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Basket Case (1982) Blu-ray Review: Enthusiastically Silly and Sleazy

Frank Henenlotter's feature debut comes on a ridiculously stuffed Blu-ray, a must for any fan.
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My conscience tells me I have to recommend this release, because it is a superb home video version of Basket Case, with an absolutely comprehensive set of bonus features, impeccable video and soundtrack (mono and thankfully not upconverted into fake surround) and something that should thrill any fan of the movie or series. But the entire aesthetic of Basket Case rebels against the archival perfection of a Blu-ray release. This is the sort of movie that should be seen in a seedy little theater where you'd never use your credit card. It has '70s (or, more accurately, early '80s) New

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) Blu-ray Review: Indie Codependent

The Warner Archive Collection revs up the gas for Jeff Burr's controversial buzzer.
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Bridging the gap between pure psychological horror with a touch of humor and gore into something polarly opposite isn't an easy task. And there is no better example of that in the realm of scary movies than New Line Cinema's maligned 1990 slasher sequel, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Though technically an '80s flick, Jeff Burr's 1990 contribution to the famous film franchise ‒ which still exists today via an occasional, unnecessary reboot every couple of years ‒ became an instant target for fans and foes alike. Several years before, the Cannon Group released Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) Blu-ray Review: Krazy, Kampy Fun

Take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round with Arrow Video’s excellent restoration of the Chiodo brothers’ cult classic.
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During the 1990s, my father and I had an annual tradition on or near Halloween. Whenever Killer Klowns from Outer Space came on the television, we would stop whatever we were doing and watch it. We didn’t have cable back then, and my parents still don’t to this day. Oddly enough, we also never owned the movie on VHS or DVD. But one of the local stations (CBS, I believe) would air it each year as Halloween drew closer. I think it was always being shown during the middle of the day on a weekend, when the network had no

Harper (1966) / The Drowning Pool (1975) Blu-ray Reviews: Newman's Own Detective Series

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two excellent transfers of two contrasting tales starring the great Paul Newman.
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Lew Harper is back on the case ‒ twice over ‒ in these two new Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Adapted from Ross Macdonald's literary adventures of Lew Archer (because who in their right mind could take a character named Archer seriously, especially now?), 1966's Harper brings us a misadventure of a modern-day Southern Californian private investigator. Seemingly inspired by every classic detective from books to film alike ‒ and every bit as cynical, to boot ‒ the role was brought to magnificent life on-screen by the one and only Paul Newman (The Hustler). Nine years later, Newman

Survival Sunday: The Walking Dead & Fear The Walking Dead Exclusive Fan Event Review

Not quite what you've come to expect from a Fathom Event, but was still worth attending.
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The Walking Dead (TWD) has been a ratings juggernaut for the last eight seasons. While it has declined some over time, it still finishes near the top every year. And with this success, AMC network continues to add to the franchise. First, it was an after show called The Talking Dead where host Chris Hardwick discusses with various cast members and fans about the episode that just premiered. Then, there was Fear The Walking Dead (FTWD), which is a show set in the same universe that follows another group of survivors. Along with these variations on a theme, the premieres

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: Wrath

"This may be the shark just waiting to be jumped." - Shawn
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In which The Walking Dead sees the wrath of Kim and Shawn. Kim: It's over, and by "it's," I mean The Walking Dead series. And by over, I mean for the season as well as the "war" on the show. I certainly have thoughts on it and you bet your sweet ass I’m going to share them. This will go down in history as the absolute worst season finale in all of The Walking Dead history. Like everything else they have done this season, what should have been an amazing and incredible end to this chapter was just some bullshit

The Post Blu-ray Review: All the News That Fits

Spielberg surrounds himself with an incredible cast and crew for an average story.
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While The Post boasts an incredible cast and crew overflowing with legends, the actual movie fails to hold much interest. That’s almost entirely due to the script, a yawner about the brave actions of The Washington Post staff in reporting on the leaked Pentagon Papers condemning U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The topic is a clear and at times a heavy-handed allusion to today’s charged political climate regarding news agencies and government medling, but it’s just not very compelling as a feature film. We already know how the story plays out, and it's presented with precious little drama and no direct

A Woman's Devotion (1956) Blu-ray Review: Mangled PTSD Crime Drama

Kino Lorber Studio Classics unburies Paul Henreid's butchered, noir-esque tale with Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule.
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Misunderstood in its own time, forgotten in the next, Paul (Casablanca) Henreid's thriller A Woman's Devotion never had an opportunity to deliver its message to audiences when first released in 1956. Instead, the Republic Pictures production was ushered onto screens with a decidedly deceptive ad campaign cashing-in on the film's leads ‒ Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule ‒ who had recent appeared in a successful stage adaptation of the classic melodrama, Picnic. Needless to say, it wasn't the best method to promote a minor film noir-esque title concerning a World War II veteran with a really bad case of Post-Traumatic

The Maze (1953) Blu-ray 3D Review: Riddle Without a Clue

The folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics do a real Grade-A job with one really B-Grade 3D movie.
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Made during that glorious 3D movie boom of the early '50s, Monogram Pictures' The Maze is cinematic evidence that filmmakers would try just about anything to hop on the three-dimensional bus. The final film in which the legendary William Cameron Menzies (The Whip Hand, Invaders from Mars, Gone with the Wind) served as both director and production designer, The Maze stars another icon of '50s sci-fi and horror films ‒ the great Richard Carlson ‒ as an accent-less Scotsman who goes from a high-profile social feller with a loving fiancée to being a reclusive oddball after his equally eremitic uncle

Book Review: The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic by Richard Sandomir

A well-researched book that gives you the nuts and bolts of how one of the first major movie biopics was made.
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Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Bull Durham may be the first movies that come to mind when you think of baseball, but the first classic baseball film, The Pride of the Yankees, was made in 1942. The story of Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games until he developed - and later died of - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan, and is considered the first blockbuster sports movie. The climax of the movie is Cooper’s reenactment of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech before his retirement, which is

The City of the Dead (1960) Blu-ray Review: A City Still Worth Visiting

After an marred first release, VCI's second check-in to this Horror Hotel with Christopher Lee checks out.
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Revisiting a classic horror movie you loved as a kid after you've aged a bit can always be a tricky thing to do. It had been at least 20 years since I last cast eyes on The City of the Dead, which I initially discovered via a fuzzy ol' Public Domain VHS copy in the early '90s. Needless to say, when it came time to see the movie again after all that time, I was rather worried that the experience would not be the same. Fortunately, just like the eponymous village itself, time has done very little to age the

The Psychopath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Columbo Goes Psycho

Robert Bloch and Freddie Francis' unique, offbeat thriller finally hits home video thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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If you ever wondered what might happen if Columbo had been born in England, you needn't look any further than the 1966 Amicus production of The Psychopath. A joint effort between American author/screenwriter Robert Bloch and Britain's famed director/cinematographer Freddie Francis, the rampant success of Bloch's Psycho obviously paved the way for this tale of murder, revenge, and creepy dolls. One of several titles unfairly unavailable on home video for entirely too long, this almost-forgotten thriller from England's other horror studio ‒ Amicus Productions ‒ has finally found its way to Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. After

The Twilight People (1972) Blu-ray Review: The Island of Dr. Romero

John Ashley and Pam Grier highlight this hilariously cheesy slice of Filipino rip-off cinema.
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When fans of sleazy exploitation movies get together to discuss their favorite contributions to bad filmmaking from the Philippines, Eddie Romero's name is rarely left out. In fact, the late B-movie guru from the same country that brought us national treasures like the films of Weng Weng is undoubtedly one of the "best" known directors to hail from the country, thanks to a series of mind-numbing mad scientist flicks from the late '60s and early '70s informally referred to as the Blood Island movies. Following the conclusion of the aforementioned series, the late Mr. Romero found himself cranking out a

Baal Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Unbearable, Unflinching, and Savage

Fassbinder's mythic performance fuels this vicious depiction of West German's social malaise.
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When the legendary Rainer Werner Fassbinder died in 1982 at the age of 37, he really did leave behind an amazing body of work. He lived a hard life of drinking and drugs, but that didn't stop him from making films about human fragility and emotion. Also, he didn't just direct films. He also acted in many of them. His boorish, devil-may-care persona began with his 1969 feature debut, Love is Colder than Death, but it didn't reach its apotheosis until one year later in director Volker Schlondorff's controversial 1970 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play, BAAL. Fassbinder brilliantly

A Trip to the Moon Blu-ray Review: Simply Magnificent

A newly restored print makes this classic silent film even better.
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As still-photography technology developed and exposure times dropped, the idea of taking a series of photographs and piecing them together to form a moving picture began to percolate in the brains of some of the world’s greatest minds. In May of 1887, a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince, created the first motion-picture film, Roundhay Garden Scene, which consists of a few seconds of people walking in a garden. Others tinkered with similar devices but they were all bulky and unreliable, and the images came out poorly. In 1891, Thomas Edison created the Kinetograph, which took a series of instantaneous photographs on

Molly's Game Blu-ray Review: All In!

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is a slick and entertaining fact-based feature.
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Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is known for having his characters spout out lines of dialogue as fast as a typewriter in constant motion. They speak intellectually and, for the most part, have some intense conversation laced with a moment of humor for levity. After his departure from The West Wing in 2003 (he still received credit for being the show’s creator until its ending in 2006), and a flop in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sorkin has put most of his focus on recounting true stories of flawed people taking giant risks in their industries. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg

Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Worth'

"Let me fill you in on what happened in this episode: absolutely nothing nearly as exciting as it should have been." - Kim
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In which Kim and Shawn ruminate on the penultimate episode. Kim: Well, here we are. This was the penultimate episode of the season. According to Merriam-Webster, the word ultimate itself comes from the Latin word for “last, final, or farthest.” The pen- part of penultimate is simply the Latin prefix that means “almost,” so the word literally means “almost last.” There’s also the word penult (pronounced PEE-nult), which means “the next-to-last member of a series,” or “the next to last syllable of a word.” In the word presentation, for example, the accent or stress is on the penult. Another related

Hammer Films Double Feature, Vols. 3 & 4 Blu-ray Reviews: How Iconic

Mill Creek pounds out a few more nail-biters from Britain's famed house of horror.
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Precisely a year-and-a-half to the day since their first two double feature releases, Mill Creek has returned to the House of Hammer once more for another hefty dose of classic '60s thrills and chills, Britannia-style. This time around, there's a heavy focus on some of the less-remembered (but nevertheless, good) titles from the famed studio, many of which were previously seen on DVD by Sony under various Icons of... sets. The first double feature offering from Mill Creek opens with 1963's Maniac. Back in the glorious analog days, trying to find a copy of this one usually resulted in a

The Outlaw (1943) Blu-ray Review: Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

While not a traditional western, The Outlaw does enough right to make it an entertaining watch.
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The Outlaw was produced and directed by Howard Hughes (with some uncredited directing at the beginning of the production by Howard Hawks). It is one of the more unusual westerns in cinema and not just because it is notable for introducing Jane Russell and her cleavage to audiences. The characters include legendary names of the old American West, such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The story places them in a traditional heterosexual love triangle while at the same time a more subtle homosexual love triangle is occurring with some of the same characters. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) comes

TCM and Fathom Events Present Grease for Its 40th Anniversary

Grease is still the word.
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Every month, Fathom Events and TCM present a classic movie for the big screen. Nearly every month, my wife and I go. Normally, I grab my passes without even asking her. When Grease was announced, I asked her if she wanted to see it. I was reluctant about it. She was excited. Passes were secured. On the day of, neither of us were particularly thrilled. We kept coming up with excuses to not go. I first caught Grease sometime in the mid 1980s as a junior high kid. I was flipping through the channels on the little TV in my

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay Blu-ray Review: Engaging with Exciting Twists and Turns

I enjoyed this movie so much more than the live action film.
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Not having been impressed by the recent live-action version, I admit the only reason I was interested in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay was because Christian Slater voices one of the characters, but it ended up being lots of fun. Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams) is the warden at Belle Reve penitentiary. Her unorthodox methods involve forming Task Force X with inmates Deadshot (Slater), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Copperhead (Gideon Emery), and Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown). This team of antiheros is required to take on missions at her direction with promises

Manhandled Blu-ray Review: Come for the Opening Sequence, Stay for Gloria Swanson

A forgettable silent comedy is made watchable by the great Gloria Swanson, and worth buying by a terrific scene on a subway.
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As the working day ends, we see tired feet marching down steps, and a pair of worn-out hands clock out. A shopgirl tries to buy her ticket for the subway but is pushed this way and that way by the hordes coming in and out of the station. Once on the train, she is jostled and pushed, pried and prodded. She spills the contents of her purse. Two men reach for the handle bars when the train moves, accidentally lifting the girl off her feet when they do. Her hat is knocked to the floor, stepped on, and smooshed. When

Book Review: Al Capp's Li'l Abner, Volume Nine: Complete Sundays and Dailies 1951-1952

Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae tie the knot in this latest volume of Li'l Abner comic strips.
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Al Capp’s Li’l Abner had the kind of success most comic strips only dream of. Running for 43 years, it captured the heart of pop culture long before the Marvel movies and big-screen blockbusters we have today. The strip introduced the idea of Sadie Hawkins Day into the lexicon, where in a role reversal, young ladies asked young men out for dates. Not a big deal now, but it was a major deal in the 1930s when Capp brought it into his strip. The strip turned Capp into a celebrity, with Capp presenting Kitty Pankey the title of “Sweetest Face

Sacha Guitry: Four Films (1936-1938) Arrow Academy Blu-ray Review: A Historical Bore

A nice boxed set from Arrow Academy presents four films from the popular French director.
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You could say Sacha Guitry was born into the theater. His father, Lucien Guitry, was a very famous French actor who was friends with such luminaries as Tchaikovsky (Guitry convinced the great composer to write his works for Shakespeare’s Hamlet). As a teenager, Sacha began writing for the stage. He was quite prolific at it, having penned more than 120 plays in his lifetime. As movies began taking cultural prominence over the stage, Guitry stayed in the theatre feeling that silent pictures without the use of dialogue were not as dramatically satisfying. By the 1930s, he had changed his mind

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 6 by John Byrne

Welcome these stories into your Star Trek library.
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As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 6 collects issues #15-17. “The Traveler” finds the Enterprise crew boarding a ship that's bigger on the inside,

A Quiet Place Movie Review: Silence Has Never Been So Scary

A Quiet Place is a simplistic yet masterful gem that is destined to become a modern horror classic.
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Even though just saying the title now gives me chills, I will not stay silent on how amazing A Quiet Place is. Actor-turned-director John Krasinski takes a film with an intriguing, minimalist premise and executes it with precision while directing a masterclass acting ensemble in the process. Unsettling at every single turn and gripping from the first frame to last, A Quiet Place seems destined to become a modern day horror classic. A Quiet Place is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been taken over by alien creatures who will hunt down anyone who makes sounds of any kind.

Big Fish & Begonia Movie Review: Visually Sumptuous

Despite its issues with its story, this is a stunningly animated feature from China.
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It took 12 years for directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang to bring their animated feature film, Big Fish & Begonia, to the big screen. For the most part, the long wait was well worth it. It’s a gorgeously animated feature that seems heavily inspired by the likes of filmmakers such as Hayao Miyazaki, but it doesn’t borrow too much from his work to seem like a complete imitation. On the negative side, though, the story is bogged down heavily by exposition and a muddled storyline that tries to incorporate as much about Chinese mythology as it can while weaving

Auntie Mame (1958) Blu-ray Review: And It's Completely Lucille Ball-Free, Too!

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a beautiful restoration of Rosalind Russell's original great aunt.
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Beginning as a best-selling novel by Patrick Dennis in 1955, Auntie Mame became a Broadway success starring the one and only Rosalind Russell a few years later. As was customary with just about every (even minor) stage triumph in those days, a film version wasn't too far behind. Released to theaters at the tail end of 1958, Warner Bros.' Auntie Mame became the highest-grossing film of 1959. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment at first glance, it should be noted the films it vanquished at the box office included North by Northwest, Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a

The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking DVD Review

This "Walking Dead" parody is a nice companion to the show.
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We live in the era of the parody. Entrance to the joke arena is very easy. Within moments of any particular episode of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or even Empire ending and there are funny tweets, YouTube songs, and memes aplenty. Anyone with a smart phone and half a sense of humor makes funny of popular culture. So how do you stay ahead of that curve? Robot Chicken has been a stalwart on Adult Swim for years and is an established parody franchise. This release of a crossover with The Walking Dead dates back to the start of this

Sweet Country (2018) Movie Review: Tense, Terrific Aussie Western

Warwick Thornton's new feature is a gritty, brilliant take on the genre.
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As I watched Warwick Thornton’s wonderful new film, Sweet Country, there were many thoughts going through my mind. One was how Thornton decided to let the story play out as it is, without any accompanying music. All too often, certain things can take the viewer out of a movie, and one of those can be its score. Sometimes, in the case of something like Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s a necessity, and it works extremely well. But in the case of Sweet Country, a dark and brutal western that explores a particular moment in the country’s history, there’s no need.

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