEAD 2 Blu Ray
This fucking sucks! I loved the first THE DEAD, and when I heard they were doing INDIA with this one, the film I imagined was just thinking they would escalate the situation from what we experienced in Africa, but I found this to be the much smaller film, and it wasn’t better for it. I did not like this one at all.
AVALANCHE Blu Ray
Roger Corman takes on the disaster epic and unleashes AVALANCHE!!!! Our cast of wrong place wrong timers is led by Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow and Robert Forster! This is a disaster movie that is fun, you’ll get a kick out this. It has the right amount of hokey. This isn’t a great film, but it is also free from some of the conventions of the genre, due to being in Corman’s playground. The results are fun, specially with Rock, Mia and ROBERT FORSTER!!!
That’s it for this week, next we’ll be looking at HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu, NEIGHBORS Blu, THE EXORCIST Blu, SAW: The Complete Movie Collection, THE INNOCENTS Criterion Blu, MACBETH Criterion Blu, GHOST IN THE SHELL Blu, RUN SILENT RUN DEEP Blu, ELMER GANTRY Blu, ROVER Blu, THE SIGNAL Blu, ATTACK ON TITAN Part 2 Blu, TARAS BULBA Blu, THE YOUNG SAVAGES Blu, BLOODY MAMA Blu, DISTANT DRUMS Blu, SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS Blu and more! Until next time, keep watching your screens!