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Killer Dames - Two Gothic Chillers By Emilio Miraglia Blu-ray Review

Arrow Video creates another fantastic set featuring two Italian giallo films.
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Emilio Miraglia rose through the ranks of Italian cinema in the early '60s, making his bones as an assistant director on over 15 films before taking the reins as director. After a couple of mostly forgotten action flicks and a heist picture, he made two well regarded (at least among genre fans) giallos before turning to the Spaghetti Western genre. He directed six films between 1967 and 1972 and then completely disappeared from cinema all together. It's the giallos he is remembered for and Arrow Video has put the pair together in another of their fantastic, limited edition releases. A

Blood Bath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Alternatingly Bloody Good and Awfully Bad Stuff

Arrow Video brings us the ultimate release of the Roger Corman horror film best known for its bizarre and convoluted production history.
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Within the grand scope of filmmaking, there is perhaps no greater force than that of editing. If you take a peek at some of the deleted and alternate scenes from George Lucas' original Star Wars, you may bear witness to some truly dreadful moments which were, thankfully, excised during a frantic last minute editing session ‒ as overseen by people other than Mr. Lucas himself. You see, sometimes even the main driving force behind a feature really doesn't know what to keep and what to snip out. On the flip side of the coin, there have been more than a

Hired To Kill Blu-ray Review: The A-Team's Project Runway

An awesome action movie premise suffers from lack of any real interesting characters.
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There is a podcast I listen to called The Lair of the Unwanted that focuses on B movies and cult films. Between segments, hosts Jason Soto and Scott Nolahn create fake trailers. One of them featured fashion consultant Tim Gunn as a trained mercenary hired to take out the terrorists. It’s a very clever few minutes of audio which you can hear on their episode for Gamera 3. The basic plot for Hired to Kill sounds like a fake trailer itself. A mercenary posing as a famous fashion designer goes to a South America with an army of women soldiers

Eisenstein in Guanajuato DVD Review: An Ode to Stuff

Greenaway tackles Sergei Eisenstein with no shortage of chaotic passion.
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Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato is certainly full of a lot of things. The 2015 picture is part biopic, part comedy, part romance, part drama, part mischievous fantasy, and there isn’t a subtle moment to be found. The movie has a kitchen-sink approach and throws a host of cinematic gewgaws around in its drive to brandish itself all over the screen. Indeed, Greenaway makes it difficult to describe Eisenstein in Guanajuato in flattering terms. While many biographical works at least attempt to inform the audience about the subject, this movie happily obscures reality. It favours discord and discomfort over purpose

The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review: A Thrill-less Thriller

Nico Mastorakis' cult horror-action movie does nothing with an interesting premise, gets great Blu-ray release anyway.
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Execution is the most important aspect of any thriller. A science fiction movie with good ideas can stand pokey pacing and indifferent acting. A drama can overcome hokey or outdated material with powerful performances. But in a purely cinematic, manipulative genre like the thriller, filmmaking is at a paramount. Holding the audience’s attention, placing them in the action, building up tension, that’s what thrillers are supposed to do. The Zero Boys does not. It starts with an interesting enough premise - what happens if slasher movies villains go up against people with some degree of combat training? And then doesn't

When Everything is WAC: A Visual Buffet from the Warner Archive

From one of Lucille Ball's first big roles, to one of John Carradine's last, this assortment of odds and ends from the Warner Archive Collection has it all.
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Since its humble inception at the beginning of 2009, the Warner Archive Collection has been paying its respects to many hard-to-find motion pictures which would be otherwise unavailable to classic movie buffs everywhere. And, much to the delight of the aforementioned grouping of folks who have had more than their fair share of ultra-sleek CGI-laden popcorn movies we pay a questionable lump of dough to see once in a theater packed full of people who still have yet to learn the fine art of cinema etiquette (seriously, turn your phones off, kids!), the WAC ‒ as it is so lovingly

Justice League: The New Frontier DVD Review: An Adventure Worth Exploring

Good, superhero fun, but it noticeably falls short of the greatness it strives for.
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Darwyn Cooke's award-winning, 2004 comic-book miniseries, DC: The New Frontier was tuned into a direct-to-video DVD in 2008. Set during the 1950s, the story bridges the gap between DC's Golden and Silver Ages by presenting an origin story for the Justice League of America. The prologue informs us about THE CENTRE, a creature who has existed almost since Earth's creation. Since humans have harnessed atomic power, it has determined that the species "must be cleansed" from the planet and slowly proceeds with its plan. Cold War fears have caused many heroes to pack it in. The Justice Society of America

Dillinger (1973) Blu-ray Review: Times Were Tough, So He Got with the Times!

Arrow Video brings us John Milius' directorial debut, featuring eager performances by Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Richard Dreyfuss.
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Never one to take a backseat to a popular genre, the always active brains behind the once prolific American International Pictures ‒ Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson ‒ instantly knew a moneymaker when they saw (or thought of) it. Even after Arkoff's production partner left to form his own company in 1972, only to unexpectedly leave this world from a brain tumor a few months later, Sam Arkoff continued to switch on that proverbial green light to many a low budget offering from seasoned industry professionals and total wannabes alike. And it was in July of 1973 that

The Witch Blu-ray Review: An Incredibly Spooky Descent into Gothic Madness

A chillingly original depiction of Gothic horror and familial breakdown.
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As we know, the horror genre is a rather dying one. In this case, filmmakers are forced to think up new ways to terrify their audiences. Some have failed, while others have truly succeeded. I think that director Robert Eggers definitely went far and beyond with the latter when he released his mesmerizing 2015 thriller The Witch. Not only does this film take you into some very dark places, but it also succeeds in taking the usual cliches of other horror films and turns them on their heads. The story takes place in New England during the 17th century, where

Macbeth (2015) Blu-ray Review: Heavy On Visuals, Light On Poetry

A new take on the Scottish Play is visually stunning, but skips a few too many of the Bard's words.
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Directors of both stage and screen love fiddling with the settings, periods, and sometimes even the words of William Shakespeare. His plays have been transplanted from Shakespeare’s own 16th Century to modern times and every period in between. The play's settings regularly gets moved around to suit the director’s whims and his words have been translated and modified time and time again. This speaks to how well his dramas speak to every person in every age. It also says something about how director’s attempt to mold great works under their own visions. In one of the features on the Blu-ray

Money Monster Review: More Like Mediocre Monster

Jodie Foster's latest turn as director is too little, too late.
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In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Hollywood did everything to help audiences understand what happened in a multitude of ways, from the serious, jargon-heavy work of Margin Call to the light-hearted, if condescending discussion in last year's Oscar-nominated film The Big Short. With an audience already aware of how heartless corporations, and, more specifically, investment companies are, Jodie Foster's Money Monster can only ever come off as a well-informed also-ran. Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the unlikable anchor of a popular investment program called Money Monster. When an unstable man (Jack O'Connell) straps a bomb to Gates,

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

Each year, I always wonder when they will run out of great films to fill the schedule and there was no shortage again this year.
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[Editor's Note: Lorna previously reviewed Day One and Two together, and Day Three.] Heading into the last day, I was already starting to feel sad that it was almost over. No matter how many movies I manage to fit in, it always goes too fast and I feel like it is never enough. The final day started with The Longest Yard (1974), which was another film I thought would be fun with a crowd. Burt Reynolds was supposed to be in attendance but regrettably cancelled before the festival began. Producer Al Ruddy provided his perspective on the making of the

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three

Which film "still brings tears to [her] eyes"?
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[Editor's Note: Day One and Two has been previously reviewed.] I decided to sleep in to prepare for another big day ahead since there wasn’t anything that I really wanted to see in the 9am time slot. Additionally, I wanted to make absolutely sure that I got a good spot in line for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) featuring Illeana Douglas interviewing director/co-writer Carl Reiner. I have seen Carl talk before but he is always a treat and was this time as well. I had never seen the film and it is one of the best I saw all

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Blu-ray Review: A Disappointing End to a Disappointing Series

The Hunger Games series concludes with a dull roar.
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After the inert and exposition-heavy The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, the final chapter of the dystopic “trilogy” rumbles to its inevitable conclusion in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Based on Suzanne Collins’ novel of the same name, this 2015 movie is directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. It’s hard to argue that Mockingjay - Part 2 is an improvement on its first portion, as Lawrence is up to the same tricks and the script dribbles with the same instructive dialogue. The personality has long since been drained from the

Bandits (2001) Blu-ray Review: Not As Bad As You've Heard

Come sleep around with the sleepover bandits.
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Even if you didn’t know Bandits was made in 2001, you’d automatically know it was made in the late '90s to early oughts. There’s just something about the film that screams that time period. It’s not so much the period aspect of it - the clothes, cars, etc - but rather I think it stems from both Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis having the lead roles in a Barry Levinson film. Those two actors have had long, storied careers and certainly have made plenty of films since Bandits, but there’s a certain something about those years that pits them

Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers Review - The Weakest Rifftrax is Still Fun!

This '90s cheese fest could only be elevated by our Rifftrax trio.
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Rifftrax Live returns this month with another foray into the world of bad cinema, this time discussing the 1994 time-travel adventure Time Chasers. Led by Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, the Rifftrax gang is back talking bad time travel, horrific office locations, and chimp firemen. Time Chasers and its Rifftrax presentation aren't the funniest or most memorable of the Rifftrax live events, but it will still put a smile on your face! Time Chasers follows pilot Nick Miller (Matthew Bruch) who discovers the means of time travel. He makes a deal to sell his time travel "transport"

The Stuff Blu-ray Review: Once Is More Than Enough

A creature feature that would work much better today than it would back in 1985.
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When I was a kid, there was a new type of desert that had everyone talking. It was called TCBY (aka the country’s best yogurt) and I remember there being centers all around the midwest. Okay, maybe not the entire midwest but there was more than one restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, which is where I grew up. Everyone flocked to this place to try this yogurt and I remember it being very good. I also recall one night as I was eating some of it before bedtime. My dad told me about this movie he’s seen called The Stuff

Barcelona Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Innocent Imperialists Abroad

Whit Stillman's winning romantic comedy about politics set in late Cold War Spain.
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The first thing to get about Barcelona is the movie is sympathetic to its protagonists. Fred and Ted are cousins who haven’t seen eye to eye on anything since Fred stole Ted’s kayak when they were 10 - though Fred says he was only borrowing it, and the thing was a death trap anyway. They bicker. Ted, an expatriate living in Barcelona, is full of pretension and self-consciousness. Fred is a naval officer, sent to Spain ahead of the fleet to plan recreation. He wears his uniform everywhere, is proud of it, and will be damned if all of Barcelona

Emelie Blu-ray Review: Strong Performances Elevate Generic Horror

From the Tudors to terror, actress Sarah Bolger shines as an unhinged babysitter.
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The horror genre cannibalizes itself, and I'm not talking about movies about cannibals. Unlike other genres, horror stereotypes are so ingrained in the collective consciousness that it's near impossible not to watch a horror movie through the lens of a previous one. Emelie immediately conjures up similarities to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and that's not a bad thing in my book, being one of my favorite "rogue babysitter" films. Sarah Bolger and the child actors assemble work wonders with a script that tries to avoid the pitfalls but never sticks the landing. A couple's anniversary sees them hiring

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

Illustrations of why I love this festival.
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Each year as I am heading home from the TCM Classic Film Festival, I am sure that the next year couldn’t be any better and I am always proved wrong. My sixth year was no different and after 17 movies, I only wanted more. The festival was held over four days, mostly at locations on Hollywood Blvd, such as the Roosevelt Hotel, the TCL Chinese Theater, and the Egyptian Theater. There were frequently five films playing at any one time along with various interviews and presentations. This makes for a difficult decision-making process once the schedule is posted. Lines start

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray Review: Return of the Franchise (to Great Heights)

One of the more memorable blockbusters in recent years, and the high-def presentation is a fantastic showcase for it.
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens might well have been one of the most anticipated films of all time if the numerous box-office records it set are any indication. Since Star Wars (released in 1977, amended in 1981 with the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope), the franchise went on to become a major pop-culture juggernaut with a presence in every medium thanks to its devoted fan base and the talented contributors who expanded the fictional universe. The Force Awakens, “Episode VII” of the main film series and the first of a planned sequel trilogy, is an action-packed, thrilling space adventure

Dangerous Men Blu-ray Review: Professionally, Thoroughly Terrible

A greater package than the movie itself warrants.
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Back in 2005, Dangerous Men had an extremely limited release -- the writer/director/composer/costume designer/etc. John S. Rad spent thousands of dollars to rent out four theaters in Los Angeles for a week to show his film, and its take was a whopping $70. It's not a coincidence. It's not simply a result of having almost no marketing (an ad even ran for it during Fear Factor). It's just a bad movie, evident in every trailer I've seen for it. The very first character we meet inadvertently sets the tone for the entire movie. His credited name is "Police Detective." Yes,

Room Blu-ray Review: A Difficult but Emotionally Rewarding Cinematic Experience

A film that should that stand the test of time with its powerful performances, terrific script, and truthful message.
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There is no greater fear for a parent than the loss of a child to certain horrifying circumstances, such as death or the thought of someone kidnapping their child and doing vile things to them. The plot of director Lenny Abrahamson's 2015 moving film, Room, takes that rather basic premise and extends it into something much more harrowing, but ultimately inspiring. Based on the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue, the film will take hold of you emotionally, once you get past the intensity of the story. It centers on the seventh year of capitivity of Joy (Brie Larson), a woman

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street Blu-ray Review: Sam Fuller Goes to Germany

Fuller's only feature-directing credit of the 1970s found him infiltrating the ranks of a German crime procedural.
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Half a rollicking, goofy near-parody of noir and half a queasy, German New Wave-inflected portrait of futility, Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) is a singular film from iconoclastic director Samuel Fuller. Dead Pigeon is actually an episode of the (still-running!) German television series Tatort, though it was also granted a theatrical release in several countries, making it Fuller’s only feature-directing credit of the decade. Olive Films presents the restored director’s cut on a stellar new Blu-ray release. Watching Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street will make you wish Fuller had directed an entire season of a crime procedural. His episodic,

Jane Got a Gun Blu-ray Review: Troubled Production, Decent Results

Natalie Portman more than holds her own as the star, but it's Joel Edgerton that really shines.
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Plagued by production difficulties, it's a wonder Jane Got a Gun ever saw the light of day. In 2011, the film made the Black List, an annual listing of popular unproduced screenplays. By May of 2012, Natalie Portman had signed on to star in the film alongside Michael Fassbender with Lynne Ramsey to direct. By the next year, Fassbender was out due to scheduling conflicts and Jude Law was in. Then Ramsey quit over artistic conflicts and out went her cinematographer with her. And Jude Law. Bradley Cooper came and went just as fast. Eventually they did make the film

The Gory Goodness of Arrow Video in May

The grue is ramped up to 11 with Arrow's latest output.
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You can't say Arrow Video isn't unpredictable! From gory horror to hard-boiled action and a biopic, Arrow has a cadre of films worth buying right now! Here are a few below: The Bride of Re-Animator (1989) Re-Animator (1985) is one of my favorite horror films. Its splatter-filled gruesomeness and Lovecraftian origins take the Frankenstein tale to Grand Guignol-level highs. Until now, I didn't realize a franchise built up around the story of brothers in blood Dan Cain and Herbert West. Thankfully, Arrow's new release of the 1989 sequel will do a lot to help fans discover it, or revisit it.

Brief Encounter Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Small but Poignant

A far cry from David Lean's big epics, but sometimes small is just as beautiful.
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Christ, David Lean knew how to compose a shot. I swear you could take all of his movies, put them in a pile, shuffle them up, and no matter what scene came up, you could make a stunning poster out of the image. We tend to think of his later, grand pictures like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago when we think about David Lean’s stunning images, but Brief Encounter proves he could create something epic out of little things as well. Filmed in 1945 in the final vestiges of the European stage of

Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: Gangster and Outlaw, All in One

Six Yakuza movies from the '60s, replete with knife fights, anguish, and women falling in love with the wrong gangster.
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How is being an Outlaw Gangster different from just being a gangster? By definition, they're all outlaws, aren't they? It turns out, no, it takes a very special soul to be an outlaw among gangsters. Especially if one is also, as the title of this collection implies, a VIP. This simple appellative explains a lot about the protagonist of this loose series of Yakuza movies. Goro Fujikawa, played by Tetsuya Watari in every one of the six movies included in this box set. Goro was born in poverty, lost his entire family when he was young and ended up in

The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review: Totally '80s Cheese

An odd-ball action/horror hybrid that will surely scratch that bad '80s flick itch.
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Oh the '80s! Was there a better decade for watching bad movies? The advent of home video not only meant you could watch bad movies from the comfort of your own home, but it also ushered in the era of direct-to-video productions and thousands of more bad movies coming out every year. The action and horror genres probably got the biggest boost as you could make those films on the cheap and genre fans would eat them up without necessarily caring if the production quality was all that good. Cashing in on this concept, director Nico Masorakis smashed the two

Fathom Events and TCM Present On the Waterfront

You'll believe he coulda been a contender when you see it on the big screen.
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Director Elia Kazan named names. He at first refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities but when push came to shove, he gave them the names of eight people who had been Communists. Though it angered a great many in the more liberal Hollywood circles, it saved his career. He was not blacklisted and went on to make a great many more wonderful films including On the Waterfront. That film was his own personal statement as to why he testified. It's hard to watch the film today without that baggage seeping through. Harder still is to watch

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