Hey folks, Harry here with a double column. Thanks for sticking with me through FANTASTIC FEST, I still have a few reviews coming. But first here’s the final PICKS & PEEKS Column for the month of September – and it is a doozy! THE INNOCENTS Blu here is just a stunning transfer! One of my fave evers. As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON, where you can learn more on the title or if you’re motivated you can order the title for home delivery – and if you do that, a small portion of the purchase price goes to help the best efforts of this column. So bless ya! Now, here ya go…
Tuesday September 23rd, 2014
THE INNOCENTS Criterion Blu Ray
One of the finest creepiest eeriest haunting films you’ll ever have the pleasure to witness. Jack Clayton’s THE INNOCENTS does more with cinematic innuendo and sound design than anything concerning effects gags and the results are absolutely chilling. Deborah Kerr gets charged with taking care of a pair of children in an enormous house where things are known to have been… disturbing. She begins to put together the truth… or her perceived truth about what had happened and is continuing to occur in this amazing estate. Is anything actually happening? That’s the question that will linger with you for your entire life. Is she crazy? And what about the children. I like to pretend that young Flora (played by Pamela Franklin) is Florence Tanner in THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE… I mean, Flora is clearly a nickname for Florence after all! That’s just a bit of fun with cinema that I have… but Truman Capote’s adaptation of Henry James’ THE TURN OF THE SCREW has a way of putting a spell upon the viewer. Make sure the phones and electronics are off… Watch on a dark and stormy night. As for the supplementals that Criterion provided – we get Cinematographer John Bailey discussing the amazing cinematography of Freddie Francis’! Including some very unique techniques for lenses that are incredibly effective! There’s a good deal of extras here, but I do wish Criterion had done a sit down with Guillermo Del Toro to talk about this film, Guillermo is quasi-obsessed with this one.
HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu Ray
If you only love Carpenter’s original classic HALLOWEEN, then I can understand not taking the full plunge into the expansive cinematic tale that is the full ballad of Michael Myers, but while many of the films can not even begin to approach the genius of the first film, the others are… FUN. That said – this set could fill a great portion of your October. The first two discs involve Carpenter’s classic. Between the two discs, you get 3 Audio Commentaries, including a brand new one with Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis. You’ll get multiple little docs, radio spots and it is all good stuff. HALLOWEEN II gets a pair of commentaries and a 45 minute making of, plus some deleted scenes and an alternate ending. On Disc 4 we get a TV Cut of HALLOWEEN II – sure would love an even better transfer o n this TV Cut, but alas. Elements are not with us. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH comes with a pair of commentaries, a 33 minute behind the scenes and a tour of the original shooting locations – but… this film is so bugnuts insane, I can’t really watch it again. Disc 6 gives us HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS – which comes with two commentaries, but that’s about it. I love how this gives us Donald Pleasence returning as Dr. Sam Loomis, who was sorely missing from HALLOWEEN 3… and it is his presence that kept me interested and entertained through HALLOWEEN 5 and HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS. For me, Loomis is a huge part of my love for this series. HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS gives us two commentaries and a bit of behind the scenes, but the flick is fun. HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS takes up discs 8 and 9 in this set, that’s because on DISC 9 we get HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS Producer’s Cut – which is far better than the piece of shit theatrical cut. I found myself having to rewatch the theatrical cut, cuz I enjoyed the Producer’s Cut so fully. I love that Paul Rudd is playing the boy babysat by Jamie in the original… I love that he gravitates towards the crazy Loomis… and it’s just quite a bit of fun. The Producer’s Cut disc has a TON of extras… Really robust disc. HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER – gets a nice disc. Though I’m not a fan of the film much at all. HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION further showed a lack of inspiration for me. The next two discs are dedicated to Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN – here everything invented works so much better than the stuff that is mimicking Carpenter’s original. But there’s more passion in this than the last several HALLOWEEN’s but I prefer the insanity of his HALLOWEEN 2. By the time you get to the 15th and final disc of the set you’re in pure HALLOWEEN Geek heaven with a 101 minute Extended cut of Carpenter’s original HALLOWEEN. You get tons of extras covering all the films. AS a fan of HALLOWEEN, you can not go wrong with this amazing amazing set!
THE EXORCIST: The Complete Anthology Blu Ray
Here you get the original theatrical print of THE EXORCIST – along with the extended director’s cut of THE EXORCIST. You get EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC and EXORCIST III and EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING and DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST! Now this is good news – as we’re getting most of these for the first time on BLU RAY in this set – and this is the only way to get DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST by Paul Schrader – but this set is also the most economical way to get the whole of the EXORCIST series! That all said, Warners has cheaped out on the EXORCIST sequels and the transfers pale in comparison to Friedkin’s original masterpiece… but that was going to happen no matter what. That’s just the difference between absolute genius and what followed. Now I have major love for EXORCIST III and I’m quite fond of DOMINION. I just wish that Warners treated this series half as well as the HALLOWEEN series got treated!
SAW: The Complete Movie Collection
For under $25 you get all 7 unrated cuts of the SAW franchise. This is basically just a repackaging of the entire already released series. There is nothing new here, other than a price that if you’re a fan and you’ve been waiting for a cheap way to get the entire packaged run… here it is. Shame that Lionsgate didn’t go all out for this, it is a huge franchise in their history with a fan base that deserves better treatment. Where’s the JIGSAW head that these all fit in? Giggle.
GHOST IN THE SHELL Blu Ray
This is the first time we’re getting the original theatrical GHOST IN THE SHELL in full on 1080p – for fans of this seminal work of ANIME and Science Fiction – that’s enough for the buy. Personally, I’ll hold on to my GHOST IN THE SHELL 2.0 not because I’m fond of the CG replacements, but the extras are superior upon that release. But to appreciate the original brilliant animation and backgrounds – this is the release to go with. If you don’t know this film… change that. This is an amazing work of science fiction and animation.
THE SIGNAL Blu Ray
Directed by William Eubank, THE SIGNAL is a low budget sci fi thriller that’s quite the trip. 3 friends trying to track down a mysterious hacker wind up on one helluva revealing journey. This is one of my favorite sci fi flicks of the year. Sometimes when you chase the signal you’ll find yourself in Wonderland… which as we all know is somewhere in Nevada. So, be paranoid and watch. Love that Laurence Fishburne is in this film, he’s the perfect actor for the role he’s playing – and I’m very much looking forward to discovering more from Mr Eubank! We get deleted scenes, a making of – a commentary with the writers and director – and this will be a real treat for you!
Roman Polanski’s THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH by William Shakespeare Criterion Blu Ray
First off… this looks stunning in it’s original 2.35:1 – the transfer that Criterion has secured for this Blu Ray is stunning. Polanski’s MACBETH (1971) is a disturbing adaptation of Shakespeare’s oft told tale. The film is violent and exciting. One of the reason the film feels so different from other MACBETHs is that the cast is much younger than we’re used to and there is something about that youthfulness that fills the film with a vitality in Polanski’s hands that would feel flat in so many others. I never found myself thinking, “What a bunch of kids” – instead, I see wasted youth. Pretty incredible really. Criterion gives us a 61 minute making of, then there’s a 1971 doc called POLANSKI MEETS MACBETH which rules! There’s a piece between Dick Cavett and co-screenwriter Kenneth Tynan that’s fascinating. Over all, another fantastic release from Criterion!
THE ROVER Blu Ray
Didn’t care for this one. I mean, we got Australian isolation, gritty nastiness… a good cast, nice violence, but nothing caught me character-wise. The film felt like it was trying to find its purpose. But that Australian outback sure is lovely. The world seems to have gone to hell, but the film never catches hold. Ultimately I was both intrigued and frustrated with the film. There’s a 44 minute making of here, but I didn’t feel like watching it after the movie. I just wanted to move on. Ya know? Shame it just didn’t work for me.
ELMER GANTRY Blu Ray
An incredible film. Watch this, then watch Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT… Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons are incredible in this. Burt Lancaster won an absolute deserved Academy Award for Best Actor as the titular character of ELMER GANTRY based upon Sinclair Lewis’ amazing novel. A film that truly exposes hucksterism as the balderdash it is. One of the great Lancaster movies!
RUN SILENT RUN DEEP Blu Ray
This is a great submarine flick, second only to THE ENEMY BELOW in my book. But having Robert Wise direct both Gable and Lancaster in a WWII telling of MOBY DICK, by way of Gable’s AHAB hunting the ship that sank his previous Sub… it is fantastic story telling and you will be thoroughly satisfied by this one! In someways this set the road for all the sub films that came after. If you loved Hackman and Washington fighting on CRIMSON TIDE, you’ll love Gable and Lancaster. They’re titans going toe to toe beneath the waves and it’s fantastic stuff. So glad to have this on Blu!
NEIGHBORS Blu Ray
I’d be much happier if I was writing about 1981’s NEIGHBORS with Belushi and Aykroyd as annoying neighbors, but this is Seth Rogen and Zac Efron as neighbors. Personally, I’d rather it be Rogen and Franco’s ALIEN as a next door neighbor for him and his wife… but Zac Efron’s fraternity next door… feels harmless enough. There’s some great sight gags, but this was not the laugh riot I wanted. It isn’t bad, but nor is it Nicholas Stoller’s best work (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL). The Blu ray extras are short pieces that were not that involving. I’d put this in the pass category.
THE YOUNG SAVAGES Blu Ray
Directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters and a young Telly Savalas in a racially tinged courtroom drama about 3 young Italian teens who are alleged to have murdered a blind Puerto Rican boy from another gang. This is a very compelling film. Kino’s doing great work getting these classic Burt Lancaster flicks to Blu!
TARAS BULBA Blu Ray
This Russian/Ukrainian hostility has been going on for a while now. Of course in the story of Taras Bulba, we’re having problems between the Poles and the Cossacks… oh and let’s not forget the Turks. Yul Brynner plays the title character, who sends his son Tony Curtis to an Academy in Kiev, where Tony’s desire for a Polish princess causes all kinds of problems and at some point… there’s going to massive epic scale problems and you just wonder… couldn’t we have just all gotten along – and been ok with a Cossack heir and his Princess love? Heh. Kino has a gorgeous print in the original 2.34:1. I have to admit, I’m seeing this film for the first time and it’s pretty great, I felt. Sadly no extras.
ATTACK ON TITAN Part 2 Blu Ray
I want Paul Verhoeven to do an R-rated live action, big budget version of ATTACK ON TITAN and then I want the world to bowdown and worship the results. This show is just insane. The horror of these giant things… it’s just… beyond frightening. The cool thing about the packaging here, is this box is meant to not only house the Limited Edition release of Part 2, but has a place for your Part 1 Limited edition, making this like owning a combined whole! So that’s cool. This has over an hour of extras – and then there’s just the fact that when ATTACK ON TITAN disappears from the streaming landscape… you won’t have to fret, you are prepared for what is to come. And ATTACK ON TITAN will be there with you! I’d rather have Zombies than Giants. Fuck Giants.
BLOODY MAMA Blu Ray
I first saw this at the Drive In double featured with THE LADY IN RED… if memory serves, BLOODY MAMA brutalized my brain. I knew these were bad people because these folks are up to absolute no good. Shelly Winters is just insane as Ma Barker and her four sons… including a wildly sadistic Don Stoud and the drug addicted Robert De Niro… This is a classic Roger Corman flick – and I’m so happy to have it on Blu Ray at last! This film paints a portrait of perversity that can not easily be cleansed from the consciousness.
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Blu Ray
The statue that comes with this limited edition is the symbol of what gave us hope for this new TRANSFORMERS flick. But really, until the current creative team leaves the property, I don’t think there’s really any hope for getting an actually good film. At least this way you can look at Optimus riding Grimlock – and imagining something with at least the depth of the cartoon, while hoping for something on par with the comics – the best place for Transformers other than as a toy. To get an idea of how insane this Blu is – check out the feature entitled, “Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie.” It gathers fun moments from the shoot – but at the same time… it’s that fuck this attitude that fills the movie with zero sense of respect for the genuinely cool material that they’ve made tons off of. I stand my ground that this is a cinematic piss of a film. Nobody gives two shits in this film. It’s just going through the motions.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA Extended Director’s Cut Blu Ray
251 minutes of Sergio Leone’s epic ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA… well, it’s too wondrous for words that we get to see this! Now, the extra 22 minutes do give some characters the needed context to feel just about perfect, but there’s a slight problem. The new footage, like that of the extended SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT Blu ray isn’t the best. Still, given we thought we’d never see this footage… we’re blessed. This edition comes with the previous released 229 minute cut… Though I have to say, I’m now addicted to this longer 251 minute cut. This is a bit of a miracle release.
KRULL Blu Ray
I love KRULL, always have, always will. There are sad human beings that suffer under the delusion that there is something lacking in KRULL. They’re full of shit, KRULL rules. First off, KRULL is directed by Peter Yates! The same Peter Yates behind the brilliant films BULLITT, MURPHY’S WAR, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, MOTHER JUGGS & SPEED, THE DEEP, BREAKING AWAY, EYEWITNESS and yes KRULL! I was 11 when this film came out and I wanted a Glaive terribly. It has always been a great frustration of mine that KRULL Glaives were not easily available. It’s one of the coolest fantasy weapons ever… even if the film criminally under uses its badassness. Ken Marshall’s Colwyn was a perfect fantasy lead. This was his big film of his career and I always wanted him to show up in other things, but it was not to be. Colwyn’s OB1 is named YNYR and is played by the great Freddie Jones – you probably remember him from Lynch’s ELEPHANT MAN or DUNE or as the enigmatic Chester Cragwitch in YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES. I loved this character actor. Then there’s a young Liam Neeson in this sucker! Then there’s David Battley’s ERGO – this character actor was that awesome teacher in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY – and I love that he’s a completely harmless forest creature of magic, only able to transform himself. And the cool Cyclops and the FIRE STEEDS and the Mountain castle – and the fucking SPIDER!!! There’s so much cool in KRULL – and it even made a cool video game! I have to admit – a goodly amount of my love for KRULL resides in James Horner’s amazing score!
LEPRECHAUN: THE COMPLETE MOVIE SERIES Blu Ray
People ask me who I’d cast in a film about me, I say Warwick Davis, cuz goddamn… we look dead on for one another in this series! LEPRECHAUN, LEPRECHAUN 2, LEPRECHAUN 3, LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE, LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD, LEPRECHAUN BACK 2 THA HOOD and LEPRECHAUN ORIGINS. All with the amazing Warwick Davis. There’s an odd sweet evil to Warwick’s gold obsessed rhyming leprechaun demon from hell. He’s got a strong code and is hilarious. Like when Barney wishes for the LEPRECHAUN’s Gold… it’s just amazing. Watching these, you can’t help but have a silly grin… I mean… it’s a killer Leprechaun played by Willow! It’s just amazing! So much fun.
CHEF Blu Ray
The screening of this at SXSW this year is still my favorite screening in Austin this year. I was worried when I went to watch it at home, outside of the excitement of SXSW, there might be a slight come down, but nope… the film is simply a wonderful film. The casting of Emjay Anthony as Favreau’s son with Sofia Vergara was a casting godsend. The kid and his charisma with Favreau in this film is the film. It just feels perfect. John Leguizamo is great, Oliver Platt as the food critic is hilarious – but oddly very truthful. And if you love yummy food – Favreau is going to make your tummy ready for something yummy! So plan accordingly!
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE 20th Anniversary Blu Ray
I’m still pissed that we never got the sequel we deserved after this beautifully haunting film by Neil Jordan. But… 20th Anniversary… really? 20 years ago. That’s 2 years before AICN and a 1000 years ago. Observe how young Kirsten Dunst is here. Brad. Tom. Antonio Banderas. Christian Slater or Stephen Rea. The film feels otherworldly now. The print seems to be the same gorgeous print we had before, but there is a nice new 20th Anniversary look back by Anne Rice that’s fascinating. Remember when we were supposed to be getting James Cameron’s adaptation of RAMSES THE DAMNED. Can you imagine?
GONE WITH THE WIND 75th Anniversary Blu Ray
I have the big 70th Anniversary Blu Ray set – and in terms of essential film content, if you got that, there’s no real reason to get this one, unless you have to have a little music box that plays Tara’s Theme… and Rhett Butler’s handkerchief. The film print looks stunning, as it did before. I really can’t perceive any difference in the two. But I scan spy not a flaw in either! So that’s great. The footage of Gable and Vivien Leigh at the Atlanta premiere is cool. I have to say, I preferred the 70th Anniversary set… that film program was cooler than either of the “collectibles” included in this edition. But I was kind of hoping for 3D. Giggle.
KILLER FISH Blu Ray
From the director of TAKE A HARD RIDE, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE and YOR THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE comes KILLER FISH. In KILLER FISH – you have two groups of folks – one set Jewel Heistateers and folks from the Fashion world… just realize – these people will end up on a sinking boat in a piranha filled lake by the end. The film features Lee Majors, Karren Black, Margaux Hemingway, James Franciscus and Gary Collins! And there’s gonna be blood in the water! What a great Blu!
BETTY BOOP: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION Volume 4 Blu Ray
I’ve said it a zillion times, but classic Fleischer Betty Boop cartoons are my all purpose tonic to feel great! If you don’t love life while watching SNOW WHITE – as Cab Calloway belts away… the world is just perfect. Watching a pristine print of POOR CINDERELLA – only color original Betty Boop cartoon… I’d only seen a faded version in 16mm for most of my life, so this was a real treat. The print of RED HOT MAMMA makes me crazy happy, that’s where Betty goes to hell… so great! In all we get another 13 Betty Boop cartoons, including PARADE OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS, that’s the one with the KING KONG toy that kidnaps Betty!!! It rules!!!
BLUE THUNDER Blu Ray
Somehow, BLUE THUNDER is even more relevant today – when we’re shocked by the militarization of our police forces – and here was Roy Scheider and Daniel Stern directed by John Badham in this story of a perfect flying killing machine… and the men that took it to overthrow an evil plot. I love BLUE THUNDER. I love how evil Malcolm McDowell is in BLUE THUNDER. We’ve gone beyond BLUE THUNDER in frightening robotic death from the skies stuff… but Roy Scheider’s determination in BLUE THUNDER is fantastic! Besides – we all know BLUE THUNDER on Blu paves the way for the complete AIRWOLF on Blu! Good news! Lots of extras – Badham does a commentary with his team. There’s a construction piece on Blue Thunder itself that’s fascinating. There’s a great 3 part look into the making of the film! Overall – a great BLUE THUNDER Blu!!!
That’s it for September, next month kicks off with EDGE OF TOMORROW 3D Blu, SLEEPING BEAUTY Blu, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST Blu, THE NEVERENDING STORY Blu, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN Blu, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Blu, NEVERENDING STORY II Blu, DUCK YOU SUCKER Blu, THE KING AND I Blu, HOLIDAY INN Blu, NEKROMANTIK Blu, MULHOLLAND FALLS Blu, ALIEN 35th ANNIVERSARY, OKLAHOMA Blu, TOPKAPI Blu, MORTUARY Blu, TRUE CONFESSIONS Blu, THE FIRST POWER Blu, SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE Blu, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN Blu, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE! Blu, THE FACULTY Blu, HEMLOCK GROVE Blu, THE DEATH KISS Blu, GIRLY Blu, BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN Blu, RAW FORCE Blu, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT Criterion Blu, IGUANA Blu and that’s about it.