Results tagged “Thriller”

A Strange Adventure (1956) Blu-ray Review: An Unremarkable Thriller

Young Nick Adams highlights this entertainingly cheapo Republic Pictures crime flick, now available from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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While the cliffhanger serial formula Republic Pictures would be so well remembered for had already been extinct by the time they cranked out the aptly-titled ‒ and noticeably cheap ‒ A Strange Adventure in 1956, I think it's safe to say the spirit of the ol' chapterplay was still alive and kickin' in this production. Helmed by ace serial director William Witney (The Adventures of Captain Marvel), this lukewarm hard-boiled thriller from writer Houston Branch (Mr. Wong, Detective) opens with Ben Cooper (as one very grown-up teenager) getting hooked on Marla English (The She-Creature). Alas, Marla is one of them

I Walk Alone (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Fine, Slow-Burning Film Noir

Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas go toe-to-toe for the very first time in this classic crime drama from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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The first of what would ultimately tally up to be seven feature films starring the talents of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas ‒ a collaboration that would span nearly four decades, concluding with Tough Guys in 1986 ‒ I Walk Alone takes us back to when the two iconic performers were still essentially strangers to one another. In the case of this fine, slow-burning film noir from first-time (solo) director Byron Haskin (Robinson Crusoe on Mars, September Storm), the separation between the two leads only helps to add fuel to the fire. Here, Mr. Lancaster plays Frankie Madison, a one-time

Tiger by the Tail (1970) Blu-ray Review: The Lyons' Tiger's a Bear, Oh My

Christopher George, Tippi Hedren, Charo, and a lot of wood paneling star in this odd little thriller from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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Outwardly, there isn't much for the average contemporary moviegoer to get excited about over R.G. Springsteen's Tiger by the Tail. But before you go wandering off in search of something else to view, consider what this fairly tepid, tiny thriller has to offer internally. Shot in the late '60s, this, the final film from one of the most prolific B-western directors ever, centers on a slightly disgraced Vietnam veteran who gets caught up in a thoroughly predictable web of conspiracy after his racetrack-owner brother is murdered during a hold-up coordinated by one (or more) of his corrupt colleagues amid the

The Ship from Shanghai (1930) DVD Review: Slippery When Whet

The Warner Archive Collection raises an early Sound Era seafaring thriller featuring Kay Johnson and Louis Wolheim.
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Were you to examine the wake of just about every cinematic maritime thriller pitting a random assortment of passengers against an onboard maniac, the trail will more than likely trace back to 1930's The Ship from Shanghai. As the title may indicate, the story opens in Shanghai. Well, it's technically an assortment of stock footage from the Orient and a Hollywood nightclub set ‒ complete with an all-too lively gweilo playing the drums in yellowface while an otherwise Asian band plays "Singin' in the Rain" in Chinese. Fear not, though, for the film shifts into an entirely different gear soon

The Seven-Ups (1973) Blu-ray Review: This One Gets Seven Thumbs Up

Twilight Time proudly unleashes the intense, unofficial sequel to "The French Connection". And it's nothing short of awesome.
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Off the record, there were two sequels to William Friedkin's 1971 action-packed Oscar-winning cop thriller The French Connection. Officially, only John Frankenheimer's 1975 follow-up French Connection II ‒ a film which has always failed to live up to its predecessor in my opinion ‒ falls into that category. From a decidedly less official point of view, however, Philip D'Antoni's 1973 action classic The Seven-Ups is a motion picture that many feel is entirely more deserving of the honor. Though neither film shares the same director, the late Mr. D'Antoni was nevertheless one of the most significant denominators (or, "connections", if

Kind Lady Double Feature DVD Review: Team Sherlock Holmes or Team Dr. Zaius?

The Warner Archive Collection pairs two different versions of the same story ‒ with Basil Rathbone and Maurice Evans taking turns playing the bad guy ‒ on one disc.
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In today's world of cinema, a remake, reboot, preboot, prequel, or sequel is about as easy to find as a pregnant lady in a maternity ward. Ultimately, it's all about branding: a title (or character) studios can mercilessly milk the money of consumers out of until even the most die-hard Transformers fans say "Enough already!", less the studios lose their limited rights to the property in question. And, while it may come as something of a surprise to younger generations, Hollywood has never been terribly shy about remaking a movie in order to keep up with the times. Or at

Don't Bother to Knock (1952) Blu-ray Review: Marilyn Monoir

Twilight Time releases the odd real-time film noir cult classic starring Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, and Anne Bancroft.
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Though modest in budget and undoubtedly filmed in a relatively short period of time, 20th Century Fox's Don't Bother to Knock from 1952 is the sort of movie which just about any variety of film aficionado should take a look at. Based on Mischief from the previous year by mystery novelist Charlotte Armstrong, this cult film noir piece from Julian Blaustein (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Khartoum), Don't Bother to Knock features many significant firsts in the fabulous history of film. The first American movie by famed British director Roy Ward Baker (A Night to Remember), the production also

Wuthering Heights (1970) Blu-ray Review: Subtly Mind-Blowing

AIP's only Gothic romance is just as weird as you'd expect, and can now be seen in High-Definition thanks to Twilight Time.
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Even if you don't include the many television adaptations, the number of times Emily Brontë's one and only novel has been transformed into a movie for the big screen alone is not only staggering, it's Wuthering. And since there are so many superior versions of Wuthering Heights ranging from the likes of Samuel Goldwyn to Luis Buñuel flying high within those ne'erending winds above us, there's bound to be the occasional oddity plummeting down to the frozen English tundra below. In this case, a strange account of the timeless tale has fallen into our laps thanks to the folks at

While the City Sleeps / Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) Blu-ray Reviews: Puttin' on the Fritz

Fritz Lang's final two American films ‒ both starring Dana Andrews ‒ get the much-deserved Warner Archive Collection treatment.
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Metropolis. M. The Dr. Mabuse series. There are so many reasons to love Fritz Lang's early, German-language films, all of which helped define the German Expressionist movement. Following Lang's fleeing of Nazi Germany in the early '30s, the Austrian-German-born filmmaker put his expertise use of light and shadows to become a pioneer in the world of film noir ‒ helming such classics as Ministry of Fear and Scarlet Street, as well as the iconic 1953 masterpiece, The Big Heat. Even as his 20-year-plus Hollywood career began to wrap up in the late '50s, Lang's filmic contributions were as marvelously dark

Harper (1966) / The Drowning Pool (1975) Blu-ray Reviews: Newman's Own Detective Series

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two excellent transfers of two contrasting tales starring the great Paul Newman.
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Lew Harper is back on the case ‒ twice over ‒ in these two new Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Adapted from Ross Macdonald's literary adventures of Lew Archer (because who in their right mind could take a character named Archer seriously, especially now?), 1966's Harper brings us a misadventure of a modern-day Southern Californian private investigator. Seemingly inspired by every classic detective from books to film alike ‒ and every bit as cynical, to boot ‒ the role was brought to magnificent life on-screen by the one and only Paul Newman (The Hustler). Nine years later, Newman

A Woman's Devotion (1956) Blu-ray Review: Mangled PTSD Crime Drama

Kino Lorber Studio Classics unburies Paul Henreid's butchered, noir-esque tale with Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule.
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Misunderstood in its own time, forgotten in the next, Paul (Casablanca) Henreid's thriller A Woman's Devotion never had an opportunity to deliver its message to audiences when first released in 1956. Instead, the Republic Pictures production was ushered onto screens with a decidedly deceptive ad campaign cashing-in on the film's leads ‒ Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule ‒ who had recent appeared in a successful stage adaptation of the classic melodrama, Picnic. Needless to say, it wasn't the best method to promote a minor film noir-esque title concerning a World War II veteran with a really bad case of Post-Traumatic

The Maze (1953) Blu-ray 3D Review: Riddle Without a Clue

The folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics do a real Grade-A job with one really B-Grade 3D movie.
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Made during that glorious 3D movie boom of the early '50s, Monogram Pictures' The Maze is cinematic evidence that filmmakers would try just about anything to hop on the three-dimensional bus. The final film in which the legendary William Cameron Menzies (The Whip Hand, Invaders from Mars, Gone with the Wind) served as both director and production designer, The Maze stars another icon of '50s sci-fi and horror films ‒ the great Richard Carlson ‒ as an accent-less Scotsman who goes from a high-profile social feller with a loving fiancée to being a reclusive oddball after his equally eremitic uncle

The City of the Dead (1960) Blu-ray Review: A City Still Worth Visiting

After an marred first release, VCI's second check-in to this Horror Hotel with Christopher Lee checks out.
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Revisiting a classic horror movie you loved as a kid after you've aged a bit can always be a tricky thing to do. It had been at least 20 years since I last cast eyes on The City of the Dead, which I initially discovered via a fuzzy ol' Public Domain VHS copy in the early '90s. Needless to say, when it came time to see the movie again after all that time, I was rather worried that the experience would not be the same. Fortunately, just like the eponymous village itself, time has done very little to age the

The Psychopath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Columbo Goes Psycho

Robert Bloch and Freddie Francis' unique, offbeat thriller finally hits home video thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
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If you ever wondered what might happen if Columbo had been born in England, you needn't look any further than the 1966 Amicus production of The Psychopath. A joint effort between American author/screenwriter Robert Bloch and Britain's famed director/cinematographer Freddie Francis, the rampant success of Bloch's Psycho obviously paved the way for this tale of murder, revenge, and creepy dolls. One of several titles unfairly unavailable on home video for entirely too long, this almost-forgotten thriller from England's other horror studio ‒ Amicus Productions ‒ has finally found its way to Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. After

Hammer Films Double Feature, Vols. 3 & 4 Blu-ray Reviews: How Iconic

Mill Creek pounds out a few more nail-biters from Britain's famed house of horror.
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Precisely a year-and-a-half to the day since their first two double feature releases, Mill Creek has returned to the House of Hammer once more for another hefty dose of classic '60s thrills and chills, Britannia-style. This time around, there's a heavy focus on some of the less-remembered (but nevertheless, good) titles from the famed studio, many of which were previously seen on DVD by Sony under various Icons of... sets. The first double feature offering from Mill Creek opens with 1963's Maniac. Back in the glorious analog days, trying to find a copy of this one usually resulted in a

Scalpel (1977) Blu-ray Review: Eyes with Added Face

Arrow Video releases an oft-ignored ‒ but nevertheless, awesome ‒ thriller guaranteed to get under your skin.
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If the Southern regional horror film movement of the '70s ever came anywhere close to making a giallo, there's a darn good chance 1977's Scalpel would be it. That said, the surgical roots of this delightfully twisted psychological thriller from John Grissmer ‒ the very same screenwriter/director who would later (ahem) "grace" us with the cult, late '80s slasher guilty pleasure Blood Rage ‒ go much deeper. Taking its cue from Georges Franju's face game-changing 1960 masterpiece Les yeux sans visage ‒ better known to English-speaking audiences (and certain Billy Idol fans) as Eyes Without a Face ‒ Scalpel's "Southern

Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) Blu-ray Review: Another Kind of San Francisco Treat

Alan Ladd leaves his heart in San Francisco in this glorious re-discovery from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Made back when one could still refer to San Francisco as "Frisco" and not catch hell for it, Frank Tuttle's Hell on Frisco Bay is one of several film (noir) adaptations based on the literary work of William P. McGivern (The Big Heat). Filmed (partly) on location in and around California's iconic Bay Area city, the vehicle finds Alan Ladd as a hardened, disgraced former police detective recently released from San Quentin after serving time for a bogus murder charge. As if starting over wasn't a cumbersome ordeal to begin with, contending with the fact everyone on both sides of

Night School (1981) Blu-ray Review: Maybe Some of It Will Rub Off on You

The Warner Archive Collection cordially invites you to attend the premiere of Rachel Ward's slasher movie debut in High-Definition.
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One of several kajillion slasher movies manufactured in the early '80s alone, the American-made Night School sports an oddly Canadian aura about it throughout ‒ from the British director (Ken Hughes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Internecine Project) and starlet Rachel Ward (in her film debut) to the vaguely familiar, mostly nocturnal urban New England location photography by Scanners cinematographer Mark Irwin, right down to the finale which honors the horror sub-genre's giallo roots. When viewed in this erroneous light, Night School feels like some sort of underrated cult classic. Amusing enough, however, if you stare directly into the big

Midnighters Movie Review: Small Scale Horror

Even if they don't quite stick the landing, the Ramsay Brothers establish themselves as a duo to watch out for.
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People are screaming, kissing, and hugging. They don silly garments and hats as they celebrate the New Year. Standing in the middle of the throng is Lindsey (Alex Essoe), as she scans the crowd in search of her husband, Jeff (Dylan McTee). She finds him outside, smoking a cigarette and avoiding Lindsey’s work friends. Their marriage is clearly fraught with tension and unspoken resentment for one another. Lindsey is the breadwinner; working at a bank to support Jeff, a failed athlete. Their language is clipped and strained. They appear to be in a marital rut. What doesn’t help matters is

Gate II (1990) Blu-ray Review: Fun, But for Big Fans Only at Best

Scream Factory re-opens the door to the hotspot below with a stunningly clear 2K scan.
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My first viewing of Gate II was when the film first came to my hometown's dinky second-run theater (which was our only theater) in 1992, several months after the low-budget B-movie had already opened. It was the very kind of film our local cinema proudly shelled out for: something they could pick up on the cheap and pair with another "affordable" feature from the era for a barely-advertised double-bill ‒ which my best friend and I would see at the sparsely-occupied Sunday matinee for a whopping five bucks, per our weekly movie-going ritual. While we were well accustomed to seeing
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