If there’s one thing I know for sure after watching The Wizard of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is that Lewis was no auteur. Hell, he was hardly even a director. If you are feeling generous, you might call him a filmmaker. He was, however, one heck of a salesman. After spending a few years doing various jobs - teaching at university, managing radio stations, and working in advertising - Lewis turned his sights on movies. Not because he had any artistic dreams, but because he figured he could make a few bucks at it. Teaming with notorious exploitation
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Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter classic is terrible in the best possible way.
An uneven, sci-fi mess, but the Blu-ray is handled quite nicely.
Jonathan and Josh Baker’s directorial debut, Kin, is just further proof that not all short films deserve the feature-length treatment. The inspiration comes from the brothers’ 14-minute short called Bag Man, which is available in the Special Features section of the Kin Blu-ray. Bag Man tells the story of a troubled boy living at home with his widowed mother. He carries around a bag, which, it later reveals, contains a high-powered weapon that can destroy vehicles and incinerate any individual that comes within its path. By the short film’s end, the viewer is left with intrigue and craving more. This
Inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s manga and Fritz Lang’s movie, this anime has style in excess...but lacks a cohesive story.
The cliché about Osamu Tezuka is to call him the Walt Disney of Japan. He was, indeed, a pioneer of modern manga and anime, including creating the world famous Astro Boy, both as a manga and anime. But while he was wildly successful and astoundingly prolific, Tezuka was able to make inroads with his illustrated stories that Disney never realized: He created entertainments for adults as well as children, including a 3000-page biography of the Buddha. Metropolis, published in 1949, was a graphic novel from 30 years before the term was coined: a standalone comic book story, telling a complex
Spike Lee’s latest joint recounts a true tale of an African-American cop’s infiltration of the KKK.
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Based on author Ron Stallworth’s biographical book, Spike Lee’s latest film follows the police infiltration of the KKK in Colorado in the 1970s. The kicker: the infiltration is initiated by an African-American cop. After approaching the Klan over the phone and winning their trust during follow-up phone calls, he’s partnered with a white cop to appear in his place for Klan meetings as they continue to gather intel. It’s a high-wire game as they try to avoid detection by the Klan while simultaneously working to prevent any wrongdoing by their new acquaintances. The cast
Jason Statham squares off against a giant shark in Jon Turteltaub's fun action thriller.
The Meg is almost exactly the type of movie one would expect if you told them the basic premise is Jason Statham and a crew of people go after a giant, prehistoric shark. I say almost because there’s this hint that director Jon Turteltaub wanted to make the movie more extreme, more over-the-top, and more graphic than it is, as far as a PG-13 rating can go. Turteltaub and Statham have both expressed how that was the initial plan, but the studio told them that they had to make it appeal to a mass audience. An R-rating, obviously, wouldn’t attract
A wonderfully somber portrait of women at a crossroads.
As I have mentioned time and time again, the essence and importance of women filmmakers continues to be taken for granted. It is really a damn shame, because women have excellent ability to make their own films about life, love, and everything in-between. And fortunately, director Allison Anders is definitely one of them. With her stunning 1992 landmark, Gas Food Lodging, she elevates familiar territory while adding her own distinctive flair for women in emotional peril. Based on a novel by Richard Peck, the film takes place in a small New Mexico town where Nora (Brooke Adams), a single mother
This collection repackages previous Stooges releases from Sony Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment.
The Three Stooges were one of the most notable comedic acts of the 20th Century due to their violent slapstick antics and iconic personas. A brief history about them starts in 1922 when brothers Moe and Shemp Howard were “the Stooges” of the vaudeville act Ted Healy and the Stooges. In 1928, Larry Fine joined them. In 1930, the act made its way to Hollywood and appeared in Soup to Nuts. Shemp quit the act in 1932 and went solo. He was replaced by his brother Jerry, known as Curly. After splitting from Healy, the act was billed as “The
Widows is an incredibly thematic crime drama with a killer acting ensemble.
Steve McQueen may be a director that hails from the U.K. but he has successfully demonstrated his ability to venture into the darkest depths of American society. Previously, he crafted a harrowing portrait of historical American slavery with the Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. Now, with Widows, he has constructed a modern-day morality tale about race, police brutality, gender, class, and politics which presents itself under the guise of a popcorn heist thriller. While the film does demonstrate an exciting buildup to the climactic heist, at its core, it’s really about trying to survive in a lawless world
Writer/director Brad Bird and his talented cast and crew bring back beloved characters, expand their world, and tell the story in a visually engaging way.
Picking up where The Incredibles left off, Incredibles 2 sees the Parr family take on the Under Miner, but the damage caused in the melee is so costly, the government shuts down the superhero program and makes their work illegal. Into their lives comes, wealthy tech industrialist Winston Dever (Bob Odenkirk), who along with his sister Evelyn (Christine Keener), wants to help re-establish the perception of superheros. In a blow to Bob (Craig T. Nelson)/Mr. Incredible's ego, Elasti-girl (Helen Hunt) is chosen to begin the rehabilitation of their image with the public. The Parrs move into Winston's state-of-the-art luxury home
"It's hard to cope and do normal human being stuff of you're wearing your trauma on your sleeve."
November. A month where many people are focusing on the upcoming holiday season. But before Thanksgiving, there is another holiday. Sunday, November 11th, is Veterans Day. It is a day that gets confused with Memorial Day all the time. A day when people will make social-media posts and thank those who served. A day when there will be parades and celebrations to honor our veterans. A day for many people that means that they won't have to go to work the next day since the United States will observe the day this year on Monday the 12th with a National
Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn relive the swinging '60s in the mid-'70s.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this film is Warren Beatty’s glorious hair. Playing a Beverly Hills hairdresser/lothario named George, Beatty wields long locks styled to such excess that they’re seemingly a special effect. Thankfully, the rest of the film is worthy of the majestic mane, delivering a sharply humorous exploration of sexual politics against a backdrop of real politics set during the timeframe of Nixon’s 1968 election. George is a talented hairdresser who dreams of opening his own shop, but lacks the means to make it happen. He has a girlfriend named Jill (Goldie Hawn), but also engages in
For this anniversary, Universal Studios has released the Coen Brothers' comedy in glorious 4K.
In the late 1990s, during my college years, I went to the movies every weekend. I saw pretty much every movie that came to my town that looked remotely interesting and even a few that didn’t. In the spring of 1998, I saw Fargo. It was a blind watch, I’d never heard of it before I entered the theater. I knew of the Coen Brothers, or at least I’d seen Raising Arizona before. Think I even had a copy of it on VHS which I bought on the cheap. But it wasn’t yet a favorite. Fargo was just another movie
It's a strong acting showcase, a biopic, and a cautionary tale all at once.
After landing an Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has managed to successfully parlay her awards success into comedic movie stardom. Well now, she gets to expertly show off her skills as a dramatic actress in the biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me?, delivering her best performance to date in the process. Granted, she has shown hints of her dramatic capabilities with St. Vincent and even Bridesmaids where she had the scene with the serious one-on-one talk with Kristen Wiig’s character. However, those were just indications of her range which is demonstrated in full force here.
Don't be afraid to invest your time and money in this little movie that could.
Throw some pillows on the floor, build a fort out of dining room chairs and blankets, and grab a bowl of any cereal that contains marshmallow, and you are all ready for some Saturday morning entertainment. Time Trap has the feel of Rod Taylor in The Time Machine (1960) combined with plenty of the 1974 television series Land of the Lost thrown in for good measure. Sure, the performances are a bit heavy handed and one dimensional, and the story breaks down at the end, but if that stuff starts bothering you, eat more cereal. This is fun! Time Trap
Director Sergio Martino crafts a precursor to modern slasher movies that combines sexploitation with stabbings. And gougings.
One of the things that make giallo movies arresting is setting. Giallo movies are Italian, and, unsurprisingly enough, tend to be shot in Italy. And it turns out Italy has a lot of picturesque, attractive, and downright beautiful settings for murder and mayhem to take place. Torso, shot in Perugia in 1973, has breath-taking hillside vistas and incredible, ancient-looking city-scapes and plazas which are a decided contrast to the rather transparent exploitative boobs and blood strategy of the film. If nothing else, there's always something worth looking at on screen, whether it be architecture or arched-back Italian beauties in the
The sporadically funny spoof of the classic TV show gets released to Blu-ray for the first time.
There’s this feeling that lingers throughout Tom Mankiewicz’s satirical approach to the hit television series, Dragnet. The feeling is that there should be more laughs. With Dan Aykroyd playing a straight-edged police officer unable to fit into the modern society, and Tom Hanks as his hip, loose-living partner, this has the capability to be comedic dynamite. But the end result comes up way short of being great. There are some laughs, but they are few and far between. The bright spot of this rather dull comedy is Aykroyd’s performance as Sergeant Joe Friday, the nephew of the original show’s character.
Despite Beautiful Boy being a well-intended yet cluttered drama, Timothee Chalamet makes it worth watching.
Right off the bat, I’ll just say that my biggest gripe with Beautiful Boy is that it focuses less on its title character. The film may be based on a memoir by David Sheff, the father who tried helping his son battle meth addiction. However, the film would have benefitted from focusing almost entirely on the son himself. It is partially because of the commanding performance from Timothee Chalamet and also because of poor characterization. As Nic Sheff, David’s son who fought addiction, Timothee Chalamet is easily best in show. Even if it doesn’t top his brilliant, Oscar-nominated performance as
Even though the story has room for improvement, The Fog is an entertaining horror movie that does a lot of things right.
Currently in limited release across the country thanks to a new 4K restoration by Studiocanal, John Carpenter's The Fog is a thrilling ghost story. It opens with an old boat captain (John Houseman) telling a story to a group of kids about a clipper ship, Elizabeth Dane, having crashed in a fog 100 years ago because they were drawn into rocks by a campfire. The sailors drowned but are supposed to rise again when the fog returns. And return it does as the town of Antonio Bay celebrates its centennial. Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) is nearly clobbered by a chunk
Writer/director Boots Riley crafts a thoroughly engrossing debut feature film.
Writer/director Boots Riley has pulled off an amazing feat with his fresh, fearless debut feature film. Arriving in the film world seemingly out of nowhere, he has managed to craft a film that matters, that thoroughly entertains, and that is utterly unforgettable. His darkly humorous project skewers capitalism, class, and race injustice, and even throws in some dystopian sci-fi without feeling preachy or pretentious, shining a light on an alternate universe version of Oakland that is frighteningly close to reality. The film’s racially charged, surreal subject matter draws some obvious comparisons to last year’s Get Out, especially due to the
Barry Sonnenfeld's satire on Hollywood and the mob gets the 4K treatment from Shout! Factory.
Back in 1977, Saturday Night Fever became a box-office sensation, garnering $237 million worldwide and putting its star, John Travolta, on the map. This role led to an Oscar nomination for Travolta, who then would continue showing off his dancing skills and musical talent in 1978’s Grease. With back-to-back hits, Travolta became one of the most talked about actors of that decade, and with those two films, he was, in addition, also recognized for his talented dancing skills and singing voice. After a decline in the '80s, Travolta found himself with another Oscar nomination for 1994’s Pulp Fiction, in which
Twilight delivers what one expects from a young-adult romance, but that's a low bar for some.
For the tenth anniversary of the first film in the franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's young adult book series, Twilight has been released on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital) and all five of The Twilight Saga films have been released on Blu-ray Combo Pack (2 Blu-rays, 1 DVD, plus Digital) and Digital 4K Ultra HD. The Blu-ray in the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack contains the theatrical version. The extended cut, which is five minutes longer, is available digitally. As the movie opens, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a 17-year-old girl, leaves her mother's home in sunny
Mario Bava's horror masterpiece is a feast for the eyes and the begining of a whole new genre.
Having put Italian horror on the map with Black Sunday, Mario Bava continued to redefine the genre and essentially invented giallo which became the de facto horror genre in Italy for most of the '70s and '80s and ultimately inspired the slasher genre that was so popular in the United States in that same era. Bava’s 1963 film The Girl Who Knew Too Much is often credited as the first ever giallo film, but it was filmed in black and white not in the garish colors the genre is so recognized for. A year later he made Blood and Black
A minimalist, but masterful portrait of harrowing family dynamics.
Stories about troubled families doesn't hit cinema too often, but when they're done well, such as in Rachel Getting Married, Ordinary People, Hannah and Her Sisters, and A Family Thing, they can hit hard. Such a case is director Terrence Davies' 1988 breaktrough masterpiece, Distant Voices, Still Lives, which brilliantly tells an all-too-real harrowing story, but with music, humor, and unsentimental truth. Loosely based on Davies's own upbringing, the film is told in two parts of the lives of a family in 1940s/'50s Liverpool, where siblings Tony (Dean Williams) and Maisie (Lorriane Ashbourne), along with their mother (Freida Dowie), gather
A movie so bad we reviewed it three times.
Made in 1971 on a minuscule budget, John Landis’ first film as a director, Schlock, is broad comedic satire of sorts about a prehistoric ape wreaking havoc in a Los Angeles suburb. It is a bad movie. I cannot recommend a single thing about it. Everything, from the writing, directing, and acting to the music and even the comedy, is bad, poorly executed, and difficult to watch. Its only distinction is that it was directed by Landis who later went on to make such comedy classics as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Amazon Women on the Moon and features
Despite the film's formulaic storytelling, Rami Malek's commanding performance helps the film come alive.
The band Queen is iconic because of not just their singles but their bold, genre-flipping style. Yet, the biopic on their life feels more like the kind of safe, accessible tunes that their former record label wanted to give more airplay to rather than the risky poetic tune that the film gets its title from. It attempts to check all the right biopic boxes when it could’ve been as unconventional as the band it depicts. That being said, Bohemian Rhapsody is still a moderately made film and it is done with slight filmmaking flare. It also serves as a celebration
1985 is an understated yet powerhouse gem about small-town life and the AIDS crisis.
Even though I’ve never really left the area I grew up in, in my opinion, the film 1985 still perfectly captures the struggle of being able to come back home. The feeling of going back to the small town you lived in your whole life that you desperately left behind, to escape either its mundanity or to bury family troubles, can be a conflicting one. Yet, that is just one layer to the story of 1985. It also captures the feeling of being closeted and demonstrates the AIDS crisis to fit the time period in which the film takes place.
The comedy classic gets a 4K upgrade from Shout! Factory.
During my youth, City Slickers had been a film that I watched with my parents only a few times. It was never something we watched annually or every few years. In fact, it had been so long since I last watched it that, during the recent re-watching, I couldn’t remember a single line or moment in it. Oddly enough, I remember one particular scene in its sequel, The Legend of Curly’s Gold, more than I did almost anything in the original. Save for the cartoonish opening credits, which I did remember, watching the original City Slickers recently felt like I
Thirty-five years later, this teen comedy still totally hits the spot.
For the 35th Anniversary of Valley Girl, Shout! Factory has released a totally tubular version of a film on Blu-ray. Now that I've written my contractually required Valley-speak joke, you'll be spared the rest of this article. The film was released originally in 1983 and quickly got lumped in with the other "teen films" of the era. The film, fairly or unfairly part of that group, has tended to disappear from popular culture from that era. It's a footnote to a much larger career by Nicolas Cage and stars the never-became-bigger stars like Elizabeth Daily and Deborah Foreman. The film
Set ten years after the events of the first film, viewers get to catch up with Sophie and see where she and the other characters are now.
Available this Tuesday, October 23, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again reunites the cast from the original 2008 film starring Meryl Streep. Mamma Mia is a jukebox musical. It originally premiered on the stage in 1999 and featured the songs of ABBA (written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus). The new film can be viewed on its own, but it helps to know the basic plot of the original: On a small Greek isle Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), about to be married to Sky (Dominic Cooper), wants to learn who is her biological father. She has narrowed the possiblity down to
The laughs provided by these cartoons will leave you in the pink.
As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company's work on Blu-ray. The latest The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection is Volume 3, continuing with the character's next 23 theatrical shorts before the The Pink Panther Show premiered on September 6, 1969 on NBC. The cartoons generate laughs as the Panther continues to be either a chaotic force or on the