Results tagged “Thriller”

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) Blu-ray Review: It Happened One Time

Odd, compelling, and strangely satisfying, this unique and controversial film returns to shock contemporary audiences for entirely different reasons.
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Hailing from that time before the Southern Gothic tale somehow transformed into hicksploitation, Suddenly, Last Summer extends from the creative talents of both Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal and co-stars Montgomery Clift. That right there should indicate to most out-ward viewers there will be a certain subject matter hidden in the story's proverbial closet. In the hands of The Barefoot Contessa writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, however, the subdued element of homosexuality is about as subtle as, well, Liberace. And yet, somehow, they got away with it in 1959, mainly thanks to an element many exploitation filmmakers of the time would

The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975) Blu-ray Review: Deep Red Something

Sergio Martino's wild giallo/poliziotteschi/comedy hybrid is just as jaw-droppingly amazing as it sounds.
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An ordinary man of an artistic nature witnesses a brutal murder, only to meet a cast of kooky characters as he sets out to find the killer since the local police captain can't or won't do anything. Even if you've only ever seen one Italian giallo in your life, the aforementioned synopsis would go on to become one of the most conventional themes in an the otherwise unconventional subgenre. The motif is especially prominent in the early (and even later) works of Dario Argento, who changed both the face and style of filmmaking forever throughout the first half of the

Running on Empty (1988) Blu-ray Review: Fam on the Run

Sidney Lumet's stunning drama, featuring a standout performance by an Oscar-nominated River Phoenix, hits BD from the Warner Archive.
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While I may not be able to recall every single feature I have ever seen in a moviehouse (and, believe me, there have been many), Sidney Lumet's 1988 drama Running on Empty has always managed to stand out in my mind for some reason, despite the fact that I really don't remember much of the movie itself. And yet, at the same time, I found myself saying "Oh yeah, this happens" an awful lot upon my recent second viewing of the film, nearly 30 years after seeing it on the big screen in '88. I suppose the film must have

Seven Days in May (1964) Blu-ray Review: The Terror from Within

John Frankenheimer's political paranoia thriller ‒ featuring a script by Rod Serling ‒ receives a beautiful makeover from the Warner Archive.
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The looming threat of nuclear war. A less-than-favorable US President sporting the lowest approval on record in a heap of trouble concerning Russia. No, it's not something ripped straight from today's news; rather, it's the setting for Seven Days in May ‒ a tense 1964 political thriller from Ronin director John Frankenheimer and Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Released theatrically by Paramount Pictures just two years after the director's previous offering, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May reunites Frankenheimer with one of his best-known on-screen collaborators, the great Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz). Set in an early Cold War-era

The Bridge at Remagen (1969) Blu-ray Review: A Much Shorter Longest Day

Cigar-chomping George Segal and Ben Gazzara act against Nazi Robert Vaughn in this WWII action flick, now available in beautiful High-Definition from Twilight Time.
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From John Guillerman, the late visionary of The Blue Max, The Towering Inferno, The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, and that one version of King Kong everyone suddenly began to like after Peter Jackson's remake came out (though they still ignore that sequel) comes one of the first American productions to be filmed behind the Iron Curtain. While based on real life people and events, 1969's World War II action picture The Bridge at Remagen takes hold of its story with a decidedly loose grip, giving director Guillerman the opportunity to let exercise a different kind of liberty.

Hell and High Water (1954) Blu-ray Review: CinemaScope Claustrophobia

Richard Widmark and Samuel Fuller sink to new heights in this wonderful Cold War sub thriller, now available in HD from the folks at Twilight Time.
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Ever the cinematic pioneer, director Samuel Fuller broke new ground ‒ by removing it completely ‒ with his 1954 Cold War thriller Hell and High Water, which would prove to be the first time audiences were exposed to a different kind of submersion. Previously, the wonders of CinemaScope (Hollywood's fancy way of pulling people away from their newly purchased 500lb TV sets at home) were limited solely to majestic Biblical epics, sprawling western dramas, and romantic comedies. Fuller, however ‒ hailing from that rare breed of filmmaker, the kind who created his own path ‒ sensed 20th Century Fox's newfound

The Quiet American (1958) Blu-ray Review: Silent, But Deadly?

Twilight Time gives the overlooked Americanized version of Graham Greene's bestseller an opportunity to speak up and be accounted for.
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Based on bestselling author Graham Greene's 1955 novel of the same name, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's motion picture adaptation of The Quiet American has remained fairly silent since its debut in 1958. Though, when one notes the radical departure Mankiewicz's screenplay takes from its anti-American source material and, more importantly, the pressure Hollywood was receiving from the witch hunters in D.C. at the time, it's not all that surprising the film takes a decidedly pro-American view towards the subject matter. Ultimately, novelist Greene would publicly disavow the feature, though the dynamic dramatic quality of Mankiewicz's film is not the sort of

The Stone Killer (1973) Blu-ray Review: Another Winner Starring Charles Bronson

Michael Winner's overlooked third collaboration with the iconic stone-faced action hero gets the HD treatment from Twilight Time.
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Imagine a movie produced in the wake of both recently-beget Dirty Harry and The Godfather franchises, only constructed like a big-screen two-parter of a classic police procedural show like Hawaii Five-O. Now add United Artists' recently-crowned action movie king, Charles Bronson, place him in-between a venerable assortment of established and future TV veterans alike, and then drizzle the whole project with a funky score from Roy Budd. Et voilà, ladies and gentlemen ‒ the perfect recipe for Michael Winner and Dino De Laurentiis' early '70s action vehicle The Stone Killer! One of six memorable collaborations betwixt Bronson and his future

Inferno (1953) 3D/2D Blu-ray Review: Survival of the Richest

The line between film noir and technicolor melodrama is finely drawn in the sand, as this must-see Twilight Time offering proves.
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While the title may have been used several hundred times over since then, 1953's Inferno is a rare, one-of-a-kind contribution to the film noir genre. And that's mostly because it was filmed in both Technicolor and 3D. Maintaining a delicate balance between noir and melodrama (because that's what happens when you shoot noir in color), this scorching flick from English filmmaker Roy Ward Baker (who would later helm the highly rated Titanic classic A Night to Remember as well as several iconic Hammer horror titles) also sports the unusual distinction of being a survival adventure atop of it all. With

Ronin (1998) Blu-ray Review: Welcome Back to Cinematic Reality, Kids

Arrow Video revives John Frankenheimer's criminally neglected late '90s gritty crime thriller via a beautiful, all-new 4K scan.
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At one point or another amidst whatever we may have selected (or been selected) for our respective careers, we will fall from grace. Even if you're a great filmmaker like John Frankenheimer. In his heyday, the late director (who passed from this world in 2002, shortly after his final contribution to cinema ‒ an HBO docu-drama ‒ premiered) had crafted several groundbreaking films, from the highly fictionalized (but nevertheless well-made) biopic Birdman of Alcatraz, the must-see WWII locomotive heist classic The Train, as well as one of my personal favorites, the 1962 paranoiac conspiracy Cold War thriller, The Manchurian Candidate.

Stormy Monday (1988) Blu-ray Review: Young Sean Bean Learns How to Make It Sting

Mike Figgis' impressive feature film debut ‒ also starring Melanie Griffith and Tommy Lee Jones ‒ returns to razzle, dazzle, and jazzle thanks to Arrow Video.
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Years before he found himself Leaving Las Vegas, the one man showmanship of Britain's own Mike Figgis paved the way for the influx of jazzy, sex-fueled neo-noir titles that all-but dominated the film industry in the early '90s with 1988's Stormy Monday. Inspired by the many magnificent gritty crime dramas that emerged from Europe in the '60s and '70s (and filmed his Figgis' hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where Michael Caine's Get Carter was shot), Figgis' self-described "romantic thriller" finds young Sean Bean as a fellow who is desperate enough to do just about anything for work. Fortunately for him, he couldn't

The Intruder (1975) Blu-ray Review: A Lost Regional Horror Film Comes Home to Slay

After 42 years of obscurity, the lost '70s proto-slasher ‒ complete with marquee value guest stars Mickey Rooney, Yvonne De Carlo, and Ted Cassidy ‒ finally gets a chance to see the night.
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Even after one viewing of Chris Robinson's 1975 regional horror flick The Intruder, you can roughly envision what would have befallen the film had it ever made it to cinemas. The frequent releases it would have seen on drive-in double feature programs throughout the rest of the decade, usually under a misleading alias coupled with an equally deceptive ad campaign. The inevitability of falling into the Public Domain, only to be released by every grey-market videocassette label in the '80s, wherein the names of the picture's marquee value stars ‒ Mickey Rooney, Ted Cassidy, and Yvonne De Carlo ‒ would

36 Hours (1964) Blu-ray Review: Captivating Wartime Espionage

James Garner finds himself right in the middle of a dirty Nazi trick in this taut WWII thriller from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Imagine waking up one day, only to discover five years have passed and your memory isn't what it used to be. No, it's not another melodrama about people suffering from Alzheimer's. Rather, that is the heart of a nifty Nazi conspiracy in George Seaton's 1964 World War II thriller 36 Hours. Here, the late great James Garner stars as an American intelligence officer who ‒ after attending a top-secret briefing about the forthcoming Invasion of Normandy ‒ heads off to Lisbon to meet an informant. Alas, he doesn't make it that far. Kidnapped by Der Führer's men, our hero instead

Terror in a Texas Town (1958) Blu-ray Review: The Dark Side of the West

Arrow Academy releases Joseph H. Lewis' wonderful western/film noir hybrid, which features Sterling Hayden as a Swedish sailor who brings a whaling harpoon to a gunfight.
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Though he mostly helmed B-grade crime dramas, Saturday matinee western oaters, and early entries in what would eventually become a part of The Bowery Boys legacy, director Joseph H. Lewis nevertheless made several notable contributions to the world of film noir. One such title was 1950's Gun Crazy, which writer Dalton Trumbo was forced to employ a front for due to the fact he had been blacklisted by the McCarthy Era witch hunts. Appropriately, the writer and director would pair once more in 1958 for Lewis' final theatrical film: a nifty little B-grade western film noir sporting a parallel or

Doberman Cop (1977) Blu-ray Review: Sonny Chiba Does It Doggy Style

Arrow Video unleashes a truly mind-blowing 1970s exploitation action-comedy equivalent to fusion cuisine starring the larger-than-life Shin'ichi Chiba.
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An unconventional policeman from the boonies travels to the big city to help out on a case, complete with a pet pig in tow. No, it's not the beginning of another Italian cop comedy starring Terence Hill. Rather, this particular picture marked both the beginning and the end of two distinctively different eras in Japanese cinema. After maybe overdoing the yakuza genre just a tad throughout the '70s, the film industry in Japan started to explore different options. And if there is one good word which may be employed in a noble effort to accurately describe all of the sights

Wolf Guy (1975) Blu-ray Review: Lycanthropy, Grindhouse Style

Arrow Video throws us a bone in the form of a shapeshifting werewolf feller like no other.
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Much like vampirism, the subject of lycanthropy is generally reserved for horror films. Or perhaps a comedy horror film. There have even been action horror comedies pertaining to the subject of werewolves and shapeshifters. But there are very few movies like Wolf Guy floating about. In fact, I think Kazuhiko Yamaguchi's Wolf Guy may be a real one-of-a-kind filmic outing; a gory, over-the-top Japanese action thriller which has very little to do with the common folklore western civilization seems to be better familiar with. But then, I can't even say Wolf Guy's peculiarity is purely attributable to a foreign culture

Spotlight on a Murderer (1961) Blu-ray Review: Illuminating French Proto-Slasher

A most unique mystery/black comedy from Georges Franju receives a long-overdue opportunity to shine in the US thanks to Arrow Academy.
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To the trained eye of an advanced mystery movie sleuth, spotting the writing team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac as the authors of the film you're about to experience is a darn good indication you're in for a treat. Sure enough, Georges Franju's 1961's mystery, Pleins feux sur l'assassin ‒ which shall be referred to henceforth by its English title, Spotlight on a Murderer ‒ is such a treat. While it may have only been the third feature film for the late visionary filmmaker, Spotlight on a Murderer should serve as an inarguable example of just how far one

Get Out Blu-ray Review: Get In

Writer Jordan Peele makes a winning theatrical debut as director.
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Get Out was a surprise critical and commercial box-office success earlier this year, seemingly coming out of nowhere to make a lasting impression. Although its themes borrow liberally from disparate film predecessors, primarily Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives, the movie as a whole is a welcome breath of fresh air in the overwhelmingly formulaic U.S. film industry. It’s principally marketed as a horror film, and while it certainly has its share of thrills, it’s more of a Black Mirror alternate-universe mindgame than a typical gory, blood-soaked horror flick. The movie follows an eventful weekend for a

Cops vs. Thugs (1975) Blu-ray Review: Kon'nichiwa, Dirty Harry-san!

Arrow Video busts Kinji Fukasaku's gritty, offbeat crime drama out of the Toei vaults.
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A full quarter of a century before he would stun filmgoers around the world with Battle Royale in 2000, the late Kinji Fukasaku was already blowing his own established cinematic perimeters out of alignment with violent and gritty crime dramas. Certainly, 1975's Kenkei tai soshiki bōryoku ‒ which shall be known henceforth by its international English moniker, Cops vs Thugs ‒ is no exception. It is, however, quite a bit different than the many similarly-themed yakuza flicks of the time, inasmuch as its main protagonist is a cop this time around; one who has learned an effective (though highly questionable)

A Woman's Face (1941) / Flamingo Road (1949) DVD Reviews: The Dark Side of Joan

Two classic features from the one and only Joan Crawford return to DVD thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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While previously released to DVD by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, a number of Joan Crawford classics had fallen into that unfavorable "Out of Print" status movie collectors so hate to see. Fortunately, a total of six Crawford vehicles ‒ Dancing Lady, Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo, A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road, and Torch Song (the latter five of which comprised the bulk of The Joan Crawford Collection, Vol. 2 from 2008) ‒ have re-emerged from moratorium thanks to the Warner Archive Collection, two of which are reviewed here. In A Woman's Face, a 1941 thriller from director George Cukor, we not
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