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The Hanging Tree (1959) Blu-ray Review: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
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Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny

Seijun Suzuki: Early Years Vol.2 Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies Blu-ray Review: Nikkatsu Noir

Five early films by Seijun Suzuki spotlight Nikkatsu's early 60s trends and the director's growing ambition.
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Seijun Suzuki is one of the more famous Japanese directors of the '60s, when younger filmmakers were taking the rein from the older masters like Ozu and Mizoguchi and Japanese domestic cinema was seeing both its high point as a commercial medium, and heading toward a crash in the late '60s when television would finally saturate Japanese markets. Suzuki worked at Nikkatsu, strangely the oldest and newest Japanese film studio at the time (it was the first film studio in Japan but had been disbanded by the Imperial government in 1941 and reformed 10 years later) whose bread and butter

Schlock (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Dawn of Landis

John Landis' campy homage to classic monster movies surfaces in High-Definition for a limited time from Turbine Media Group.
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The first feature film of cult filmmaker John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood) Schlock serves as a exemplary reminder we all have to start somewhere. Shot over the course of 12 days on a measly $60,000 budget in one of the many suburbs of Los Angeles, Schlock is a campy homage to horror and science fiction movies of the past, as seen through the eyes of one very eager 21-year-old filmmaker. A small community is besieged by a wave of baffling, unsolved murders, committed by an entity whom authorities and the media alike have dubbed "The Banana

Phantom Thread Blu-ray Review: Paul Thomas Anderson Makes It Work

An impeccably made, sometimes difficult and now entirely emotionally satisfying film.
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Sometimes a film comes along that just knocks me out with its filmmaking, but never quite comes across on an emotional level. Paul Thomas Anderson films have that way about them and his latest, Phantom Thread, falls directly into that category. It is a meticulously made film in every possible way. It is gorgeously designed and stunning to look at. The script is a puzzle where every piece falls into place exactly when Anderson wants them to and the acting is exquisite. But there is something about the story and the characters that just didn’t quite connect with me. Yet,

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976) Blu-ray Review: How Low Can You Go?

VCI keeps the memory of Bruceploitation alive and kicking by cloning a German Blu-ray release for this one.
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Though contributions to what has since become known as the "Bruceploitation era" were numerous, those who dare consider themselves loyal to the less-than-esteemed subgenre of ripoff filmmaking generally tend to hold three particular titles high above all others. Amazingly managing to reach a zenith within a cataclysmic cinematic nadir such as this, Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave, The Clones of Bruce Lee, and Bruce's Deadly Fingers have become as holy to bad kung fu movie lovers as has Clint Eastwood's The Man with No Name Trilogy has with Spaghetti Western enthusiasts. Apart from the occasional music cue shamelessly

Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice Blu-ray Review: Slowly Rewarding

Tarkovsky's last film is a gorgeous meditation on life, God and what we are willing to give up.
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In literature classes, you learn that in short stories every paragraph, every sentence, every comma counts. Because of the short length, you cannot have any fluff. You have to weed out everything that isn’t important. Whereas in a novel you can sometimes let a sentence or two (or if you are Stephen King, entire chapters) slide. In a similar way with slow cinema - films that are more contemplative in nature and that utilize long shots with fewer cuts that normal cinema - one has to make each shot really count. Andrei Tarkovsky was a master of slow cinema. Though

Phantom Thread Review: Anderson and Day-Lewis Can't Recapture 'There Will Be Blood' Magic

I couldn't hook into the movie, despite all it had going for it.
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When Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis joined forces previously, they created There Will Be Blood. That film is a stone-cold masterpiece, one of the best of this millennium. There was no way that Phantom Thread was going to equal There Will Be Blood, but every Anderson movie is worth getting excited over. Plus, with the murmurings that this would be Day-Lewis' final film, how could movie lovers not be intrigued? One of our greatest directors and perhaps our greatest living actor making his potential curtain call? Sign me up. However, I will admit that when I saw the trailer

The New Centurions (1972) Blu-ray Review: Blue Lives Shatter

Twilight Time books a classic, slow burning cop drama starring George C. Scott and Stacy Keach.
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Columbia Pictures' The New Centurions was filmed and released during a particularly interesting era: a time when the lives and actions of police officers was present in just about every form of media, be they negative, positive, or somewhere in-between. In the instance of this 1972 cop drama, we find ourselves planted directly in the epicenter of the two, where moments of lighthearted comedy can give way to heartbreaking tragedy at any moment. The film was adapted for the screen by the prolific Stirling Silliphant (Village of the Damned, The Killer Elite), as taken from former law enforcement officer and

Killer Klowns From Outer Space Blu-ray Review: Because Killer Klowns Not From Outer Space Simply Wouldn't Sell

Thirty years later, I still get excited by how absurd it is.
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Cream pies that melt the flesh off a person. Balloon animal hunting dogs. Locust popcorn. Cotton candy cocoons. Monster marionettes. A circus tent spaceship. Ludicrous inflatable balloon boobs. Killer Klowns From Outer Space is as creative as it is ridiculous. It's not a parody or a satire and everyone in the film takes the events very seriously, making it that much funnier. Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) are visiting a remote make-out spot when they see what appears to be a shooting star passing nearby overhead. They chase after it and find a circus tent oddly erected in

The Seven-Ups (1973) Blu-ray Review: This One Gets Seven Thumbs Up

Twilight Time proudly unleashes the intense, unofficial sequel to "The French Connection". And it's nothing short of awesome.
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Off the record, there were two sequels to William Friedkin's 1971 action-packed Oscar-winning cop thriller The French Connection. Officially, only John Frankenheimer's 1975 follow-up French Connection II ‒ a film which has always failed to live up to its predecessor in my opinion ‒ falls into that category. From a decidedly less official point of view, however, Philip D'Antoni's 1973 action classic The Seven-Ups is a motion picture that many feel is entirely more deserving of the honor. Though neither film shares the same director, the late Mr. D'Antoni was nevertheless one of the most significant denominators (or, "connections", if

Batman Ninja Blu-ray Review: East Meets West

Japanese anime creators play in the DC sandbox.
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Batman Ninja is truly unique in the DC animated universe, not only because of its radical premise, but because it was actually conceived and created in Japan. Rather than being overseen by the usual U.S. production crew, Warner Bros. hired authentic anime greats and left them alone to craft this inspired interpretation of the Batman mythos, apparently only stepping in afterwards to graft on a U.S. reworking of the script for its American vocal cast recording and home-video release. The resulting product is distinctly Japanese, and yet still entirely familiar thanks to the classic cast of characters. The far-fetched but

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Giddyup for Some Sci-Fi Fun

Shout! Factory repackages a previously released collector's edition of W.D. Richter's cult classic for the steelbook fans.
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With one of the longest movie titles in cinematic history, and one of the most unique heroes to ever grace the silver screen, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (hereafter Buckaroo Banzai) is a film that has so much going for it, but initially didn’t find the same audience that many other science fiction features of the '80s did, namely the Star Wars sequels. Its failure led to the shuttering of Sherwood Films and the proposed sequel, which is mentioned at the movie’s end, never came to fruition. Years later, however, the film developed a cult following,

The Dogfather / Misterjaw Blu-ray Reviews: More from the DePatie / Freleng Collection

Fans of both these cartoons will be happy to view them in high-definition along with the informative extras that are included.
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Kino Lorber Animation continues to release titles from DePatie/Freleng Enterprises with the latest pair inspired by two films that weren't just the great successes of the 1970s but of the entire medium. The Dogfather is a series of seventeen theatrical shorts, the final ones from DePatie/Freleng. As the title suggests, anthropomorphic dogs are gangsters. However, other than the titular character (voiced by Bob Holt) being a soft-spoken mumbler similar to Marlon Brando's performance as Vito Corleone, there's very little to connect it with Francis Ford Coppola's film. Instead, some characters have voices based actors from Warner Brothers' gangster pictures from

The L-Shaped Room (1962) Blu-ray Review: The Misplaced Misfits

Twilight Time releases the forgotten, award-winning "kitchen sink" drama from Bryan Forbes, which all fans of Morrissey and The Smiths should probably see.
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Long before Hollywood tried to appeal to everyone by adding various "token" characters from all walks of life, postwar British filmmakers were trying something much more subtle and less transparent. One stellar example is the 1962 domestic drama The L-Shaped Room from director Bryan Forbes (The Stepford Wives). Adapted for the screen by Forbes from the best-selling novel by Lynne Reid Banks (The Indian in the Cupboard), this solid little "kitchen sink" drama finds former musical icon Leslie Caron (An American in Paris, Gigi, Lili) as one of many tenants in a boarding house full of characters who would be

Phantom Thread Blu-ray Review: Woven Together Rather Wonderfully

If this is truly Daniel Day-Lewis' final film, he goes out on a high note.
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In 2017, Daniel Day-Lewis announced that he would be retiring from acting - which makes Phantom Thread, the eighth film from Paul Thomas Anderson, his final performance. Although Lewis has not graced the silver screen as often as many other actors do, the times he did have certainly been amongst the most memorable. Save for a few misses (Nine, for example), Lewis always brought an extreme amount of dedication and talent to each role. It’s helped him land three Oscar wins, along with three other nominations, and countless acclaim from multiple organizations. Phantom Thread is no different. It’s a tremendous

Forever Amber (1947) Blu-ray Review: It Never Seems That Long Until You're Grown

By hook or crook, Linda Darnell climbs her way to the top in the once-controversial drama, now available from Twilight Time.
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A full decade before its hugely successful Peyton Place managed to poke a few holes in the brick walls of alleged decency, 20th Century Fox was already turning a controversial bestseller into a major ‒ however sanitized ‒ motion picture. Previously in history, Kathleen Winsor's 1944 novel Forever Amber had been condemned by the Hays Office, but that hardly stopped top Fox man Darryl F. Zanuck from securing the movie rights for the book immediately after its publication and turning something racy into a big-budgeted epic. Three years later, Fox's Forever Amber premiered. It would prove to be the biggest

Don't Bother to Knock (1952) Blu-ray Review: Marilyn Monoir

Twilight Time releases the odd real-time film noir cult classic starring Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, and Anne Bancroft.
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Though modest in budget and undoubtedly filmed in a relatively short period of time, 20th Century Fox's Don't Bother to Knock from 1952 is the sort of movie which just about any variety of film aficionado should take a look at. Based on Mischief from the previous year by mystery novelist Charlotte Armstrong, this cult film noir piece from Julian Blaustein (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Khartoum), Don't Bother to Knock features many significant firsts in the fabulous history of film. The first American movie by famed British director Roy Ward Baker (A Night to Remember), the production also

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure 30th Anniversary Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Party On, Dudes!

Shout! Factory repackages an excellent movie in a mostly excellent Steelbook package.
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When I bought my first computer with my own money, one of the first things I did was change the normal Windows shut-down WAV file for one of Bill saying, “This has been a most unusual day." Though she doesn’t get the reference, I often call my daughter Lydia Brewster, Esquire. While there is no longer a Circle K anywhere near me, I will often note that strange things are afoot at whatever oddball place I happen to be in. If someone asks me for a number, my answer is always “69, dude!” And whenever I meet someone named Missy,

The Hospital (1971) Blu-ray Review: George C. Scott Loses His Patients

There's a killer on the loose and someone has to foot the bill in this obscured, Oscar-winning satire now available from Twilight Time.
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What happens when you combine the talents of actors George C. Scott (Patton, Hardcore), and Diana Rigg (The Avengers, Theatre of Blood) with director Arthur Hiller (The In-Laws) and writer Paddy Chayefsky (Network)? Well, from a historical perspective, 1971's The Hospital resulted in an Oscar win in 1972 for Best Original Screenplay. Alas ‒ as is frequently the case with most Academy Award winners ‒ the film quickly faded from the general public's memory, despite the still-relevant social commentary hidden immediately below the surface of Chayefsky's extremely cynical and darkly comical story. Set in bustling Manhattan, The Hospital takes place

Wild Bill (1995) Blu-ray Review: The End of an Era (in Film)

Twilight Time unholsters Walter Hill's wildly uneven western starring Jeff Bridges as the iconic gunman.
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Although it was never a title I saw when it was initially released, Walter (The Warriors) Hill's Wild Bill has always lingered in the back of my mind for an utterly absurd reason. Following an extremely limited release in cinemas (spoiler alert: it bombed), the film hit the shelves of a video rental outlet I was managing at the time. It was a decidedly rural area, where just about anything western was considered a keeper by the locals, the majority of whom were about as "hick" as could be. One memorable afternoon, a middle-aged gentleman came in to return the

In the Fade Blu-ray Review: Law and Order and Nazis

Diane Kruger puts in a powerful performance in this Golden Globe winner.
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This German film by writer/director Fatih Akin explores the aftermath of a horrific crime: the bombing murder of a husband and son that wipes out the entire family of one woman. While the crime is bad on its own, it’s made worse when the suspects are proven to be members of a neo-Nazi party who only targeted their victims because they weren’t German. Although the film would still work if the widow was also a foreigner, it takes an intriguing approach by utilizing a German character, played exceedingly well by Diane Kruger. The film initially plays out like an extended

The Crazies (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Best Kind of Crazy

The best version yet of an influential classic.
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In 1968, George A. Romero made a name for himself and essentially created the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead. The dead rose from the grave to attack the living, an event whose origin is, at best, speculated upon by the time the credits roll. Five years later in 1973, Romero gave us The Crazies, in which we knew almost immediately what the cause of the madness was, but were less sure how to avoid, diagnose, treat, or save anyone from it. The film opens with two children, a brother trying to scare his sister by unscrewing light

Play Dirty (1969) Blu-ray Review: The Dusty Octet

Twilight Time raises Caine ‒ Michael Caine, that is ‒ with this forgotten anti-war flick from 007 producer Harry Saltzman.
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No doubt inspired by the success of 1967's trendsetter The Dirty Dozen ‒ the film that all-but brought us the suicide mission subgenre of war movies ‒ André de Toth's Play Dirty is, unsurprisingly enough, a similarly themed picture. Released in the midst of the Vietnam War, this (purely) British production from James Bond producer Harry Saltzman ‒ inspired by real life events experienced by British Army units stationed in North Africa during World War II ‒ takes a decidedly fatalistic tone. And while presenting an outside commentary towards the then-current war abroad was their prerogative, it certainly didn't help

Please Stand By Blu-ray Review: Truly Tedious

Dakota Fanning gives a fine performance, but she can’t carry this mess of a film.
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I could make a number of bad Star Trek references and puns throughout this review, but others have already done so. Please Stand By does that, too. Yes, it’s quite obvious that it was going to make numerous mentions to the show based on the premise of the film (and play on which it is based). That’s totally fine and acceptable. I can dig it when a movie or television show uses nostalgia as a tool and does it well. What I absolutely hate is when some form of medium does it so lazily by simply name-dropping as a way

Wuthering Heights (1970) Blu-ray Review: Subtly Mind-Blowing

AIP's only Gothic romance is just as weird as you'd expect, and can now be seen in High-Definition thanks to Twilight Time.
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Even if you don't include the many television adaptations, the number of times Emily Brontë's one and only novel has been transformed into a movie for the big screen alone is not only staggering, it's Wuthering. And since there are so many superior versions of Wuthering Heights ranging from the likes of Samuel Goldwyn to Luis Buñuel flying high within those ne'erending winds above us, there's bound to be the occasional oddity plummeting down to the frozen English tundra below. In this case, a strange account of the timeless tale has fallen into our laps thanks to the folks at

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) Blu-ray Review: They Should've Stayed Home

Twilight Time brings us the maligned crime caper comedy with James Caan, Elliott Gould, Michael Caine, and Diane Keaton.
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On December 5, 1872, the Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off of the Azores Islands, berift of its captain and crew, but still loaded with personal possessions and cargo. Not a single soul from the voyage was ever seen or heard from again, and no explanation has ever been discovered behind the mysterious, mass disappearance. But it wasn't until Columbia Pictures' Harry and Walter Go to New York debuted in American cinemas nearly 104 years later that those who dared board it had the misfortune of discovering what it was truly like being onboard a ghost ship lost at sea.

Summer of '42 (1971) Blu-ray Review: There's a First Time for Everything

The obscured (if slightly controversial now) coming-of-age hit returns to home video courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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An unexpected box office sensation upon its 1971 debut, Robert Mulligan's adaptation of Herman Raucher's Summer of '42 has since become as distant to audiences as has the element of romance to the average Tinder user. Indeed, the advent of modern technology has far-removed the timeless coming-of-age motif from that of younger generations, who will more than likely find the film's characters ‒ to say nothing of their particular plights here ‒ weird, if not completely unsettling. A personal favorite of iconic rogue filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (it's the only live-action film featured in The Shining, I believe), Summer of '42

While the City Sleeps / Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) Blu-ray Reviews: Puttin' on the Fritz

Fritz Lang's final two American films ‒ both starring Dana Andrews ‒ get the much-deserved Warner Archive Collection treatment.
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Metropolis. M. The Dr. Mabuse series. There are so many reasons to love Fritz Lang's early, German-language films, all of which helped define the German Expressionist movement. Following Lang's fleeing of Nazi Germany in the early '30s, the Austrian-German-born filmmaker put his expertise use of light and shadows to become a pioneer in the world of film noir ‒ helming such classics as Ministry of Fear and Scarlet Street, as well as the iconic 1953 masterpiece, The Big Heat. Even as his 20-year-plus Hollywood career began to wrap up in the late '50s, Lang's filmic contributions were as marvelously dark

Allenesque: Five Woody Allen Movies on Blu-ray from Twilight Time

From screwball spoofs to serious dramas, this quintet of features from the one and only comedian/filmmaker offers a variety of stylings.
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Whether you are a collector, purist, enthusiast, or just someone who is trying to get through the work day, there is nothing as gratifying as being able to mark something off of a checklist. And every time Twilight Time issues a classic Woody Allen film on Blu-ray, it gives his fans a chance to experience something just as gratifying. Fortunately for all parties involved, Allen's extensive (and still-expanding, as he has rarely skipped a year without making a movie since 1965) library can come that much closer to being "complete" thanks to Twilight Time's regular releases of the filmmaker's work,

Doctor Detroit Blu-ray Review: Cancel Your Appointment

Dan Aykroyd is called upon to carry the comedy on his own with a script that fails to truly allow him to stretch his comedic muscles.
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By 1983, Dan Aykroyd had established himself as one of the most bankable team players in show business. Surround him with funny people and he could not only hold his own, but he could shine. The year 1983 should have been no different as he partnered with Eddie Murphy for the hugely successful Trading Places. Sadly, 1983 would be slightly different. Said difference is Doctor Detroit. In his first film since the passing of his good friend and comedic partner John Belushi, Aykroyd is surrounded by capable character actors. Unfortunately, there is no other strong comedic presence in the film,

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