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An American Werewolf in London (Full Moon Edition) Blu-ray Review: Its Cult-classic Status Is Certainly Warranted

Required by law to state "You'll howl with laughter."
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After a string of comedic box-office successes (Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and The Blues Brothers), director John Landis had the clout to pick his next project. He veered away from comedy to a screenplay he first worked on in 1969 while a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia. An American Werewolf in London was Landis’ take on the Wolfman. David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are backpacking their way through Europe. The film opens with them traversing through the moors of Northern England, but all Jack can think of is hooking up with a woman

A Town Called Panic: Double Fun Movie Review: The Bad Boys Are Back

Celebrate Art House Theater Day with Cowboy, Indian, and Horse.
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In a world that seems to be growing increasingly insane, it's wonderful to have some controlled lunacy that is Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s A Town Called Panic, which features that antics of toy figures Cowboy and Indian, brought to life in stop-motion animation. As part of Art House Theater Day on September 24, two new specials will be showing in select theaters along with the Panic shorts, "Lisa & Jan" and "Cow-Hulk." In "The Christmas Log," Cowboy and Indian's horseplay on Christmas Eve ends up potentially ruining the dinner their roommate Horse has planned. Horse is so angry he

Twilight Time Presents: Something I Can Never Have

From the unconditional (or unwanted) affection of one's parental unit, to the ever-classic pursuit of maximum financial units, these five flicks have more to offer than just a nude Ornella Muti (although that's just fine on its own!).
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At one point or another in life, we have experienced the passion, turmoil, and frustration that comes from not being able to possess something ‒ sometimes, anything ‒ we wanted more than life itself. For some, it is a material obsession; the desire to acquire great wealth to control others with, or to even take charge of an individual. For others, it is simply the allure of being able to step out of the proverbial limelight for once and lead what they perceive to be a life of normality. And it is in this marvelous line-up of May 2016 releases

L.A. Confidential (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review: A Masterful Film Noir

A classic film that will long be remembered and appreciated.
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Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy from his L.A. Quartet series, is a masterful film noir. Set in 1950s Los Angeles, the film uses the city as a canvas to paint an expansive story about crime, corruption, sex, and murder. In the special features Ellroy describes the film as well as anyone can: “Three cops on a collision with their own horrifying demons and as the centerpiece the slaughter of six people in a coffee shop meat locker.” Officer Wendell “Bud” White (Russell Crowe) does whatever he has to in the

Warcraft Blu-ray Review: In My Entire Life, I Have Never Felt as Much Pain as I Do Now

Devoid of any originality, credibility, or explanation whatsoever, the big-screen adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment's massively successful strategy game is a giant, predictable bore.
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Contrary to popular belief, the oft-repeated phrase "Hollywood has run out of ideas" has been popping up for quite sometime now. During the '60s and '70s, television producers would take two-part TV shows or standalone TV movies and release them theatrically abroad, luring (mostly) European filmgoers into cinemas to see an extended episode of something like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in order to take advantage of an outrageously gigantic demand for all things James Bondian at the time. It would have been foolish not to take the chance, right? It was a most cunning strategy on their part. In the

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) Blu-ray Review: Truth in Advertising?

23 years after my first attempt at watching it, this Riccardo Freda/Barbara Steele gothic horror movie about a necrophiliac surgeon still can't raise the dead to save its life.
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For Italian filmmakers, the 1960s were as versatile of a period as ever, especially for the ever-expanding realms of fantasy. It was a time when sword and sandal peplums, space operas, James Bond-ian espionage adventures, Poliziotteschi crime dramas, stylish giallo thrillers, and one of the country's best-known cinematic exports ‒ the spaghetti western ‒ ruled the screens. The decade also epitomized another unique motion picture subgenre: that of the gothic horror flick. From the late '50s to the late '60s, Italy's gothic movement brought forth a number of memorable, atmospheric titles from the likes of Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti, and

Fathom Events Presents 'Snowden Live'

With Snowden, Oliver Stone proves he's still got stories to tell.
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Of course Oliver Stone made a movie about Edward Snowden. If the former CIA operative/NSA contractor turned whistleblower/leaker of thousands of documents that prove our government has been spying on its citizens on a massive scale didn’t actually exist, he’s exactly the sort of character a guy like Stone would have invented. Likely, we critics would have complained that he was being too paranoid if he did. This fictionalized biopic is framed by the non-fictional film Citizenfour, which won the Academy Award in 2015 for best documentary feature. Snowden begins with Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meeting with Citizenfour’s director Laura

Dead-End Drive-In Blu-ray Review: The Australian Escape From New York

This ozploitation feature could have been a spinoff in the Mad Max universe.
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It's difficult to decipher what will become a cult classic and what will end up being a major dud in this age of social-media marketing. Any film that gets released has the potential to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. Technically speaking, Sharknado is considered by many to be a cult favorite and I would both agree and disagree with that statement. I agree that audiences are the ones who get to choose what movies will eventually be part of this category. Where I disagree is that cult films are not instant, they just don't happen over night. Sometimes

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Early Masterwork

A wonderful tale of love and loss at the Kabuki theater.
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Kiku (Shotaro Hanyagi) is the adopted son of Kabuki royalty in Tokyo. As the presumed heir to this theatrical throne, he is constantly lavished with acclaim. The mouths that herald his praises come with two faces and out of the other, they spit ridicule. Even Kiku’s father-in-law cannot bring himself to tell him how poorly he acts. Late one night, he walks with Otoku (Kakuko Mori), nursemaid to Kiku’s brother's son, who finally tells him the truth - he stinks! Instead of lashing out in anger, Kiku’s is filled with gratitude that someone is finally willing to speak to him

All Things Must Pass DVD Review: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records

From its humble beginning in a drug store in Northern California to its grim demise.
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​When I started buying music as a teen, The Wherehouse, Sam Goody, and Licorice Pizza could never compare to the joy of spending hours in a Tower Records looking for and listening to music. I had two Tower Records that I would frequent, the one in Costa Mesa near what was once Rock 'N' Java, and the Tustin Marketplace store. As an adult who spent and spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, the Tower on Sunset became a required stop during trips to Hollywood. Tower Records became a bastion of hope when after four days on the road

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) Blu-ray Review: Beheading Your Way

The outright evil, bloodthirsty cousin of 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon' makes its long-awaited splash to home video courtesy a beautiful HD release by Olive Films.
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Generally, motion pictures which owe their entire existence to the success of an entirely different (and more popular) feature have very little to offer the overall history of cinema itself other than its ‒ sometimes blatant ‒ connection to its source of inspiration. It's even harder to have an affect on the world of film when your movie happens to be an obvious "rip-off" of a horror film, especially if it was made during a time when horror movies provided audiences little more than an excuse for teenagers to make out at the drive-in. Or terrorize the really small, impressionable

Marauders Blu-ray Review: A Bank Heist Movie Worth Watching

If the story had been tightened up a little bit, this movie would have gotten a lot more attention and been more successful.
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FBI agents Montgomery (Christopher Meloni) and Stockwell (Dave Bautista) are tasked with investigating a sophisticated group of bank robbers who got away with millions from the heist while killing a bank manager in the process. Due to the murder, they are forced to work with a local homicide unit lead by Detective Mims (Johnathon Schaech) in addition to taking on a rookie agent (Adrian Grenier). In the course of the investigation, they become suspicious of the bank president (Bruce Willis) whose younger brother was recently kidnapped and murdered. When a second robbery occurs involving another death, they begin to believe

Valley of the Kings (1954) DVD Review: The Other Precursor to Indiana Jones

The Warner Archive Collection digs up a significant artifact from cinematic history, albeit from a print which has sadly been desecrated.
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The history of biblical epics in Hollywood, especially once filmmakers began to broaden their horizons and film on location (to say nothing of widening their aspect ratios to compete with television), is almost as unique as that chapter of history itself. Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 version of The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston‒ a film he had previously made 33 years earlier in Southern California ‒ was one of the first movies to actually shoot on location in Egypt. It was not, however, the first. Rather, that important footnote from cinematic history goes to MGM's big budgeted international 1954 production

Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 10 DVD Review: The End of an Era? Not Quite!

The Warner Archive Collection unveils its final 'Forbidden Hollywood' set with a fine gathering of controversial and naughty gems from the pre-Code days.
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It has been a full ten years since the first Forbidden Hollywood collection wandered into our lives courtesy the Turner Classic Movie Archives. Since then, the multiple film/disc series has moved over to the Warner Archive Collection for distribution, and has given viewers around the world a chance to see a few forgotten ditties that wound up becoming buried by the sands of time. And while it is with a heavy heart that I report this latest installment in the franchise ‒ Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 10 ‒ is to be the final chapter in this series, I am pleased to

The Arrow Video Roundup for September

What's new from Arrow Video U.S. this month?
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Arrow Video has a variety of amazing films out. Here's three worth plunking down your money for. Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011) Special effects master Ray Harryhausen inspired a legion of filmmakers who discovered a way to achieve the impossible through effects. His work in stop-motion remains unparalleled, finding the reality within the fantasy or, as Harryhausen himself says, bringing nightmares, dreams and fantasies to life. Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan looks at the films that cemented the man's career. Unlike a traditional documentary there's little to nothing about Harryhausen's personal life - his daughter has a cameo and

Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: These Aint Your Father's Women-in-Prison Films

A terrific collection of some really wonderful genre films is maligned by less than stellar video quality.
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Leave it to the Japanese to perfect the Women-in-Prison subgenre. First time director Shunya Itō took all of the sleazy elements of the genre - rampant nudity, rape, gratuitous violence, and lesbianism - and turned it into real cinema. Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion and its sequel Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 aren’t just good examples of the genre but honest-to-god great movies. The subsequent sequels (Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song don’t fare quite as well but there are still some really nice moments in each. Arrow Video has recently combined the four films

Seven Miles from Alcatraz DVD Review: Prison Breaks for Patriotism

A minor WWII flick about Nazi spies featuring John Banner as the bad guy makes its way to DVD courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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A low-budget 1942 effort from RKO, Seven Miles of Alcatraz was directed by the very busy Edward Dmytryk, who helmed one of those propaganda pictures for the same studio (and with some of the same case and crew) the following year, Hitler's Children. Here, however, Dmytryk spins a fun little web full of venomous Nazi spies, set in the claustrophobic confines of a small lighthouse out in San Francisco Bay. James Craig (Kismet, Dark Delusion) is our big dumb hero, who escapes Alcatraz along with his cellmate, as played by one of filmdom's greatest funny faces, Frank Jenks. To say

Fathom Events Presents The NeverEnding Story

Watching my daughter fall in love with these characters as I did when I was a child is well worth the price of admission.
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I was maybe eight years old when The NeverEnding Story came to movie theaters. It immediately became my favorite movie ever. I developed my first crush, screen or otherwise, on Tami Stronach and her portrayal of The Childlike Empress. I thought she was so beautiful and exotic that she lingered in my prepubescent mind for months after seeing her. I thought she was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Watching it now, I realize that part of this love I felt for her comes from the character. At the end of the film, she speaks to Bastian (Barret Oliver),

Haunted Honeymoon (1940) / A Fine Pair / Brotherly Love (1970) DVD Reviews: Reverse Power Flux Couplings

Three uniquely different looks at the fine art of bad romances arrive on DVD courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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A fairly forgotten German synthpop group known as The Twins once declared "Love is a dirty word if you're not in love." Other musicians who were more successful in the continental US have similarly declared love hurts, stinks, and that they don't believe in it (although some will tell you quite the opposite). Were you to ask anyone who has ever had the reportedly good fortune of being in a relationship for more than a weekend-long stretch, they might just tell you there are bound to be a few bumps in the road ‒ which brings me to this trio

The Woman in White (1948) / Lizzie (1957) DVD Reviews: To Be or Not to Be (Crazy)

Eleanor Parker explores two different sides of sanity in these two separate releases from the Warner Archive Collection.
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As the type of fellow who regularly attracts women on the verge of a nervous breakdown (or at least helps them get their start), I have grown very accustomed to recognizing the proverbial warning signs from men and women alike when it comes to being cray-cray. Prior to the days of mental illnesses actually being recognized as mental illnesses, however, things worked a little differently: you were either with it or you weren't. It was perhaps the worst for the ladies, who were still being committed to insane asylums for having menstrual cycles up until the beginning of the 20th

The Jungle Book (2016) Blu-ray Review: Much More Than the Bare Necessities

Jon Favreau's live action/CG remake hits the mark.
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The biggest surprise about this charming and successful film is that it works at all. Sure, it had a solid blueprint to build on from the original Disney animated film, as well as Rudyard Kipling’s novels, but let’s review a few of the many potential pitfalls. First, casting an unknown and unseasoned child actor carried the potential to instantly doom the project. There was some dissenting opinion in my household, but I thought Mowgli actor Neel Sethi was a solid choice and held up his huge part of the equation just fine. He contributes a natural performance, never coming across

RKO Varieties Triple Feature DVD Review: The Very Definition of Below Paar

Don't let these innocent looking obscurities from the Warner Archive Collection fool you: the jokes are so bad, they could cause blindness, hemorrhaging, or ‒ if you're lucky ‒ death.
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If you distinctly remember having seen the words "In Stereo ‒ Where Applicable" flash over the opening credits of a television series, then there's an equally good chance you've seen a variety show before as well. Alternatively hosted by both well-paid or out-of-work celebrities alike, these unique methods of reaching out to nearly every demographic there was ‒ while simultaneously filling up as much airtime as possible ‒ would feature a number of comedy skits, dance routines, musical numbers, and more during their (usually drawn-out) runtimes. Extending from the days and stages of the Victorian Era to regular gigs on

Hell Hunters (1986) DVD Review: No Need to Hunt for It, It's Right Here

An incompetently made West German jungle adventure with Stewart Granger, Candice Daly, George Lazenby, and Maud Adams receives an equally subpar digital debut from Film Chest.
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While jungle thrillers weren't exactly a new premise in the mid '80s, it wasn't until a steady stream of low-budget filmmakers began to take advantage of the cheap but exotic locations and even cheaper extras far-off locations such as the Philippines or Brazil had to offer. The main perpetrators behind these adventure pictures were usually of an Italian origin; their premises were usually gory cannibal yarns, Nazisploitation features, James Bond ripoffs, or women in prison flicks. Their completed product usually bordering somewhere between obscenely unwatchable and utterly incompetent, their international box office receipts proved otherwise to investors. This, of course,

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Blu-ray Review: A Neglected Curiosity Comes to Home Video

A typically odd late-period Otto Preminger film showcases a fine Liza Minnelli performance.
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Otto Preminger’s work in the late ’60s and early ’70s did not do wonders for his critical or commercial reputation, but there’s something compelling about nearly all of the genre-flouting work he made during the period — even if one doesn’t find the films particularly good. Olive Films has done an excellent job of resurfacing a number of these maligned, mostly forgotten films, including the bonkers Elaine May-penned rom-com satire Such Good Friends, dubious racial melodrama Hurry Sundown and star-studded flop Skidoo, and it’s done it again with a long-awaited release of Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon.

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life Movie Review: Delightfully Animated

Floyd Norman's life is landmark, no matter what.
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My knowledge of the Walt Disney Company meant I immediately recognized the name Floyd Norman. No matter what he says, Norman is considered a legendary animator, for both breaking the studio's unspoken color barrier and for being one of the rare animators able to gain knowledge from Disney's "Nine Old Men." He now stands as one of the last animators to have worked with Walt Disney; the last living animator to work on The Jungle Book. With such a record of distinction it's amazing to hear Norman's just now receiving a documentary. Floyd Norman: An Animated Life charts Norman's rise

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) Blu-ray/DVD Review: Hey, Where's the Swingin'?

The appropriately misleading exploitation flick from Jack Hill gets a deluxe treatment from Arrow Video.
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While exploitation cinema may seem like straightforward T&A or violence most of the time, there are ‒ much like a rotten onion ‒ many layers that make it so unique. One of my favorite facets embedded in such a terrible analogy was the genre's ability to flat-out lie to potential audiences about what it had to offer. Shady folks who liked to call themselves distributors would frequently re-title, re-cut, and re-release other films ‒ sometimes going as far to shoot new footage or record new dialogue ‒ all in the name of deliberately marketing their product something it was not.

The Arrow Video Roundup for August

What's worth purchasing from Arrow Video this month.
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Here's what's worth seeking from Arrow this month. Suture (1993) Arrow Video is such a necessity in the Blu-ray landscape if only to find a hidden gem like Suture. I'd never heard of this twisty, noirish psychological thriller before Arrow's recent Blu-ray release, and I heartily recommend giving it a blind buy. In the vein of Memento (complete with black and white aesthetic), Suture follows two recently reunited brothers, Clay and Vincent (Dennis Haysbert and Michael Harris). Despite their obvious racial differences both remark on their "remarkable resemblance." However, Vincent's motives for reuniting with Clay are proven to be suspect

The Bloodstained Butterfly Blu-ray/DVD Review: The Unconventional Courtroom Giallo

Duccio Tessari's bizarre giallo/poliziotteschi/krimi hybrid hatches once again thanks to the diligent efforts of Arrow Video.
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It hasn't even been a year-and-a-half since the UK-based Arrow Video label first expanded into the U.S. market, but in that short amount of time, they have managed to conquer many a blackened heart, releasing a number of significant cult classics from all over the world very few folks ever thought they would even see on DVD, let alone Blu-ray. With a venerable selection of trippy Italian thrillers already under their belt, Arrow continues to broaden the horizons of giallo lovers who, up to this point, though that they had seen everything when it comes to movies centering on anonymous

Darker Shades of Blu: Film Noir from the Warner Archive

From Humphrey Bogart to Alfred Hitchcock, the WAC offers up some of the best mysteries ever available now on Blu-ray.
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Along with the many wonderful Standard-Definition releases of films that have slipped through the cracks of time, the Warner Archive has also been releasing a limited assortment of classics on Blu-ray. During the last few months alone, the Manufactured-on-Demand outfit ‒ which only issues a handful of titles per week ‒ has unveiled an unbeatable selection of movies hailing from the dark side of classic motion pictures, including many film noir titles from the '40s and '50s. For this modest capsuling of features, I have chosen four Humphrey Bogart films, including one of his most famous characterizations; an alternate (first)

Fathom Events and TCM Bring Back National Lampoon's Animal House

A chaotic classic worth seeing again.
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In association with Fathom Events, the TCM Big Screen Classics series, which brings classic films to theaters, is even more important than ever. The latest release of National Lampoon's Animal House from 1978 isn't exactly a "lost classic". This is a film that is in the general pop-culture reference library. It's not hard to find, it plays on TV, it's readily available on home video, and is referenced in other current releases. What's missing is the theater experience. No matter how we improve the home experience, it's not the same as sitting in the dark for two hours with strangers

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