As the shogun executioner, Ogami Itto has a comfortable gig until he falls from grace and endures the death of his beloved wife. Facing almost certain death at the hands of his enemies, the dreaded Yagyu clan, he’s forced to flee and gives his toddler son a choice: die at his hand or join him in a life of hardship on the “demon road”. With no home, no money, and no seeming future, the father becomes an assassin for hire and stays on the move, pushing his son around the countryside in a rickety cart from one misadventure to the
Recently in Blu-ray
Chanbara film series is aided by the screenwriting of the manga series creator, Kazuo Koike.
I would recommend ignoring the title and viewing it as a completely new movie featuring a dragon.
The original Pete's Dragon (1977) is one of my all-time favorite Disney films. When I heard a remake was in process, I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately, the people behind the new film had no idea what made the original so special. Rather than creating a new version of a beloved film, they ended up with something completely unconnected to the original. Five-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is on a road trip with his parents when, in an effort to avoid a deer, they crash the car. His parents are instantly killed and wolves force Pete into the woods where
Arrow Video's two-disc Limited Edition release of this '80s horror flick is worth crawling through a mutant-infested sewer for.
Like many of the "classic" horror flicks I tend to review, C.H.U.D. first crawled its way out of the manhole and into my life via videocassette. Even then, during that awkward span of existence known as my teenaged years, I couldn't help but shake the feeling there was something equally thorny about the film ‒ and it had absolutely nothing to do with the titular flesh-eating creatures within the picture itself. Rather, the peculiar odor C.H.U.D. emitted was of an entirely different variety of cumbersome: it was almost as if it was simultaneously trying to be something it ultimately wasn't
There are trappings of the subversive in Burt Kennedy's western, but not their convictions.
An early entry in the rape-revenge subgenre, Burt Kennedy’s western Hannie Caulder requires you to squint pretty hard to read it as a proto-feminist work. The framework is there — Raquel Welch’s titular character wreaks violent vengeance on a trio of men who raped her — but the details don’t really support it, from the way Kennedy films the rape to the way he portrays her assaulters to the repeated narrative beat where Hannie must rely on a man for help. One could easily argue that Kennedy (who wrote the screenplay using the pen name Z.X. Jones) is more interested
Two of the most famous John Ford/John Wayne collaborations make their HD home video debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
While both names carry around their own amount of (significant) weight, it's almost hard to imagine a John Ford movie without John "The Duke" Wayne ‒ and vice versa. Thankfully, the Warner Archive Collection has been gracious enough to help fans of both classic motion picture greats fill two voids in their High-Definition libraries with new Blu-ray releases of two of their best-known collaborations, They Were Expendable and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Both films showcase The Duke doing what he did best ‒ giving 'em hell ‒ but is in the first of these individually released titles, MGM's They
Caveat emptor, it's a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release.
After a restored DCP master of Citizen Kane played at the 2016 AFI Fest, followed by an AFI Master Class, featuring Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released a new Blu-ray and DVD to commemorate the film's 75th Anniversary. However, this release has not been struck from the new master, but instead is a reissue of the 70th Anniversary release. Citizen Kane tells the story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a newspaper tycoon who “helped to change the world” though his detractors declared him a yellow journalist. He became one of the wealthiest
C.H.U.D. strands a fun premise and surprisingly great cast in a meandering story with few thrills.
What’s weird about C.H.U.D. is how much it’s like a real movie. An '80s horror flick, it has the feel of one of those '70s movies shockers that doled out the horror pretty sparingly, but spent a lot of time building characters and solidifying its premise. Partly this is because of the New York location shooting. Partly it is because the actors, particularly David Stern and Christopher Curry, rewrote large swatches of the script to turn their cut-outs into real characters. The title is an acronym meaning Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And it’s not a surprise these C.H.U.D.s are working
With 14 movies and hour of extras, this set is all a fan could want (and more than most need.)
Enormous multi-movie box sets (especially expensive ones) have two real audiences: already devoted fans, and movie buffs who want to get into a director, so they take the plunge all at once. There is, to my mind, no one who will casually purchase a 17-disc, 14-movie set with copious (almost endless) extras, particularly one that retails for a couple hundred bucks. The question, then, for Arrow Video’s extensive (if not entirely exhaustive) Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast is, what is in it, and will it satisfy both the dedicated and the curious? Being curious myself, and not a follower of the
One of the pulp world's first heroes makes for one of film world's worst zeroes.
Lately, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been threatening all of mankind by announcing he is slated to star in one remake after another, including a short-lived, fleeting fantasy of a new version of Big Trouble in Little China and ‒ more recently ‒ the reboot of a footnote in the revised American Superhero book, the Doc Savage franchise. And though no such crimes have been perpetrated as of this writing, I almost think a re-envisioning of Doc Savage is in order. Not necessarily because I would support it (I wouldn't), but because it couldn't possibly be any worse than the
Runaway locomotives, trainspotting hoboes, rail-hopping escapees, and deep-rooted Deep South prides and prejudices highlight this delivery of Blu-ray goods.
Generally, my attempts at finding a common link between Twilight Time's monthly releases leaves me a lot of room to improvise. In the instance of the label's October 2016 releases, however, I didn't have to delve in too terribly far beneath the surface, especially with titles like Runaway Train, The Train, and Boxcar Bertha staring me right in the face. Combine that with the fact there is an awful lot of Southern drama involved in a large portion of the mix ‒ specifically in The Chase and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ‒ and, well, I'm sure you get the idea
From classic tear-jerkers to vintage knee-slappers, these goodies are sure to warm the hearts and tickle the funnybones of movie buffs.
It's that time of the year once again, videophiles. And with all of the crazy mixed-up offerings 2016 has been pulling on us from the very beginning, there is some considerable comfort to be found in what Universal Studios Home Entertainment has put together for the holiday season. First and foremost is the prospect of you and yours spending a very Marxist Christmas (or perhaps Hanukkah would be more appropriate) with one of the most eagerly awaited Blu-ray box sets for classic comedy lovers everywhere. I speak, of course, of The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection: a three-disc High-Def item
The new Olive Signature line of releases includes Nicholas Ray's compelling Johnny Guitar, mastered on Blu-ray from a new 4K restoration. In addition to be a thrilling adventure, the film is the rare Western where strong, interesting female characters are the leads of the story while the men take a backseat. Passing explosive excavations by a train company and witnessing from a distance the end of a stagecoach robbery, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) rides into an Arizona town as a dust storm blows. Those scenes foreshadow the volatile, chaotic events to come. Johnny goes to Vienna's, a saloon named after
Though the extras for this Arrow Video release are a bit on the anemic side, I can still sink my teeth in this fun '80s vampire cult classic.
While the cinematic equilibrium of horror and comedy had been teeter-totting off and on for many years prior, it really wasn't until the 1980s rolled around that people started to get the balance right (that may or may not have been a Depeche Mode reference, for those of you playing at home). Indeed, the monstrous success of Ghostbusters in 1984 (you know, the good one) all but blew the doors off of the previously sealed gateway to the otherworldly. Within the boundaries of films we weren't supposed to take very seriously, that is. In a way, this permitted the horror
Wes Craven's second film is decidedly low budget and grim, but it shows the early promise of a true master of horror.
Born in 1939, Wes Craven was raised in a strict Baptist family, attended very conservative religious schools, and received a masters degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University. He got his start in filmmaking by directing numerous pornographic films before making his break-out horror classic The Last House on the Left. In the 1980s, he created one of the greatest icons in horror history with Freddy Krueger then subverted the very slasher genre he helped popularize with the Scream franchise, which turned slasher films into a satirical exercise of meta-filmmaking. Both of those film series inject humor into
Arrow Video brings us a new HD transfer of the sorority slasher many of us kids ditched out on the first time around.
If there was one lesson to be learned from the entire run of the slasher film subgenre, it is that no school-themed event, national holiday, or generalized superstition was safe from the prying eyes of bloodthirsty, homicidal maniacs. Indeed, after the first session of class began with John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978, no one ever thought to offer up "Nothing Lasts Forever" as part of the curriculum for the uninitiated. Instead, one applicant after another ‒ originating from actual graduates of filmmaking schools to drop-outs from other ends of the camera ‒ signed up for a refresher course, culminating in
From insensitive employers to less-than-sensible debates about mayonnaise, this assortment of odds and ends is sure to inspire those of you who feel like humanity has lost all common sense.
Like certain recent events in world history have proved, the elements of both sense and sensitivity are not always in full force: people don't always make the best decisions. This is particularly true ‒ to say nothing of acceptable ‒ in the less depressing field of fiction. And no matter how realistic of a course this sextet from Twilight Time may have become, these magical realms of fantasy nevertheless provide a great escape to scurry off to, particularly when the gravity of reality becomes almost too improbable to properly process ‒ especially since most of the protagonists of these six
It's fitting the show concludes with "Success" because that's a completely accurate description of what this concert is.
In March of 2016, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age revealed they had secretly collaborated on an album together, Post Pop Depression. Joined by QOTSA's Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders in the studio, PPD was released to good reviews followed soon after by 21 dates across North America and Europe in support of the album. Rounding out the touring band were QOTSA's Troy Van Leeuwen and guitarist Matt Sweeney. Their performance at the Royal Albert Hall on May 13 was the second to last night of the tour. It's an impressive, raucous
Chad Hartigan writes and directs another film with instincts for the low-key.
Midway through Morris From America, Chad Hartigan’s winning if decidedly minor coming-of-age comedy, 13-year-old Morris (Markees Christmas) is forced to perform a rap he wrote when it’s discovered by his single dad, Curtis (Craig Robinson). Reluctantly, he obliges: “Fuckin’ all the bitches, two at a time / All you can take, for just $10.99 / Mom’s on the pipe and Pop’s on death row / So who gives a shit if I fuck all these hoes.” Curtis is incredulous. “Why are you mad? You curse all the time,” Morris pleads. “I ain’t mad at you for writing those rhymes because
This lost noir is a steamy mix of sex-crime, repression, voyeurism, and all other sorts of ugly things, beautifully done.
Made just on the cusp of the broadening of censorship rules in Hollywood, Private Property was probably too much, too soon. Unable to secure an MPAA seal of approval, the movie never opened wide, and quickly disappeared. This is a shame because Private Property is a brimming pot of noir nastiness, a near classic in a genre that's too often associated with gangsters and organized criminality, but at its heart is really about human frailty, obsession, and madness. Corey Allen and Warren Oates star as Duke and Boots, a pair of drifters who wander up from the beach looking for
The tale as old as time gets some brand new bonus features for its 25th anniversary release.
It’s only been six years since the last time this Disney princess was allowed out of the video vault, but this year’s 25th anniversary and an impending live action remake served as ample incentive for another cash grab. Thankfully, the Disney marketing folks saw fit to include an ample selection of brand new bonus features for this release, although the technical specifications of the film’s video/audio presentation are exactly the same. The Blu-ray package also includes a digital copy, another perk absent in the prior release. Finally, viewers again get the option of watching three different versions of the film,
From Peckinpah to Price and from Scott to Sinatra, this assortment of classics from Twilight Time doesn't mess around.
It's easy to get carried away sometimes, particularly when the target of your obsession is something (or someone) you love. And you won't find a single protagonist or villain afoot in this wave of new Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time incapable of agreeing with you. Featuring the unparalleled talents of many motion picture greats, these releases ‒ all but one of which make their HD home video debuts ‒ this assortment of flicks touches upon all sorts of human emotion people throughout history have fallen prey to: an unbridled love for something, be it lust, pride, glory, and/or greed. Our
The spirit of Something Weird Video is alive and as incurably sick as ever with this exciting new sexploitation double-bill from Garagehouse Pictures.
Like absent remote controls and missing keys, lost films also have a tendency to pop up once in a blue moon, thus restoring a fraction of faith to movie lovers everywhere. And while movies such as the Silent Era's London After Midnight remain just as elusive as ever, a small percentage of that aforementioned fraction of faith is nevertheless present when even something far less famous (and infinitely more obscure) magically re-appears after more than 40 years of complete and total nihility. In fact, the enthusiasm over the rediscovery of something few people have ever even heard of can be
Stylish '80s vampire flick has little bite, but doesn't suck too much.
Legends of vampires are as old as recorded history. There are stories of vampire-like creatures from every corner of the Earth. The modern vampire has its origins in Southern Europe dating from around the early 18th century. Bram Stoker got his idea for Dracula from those parts and it is from him that most of our preconceived notions about vampires come. F.W. Murnau illegally stole Stoker’s story for his landmark 1922 film Nosferatu (Stoker sued for copyright infringement, and won, causing nearly all the prints of Nosferatu to be destroyed. It is only by the grace of the cinematic gods
Grindhouse Releasing brings us the ultimate version of this nightmarish acid trip down memory lane, complete with new extras and even two bonus movies!
Like many cult/horror/exploitation movie enthusiasts who grew up in the '90s, I had to rely on mail-order companies to feed my growing dependency of strange tastes in film. Through these companies, hundreds of generic videocassettes ‒ the origins of which varied from fuzzy 16mm prints to second-generation LaserDisc transfers ‒ found their way into my home, many of which would stay with me well into the 2000s before the advent of DVD enabled many an obscured cult classic to be released commercially and en masse. One fateful evening, somewhere in the middle of a particularly life-changing year of my adolescence
Mutated mollusks wreak havoc in a small town, and awesomeness on our small screens.
I can’t believe this is about to happen. You are about to read, from me, a positive review for a movie about a bunch of murderous, mutant mollusks. Slugs is a delight. It's well made, funny, gross, and an immensely entertaining movie. I mean it's still a really bad movie, but in the most satisfying of ways. Made in 1988, Slugs follows in the footsteps of all those mutant animal/nature vs. animal flicks that gained popularity in the '70s (which tells you something about the development of this film being made nearly a decade after the genre basically died out).
Arrow Video releases the definitive box set (well two, actually) paying all respect due to one of filmdom's most unique innovators.
There will never be another Herschell Gordon Lewis in this world, ladies and gentlemen. And though some snobbier film aficionados may consider that a blessing, considering the course the motion picture industry has taken since the late independent exploitation filmmaker first succeeded in turning head whilst churning stomachs and all, there is no denying the legacy H.G. Lewis left behind. While his self-planted roots in the world cinema started with a variety of silly "nudie cuties" (which popped up in various "art houses" across the nation), Lewis didn't strike gold until he struck nerves. And arteries. And major organs. And
Breaching all boundaries of good taste, I can't decide if Denmark's award-winning black comedy is for mankind or just plain fowl.
It's been a considerable while since I last dived into a Danish picture, and my immediate thought as soon as Anders Thomas Jensen's Mænd & høns ‒ or, Men & Chicken, as the English-language translation reads ‒ was if I had been out of the loop for far too long. Or maybe I have aged considerably more in the last couple of years than the calendar would have me believe, as I found Men & Chicken was a bit of a tough shell to crack. Sure, it either won or was nominated for numerous awards in its native Denmark (as
Original Ringu director's best follow-up to his international hit, Dark Water is overwhelmingly atmospheric and surprisingly poignant.
While it's not entirely accurate to say that Ringu was the first J-horror movie (the momentum for that had been building in the direct to video and TV movie markets) it was certainly the first breakout hit in the genre that marries the traditional image of the long black-haired female, a staple of Japanese ghost stories, with modern anxieties. Ironic now that it was done with the thoroughly dated black VHS, this marriage of the modern world with the classical imagery formed the thematic backbone of this new phase in modern horror cinema. When Ringu was re-made in America as
The comedy isn't consistent nor is it consistently funny.
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother not only finds Gene Wilder starring as the title character but he is also the lead behind the camera, making his debut as a director from a screenplay he wrote. While the name of the world's greatest detective is usually associated with mysteries, it shouldn't be a surprise with Wilder at the helm that the film focuses more on comedy and music. Set in 1891, important documents Queen Victoria gave Foreign Secretary Lord Redcliff (John Le Mesurier) are stolen. Sherlock decides to pass on the case to his younger brother, Sigerson (Wilder), who
Spies, human chameleons, horse thieves, sanitized sex, and less-than-subtle dance routines featuring a multitude of bananas highlight this round of goodies.
The subject of outcasts seem to be the recurring thread with this wave of Twilight Time Blu-ray releases, as evidenced by a very versatile collection of motion picture which would appear to have nothing else in common otherwise. The exercise begins with one of contemporary society's greatest outcasts (on either side of the camera), Mr. Woody Allen, and his 1983 offering about an even bigger outsider, Leonard Zelig. Following in the footsteps of his own Take the Money and Run, Allen's mocumentary Zelig (released a year before the cult classic This is Spinal Tap hit screens) presents the tale of